Obvious Must-Win as Falcons Host Panthers

Can Birds Finally Get Back on Track?

Which Defense Will We See? (C.Compton/AJC)

Well, to say that this season hasn’t gone as planned would be putting it lightly. There’s no shame in losing in the NFL, and there’s certainly no disgrace to losing to teams that were both in NFC Championship in January or a team that has had a meteoric rise with several great drafts and a division foe on the road in Tampa Bay. However, losing to all three while also looking really terrible in the two wins doesn’t strike any fear in the rest of the schedules, much less soothing a nervous fanbase.

1) Obvious Must Win?

The Falcons host the seeming hot Carolina Panthers and another division enemy. Yes, the Panthers are 1-4, but they have played close enough to win in all their games including Green Bay, Chicago, and New Orleans. Cam Newton has lit up the league with his throwing ability and the coaching staff have correctly just let him sling the ball and have no fear. Meanwhile, the Birds seem to be looking more desperate by the week. You have the head coach bravely accepting all responsibility for the Falcons troubles and also have the offensive coordinator essentially insulting anyone that questions his tactics, strategies, and beliefs (see the most recent Jeff Schultz post).

Bottom line, this is an absolute must-win. A game that seemed such a lock a few months ago has turned into a shaky, desperate feeling game with the Falcons hosting the Panthers. Bad thing is that it’s kind of a lose-lose for the Falcons if you think about it. If the Falcons win, then it’s what a 2010 NFC #1 seed, 13-3 should do against a team that only won 1 game in 2010. On the flipside, if the Falcons lose to the upstart Panthers in this setting, you might as well start rearranging the deck chairs.

Obviously, there is a ton of football left to play, but the Falcons then travel to the undefeated Detroit Lions (who beat both the Bears and Bucs), play the Saints twice, on the road to the Texans, and play both the Panthers and Bucs again. All this including that the Falcons have lost 3 NFC Conference games, including one to a division opponent. The Falcons can get it back together over the next 3-4 weeks, but the first step starts with the Panthers @ home.

2) Can the 3rd Quarter Be “Relevant” to Mularkey?

Sorry, but the most recent article that the AJC’s own Jeff Schultz just wrote regarding Mike Mularkey has put a bur in many fans saddle. When asked about the reason for the Falcons being outscored 61 – 13 in the 3rd quarter this season, Mularkey responded with “we try to score every time we have the ball, so that stat is irrelevant to me.” Wow. So basically you feel that you have no accountability whatsoever. Instead of just saying “I have to do a better job, plain and simple,” you decide to go the arrogant, defensive, and insulting route of attacking the question.

And then when asked whether he examines himself regarding the play-calls, he merely says “well, not as much as you guys.” For a coaching staff, and in particular an offensive coordinator, who has been under fire since the “Debacle in the Dome,” perhaps it would be better to just say ‘no comment’ as opposed to insult the intelligences of the fans and journalists.

3) Will Birds Turn it Around?

Can Gonzo Pick Up Jones Absence? (C.Compton/AJC)

The one million dollar question. Can they? Of course they can. They have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL (yes, once again, Dimitroff has missed some, but overall there’s a lot of talent). They have a team, less only a few players, that went 13-3 and were the #1 seed in the NFC only 10 months ago. They added one of the best players in the entire draft and one of the best available free agent defensive ends.

As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing wrong with losing a few games in the NFL, but when you lose games that you shouldn’t over and over and over again, and even border on losing games that shouldn’t even be close, than there might be an issue. If the Birds can win the next three games, than they’re at 5-3 at the midpoint and right back in it. But pardon fans if they’re a little skeptical about this team to be able to get it turned around in a hurry.

4) Can the Falcons Just Skip Halftime?

In all seriousness, the 3rd quarter meltdowns have become stuff of legend in the Mike Smith Era. For whatever reason, this team has come out and had terrible outings in the 3rd quarter. They have either allowed teams to storm back into the game after being close to putting it out of reach (Eagles, Seahawks), needing a big quarter to mount a comeback (Bears, Bucs), or finding a way to allow the other team to take over and win the game themselves (Packers). The coaches were up 14-6 after a great half by both the offense and, especially, the defense. If you would have polled Falcons fans if they would take limiting the Packers to 6 points in the 1st half, they would’ve jumped for joy.

