Falcons Travel to Tampa Bay

Can Falcons Sweep Bucs?

 

Another week, another huge game for the NFC leading Atlanta Falcons. The Birds have the top record in the NFC and tied for the best in the NFL and they just keep getting bigger and tougher each and every week. After being cozy at the Home Sweet Georgia Dome for several tough games, including hosting the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers, the Falcons will begin a grueling 3 game road trip starting with the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday. Even though the Eagles, Bucs, and Packers lost last week, the margin for error is still razor thin if you’re talking about home field advantage and a first round bye. The New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears are still right on their heels, only one game back. The Falcons could put really put themselves in the drivers seat with a victory in Tampa Bay against a fired up Bucs team. Win this one, and the Birds move to 10-2 with two games against Carolina, a game in Seattle, and the big showdown with the Saints on Monday Night Football. Can the Birds continue their winning streak outside of the Georgia Dome? Four searing questions as the Falcons travel to Tampa Bay……….

1) Why is the Defense Bend-but-Don’t-Break?

Part 1 of a 2 part question on the defensive scheme. Who knows the exact reason, but for all the talk of being faster, younger, and more aggressive in the transformation since Head Coach Mike Smith got here, the Falcons defense just isn’t a very attacking one. Sure, they pick their parts here and there to blitz, but many times even when they blitz they don’t get there. Granted, sacks aren’t the only stat to determine a good defense, but the excuse was always that the Falcons didn’t have the speed or playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Hard to argue they don’t have enough with William Moore, Sean Weatherspoon, Jonathan Babineaux, John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, and Curtis Lofton. The Falcons big youth movement occurred last year, so that’s not a valid excuse. They seem to play a traditional Bend-but-Don’t-Break defense, which is fine if that’s what you want to run, but many fans have believed that it would become more attacking when the personnel changed. DC Brian Van Gorder was always known for his attacking defense and creative blitzes coupled with disguised coverages at Georgia, but that doesn’t seem to have translated. Mike Smith had a huge advantage in Jacksonville with Marcus Stroud and John Henderson at DT, so perhaps that’s where its coming from. Who knows the reason, but doesn’t the Falcons defense seem to be a Bend-but-Don’t-Break, soft-zone coverage defense?

2) Is the Bend-but-Don’t-Break Defense a Recipe for Long-Term Success?

The next question to ponder regarding the BBDB defense (as many of our awesome Cage Family have termed it) is whether or not it is effective. It’s hard to nitpick a 9-2 record and tied for the best in the NFL. The Falcons definitely stop the run as good as anyone in the National Football League. Almost every single great back that has faced the Falcons has had little success, so the only for teams to beat the Birds is through the air. That hasn’t been a problem. The Falcons only rank a miniscule amount better than last year in terms of pass defense, an issue they were dead set on to improve in the off-season with the signing of Dunta Robinson, the drafting of Sean Weatherspoon, the emergence of William Moore, and the hiring of Tim Lewis. Whatever it is, the Falcons are getting it done and are keeping them out of the endzone. They held a red hot Packers team to 10 points for 58 minutes. Can they keep winning by giving up yards by the boatload as they get into the cold months and playoff territory? Some argue yes. Others argue no since they’ve relied on the offense to bail them out at the end of the game several times over the year (Niners, Ravens, Packers). As long as they keep winning who cares, but what’s your thought on the BBDB Defense?

3) Can Anyone Fill Jason Snelling’s Shoes?

In a word: doubtful. But the Falcons will have to try to get something out of either Antone Smith or Gartrell Johnson after Snelling went down with an injury against the Packers and Jerious Norwood went out on IR at the very beginning of the season. Michael Turner has been running extremely well this year, but he’s also gotten a lot of help out of the backfield from Jason Snelling, especially in the passing game. Antone Smith beat out Dmitri Nance in the preseason, who was snatched by the Green Bay Packers, but has never done much of anything besides special teams. Gartrell Johnson was picked up off waivers when Norwood got hurt and gave a glimpse of hope against the Bengals when he took off like a rocket on a 20 yard burst. Not much else from him after that. Here’s to hoping that Smith or Johnson can pick up the slack or that Snelling is good to go on Sunday. Many fans believe, correctly, that running back will finally be high on the priority list when the next draft rolls around. Doubtful that they’ll keep Norwood, and it’s going to be really tough to keep Snelling as well since many teams could be looking to pay him a starters salary. For now, someone needs to step up.

4) Will Josh Freeman Be Aaron Rodgers 2.0?

