Primetime Showdown – Falcons vs. Ravens

Six Searing Questions as Matchup of Year Looms

Can Ryan and Turner Deliver? (CCompton/AJC)

 It’s finally here Ladies and Gents…the big matchup we’ve been waiting for since the 2010 schedule was announced to air as the first Thursday Night Football Game on NFL Network. Take your pick of the story lines. Of course the Matt Ryan vs. Joe Flacco debate will be analyzed ad nauseum. The two teams have identical records at 6-2 and are tied for their respective division leads. Can the Falcons pass a test against one of the “big boys” of the NFL? Could this really be considered a Super Bowl preview? And of course Mike Smith won his only Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2000 as an assistant coach. Assuming this game plays out like many think it will, it’s hard to imagine NFL Network matching  this one the rest of the year. Six searing questions as the Big Bad Ravens come to town………….

1) Are the Falcons “Contenders” or “Pretenders?”

This will finally give a good barometer of what the 2010 Atlanta Falcons truly represent. They of course had their signature win of the season when they beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints in their house in New Orleans, but they’ve also had problems when running up against some of the elite teams in the NFL. They missed a big opportunity to steal a game from the franchise with the most Super Bowl Titles in Pittsburgh and they were flat out embarrassed by Philadelphia minus their best player. They’ve missed opportunities against New England, Dallas, and Philadelphia in recent years. They have them at home and an enormous chance to prove they’re for real and quiet some of the whispers that they’re close, but definitely not an elite team just yet. They won’t get a much bigger audience than this one. A nice road schedule could set up after this one with games at St. Louis, Seattle, and Carolina coming up soon if they could win.

2) How Bad Will the Secondary Get Torched?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Falcons were intent on improving their horrid pass defense last year, ranking near the very bottom in the entire NFL. Well, a peek at their current standings find them no different than last year whatsoever. Adding Dunta Robinson to a large contract was supposed to help. Thomas DeCoud in his second main year as a starter was supposed to make a run as a Pro Bowl spot. William Moore has added a swagger to the secondary, and with Christopher Owens, Brent Grimes, veteran Brian Williams, and rookie Dominique Franks, this was supposed to be better. Rookie Sean Weatherspoon was drafted in large part due to his coverage skills. Hard to place the blame solely on the players. The defensive line is great against the run, but is sporadic at best in getting pressure on the opposing QB. And the scheme under Coach Van Gorder obviously should take some hits. Many times the receivers are wide open with the closest defender 10 yards away. All this bad news and the Falcons haven’t even played some of the best quarterbacks on the schedule. They will see Brees and Freeman again, Aaron Rodgers comes to town soon, but they might see the best one on Thursday. Loaded with a ton of offensive talent, Joe Flacco could be poised for a record day. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, TJ Houshmanzadeh, and Ray Rice are worrying fans.

3) Will We See Another 3-4 Meltdown?

The stats are well-known and documented. The Falcons, and specifically Coaches Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey, have a very difficult time against the 3-4 defense. Going back to 2008, the Falcons have had little success on the 3-4. Whether it be the Patriots, 49ers, Browns, or Steelers, the Birds simply struggle to run the ball, set the tone, and open up the passing game. The lineman struggle to block, the backs can’t get over 2-3 yards, the receivers can’t get open, Matt Ryan is off rhythm, and Mularkey gets stuck in cement. The Falcons only entertain one of the best 3-4 defenses in the league for the last decade on Thursday night. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, shall we continue? This much is true, the Falcons coaching staff better get this enigma solved because over half the teams in the NFL have converted to the 3-4 defense.

4) Can Special Teams Get Any Worse?

Don't Worry, We're Used to It (CCompton/AJC)

Wait…don’t answer that question. As has been mentioned before over and over, the Falcons special teams is guaranteed to have at least one or two special teams breakdowns during the game. They can and have come from anywhere: kickoff coverage, paltry kick and punt returns, punt coverage, blocked punts, blocked field goals, and the list goes on and on. It’s really hard for fans to understand this because special teams have been a hallmark under Coach Mike Smith and specifically under Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong. For whatever reason, whether it be the players, the coaching, or the schemes, the bottom appears to have just fallen out. Mistakes can surely happen any time, but this has been a running plane crash this season. It could be argued that special teams already cost the Falcons one game (missed FG, clipping on return in OT, and shanked punt against Steelers). And they have certainly led to some close calls and near giveaways in other games (49ers, Browns, Saints), and very nearly cost them a game all by themselves (Bucs).

