Falcons Reel in Sloppy Loss to Bucs

Another Poor Showing

Nah, Let's Be Conservative (AP)

We hear those adages about “stepping away from the ledge” and “look at the bright side,” especially since its so early in the season, but the Falcons put up yet another poor showing and lost to the youngest team in the NFL and a divisional opponent. An earlier post posed a question on whether a string of poor performances was developing into a trend. The sloppy game they pulled out from the Eagles was good enough, but this display against the Bucs reaffirms all the fears fans have been stirring with. There are no easy answers and the road ahead does not get any easier. A look at another pitiful game……..

1) Offensive Identity Crisis

This has been the main question plaguing this team for a long time and cracks are starting to show with the recent quotes like Tony Gonzalez and others saying how much more in rhythm the team is with Matt Ryan running the no-huddle. And other quotes like Roddy White essentially saying the Falcons don’t have an offensive identity. Whatever the reason or the issue, it is not working at all. Perhaps there is a struggle between Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey on the direction of the team or, more likely, between Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons coaching staff. Mike Smith is the one who makes the call for the Falcons to go to the no-huddle, which basically is taking the plays out of Mularkey’s hands.

Thomas Dimitroff didn’t give up 4 draft picks to keep the direction of the team as a conservative, run-first, ball-control offense. The gameplan basically goes like this: if the Falcons run the ball successfully, they usually do pretty well. If they can’t run or it gets shut down, they have no backup plan except to allow a 4th year quarterback call the plays and run the offense. A Sports Illustrated article recently claimed there may be a power struggle on the direction of this offense. This much is known: the offense has shown the ability to get shut down by a veteran (Chicago) and extremely young (Tampa Bay) defense alike. In 7 quarters of football against the Bears and Bucs, the Falcons have netted 3 field goals. Same statement as before: too much talent to have this poor of a showing.

2) Playing With Fire Finally Got Burnt

Roddy Couldn't Save It This Time (AP)

The Falcons have been well-known for their conservative play while grinding out close wins at the end. Tons of examples come to mind from last season: the miracle fumble needed to beat the 49ers, the missed FG from the Saints in overtime, and the last second wins against Green Bay, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay to name just a few.

That’s not even mentioning having to storm back to beat the Eagles and turning around and almost giving it away to a 3rd string quarterback. The Falcons have conceded a few games of course at the last minute, but you can’t expect to continue winning on a consistent basis by getting in a hole and having to claw your way back in the 4th quarter or getting up good and letting the opponent come roaring back. Contenders put away at least some teams. How many times have the Falcons done that? The Falcons were only a few plays from looking at an 0-3 start with the Super Bowl champs coming to town soon.

3) Shameful OL

Maybe Harvey Dahl was really that much of a difference. Maybe other teams have simply just figured out that if you stop the run, then the coaching staff has no answer and its tee-off time on Matt Ryan. The Falcons have been dominated up front in all three games they’ve played. It ranges from a very good defense (Bears), to a fast defense (Eagles), to a rookie and young laden defense (Bucs).

Sam Baker gets the ire of most fans, deservedly so, but the fault lies up and down the line. McClure botched another snap that killed another drive. Reynolds and Clabo are getting beat as well. The only bright spot is Justin Blalock at the moment. It appears that many fans are being proved right by overlooking the offensive line for so long. Unfortunately, there are no easy and quick fixes looking forward because the Falcons don’t own a 1st round draft pick next year and starting left tackles don’t come cheap. They better get it figured out in a hurry, or it will be a long year.

4) 10 Yard Cushion Defense

One of the most maddening things for fans is the soft zone that the Falcons give every opponent they play. It doesn’t matter if its Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin or Roy Williams and Mike Williams, they give their receivers 10 yard cushions and are completely picked apart. Most times when there is a completion, there’s no Atlanta defender anywhere around.

While not on the level of the “Dream Team” Eagles secondary, the Falcons do have talent in their secondary, but even the best cornerback in the world will look terrible giving up a ridiculously soft zone to their receivers. DC Van Gorder is out of excuses. They make any quarterback they play look pretty good, whether it be Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman or Mike Kafka and Blaine Gabbert.

5) Undisciplined Team

Sloppy Falcons (AP)

Coach Smith’s winning formula last year included a heavy dose of not turning the ball over and not committing penalties. They couldn’t be farther from that belief this year. They are committing penalties of every type: personal fouls, offsides, false starts, holding, clipping, and many more. One of the turnovers happened on the very first drive of the game.

They have turned the ball over 8 times in 3 games. That’s just not going to win you a whole lot of football games in the NFL. A big deal will be made of the Falcons losing the game by jumping offsides, but it would’ve taken another Matt Ryan fourth quarter comeback to win the game with no timeouts.

6) One Quarter Football Team

This goes in line with earlier points, but the Falcons have never been a full-game team. The issues with them in the past were that they were a 3 quarter team that would always have lulls in the 2nd or 3rd quarter. Now they appeared to have transformed into a 1 quarter team.

