Falcons Best Ravens

Five Film Reviews from Birds Arrival

This Pretty Much Sums it Up (JGetz/AJC)

 The questions, the whispers, and all the rest were ready to accompany the Falcons if they were to fall short in the big primetime game against the Baltimore Ravens on NFL Network’s debut of Thursday Night Football. Many of the talking heads have been saying that the Falcons are nothing more than an average team that has gotten several lucky breaks, including the big victory over the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. Nope. The Falcons arrived on one of the biggest stages and proved that they can hang with anyone in the National Football League and win. The Philadelphia Eagles game is looking more and more like the anomaly, instead of the rule. The Falcons lost a tough game to Pittsburgh on the road and the Birds probably need to get better on the road in general, but the questions on if this team is or can be elite should be over for the time being. Yes, there is so much football left it would be ridiculous to make any claims right now, but the Atlanta Falcons have the best record in the NFC and just beat one of the perennial great teams in the NFL in the Baltimore Ravens. Five film reviews from the huge Ravens win……

1) The Falcons ARE Elite….for Now

Yes, it’s entirely too early to be talking about anything regarding the postseason, but the Falcons should be mentioned in every conversation about what teams are elite in the NFL. We’re talking only about this year, not any other year where teams are undefeated and the like. The Falcons are 7-2 and have beat the defending Super Bowl Champs New Orleans Saints, the Baltimore Ravens, beat the Tampa Bucs at home (who were tied for the NFC lead at the time), and played the Pittsburgh Steelers to the wire @ Heinz Field. Yes, they got destroyed by the Eagles without their MVP Michael Vick, but that game is looking like the aberration instead of the rule. The Birds could totally collapse and this be an absolute EPIC failure, as Coop noted, but with this team’s grit and the schedule, few fans expect that to happen. While they may not go 14-2, it’s not out of the realm anymore. Owning the top record in the NFC with both losses coming to two of the other best teams in the NFL makes the Birds elite, at least for now.

2) Matty Ice the Gunslinger/Roddy the MVP

Reigns Dropped = Record Day (JGetz/AJC)

The reigns were officially released in terms of franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. The guy CAN win by himself if he has too. He torched one of the best defenses in the NFL for the last decade through the air by launching the ball 50 times, scoring three TDs, no interceptions, and 316 yards. What many fans have been clamoring for, let the Iceman throw the ball around and see what happens. The aerial arsenal is in place with the best wide receiver in the NFL, a future Hall of Fame tight end, and great complimentary depth with Jenkins, Douglas, and Finneran. This is not to say that the Birds should turn into the Colts or Saints, but if the running game isn’t working than fire up the passing game. The no-huddle was a thing of beauty and we should see that way more often. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for giving Ryan plenty of time to get in rhythm and keeping him upright. The receivers stepped up as well and made some huge catches and plays. If there were any lingering questions on Ryan’s ceiling, potential, or value, the Falcons QB has evolved into one of the most consistent passer. As Deion said to Ryan, “this is your house.” Being 18-1 at home will do that for you including 11 4th quarter comebacks.  What’s left to say about Roddy White? The guy is headed for his third straight Pro Bowl and is making a run at MVP of the league. Game winning touchdown against Ravens where he walks into the endzone.

3) Problem with the Gas Pedal

The Falcons have worked themselves up a nasty little habit of allowing teams to come roaring back when they get comfortable leads. The Falcons have allowed that to happen in way too many games. They were up on the Bengals 24-6, up on the Bucs, 14-0, and up on the Ravens 20-7. Obviously, good teams will figure out how to score eventually and in the Bucs game it was mainly due to poor special teams play. But, it does seem to be an identity of the players and coaching staff to let off the gas pedal. The entire team (offense, defense, special teams, coaching) seems to hit a lull when the 3rd quarter starts. Fans aren’t expecting to rout teams by 70 points every game or rub it in, but the Falcons can’t keep playing with fire too long or eventually they’ll get burned. The offense goes into a run-out-the-clock mode, the defense starts dropping back in prevent with little to no pressure, and special teams seems to lose some aggression as well. Perhaps it’s more about the other team figuring things out in the second half, but the Falcons don’t have to make it easy.

4) Defense Stepped Up

D Stepped Up (JCrawford/AJC)

After weeks of being harangued about giving up boat loads of points and passing yards, the Falcons rose to the challenge against the extremely talented Ravens. They had a great and versatile running back, a superb quarterback, and a very deep receiving corps. After pretty much shutting the Ravens out in the first half, they allowed them to get back in the game after Baltimore got in rhythm (see point #3), but maybe that’s a whole team downfall instead of just blaming the defense. The run defense has been one of the best of the season, but the pass D has been about where it was last year. Kudos to the entire defense for limiting one of the more prolific offenses in the league. Hopefully, that confidence and aggressiveness will only continue to grow and they’ll be playing their best ball towards the end of the season. 

5) Can the Birds Handle Expectations?

