Falcons Survive Niners in Ugly Win

Five Film Reviews from the Escape

Lofton the Man (J.Crawford/AJC)

 

An ugly win is much better than an beautiful loss and the players, coaches, and fans will definitely take it in the rough and tumble NFL. No win is easy and certainly isn’t guaranteed. For all the talk about not coming out in a lull after the big emotional win in New Orleans, the Falcons came out pretty flat against the 49ers, particularly the offense. The 49ers did come out strong and played like the wounded animal many thought they would. The special teams collapsed again and nearly cost them the game. The offense sputtered and stopped before they finally got the job done. The Falcons defense carried the day by keeping the Birds in the game and giving them multiple chances to win the game. But give credit where its due, the Falcons found a way to win and could have definitely folded up tent many times. Roddy White got the ball back after the game seemed lost. Matt Ryan and the offense drove down the field to give them a chance to win the game and Matt Bryant once again nailed a field goal to win the game. Five film reviews about the escape against the 49ers……

1) Roddy White IS an Elite Receiver

Don’t even include the fact that he just went over 5,000 yards receiving on Sunday, he’s gone to consecutive Pro Bowls, and is nearing the 30 TD mark, Roddy White just proved against the Niners that he is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Stats alone don’t define what great players are. Not only is Roddy White on track for a possible 1,500 yards receiving, but he proved he’s worth the dough that Thomas Dimitroff decided to pay him. After seeing a terrible interception thrown by Ryan, Roddy didn’t give up on the play and raced 60 yards down the field to strip Nate Clements of the ball and give the Birds another chance. Also credit Harvey Dahl for pursuing the play as well and having awareness enough to cover the ball. A question was posed earlier in the summer if Roddy White is a top 5 receiver in the NFL? In a word: YES!

2) Curtis Lofton IS a Play-Making Linebacker

Finding Ways to Win (J.Crawford/AJC)

Following the same theme of Roddy White being a top 5 receiver, The Bird Cage asked if Curtis Lofton could become a play-making linebacker in the mold of Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis. He may still have some coverage issues to work on, but he’s already shown that he’s on track to make that leap. Lofton is already on his way this year with making huge plays to go along with his stellar tackling. After failing to notch a sack last year and never grabbing an interception in his career, Lofton is the unquestioned leader of a defense on a serious rebirth. Lofton still has some work to do in coverage, but he appears to be making the transition to making other plays on the field besides large amount of tackles. The continued path could finally lead Lofton to his first well-deserved Pro Bowl appearance.

3) Special Teams is on Red Panic Alert

Not including the Arizona game, the Falcons special teams has completely botched almost every aspect of their play in the first quarter of the season. Outside of the one missed field goal in Pittsburgh, Matt Bryant has become ice cold in his kicking and won the game for the Birds in consecutive weeks. That’s where the magic stops. There was the awfulness in overtime in Pittsburgh with Ovie Mughelli’s clipping penalty, basically killing the drive potential and then there was an untimely shank by Michael Koenen. The Steelers go the ball on the 50 yard line and promptly scored. After a quick three and out in a raucous New Orleans, the punt coverage team let Lance Moore run to the 2 yard line allowing the Saints to jump on the Falcons quickly. Luckily, the Birds battled back and won a hard fought game. This one almost cost the Falcons. After going down 7-0 and obviously coming out flat, a huge blocked punt and a resulting touchdown dug the Falcons a deep hole. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong has always led the Falcons to be one of the best units in the NFL. Not sure what’s going on, but they must get it fixed and fast before another blunder actually does cost the Falcons a game.

4) Screen and Draw and Draw and Screen

HD is Back! (J.Crawford/AJC)

Even though the Falcons defense played pretty well overall, a disturbing trend is developing with regards to screens and draws on third and longs. The Falcons gave up screen after screen and draw after draw to Frank Gore and the Niners wide receivers. Surely, Sean Weatherspoon’s coverage skills were missed, but Stephen Nicholas played pretty well in his absence. On a side note going forward, the Falcons are in great hands with Lofton, Spoon, and Nicholas. Much of the time it wasn’t the players per se, but the Niners were allowed plenty of space to make plays. It is true that an overly aggressive defense is susceptible to screens and draws, but it was seemingly so predictable to the average fan and yet Brian Van Gorder and the defense continued to give up 1st downs at the hand of screens and draws. The defense almost lost the game in overtime to the same predictable plays. Screens and draws almost lost to New Orleans and were even susceptible to a weaker 49ers offense. Overall, the defense has improved a great deal, just sniff out those screens and draws better.

