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 cylinders, the defense couldn’t stop a cold and Green Bay could’ve even put their punter in street clothes. It was one of the worst and most embarrassing performances probably in NFL playoff history.

Big Changes

The defense has been a work in progress and fans have been considerably patient. Thomas Dimitroff let 5 defensive starters walk after his first year as General Manager. He parted ways with Lawyer Milloy, Keith Brooking, Michael Boley, Grady Jackson, and Dominique Foxworth. Dimitroff also traded starting cornerback Chris Houston the following year. In fact, some of the only holdovers from the 2008 defense are John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, and Curtis Lofton. That’s over a 70% turnover in just two years. So fans have understood that it definitely take some times and some bumps while injecting so much youth and so many new starters.

Gotta Get Better Smitty (CCompton/AJC)

Dimitroff has added playmakers across the board. He has spent his last two number 1 draft picks on defense in Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon. Unfortunately, both have had injury issues so their true potential may not be truly known (which leads to another question about Falcons rookies often getting injured and if there’s an issue with development, but that’s for another time). Dimitroff even spent most all of the 2009 draft on defense, adding William Moore, Chris Owens, Lawrence Sidbury, Spencer Adkins, and Vance Walker. He also added Corey Peters, Dominique Franks, and Shann Schillinger. Perhaps Dimitroff didn’t strike gold on every draft pick (the Jerry pick seems the most painfully obvious), but to argue that there’s a lack of talent is hard to buy. Even though Dunta Robinson didn’t have a spectacular year, he was roundly regarded as one of the best cornerback free agents on the market. Something has to give here, and the coaching gets most of the blame. By comparison, Dom Capers took a Green Bay defense that was ranked 21st in the league and moved them into the top 5 just in one year alone, not to mention the fact that he changed from a 4-3 to 3-4. They are now among the top 5 in every almost every single category and one win away from hoisting the Lombardi. Simply put, no more excuses.

No More Excuses

They are good against the run, one of the best on limiting points on the boards, and have definitely improved on interceptions. But that’s about where it stops. While some areas have improved, they haven’t gotten better in proportion to the amount of money and effort that has gone to getting the defense as one of the best. Problems that have plagued this defense from the first year this regime took over are glaringly still issues. That includes: getting off the field on third down, getting a consistent pass rush, and an overall wretched secondary. Just as the offensive coaching is getting hammered for being entirely too conservative, the defense shares the exact same blame. Basic fundamentals are also a serious concern with weak tackling on all three levels. Aaron Rodgers just spun off another would be tackler. There were at least 4 or 5 3rd down plays where a Falcon defender had their chance to bring down Aaron Rodgers and he simply sidestepped them as if he were playing a video game. Those could have made an enormous difference in the game and at least made it more competitive.

Personnel can definitely be blamed for the defensive end position, where not one single player has been able to get any pass rush with one of the best defensive ends on the other side. Some thought Biermann might be that guy, but he doesn’t seem to be a frontline starter after only nabbing 3 sacks and 36 tackles. Chauncey Davis and Jamaal Anderson have proven to have great versatility, but certainly aren’t starters. Lawrence Sidbury didn’t see the field at all this year, which has to fall at the feet of the coaches and player development. But while most defenses are never perfect, the Falcons do have talent. While Van Gorder was known for his hard-hitting and aggressive defenses at Georgia, that has pretty much evaporated in Atlanta. Some believe that Coach Smith is heavily involved in the defense and that it mirrors his conservative, bend-but-don’t-break philosophy. Irregardless of who’s mainly to blame, the defense must improve or other coordinators may be in the future.