The offense was creative, unpredictable, focused, and extremely effective. The defense played some man-to-man, were aggressive, and played very well. They went into halftime and came out completely transformed into a conservative, predictable, and meek team hoping and praying to hang onto the lead. The rest is history. Fans don’t know if it’s the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, or head coach, and frankly, they don’t care who’s at fault anymore. There’s no excuse for teams looking worse after just getting supposed halftime adjustments.

5) Will Falcons Hold Cam Newton in Check?

Can Falcons Hold Smith and Newton in Check? (MCT)

The rookie from College Park, GA has lit the NFL on fire with his insane production in the pass game. Coming out of college, many questioned his accuracy throwing the ball and how that would translate in the NFL. Instead of protecting their young QB with a strong running game, the Panthers coaching staff have let the rookie sling the ball all around and the results have been impressive.

Even though their record is 1-4, they were very close to beating Chicago, Green Bay, and New Orleans. Will fans see the 1st half defense against the Packers, where they were aggressive and kept Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable? Or will they result to their good ol’ jumbo jet soft zone, where they let the QB have all day to pick apart the defense? Stay tuned….

6) Is There a Bad Vibe in Flowery Branch?

This is essentially a rhetorical question since us fans have zero insight into what’s going on in Flowery Branch, but there surely seems to be a little evidence of it this year. Much of the window came with Mark Bradley’s interview of former punter Michael Koenen saying the team always played with a “nervous energy,” which has made complete sense with the way they’re playing.

Mike Smith looked downright desperate-looking when the game hung in the balance in Seattle. You hear some rumblings of players saying “we don’t have an identity.” You have Smith’s brother-in-law, Brian Billick, making a point several times during the telecast that Mike Smith was the one who called for the no-huddle, which essentially takes control away from Mularkey. There are players who feel the need to defend themselves against fans on twitter. And worst of all, you have the defensive coordinator saying he felt the defense played pretty good in the 48 – 21 “Debacle in the Dome.” Meanwhile, you have the offensive coordinator being insulting and smug when saying “that stat is irrelevant to me.” In other words, these are characteristics that are the exact opposite of the cool, calm, collected, and focused team that won 13 games in 2010 and achieved the #1 seed in the NFC. Perhaps it’s just a product of losing, but maybe it’s more.

Your Turn

Have a go at your Falcons as the surprising Panthers head to town………..

-Dawson Devitt; The Bird Cage, Atlanta Falcons Fan Blog

531 comments Add your comment

Unca' Bob

October 15th, 2011
8:34 am

Enter your comments here

D3

October 15th, 2011
8:39 am

G’ Mornin’ Unca’ Bob! — How goes it my OBCM friend? Didn’t mean to seem to gloom and doom, just tried to include some gut feelings about the year so far.

painter

October 15th, 2011
8:58 am

Interesting year. Just win and I’ll be happy.

Unca' Bob

October 15th, 2011
9:01 am

D3,

Back at ‘cha. A beautiful morning in the Carolina’s. Gloom and doom pretty much summerize my feelings of late. I also think this is a must win game because falling to 0-2 in our own division would seal our fate.

I wish I could put my finger on what our problem is, but is seems to be a combination of everything you mentioned and more. We are in a funk and can’t seem to shake it for an entire game.

D3

October 15th, 2011
9:13 am

UB — That’s a good way to summarize it. It’s hard to point to one single thing, but just a bunch of stuff melded together. We’ve proven that our talent is there in a few quarters, only to fall apart the rest of the game. I do think there’s some disconnect somewhere in Flowery Branch. I think there’s obviously something going on between Smith and Mularkey. Maybe its Smith limiting Mularkey too much or its Smith ready to move in a different offensive direction. I also think there’s some disconnect with Dimitroff and Smith as well. Incidentally or not, TD boxed Smith and Mularkey in when he jumped up to get JJ. Or maybe it was just a case of TD not really thinking we were just one player away. I think TD’s a little too smart for that though.

painter — Well put. This is the first step in getting back on track. Drop this one, and it’s essentially all she wrote.