5) This Team’s Got Moxie

Not it wasn’t the steamroll fans wanted. No it wasn’t a statement that the NFC will have to come through The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but the Falcons found a way to win, plain and simple. After falling short to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Falcon have found ways to win games they could have easily lost in consecutive weeks. Many in the media want to call it luck, but luck only carries a team so far. Yes, it is true that the Saints got a lot of bounces last year, but they took advantage of what was given to them and the ending had them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The NFL is so tough that any win is a good win. Matt Ryan and the offense wasn’t on track. The special teams had a bad collapse. The Birds obviously suffered from a huge hangover and emotional letdown with the big win over the Saints in New Orleans. On a bad day and taking the best shot a talented team had with a fighting spirit, the Birds found a way to win the game. If fans are still having the same conversation against the Rams, Seahawks, and Browns (even though they are better than advertised) than that’s a different story. But for now, the Falcons are a tough team that can take a punch and give one back.

Bonus Point

Ryan Led the Winning Drive (J.Crawford/AJC)

The offense was anemic and for whatever reason couldn’t muster much of anything in the passing attack. After having a couple good weeks in a row, Mularkey called a weak game and couldn’t take advantage of the Niners insanely aggressive defense.  What happened to the screens and draws? The Niners certainly used them to great effect. Turner had a decent day, but he simply is not the Turner of 2008. Matt Ryan looked out of rhythm all day and much of that could’ve been due to constant pressure. Harry Douglas is back, but is prototypical slot and maybe not a true #2. Snelling just seems to be running harder than Turner, but isn’t getting the carries. What happened to Cardinals and Saints gameplan? Who knows, but after the first drive failed to torch it down the field and same old drive after drive failed to produce, the Falcons were lucky to get the win. Mularkey can’t keep putting Ryan and the offense in third and long.

Your Turn

-Overall thoughts on the escape

-Is Roddy White in fact a top 5, elite receiver?

-Has Curtis Lofton made the turn to play-making linebacker?

-What in the H is wrong with the special teams?

-How bad is special teams?

-Worried about the screens and draws or nitpicking?

-What happened to the offense?

-Do the Falcons have moxie or just lucky?

-What happened to Matt Ryan and the passing attack?

-Has Turner lost a step?

193 comments Add your comment

FrontRow

October 4th, 2010
10:03 pm

-Is Roddy White in fact a top 5, elite receiver?
Definitely. The last drive (actually 2 drives) Roddy stepped up at a time in the game the elite players step up just like last week, week before, etc, etc, etc.

-Has Curtis Lofton made the turn to play-making linebacker?
He’s getting there. I agree with the assessment of his coverage ability.

-What in the H is wrong with the special teams?
Personnel turnover. Last week D. Franks slowed down on the Moore return; this week he was inactive. The Birds have not found the right combinations on the various teams yet.

-How bad is special teams?
Just a mistake here and there away from adequate. I don’t think it’s time yet to risk starters (Moore, Grimes, others) to injury on special teams. Actually, the promotions of the younger guys leaves holes on ST that are yet to be filled.

-Worried about the screens and draws or nitpicking?
A little bit of nitpicking. Younger guys need to get better at it but if a team is running alot of screens and draws it means the defense is doing something else right.

-What happened to the offense?
The 49ers desperation defense. The Falcons were not ready for the agressiveness and speed and therefore did not adjust until almost too late.

-Do the Falcons have moxie or just lucky?
Moxie, swagger, “IT”, whatever you want to call it. They were one moxie unit away from being 4-0 but have since gained that moxie unit.

-What happened to Matt Ryan and the passing attack?
Missing one more player – Mike Jenkins. Teams cannot press Jenkins as much as they press his replacement (usually B Finneran).

-Has Turner lost a step?
No. Turner needs to learn how to run against the 3-4 defenses. He’s trying to pick holes on the 3-4 while Snelling is running straight at the defense. Straight north-south is how you beat the 3-4 (remember W. Andrews?)

I’m always happy when we win and make lots of mistakes. Hopefully, the last game (Super Bowl) is the one where the players no longer say “yeah we won but we still need to fix some things”.

Thanks D3

DTYBRDZ

October 4th, 2010
10:14 pm

Mularkey is the only thing that will stop us from making the playoffs. He needs to let Ryan throw down field. Tired of seeing the same old plays. Our offense is way better than this! Get it together Mularkey!!