Bend-but-Don’t-BROKE

One of MANY Missed Tackles (AP)

With requisite apologies where needed, the NFL jury has rendered its verdict on being conservative on defense and using the bend-but-don’t-break: IT DOESN’T WORK! Sure, it can help win some games assuming everything is going your way, but when you run into a high-powered offense like Green Bay sounds of a buzz saw come to mind. It was mentioned that Rodgers performance in Atlanta (at home in the Georgia Dome) was one of the best performances by a quarterback in NFL history. Embarrassing. Teams that win get pressure on the quarterback and the backfield win. Check the recent Super Bowl winners and ask yourselves if they let the offense dictate to them. Do the Steelers, Jets, and Packers run a bend-but-don’t broke defense? Why did the rival New Orleans Saints win the Lombardi Trophy last year? They always had a great offense, but they won the whole thing with an equally aggressive and opportunistic defense. Some thought that we’d finally seen the “true” Falcons defense when they were aggressive against New Orleans in the 15th game of the year, which still resulted in a loss. Similar to the offensive issues, the defense is pretty predictable and the blitzing schemes are stale and lack serious creativity. Simply sending your nickel back into blitz (unsuccessfully) when every single person watching knows what’s coming doesn’t count as a good blitz scheme. One point of strength in Smith’s philosophy of keeping the defensive linemen fresh may actually hinder them some. Perhaps they need the same continuity and rhythm that quarterbacks and running backs do. Who knows.

Failure of Defensive Development

Another point that has to be mentioned is the failure of players to be developed on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe Dimitroff has been that bad in terms of drafting cornerbacks since 3 of them are no longer even with the team (Chevis Jackson, William Middleton, and Wilrey Fontenot), but its hard to imagine that every single cornerback drafted didn’t have potential. There seems to be a hesitancy on this coaching staff to keep players out until they believe they’re completely ready, but its hard to explain how Lawrence Sidbury played as a rookie, notched a sack and a touchdown and then goes completely missing this year. Dominique Franks is in the same category. He was roundly considered a huge steal by all analysts and even showed promise in preseason only to get no snaps during the year. Spencer Adkins was supposedly raw talent and had speed to burn coupled with a ferocity in hitting and hasn’t glimpsed the field except for special teams. Thomas DeCoud had an amazing first year as a starter and followed that up with a very sub-par year this year with seemingly much more help at cornerback and at strong safety.

Lack of Fundamentals

Eagles tight end Brent Celek (87) eludes Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson (53) during the second half.

Another Missed Tackle (AP)

Even though the defense is disciplined in certain aspects, they lack the basic fundamentals many times. They have an issue with tackling. How many times did the Falcons get a hand or a shoulder on an opposing player, only to see them break free for another 10+ yards? How often were defenders an inch away from making a big sack, only to see the quarterback or running back push off and make a play? Sometimes the defensive players go for a kill shot and miss the player altogether. Better tackling alone could make a large improvement. Maybe the easier practices have something to do with that. They also have a major problem with blitzing. Many times they were in a great position to make a big sack, but were out of control when they got there, allowing the opposing player to produce a play of their own. This could be due to the fact that they weren’t used to blitzing and just need more practice or this might be due to more fundamentals. Regardless of the reasons, the fundamentals have to improve.

Detailed analysis of positions will be topic of next post.

The Real Expert’s Weigh In (Your Turn)

-How would you rate this defense as it currently stands?

-What immediate improvements are needed?

-Who gets the lion’s share of the blame: Van Gorder, Smith, or Both?

-Has Dimitroff drafted poorly on defense?

-Is the problem a lack of personnel or simply coaching?

-Do you like or hate the bend-but-don’t-break defense?

-Is the defense entirely too conservative?

-Has the defense improved enough giving the time and turnover?

-Should a major philosophy change be in order or was it just one bad game?

-Is it OK to give up tons of yards as long as few points are scored?

-Are the defensive coaches just doing the best with what they have?

-Do the Falcons have a player development problem?

-Are the Falcons really weak in basic fundamentals?

-Has the secondary really progressed since 2008?

-How would you fix the defense?