The Falcons have looked pretty awful in the first 3 quarters the last two weeks and needed a major comeback to beat the Eagles and make it close against the Bucs. They were kind of a no quarter team against the Bears. You can’t expect to play crappy football 75% of the time and wait for your quarterback to not only bail you out, but call his own plays as well.

7) Serious Flaws on Special Teams

The Falcons once again look pretty bad on special teams for the 2nd year in a row. On almost every punt and kickoff return there is a holding or clipping penalty. They average giving up at least one big kickoff and punt return to the opposition each game. Eric Weems steadied himself this week, but has looked less than stellar this year in the return game.

And that’s not even mentioning the punter and kickoff specialists Matt Bosher. He doesn’t even come close to kicking the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs and was only able to pin the Bucs on the 19 after punting from the 50. To their credit, they got it corrected last year and they better start in a hurry this year. Matt Bryant is the saving grace with him being automatic on field goals.

8.) Still Missed Tackles

Defense Made Freeman Look Good Again (AP)

I guess Brian Van Gorder doesn’t have the excuse of not having a true training camp to blame this time around on the missed tackles. This defense has a serious issue, and has for some time now, on tackling and wrapping up. They made Legarette Blount look like The Bus Jerome Bettis out there. How many times did Blount get hit and then gain at least another 5-8 yards? On the last series of the game, the Falcons had the Bucs at 2nd and 9 and hit Blount in the backfield which should have been maybe a 2-3 yard gain and set up a reasonable 3rd and 6 or so. Nope. Blount broke several tackles on his way to making it a 3rd and 2.

They seem to stop the run well if they hit the back in the backfield and gang tackle, but one-on-one, they have major issues. Several times the Falcons defenders had Josh Freeman wrapped up only to see him break free and make a first down with his arm or his legs. How many times did the Bucs players on offense get the ball and keep going for a 1st down? When Van Gorder gave the excuse of “not having enough time” as the reason for missed tackles, we knew we were in a heap of trouble. Not trying to denigrate the talent of the Bucs, but we’ll be seeing more talented offenses along the way (Saints, Packers, Texans) and it doesn’t get any easier.

9) Can Smith Adjust?

This will be one of the underlying themes of the entire year. His brand of conservative, control-the-clock, and play mistake-free football has served him well over his tenure, but if recent performances are any indication, his style of football has been left in the dust. His philosophy is so contingent on not making mistakes that it totally allows the opponent to dictate their will on the game and puts the entire team in a terrible box that where they have to play a perfect game (error free, run the ball) to win. In other words, Smith has shown no ability to adapt to the way the game is currently being played which is to be aggressive and impose your will on your opponents. Your team should be able to have mistakes and overcome them. Just ask Brees and the Saints.

Sure, Smith has built up a lot of goodwill, but the question now turns to will he make the needed hard decisions to move this team forward. The pressure has indirectly been put on him due to the talent that Dimitroff has acquired over the years (sure, he’s had a few misses, but overall this is a very talented team). Can he step outside of his comfort zone and declare that the Falcons are Matt Ryan’s team and they are changing to a pass-first to set up the run team? Can Smith completely shirk his conservative defense philosophy and get more aggressive with all the talent he has on defense? How well he answers those questions will determine his comfort level among the fanbase.  This much is known: time is running out quick on this window with Gonzalez, Turner, White, and Abraham nearing the end. It would be shame to think “what could’ve been” with a different philosophy.

10) Where Do Falcons Go From Here?

Yes, its only the 3rd game and they have eons of time to turn it around, but there are some big holes that have been exposed in the beginning of the season. The Falcons allowed a defense with rookies and young players galore to completely shut them down for 3 quarters. They even lost their starting safety, starting outside linebacker, and had a rookie (Mason Foster) calling the plays on defense. The road gets no easier and its impossible to find anymore “surefire” wins on the schedule. Are you still thinking playoffs or is something else much worse in store?

The Birds travel to the west coast after losing 2 of their first 3 and having played 3 of their first 4 on the road. Not to mention the energy-sapping Sunday Night Football game against the Eagles. The Falcons then come home to face the Super Bowl Champs, where nightmares of the “Debacle in the Dome” ring clear as a bell. Then they host an upstart Panthers team who just recorded their first win with a potent rookie at QB. Then it’s back on the road to Detroit, who is 3-0 and looking tougher every week. They have 2 games against the Saints, whose offense looks as stout as ever. They also play the Houston Texans who nearly stole a game from said Saints. Even the Titans are 2-1 and looking much more formidable than many thought. The point is that this schedule looks a whole lot tougher after dropping 2 of the first 3 and tons of good opponents lie ahead.

Your Turn

Analyze the poor Falcons showing if you dare………..

1,079 comments Add your comment


September 25th, 2011
10:56 pm


September 25th, 2011
10:57 pm

Sorry,had to win something today. I feel dirty now. :)

DJ Sniper

September 25th, 2011
11:05 pm

D3, can you e-mail this list of questions to every local journalist and demand that they ask them over and over until we get some real answers? This team has way too much talent to perform the way they have over the first 3 weeks of the season. I like Coach Smith, but he’s going to have to make some changes soon if things keep going like this. Let Matt Ryan call his own plays, and please do something with Brian Van Gorder, because he doesn’t have a clue at all.


