Battle Up I-85 – Falcons @ Panthers

Can Falcons Take Care of Business in Charlotte?

Can Defense Fire on All Cylinders? (AP)

Fans are still savoring the sweet comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sometimes the best wins aren’t where the teams executes flawlessly for 60 minutes and are clicking on all cylinders, but rather when all hope looks lost and the team simply finds a way to win. It’s a worn out adage, but for good reason. The Falcons continue to just find ways to win by any means necessary. The fans and team alike must find a way to come back to Earth and focus solely on the task at hand, which is traveling up Interstate 85 to face the 1-11 Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

What a surprising turn of events that has taken place with the Panthers. Only two short years ago, they were 12-4 in the NFC and owned the #2 overall see with the first round bye. Looking good with the Arizona Cardinals coming to town, they were shellacked 33-13 on their own field and have never really seemed to recover since then. They then went 8-8 last year and it seemed as though John Fox would be on the hottest of seats. The bottom has fallen out and Fox is as good as gone when Black Monday rolls around, but they did manage to beat the Falcons last year with arguably an inferior team. It’s probably a little late in the year to be talking of a trap game, but the Falcons absolutely hold their own destiny in their hands. Even excluding the Saints game at home, if the Birds win out against the Panthers twice and beat the Seattle Seahawks, then they clinch the #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. All of that starts on Sunday in Charlotte. Six searing questions as the Falcons travel up I-85…..

1) Is the Defense Getting Undue Criticism?

Sure they’ve helped the Falcons get to a 10-2 record, but even the most ardent supporter will be hard pressed to say the Falcons defense has looked stellar, particularly against the pass. This question has been beaten, stamped, combed over, dissected, and pulled apart a thousand times over, so no need to analyze it anymore regarding what type of defense the Falcons have and why. Truth is, whatever they are doing, its gotten them to a 10-2 record. The run defense has been stout all year long, but evidently just had a bad day. The secondary really is not that bad, just on third down (and specifically on 3rd and long) when they have serious lapses. They are a mixed bag in terms of where they rank statistically: 8th against the run, 26th against the pass, 19th in yards per game, 28th in sacks and 7th in scoring. Yards per game don’t tell the whole story, because guess who’s dead last in the NFL in yards given up? The New England Patriots, who are also 10-2 and completely dismantled the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The biggest thing is that they are keeping their opponents out of the endzone many more times than not, which has led to a 10-2 record. If they could improve their 3rd and long efficiency, this defense probably would get a lot less criticism.

2) Any Hint of Resting Starters?

Will Ovie Get the Rock More? (AP)

One would certainly think not since the Falcons are in the very thick of possibly earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the #1 seed in the NFC, and a first round bye. The Falcons have been very fortunate this season (knock on wood) of keeping starters on the field and healthy, but a few players are getting a touch banged up. Even though he is in excellent shape and could go if necessary, will Tony Gonzalez be suiting up this week? Coach Mike Smith elected to give John Abraham the day off against the Rams, who were much more of a threat than the Panthers (at least record wise). Jason Snelling got the day off against Tampa Bay and you could tell he was missed because Turner seemed to wear down quicker, even though he ran extremely well. Sean Weatherspoon is only playing on third down and just hasn’t looked the same since his injury. It’s probably not going to happen, but should Coach Smith consider sitting a few guys as they ready for the final drive and playoffs?

3) Can the DC Van Gorder Fix 3rd and Long?

One of the most frustrating things for Falcons fans since the arrival of Coach Mike Smith and DC Brian Van Gorder has been the awfulness on third and long. They struggled in their first year getting off the field on 3rd and long (3rd and 16 in Arizona ring a bell?) and definitely had a serious problem getting off the field on 3rd down with the transition to 5 new starters last year. The bane of fans existence is not the defense as a whole because they do a great job on 1st and 2nd downs, and even many 3rd and shorts, but the 3rd and longs in which it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel (actually as easy as just looking at a barrel). A predictable 3 man rush and dropping 8 guys back to prevent the first down in which allows good QBs like Rodgers, Freeman, Flacco, Brees, and even Bradford to buy time and find their man. Although they don’t have much help from the D-Ends, they have the players to get after the QB in Lofton, Nicholas, Weatherspoon, Peterson, Williams, Owens, Jerry, Moore, DeCoud and Peters. Will they get it together on 3rd and long?

4) Will Offense Step Right Back in Rhythm?