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DePlane

October 4th, 2010
10:22 pm

HD was targeted 8 times and caught 3 passes, albeit some big plays. Still think Harry has a way to go….

Turner hasn’t seemed right since he got that high ankle sprain. But I’m reserving opinion until I see more. I won’t sell him short….but
Snelling should get more touches…

Mularkey…I can’t figure him out…Turner on the sweep for a 6 yard loss? I really didn’t like that play call at all…and we are too often predictable.

FrontRow

October 4th, 2010
10:38 pm

Who is Ryan going to throw to “downfield”? Can’t waste Roddy White on a fly route every play and Harry Douglas is playing 2 positions (WR and Slot). Finneran and Weems are filling snaps that should be taken up by M. Jenkins. The problem is not enough bodies at the receiver position but that is the same for every team (except the Saints). Jenkins will be ready for the November-December push.

Turner is just fine. I would rather see him peak in November-December than fade out like 2008.

Mularkey doesn’t have all of his players. 2008, 2009 BVG didn’t have players and was therefore a goat. BVG is not doing anything different but now he is a genius? Quite frankly, we’re lucky Mularkey (or BVG) haven’t been poached.

DHunt

October 4th, 2010
10:56 pm

Give a lot of credit to th Niners defense. Those guys came to play, and they were almost good enough to pull this game out. The final pick that earned top honors in the “C’mon Man!” segment on ESPN, is getting a lot of flack for the cornerback who decided to try to make a play rather than just going down. But nobody seems to realize that the Falcons had three timeouts left and could have possibly made the Niners punt the ball back to us if they had decided to just go to the kneel down. The way this team played the last couple of weeks, I think even if the NIners had scored or had run a few more secs of the clock, the Falcons would have found a way to get back into this game. Can’t fault the Niners player for trying to make a play to really put the game out of reach.

Roddy makes the play of the month to give us a chance. A chance is all this team seems to need. Roddy has been elite for a couple of years, but the Falcons offense is not designed to showcase an elite receiver. So Roddy’s numbers are actually more impressive considering he hasn’t had a gunslinger QB or pass happy OC getting him the ball constantly. Roddy is a better blocker than any other elite receiver you want to name.

Lofton is also the truth. That phantom pass interference call was his only real blemish on Sunday. Lofton, Spoon, and Nick might be the most talked about LB corps in the league (except maybe the Steelers) over the next few years. That’s a good look for the future of the Falcons defense.

Like FrontRow says, the ST unit has had just a couple of glitches. Of course, since they only get a few chances each game, every gaff is magnified. They will be fine. Got to give Weems some props for stepping it up this week. The rest of the ST will come around.

Screens and Draws? We don’t do screens and draws. Sounds like a bad rock band, or a general store in Alabama. Seriously, I’m more worried about tackling. Several of those screens and draws were sniffed out (no pun intended), but the play wasn’t made. Better tackling and we aren’t even having this discussion.

A good defense happened to the offense. We will know they have stepped up to elite status when they can be consistent and adapt even against good defenses.

The entire Falcons organization, top to bottom, is now above par. That’s the difference. There is a winning attitude and it’s contagious. That’s why Roddy and Dahl didn’t quit on that play, because quitting is no longer an option in this franchise.

Again, the Niner defense happened to Ryan and the passing attack. Couple that with what appears to be a complete unwillingness to make adjustments, and you have a sputtering offense. Maybe the OC feels like, if the offense would just execute a little better, his plan would work, so that’s why he sticks to it. Got to admit I think that myself sometimes watching the plays develop. Maybe they don’t have a plan B.

Turner is going to break out soon and silence all this lost a step talk. Defenses have been keying on him hard for the past two seasons. Did you see how the NIners flooded the interior line gaps? That was a tribute to Turner. If we aren’t going to audible and make them pay for that consistently, then Turner is going to keep running into a lot of walls of big bodies, and defenses are going to get better shots at him. We made the Niners pay once or twice early, but not consistently. Turner is going to round into form, in large part because he isn’t getting so many touches early in the season.

15-1 Super Bowl Bound. Rise Up!

geno

October 4th, 2010
10:59 pm

team should be 1-4……we got real lucky againt the saints and 49rs…….but I do like our defense, offense has to score more points

geno

October 4th, 2010
11:00 pm

sorry….thats 1 and 3….

ezcofalconfan52

October 4th, 2010
11:46 pm

luck has nuthin to do with it… the ninners only scored in the first quarter cause of falcon mistakes. then the ninners never got close to the endzone. the falcons out played the saints an was givin an opportunity at the end an took advantage of it. the saints couldnt stop the falcons last drive.