September 25th, 2011
11:12 pm

Ken, here is your post from the other blog. I thought it needed to be heard………

Ken Strickland – D3-On an earlier blog I compared the situation that I believe exists between TD and Smitty’s approach to how the OFF and DEF should play to a simular situation that existd between of former GM BKnight and former HC MWoodson. TD keeps presenting Smitty with quick fast LB’s, and CBs that are geared to playing man to man rather than zone.

And as we’ve all witnessed, both Smitty and VanGorder are exclusively married to the idea of playing a very loose zone. I also used the analogy of continuing to tryt and force a square peg into a round hole. We have yet to play a team that can match us as far as individual talent, yet we’ve yet to show we’re a better team, and that includes Philly.

Our entire rushing OFF seems to consist of runs inside the tackles and to the left, and almost always on 1st downs. We’ve still refused to do anything to spread the DEF, like using our RBs as receivers. This idea of having to go to the NO HUDDLE to get the OFF moving is downright rediculous. The plays Ryan calls in the NO HUDDLE are the same plays that are in the playbook when we’re using the huddle.

It’s just that Ryan seems to have a far, far, far better idea and grasp of when and when not to utilize them than our clueless OC MMularkey. With Ryan calling the plays, DEFs have no idea what to expect, especially on 1st downs, which definitely isn’t the case with Mularkey.

If we don’t get rid of Mularkey, franchise QB MRyan is going to end up in the same shape as SBartkowski and CChandler, 2 previous franchise QB’s who’s careers were cut short as a result of taking too many hits.

Great Falconi

September 25th, 2011
11:16 pm

9) Can Smith Adjust?

Those two paragraphs are what I’ve been thinking about for most of the day. Glad to see that voiced here, D3. It’s really on Smitty now. Last season was a prime example of making the most out of conservative football. It’s hard to duplicate that from one season to the next. I firmly believe that we have to open things up on both sides of the ball in order to get more out of what we have on this roster.

Falcon in DC

September 25th, 2011
11:20 pm

The Fat Lady is tuning up and she’s coming down Northside Drive. If the organization doesn’t figure it out. She will be in the Dome singing Sunday after next and the season will be done!!!

Pitiful quotes coming from the post game locker room. This team is displaying no real fire. It’s scary.


September 25th, 2011
11:21 pm

Cam Cameron can take Torrey Smith who was taken in the 2nd round and put him in position to score 3 TDs like he did today and Mularkey can’t even get Julio Jones the ball without his QB taking over the playcalling.

I think the Mike Mularkey Era is officially over this year. Too bad we had to waste this year offensively to get to that point.

Here’s something that should take a little sting out of not having all those draft picks: we should get compensatory picks for Harvey Dahl, Michael Jenkins, and Michael Koenen.

I said from Draft Day that this move to get JJ was essentially boxing in Smith and Mularkey with their playcalling and direction, inadvertently or not, and firmly stand behind that now. When you think about it, we really just gave up this year’s 2nd rounder and next years first. Adding Ray Edwards takes a lot of pain out of it.

Really gone this time. Cheers!

DJ Sniper

September 25th, 2011
11:27 pm

That was a great post by Ken Strickland. I want someone to say all of this stuff in public. What I really want is for TD to get in Smitty’s ass about Mularkey and his lack of imagination. All of the fans can see that he’s the problem, so now it’s time for the head coach to see it as well.


September 25th, 2011
11:39 pm

I fully expect a win in Seattle. If for no other reason than shear desperation. We lose there, you might as well kiss the season good-bye (sorry, you can’t lose games like that and still legitimately be considered a contender). We had no business losing today. Yes, they are a very good team, but they are very young. The same team lost to the Lions at home.

Anyway, we have @ Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina, @ Detroit, @ Indy. If we are 5-3, than we’re OK, not great. If we’re 4-4 or 3-5, this season may be a calamity.

Reason being is that the 2nd half of the season has Saints x 2, Texans, Titans, and Bucs (who we just lost to and completely let in the door).

Also, can any of us say with any absolution what games are locks after the way we’ve played the first 3 weeks? Hell, we’re a few plays away from being 0-3 right now. I can’t pencil in Carolina as a win at all. Seahawks just beat Arizona. May not be saying much, but still. Many of us thought that the second half of the season would be easier. I think that’s wrong now.

We could still have a “good” season, but any illusions of grandeur are starting to flow out the window unless some serious changes are made. You know we won’t get rid of Mularkey during the season because we don’t want to be “those type of teams.”

Really worried, bordering on panicking. All of our biggest fears about this coaching staff are rearing their ugly heads it appears.


September 25th, 2011
11:41 pm

We won’t make the playoffs

Michael M.