266 comments Add your comment

Poppa Falcon

January 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

BRUTALLY HONEST ASSESSMENT. Defense has GOT TO GET BETTER. PERIOD.

liljb1

January 29th, 2011
4:21 pm

The defense is Ok 5 out of 10 at best. I like Mike Smith as a coach but I think a new DC will be great. Somebody who will have them play more aggressive. We could use another DB maybe somebody will great coverage skills and a little taller than 6′0 maybe. The coaching staff is so worried on stopping the BIG PLAY they let them dink and dunk there way to the goal line giving up points.

The Real Falcon

January 29th, 2011
4:27 pm

It’s time to rise up.
Are we serious? If so sign Nnamdi Asomugha and move Grimes to nickel.
Draft a DE in the first round.

The Real Falcon

January 29th, 2011
4:29 pm

What is the deal with Sidbury? A wasted 4th round pick?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily Smith, Sean Womble and Darrell From Ga, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: AJC's fan blog: No More Excuses on Defense http://bit.ly/ikAtGa [...]

Screen Pass

January 29th, 2011
4:46 pm

Well written, good post D3. Thoughts from Senior Bowl so far; Hankerson WR/ Miami looking good, LT Sherrod looking terrible. Locke looks ok, T. Young WR got crushed over the middle, slow to get up…was looking speedy before that. Castanzo looks ok, not great.

The Real Falcon

January 29th, 2011
4:50 pm

Hankerson is Jenkins. We need speed at the WR position and a rookie will not contribute the way we need. It takes 2-3 years for them to figure out NFL pass routes. Sign a FA WR

Screen Pass

January 29th, 2011
5:12 pm

“Hankerson is Jenkins” – TRF

Lol. Agreed. He at least gets separation I give him that. I would take him over Balwin so far but I wouldn’t choose either in the first. Devine is tiny…coaches pulled a Mularkey and made the kid run a bunch of tween the tackles suicide missions. He runs hard and pops back up…seems to have trouble holding on to the ball tho.

liljb1

January 29th, 2011
5:13 pm

The CB from Texas looks good

Bangkapi Ajarn

January 29th, 2011
5:24 pm

Good post – bottom line, even if our O had excelled against the pack, no one can win consistently if the other team puts 40+ on the board and doesn’t need to punt!

I too am disappointed that Sidbury, Franks, etc. didn’t make it onto the field. Could Franks have really done worse than Owens when Williams went down in the Nickel position? Would we truly have had fewer sacks with Sidbury rotating in on some plays? If he were active, we could have least had an option when we were being so thoroughly used and abused, with no clue coaching wise on how to adjust.

There is no way for an outsider to know if it is coaching preferences, player development (again coaching) or poor drafting that created these issues, but they exist. Clearly.

The Falcons WERE 13-4 including the playoffs, but the minimal impact of injuries on the core starters during the season was undoubtedly masking the thin shell of talent or whatever that we had. Once we dipped into our reserves in the DB, we were filleted by a great QB/Coaching combo.

The guys that are not allowed to play could have helped, we will never know. Until we can work around injuries like the Pack did this year we won’t be able to take that next step.

JJ

January 29th, 2011
5:25 pm

Real deal GM, guess we should have taken Dorsey huh? I agree with you though, 48 out of 52 is terrible. MR has alot of room for improvements and I think he’ll get there. He’s already ahead of many HOF QB’s at this stage in his career-yr.3. No way we win 13 games without him, especially the 4th qt comebacks, He was among the elite on 3rd and long. But he can and will improve with experience and better playcalling and hopefully more weapons. I would have A. Rodgers and a few others, ahead of MR for the probowl. The 13 wins got MR to hawaii but the kid has got talent and will get better. By the way, he was late on Jenkins because of his poor pump fake to freeze the safety. Yes, he muff’d on that one.

Screen Pass

January 29th, 2011
5:35 pm

“The CB from Texas looks good” – liljb

Acho ate Sherrods lunch on that sack. Lot of talk about Sherrod falling to us, no thanks. Stiff, slow and poor balance in pass protection. Looks ok for runs but that sounds like Baker part 2.