[...] Obvious Must-Win as Falcons Host PanthersAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)There's no shame in losing in the NFL, and there's certainly no disgrace to losing to teams that were both in NFC Championship in January or a team that has had a meteoric rise with several great drafts and a division foe on the road in Tampa Bay. …and more » [...]

Wabe

October 15th, 2011
10:11 am

Falcons win.

24-14.

Cam Newton has a couple of highlights. Also has some lowlights.

Minus Julio, the Falcons don’t need to prove they’re an ‘explosive’ offense. They get back to doing what they did last season with the ground game, time of possession eating, lenghty/methodical drives.

waynester

October 15th, 2011
10:17 am

Mike Smith is very much a creature of habit…beginning with his personal routines and certainly extending over into his management of the team. He likes to arrive and leave at the same times, have his after-practice phone call to his pal– CIN coach Marvin Lewis– as he drives home…the list of his on-the-record revelations regarding his adherence to routine in game-week preparation, travel details, etc.are the marks of a highly organized mind–perhaps to the point of stubbornness–one that is not extremely flexible when things don’t adhere closely to plan. Of course,these are the observations of an outsider– based solely on things that have come up in interviews– but I don’t believe I’ve missed the mark by much. Don’t get me wrong– the above mentioned traits are admirable and in other fields of endeavor, highly desirable in a manager. NFL HC is not usually one of those jobs. The ability to think on the fly–to improvise and adapt–is vital in a gameday coach and I don’t perceive ad-libbing as one of Coach Smith’s strengths. Even in his press interviews, he prefers to stick to a “script” of stock phrases and expressions that he returns to habitually in such conversations. Strategically, it is understandable that a Coach would resort to “coachspeak” to avoid giving away too much information to opponents but Coach Smith lapses into this mode even in casual conversation. I wonder if would be possible in today’s NFL to have TWO Head Coaches–one to run the week and one to run Gameday since Mike Smith seems so good at the former and less so at the latter…..

Ken Strickland

October 15th, 2011
10:33 am

The questions to be answered tomorrow are:
1-will VanGorder/Smitty have the team come out playing the aggressive man to man DEF that was so successful in the 1st half against the Packers, or will they stick to the soft cover 2 prevent zone that got us torched in the 2nd half?
2-Will Mularkey/Smitty come out playing the aggressive, unpredictable, attacking OFF that took advantage of the areas outside the OTs, like we did when we dominated the Packer DEF in the 1st quarter? Or, will we start out the way we finished the gm, conservative, predictable and cowardly and losers.
3-CNewton has had an excellect start to his pro career so far, statistically, but he’s no ARogers. So, will our coaching staff take that into consideration and have the team play down to our opponent by playing their traditional conservative and predictable style the entire gm?
4-Or, will they actually demonstrate there’s an actual hint of intelligence, competence and awareness among our top 3 coaches, and try to build upon the obvious success we had against the Packers the limited time we employed a different and more aggressive OFF and DEF approach?

Intelligent and competent coaching is the only thing that can move this team forward, because this team and its talent are being held hostage by its absence..

painter

October 15th, 2011
10:36 am

D3, I’ll be up at 3am Japan time watching the game. I appreciate everything you wrote about, especially about the OC. I can’t tell you the range of emotions I’ve felt this year, much of it in last week’s game, the highs of getting out in front and smacking the opponent. Then halftime and I tell you it crossed my mind, the conservative play-calling. Well, we saw it again. You gotta wonder what’s going on at halftime with these guys. But I’m glad the ajc is calling them out, you JS, MB, whoever else. But I guess this is what we got this year. This is gonna be the 2011 Falcons football. Last year was a mirage, no doubt about that. Many said the schedule was weak, playing the NFC West all those times, and winning the squeakers. Then the debacle in the dome. Just win baby, that’s what I say. Anyway, here’s to Al. Go Falcs!!