Josh Freeman’s not on the level of Aaron Rodgers yet, few are, but surely has the same athletic ability and many will argue more so with his large frame and quick feet. Will the Falcons have a similar gameplan when they tee it up in Tampa Bay today? If so, it could be a long day for the team and fans alike if they allow him plenty of time to move around the pocket, look for open receivers, and then have a chance to take off. As mentioned before, the secondary gets a lot of the criticism for being so low in NFL ranks and giving up passing yards by the ocean, but they’re not getting a ton of help from the defensive line in terms of pressure either. Van Gorder and Smith seem hesitant to use their linebackers to blitz, so John Abraham has been one of the only consistent pass rushers on the defensive side of the ball. It could be all the secondary’s fault, but when a talented quarterback gets 10 seconds to stand in the pocket, bake a cake, do his taxes, and phone a friend, there’s only so much the defensive backs can do. The defensive front seven better get more pressure than they did against Green Bay or it could be a long day.

Bonus Questions

-Will the Falcons be suffering from the “big game” hangover?

-Can the Birds jump out on the Bucs and take the crowd out of it?

-Is the game against the top team and hated rival not a sellout?

-Fox’s national coverage is Colts-Cowboys instead of Falcons-Bucs…why?

-Not just the Falcons, but does the NFC South as a whole get the shaft?

-Can Spoon finally get back to his pre-injury form?

-What is the deal with Thomas DeCoud this year?

-Can Stephen Nicholas prove he’s worthy of a permanent starter position?

-Should Jamaal Anderson be placed back at starting D-End?

-Will Brent Grimes get picked on again?

-Can Weems finally break one for a TD?

-Will Michael Palmer or Brian Finneran get in the mix today?

-Simply put….Will the Falcons prevail once again?

-Defensive shutdown or offensive shootout today?

Go Falcons!!!!!

270 comments Add your comment

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
1:00 pm

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
1:02 pm

so excited didn’t spell it correctly. lol

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
1:03 pm

Todays upset, Bengals beat Saints.

[...] Falcons Travel to Tampa BayAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Four searing questions as the Falcons travel to Tampa Bay………. 1) Why is the Defense Bend-but-Don't-Break? Part 1 of a 2 part question on the defensive …and more » [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily Smith, Atlanta Daily, M. Deals, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Travel News Feeds and others. Travel News Feeds said: family travel Falcons Travel to Tampa Bay: The next question to ponder regarding the BBDB defense (as many of ou… http://bit.ly/eZ0l62 [...]

[...] Falcons Travel to Tampa BayAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Four searing questions as the Falcons travel to Tampa Bay………. 1) Why is the Defense Bend-but-Don't-Break? Part 1 of a 2 part question on the defensive …and more » [...]

Eric C.

December 5th, 2010
2:22 pm

As long as the special teams and offense pick up the slack…the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy is ok. However, the big lapses that happenened on defense against Philly (1st Qtr), Cincy (3rd Qtr), TB (2nd Qtr), Bal (4th Qtr) must be controlled a little better because the offense will not always be able to recover.

Having said that, the defense won the game against SF (after 1st Qtr) and nearly won it against Pitt. It also had a big impact on the Cle game. Even though those were not top notch offenses…the defense showed it can be dominant. The defense was also dominant against AZ and for the first 3 qts of the Bal game as well. Against NO, the offense was the best defense.

Adding some strength to the DL and getting improvement at CB would only make the system better. Hopefully Abraham has a few seasons left to allow for development of younger talent.

[...] original post here: Falcons Travel to Tampa Bay – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Tags: atlanta-journal, defense, defensive, falcons, journal, part-question, searing, [...]

Ken Strickland

December 5th, 2010
2:33 pm

The question isn’t CAN the Falcons win this gm, but will they win it. Whether we win or lose will depend on our DEF and its ability to consistently control QB JFreeman and their running OFF.

The AINTS remaining schedule features 2 teams we’ve already defeated, the Ravens and Bucs. If we win today, with out remaining schedule, they will be forced to win out just to have a chance.

Our biggest problem, especially on DEF, is the same one that plagued our OFF earlier in the season, and that’s OC MMularkey’s conservative approach.

Sports Review

December 5th, 2010
2:36 pm

[...] Falcons Travel to Tampa BayAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Another week, another huge game for the NFC leading Atlanta Falcons. The Birds have the top record in the NFC and tied for the best in the NFL and they just …Bucs-Falcons PreviewPewter Report [...]

JB FALCON

December 5th, 2010
3:00 pm

If we take Spurlock’s yardage from the last game it wouln’t have been as close as it was. Hopefully we have plugged that leak and our offense should prevail.

falcon21

December 5th, 2010
3:10 pm

Eric C., you have done your homework well. Good job man.