The offense did what they had to do to win the game, but if not for Eric Weems heroics who knows how the offense would have responded. They got the victory, plain and simple, but the offense looked very much out of sync for the first time in a long while, especially for the first 3 quarters. The Birds found some major success on the ground early on, but the Bucs began creeping down in the box and snuffing out most of the intermediate passing attack, almost daring the Falcons to go deep. That’s when the Falcons struggled. It has been a minor issue much of the season, where the Falcons have issues going vertical and spreading out the defense. Fans were begging for Mularkey to open up the playbook and go down the field, but the Bucs continued to jump the short and intermediate routes. When they tried to go down the seam, Ryan was picked off right before halftime which changed the entire dynamic of the game. Ryan is so good at the intermediate game that defenses can’t help but to cheat up. As many have pointed out, this is a wonderful time to pull a pump fake or some double moves to get loose. Ryan and Harry Douglas have still yet to find the deep ball rhythm. If that can finally connect, maybe the deep ball will open with it.

5) What’s the Answer at Defensive End?

John Abraham hasn’t produced his magnificent 2008 season with 16.5 sacks, but he does have 9 on the season and definitely is the only defensive end that’s getting consistent pressure on the quarterback and the backfield. The defensive tackle position seems to be set for quite some time with Jonathan Babineaux leading the way alongside a great rotation of Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, and Jamaal Anderson. There does seem to be pressure coming from the inside, but the other defensive end position is a ghost town. Kroy Biermann is a great team player and outworks anyone, but he certainly hasn’t had the year that many thought he might (author included), only registering 1 sack. Chauncey Davis seems to have settled into a good rotation with Biermann and is good against the run and even give good pressure, but can’t close the deal. Jamaal Anderson has gotten some looks on the outside, but has the same issue as Biermann and Davis. Lawrence Sidbury was thought to see a major role this year after flashes as a rookie, but usually winds up on the inactive list. It is true that sacks don’t define a good defense alone, but the vacancy at defensive end with Abraham climbing up in age and there seeming to be no real replacement in the works or much production from the other D-End spot leaves many a little worried. What should the Birds do at D-End?

6) Can Defense Contain Stewart and Smith?

They are 1-11, but as they say on “Any Given Sunday” anyone can be beat, especially with the parity in the NFL. The Falcons have certainly had their struggles against the Panthers in Charlotte and two of their best players still remain in Jonathan Stewart and the biggest Falcon killer of all, Steve Smith. Both have battled injuries throughout the year and have had a trainwreck at quarterback (are the Cam Newton whispers starting yet?), but they both played a role in last year’s upset against the Falcons. Smith has always seemed to have the Falcons number, even in losses and Jonathan Stewart helped put the game away for good with his 50+ yard jaunt last year late in the game. They’re getting some help from David Gettis at wideout and Mike Goodson at running back. LeGarrette Blount posted a 100 yard game against the Falcons and Jonathan Stewart is exactly in the mold of the big, bruising running back. And the travails of the secondary are well documented. No, this is not the offense of the 2008 Panthers, but they still have some players.

Bonus Questions

-Will Ryan and HD ever connect on the deep ball this year?

-Did the Bucs give the blueprint to stop the Falcons offense (stop run and intermediate pass)?

-Can Gartrell Johnson take advantage of a big opportunity?

-Could Peele and Palmer pick up Gonzo’s slack if needed?

-Will Grimes the Great and Wonder Weems show out again?

-Can Falcons actually put an opponent away for a change?

-Will Roddy continue his trash-talking ways?

Your Turn

-Simply put….how does this game play out?

-Is the defense getting undue criticism: why – why not?

-Will/Should any of the starters sit?

-Can Van Gorder get the 3rd and long albatross solved?

-3 man rush or time to attack?

-Will offense get back to well-oiled machine?

-One bad day for Ryan or a little concerned?

-Give your answer at D-End?

-Should Anderson or Sidbury get another shot?

-What position SHOULD we draft in 1st round next year?

-What position WILL we draft in 1st round next year?

-Little worried about a trap game?

724 comments Add your comment

won't say it

December 8th, 2010
10:29 pm

Falcon Fan

December 8th, 2010
10:29 pm

No comments…where is everyone?

Sarah B

December 8th, 2010
10:34 pm

BigLou

December 8th, 2010
10:56 pm

10-2. Trap game? If this team is for real, this will be a clinic. I say rest spoon and Gonzales. We should give the other tight ends some reps. Matt Ryan did have an off game, and will do fine. I am a little concerned about spreading the ball more and going deep accurately but this is only his third year. Run the ball!!! Turner is due for a 200 yard game. Roddy got put in his place by Smith, I think that is over and done. As far as the D, I think people are expecting too much, too fast. I do feel that our defense coach is too conservative… But hey again, they are 10-2 and I did not expect that starting this year.

LJ

December 8th, 2010
11:03 pm

1) HD/Ryan connection — I feel it coming. Harry made a nice catch downfield during the game; and were it not for an off throw from Ryan, HD has an easy TD on another play. It’s coming, and I have no problem if the timing comes just in time for the NO game or in the playoffs.