Sarah B

October 5th, 2010
12:13 am

Skip this non FFL players – it’s for WR in the AM. WR, How I pulled this one out of my arse I don’t know!!! But, ok. Move on to 4-0 with you.

Sarah B

October 5th, 2010
12:24 am

Ed

October 5th, 2010
4:41 am

Great work as always D3. MM will continue to be an albatross. Missing a true number 2 WR, an offensive line that is not living up to it’s billing, Michael Turner showing his ‘08 season was one and done, we certainly could use some creativity in the play calling and schemes. We have been very fortunate to win these last two games, even though the Falcons have shown a lot heart and grit. Down the road, without improvement on offense, we are going to run into some problems.

Falcons Chic

October 5th, 2010
6:12 am

D3 – Another set of kudos to White & Dahl; y’all won the game on one spirited play. I already wrote Gregg Easterbrook TMQ- ESPN that those guys using a different skill set (corner back & rugby) won the game for us. I beg MM to design a few plays that actually put our receivers in a place that doesn’t require YAC on third downs. D-Hunt, I’m with you … particularly on the Screens & Draws in ‘bama.

Give HDTV a chance coming off a knee injury. He is SO fast. Loved Jenkins in the Chicago 2008 win, but he doesn’t seem to be able to find free space.

The thing that I kept (screaming) saying to the beloved throughout the game was “where are the LBs?” Guess Mike Singletary “coached them up.”

robertussen

October 5th, 2010
7:22 am

to add to you #5 statement on moxie. if the season ended today, (not that it matters) from everywhere ive looked, then the nfc WOULD in fact have to come through atlanta as we are at the top of the nfc right now.

WR

October 5th, 2010
8:03 am

Morning cage, quick note about the screens which is a big topic in the cage, yes the Falcons are struggling against them which is the negative, but has any one wondered why they are seeing them so often. Its because of the speed of the defense, teams aren’t looking to go deep as often because they don’t feel they have the time and the coverage has been good give or take a busted play. Although the screens need to be addressed and will be addressed remember when your D starts facing alot of screens its because your D is generating pressure and doing well in overall coverage. BVG will make adjustments as the season goes alone, but I wouldn’t expect immmediate adjustments. The primary concern is building this young D into a solid unit and that comes with learning the techniques,scheme, and fundamentals. As the season goes along and as the unit fully has taken in the defense you will start to see more tweaks designed to take away plays like the screens we’re worrying about, its something a referred to in an earlier post called peaking.

WR

October 5th, 2010
8:03 am

Early on a team focuses on being solid, understanding their players and their ability, mix and matches different schemes to see how they work against different opponents and different sets. The Falcons will take a few hits here in there on screens their learning, busted explosive plays won’t be tolerated, as the unit comes together both personnel and coaching we’ll start to see a the explosive unit the Falcons are aiming at building. For evidence notice you never see one type formula the Falcons are using, players are being experimented with, schemes are being experimented with, now wait to the experiment is over and the full power of this D is unleashed, if you like the D now, just wait to see it after the bye week, if everyone remains healthy.

WR

October 5th, 2010
8:07 am

Quick FFL note, Sarah B, you get my vote for GM of the year so far, you have made some excellent moves and they all have paid off even when the chips were stacked against you. Unca’Bob, great game, I wasn’t sure I was going to pull it out until the very end. SW, eating my crow right now looks like things are coming together under the TeePee. JJ, not looking forward to this week as I once was injuries and the bye are taking there toll, but no excuses, Sarah proved that.

waynester

October 5th, 2010
8:28 am

I hope you guys are right about the ST units just needing to gel but we haven’t come close to blocking one ourselves this season nor do we seem to be able to generate big returns. As others have noted, it’s a mystery — since we have one of the best coaches in the league in Armstrong, who has done a stellar job the past couple of seasons. Maybe Robert James’ return will spark the unit and with Jenkins coming back, perhaps give HD some return opportunities….
Oh yeah, someone said something earlier about the play of our OL not being up to par–considering how many 3/4 fronts we’ve faced I think they’ve done pretty well. They’ve shown good discipline, not a lot of false starts, a few formation issues and more holding than I’d like to see(could be getting some extra calls due to the re-positioning of the officials) but overall, a good 1st Quarter. I’m still concerned about Baker but what else is new–the effort is definitely there, though so you can’t fault his work ethic….
I was hoping to see more from big Jerry–hopefully, he will improve in the 2nd Quarter….

uga_b

October 5th, 2010
8:53 am

-Overall thoughts on the escape
Good to watch one team in Georgia accept when your opponents give you gifts. Killer Instict / Blood in the Water / etc.