Ken Strickland

October 15th, 2011
11:05 am

WAYNESTER-Now that was some interesting insight that you presented on HC MSmith. It goes a long way toward explaining why this coaching staff has been so doggone slow to make changes/adjustments in light of the fact it’s obviously needed.

Smitty seems extremely uncomfortabe when operating outside of his restricted comfort level for any extended period of time. That’s why he’s been so quick to adandon something new and different, no matter how well its working, to go back to old habits, no matter how poorly they’re working.

His solution to any problem that causes the OFF to faulter is to switch to the NO HUDDLE. As long as the HO HUDDLE works, he sees no need to resolved what’s causing the OFF to faulter in the 1st place. However, his need for control won’t allow him to employ the NO HUDDLE permanently, nor on a more frequent basis. He uses it strictly as a bailout for both he and Mularkey.

OC/DC Dinosaurs

October 15th, 2011
11:10 am

On his radio show yesterday, Buck Belue insinuated from insider at Flowery Branch that BVG had some really big surprises on third down. I’m putting it out as a marker for detect.

BT

October 15th, 2011
1:23 pm

The Falcons problems are many, to highlight a few…
In a nutshell, IMO they are a few cards short in the personell talent department, most noteably on the O-line and secondary.
Matt Ryan is not a QB that can carry a team that has a poor O-Line, he can`t make the deep throws when pressured or extend plays with manuverabliity.
It`s too easy for teams to defend the short to mid range pass and ingnore the deep threat explosive play, they know Matt`s tendencies when pressured.
Defensively, poor cover corners and a weak pass rush limit DVG`s scheme, that`s just the way it is.
The entire staff over estimated their talent level on hand and by the time they realized how short handed they were, it was too late to do anything about it except, atempt to adjust and re-adjust to their opponents adjustments.
Truth is, (in my mind) the coaching is only moderately good and that`s only when their basic game plan is working with an effective running game, opening up the play action pass and the D-line generates consistent pass rush pressure from the four up front.
None of the above has been happening..

Overall, I see a lack to toughness and swagger!
Is that on the players or the Org.?
Tell me, I think it`s a combo of both.

BT

October 15th, 2011
1:35 pm

The Falcons can beat the Panthers but I don`t know if, they will?
However, if they don`t, their season is effectively over.
They can`t afford two confrence losses and two divisional losses within the 1st six weeks of the season.
Welcome to the world of havenots/ will nots and play for next year.

Son Of Bart

October 15th, 2011
2:57 pm

Mike Smith should be running for mayor of some small town, of say, 600 dim witted people. Mike Mularkey should be washing dishes in a Waffle House in Hiram, Georgia screaming to the top of his lungs: “Nobody has ever seen a cleaner dish than this one, baby. Nobody. Nowhere. I OWN this Waffle House!!! Did you hear me you little know nothings?” Brian Van Gorder should go back to acting in B porno movies. Blank should then sell the team to Liberty Media and go back to being a don in the Mafia. Thomas Dimitroff should grow a beard, if that’s possible, employ a bandana, and join those folks camping out in Washington, D.C. The ghost of Rankin Smith should then appear in a fiery cloud high over the Dome on Sunday and pronounce from the heavens: “I think we have reached a plateau!”

falcon21

October 15th, 2011
3:01 pm

DHunt, we just got here and I’m still not sure if we will get the game yet, it’s not showing in the local TV guide but anyway, thank you!

ryan

October 15th, 2011
3:20 pm

I hope the Falcons can turn it around this weekend but if we struggle again there needs to be some coaching changes maybe not Mike Smith but someone has to take responsibility .