Arno

January 29th, 2011
7:03 pm

Another question for the list: Certain players make everyone else around them play better. (Better tackling, pass rushing for example.) Do Falcons have that X-player on defense?

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
7:41 pm

Arno – I would nominate both Babineax & ABE. My whole problem is scheme. Our DB’s play what? Half way to the endzone? Our achilles heel, at least in the GB game where we relied on it heavily, is our zone coverage – we do “phantom” hand offs, which lets the receiver have a lot of space. I would really prefer to see us play Dunta & Grimes up close to the line – but that requires safety help – although Dunta has decent speed, size & good tackling. D3 – I wish you had a photo of Loftin whiffing on Jordy Nelson in the backfield – that occurred just as the announcers were discussing Loftin being disappointed about not being selected to the pro bowl. I can’t explain our problems tackling on sacks, but it was a gigantic problem. Even where Jennings got stripped by Nicholas, Nicholas had let him go free, and we got lucky that Nicholas caught him from behind. It was fairly clear by the 8th game or so that Biermann, despite his frenetic play, was not getting to the QB – but he was occupying his man intensely – how many times did we exploint this hole in the line, or scheme for Bierman to intentionally take his guy wide (left side containment simultaneously), then blitz either a safety or a linebacker? I hope we see the pre-injury Spoon back – I thought he played really well the first 3 games or so, after the 2nd injury, he was noticeably tentative (but, he is a ROOKIE). I think I would have slid Babineax out to the left side and seen what happened (we have a ton of talent at DT – I really liked V Walker the times he was in there – great push & good run stopping). It is too bad Dimitroff wouldn’t come to the cage incognito and feed us secret info on how they percieve the team & our draftees’ progress. This is the key season – if we draft great, make some excellent FA signings (still like another CB + DE), we could possibly repeat our regular season of 2010. I know a few of our wins were really lucky. But we did defeat GB, NO & Baltimore, and came really close with Pittsburgh. The all pro game will be very, very interesting.

Paddy O

January 29th, 2011
7:45 pm

BA – true, true – no serious (other than Spoon) injuries all year. I get the impression we have great depth at the D line & on the linebacker, but at CB & safety we are thin. Owens, who was projected as starter, played so poorly. Also, Coleman plays with too much emotion & instinct – similar to DeCoud, he appears to be frequently out of position.

JB FALCON

January 29th, 2011
8:45 pm

Are we serious? If so sign Nnamdi Asomugha and move Grimes to nickel.
Draft a DE in the first round. TRF
Best post so far!

Jim

January 29th, 2011
9:00 pm

I remember the MNF game where the Pack played just like they did against the Falcons, but the Redskins offense was clicking too. Final score Pack 48, Skins 47. Nobody could stop anything. It was ridiculous, almost like our defense was 2 sundays ago.

Now some defensive Falcons observations.

DeCoud – Great rookie season, barely heard his name this year.

Moore – Great, what we expected. Not nearly talked about enough. 3 different times this year, I saw him from the deep safety spot, recognize the run, take off @ full speed and lay a blistering hit on RB.

Biermann – Started out strong, loved it when Kroy ran over tailback trying to block him coming free off the end. But then what happened?

Our other end(s) don’t seem to know how to work to the QB. Keep driving, don’t give up, outsmart OL.

WT

January 29th, 2011
9:11 pm

-How would you rate this defense as it currently stands?
Defense is average to poor and not nearly good enough to compete for the Conference Championship or Super Bowl.

-What immediate improvements are needed?
Bigger, stronger, more athletic linemen and taller, faster defensive backs

-Who gets the lion’s share of the blame: Van Gorder, Smith, or Both?
Coach Smith is the Head Coach and ultimately responsible for the team’s success or failure.

-Has Dimitroff drafted poorly on defense?
Unknown at this time; however, the effectiveness of the draft selections has been affected by inadequate player development.