 Problems often happen and no fans will begrudge a few errors, but this is ridiculous. The special teams unit completely allowed the Bucs to climb right back in the game TWICE. Once up 14-0 and a huge kick return leads to 14-7 and then the Falcons pulling away 27-14 and another one brings them right back in it again, 27-21. On the other end, the Falcons strike absolutely no fear whatsoever in anyone with their return units. Perhaps Eric Weems gets too much blame, but he simply adds very little element of production in those areas. Maybe it’s an unfair comparison, but Harry Douglas absolutely did. Blocking surely isn’t up to par, but the front office deserves a lion’s share of the blame for creating zero competition at that position. They could have had Jerious Norwood in their plans for that area, but we’ll never know. Straight forward, the special teams unit will cost the Birds a game or two if this continues. Or at least make everything entirely much harder than it needs to be. Take a look at how young Tampa Bay’s special teams unit is and compare.

5) Can Offensive Line Give Matt Ryan Time?

The stat is insanely impressive: the Falcons are 17-1 at home when Matt Ryan starts at quarterback. And truth be told, the only loss could have easily been a victory if Roddy White catches the touchdown pass against the Broncos or our defensive back stops a 3rd and long bomb to Brandon Marshall at the end of the game, but now we’re nitpicking. That will be put to the test against the Ravens on many fronts, but none other than the offensive line’s ability to not only open holes for the running backs but also protect Matt Ryan from what’s surely to be a heavy amount of blitzing. They have mammoth Haloti Ngata at LDE, Ray Lewis at MLB, Terrell Suggs at OLB, and two of the best safeties in the league in Ed Reed and Dawan Landry. The offensive line will absolutely have to be on their A Game to win this one. The running backs and tight ends will have to help out extremely well on this talented and aggressive defense. It’s fairly safe to say that Matt Ryan flourishes when he gets into rhythm and struggles when he doesn’t. If the OL can’t provide him time, than it could be a long night.

6) Any Chance the Falcons Contain Ray Rice?

One of the key matchups will be if the Falcons defense can contain (not stop) the ultra-talented and versatile running back Ray Rice. Rice burst onto the scene last year and hasn’t looked back since. He is tough, fast, and a superb back in the passing game. He is averaging 4.0 yards on the ground and a whopping 7.6 through the air. The Falcons have shown they can shut down the running game, but without rookie Sean Weatherspoon’s coverage skills, Rice may go wild in the short passing attack. Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson are tough, gritty, and fast but they have their issues in coverage. Fans already know about Curtis Lofton’s struggles in coverage. As ChopBuster mentioned the other night, why not try and mix it up and be creative on defense. Drop William Moore or Chris Owens down to OLB while leaving Erik Coleman in the game. Mix it up, because if Rice has a field day it won’t be a pretty ending.

Bonus Question

Where are the Falcons wide receivers not named Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez? White goes over 200 yards with ease and beats double teams all day and Gonzalez gets double and brackets and still manages to get open. Jenkins has had a few good catches since returning, but nothing to write home about. Finneran has had a few as well (mainly red zone looks), but definitely not a consistent part of the passing game. The big players missing in action are the speedy slots. Harry Douglas was off to a good start and really stretching the field even if not making the TD and has been noticeably absent recently. Eric Weems obviously has talent, but never has an impact on the aerial game. Perhaps it’s not the players but the scheme. The Falcons won’t be confused with Eagles in terms of WR depth, but they certainly have playmakers and little to show for it. Is it Jenkins/Douglas/Finneran/Weems, Matt Ryan, Mike Mularkey, or all of the above. Please help explain.

Your Turn

-Straight out……who wins?

-Will Falcons be Contenders or Pretenders?

-Too much emphasis on a non-conference game?

-Are you worried about Thursday Night in The Dome?

-Will you cover your eyes with our secondary?

-What’s the deal with our secondary: players, coaching, DL, or scheme?