September 25th, 2011
11:41 pm

They just can’t adjust to playing outdoors or on the grass…..something about those conditions throws em off balance and off key. They are going to have to get use to all conditions. That was unacceptable the way they played today. Tampa kept giving them the opportunity to come back and beat them.
Todays play was just a sorry excuse for a good football team.
Even though the Field conditions were poor, we expect much more out of this talented Team. If this is what this City and this State has to look forward to, then I say they need to get the H## out of here and find another place to play this way because Frankly, I am sick of it and have been for quite awhile and the voice of many other fans are raining in and I think they are feeling most of them the same way !


September 25th, 2011
11:44 pm

Its sounding kinda heated at the Branch.

The NFL is changing. This year is producing more offense than ever and defenses have become faster and more aggressive. Mike Smith is an old school ball coach, and there is nothing wrong with that except his coordinators are old school as well. The teams that are growing have innovative forward thinking coaches & coordinators that are able to adapt to the ever changing league. TD is innovative and forward thinking, and if Mike Smith doesn’t choose to adapt to what TD is trying to do, he may not last much longer in ATL.

I for one love Smitty and think he is great for our team and this city, But he has to adapt. And I think it is going to come down to him getting rid of MM & BVG and replacing them with coordinators with the traits that I mentioned above. And then turning things over to them.

The defense has to use its speed and talent to get creative with blitzes, hit hard, stop the run, and bump and cover WR in tight man to man schemes. Our defense is soft and just average. Period.

The offense also needs to use it speed and talent the way the Eagles do. Creative runs for Turner. Screens and tosses to Rogers. Crossing routes to HD & Gonzo, and bombs to White & Jones. But most importantly, hand the keys to Ryan.

But most importantly, Smitty needs to get this team back to doing the things that he constantly preaches, which is no turnovers, better line play, and stop the dang penalties.

This is a tough schedule. And if we dont get this worked out, not only will we miss the play-offs, but we could be looking at a losing season. And that does not bode well for the fans or Smitty’s seat.


September 26th, 2011
12:23 am

Somebody tell me what’s up with the receivers running slants all the time. I know 1st downs are ALWAYS going to be a run. Goal line always expect somebody to run a flag route between the linebackers and safety. No huddle, expect somebody to run a slant. If it’s PA bootleg to the right, it is always going to be a short pass to WR or TE. And I think that is the whole playbook.


September 26th, 2011
12:30 am

I was so excited when ryan was throwing the ball down the field. Even though most passes weren’t completed it kept the defense honest. And both White and Jones stretching the field, the underneath throws will open up and the running lanes will open up to. Defense needs to come up with some creative way to bring more pressure. I am tired of us playing this soft zone and getting ate up. And when we do send some pressure from the secondary, it is usually a safety going through the C gap that is always getting picked up by the tackle. Come On Man!!!


September 26th, 2011
12:39 am

As mentioned elsewhere the biggest bugaboo with this OL is that now it can’t run block, which is where it always excelled. Pass protection was admirable but never our strong suit. Michael Turner is a one dimensional back that needs larger seams than your average bear. Last year, we ran mostly to Dahl and Clabo’s side and both had high grades for the year with Dahl being our best run blocking lineman. With Reynolds, we now see miscommunication on who to pick up in the pass game and haven’t been able to open up holes for Turner. This lets DLs focus on up the field rushing instead of having to play laterally. This increases pressure on passing downs and even play action (where our passing offense is largely predicated).

So now we have defensive lines pinning back their ears and coming at us. Baker (Clabo) have been having a hard time picking up single rushers. We tried to give help on Cole with Palmer and he whiffs. We don’t want to keep a back in to take a way the pressure. What is the biggest problem?

Snelling has been hurt. He can both pick up the rush and slip out the backfield. That has been why we have seen any of Quizz in my opinion because we can’t trust Turner in the dumpoff or screen game. So in essence, we are boned. With DE penetration, it is harder to throw screens because they can bat it down and we have no ability to run quick hitting swings, tosses, or slip a back out.

For all the old school griping, more needs to be focused on having a one dimensional back. Even big Brandon Jacobs can catch the ball. No back in the league is worse in the passing game. Shady, Forte, and Rice are the new RB paradigm.


September 26th, 2011
12:42 am

I am not blaming Turner because he is exactly as advertised.


September 26th, 2011
12:44 am

If they want to save face with Mularkey and BVG then have MM set up the overall offensive game plan and leave it to MR to carry it out with his own playcalling. Leave BVG as figurehead DC but have somebody aggressive call the defensive plays and somebody start working on tackling every practice. The same goes for blocking. Get creative if you have to. Basic coverage on ST has to be re-taught. Get another punter/kickoff specialist. Replace Weems on return teams if he doesn’t get it together. Show you can fix the team’s fundemental problems in practice and show you can adapt during the game or turn in your keys. Smitty still gets some love, but there’s a few coaches who shouldn’t be here if they can’t change things in a hurry.


September 26th, 2011
12:46 am

1 – O-Line
2 – O-Line
3 – O-Line

Again, it’s easy to pin things on the playcalling.

Playcalling didn’t lose us this game. The turnovers is what killed us.

Turnovers. And most of those turnovers can be attributed to terrible O-Line play.