The Falcons have always played the underdog role much better in the past (remember the Eagles game?) and now they’re slowly being pushed into the spotlight, default by best record if nothing else. The Falcons have a nice schedule setting up for them as the second half of the season commences. They absolutely have to take of business in St. Louis before they come back home to face another NFC elite team in the Green Bay Packers before they go on a 3 game road trip, which could be worse but they get the upstart Seahawks and the former “best team in the NFC” Tampa Bay Bucs. The Falcon are continuing to enjoy the underdog role because immediately following the enormous win, the talking heads were talking all about how the Ravens messed up and still claiming that the New York Giants were the best in the NFC (Jamie Dukes), the Green Bay Packers were NFC’s best, and that the Ravens were a top 4 team in the NFL while the Falcons were not (both by Rod Woodson). Keep winning and the spotlight will be forcibly nudged in the Falcons direction. 

Bonus Question

Is there a Falcons bias with the talking heads in the NFL? Relating to point #5, the Falcons just don’t seem to get the credit nationally. ESPN and NFL Network seem to have the most issues where the talking heads literally suck up all the oxygen in a 100 mile radius. The FOX commentators seem to be much more fair and objective since they cover them on a weekly basis. Delusional or spot on?

Your Turn

-Simply put: How big was this game?

-Should the Falcons let Matty Ice loose and throw the ball all the time?

-How good is the Falcons franchise wide receiver and quarterback?

-Should the no-huddle be our main offense?

-What’s the problem with the gas pedal?

-Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull?

-Is the defense getting back its mojo?

-Are Birds elite?

-Can Falcons handle the expectations?

-Is there a bias against the Falcons from talking heads (ESPN & NFL N)?

313 comments Add your comment

Sarah B

November 16th, 2010
10:04 pm

Blocking First Comments!

falcon21

November 16th, 2010
10:22 pm

Are the Birds elite? No not yet. They are about 3/4’s of the way there but they are coming together at the right time of the season. No huddle is the way to go and Matt and Roddy can be unstopable if we turn Ryan loose. It’s time to trust the man. That should cover gas on the pedal.This game is big and we will win easily. Bias, yep until we win the big game.

FalconFanThatWillPoopOnU

November 16th, 2010
10:31 pm

Are we elite? I’d say not, not quite. We’re close though. I think we should keep the pedal to the metal throughout the entire game and see where we are at the end of the game. Our defense has DRASTICALLY improved from last season. Our O-line is giving Matt Ryan time to find his receivers and I swear if I were Mike Mularkey, I’d hand Ryan the keys to the offense and let him drive that thing. He is a master at the no-huddle and can disect a defense when in the no-huddle. He has surgical precision in those situations. We must take care of business on the road against an improving Rams squad. They’ll be ready and I think we’ll be rested and ready to go too. 7-2 ain’t bad, but if we can take care of business and win out we will lock up home field advantage and a first round bye. With the best record in the NFC, we control our own destiny. GO FALCONS!

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

@ St. Louis
vs. Green Bay
@ Tampa Bay
@ Carolina
@ Seattle
vs. New Orleans
vs. Carolina.

Moose

November 16th, 2010
10:46 pm

-Simply put: How big was this game?

Winning a division game is Gold.. A conference game is Silver……. Beating the Ravens………. Priceless…………
Rock n Roll Falcons………..

Nice one as always D3…………..

DL

November 16th, 2010
10:55 pm

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the defensive letdowns (i.e., the Philly game and then allowing the Bengals, Bucs and Ravens to come back) happened during the time Spoon was injured. Don’t get me wrong, Nicholas has played admirably, but I think Spoon’s ability to play in space, rush the passer, etc., can eliminate some of these comeback drives.

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CPat16

November 16th, 2010
11:09 pm

Our remaining schedule doesnt look that bad….I consider all the home game wins (only bc we havent lost at home this season, knock on wood). Out of all the away games, the only game we could possibly lose to (knock on wood again) is the Bucs games only bc their an up and coming team with a good QB and good defense. With that said, we could easily go 13-3. Goo Falcons!!!

pritdapit

November 16th, 2010
11:27 pm

sarah you do realize by “blocking” the first comment you’re also mentioning you are first. and that keeps the whole “first” thing going right? its like arguing with a kid you make yourself look foolish too. but glad you are one the true birds fans.

CPat16

November 16th, 2010
11:34 pm

Who cares about what someone said…lets talk about FOOTBALL damnit!!!

falconidiot

November 16th, 2010
11:48 pm

The win over the Ravens was huge! They beat a better team than themselves, into a lesser team. Granted the Ravens had one less day of preparation while traveling and played in our house, but no one gave the Falcons a chance and for good reason. In eight previous weeks they hadn’t played well enough for anyone to believe in them. The first half was absolutely perfect, offense, defense, special teams, coaching (yes i said coaching)and the fans, were perfect. Second half had about 5/6 dropped passes and the defense struggled against a good and desperate offense. Falcons are getting better, the offense is clicking and there are only two games left on their schedule that are as tough as the one they just played and they are both in our house. Falcons control there own destiny now. We are not as good as the peeking Eagles, but we haven’t peeked yet either. NFC Championship game Falcons (Peek) over Eagles and Vick in the Ga, Dome. Don’t get no better than that.