-Is the problem a lack of personnel or simply coaching?
Primarily coaching but part of the problem could be attributed to personnel—i.e., Falcons defensive linemen cannot get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and defensive backs cannot cover because they are too small and/or too slow.

-Do you like or hate the bend-but-don’t-break defense?
I hate it. The playoffs notwithstanding, the Falcons’ approach helped put them in the category just below the best teams in the NFL this season. However, there is no evidence they will ever advance to the next level using this approach, such as winning the Conference Championship and no team has won a Super Bowl using a bend-but-don’t-break defense.

-Is the defense entirely too conservative?
The Falcons’ defense is timid and weak-minded as well as conservative. Teams don’t dreads playing the Falcons, like they do the Steelers, Ravens, or Jets. These teams have at least a psychological edge going into a game because their opponents know pain will be a factor and normal human beings are averse to pain.

-Has the defense improved enough giving the time and turnover?
Green Bay and the New York Jets have shown that an abundance of time is not needed to develop good defense—just coaches that know what they’re doing.

-Should a major philosophy change be in order or was it just one bad game?
The defense needs to be more aggressive and abandon the bend-but-don’t break but a major change is not warranted. Falcons are on the right path—only losses were to the best teams in the NFL.

-Is it OK to give up tons of yards as long as few points are scored?
Obviously, limiting the number of points is more important than limiting yards but IMO, the best defenses don’t concede points or yards.

-Are the defensive coaches just doing the best with what they have?
Anybody can coach the best players in the country. However, good coaches are good coaches because they consistently put teams on the field that are competitive regardless of the players. The Packers are a better team than the Falcons but to get destroyed like that, at home, when they had over a dozen players on IR and we supposedly had a relatively healthy roster is impossible to rationalize without acknowledging the impact of coaching.

-Do the Falcons have a player development problem?
Yes. Opposing quarterbacks like Josh Freeman, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers were able to elude blitzing linebackers and defensive backs and make plays with apparent ease—running and passing. Receivers, tight ends, and backs often abused the Falcons’ secondary because defensive backs were out of position and linebackers did not seem to know how to defend or recognize the passing lanes.

-Are the Falcons really weak in basic fundamentals?
Yes—tackling. Running backs and receivers frequently ran out of the grasp of Falcons linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs—occasionally all three on the same play. A team that cannot tackle is fatally flawed.

-Has the secondary really progressed since 2008?
No. Carson Palmer and several other quarterbacks had field days against the Falcons, including Brees and Rodgers who each shredded the Falcons’ secondary twice. In the playoffs, Rodgers completed an obscene 86 percent of his passes for almost 400 yards, in three quarters, and probably couldn’t have done much better had he and his receivers been running drills in his back yard with no defenders around.

-How would you fix the defense?
In addition to obtaining bigger, stronger, more athletic linemen as well as taller and faster defensive backs, additional emphasis on player development is needed.

Brother John

January 29th, 2011
9:14 pm

Mike Smith does not play to WIN. He plays not to lose. Everybody on his staff is just like him . (Or becomes like him!) He will never win a Super Bowl here or anywhere else. I am happy Blank is “pissed” — but he should take that out on one of his dinner dates! Nothing ever changes here. We were having these exact same conversations 30 years ago. Exact same conversations. Leeman Bennett had reached a plateau. Ad nauseum…

Gold and white Falcon

January 29th, 2011
9:35 pm

If you will remember, Van Gorder all but destroyed Ga. Southern’s football program with his football “smarts.” He obviously is not helping the Falcons either. Give him back to Ga and see if they still like him. I doube they wil.