2) Resting starters? I’m okay with it on a selective basis. I think we could beat Carolina without TG, but going without TG and without Snelling bothers me.

3) 3rd and long is driving me crazy…but somehow with all of the faults, Birds are 10-2

4)I’m not concerned about the offense. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the opponent. Sure, Raheem seemed foolish to proclaim his team the best in the NFC, but he is a defensive-minded coach who knows the Tampa 2 inside and out.

5)We may not find the answer at DE this year. Sid is buried on the depth chart, but I still have confidence he can be a player. Remember, many analysts feel that Sid has more upside than Biermann; he just needs to develop.

6)If they can’t stop Smith & Co. with Jimmy Clausen at QB (at least in his rookie season), Mike Smith should just call the Panthers his daddy. This is a must win game for the Falcons for the very reasons stated in the article. Two wins vs. Carolina and a win vs. Seattle equals #1 seed and renders the NO game irrelevant.

And for those Saints fans who feel its unfair the Falcons have an easy schedule down the stretch, consider that the Birds have beaten YOU, and they’ve beaten the remaining teams on your schedule: Rams, Ravens, Bucs (2x). So we’ve earned it!

Screen Pass

December 8th, 2010
11:05 pm

Here but not having much luck with TE and FB. Yikes it looks really thin for the draft. That could just be my gigantic, titantic to the point of making Bryant Gumble seem humble, ego clouding my ability to read simple english. Safety looks really deep so maybe trying to convert a SS into an OLB will be in the future. Good stuff on Mularkey from previous thread. Not ready to expound on that just yet, my ego needs some microwaving to heat up in this frigid weather…brrrrr.

Sarah B

December 8th, 2010
11:08 pm

Again I say let’s pull a PAT’s on the CAT’s!

Sarah B

December 8th, 2010
11:10 pm

Either Peele or Palmer will step up our new TE. But I think if we don’t take it to Dallas this year, but I think we will, Tony G comes back one more time.

Screen Pass

December 8th, 2010
11:32 pm

I’m not unhappy with our current TE and FB arraingement but just doing due diligence. I didn’t know D3 was gonna put up a new thread so it can wait. I like Palmer and think he will be our boy. Anyway I don’t see us drafting a TE or FB until way later rounds if we bother at all.

Atlanta Peach

December 9th, 2010
12:50 am

I was the only one that said the Falcons should have signed Mr. Peppers. But many here thought that was a bad idea. Hindsight being 20/20, He would be looking good in a Falcon’s Uniform, Huh ?!?

Charlie

December 9th, 2010
5:29 am

I am a strong believer that the Falcons need to draft a DE in the first round of the draft. They also need to select a Center for the offensive line because Todd McClure is getting on up there in age. They could probably wait a few rounds to select a Center or could pick one up in the free agency. I have to say that I am not overly impressed with Dunta Robinson. The Falcons picked him up and expect him to be a superstar, but he is only a superstar against #2 and #3 wr’s. I think it would be a good idea to pickup another CB as well.

Samuel

December 9th, 2010
6:19 am

I think the more HD catches the ball, the more long ball oportunities he’ll have. Eventually he and Ryan will connect. The defense should get better down the stretch, you don’t have to have a top ten defense to win a Superbowl. But you have to jell and play better when it counts. Vangorder might have to be more of a riverboat gambler. You know what kind of talent you have – sometimes you got to take chances. Hence it may help third down situation. I think in this game against the Panthers, you get a sizable lead early. and sustain it through out the game. Let them know their chances of winning is slim and none. Besides any team that’s 1 and 11 can’t be that motivated. They need more than a defensive end. The Falcons need a speed back and some more defensive players. I wouldn’t worry about Ryan, he has a great deal of confidence. If you can play you should be out there helping your team reach it’s goal.

Arno

December 9th, 2010
7:04 am

Looking at the direction of the team as a whole, will they peak for the playoffs? (Look at how Arizona peaked in 08.) If O and D sputtered last week, ST saved the day. And, earlier in the season, wasn’t ST play considered as frustrating as 3rd and long?

Knievel

December 9th, 2010
7:15 am

On third and long..Falcons look like the Dawgs. The only difference is that the Falcons can and do win. Ryan was off Sunday, but I’m sure that he WILL have a better game this week. Don’t sit anybody in the first qtr, get a lead and sit them before half time. gotta keep the guys in check, they all need to work and stay focused.
I was at the dome Tuesday and my students participated in the virtual physical education class. My kids helped in setting the Guiness Book of World records. The Falcons organization is a class act. They provide many opportunities for the kids in the state of Georgia. 10 players took time to be at the dome and the cheerleaders. Rich McKay and Mrs. Blank exercised with the kids. A program that reaches out and provides these opportunities for the community will surely thrive. Great ownership and management, we fans, are in for some great years of awesome Falcons football!!!! LET’S GO FALCONS!!!