-How much does Flacco, Rice, Boldin, Mason, and Houshmanzadeh scare you?

-Will we succumb to the 3-4 curse yet again?

-Why do we struggle with the 3-4?

-Can special teams get any worse?

-Where did this Spec Teams collapse come from?

-Will the O-Line show up against the tough Ravens D?

-Can Falcons contain Ray Rice?

-What’s up with the Falcons wide receivers?

571 comments Add your comment

Box

November 10th, 2010
10:40 pm

D3,
Pesky? Pesky?

Sarah B

November 10th, 2010
10:44 pm

#1 FALCON’S #2 Contenders…

Box

November 10th, 2010
10:47 pm

Sarah,
I see you chose team over alertness for work Friday. I Know you will be fine. Go Team.

Sarah B

November 10th, 2010
10:50 pm

#3 – NO, #4 – NO, #5 – NO, #6 – NO, Scheme – None, #10 – NO… eeesh tired of the questions Falcons WIN tomorroww night – becaome elite!!!

Wabe

November 10th, 2010
10:51 pm

Almost Thursday already…

Super short week.

We’ll see how legit this 6-2 start is tomorrow night.

Box

November 10th, 2010
10:53 pm

Secondary scares me every week. Still young and haven’t created their own identity. Special teams adding some starters. Do we risk their health? A double edge sword.

Sarah B

November 10th, 2010
10:53 pm

Yep BOX I’m going for it! Screw Friday!

Box

November 10th, 2010
10:58 pm

Sarah,
Still working, right?

D3

November 10th, 2010
11:05 pm

Great Night Cage Family!!! — I’m a nervous nellie by nature, but I can’t say that I’m the most confident in the world. I have no problem with the loss to the Steelers and the way we did it, but that Philly game has stuck in my gut and will not go away. If we win (any form or fashion) tomorrow night than that will be gone. If we don’t, then that issue still remains (re: struggling with top teams).

Box — Very impressive on your picks my friend. I’m lucky to be .500 for goshsake.

Sarah B. — Hope you noticed your shout-out in the article.

Wabe — Big game doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Really gone this time. Have a great one!

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kaminari

November 11th, 2010
1:32 am

How bad is this one gonna get? Let me tell you, there was only one other game this year that I got excited about, the nervous jitteries etc. And that was the Eagles game. The Ravens will come prepared and dissect the Falcons and ruin the game plan early, just like the Eagles did. The one huge difference in this game is that we’ll be at home. That’s why I think we’ll pull it off.

Btw, special teams will be better cause they’re inserting the two leaders from last year’s corps. Ray Rice is going nowhere. Lookout for Roddy to have a big game. He’s gonna play regardless of what they’re saying. And the Falcons D will never get better till we get Sean Weatherspoon back, whenever that is. So, look for the Ravens to pretty much destroy us till we get the playmakers involved with some quick scores.

I predict we’ll see a complete football team on the field this Thursday, and that team will be in the Super Bowl. But as of now I can’t tell you which team it will be. I’m hoping it’s our Falcons.

[...] Primetime Showdown – Falcons vs. Ravens | Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage [...]

[...] Primetime Showdown – Falcons vs. Ravens | Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage [...]

Eric C.

November 11th, 2010
5:18 am

Based on this analysis, Ravens 38 Falcons 3.

Eric C.

November 11th, 2010
5:20 am

The Falcons simply do not have a championship defense…especially without Weatherspoon.

ymmotretsof

November 11th, 2010
7:16 am

Glad to hear Sarah decided to go to the game.Friday will take care of itself.I don’t think there is a Falcon fan that’s not worried about this game.I know we could survive a lose in this one but I’m all about the winning.

Unca' Bob

November 11th, 2010
7:44 am

A tip of the Falcon cap and a heart-felt Thank You to all our Vets. Without you, we would have nothing. Please enjoy your very special day!

Charming Harmon

November 11th, 2010
8:05 am

This writer is dead on it! Our Falcons should not even be on the same field as the Ravens! I amazed the Ravens have lost any games period!
Our defensive stinks, our offensive stinks, our special teams stinks, our coaches stink, our management stinks and my spelling stinks!

Maybe Mike Smith can get the game called after the 2nd quarter, like the do in little league.