I’ll buy the arguments against Mularkey, but for a different reason. Him calling games the way he does won’t hold us back from playoff contention, but will prevent us from making any deep postseason run, should we get to play into January. It’s too predictable, and too conservative. I buy that.

But, we didn’t lose today because of the playcalling. Opening drive, we fumble. Sure, it didn’t lead to points, but that was the O-Line.

A little later, Ryan gets faceplanted, the Bucs pick up the ball, and another fumble that results in more Tampa Bay points.

The pick before halftime that costs us a chance to get at least 3 points.

The McClure snap wasn’t a turnover, but it was yet another boneheaded mistake that costs us a chance at another 3-7 points.

This game was lost by the O-Line. That doesn’t mean the playcalling was good. But, even with Mularkey’s predictable playcalling, this is a game we should’ve won minus the mistakes up front. The undisciplined nature of our football team at the moment is what’s costing us games.

3 turnovers to the Bears, 3 turnovers again today.

Both L’s.


September 26th, 2011
12:48 am

Agree about the blocking but if you can’t come up with a way to compensate against a young team then isn’t it your fault as OC?


September 26th, 2011
12:51 am

On Defense, I just feel like we are flying around so much that we are losing tackling technique through the ball carrier. It’s been a problem across the league and should get better. I personally am not sure I would trust Dunta in man coverage especially with Decoud’s susceptibility to getting sucked in by the run. Then we might start seeing the long plays we have eliminated. When the pressure gets home we need to get the man down and not let them dump it off or ground it. Be in position and make tackles. They gave up 16 points and less than 300 yards so I have seen some adjustments on THAT side of the ball.

BTW, look how many points are being given up by Gregg Williams and the rest of the league. It’s been pretty sloppy. The eagles couldn’t tackle Cruz either. The lockout screwed up tackling and secondary positioning. But at least we have football.


September 26th, 2011
12:57 am

This sums it up:

TAMPA, Fla. — Before he even took off his uniform and headed for the shower, Gerald McCoy went through the locker room, searching for a stat sheet.

When the Tampa Bay defensive tackle finally found one, his reaction came in one word.

“Wow,’’ McCoy said.

He then tapped fellow defensive tackle Frank Okam on the shoulder and pointed to one line. Sitting in his chair and taking off his shoes Okam looked at where McCoy’s finger was and elaborated.

“Thirty rushing yards?’’ Okam said. “We held them to 30 rushing yards? Wow.’’

What Tampa Bay’s defense did in Sunday’s 16-13 victory against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium was worth plenty of wows.

A defense that is incredibly young on the front seven shut down what many thought would be one of the league’s best offenses. The Bucs shut down a team that many considered a Super Bowl contender, but is now 1-2.

Hamad Meander

September 26th, 2011
12:59 am

D3 – You’ve hit the head on the nail. The offense has no rhythm, Matt Ryan is missing open receivers, receivers are dropping balls (WHITE!), and the offensive line isn’t making the running game effective. It’s very disappointing that this team only has one offensive TD in 8 quarters on the road, when it was supposed to be one of the most ‘explosive’ offenses in the NFL. I think I’d rather not hear the work ‘explosive’ again for a while.

Good news – Julio Jones had a big day. The defense is much better than last year. No one is hurt yet this season. Things will get better, but we need to win every game at home and at least half of the remaining road games to make the playoffs.


September 26th, 2011
1:00 am

Read this after my post but pretty much slammed home my above post about the running game…



September 26th, 2011
1:13 am

I have seen a lot of Falcons football over the years; however you CAN NOT continue to be conservative to the point of being predictable. Touchdowns win football games, not 3 yards and a cloud of dust and not dinking&dunking the ball down to field @ 5 yards a pop. Defensive penetration causes turnovers (Interception/Fumbles), playing a soft zone is wishing&hoping something good happens. WAKE UP!!!


September 26th, 2011
1:46 am

1)Whats with this newly found fear of running the ball left? Against Phily they may have run the ball there once or twice. I don’t remember a clear left side run against the bucs. They might not get yards but you cant run up the middle or to the right 75%+ of the time. People do keep stats.

2)Congrats to Julio Jones on his first 100yards+ game. I can see him scoring 2 TDs next week.

3)Matt Ryan seems to be going after explosive plays. Problem is everything else falls apart. I thought he did enough to win. Cant blame him on the fumbles but they were crucial.

4)Defense actually played well. They weren’t that bad on 3rd down and they held TB to field goals. I thought turnovers were not on the Falcons side this time.

5)I think Brian Finneran needs be be receiving a call soon. Weems and Meier have literally given us nothing offensively. Then again you cant make plays on the bench and that makes me question the falcons preparation outside of the starting lineup.