-Is Roddy White in fact a top 5, elite receiver?
D3, I remember getting all heated up and said unequivocally yes. I don’t remember the exact stats, but I believe he is the ONLY WR to play every single game and go over 1,000 yds the last three years. Sure there are some headscratching drops but Terrel Owens might be in Canton soon.

-Has Curtis Lofton made the turn to play-making linebacker?
Most over-used phrase in footbal outside of THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (thanks Jaws). I don’t care if we call him Susie McPrissyPants if he racks up 8-15 tackles and shuts down the run game. The pick was nice though and he definitely should be looking at plane tickets to Hawaii/Anchorage/London or wherever the heck they are playing it.

-What in the H is wrong with the special teams?
D-Led made a very good point regarding Snelling. We have lost him to special teams and someone else here mentioned the same with the corners. I trust the coaches I just want the guys to jell a little quicker. Barring that, I am more than happy with Koenen booming the cr@p out of it like last game.

-How bad is special teams?
C-. I love our specialists (K,P, LS) and our return game has been solid. Two words for those knocking Weems: Adam Jennings. I will take a week off from bashing coverage. Get it fixed.

-Worried about the screens and draws or nitpicking?
If we start missing tackles, worry about it. Yards? Don’t worry about it. These things happen when your defensive lines get pressure and your secondary can cover. From what I read here, most of us our impressed with the LB core so let the guys knock some heads.

BVG has always been a hybrid bend don’t break defense. The hybrid part being opportunistic aggressiveness blitzwise and takeaways. Make them run a lot of plays every drive and they will make a mistake. As much as I love them when we do them, a 15-20 play drive is preferable to a big play.

-What happened to the offense?
All picked a bad time to have an off-day except for the former Blazer. I agree that Douglas is better suited to the slot so WR are playing out of position. Right now, we do not have a # 2 WR. Just 2 slot guys and a number 4 red zone threat. I would like to see them start working in palmer out of 2 WR sets but Peele suits me just fine there as well.

-Do the Falcons have moxie or just lucky?
Lucky is Garrett Hartley missing a FG and Clements turning over the ball. Moxie is your pro-bowl WR running down a very fast corner from what looked like 25yrds behind. Cool is coming back to throw darts on third down to HD and an amazing throw to RW. Marbles is kicking what I estimated to be a 100 yd FG right down the center of the uprights… after being iced.

-What happened to Matt Ryan and the passing attack?
Bad mojo. The last drive told me what I needed to know. Great players “rise up” to make big plays even on their worst day.

-Has Turner lost a step?
Surprise! No. Right now, he needs to be more decisive and like I have said many times since yesterday, he starts slow and should see the field better every week. Lastly, MM run a MFin counter. It’s the man’s bread and butter.

FrontRow

October 5th, 2010
9:52 am

Definitely the new kids need to step up on ST. Grimes / Moore / Owens have all spent time on the bench due to injuries running special teams.

Snelling was (hopefully remains past tense) a ST stud. Ovie is still on the team so tell me who is going to play FB if he pulls a hammy running sprints on ST?

If it isn’t fixed soon it will cost us a game.

Samuel

October 5th, 2010
10:34 am

This on point, one of the best critique analysis I’ve read in quite sometime. Kudos!!!

LRD

October 5th, 2010
10:39 am

ST play. Watching the Dolphins last night, and if we do not fix our Spec Teams, it will cost us a game as it did for the Fins. kick off return for TD , blocked punt leading to a TD and then a blocked FG for a TD.

Last week was the article on how Roddy in his first 2 yrs almost was cut, saved by Joe Horn and turned into the player he is. And Roddy stating how he is teaching HD the lessons he has learned. Who woulda thunk that from the days of his pulling up his shirt for the hand made message in regards to he who cannot be named, to now? More than anything, the heart he showed on that play is just inspiration to his teammates…
And the fact he was being shut down, but then when we needed it the most he and Matt connected…. very, very nice
Now when Jenkins returns and HD moves slot, our O will become even more formibidle (I for one have missed him. yes I rag on him like most others, but I do miss not having him in the lineup. Guess one could say he is a legit #2 for us, when waiting for him to return)

The Desire by our O to get it to click under 2 min left in the game is going to sit in the brains of our opponents. So far the Falcons have shown you mess up, you give us a chance, and we can beat you…… I had a few friends call/text stating that they are now worried about our Team, and they are nervous coming to the Dome ( Ravens fans, Bengals fans saying that.. )

Move as a Team….Never move alone… and .. Welcome to the Terror Dome….