Ravens are Super Bowl winners! Why wait let’s crown them now.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

November 11th, 2010
8:23 am

Happy Veterans Day to all Vets that frequent this blog and all over the World. Happy Veterans Day!!!

John Waynesworld

November 11th, 2010
8:23 am

Happy Veterans Day, you know who you are, and thank you for your service.

Alright, where is the sense? The Ravens have lost twice, both away games, at Cincinnati and New England. Okay, I can see N.E. but not the Bengals. They also should have lost to Buffalo at home 3 weeks ago where the Bills, with their rookie QB, ran their offense up and down the field at will against the VAUNTED Ravens defense. Despite massive turnovers by the 0-8 Bills, Baltimore still didn’t blow them out in their own home field. So where is the sense that they beat up the Dolphins last week? Is Miami that bad? Maybe, but there is still no sense in the Baltimore Ravens. In some games that they win they lead in time of possession, some they don’t. Some games they win by out-rushing their opponent, sometimes they get out-rushed and still win. Same with passing stats. Same with turnover stats. Yards per pass. Yards per rush. It’s all over the board for the Ravens.

What that says to me is this team is all about intangibles like “emotion” and “motivation”, and that is what leads them to victory (see Ray Lewis). This is not a good sign for us, for this game is being nationally touted as #1 AFC vs #1 NFC. Even the stat boys at ESPN have oddly launched the Falcons to #3 in the NFL rankings, over the Giants, which is such a stretch it makes taffy laugh.

Our home field record is the only thing that analysts can really hang their hats on, but even if we do what we do best, which is run the ball, eat the clock, and play good run defense, it may not be enough against an emotionally charged team like the Ravens.

GO FALCONS!!!

FrontRow

November 11th, 2010
8:53 am

On offense – accuracy and timing. The Bills were ready for the Ravens B/C they were ready to get the ball out quickly. Falcons are one of the best at timing routes – it’s key that the Falcons get some timing going with somebody other than Roddy White. Accuracy and timing includes making the catch (no tipped balls) and using the pass to set up the run.

On defense – keep a spy on Ray Rice. Ravens have a lot of weapons but they are not speed burners. Success includes a little more man coverage than normal – the Ravens will not be ready for it.

ST – supposed to stay mum on this but the Ravens struggle on return teams and if we let them “get well” tonight then we just might hand them the game. Falcons improve and Ravens stay the same = advantage Falcons.

Lastly – penalties. I don’t know if the refs threw a flag on the spitting incident (unsportsmanlike) but I will be in very early reminding the refs about the “player safety rules” and the Ravens tendency to attempt intimidation by playing at the edge of the rulebook.

Gamer

November 11th, 2010
8:59 am

The Falcons offense have enough umph to punch several TD’S against the Ravens. Ryan must play with composure and be decisive. He said it best, “to pass with CONVICTION.”

Falcons D be aggressive and on point.

SPECIAL TEAM MAKE MINIMUM MISTAKES…

FALCONS WIN 24-13

Chop Buster

November 11th, 2010
8:59 am

Uh D3, that little William Moore as OLB recommendation was my idea if truth be told. Go back and look at the original blog. :)

John Waynesworld

November 11th, 2010
9:06 am

Here’s the nega-me…

With Weatherspoon out, the recent trend I am seeing of opposing QBs putting the ball up and deep against our backfield-peeking DBs, and McClure hobbled and having to play against the best defensive lineman in the NFL, Haloti Ngata, Ravens start out of the gate hot and win going away, 42-17. I also don’t see Roddy playing much in this game because of his injury and we need him against later NFC games which are more important than this game. I am basically down playing this game ALL the way. It our only chance of an upset.

Here’s the posi-me…

Matty Ice is going to pick on the Raven’s questionable pass defending linebackers while eliminating Mr. Ed Reed by running a receiver right at him on every pass play. We are also going to bring back our secret weapon, Trell Johnson, because little quick backs can run around the Ravens gigantic D linemen. Also our defense has gained confidence with their goal line stand and our pass rush will get to Flacco in due time. Donta will get a pick this week as his motivation is high after slipping last week.