September 26th, 2011
3:35 am

Well Brian Finneran is definitely not the answer. We have the receivers to get the job done Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas in an offensive scheme designed by a good offensive coordinator would light this league up. If Tom Brady had these three guys along with Gonzales just imagine what he would do each week. So no this situation definitely does not require the services of Brian Finneran. Also since he is a free agent and no one else has even kicked his tires I think it’s time to let that idea RIP. The problem as I see it is the coaching staff, remember these guys are not exactly experienced in there current positions. Mike Smith has never been a head coach anyway in the NFL, Van Gorder has never been a defensive cooordinator anyway in the NFL, Mularkey was a head coach in Buffalo and after a couple of years they paid him to get out of town. Michael Koenan our previous kicker said in an interview that things were really tight up here (ATL) and that there was alot of nervous energy. When I watch Mike Smith give interviews and even when I see him interact with the players it just doesn’t seem to be natural and relaxed, it does seem tight. It obvious to me this coaching staff is in over it’s head. If Michael Turner is not able to carry this team on his back and the coaching staff has to scheme or devise a different strategy to beat a team the result is a team that looks unprepared and undisiciplined. The only way out of this mess is to fire both coordinators asap and bring in proven guys that have had success in this league in the past. IMO it is too much to ask Mike Smith who is inexperienced himself to have to try and be successful with an inexperienced defensive coordinator and an offensive coordinator that lacks any kind of vision and is obviously incapable of schemeing against each team they play to target it weaknesses. The coaches are trying to make the players play the way they wont to win versus winning the way the players play best. Dunta Robinson has been a press man cover corner his entire career in the NFL but these coaches bring him in here give him a 57 million dollar contract then say ok now change the way you play the game(zone) but still be successful. Get rid of these obtuse minded coaches bring in some experienced guys with some attitude and swagger and let these guys play football and have fun doing it. Trust me I know from experience the last thing a player wants is a bunch of tight ass coaches worrying about whether you got your shirt tucked in in the meetings. Remember when Gonzales caught the pass with one hand last week as he came over to the sideline Mike Smith told him thats the way you catch a pass and did he catch it with one hand. First of all I think Tony Gonzales has forgotten more about catching a pass than Mike Smith will ever know plus the whole interaction just did not feel natural it felt tight and contrived. I think this coaching staff is tight and I think they are in over their heads and lack the vision and experience to pull this team out of bad situations. Look at the end pf the Philly, the coaches almost blew that game by running the ball and realizing they could not run the clock out man thats football coaching 101 type stuff and they almost screwed the pooch on it. I believe we have the players minus a decent LT but they are being held back by a coaching staff that is scared to be great and basically unqualified to take a team deep into the playoffs.


September 26th, 2011
3:46 am

Great stuff D3, you hit the nail on the head. Problem is nothing can and will change with this coaching staff in place which means we have to wait for next year. As much as Smitty has done for the Falcons, taking us to a level we have never been before, I don’t think he’s the one to take us to that next / final level. The ball is squarley in TD’s hands and we’ll see if he has the guts to pull the trigger. BTW, how many of us had the Falcons at 1-2?


September 26th, 2011
5:54 am

@DOC Tom Brady has the best o-line in football no wonder he puts up those numbers. If this team isnt at least 4-3 heading into their bye then the playoffs then are a long shot.


September 26th, 2011
7:13 am

The O-Line is pathetic! The game should not have gone to the 4th quarter. TOOO many dropped balls that Ryan PUT IN THEIR HANDS!! Catch the darn ball and stop looking down field!! Special teams can not stop returns, and didn’t do a good job blocking for Weems. There were no Falcons to be found to block for him in the 3rd and 4th qtrs. Roddy White dropped 3 passes that could’ve been touchdowns or 1st downs in 4th qtr. Maybe it was the humidity, maybe it was the rain in 1st qtr., maybe it was dehydration, maybe it was the field conditions, or maybe they just can’t get the job done. They have to get it together or we have no chance for the playoffs. Great post D3. GOOO, somebody, besides those damned yellow jackets!!

OC/DC Dinosaurs

September 26th, 2011
8:06 am

uga_b you forgot our other ONE_DIMENSIONAL back Ovie Mugheli when you said “Michael Turner is a one dimensional back that needs larger seams than your average bear”. Ovie’s main job is to make the seam wider, and yesterday he couldn’t block a rushing lineman or catch a pass.

The first string offensive team is really a CONTRADICTION. Our two first-team backs are built almost exclusively to run the ball not to participate effectively in a more open offense. We have two backs who are extremely run-oriented and a set of receivers capable of breaking the field open. Our set of plays are designed to accommodate this mixed bag of backs and receivers, and the OC first inclination is to run the ball in narrow formations. The plays don’t work. Yes, we have problems with the OL but this blog has recognized the growing offensive problem for two years. I think the only difference in yesterday’s OL and last year’s OL was the absence of Dahl. I just don’t believe he made the OL that much better.

I am convinced the Falcons went into the game really believing the running game would win the game for them. It looked as if there had been no planning or practice regarding the passing game. The NFL is a passing oriented set of teams and HC Smith has to make some changes If the other teams in the NFL can get the ball down field to their new receivers, then what is holding the Falcons back?

The Real Falcon

September 26th, 2011
8:25 am

When your QB turns the ball over in each of your games your
will be hard pressed to win. Ryan cannot continue this!