Great Falconi

October 15th, 2011
4:46 pm

We have to be able to play different types of games in order to win. We can’t just rely on running the football or throwing it. That being said, I’d rather throw to set up the run. Once that is done, keep the defense guessing. We haven’t been doing enough of that. The Packers made an adjustment or two at halftime. We moved the ball on our first second-half drive. After Clabo’s penalty, the offense went completely in the tank. The Packers seemed to know what was coming. That is the offensive coordinator’s fault. Mularkey can pretend otherwise. That’s his prerogative, but if he doesn’t fix the problem, he will be fired.

cb795

October 15th, 2011
4:52 pm

D3 with you we know we get the truth!

Ken Strickland

October 15th, 2011
5:20 pm

BT-I have to totally disagree with your belief that a lack of talent is the cause of our OFF and DEF problems. First, we have TWO(2) Probowl caliber CBs and a FS that played at near Probowl levels in his 1st yr as a starter. Secondly, DE JAbraham is the NFL leader in sacks over the last 3-4yrs, and a DT JBabineaux’s 11 sacks over the past 2 seasons ranks him as one of the NFLs top sack leaders at DT. We just signed DE REdwards, who’s averaged 8 sacks over the last 2yrs.

Therefore, there is no way in hell you, or anyone else, can attribute our poor pass rush to any lack of talent, or talented pass rushers. As far as QB MRyan is concerned, I want you to name a QB in todays NFL that can carry a team working behind what you claim is a weak OL. Hell, MVick is the fastest, quickest, and most athletic QB in the NFL, with what might be the NFLs strongest arm, yet he’s having tons of trouble trying to carry a team. That alone pretty much shoots down your arm strength theory.

It takes a lot more than just arm strength. Thirdly, the NFL players and coaches seem to have a totally different opinion of our CBs abilities than you, since they’ve voted both CBs to the Probowl.
And lastly, there’s nothing wrong with our OL that some far less conservative, predictable and limited play calling wouldn’t solve.

When every DEF player and DC knows what the play will most likely be, when and where it will most likely be run, they stack the line of scrimmage to stop it. AND YOU HOLD THE OL TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS DUE TO A PERCEIVED LACK OF TALENT, AND NOT THE OC/HC WHO’S CALLING THESE CONSERVATIVE, PREDICTABLE AND LIMITED PLAYS THAT THE DEF, AND EVERYONEs MOTHER KNOWS IS COMING, INCLUDING WHEN AND WHERE?

I want you to answer just one question. You said, “DEFENSIVELY, POOR COVER CORNERS AND A WEAK PASS RUSH LIMIT VANGORDERS SCHEME, AND THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS.” The question is:

1-Do you think Revis and Asomugha, the NFLs 2 premier cover CBs, would be just as effective playing 8-10yds off the WR and making absolutely no contact, like our CBs are required to do on virtually every play in VanGorder’s system?

If I’m not mistaken, Philly’s newly acquired CBs, Asomugha and Rogers, are having trouble adjusting to HC AReids DEF system. Or is it your your opinion that they lacked adequate cover skills to begin with.

Ken Strickland

October 15th, 2011
5:30 pm

If we lose tomorrows gm, the season isn’t over, because we could still end up with a winning record. However, our chances of winning the division, making the playoffs and winning the Superbowl some predicted we’d win would be all but eliminated.

If we do lose tomorrows gm, and both TD and ABlank feel the season is lost, will they immediately start making coaching changes? If so, I hope we lose, because we’re going nowhere fast with this incompetent coaching staff we currently have. The problem is, you can’t bring someone from the outside to take over for Smitty, VanGorder or Mularkey, because they don’t know the current systems, and can’t install a new one.

Therefore, the only solution would be to promote someone currently on the coaching staff to replace Mularkey, VanGorder, or both, and let Smitty know to keep his conservative, predictable and inflexible hands off.

BRO

October 15th, 2011
5:38 pm

Can’t win if your Offeensive Coordinator does not trust his QB to throw the ball down field. Also. the OC does not even seem to trust his own play calling and the Defensive Cord is worse. Hardley ever puts the pressure on. But will bad D-backs that can’t cover it is hard to put on the pressure. Falcons–NO GUTS NO GLORY.

Unca' Bob

October 15th, 2011
5:49 pm

We sure miss B Musgrave.