FrontRow

November 11th, 2010
9:06 am

Note to attendees – the Ravens are a dirty team – despite what you see off the field they are thugs on the gridiron.

This includes their fans. So far this year (Cards, 49er’s, Bengals, Bucs) the opponent attendees have been palatable but that all changes tonight.

Their game plan will be to intimidate. If they get knocked off of that plan, they will lose composure. Likewise, if they get away with it, Falcons need to keep their composure – this includes the fanatics in the seat.

Please take the time to remind the Raven’s partisans near you that thuggery is a coverup for (fill in your own shortcoming) and, although reminders to Ray Lewis about his past transgressions is a bit over the line, reminders to the partisans about Mr. Lewis (or any other form of Ravens thuggery) is completly within the boundaries. They will be here but there is no reason for them to feel comfortable.

LRD

November 11th, 2010
9:09 am

The Ravens have the psychological advantage simply because of their past of having one of if not THE best D’s in recent memory. So many teams go in with that worry on their mind.
However, the Falcons come in on their home court. With one of the best running games in the league. The home record under Smitty also is an edge for us. Defend the Dome right?
I believe we pull this out….and I believe we do so with 10pt margin. (hey if you are going to believe.. you gotta believe)
WR situation: Douglass had nada on stats last game. Unacceptable. Jenkins had an awesome catch.. but only 2 total… we say this every week, but we need them to step up so we can take some of the coverage off Gonzo and White.
I do expect this week we see Smith or Johnson involved more in the O. Especially with Snelling a bit banged up….

Our Secondary either wins or loses this game for us. They must pick Flacco as they will come out gunning, they cannot get torched, and I want to see Moore as a guided missile on a blitz at Flacco.

For our Vets.. thank you.. and I will quote Lincoln
“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

D3

November 11th, 2010
9:09 am

Sorry Chop…..it has been corrected!

Chop Buster

November 11th, 2010
9:15 am

D3, I’m just hoping Smitty takes my suggestion. LOL There are lots of HC that get creative using players at multiple positions…why don’t we?

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

November 11th, 2010
9:20 am

Hold up, Wait a minute! Again, I’ve read several post about Weatherspoon being out makes for a weaker defense and ultimately makes the falcons less competitive, if one player makes this much of a difference, the team is at a disadvantage and shouldn’t even lace’em up, or strap on the pads tonight. Please, give me a freaking break, all of the 6-2 teams and the teams with winning records in the league, will not miss a beat with one or maybe 2 of their backers out, they would plug the next man in line, in and keep kicking azz.

Weatherspoon is a rookie that has played 4 games, the falcons are what, 3-1 without him, so his absence is dramatized way too much, if he has a cape underneath his uniform and posess laser vision, I aint seen it. Even suggesting some of our short comings on defense are due to the absence of Weatherspoon, is a copout and a conveant excuse without looking further into the inner workings of the defense. The defense rating against the pass is a mirror image of last year, with some improvements against the run, so realisticly we are the same as last year, we have much deeper problems than missing a rookie backer.

IMO, I think we have a better than average chance of winning tonight and if we do, most fans including me will be elated, the media will instantly annoint us and mention us in superbowl conversation, Even with the victory tonight, what does it realy say about our team, yeah, they are lights out in the dome, but could we beat this same team and other top notch teams on their home field? Sometimes I don’t like to pour cold water on entusiasm, but its the truth, casual fans, prognosticators and fanatical fans will know the answer to the question, are we 4real, are we the best in the division, NFC, are we a superbowl contender? When we rise up and beat these top teams on the road, consistantly, we have arrived.

Saints LSU

November 11th, 2010
9:35 am

the saints are waiting don’t lose this game tonite

CBrass

November 11th, 2010
9:40 am

Once "Recent" Reader

November 11th, 2010
9:49 am

Interesting article. What do NFL Coaches and GMs know that “around 40%” of AJC Bloggers /Falcon Fans don’t?