SirReal

December 9th, 2010
7:25 am

Not time to rest starters yet. Still 4 games left to play. Maybe the last game against CAR if we have the division title after sweeping N.O. BVG and Smith HAVE to get something done on 3rd and long. Our DE situation is the same at its been. Biermann is a good player but obviously not starting caliber, every down. Runs he is great. Pass rush is lacking. We probably need to draft a good DE after this season. Other than that, just clean up our mistakes from last week. The field was messed up so that played a role. This week just hand the ball to Turner and dont ask Ryan to do too much. Control the clock, climb to 11-2.

Bull Schmitt

December 9th, 2010
7:52 am

I really wanna see Sidbury playing a lot more. I hope they don’t rest many folks. These divisional games are real bruisers.

PBR

December 9th, 2010
8:14 am

Enter your comments here

PBR

December 9th, 2010
8:16 am

Don’t know about resting all starters. I doubt TG will want to rest. Maybe come out after we have the game in hand. Peelle and Palmer will be fine at the TE position. Palmer has proved he is our future at TE.

FrontRow

December 9th, 2010
9:01 am

Straight to the soup of the week:

-Simply put….how does this game play out?
Like the Rams game. At the very worse, Panthers have their chances but Falcons contain.

-Is the defense getting undue criticism: why – why not?
Fair criticism. For the younger players the question is will they learn from the tape?

-Will/Should any of the starters sit?
Yes, Falcons can beat the Panthers with half the roster.

-Can Van Gorder get the 3rd and long albatross solved?
Not a good team to judge against. If they do then the criticism will still be out there.

-3 man rush or time to attack?
I’ll say it again – 3 man rush produced the only sack against TB. For this game, expect the Falcons to attack the running game agressively.

-Will offense get back to well-oiled machine?
Possible but if so then you won’t see a statistical blowout and therefore criticism will rule next week.

-One bad day for Ryan or a little concerned?
A little concerned. If you blame last week on the field then the conditions are no better this week. Just like early in the season when Ryan needed to find Jenkins, Ryan needs to find HD. If and when he does, the rest of the league is in big trouble.

-Give your answer at D-End?
Draft. Falcons are now in the position to begin drafting versatile players and finding diamonds in the rough ala the Patriots. There are several DE/LB types out there that will be available in the 2nd round and beyond.

-Should Anderson or Sidbury get another shot?
Look for JA #55 to be out and Sidbury in. JA #98 will stay where he is because the Panthers only hope is to run and #98 is part of the solution.

-What position SHOULD we draft in 1st round next year?
Look for versataility. DE/LB.

-What position WILL we draft in 1st round next year?
LB

-Little worried about a trap game?
Yes. The field will be sloppy and the Panthers can make their season on Sunday.

Zoomie

December 9th, 2010
9:24 am

-How does this game play out? Should be a win minus the cardiac-effect experienced with most of the games this season.

-Defense getting undue criticism: why – why not? I’m on the fence here. In the TB game, I caught myself becoming very discouraged with the Falcons play by the third quarter, then suddenly realized: hey, it’s only 14-17. The defense was definitely keeping the Birds in the game. The defense isn’t flashy with certified killers at various positions, but they play well as a team. Hard to argue that they’re not doing enough with a season record of 10-2.

-Will/Should any of the starters sit? Maybe and maybe. It’s the coach’s call on how they man the game up front. I wouldn’t go into the game planning to sit starters. If the Falcons get a comfortable lead, I don’t have a problem with resting A-team players on a situational basis.

-Can Van Gorder get 3rd and long solved? Not until he solves the problem of inconsistent pressure from the front four.

-3 man rush or time to attack? Again, this is a situational call. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some aggressive defense in the beginning since the Panthers will be fielding a wide-eyed rookie at QB. If the rookie can take advantage, the Birds will start to saturate the zone. Cats running game is the bigger danger.

-Will offense get back to well-oiled machine? I think so. Last week’s offensive performance can be crossed off as a bad day at this point. If they play the same way this week, Falcons fans better start becoming extremely concerned.

-One bad day for Ryan or a little concerned? Chalk it up to a bad day, just like against the Eagles. My concern meter isn’t registering yet.

-Give your answer at D-End? None in sight. No answer on the existing roster, no answer in the draft, and no answer in projected free agents.

-Should Anderson or Sidbury get another shot? Don’t know about Sidbury; there’s obviously some issue there, or we’d see him on the field. Anderson performs at least equal to Biermann; I’d argue outperforms, as he gets a solid push like Biermann, is disciplined in maintaining outside protection like Biermann, but spends less time on the ground. One thing Anderson brought to the table over the previous two years was quite a few batted balls.