Ron Choke Mexico

January 29th, 2011
10:34 pm

How bout signing champ bailey from denver and DE ­Mathias Kiwanuka from NYG? maybe rocky mcintosh from the redskins, let coy wire go, jamal anderson go, brian williams go

DVG can go too

gman

January 29th, 2011
10:45 pm

man, you just unlocked the code. now if you’d be so kind as to email this letter to Mr.Blank, i dont have his email address. because from top to bottom you get a thatta boy check. i like coach smith. but what bothers me is. why in the hell isn’t anyone else pissed but Blank. conservative play calling conservative attitudes.

gman

January 29th, 2011
10:53 pm

Mr. Blank me as a long time fan, am anticipating great things from this franchise, and have been for the most part patient. and am very ready for us to take off, and will be very understanding, as a lot of us will. if you have to fire every body in this franchise, to get the right people in here, i like smith but he is not exempt.

Ed

January 29th, 2011
11:08 pm

Right on point and well done D3. It remains to be seen the approach the Falcons will take as they could feel at 13-3 they only have to make minimal changes. I go all the way back to when LeRoy Kelley was at RB for the Clevland Browns and their defense was always described as “bend but don’t break”. Didn’t like it then and really don”t like it now for our Falcons. Smitty has yet to prove he can take a team to the summit. He has shown how to run a team and win on a consistent basis, but may be too conservative to push them over the top.

[...] No More Excuses on Defense – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Maybe Dimitroff has been that bad in terms of drafting cornerbacks since 3 of them … and even showed promise in preseason only to get no snaps during the year. Spencer Adkins was supposedly raw talent and had speed to burn coupled with a ferocity in … Jan 27, 2011 11:57pm [...]

ELL

January 29th, 2011
11:43 pm

If you really look at it , We have all the right pieces on defense. Its how they are being played, very predictable and conservative. Let the players play to their strength and not to a position that their weak at.For example, SS Moore is a beast at laying the wood, but weak at coverage in certain defenses.Every offense in the league know how to beat the Tampa 2 defense, why stay in it so long.
More Offense means less time on Defense..Think Veterans PLEX,,or T.O, along with White,and Jenkins,Douglas and Gonzales, give yourself more options on 3rd and 6, then there’s less 4th and 1.
The pieces are almost in place with a few additions and if the coaching staff can’t put it together, then its time to have a look at them?

ATLJBO

January 29th, 2011
11:45 pm

It feels good to be back….. But yea… I remember last year… A lot of fans felt like Biermann could be the guy for the LDE spot… With more PT we would see more production… I just remember hearing Chuck Smith talk about Mark Anderson (the DE he trained) … He said after he had a big year as a rotational guy… The Bears felt like he would produce more as a starter and more PT… He said that was a mistake because some guys are just meant to be good rotational guys…

Thats how i feel about Kroy… I said this last year… Kroy is meant to be a very good rotational player… I think more PT took away some of his effectiveness … I think we will address this DE position this year (god i was hoping for peppers last year..lol)

But yea.. I think our D definitely improved… We also have to remember we are pretty young on that side of the ball also… I feel like our CB’s on the islands are good (Dunta and Grimes) … I feel like our young Safties are good….

These are the problems i see

1. We must get a impact DE

2. We need Peria to do his thing since he will be 100%

3. We must figure out the NB position… (Owens need to step up and we will bring some one in)

4. Cover up the middle of the field better… Is Curtis Lofton a 3 down LB because he had trouble in coverage and missed tackles in coverage.

hjones

January 30th, 2011
6:41 am

D3, you are the only “tell it like it is” sports person in the AJC and Atlanta sports scene. I have been thinking about the defense, and I have concluded the performance of the defense is directionally proportionally to the performance of our pathetic predictable offense. The defensive unit practices against the Falcons offensive unit, and has only that yardstick to judge what is working and to improve techniques. The coaches are lulled to sleep thinking that the plays of all opponents will be as predictable. It all goes back to the OC and DC, and MS if he lets it continue.

robertussen

January 30th, 2011
10:35 am

D3, Franks played against Arizona and got a pick.

Big Ray

January 30th, 2011
11:31 am

http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2011/01/29/arthur-blank-still-hasnt-recovered-from-falcons-playoff-exit/

Read between the lines. There WILL be changes.