DHunt

November 17th, 2010
12:51 am

At this point every game is big. We are playing for home field advantage. Who wants to play against MV7 at Philly? We got to end up with the best record in the NFC, because I don’t think Philly is going to lose again, unless Vick goes down.

The Falcons are as elite as anyone else in the NFL. They have top ten players at almost every skill position on offense and defense. But there are at least 10 teams with a legitimate shot at the SuperBowl this year, so elite is kind of watered down. The Falcons simply aren’t head and shoulders better than the other top tier teams in the league, but they can beat any of them at any time, and probably anywhere.

As long as Ryan has time he is very good. He still takes a bit long to make some decisions, and he’s never going to be the most physically gifted QB.

DHunt

November 17th, 2010
1:11 am

rest of my post didn’t cross over. Ryan is great at two things. He gets better every game, and he’s a winner. He’s got that it factor, and that’s important for a team to go all the way. Roddy While is simpley playing out of his mind. He has four more touchdowns this year if Ryan had a little touch on his deep ball. But that’s coming, hopefully sooner rather than later. Roddy is the best WR in the NFL this year, and this year is all that matters in the Not For Long.

No huddle should not be the main offense. They should be able to go into it at any time, in any situation, like baked up against our goal line or inside the redzone. It’s effectiveness is largely in the timing of when it is employed. Another factor against running it all the time, is that every good team is a time of possession winning team. Defenses get tired faster than offenses, it takes more energy to react than it does to act. Run the no huddle too often and the defense doesn’t get to recharge on those long clock eating drives.

Gas pedal and 3rd qtr lull are the same issue. It seems like teams don’t have that killer instinct any more. Philly showed it to the world Monday night. Forget showing up the other team, if they showed up then the scored wouldn’t get run up. The coaches and the player need to treat each play like it’s the one that matters most in the game. You don’t protect a big lead, you expand it; because every team in the NFL can score in the blink of an eye on offense, defense, or special teams. The Falcons coaches and players better get this through their heads or they are going to get burned.

About that bias. Even us long time (and long suffering) Falcons fans have trouble believing that our team can keep it going. History shouldn’t matter, but we can’t get past the fact that we have historically been let down. There isn’t much flash on the team, Roddy gets his, and Turner might grind out 100 yds, but it’s rarely pretty, and there are a lot of hiccups along the way.We aren’t a headline grabbing team. But the way we are winning is more consistent than the flashy win. If all your wins come on big plays(Saints, Vikings), you can be certain that the ball will eventually not bounce your way. If you have the ability to grind out wins by doing the right things more often than not on offense and defense, you’ve got a shot to win every game.

We’re ranked Number One in the ESPN power rankings. It shouldn’t matter to the team. They have to keep going at it the same way, play hard for 60 minutes, and worry about who is ranked number one and the most talked about team, the day after the Super Bowl.

Ed

November 17th, 2010
1:28 am

As always love your insights D3. I think your question about the Falcons handling success is spot on. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the schedule plays out, as it seems quite favorable but contains a couple of trap games. At Seattle in particular falls into that category coming a week before the Saints. If we take care of business in St. Louis and come back ready to play against Green Bay, then you can say the Falcons are approaching elite status and handling success well.

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Chop Buster

November 17th, 2010
6:51 am

-Simply put: How big was this game? It was big in the fact that people still viewed the Ravens as the model defense in the NFL. They’re not the same. I think it will be bigger when we beat the Packers and Saints.

-Should the Falcons let Matty Ice loose and throw the ball all the time? Yes they should. His audibles are way better than the OC play calling. We need to loosen up teams early that have a stout run defense with the long pass (just like the Eagles did in the Monday night game against the Redskins). I want to score early on teams and not stop until the clock runs out. We need that “No Mercy” mindset.

-How good is the Falcons franchise wide receiver and quarterback? They are good, but we can’t just rely on them. We need everyone to step up on the offense to contribute–spread the ball around.

-Should the no-huddle be our main offense? It should definitely be used against the 3-4 defenses to wear them down early; and to jump start our offense when needed.

-What’s the problem with the gas pedal? Someone wants to save gas and be conservative. Matt wants to keep the pedal to the metal and speed pass our opponent. We can’t take any of these games lightly and we have to go after them all with the killer mentality. Put them away early. We can’t get into these last minute come back games all the time. At some point it will catch up with us.

-Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull? I don’t know what it is, but it’s up to the coaching staff to keep them playing at a high level for four quarters. We’re going down the stretch and these are the games that will determine whether we win the division and get home field throughout the playoffs.

