Archive for January, 2011

No More Excuses on Defense

Coaching Must Improve

Grimes a Bright Spot (CCompton/AJC)

Brian Van Gorder and Coach Mike Smith both have very proud backgrounds in terms of running a defense. Van Gorder of course was an excellent defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia and helped engineer them to being a perennial contender and guided one of the best defenses in the country. Just ask Georgia fans how they feel about Van Gorder and how the program’s done since then and you quickly get a pretty strong response. Mike Smith turned the Jacksonville Jaguars defense into one of the best in the league, which of course led him to becoming the Falcons head coach. There’s no question that the defense has improved under Van Gorder’s tutelage, but the meltdown collapse witnessed on the biggest stage of the NFL was so painful that the fans are still smarting from the loss. The offense definitely played really awful themselves, but the feeling among most is that even if the offense had been clicking on all …

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Why So Conservative on Offense?

Personnel or Coaching?

The Falcons finished the regular season ranked among NFL leaders in several categories. Roddy White finished first in receptions (115) and second in receiving yards (1,389). His yardage total was tops in the NFC.

All-Pro Roddy White (CCompton/AJC)

It’s as classic a question for our Atlanta Falcons football team as the chicken and the egg argument. Do the Falcons coaching staff, and particularly the two coordinators, intentionally not design aggressive play-calling on offense and defense due to the lack of talent and speed to carry it out? Or are the coaches mostly to blame for the overly conservative play-calling that helped lead to a 13-3 season, but also a butt-whipping for the ages in the playoffs? It’s a challenging question and one that’s sure to get some good debate going. Since us laypersons aren’t privy to the inner-workings up in Flowery Branch, all we can do as fans is just make an educated guess as to which one it may be. Thought it might be helpful to break it down by position on terms of talent (or lack thereof) and determine which needs the most work: personnel or coaching………

Quarterback

A ESPN panel of analysts has voted the Falcons as the No. 1 team in the NFL following their Week 10 win over the Ravens. Here are their credentials in order of ranking ... 1. FALCONS (7-2): Behind Matt Ryan, Atlanta has the 8th best offense in the NFL, scoring 24.7 points per game. Atlanta has run more plays (638) than any other team. The defense allows 19.4 ppg and gives up about 340 yards of offense per game.

Looks Like a Pretty Good Throw (CCompton/AJC)

A …

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Lessons from Championship Four?

What Changes are Needed?

The end of the season and the painful memory of the butt-whipping is not even a week old yet, but fans have already turned their attention to what the team needs are, how they should be fixed, and most importantly what it will take to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Bird Cage will be having several in a series of review posts and blogs trying to assess what the problems are, what went wrong in the playoffs, and just how close the Falcons are. If the game had been a nail-biter and a ball didn’t bounce their way, that’s one thing, but when the opposing team’s QB has one of the greatest playoff games in NFL history and he even gets pulled before the final whistle, the Birds may be more than just a few tweaks away. Before turning inward, it helps to see what the final four teams may have to offer in terms of their current team, their franchise, and their philosophy. Sure, this one’s tough since the Birds were only 60 minutes from playing for a Super …

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Terrible Night, Good Days Ahead

The game was terrible. It was the worst of the entire season. The Falcons failed in all aspects of the game. To single any one person out would take too long. The coaches had an awful gameplan and the Falcons just weren’t prepared. The defense couldn’t stop the Packers to save their life. The offense was conservative and predictable. All the things that had been festering throughout the year came pouring out like one atrocious, gushing dam burst.

The Bird Cage will obviously be back to talk some more about the game last night, but the simple truth is that the Falcons got whipped in all aspects of the game. This is just a setback for what should be a very bright future for this franchise. While no knee-jerk decisions will be made, some serious aspects need to be examined on this team. Coach Smith and both the coordinators were beyond awful last night.

The Green Bay Packers deserve all the credit in the world. They had a magnificent gameplan and executed it flawlessly.

The loss …

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NFL Playoffs @ The Dome: Falcons-Packers Rematch

It’s Finally Here……….

Can Falcons Make it 2? (CCompton/AJC)

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Falcons Fan Family, it is finally upon us. The biggest game of the year awaits against a foe the Falcons have played (and beat) in the Green Bay Packers. Now that the Eagles are out, expect to hear about the “most dangerous team” since Lombardi walked up and down the sidelines in Green Bay. The Falcons should have all the advantages since they’ve had a week off to rest, home-field advantage, and playing an opponent who will be playing their 2nd road game in 6 days and coming off a big emotional win in Philadelphia. Many questions come to mind as the Packers come to town. How will the Falcons come out of the gate? Who has improved more since they met back in November? What will the home crowd be like on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome? Is there a fear in the back of many Falcons fans heads? This is setting up as one of the biggest home games in the Atlanta Falcons …

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NFC South Champs and NFC #1 Seed

NFC South Champs!

OH SO SWEET!!! (CCompton/AJC)

It’s official Ladies and Gentlemen: the Atlanta Falcons have won the 2010 NFC South Division, are the #1 Seed in the National Football Conference, and have locked up Dome-Field Advantage for the entire playoffs. It absolutely one of the best seasons in this franchise’s history and fans have enjoyed every minute of it (save for a few games), but everyone wants more since the “real tournament” now begins.

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud exalts over a 31-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC South at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.

Celebration Time…..for now. (CCompton/AJC)

The Atlanta Falcons took care of business as they had to early and often against the hapless Carolina Panthers. Some were worried about worst-case scenarios, but those days hopefully are behind for this franchise. According to most of the talking head media, you wouldn’t even know the Falcons are in the playoffs, much less that they are the #1 seed in the NFC and had the second best record in all of football. I’m sure that’s fine and dandy with the coaches and players who …

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