As for the defense and the draft….I still believe that Sean Weatherspoon was a very good pick.

I still wish it had been Clay Matthews or Ziggy Hood over Peria Jerry. I think things only go one way with Jerry – either he has a heck of a comeback, or he goes the way of Trey Lewis. As in, “had great hopes for him, but now he’s lost in the rotation.”

In the meantime, hope that solid rookie Corey Peters becomes more than just solid. He’ll remain a good part of the rotation, but we need him to start commanding double teams. If he can’t, then it needs to be someone else. Nobody else on the team is as good as Babineaux, and he’s a penetrating DT, not a space eater.

We do need to improve the secondary again. Get a good corner of some type and move Grimes to the nickle slot, or get a better nickle back. I don’t care which at the moment. Owens isn’t cutting it, and may never cut it. Decent back-up but not a starter. Brian Williams can’t stay healthy. He’s outta here.

Get somebody to do the job we wanted Jerious Norwood to do. Give Norwood his walking papers. Can’t stay healthy? Then you can’t play for us. It’s okay for a while when you’re an unused third string QB or a backup to a backup at another position that has depth. But when you’re the one change of pace playmaker in the backfield, it ain’t okay. Sorry, but it just ain’t.

Guys who need to play more –

Jose Valdez (should make the team and compete for playing time), Palmer (TE who can really catch the ball and run routes), Corey Peters (until or unless we draft or sign a very talented DT, he’s the man next to Babineaux…smart, stays healthy, good fundamentals), Dominique Franks (see what he’s made of), Eric Weems (is he a playmaker on offense? Then why isn’t he on the field?)

Big Ray

January 30th, 2011
11:37 am

I think maybe THIS time DE will get addressed. We have to have pass rushing playmakers. Biermann is a good player, but he may not be a full time starter.

I’m about tired of the “chicken vs. egg” argument where we debate whether the DEs performance is directly related to the effectiveness of the DTs.

The way I see it, our DTs can hold the middle, but we MUST get consistent pressure from the DEs. Abe had a good season, he bounced back to his old self. Biermann had 3 sacks. There weren’t nearly enough pressures and hurries. Abe might have one of his “down” years next season. What are we going to do if he does? How do we generate a pass rush? Something’s gotta give.

At the same time, if there’s some dynamic DT available, I’d grab him…draft or free agency. Long as his name isn’t Albert Haynesworth.

Bangkapi Ajarn

January 30th, 2011
11:40 am

Big Ray – damn good post!

I would only add that Sidbury should join the list of guys that need to play more (aka- do it on the field or do it somewhere else). I especially like Palmer, I think he has humongous potential, but what do I know here in my recliner?

Screen Pass

January 30th, 2011
12:15 pm

Who do you suggest Big Ray? I think Kerrigan is another Biertruck waiting to happen, plus after his performance yesterday he might not even be available at 27. DT actually has a couple of guys we could take in the 1st but that would be 3 years of drafting DT’s with little effect so far.

Tom

January 30th, 2011
12:26 pm

Like their offense, the Falcons’ defense is predictable. One reason the Packer’s and Steelers’ defenses excel is because they make it difficult for opposing offenses to know how they will rush the passer. Heck, Green Bay’s scheme often called for only one or two down lineman and they still rushed six. Does anyone think The Falcons’ prevent with three down lineman fooled anyone? Hell no!

The Packers also had ELEVEN defensive players on injured reserve. The Falcons had one. I shudder to think how bad the Falcons’ defense would have been had they had similar number of injuries.

With a pass happy, quarterback driven league, the Falcons need to adjust. For years, they have failed miserably to find a pass rush compliment to Abraham. The good news is that the Falcons are but one player away, a nose tackle, from being a respectable 3/4 team, and heck, that one player may even be on the roster in the name of Trey Lewis.

Consider this scenario: A nose tackle flanked by a DE rotation of Babineaux, Peters, Perry, and JA98 (or Walker); Weatherspoon and Abraham as OLBs with Nicholas and Lofton in the middle.