-Is the defense getting back its mojo? Not yet. There are times the pass rush still disappears (2nd half of Ravens game) and the secondary is in a coma. Why leave Grimes on an island to get abused? Where is Decoud and Moore while all this is going on? These two are key and they have been AWOL!

-Are Birds elite? Not until I see more consistency from the offense and defense. We still give up the big plays in the majority of our games. Killer instinct on both sides of the ball.

-Can Falcons handle the expectations? I don’t know. I still don’t have that level of trust to feel like they will go on the road and play those teams at the same level they play in the dome.

-Is there a bias against the Falcons from talking heads (ESPN & NFL N)? Of course there is. But can you blame them? We still have those lapses on defense and haven’t proven that we can play solid defense against all of our opponents. Philly made us look like a bunch of lost H.S. kids on defense. The offense didn’t have the shootout mentality and Mularkey was conservative once again.

I really hope this team handles their business the rest of the way. They have the POTENTIAL to beat all of the teams remaining on our schedule. The big question is…will they handle their business the way a team leading the NFC at this point in the season should?

Sports Review

November 17th, 2010
7:40 am

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FrontRow

November 17th, 2010
8:01 am

Great analysis as usual D3. Perhaps the final question is the only question – what happened to objectivity?

Of course the game was huge – all home games are must win; doing it on a national stage against an “elite” team adds some icing to a cake that takes 20 weeks to bake. How smart is it to ice the cake before the baking is done?

Turning MR loose? Again keep it objective – the team is following a formula that is turning him as loose as you should for a 3rd year QB. It’s up to Matt and his supporting cast to break the learning curve and so far they have done so.

Gas pedal, going for the throat, whatever you call it, it’s very risky. Falcons went for the throat against Cincy and the ball got picked. The Falcons have been doing it; Jenkins makes the catch and we’re not even talking about a letdown in that game. Falcons need to make the plays that ice the game OR opponents need to make plays that get them back in. In the NFL, the latter is more likely.

Teams get back in on us because the Falcons mentality is level headed. Teams like Philly use their weapons to the max but even the Falcons answered the question “what do you do when 160 lb smurfs are loose in your secondary”? Simple – in the NFL you plant a smurf.

The NFL now places emphasis on offense so teams like NO or Philly will find success and teams like the Falcons need to find creative ways to neutralize that success. Falcons are built for that in the long run….physical play will show at the end of the game. I wonder if DeSean Jackson will be running wind sprints across the secondary next time we meet the Eagles.

All rests on remaining objective and following the process. If the process is followed, the Falcons will handle the expectations. The team is built to survive the onslaught that will occur in trying to REPEAT as SB champs (i.e. the “long run”).

Finally, to the press and objectivity. The mistake made here is assuming the national media is some sort of objective organization – it IS NOT. The mentioned outlets ARE NOT news organizations; they are entertainment corporations whose purpose is to maximize profits for their stakeholders. If you want objective, watch PBS but you will not get sports there.

We, as fans, need not harbor illusions of objectivity. We buy our tickets and show up (on time) or we holler at our TV. That’s our job – last Thursday we did it pretty well but we can always do better.

CBrass

November 17th, 2010
9:19 am

Are we elite? No. Like the “experts” say we have to win on the road. Yes we beat the Saints in their house (took a step forward) but we got our butts handed to us in Philly (took 8 steps back). So until we become a consistent threat away from the Dome and we stop letting teams back into games people outside of the Atlanta bubble will not take us seriously.

WR

November 17th, 2010
10:07 am

Nice write up D3, great post CBrass and that about sums it up as far as the Falcons. The Falcons are now amongst the hunted, and believe it or not going up against a fastly improving Rams team is not only a test but a good game to make a point that you are amongst the elite. Trust me the Rams know their improving, and the coaching staff over there is preaching all week this is a game to gauge where they really are as far as that improvement. Lesser teams preform very well under these type circumstances, lesser teams dig down deep for something that for the most part isn’t in them, but any given sunday they can find that something and they normally try to when one of the supposed best is coming to town, the Rams are a young team, not a lesser team. This game is a game that the Falcons need to take the bull by the horns from the get go, the Birds believe they can win it all but they haven’t played like a team that happened to taste blood in the water, belief is one thing hunger is another. The Rams will be hungry for this one, who doesn’t want a shot at the king or at least one of the kings, my hope is that the Ravens game finally gave the Falcons the taste, my hope is that they start to get thirsty, they can feast later, but the time is now for the thirst. Time to separate the minnows from the sharks, if the Falcons can do that they go 13-3 or worse case 12-4 either gets them homefield, but there’s a hammer head waiting this week trying to gain territory, time for the great white to rise up.

LRD

November 17th, 2010
10:09 am

Elite: On the cusp. We can see the top of the mountain but we are still climbing the goat path. At least when we slip on the goat path, we do not fall off the mtn.. only a few steps backwards

Our D came out in the 2nd half fired up.. and then we started to look tired. Intensity by our D (as pointed out) is an issue. I can give them some slack on Thursday as we still had not recovered from Tampa… but we have no excuse after 10 day off not to be full of intensity come Sunday.