Paddy O

October 5th, 2010
10:40 am

our d line is getting good pressure & push – my problem is we seem to be playing our safeties to center of field, which is by DRob is playing so far off of Crabtree- who I believe caught 2 3rd down conversions – your CB can not play over 8 yard off the receiver – expecting the guy to go deep – remember, SF originated the west coast offense.

Samuel

October 5th, 2010
10:48 am

I just saw the Interveiw with Dana and Roddy on espn. I think after watching, you can’t help but to like Roddy white just a little bit more. This kid is funny!

mountain_jim

October 5th, 2010
11:01 am

AJC columnist Mark Bradley wrote yesterday that Mularkey is doing a good job (he cited stats of equal numbers passes and runs) and calling exactly the type of game headcoach Smith wants.

If that’s true, then that is my first major issue with Smith, because imho Mularkey is holding Falcons back big time with his lack of screens, draws, creativity, and variety of passing options in the offense. They were lucky to get wins last 2 weeks, and the offense lost game 1. The defense is way ahead of the offense in execution, and while the offense looks ok stats-wise, it is under-performing based on available talent, due to scheme weaknesses and play-calling.

Mularkey really regressed last week and I wonder why. The NO game was his best game, Pitt his worst.

Saints LSU

October 5th, 2010
12:14 pm

everybody gonna play the saints like it there superbowl that’s ok we are battle tested that’s why we are the champions long season but the saints will be in the NFC championship & superbowl 45

DePlane

October 5th, 2010
12:21 pm

On ST we let Jamaal Fudge, Antoine Harris and somebody else go…who were awesome STeamers.

DePlane

October 5th, 2010
12:30 pm

Having flailed at the teams deficiencies I want to make it perfectly clear…and Cagers, you can join me on this if you want:

While I criticize the weak spots, as a fan I am VERY happy with MY Atlanta Falcons! I am really stoked about the potential this team has and the havoc it will wreak. We are who we think we are! #4 in this weeks power rankings? Stingy giving up points? Rushing attack once again at the top of the heap? QB who is turning from the QB with all the tools lacking the the experience and leadership into the QB with all the tools leading the team?

All of this is no accident; but a well thought out methodical process applied by true football men.

Sky is the limit; and these Birds will Fly High!!!!!!!!!!!

FrontRow

October 5th, 2010
1:08 pm

I’m with you 100% DePlane.

Bangkapi Ajarn

October 5th, 2010
1:35 pm

Okee dokie, lets take on D3’s questions DeJour

-Is Roddy White in fact a top 5, elite receiver?
I think he has made it, BUT not for just catching the ball. In order to be elite at a position requires something special, something- dare I say it – elite. That pursuit to the 10 or so and the subsequent strip was elite, special. He is performing at a higher level than his peers from where I am sitting and that DOES make him, finally, elite.

-Has Curtis Lofton made the turn to play-making linebacker?
The numbers say yes, a top tackler.

-What in the H is wrong with the special teams?
The actual kicking is good at the moment, but coverage and returns are substandard. I’m thinking there is a talent shortfall, starting with “gunners” and a stud returner (which would need to be considered as a “need” position in and of itself and drafted for). I still fear this will cost us a game or two, and possibly a home game in the playoffs.

-How bad is special teams?
Subjectively, I have a pang of fear in the pit of my stomach when we kick, and a pang of frustration in the pit of my stomach when we receive a kick. Where is Franks?????? How bad is special teams? Three Maalox bad.

-Worried about the screens and draws or nitpicking?
NOT nitpicking, and not because of a few underneath yards here and there. I am worried because we are giving up those yards on 3rd down, extending drives like last year.

-What happened to the offense?
Timidity. We don’t put the pedal to the metal until AFTER we are in trouble. 3 of 4 games going to the final play is NOT a good thing, we need to play with urgency in the first 3.5 quarters as well. Refer to Paul Johnson, “pants on fire”, etc.