D3

December 5th, 2010
3:13 pm

So here we go Cage Family, one hour until halftime. Here’s a few updates from DOL on our roster……

RB Jason Snelling is inactive for today’s game against Tampa Bay. (Hamstring injury)
Falcons inactives: JPW 3rd QB; Snelling, A. Smith, D. Franks, G. Reynolds, M. Johnson, L. Sidbury and Trey Lewis.

and Bucs roster………..

Tampa Bay inactives: 3rd QB, some dude named Rudy Carpenter. L. Asante, Dek. Watson, B. Carter, W. Barker, P. Parker, D. Briscoe, & F. Okam.

Speaking of players that have either underperformed or have gone missing, where has Trey Lewis been all season? Sure glad we decided to keep Vance Walker, because Lewis hasn’t made an impact whatsoever this year, while Walker definitely has. I think Trey Lewis might finally be done after this season with the Falcons. Our DT rotation is set with Babs, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, and Jamaal Anderson.

falcon21

December 5th, 2010
3:25 pm

Come on Bengals, give um hell. I guess it’s a little early to go for two but I would have.

JB FALCON

December 5th, 2010
3:28 pm

Somebody, I’m pulling for the Bengals but they ain’t makig my job any easier.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:32 pm

I always enjoy hearing about what we need to do to improve. But it would seem we can win with the personnel we have right now. They are talented enough to do it. The question is will they? Sure, we have leaky pass coverage at times, and have given up the yardage by the aircraft carrier load. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see this bunch gel in the schemes being deployed and get it done as a team. This is a well coached team and they have shown good discipline most of the time. It’s that 60 minute thing they have to get down pat.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:40 pm

I hope that doesn’t get overturned.

Birderus Rex

December 5th, 2010
3:43 pm

Go Bungles (at least for today)!

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:43 pm

Too bad about Snelling. With A.Smith inactive I guess we’ll either see more Ovie or some GJ. Could be interesting.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:47 pm

Sarah B

December 5th, 2010
3:48 pm

TIED!!!!! Go Bengals!!!!

JB FALCON

December 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

There’s the two you wanted!

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

Nice! Unfortunately, the Aints get the ball back with plenty of time. C’mon Bengals D!

JJ

December 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

Come on man, GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JJ

December 5th, 2010
3:50 pm

Go Bungles!!! tip to SarahB.

JJ

December 5th, 2010
3:52 pm

Sarah’s kickin my butt in FFL!!!

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:53 pm

Nice sack…dayam!

Sportaree

December 5th, 2010
3:53 pm

C’mon Bengals don’t Bungle it.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
3:58 pm

No bungle from the Bengals! C’mon D!

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
4:00 pm

Screen Pass

December 5th, 2010
4:03 pm

Gotta hold to 3, win in OT or take a deep shot. Cmon Bengals.

Sarah B

December 5th, 2010
4:06 pm

JJ – Yep so far thanks to AP!

Sarah B

December 5th, 2010
4:07 pm

Phuck :(

Go Falcons!!!!!

JB FALCON

December 5th, 2010
4:08 pm

The Bengals right tackle should have known better.

Screen Pass

December 5th, 2010
4:08 pm

The Bengals truly suck. The epitome of an undisciplined bunch of buffoons. Well, least we get to see a real football team here shortly.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
4:09 pm

Totally f’d it up. Figures.

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
4:11 pm

DePlane

December 5th, 2010
4:12 pm

Hahaha! All I can do is laugh…what else do we expect from the Bungles!

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
4:16 pm

This Bungles are pathetic! Marvin Lewis will not last the remainder of the seasson, he’s done.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
4:17 pm

LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!

LRD

December 5th, 2010
4:21 pm

Bengals, dangit…
And nice spot to compensate for the non white spot.
What up cage?

Screen Pass

December 5th, 2010
4:22 pm

Turner looks more like trade bait to me with every play. How could he not bounce that out and dive for one freakin yard. He is a beach ball not a bowling ball. Grumbles at weak Shamoo lookin shite.

Screen Pass

December 5th, 2010
4:22 pm

Turner looks more like trade bait to me with every play. How could he not bounce that out and dive for one freakin yard. He is a beach ball not a bowling ball.

CBrass

December 5th, 2010
4:30 pm

Screen Pass,

Wow…trade bait really? I can only laugh at that thought. Back to the game.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
4:31 pm

Ryan needs to spread the ball around, looking for Roddy way too much.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
4:35 pm

Wow, Weatherspoon cant get’em down, wrap up, cant tackle this guys upper body he’s too big and strong.

CBrass

December 5th, 2010
4:37 pm

Somebody,

My thoughts exactly. Have to go for his legs.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

December 5th, 2010
4:38 pm

Turner Tip Toeing!!!

JJ

December 5th, 2010
4:39 pm

pound, pound, pound the rock, then go deep!!!

LRD

December 5th, 2010
4:40 pm

SO..TD and over1000yds ??