I think there is some bias by the media as we were not a pre-season anointed pick. And like most humans, they do not like to admit mistakes. And I think that since we do not have the 2 min news cycle circus that other teams have, that we do not get the attention. I am kinda proud of the fact this team does not have a media circus surrounding them.

I have heard Spoon was out of practice yet again.. If that is indeed the case, as a Fan, i would like to get the real story there.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:10 am

Nice article, well researched D3. before chomping on the “D3 questions de jour” (patent likely not pending) I beg to offer one comment on the ending of the article – and I quote – “The FOX commentators seem to be much more fair and objective—”
Hahahaahahahahhahaa, choke, sputter, snort, hahahahahahaha, pause for breath, hahhahahahahahahha.

Sorry, couldn’t help it.

To step back and answer the comment in context (not quite so much fun as guffawing hysterically in my best imitation of a monkey OD’ing on nitrous oxide) I don’t pay much attention to the talking heads, I gave up.

Having said that, I DO listen to the pregame show on Fox (on weeks they carry the Falcons games, most weeks in other words) and it is for the most part interesting entertainment. They aren’t trying to emulate Dan Rather or Harry Reasoner in a serious interview, rather they are there to stimulate interest, create talking points, stimulate ratings. It ain’t serious, it ain’t life and death, it is entertainers trying to entertain, stimulate debate/controversy. It is flattering when they say nice things about the Falcons, but bottom line they want ratings, and will do/say what helps the ratings.

LRD

November 17th, 2010
10:16 am

excuse Cut paste here but from Pat Y
Stock Falling
Harry Douglas, wide receiver, Falcons. Atlanta coaches and officials thought this would be a breakout year for Douglas, but it hasn’t been anything close to that. He largely has been a non factor. Douglas has been playing the slot in recent weeks and that’s where the Falcons thought he would excel, but he’s remained very quiet.

Stock Rising
Michael Jenkins, receiver, Falcons. He’s one of those underrated guys, who doesn’t do a lot of flashy things. But Jenkins had a big catch late in the victory against Baltimore and, since his return from injury, his presence as a role player has made the entire Atlanta offense better.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:16 am

Chop Buster, Front Row, great commentary on the questions!!

Arno

November 17th, 2010
10:25 am

An elite home team. Saints win/Philly loss: Falcons close, but not yet proved elite on the road.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:26 am

Part 1 –
-Simply put: How big was this game?
Really Big in the context of two games in 5 days, and in the win was against a potential Superbowl participant.
Kinna big in that it held serve, we didn’t lose at home.
No bigger than any of the other 16 games in the big picture (Bonny Cox perspective).
-Should the Falcons let Matty Ice loose and throw the ball all the time?
No. Value comes from the uncertainly of when/if it will appear. If teams don’t respect the running game passing success will diminish. We NEED a legitimate running game, and we have the power side of it with Turner and Snelling (where is Smith??)
-How good is the Falcons franchise wide receiver and quarterback?
Top 5 in the NFL.
-Should the no-huddle be our main offense?
No, pick and choose the moments optimally when the matchups are optimalon the D side of the ball and we stop substituting.
-What’s the problem with the gas pedal?
Timid coaching.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:35 am

Part 2 –
-Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull?
I am afraid it COULD be coaching. Other teams make halftime adjustments that the Falcons are surprised by. Counter-adjustments take time. I would hate to think that complacency is creeping in when leads build up.
-Is the defense getting back its mojo?
The defence is getting healthier, the mojo is in their physical/medical fitness on a particular week. They are getting beat up (as do all teams thru the demanding NFL season).
-Are Birds elite?
Define elite. One of the top, say, 6 teams? Then yes. This can change quickly of course, depending on injuries. I STILL think Pats-falcons in the Superbowl is a possibility this year, the Pats may be at the top of the elite food chain.
-Can Falcons handle the expectations?
Not a clue, I hope so.
-Is there a bias against the Falcons from talking heads (ESPN & NFL N)?
Nayh, they just want ratings/buzz. Well paid publicity whores that need folks to talk about their opinions to keep their jobs.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:36 am

Part 2 eaten by the blog monster, try a small edit and take another shot-
-Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull?
I am afraid it COULD be coaching. Other teams make halftime adjustments that the Falcons are surprised by. Counter-adjustments take time. I would hate to think that complacency is creeping in when leads build up.
-Is the defense getting back its mojo?
The defence is getting healthier, the mojo is in their physical/medical fitness on a particular week. They are getting beat up (as do all teams thru the demanding NFL season).
-Are Birds elite?
Define elite. One of the top, say, 6 teams? Then yes. This can change quickly of course, depending on injuries. I STILL think Pats-falcons in the Superbowl is a possibility this year, the Pats may be at the top of the elite food chain.
-Can Falcons handle the expectations?
Not a clue, I hope so.
-Is there a bias against the Falcons from talking heads (ESPN & NFL N)?
Nayh, they just want ratings/buzz. Well paid publicity wh***s that need folks to talk about their opinions to keep their jobs.