September 26th, 2011
8:37 am

Mike Smith is on the hot seat in terms of changing what he believes in. I don’t think the fans are making Mularky the escape goat, but even on a good day his play calling is suspect. Vangorder can’t seem to get his players in the right postion. Or the continuity between the player and coach are bad. Thomas Demitroff has made some mistakes in evaluating talent and over paying players. I’ll cut Ray Edwards a little slack, because he’s learning the system. But you still have to get sacks. The fans no by now, that Dunta Robinson,Although a physical corner is not a cover corner. He simply can’t make the big interception. The offensive line and the secondary save Grimes is awful. The Falcons can’t get a lead and hold it, and often times they play the game from behind. The word (explosive) has got this team in trouble in terms of their idenity. Roddy White can’t make those kinds of mistakes, when rookies look up to him. I don’t want to hear Mike Smith say we’ll get this (fixed)But what I like to hear is we made some changes.

joe white

September 26th, 2011
8:41 am

Defense is playing well, but the offense just stinks right now.

The Real Falcon

September 26th, 2011
8:45 am

And anyone who says you can’t blame Ryan for the fubles is a joke.
If you watched the Saints/Texans game Drew B. was pestered and sacked.
did he fumble the ball, no.
He did toss his first interceptions but no fumbles.
Ryan is putting the ball on the ground.


September 26th, 2011
8:57 am

I live here in Tampa and am a die hard Falcon Fan. The energy around this town was that if Tampa was to beat Atlanta, then they would be able to be great because of the prediction of Atlanta being a Superbowl favorite. If we don’t get it together wheather that means giving the keys to Ryan or departing ways with the OC/DC we are going to be in trouble. TD had the guts to make a major move in the draft, now he will have to make a major move to get this team to understand that Mr. Blank is paying for mediocore football.


September 26th, 2011
8:58 am

I want start out by saying what a great article. I’m not a coach by any means but I think all the falcon fans knew that bumbgardner and malarky style of football was bad from the time that they hired them. We were lucky to get to the play offs last year. You saw how GB made us look after taking a lost during the regulary season. We have a 45 pistol and using 22 bullets


September 26th, 2011
9:00 am

Mike Smith better take notice of bumbgardner and malarky or he wil be on the same bus leaving.


September 26th, 2011
9:06 am

that is Mr. Blank is NOT paying for mediocore football!!

just sayin'

September 26th, 2011
9:17 am

45 pistol?…more like a 22 arm using BBs..surprised melt didn’t have more int’s…back peddling..throwing the ball up in the air…good thing most of them were towards the ballboys on the sideline..

Paddy O

September 26th, 2011
9:22 am

Well, before I read comments: This is the second consecutive year the the Tampa field was pure garbage. The NFL needs to fix that crap. Also, Ryan has problems with poor footing fields. However, despite our losing, it was one exciting game!


September 26th, 2011
9:46 am

THE PROCESS… I’ve heard that word tossed around many of time on this blog. We are not the only team that has cleaned house in the last 4 years and started a new. I normally don’t like and shouldn’t compare teams, but I must, to get my opinion across. The Detroit Lions Franchise was in disarray much like ours, they cleaned house top to bottom right around the same time we were making simular decisions, 4 years later, at this moment, are we a better TEAM? are we a better Football TEAM than the Lions? Some of you will point to the 3 winning seasons, last years 13-3 season inparticular, rightfully so, but if you look back a couple of years, some of the glaring issues that plagued this team today, were present then as well, I think we looked over them because we were caught up with having a consistant winning Franchise (in record only)…

I am starting to have doubts on whether Mike Smith can take this team to the promise land… ok, I will cut him some slack, or win a freaking playoff game? I enjoy football, I love my Falcons, but I like what I see out of Detroit, can’t help but have some respect for a team thats been the laughing stock of the league, to be having great success in the early going. They are developing a culture of winning, by any means neccesary and playing hard nose Football. To build a successful company, you have to figure out what you’re gonna be, what are gonna do good, what kind of Person you’re going to put at the top to develope that all important culture… I am sorry but Smith is the problem, the reason why the team can’t get going until the 4th quarter, until we are forced into a win or lose situation, fail to have that all important killer instinct, can’t tackle… all of the aforementioned are passive Culture traits, Coach Smith you can’t fix that, its in the air, we are polluted with a passive non urgent Culture, the only way to fix, is with new blood, a new philosophy.

I think we have built on paper, a potential juggernaut of a football team, but we need the fuel to make this dangerous machine take off…We need that rocket fuel of a Head Coach, all I’m seeing out of Smith is low grade 87 octane scheme and philosophy.

That is all…

O. Canada

September 26th, 2011
9:52 am

TD assembled a Ferrari engine. The coaching staff put it in their father’s Oldsmobile.


September 26th, 2011
10:31 am

Truth: One thing you see in Detroit you dont see here in ATL is that swagger. our team right now has no swagger.
If I was a doctor I would prescribe something to end these multiple personalities that this team seems to possess.
I am not up to the ledge yet, I am trying to remain optimistic, but starting to get very concerned.
My biggest fear right now is Ryan is sidelined due to injury. And right now with the O line play, that is a very real possibility. And like others have stated, these hits are making the “Happy Feet” to come back, bad decisions being made, and just piles on to more and more errors by our O.