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81c04aa7/article/falcons-ryan-cream-of-talented-young-crop-of-nfl-qbs?module=HP_cp2

ymmotretsof

November 11th, 2010
10:01 am

I have to agree with Truth a bit on this one.Spoon does not the team make.I like the guy but I haven’t seen much of him and we’re still winning.The defence is good not great but good and he has only played half the games.Every body knows now he was hurt much worse than was first said.Lofton has a knee problim and has still played.We now know they are holding out hope to have him back for the second half of the season,well it starts tonight.We also know the 6-2 record would be more respeted if not for special teams.

chelf

November 11th, 2010
10:03 am

Quite possibly still drunk at work this morning. D3- its like college again. Shocked that we somehow all got degrees.

I chose the falcons to cover in my weekly picks, but Im worried. I think this game boils down to whether we are able to run the ball effectively or not. Roddy is apparently going to play, thank goodness, and hopefully that keeps the d honest. If special teams play costs us the game, I may blow a gasket. Lets hope the o-line holds up, and the burner breaks one or two for us.

what is the word on spoon by the way? havent heard much about his status.

and finally, just got through looking at the standings on nfl.com, and love seeing the falcons with the second best record in the last 5 games. dont even care who the competition has been lately. an nfl win is an nfl win.

Chop Buster

November 11th, 2010
10:08 am

Straight out……who wins? We better protect our house!!! Take some pride and be more physical than the Ravens. We need to go after them at the same rate we elevate our level of play against the Saints. Get the lead early and keep scoring until the clock hits zero.
-Will Falcons be Contenders or Pretenders? They have the potential to be contenders if our offense attacks and our defense doesn’t give up the big play. And don’t forget special teams doing their part.
-Too much emphasis on a non-conference game? No. We need to gauge where this team is (if they can win against one of the better defenses in the league). Every game should be important and have an emphasis of dominating the opponent.
-Are you worried about Thursday Night in The Dome? A little. Only because we’ve been so sporadic in the games we’ve played this year. We’re 6-2 but we’re not really dominating anyone.
-Will you cover your eyes with our secondary? No. They are what they are. Either they’ll play discipline ball and attack—or continue to give up the big plays.
-What’s the deal with our secondary: players, coaching, DL, or scheme? It’s a combination of all of them. The players are out of position at times playing undisciplined ball; BVG is a all or nothing type of guy (blitzes and no one left in the secondary to prevent the BIG play; the DL definitely doesn’t get consistent pressure, knock downs or sacks on the QBs; and I really dislike the zone/blitz scheme when you take our main pass rushers and drop them in coverage (stop being a copycat and create your own defensive identity).
-How much does Flacco, Rice, Boldin, Mason, and Houshmanzadeh scare you? Flacco can be confused if we give him looks he hasn’t seen before. Rice can be stopped out of the backfield—just make sure we have everyone hit him coming out of the backfield to knock him off any routes. These three amigos do concern me; especially how we’ve been giving up a big play for the last couple of games now.
-Will we succumb to the 3-4 curse yet again? If we do, that tells me this coaching staff does not know what they’re doing. Ryan is pretty good at picking up the blitz given time. We need to pass to our RBs out of the backfield more instead of giving it to Turner constantly behind the line. It’s our OL that really has the problem blocking and opening holes against 3-4 defenses.
-Why do we struggle with the 3-4? Because Mularkey is stubborn and insistent upon the run when the 3-4 defense is designed to stop the run. It just comes down to not being offensively creative and using ALL the weapons you have on this team.
-Can special teams get any worse? It sure can, but I hope they don’t. I’m happy to hear we’re adding Biermann back to the mix, but everyone else has to cover their lanes as well. I think we’re missing a Kamikaze type player that’s willing to run down the field and blow the returner up. On the otherside of coverage, Weems is just not a #1 returner. He runs scared and falls at the first sign of contact. Where is Franks? Why is he inactive? We need to try him or Douglas at returning punts and kickoffs. This is definitely something that has to be fix at the end of the season.
-Where did this Spec Teams collapse come from? Letting too many people go from last year, playing too many undisciplined young guys. Is it me or does it seem like our team is just full of SMALL players now?
-Will the O-Line show up against the tough Ravens D? Who knows. They are as predictable as the wind.
-Can Falcons contain Ray Rice? Yes. Put many hats on him early and often. If he’s blocking for Flacco blow him up. If he’s sneaking out of the backfield blow him up. We are missing some NASTINESS on this team!
-What’s up with the Falcons wide receivers? My guess is when you’re a run first team your WRs aren’t going to be in sync with the QB. You have to throw the ball more, spread it around more to be a better passing team. Plus Ryan needs time to deliver the ball; which he doesn’t always get. The other part of this is Mularkey doesn’t know how to use what he has in creative ways. We are what our OC plans for us to be. :)