Bangkapi Ajarn

November 17th, 2010
10:43 am

The next month will show what this team is made of, intestinal fortitude wise. 4 of 5 weeks on the road, and the one home game is against the pack. 3-2 in this stretch is doable, BUT with Tampa Bay and NO only one loss back each it is entirely possible that we go into the final 2 weeks in a 3 way tie for 1st in the NFC South. 2 teams move on to the playoffs, one goes home with 10 wins and no playoff ticket (making an assumption about Philly, Green Bay, etc. here).

DANGER for the Falcons in this scenario, but in this happenstance week 15 will be effectively for the NFC South between NO and ATL in the Dome, and week 16 would be NO vs. Tampa for the wildcard spot.

NO ROOM for complacency from the Falcons here, a rocky road ahead.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

November 17th, 2010
10:45 am

I see some of us are mentioning the falcons and ELITE in the same breath, some of you are saying we’re 3/4 elite, 2/3 elite, 1/4 elite etc… SOMEBODY WILL TELL THE TRUTH, we are not an ELITE team, not even close. True, our team is playing inspiring football and I like our chances of going deep in the playoffs, but we’re not ELITE.

Our greatest accomplishment as a franchise is back to back winning seasons, too jump from that, too ELITE in one year is a bunch of Mularkey, pon intened, do not buy into the media hype. Teams must earn the label of ELITE and not be annointed by the media, they will giveth and taketh away at a blink of an eye, take the tampa buc’s for instance, they won a superbowl, next season didn’t even make the playoffs, New Orleans Saints won the superbowl last year and probably will make the playoffs this year, but what was their body of work before the sudden sucess, I think some of you maybe getting my point, teams like the Patriots, Colts, Steelers and Ravens are ELITE teams, these teams are expected and do make the playoffs each year and a threat to win it all, I do not think being ELITE is directly proportional to a dynasty, but rather consistency.

We cant be Elite if we’re still in a process, Elite teams have an identity, they know who they are and their fans know what to expect of their play each week, The falcons on the other hand, are winning, but still struggling to develope an identity.

The reason we send our kids to ELITE schools like Princeston, Yale, Harvard etc.. is not what they did yesterday or last year, its the entire body of work, maintaining a certain level of execellence, its called consistency.

We will get there, IMO, consistency is the key.

Coop

November 17th, 2010
11:26 am

D3 – Thanks for the mention in your great article. I feel like blog royalty now!

This team is on the cusp or being Elite like some have said. I totally disagree with the road woes arguement that the pundits and some here have made. I think the issue is our inabiity to put teams away. To me, that’s the only thing keeping us from being elite.

Look, winning on the road to anyone in the NFL is tough. That’s why Vegas give you 3 points in the spread just for being at home. So the Falcons being favored by 3 over the Rams means Vegas actually thinks we’re 6 ppoints better.

Anyway, what have we done? We beat NO in NO. Sorry folks, but that was impressive regardless of how it occurred. Frankly, we beat the hell out of them. It was the inability to put them away that let them back in. Yes, we got blown out by the Eagles. I’m starting to think it’s a matchup. Some teams just can’t beat other teams. PHI has been a problem for us for years. But we also won in CLE who has been beating really good teams and played PIT very tough (damn we should have won that game).

I admit, it hurts that the pundits put us behind teams we beat, but when I look at their stupid logic that we haven’t won on the road, I just laugh. WE BEAT THE SUPERBOWL CHAMPS IN THEIR OWN HOUSE!

Anyway, as I said yesterday, this Rams game may be more important than the GB game. I love to see the Birds go out a dominate from beginning to end like we did against SF last year or AZ this year. WalterFootball.com is laying 3 units on the Rams to win outright. That’s a smart bet cause this has TRAP written all over it. Hopefully, our coaches have our guys minds right and Walter loses his money.

No excuse to lose this game.

On the D. I’m dissapointed that we don’t rank better than last year, but doesn’t it look like we are better? I can’t figure it out, but we look like an improved D every game. However, when you look at the stats, still 30th against the pass. I do think we’ve missed Spoon (miss you too SW), but I’m more concerned with the dissapearance of the Beer Truck and where the hell is Sid?

Anyway, great day Cage. I’m gonna try to blog during the game this week if Household 6 will allow. Couldn’t during the Ravens game. I paced behind my coach the entire game.

Arno

November 17th, 2010
11:38 am

Coop doesn’t cite the terrible playoff loss to the Cardinals. On the road. The Falcons opened our eyes in NO this year, and now we are ready for them to prove they are an elite road team.