-What position SHOULD we draft in 1st round next year? Definitely need to beef up the ends on the D-line, but every DE available by the time the Falcons pick will be a project. If the draft falls this way, the Falcons should pick the best-available CB/Safety, or if they get a gift at RB or LB, they should jump on it.

-What position WILL we draft in 1st round next year? The Falcons staff led by TD have a lot more insight into the needs of the team than those of us who just watch them play. We may all be surprised.

-Little worried about a trap game? Not at all. I believe the Falcons players and staff are too smart for that.

Ken Strickland

December 9th, 2010
9:30 am

ASCREEN PASS-your comment about converting a SS to LB reminded me of the USC SS who ran that unbelievable 40yd dash, and everyone was clamoring for us to draft him. There were numerous suggestions about us converting him to LB instead of drafting a pure LB.

Has anyone heard anything about him this yr? Did he make anyones team, and if so, has he played? I’m all for resting players that are banged up. You treat it just like they were injured and unable to play. We didn’t allow RB MTurner enough time off last yr, after injuring his ankle, and he ended up being ineffective, reinjuring himself and missing the rest of the season.

CBrass

December 9th, 2010
9:30 am

WR

December 9th, 2010
9:44 am

Ken, just for your information, that Safety your referring to Taylor Mays plays for the 49ers, he’s the one that made the interception in the back of the endzone against us, it was one of their biggest plays of that near loss, how could you forget, that was a scary game.

D3 nice post, and without answering all the questions DE is a huge concern and I would like to see the Falcons rest Abe and give Sidbury sometime it would help in two ways, 1st Abe is about it as far as the pass rush goes and the Falcons need him as healthy as possible as the regular season nears its end, 2nd, its a chance to see where Sid is going forward, right now DE seems like the biggest need in the draft, but if you took a DE who supposedly was extremely talented but raw, in year two you should at least be trying to find out where he projects, meaning as a rotational player or future starter, if rotational, then the DE need doesn’t change, if starter, the DE need isn’t as large come draft time.

Zoomie

December 9th, 2010
9:47 am

Bonus Questions

-Will Ryan and HD ever connect on the deep ball this year? Looks to me as if HD is slowly starting to get in the game. I hope it clicks before the playoffs.

-Did the Bucs give the blueprint to stop the Falcons offense (stop run and intermediate pass)? Bucs didn’t stop the run, the Falcons stopped running. Jumping the short/intermediate passes is a huge risk. I believe the Falcons have the ability to exploit that tactic. They didn’t against TB because they didn’t have to.

-Can Gartrell Johnson take advantage of a big opportunity? Looks like GJ gets his opportunity if Snelling is out. He earned his pay with his special teams play last week. It’s up to him to jump on expanded opportunities, but I haven’t seen him add a lot to the offensive attack yet.

-Could Peele and Palmer pick up Gonzo’s slack if needed? Both have shown the ability to do so. Losing TG at TE isn’t one of my biggest concerns with the Falcons team.

-Will Grimes the Great and Wonder Weems show out again? Both have been bringing the wood every game this season. I expect nothing but excellence out of these two every time they take the field.

-Can Falcons actually put an opponent away for a change? This will be the week. Hopefully, it won’t foster a false sense of security before the Birds travel to Seattle. With NO breathing down the Birds’ gizzards, the Falcons can’t afford to slip with any remaining games.

-Will Roddy continue his trash-talking ways? He needs to stop that garbage yesterday! Only interceptions kill offensive drives/rhythm quicker than penalties; and the nature of his recent penalties are supremely stupid and of the most-preventable variety. Roddy’s playing with fire and I hope the Falcons organization has levied some substantial behind-the-scenes spankings for his recent selfishness and lack of self-discipline.

chelf

December 9th, 2010
9:55 am

Im due for a comment i think. Its been a while. And D3, I’m a little upset that the pick-em is ending just as i was in the midst of an epic comeback. No worries, I’ll take that momentum and bottle it for next year. As for the Falcons, I think we fare better against the hapless Panthers than against the overachieving Bucs, if only because Freeman looks to be pretty solid at QB, whereas the Panthers have nothing promising developing there it seems. Let’s stuff the box and dare them to throw. Outside of Steve Smith, I’m not sure i could name another WR on their roster. I’ll take my chances with that strategy.

As for the DE, I really don’t trust first round picks spent on D-Ends. Too many recent busts to list. I am confident that TD and the boys can identify somebody with potential deeper in the draft to fill that slot, but it doesn’t appear as though we coach players up much at that position. Some growth would be nice to see. Sacks aren’t the end all be all, but some more QB pressures would be nice. And let’s limit the 3 man rushes, shall we?