-Do the Falcons have moxie or just lucky?
Yes to both, BUT Moxie doesn’t seem to show up until the end of the game, and as for luck– this team (pretty much any team, really) needs a heaping helping of luck to make it to the Superbowl – Understanding of course that luck usually comes after a boatload of preparation (coming from top class Coaching). How many teams that make it to the Superbowl win games by chance, the other team misses a FG, the other team has a critical fumble at a key moment, etc.
Of course, that luck comes with preparation, practice, composure, strip drills (which Roddy executed to perfection), tip drills, etc.
Props to the Coaches for drilling that in, and to the players for retaining their composure under challenging conditions to give lady luck a chance, and to take full advantage of it when it DOES come (Like the Falcons re-drive from their own ten with 100 or so seconds left, and Roddy chasing down a CB to strip the ball 40 or 50 yards down the field, in the shadow of his own endzone in the fina seconds, and one of the big Uglies pursuing a late INT WAYYY down the field so he is on the spot for a fumble recovery).
Considering the above points, a question to ponder – why are the Falcons special teams so unlucky????? HMMMMM.

-What happened to Matt Ryan and the passing attack?
Timidity. Which seems to slip away when the hurry up offense is in play (when the D can’t substitute)

-Has Turner lost a step?
Seems like it from where I sit. I am not certain that Snelling isn’t performing better at this stage, better explosion, breaking tackles, etc.

DePlane

October 5th, 2010
2:31 pm

BA….three Maalox bad, haha! Yes, the Pepto-kids need to turn that unit around. We need all three phases humming at the same time!

Bangkapi Ajarn

October 5th, 2010
3:00 pm

DePlane;
I am jazzed about the D, and the unrealized potential of the O, both are capable of taking us to the Superbowl with the right bounces of the ball – BUT – that third phase, special teams, I am getting the feel it has been ignored, de-prioritized somehow. We need a Hester, a McCluster or I would even take a Tim Dwight, and I see this as a priority (and did before the draft). White Shoes Johnson, we hardly knew ye.

Screen Pass/ Fire Mularkey NOW!!

October 5th, 2010
3:11 pm

Are you saying M. Ryan is timid BA? I certainly haven’t seen that. I have seen a guy that is constantly harried and pummeled due to sub-par performance from the O-line and an idiot OC that lets teams bring the hounds full force because he is too stupid/ stubborn to install screens and outlets, but yet still guts out 65% completion rates. If you bother to read other Falcon blogs you will find that us in the Cage aren’t the only fans that see Mularkey’s faults.

[...] their lucky stars not to be 1-3. …Forward Progress: Declaring the MVP for Week 4 in the NFLTSNFalcons Survive Niners in Ugly WinAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 42 news [...]

Screen Pass/ Fire Mularkey NOW!!

October 5th, 2010
3:13 pm

Good point Deplane. I’m happy we are 3-1 and doing well also. I just see alot of things that need alot of attention if we are to continue to prosper.

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waynester

October 5th, 2010
3:53 pm

We should emulate other teams(pro and college) and make STs a priority. Right now, they seem like almost an afterthought. It should be an elite unit–a badge of honor- instead of a place to plug guys who barely make the roster as backups. Many head coaches take on the ST coaching duties themselves to emphasize it’s importance. Maybe Smitty should consider something similar–I’m not advocating pulling a Miami and firing Armstrong 4 games into the season, but obviously some extra attention needs to be paid here.
PS
Now ya’ll see why I was so hot for us to trade into the 2nd round for Dexter McCluster. He really brings something extra to the game…oh well, can’t have ‘em all….

Paddy O

October 5th, 2010
3:53 pm

Ryan did show some learning curve – he did a good job, after getting rushed for the 1st quarter & half, to vary his snap count – we had quite a few off sides on SF, and I thought a couple more that were not called. He also pump faked – if we integrate play action 2nd down, plus roll a dice and throw a couple of times on first down (like if the die comes up with a whole number?), we need to do more to keep the D honest – it looked like SF did a very good job of game planning for us, and I don’t think SF is a top flight D. The Ravens will be a good test.

mark

October 5th, 2010
3:55 pm

That was an inspired team despreate not to go winless, they only scored one offense touch down and we held them to 276 yards. We need to clean the special teams up in order to avoid the big play. The offense can be frustrating at times, but I think it shows not having Micheal Jenkins back is still hurting us, he has caught 50 or more balls the each of the last 3 years. We need him to open up the offense as you can play him number 2 and Douglas in the slot. I think we saw at the end of 08 what having a healthy Doulas along with White and Jenkins will do for the offense and now add Gonzales to the mix. This is when I want to see Mularkey spread some people out and use our size and speed to our advantage.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 5th, 2010
4:30 pm

Falcons need an OC with more imagination. The defense is on the right path but the offense has gone backwars from last year.