Zoomie

November 17th, 2010
11:43 am

- How big was this game? Big. The vaunted Ravens defense couldn’t stop the Falcons. That was quite a statement.

- Should the Falcons let Matty Ice loose? Only when the game plan or the opposing defenses call for this approach. It was the perfect call against the Ravens, would not work against other opponents.

- Franchise wide receiver and quarterback? As stated by a previous poster: at least top 5.

- No-huddle as main offense? No. Use it for effect only.

- What’s the problem with the gas pedal? A combination of things: 1) defense: doesn’t necessarily “let up,” they’re just not good enough to stop the other teams for 60 minutes; 2) special teams: still a weakness on this team — they’re a disaster waiting for an opportunity; 3) offense: after gaining a lead, goes into conservative ball-control mode mentally and, often, with the play-calling.

- Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull? See above.

- Is the defense getting back its mojo? Maybe starting to gain a little mojo, but I don’t think they’ve ever really developed it yet. They have been, and continue (so far) to be, inconsistent.

- Are Birds elite? No. Takes more than a year or two of decent play to earn that tag. The Falcons have some elite players, but they’re not an elite team — yet.

- Can Falcons handle the expectations? Yes. I believe this is one of their main strengths. They set THEIR expectations as a TEAM and work as a TEAM to meet THEIR expectations. Expectations from outside sources don’t factor into the equation. While Smitty and Co. may be outcoached from time-to-time, the Falcons have a great organizational leadership structure which will mitigate mental lapses and let-downs that occur due to “high expectations.”

- Is there a bias against the Falcons from talking heads (ESPN & NFL N)? I don’t think so. The Falcons haven’t really done anything to get anyone’s attention yet. I’m a life-long fan of the Falcons, but I’m hesitant to put them on a pedestal. Everyone’s quick to attribute Falcons fans’ cynicism to their history of let-downs, but in my case, I judge by what I’m seeing right now: special teams play that WILL cost us one or two games, defense that just can’t bring the wood for four full quarters, and an offense that looks anemic when MR has an off-day.

On a side note: even home-field advantage won’t get it done in the playoffs against the Eagles with a healthy MV at QB. Too many weapons and too much speed for the Falcons (and probably any other NFL team) to handle.

Coop

November 17th, 2010
12:27 pm

Arno – Correct, but that was two years ago. This team is much different than the playoff loss in AZ.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

November 17th, 2010
12:30 pm

The reason we give up leads and allow teams too close the gap in the second half, IMO can be summed up too 2 problems, coaching and scheme. When the head Coach, offensive and defensive coordinators take the foot off the pedal or opponents neck, that takes some of the intensity and focus out of the game, it’s hard to get back up to that level of intensity, football is a emotional sport controled by momentum, we are very lucky to get a W in some games that we’ve lost focus. So, focus and intensity IMO, problem 1 is a mindset.

Problem 2, defensive scheme. When you play a bend but dont break defense, we’re already at a disadvantage, but when you add prevent to a bend but dont break defense, that combination is volatile. Again, we’re lucky to be 7-2.

Coop

November 17th, 2010
12:47 pm

Truth – I agree with most of your post. We might be lucky to be 7-2… then again, the Steelers and Eagles might be lucky we aren’t 9-0. This team definitely CAN play with anyone. I do agree that coaching and scheme are problems. I think the D scheme has to do with pressure up front. That improved against the Ravens. We probably need another upgrade at CB too. I hate to admit it, but Owens/Grimes?Williams just aren’t enough for the long haul.

SPS

November 17th, 2010
1:45 pm

Being “elite” is just someone’s opinion. There is no hard grading scale. Your opinion counts just as much as mine – not at all. The Falcons appear to be as good as anyone this year, and their record backs that up. Not sure why they have match up problems against PHL. Don’t know if it is personnel or scheme. Hopefully they won’t meet again in the playoffs, although I think having the home field would help some.

WR

November 17th, 2010
1:51 pm

Coop, I too have to disagree with the road assumption, over the last three years and during the so-called process the first thing you have to ask is have you see at least a decent effort on the road. Yes the Falcons have won, abate, against lesser opponents on the road, but is there at least a decent consistent level, sorry, but as a fan of the game and the Falcons, there has not been one. Some want to point at the Saints game, but the Falcons have always played the Saints tough no matter what, yes, there are so lopsided victories on both sides, but that happens. Not that I expect it to happen soon and not that I don’t, but take the Patriots for example, for the most part your team is young with one of the best veterans QB’s, you march into Pittsburgh and not only win, but hand it to them. When the Falcons reach that level their amongst the elite, stop the well there winning and there 7-2 and they beat blah, blah, talk, because most who are using that talk will bash the crap out of them if they lose to the Rams, trust and believe that growth is taking place, understand that their is a need for continued growth. Nice to be #one in some eyes, but better to believe in the ablity to go out and show, the ability is there, lets see what the Falcons do with it.

Damage Inc.