Resting some guys might be nice, and I am encouraged to see that maybe they plan to give one or two guys a week some rest while still chasing the #1 seed, as opposed to resting everyone at once and possibly losing a winable game.

And finally, I want to beat the saints again to end the year. A loss heading into the playoffs is not the kind of momentum I’m looking for.

LRD

December 9th, 2010
9:58 am

Spare change here..
HD deep. There have been 3-4 opptys this year and Ryan over threw 2 of them and 1 out of bounds. So that threat is there…timing seems to be more the issue.
DE: IF we can get up quickly in this game I like the idea of putting Abe on sideline and putting in Sidbury or even move JA98 back out to end.
DL: I really want to see Peters have a big game against these kittens. Personally, I like the kid.. and think he is going to grow into a key piece of this D. I am still worried about Jerry as far as is he progressing as we wished? Is he really 100% healthy.
Spec Teams: Was it not refreshing to see our ST now for 2 games in a row get us into the position to win games? Again this crow is mighty tasty, munch munch.

I think we score around 30 and the Panthers score around 14. Steve Smith will end up getting a TD against us…
On our side. Turner with 1, Ryan throwing for 2 (Jenkins and White), 1 forced Fumble(Bierman strip) one INT (Dunta..cmon folks he has to get 1 this year), 2 sacks(Peters, Biermann…)
and then during/after the game we shall continue to doubt Dunta, scream about D as usual.

LRD

December 9th, 2010
10:03 am

As far as trash talking White.. I to this day remember the home made Free ____ Shirt with Meangelo Hall, and White running his mouth during that phase of his career. I dont know the guy personally, but he seems to have grown up significantly, and everyone, I mean everyone loses their patience and temper….
I grew up watching Art Monk. The guy was very stoic…so I am a bit biased when it comes to non trash talking players… Roddy aint Steve Smith.. and that is good enough for me.

Ed

December 9th, 2010
10:04 am

I think the Falcons will get right back on track offensively this week against the Panthers, everyone is due for one bad game, C’mon look at the kind of game Peyton Manning had last week against the Cowboys. I also think that Harry Douglas becoming more and more involved in the passing game will not only help Matt Ryan but it will help the other receivers on the team to get open, going into the playoffs it will certainly be nice to have another weapon that is very dependable. As for the defense, I think the best way to describe them is they play well as a whole and as a team but individually they aren’t great, but they are very opportunistic when the need for a big play arises. The Falcons are 10-2 and are a few wins away from having home field advantage in the playoffs and haven’t nessacarily played their best football as a whole to this point. I think this team has a very good shot at getting to the Super Bowl and winning.

Paddy O

December 9th, 2010
10:17 am

Art Monk & James Lofton – good receivers without the mouth, which is utterly unnecessary, unless I guess you are under 30.

LRD

December 9th, 2010
10:21 am

Stat Boy: Harry Douglas Long is 34, and 2 more over 20… overall 19 catches,219yds, 1 TD
White: 91 Catches, 1140 Yds, 7 TDS
Jenkins: 26 snags, 339Yds, 1 TD
Finn: 15 Catches, 127Yds, 3 TDs
What does all of this tell us??? I would state it shows us if we lose White to an injury we are screwed!
It also then shows the value of Jenkins as several of his snags were move the chain and keep us in the game snags. Finneran is just so reliable, but if I was an opposing Corner in the Redzone and saw Finn line up that I could safely guess it will be a fade route to Finn into the corner…
These stats could also show that either Harry is not being targeted, is not getting open, is a decoy, or not being utilized correctly. And one would think that with opposing D’s attention on White, and Gonzo, that it would allow downfield shots to Harry more often than are actually taken… so I would say he is not being targetted consistently and is actually the 3rd check down on play.
But conversely, why try to force anything to Harry when you have such consistency with Gonzo/White/Jenkins?

Paddy O

December 9th, 2010
10:36 am

I’ll be annoyed if the Falcons don’t work on the deep ball – which so far Ryan has overthrown quite a bit. IF we work on it & get it good, then I’m looking for a 35-10 score, similar to the AZ game.