JJ

October 5th, 2010
5:01 pm

FFL, does everyone know that SANTONIO HOLMES (JETS) is active this week with? Just trying to help everyone out for THURS WAIVER WIRE, and not let him fall into the king/queen of our league, lol!!!!!!

Bangkapi Ajarn

October 5th, 2010
5:01 pm

Waynester;
BIG sign on to 3:53 post, special teams needs to be treated as an equal leg of that 3 legged stool we balance our hopes and dreams on, and my perception (valid or otherwise) is that we aren’t.

Screen Pass/ Fire Mularkey NOW!!
I am saying that the Offense is timid, especially in a ‘normal” set. No Huddle seems far more aggressive – and successful (not a coincidence, I fear).

Ryan is smarter this year despite a lower QB rating, fewer dumps out of bounds, more scrambles for positive yardage and throws to check-off receivers (like that toss to TG coming back to help out his QB). He wasn’t so sharp Sunday yet still found way to focus when the game was on the line despite the INT’s

Now, is th etimidity a result of MM’s play calling trying to avoid mistakes (taking pressure off the D, avoiding a short field to defend), Smitty’s direction and guidance in setting up a game plan to maximize the running game and time of possession (if so, it is working as the Falcons lead the NFL with 99 first downs if I recall correctly), or Matty Ice Checking off? I don’t know, but the no huddle successes may still be MM whispering in MR’s ear thru the radio, so it isn’t a dead set certainty that MM is the culprit.

JJ

October 5th, 2010
5:06 pm

Bier Trucks 13, Spoon’s Motors 7….just the faxs mame!

Paddy O

October 5th, 2010
5:22 pm

I still say the offense works better with Ryan in the no huddle, or even hurry up. If you put a standard 3 receiver package, with snelling & mughelli (rotate every 2 series of downs, or 10 plays), along with Tony G & just let Ryan run the offense, I think we could move the ball better. You could use Finneran as a second TE. When the pressure is on, Ryan plays pretty well-that throw to White was slick, on the right with two defenders.

3-1 Vs. 1-3

October 5th, 2010
5:32 pm

Two plays by the Falcons illustrate why they are 3-1 and not 1-3. Passion. Play 1: The hit Peterson made in N.O. causing the fumble; Play 2: R. White and H. Dahl running hard after the S.F. interception. Can you coach passion? — obviously Coach Smith is doing something right. Winning is more than just X’s and O’s. Now, if we can get to the passion level of the Pittsburgh D — which is like releasing a squirrel into a room of 100 lab retrievers.

[...] their lucky stars not to be 1-3. …Forward Progress: Declaring the MVP for Week 4 in the NFLTSNFalcons Survive Niners in Ugly WinAtlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Fan of D3

October 5th, 2010
6:11 pm

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER HEAR THE FALCONS DESCRIBED AS HAVING MOXIE… and I’m Jewish!

Moose

October 5th, 2010
6:12 pm

D3 ya beat the tar outta me…… I had some no shows this week…….

I’m back……..

-Is Roddy White in fact a top 5, elite receiver?

Yes……….

-Has Curtis Lofton made the turn to play-making linebacker?

Looks that way……..

-What in the H is wrong with the special teams?

Personel change with Sneling being the biggest… Zinger was also good but the new guys just gotta jell…..

-How bad is special teams?

The new guys just gotta jell…..

-Worried about the screens and draws or nitpicking?

Where did all those plays get the 9ers and Saints?….

-What happened to the offense?

Brusier Bros did a fine job and Ryan getting the ball back at the end had the fortitude to move the ball for a Bryant kick to win….

-Do the Falcons have moxie or just lucky?

Both and I hope it continues……..

-What happened to Matt Ryan and the passing attack?

Brusier Bros……….

-Has Turner lost a step?

The Bunner is just getting warmed up…….

Rock n Roll Falcons…….. Eat up them Brownies………..

SeminoleWarrior

October 5th, 2010
6:13 pm

WR, The Posse has a process….just make the playoffs and then, all things are even steven. I agree with you. Laday Sarah is definately the GM of the year thus far….outstanding moves!! And I have to face her this week. But we will not go gently into that good night.