D I was happy with, considering Tampa had the ball for 35min. Only giving up 16 pts after being on the field that long is a good accomplishment.

Paddy O

September 26th, 2011
10:32 am

Sadly, this loss at the key moment falls on Roddy W. However, with the poor field, Ryan was missing throws all day long – the Quizz pass was off; a couple throws to Tony G were off. However, with our bad O line play, our focus must be to keep Ryan upright. However, I did notice we were using the RB to chip block more effectively. I was pretty happy with our defense. I consider Tampa & us to be about even in the talent department. Our on gadget play to JJ was a 9 yard loss.

DJ Sniper

September 26th, 2011
10:45 am

D3, do you think there might be a serious rift between Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith regarding the offense? We all know that TD didn’t make the move to get Julio Jones only to have our offense stuck in the same conservative mode that it’s been for the past couple of seasons. Do you think that TD may be having a sit-down with Smitty soon to tell him to get the offense in gear?


September 26th, 2011
11:08 am

Good morning Cage. A tough loss yesterday for several reasons. Will try to break it all down as the day progresses.

DJ Sniper, I will take a shot at your question. I do not think the issue is between TD and Smitty. I think there is an increasing disconnect between Smitty and Mad Mike. During the telecast yesterday, Brian Billick, who happens to be Smitty’s brother in law, made the point on several occasions, that SMITTY, not Mad Mike or MR2, was the person who would CALL for the integration of the no huddle scheme. That seems odd to me for three points. First, Smitty is a defensive minded coach and it is not his area of expertise. Second, Smitty came to ATL with the mindset that we were going to be a run first, fundamenatals focused, team.

But it is my THIRD question that has me most puzzled this Monday morning? This rift is now been noticed by sources inside AND outside of the Branch. Several sources, including the Falcons’s own
Daniel Cox, has indicated that the tension is on the rise on that staff. Sources contend that there is an increasing rift between Mad Mike and Smitty. And if Billick is true in what he said, which I think is true, then it is either very obvious now or Billick has inside information.

Roddy White kinda gave a hint of it last week. MR2’s support for his OC last week to Cox seemed to give the feel of a pre-emptive posturing.

There is trouble brewing in the Branch. I said it last week and I will say it again. This, IMHO, is the last year that Mad Mike will be in ATL. And I think it will be a mistake to let him go. MHO.

Time out……more to come.



September 26th, 2011
11:11 am

LRD Great points, I hear ya… Maybe that was the word I was seraching for.. SWAGGER!!!

OC/DC Dinosaurs

September 26th, 2011
11:18 am

SW, that is good news “trouble brewing in the Branch”. It has to be solved and the only way is for it to become a thorn in HC Smith’s side.


September 26th, 2011
11:19 am

In his 9:46 post this morning, there is some serious TRUTH, no pun intended, to what our good friend (S. Truth) is saying in his post. The Falcons have not have ANY consistency since that debacle in January.

While it is the players that are ultimately responsible for the performance, it is the coaches that are responsible for ensuring an environment conducive for that.

Here is where I get into trouble. I have said it before and I will say it again. When the Falcons DO NOT commit to establishing the run, this football team is NOT the same team. Tampa Bay beat the Falcons yesterday by playing FALCONS football. They ran the rock 36 times for 116 yards. I say again; Tampa Bay ran the ball 36 times for 116 yards. They managed the clock to the tune of over 35 minutes of possession.

Enuf for the moment…..but plenty to think of.


September 26th, 2011
11:25 am

Excellent assessment! Fairweather fans fail to recognize trends. I have been a Falcon follower since the opening kickoff of their inaugrial contest in the 1960s. I have seen all the good, bad and ugly. Mostly ugly. I was alerted from within after Packer debacle in playoffs that this squad has serious chemistry problems. I felt like it was important to get back into W column. Even in meaningless preseason game. Did not happen. Disaster in Dome followed by four practice losses. Fans who do not not know any better continued to smell roses and believe all press releases about how good Falcons are and will be for decades to come. I was definitely not buying any of this baloney. Matt Ryan has regressed since his rookie season. Michael Turner has lost two steps plus his will to hit the line with desire. Still do not know where our damn punter went. Defense is not perfect but will hold up its end in most battles. Hard not to give up points when offense is doing Santa Claus impression all the time. Yes Matt, I am talking to you. Roddy White has regressed back into dropper of critical passes. Where the Hell is Brian Finneran? So the loss streak went to five. Then the Falcons gave up in Illinois for a sixth straight setback. The Eagle home win could easily have been a loss. The Buc debacle could easily have been a victory but Falcons would have none of it. What it boils down to is that the defending NFC South champions have lost seven of the last eight times they have suited up. Not a trend? Interested in some prime swampland? Real cheap! Fans who have been with team since Rankin Smith days know what I say is true!