WR

December 9th, 2010
12:18 pm

I know and understand that most won’t agree and typically I’m not a big fan of the trap game scenario, but if there is such a thing, this week is it. Carolina has been nothing short of awful all season, so much so ESPN analyst are calling this a 2nd bye week for the Falcons, others are saying nothing short of a blowout is expected, and even here in the cage we are discussing resting certain players. All of that being said and believed makes this quite a scary game, add to that the idea that outside of NO this is the only other team the Falcons face that you basically can throw out the records going in, its usually a tough game no matter what. Now add a team with nothing to lose vs. a team still trying to win its division and secure a #1 seed and you have the makings of disaster. If the Falcons go into this game and jump on Carolina early a blowout will follow, but if they go in and allow the Panthers to hang around longer then expected, there will be some very disappointed fans come Monday, and there will be alot of I told you so from the analyst next week. The mark of a true championship caliber team will be tested this week, not just the players, but more so the coaches, the Falcons coaching staff has had the tendency to dial back the aggression against seemingly inferior opponents, do that this week and it will cost them, come out early looking to deal a quick and thorough knockout and it should be one, comeout with the idea you don’t have to worry its a horrible team and the cage will be extremely active next week, I’m hoping and believing for the latter point, but as a long time fan of the Falcons this one worries me.

joewhite

December 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

I am not concerened with hd and ryan, like another blogger said ryan missed on a wide open td, but great qb’s have off games and still win.when it counted falcons win big time

Coop

December 9th, 2010
12:27 pm

D3 – Nice read. I must say, I thought that our rush rpoblem was at DT. As you recall I was clamoring for OL or big DT in the draft. I was aginst drafting a DE. I believe that the rush defines the D. Good rush improves your LBs and CBs. Until you fix the rush, you really don’t know what you have behind the front 4.

I thought if we could anchor the line, that Abe and Beer would both rack up double digit sacks.

While I’m not overwhelmed with our DTs (would like to see more interior penetration), they have anchored the center of the line. They are not getting pushed to the side anymore, QBs don’t have as many clear passing lanes, and QBs aren’t running up the middle for 1st downs at last year’s alarming rate.

So the DEs should be collapsing the pocket a lot more. Aside form the 3 man rushes, our current DT play should be producing more pressure from the DE. I don’t know if that means Beer is a bust at DE, but I admit now, he is not what I thought he’d be this year. Abe is about what I thought he’d be, but with his age, we may need 2 DEs next year.

As for the 3 man rush, we simply need to stop that. Why not drop 10 into coverage and rush 1? Those 3 have zero chance of getting there, so if we’re gonna give the QB all day to throw, let’s cover their 5 WRs with 10 DBs. That way everyone is doubled. Everytime we have a 3rd and long and produced some pressure, the results were good. When we rushed 3, the results were awful.

Zoomie

December 9th, 2010
12:53 pm

I’m confident the current Falcons team won’t take the Panthers lightly; it is, after all, a division match-up. Plenty of history to draw on for motivation.

I see the Seattle game as the big risk on the schedule. The Seahawks have put together some good games this year, and they’re still in contention in their division — I think it will be like a rematch against the Bucs. Couple that with the brutality of west coast travel and a late game, and I believe that’s the real risk on thye Falcons’ schedule.

Paddy O

December 9th, 2010
12:55 pm

coop – the one sack last week was babs in the 3 man front – which prompted this question – with our surplus of DT’s, what if Babs played left DE to spell Bierman a little? Would that help us get better, effective pass rush? Or just a dumb idea? Remember, Bierman had that great interception with a TD earlier in the year! Also, he has substantially improved our special teams play.

Screen Pass

December 9th, 2010
1:20 pm

Ken, WR nailed it with Taylor Mays. I am just currently getting a rough draft idea of who and what looks to be available for the upcoming draft. OLB so far only has 2 guys that might be enough of “difference makers” to be worthy of 1st round pick or could actually come in, start, and make a real big impact. S looks deep with a pretty good number that could be “tweeners” and converted to OLB. Here is what I got so far:

DeAndre McDaniel 6-0, 215 4.55 Clemson
Robert Sands 6-4, 225 4.60 West Virginia
Kenny Tate 6-3, 220 4.55 Maryland
Jermale Hines 6-2, 215 4.60 Ohio State
Nate Williams 6-0, 220 4.60 Washington
Dom DiCicco 6-2, 225 4.65 Pittsburgh

I used 215 and 4.6 speed as my first “qualifiers” to break down a long list. There are many guys close to those measurements so safety looks to be really deep this year. I have been really sick and stuffed with green goo so I have only really looked at Kenny Tate so far. I like what I see so far. He seems like he would be realisticly available at 26 – 32 pick or above, and has good size and speed for a OLB convert project.

Kenny Tate – http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=84580&draftyear=2012&genpos=SS

Kenny Tate Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyM7E31Csac

I owe Wabe a response and will get back to you as soon I can.

Screen Pass

December 9th, 2010
1:52 pm

CBrass

December 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

Just watched a vid over on the falcons site and Gonzo said that he’s playing.

Screen Pass

December 9th, 2010
2:58 pm

“Again, I just seem to think the main reason we tend to play it conservatively is to keep our defense off the field. I seem to think that Smitty and company know exactly what this defense is capable of, and therefore, they choose to function/call games on offense based on what we’re capable of on the other side of the ball.