WR

November 11th, 2010
10:25 am

Morning cage, D3 what can I say that I haven’t said a ton, once again great article. Of all the questions to comment about about, the one about where are the other receivers jumps out at me. As JJ would say look at the film or the replays of recent games, when we ask where is Douglas, look at the tape, there has been multiple times he has been wide open deep and Ryan has actually looked for him but in the end nothing comes out of it. That’s not a bad thing, Ryan and Douglas obviously have some chemistry issues, but what I like is the fact that Douglas is getting back to his old self, and I believe he and Ryan will get back on the same page very soon. Over the last few weeks I feel as though the Falcons are taking the cuffs off of Ryan, he’s spreading the ball more and we now can actually see receivers running free that Ryan either missed or didn’t get the protection to get the ball to them, sounds bad, but thats actually an improvement, one that will show up more as the season goes on. Finally, again I say finally, all of the weapons at the Falcons disposal are being utilized, creative playcalling and pass route design does that MM,LOL. In all honesty I believe the Falcons are getting there, I said it earlier in the season and I’ll say it again now, great teams peak during the latter part of the season and into the playoffs, at 6-2 the funny thing is the Falcons are no where near peaking, they could lose this game tonight and yes we all would be disappointed, but how they preform in this game is very important. Blowout and their not quite ready for primetime, win just getting by, yes its a win, but still not ready for primetime, lose a close one while showing tremendous heart, effort, planning, and preserverance, there getting close, win a close or win a blowout because of tremendous heart, effort, planning and preserverance and their starting to peak. As a fan of course I want to win, in a game with a short week, against such a dominant opponent, in primetime when everyone is watching, I want to see how they preform, how they answer the call, win or loss tonight, the Falcons will let us as well as the world know what their all about tonight.

SeminoleWarrior

November 11th, 2010
10:46 am

Cage Family,

I have returned. First, let me thank those of you that took the time to email and/or call. It has been an extremely busy and hectic time in the TeePee (both personally and professionally). The Grace kept me focused and strong…and now, I rise like the sun on a new day. I’m still dealing with some things but I’m back. So as we say, let’s roll.

Catching up on a lot that I have missed here but will definately be back later in the day to comment on the big matchup tonight. This is the GAME of the year…the one that will definately set the tone for the stretch run. Two team that are clones of each other in more ways that one; only edge is the defensive experience that the Ravens bring to the table.

Again, thanks for all the care, I’m back, and I’m ready to rock. Breaking right for a few…but I promise, the Warrior shall be back.

John Waynesworld

November 11th, 2010
10:48 am

By the way great work D3.

Herm Edwards on ESPN said that Joe Flacco has a 69 passer rating on the road.

SeminoleWarrior

November 11th, 2010
10:49 am

PS..

To all my warrior brothers and sisters out there that have served with honor, distinction, and pride, I salute you on this Veteran’s day. Anchors Aweigh, Semper Fi, Army Strong, and Aim High. If we did not do what we did in the name of service, where would America be today? You made a difference somewhere in this world, if you are STILL serving, you are the best we have to offer this world, and I’m damned proud to be one in the number.

Thanks for your legacy of service and my prayers are with those that continue to serve the greatest blessing (though still flawed) that God placed on earth, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA….

Sarah B

November 11th, 2010
10:54 am

Amen SW! Glad you are back! Now go have your free meal at Applebee’s.

Rikus

November 11th, 2010
10:56 am

Let’s not “torch” Van Gorder too quickly. Yes, the pass defense is ranked only 26th (bad). But with the run defense at 6th, we’re surely forcing teams to be one-dimensional. What’s the end-result of that strategy? 10th in scoring defense, 3rd in interceptions, and a 6-2 record… I’d say the defense is doing fine.

What we really need to do is stop giving up these big plays, both on defense and special teams. We play great, disciplined for 90-95% of the snaps and kicks, but those rare gaffs are making games much closer than they need to be.