November 17th, 2010
2:00 pm

WR – good write up!

Coop

November 17th, 2010
2:03 pm

WR – The key to your post is consistency is waht makes a team elite. Colts, Pats, Steelers, etc. are elite because they are consistent.

Also, if we lose to Rams, you’re right that the Ravens game was all for naught.

We are getting close though. We have a golden opportunity. I know SW preached to believe in the process, and that this might not be our year. But opportunities like we have now iwth a 7-2 record and weak schedule don’t come around every year. Just because we aren’t as good as we can be doesn’t mean we don’t seize this moment to go for it ALL.

Coop

November 17th, 2010
2:06 pm

At the end of the day we only care where we rank or if we get love from the media cause is validates or love of our team in some deep place in our minds. The bottom line is to keep winning. Take nothing for granted and don’t wait on next year. 9 games into the season, your Falcons are tied for the best record in football. How many times has that happened in the franchise history?

We went to the Superbowl in 1998. That was a long damn time ago. MR2 could break a leg next year, coach could quit, Turner could blow an ACL.

The moral is, “There is no tomorrow”. Win now, cause we may never get another chance!

tdawg

November 17th, 2010
2:36 pm

You are spot on about the Falcons, ESPN and the NFL Network. I just don’t get it. Inevitably, they always dismiss the 7-2 Falcons as though they are non-existent. Hopefully, if they can win most of their games on the road, that will raise some talking points toward them being one of the best if not the best team in theNFL

Chop Buster

November 17th, 2010
2:39 pm

Coop said, “We probably need another upgrade at CB too. I hate to admit it, but Owens/Grimes?Williams just aren’t enough for the long haul.” I could agree with you more. Another speedy LB couldn’t hurt either (one that could match a younger Mike Peterson’s skills). The last thing with the remaining games is we can’t afford to lose any of them if we want homefield through out the playoffs. They’re all NFC games that affect us more than if we lost to Pittsburgh–or if we’d lost to Baltimore. I’ve been saying this all year…consistency, consistency, consistency and discipline on defense. We’re going to always be at the bottom of pass defense statistically as long as we run the bend but don’t break defense.

LRD

November 17th, 2010
3:05 pm

Coop: Win now, for there may not be a next year if there is a lock out… that adds even more urgency..

LRD

November 17th, 2010
3:33 pm

Interesting stat for the day. Our D and our O almost have the same 3rd Down Conversion %…
D is 46.4% and O is 48.2%…. to be elite, can our D really allow half of 3 down conversions?
Looking at the NFC as far as 3rd Down % for Defense
Green Bays is 40.7
Giants 28.9
Eagles: 36.4
Bears: 32.5
Saints 33.9
Bend not break eventually breaks your D as you just wear yourself out. We have to improve on 3rd down stops if we want to go anywhere post season.

ymmotretsof

November 17th, 2010
3:43 pm

New blog up will have to catch up with the reading later.

Moose

November 17th, 2010
4:43 pm

Trap game……… Rams are good enough at home……… Falcons just came off a big win vs Ravins and the Packers are comming to town………

Beating the Rams who will want to make this a statment game could be tough going…….

Falcons need an early lead and alot of Gonzo………….

Gregg

November 17th, 2010
4:56 pm

AGREED, it is absolutely sickening how the Falcons just can’t get the recognition they deserve. I am guessing when I cue up the DVR for NFL Live today, it will be all to do with the lousy Vikings and Cowboys once again. ??????????????????????????????????

BT

November 17th, 2010
6:12 pm

Many nice blogs posted were today, on to my takes.

How big was this game?
It was a nice win, Matt Ryan got showcased in an National Game.

-Should the Falcons let Matty Ice loose and throw the ball all the time?
Definitely more throws but not all the time.

-How good is the Falcons franchise wide receiver and quarterback?
Right now, White is top shelf and Ryan is above average.

-Should the no-huddle be our main offense?
Nope, it`s a situational tool.

-What’s the problem with the gas pedal?
If gas pedal is used to define effort?
I see no lack effort issue, only issues with consistency in execution, mixed in with some questionable play calling.

-Mainly defense or entire team and psyche regarding 3rd quarter lull?
Zoomie put this out there and it`s worth repeating:
A combination of things: 1) defense: doesn’t necessarily “let up,” they’re just not good enough to stop the other teams for 60 minutes; 2) special teams: still a weakness on this team — they’re a disaster waiting for an opportunity; 3) offense: after gaining a lead, goes into conservative ball-control mode mentally and, often, with the play-calling.
-Is the defense getting back its mojo?

-Are Birds elite?
Nope, they are just a winning ball club right now.
Win some titles and we can start talking elite.

-Can Falcons handle the expectations?
Who`s expectations, theirs, ours (as Falcons fans) or sports public at large?
I`m sure their internal expectations are to win it all.
Marking it right there, we shall see.

Chop Buster

November 17th, 2010
6:31 pm

BA thanks for the kudos!