We’ll never truly know. Again, not trying to defend Mularkey, because he’s pi$$ed me off at times this season with a bulk of his playcalls. But, I just think his approach may be tied to the grander scheme of things and what Smitty’s trying to do to put together a winning formula. It may not be the “sexy” drop 30+ points a week approach that we think the Birds are capable of, but, it’s proven to be a winning formula 10 out of our 12 games.” – Wabe

First off, extremely well thought out and impressive response. Well played sir, :) . I agree with most of your points and am resigned to seeing Mularkey back for another year. IF we win the Superbowl then he could be around alot longer. My fear is that M. Ryans development is being stymied by our conservative QB as a “game manager” approach. Ryan has showed he can be much more than that and if we depart from or scale back our run first philosophy then who knows our good our offense could truly be. Scoring in heaps then reverting to a more ball control offense would still be a possibilty to shield our defense from pressure. Our current method of letting teams stay close actually puts alot more pressure on our defense in my opinion. This is a good topic and it is great to be able to discuss without flinging things lol. I don’t “hate” Mularkey but I do find it horribly frustrating that he does not use more play calls like this one;

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d81ca916d/Mughelli-TD

JManye

December 9th, 2010
3:47 pm

Rest Gonzo and Spoon this week. Try to incorporate them back into their roles against SEA to have them clicking on MNF against the aints. If necessary, let them rest both of these next two weeks. Falcons need to focus on DE in the draft. A shifty running back to replace Norwood as well.

Screen Pass

December 9th, 2010
3:53 pm

One of the main reasons for thinking OLB / FS as a draft choice is to improve our itermediate/ flats pass defense and most importantly to add blitz speed as DE does not currently look like it will pan out in the draft. There is not a lot of film of Kenny Tate so I’ve going through individual Maryland game films and finally found proof the kid can blitz; – Tate is number 6 and kills a quarterback at 1.08 in – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5oUXCeweJc&feature=related

Good initial speed burst, nice juke of blocker and crushing hit!

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

December 9th, 2010
5:08 pm

I’m definitely happy with the team’s winning season so far this year….”BUT”……

Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t get the 3 man rush on 3rd and long. There is no pass rush at all and when they play a zone defense with the 3 man rush all the offensive WRs have to do is find a soft spot in the zone. Whatever happened to blitzing to hurry up the QB????

Hopefully if the Falcons get a huge lead during both of the Panthers games they will be able to pull the starters, plus it will give the reserves an opportunity to get some game experience just in case they are needed for the playoff run.

Cane Pole

December 9th, 2010
5:18 pm

Hello Cage

I can’t see why they should not set Snellings and Gonzales . They can beat the Panthers at ease . And they will . No worries except stay healthy . If the Birds are up by 14 points and Caralina is shut down at the half are 4th Quarter Then I think they should rest Tuner and Ryan also .

Falcons 31 Panthers 10

Here is a NFL Coach Ranking I got in the Bleacher R, today ENJOY…!!

Cane Pole

December 9th, 2010
5:19 pm

fan

December 9th, 2010
5:22 pm

if you think the saints aka the aints and their fans SUCK, Give me a HELL YEAH!!!!!

ymmotretsof

December 9th, 2010
6:24 pm

Something just came to me as I was sitting here. Other teams seem to get big chunks of yardage from their passing game where we get first downs. Then I thought that their receivers get wide open and ours catch in tight coverage. This could be part of the ball contol plan or just that we lack that burner speed. I’d like to see them break free sometimes and really strech the field. I think this could make Turner a much bigger weapon. I think we’re good at tight end for awhile. The need for speed in the back field is something that needs a good look. Fixing the pass rush will show how good the defensive backs really are. But that’s looking to far ahead we need to take care of the Panthers first.

FrontRow

December 9th, 2010
6:30 pm

More on the Roddy White “attitude” thing. After watching NFL replay twice I am even more supportive of Roddy’s position and predicament.

The refs had plenty of chances (almost every play) to throw an unsportsmanlike on the Bucs. The shove Geno Hayes gave to Roddy was right in front to the side judge but for whatever reason the refs didn’t get the flag out until Roddy shoved.

The refs could have put an end to it by flagging the Bucs on the multiple opportunities they had; they didn’t miss them the simply waited until Roddy answered before they threw the flag.

falcon21

December 9th, 2010
6:40 pm

Tommy I agree with needing more speed in the back field, maybe it can be done through the draft. Norwood may come back healthy next season but that would probably only last for about 2 weeks.

falcon21

December 9th, 2010
7:02 pm

As for the Carolina game, with all the weapons we have it should be an easy win. My only worry is the weather, I think it’s going to be wet and cold, Maybe SW will tell us more about that but wet and cold is not good news for us. I still think we win 27-17.