The team still needs DB help, but that need is present regardless if they pay of 4/3 or 3/4.

The bottom line is that the Falcons’ defensive scheme is stuck in yesteryear and VanGorder may not be right person at the helm. The annals are littered with defensive coordinators who excelled in college but failed in the pros, and VanGorder may simply be the next one in line.

falcon21

January 30th, 2011
1:13 pm

Big Ray, you are on a roll buddy, nice posts. BA, agree on Sidbury.

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
1:17 pm

Im upset right now the falcons played there worst game of the season, and why in the playoffs mind boggling 2 me, the falcons have make some serious adjustment specially come draft day.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!1

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
1:26 pm

TD so far grading him on draft day get a C, last year had a chance 2 draft dez bryant but decided 2 draft spoon, not 2 say that he want be a good LB but dez will be a beast in he nfl and you don’t pass on talent like that.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
1:32 pm

Do not past on Torrey smith in this year draft if sitting there at pick 27 TD MUST DRAFT HIM POINT BLANK PERIOD.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
1:38 pm

CB jimmy smith i a beast no way this guy should be drafted in second round but if some how TD could move up early in the second and get him this would be a steal for the falcons.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

tony

January 30th, 2011
1:46 pm

Pass Defense is 22nd – Falcons need to sign Free Agent Charles Johnson-DE

Pass Offense is 15th – Falcons need to protect Matt Ryan. Draft Derek Sherrod-OT in the 1st rd.

Rush Offense is 12th – Falcons need to get younger @ Center. Draft Stefen Wisniewski-C in the 2nd rd.

Rush Defense 10th – Draft Kenrick Ellis-DT in the 3rd rd.

Falcons need a playmaker on Offense – Draft Jacquizz Rogers-RB in the 4th rd.

Falcons need to stretch the field – Draft Cecil Shorts-WR in 5th rd.

Falcons need a mobile QB – Draft Tony Taylor-QB in the 6th rd.

Falcons need good tackler on defense – Draft DJ Smith-OLB

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
1:56 pm

Free agent DT Haloti Ngata need 2 be the number one free agent the falcons should go after bring this guy in an sign him on day one.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
2:10 pm

If you put haloti beside jonathan you would protect your LB to make better plays, plus the falcons must get stronger in the middle of the defense so that your DE can put mre pressure on QB, ray lewis is the best LB in the game because of up front stregth a DT.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tony

January 30th, 2011
2:46 pm

The Falcons Defense is 22nd and the Ravens is 21st so how is it logical to say Haloti Ngata can help our pass defense if he couldn’t help the Ravens Pass Defense?

tony

January 30th, 2011
2:47 pm

I meant to say Pass Defense.

billcanoe

January 30th, 2011
3:23 pm

This column is a total over-reaction. Get over it and let this team have a chance again next year.

falcon21

January 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

This column is a total over-reaction. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

Unca' Bob

January 30th, 2011
3:57 pm

Ya’ll know what? Every morning I sit at my computer, with my little kitty Callie laying in my lap, and I’m scratching her neck and she’s purring so loudly I can’t hear The talking heads. The sun is warm on our backs, and I contemplate football. I think I’ve concluded, it’s not life threatening. Sitting on the sidelines that is… Just a thought.

Jack Tatum

January 30th, 2011
4:32 pm

Should have hired Rex Ryan instead of Smitty. TD is not very good GM. He thinks he can find a diamond in the rough with these no name players. I give him a D- on draft day. He should have drafted Clay Matthews instead of P. Jerry. That should have gotten him fired.

darrell starks

January 30th, 2011
4:37 pm

Tony who defense is better the falcons or revans ? the ravens is much tougher and more physical than falcons, and for the past 10years ravens totally defense have been rank in top 10 every year because of the size DT, and 2 answer your ? the ravens had no corner backs this year thats why they where rank 21 in passing.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!