SeminoleWarrior

November 11th, 2010
10:58 am

Thanks Sarah…I’ve missed all of you.

LRD

November 11th, 2010
11:02 am

SW: Welcome back! We were all wondering where you went…

D3

November 11th, 2010
11:10 am

Almost forgot……HAPPY VETERANS DAY TO ALL WHO HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY WITH HONOR, LOYALTY, AND PRIDE! I KNOW WE HAVE A TON OF VETS AS OUR REGULARS, SO I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE ANYONE OUT! BUT A SINCERE THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US HERE IN THE BIRD CAGE FOR BEING ABSOLUTE TRUE PATRIOTS!!!!!!

SeminoleWarrior

November 11th, 2010
11:13 am

Thanks LRD..

It has been challenging but that which challenges you makes you stronger. You can knock the Warrior down but I be damned if you can knock him out!! Again, thanks friend.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 11th, 2010
11:16 am

Morning folks (and welcome back D3), good news for the team is they earn a longish break after this game to heal, get the troops at full strength before the stretch run thru the meat of the NFC South competition. I am still sticking with my original prediction of 11-5 for the season, +- one game. They are still 50-50 for a first week bye. Big Picture, long view, the road to the Superbowl is still in clear view.
Straight out……who wins? — I queried my two top advisors on this one, and they split – my head says the Ravens win based on two data elements – they are another great team, a Superbowl caliber team, AND they are far more healthy than the Falcons coming into the game. My heart says Falcons, as they seem to find a way to win the close ones, especially at home. I live with the heartburn and go with the Falcons on a close one based on playing at home in a marquis game.
Now, D3’s questions de Jour
-Will Falcons be Contenders or Pretenders? – Contenders, regardless of this game.
-Too much emphasis on a non-conference game? — Nope, a superbowl caliber team needs to beat Superbowl caliber competition.
-Are you worried about Thursday Night in The Dome? — Deeply.

More in part 2

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 11th, 2010
11:17 am

-Will you cover your eyes with our secondary? Nope, high risk high reward. Lots of underneath throws completed as Spoon is out of hobbled, bend but don’t nreak (much) tonight. I am looking for a couple INT’s.
-What’s the deal with our secondary: players, coaching, DL, or scheme? –None of the above is the primary culpret– I say injuries. IF we had the players on the field (Spoon for example), and Williams (who seems to have been underestimated as the reasoned voice of experience back there). Scheme is giving up all the underneath yards, but as Spoon gets back and gains experience that should drop off.
-How much does Flacco, Rice, Boldin, Mason, and Houshmanzadeh scare you? — Quite a bit, especially Flacco to Rice.
-Will we succumb to the 3-4 curse yet again? — Yep.
-Why do we struggle with the 3-4? — Coaching.
-Can special teams get any worse? — When one is stumbling around in a room with the lights out, can it get darker? Perhaps not, but one CAN get hurt more and more as one continues to stumble around blindly.
-Where did this Spec Teams collapse come from? – Treating it as an afterthought? (This years emphasis was D), or perhaps Franks has turned out to be a colossal disappointment?
-Will the O-Line show up against the tough Ravens D? — Not confident about this one.
-Can Falcons contain Ray Rice? — Nope, he will get his, we just need to keep him out of the emd zons.
-What’s up with the Falcons wide receivers? — A bad case of the Mularley’s.

SeminoleWarrior

November 11th, 2010
11:18 am

D3, thanks.

Do not know if you have worn a uniform or not BUT I consider you a patriot as well. Each day, you step into the mine field that is the classroom, seeking as your mission, to mold the minds of the young men and women in whom our future as a people and a nation will depend. That battle is one that is often overlooked and under-appreciated. I thank you for that service.

You, too, my friend, as well as those like you who accept that challenge, are warriors as well.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

November 11th, 2010
11:52 am

I don’t know the extent of the rookies injury, but it doesn’t look good, he hasn’t even participated in limited/light practice. If he doesn’t practice in the next 10 off days, Houston, we have a problem.

He has a sprained knee, either its a grade 1 sprain and we will see him again this season, if its a grade 2, a partial tear of the MCL, we want see the rookie again until next season, hope its not the latter.