O. Canada

October 15th, 2011
5:58 pm

I’ve come to greatly appreciate D3 and the host of fans that post here. I’m just gonna say that I endured losing seasons for the Lions and Red Wings – while in Detroit; and the pre-Dungy Bucs while in Tampa, (ultimately I required counseling as Doug Williams and Steve Young went on to become Super Bowl MVPs). The point here is I’ve been a part of ignored, and savvy fan-bases. And that’s the case here.
Let me just say, Mullarky’s comments cant be just viewed as a reflection of Mularky alone. Who’s the real boss? Were there any PR softeners that came out of Flowery Branch / Buckhead to take the edge of that igno-arrogance? Unless I missed it, no. Am I recognizing that yet again mgmt. is looking at the bottom line benefits of TV contracts as opposed to player contracts? And that who shows up at the Dome is not as relevant to the bottom line as those same TV contracts and sponsorships?

I’m signing off for now. Good luck Bird fans. Just been too much of the same old same old for me.
Gonna pull for the Lions this week cuz that’s a change that’ll do me good.

falcon21

October 15th, 2011
6:19 pm

Agree UB. we also need more Mike Kenn and Bill Fralic type players on the o-line. Someone was saying there is nothing wrong with our o-line. I see it a little different, it looks like a weak line to me. If we had the master of play calling here the o-line would still not be verey good.

falcon21

October 15th, 2011
6:22 pm

JB FALCON

October 15th, 2011
6:26 pm

Just read the post and will comment, then go back and read the responses. D3, that was a very well wirtten post and I think you summed up the situation beautifilly and exact. Can the Falcons win this game?, most definitely. Will they win this game? Well, my answer to the first question kinda makes the second on mute. If they are capable of winning it then there is no excuse whatsoever for them to lose it.
The question should be, Can NC outsmart and outcoach Atlanta? The answer is they sure can and probably will unless some of our higher ups don’t get their heads out of their pompus azz and act like they would like to continue working here.

waynester

October 15th, 2011
6:27 pm

Unca Bob
I can easily see us a year or two from now saying the same thing about our current Coordinators. As disappointed as we are right now, we know it could be worse, Hell, we’re fans of the ATLANTA FALCONS for cryin’ out loud!!! We ASSUME it will be worse–that’s our history. As one of the league’s perennial cellar dwellers we’re ACUTELY aware of “just how BAD it can get”. We’re more hungry for success than any other fanbase since we’ve seen all our former cellmates in the NFL’s dungeon crawl out into the sunlight of league glory while we continue to struggle in the shadows. We looked on, Ringless, as one by one San Fran, New England and in recent years, even the hated Saints– our longest-running foe in the race for NFL futility– have turned their programs into perennial contenders. It takes a special breed of Fan to follow a team through decades of horrible losses yet remain ever hopeful. Most of us know a few people who gave up on this franchise years ago. With the recent success in the TD/MS/MM/BVG/Matt Ryan era, many of those folks have started to drift back…and they will abandon ship even quicker when the inevitable down season occurs. The type of Fans who have followed through the lean years will continue to grimly hold on–they’re too hungry not to….

tyler

October 15th, 2011
6:37 pm

D3, thanks for the blog my man, as always I enjoyed reading your thoughts on our beloved Falcons. However, I disagree with all the negativity coming out in in your opinions and questions. I know most fans are disappointed with the 2-3 start, but we knew going in the schedule was tough, and with the exception of the lopsided loss to the Bears, the Falcons have been in every game. Including giving the juggernaut super bowl champion Packers all they wanted, and were really just a few mistakes from winning that game outright.

Maybe I’ve become more calm over the years, but I remain patient with what is still a very young team. The QB is only in his third year. I see him making mistakes and not making plays the great qb’s make, then put it in perspective by realizing Aaron Rodgers spent three years on the bench developing himself, then went on to be less than stellar his first year(under 500), and improved to the super bowl as the qb of the most talented team in the league after 3 years.

The defense gave what I thought was an incredible effort last week against the most explosive offense in the league. Even though the Falcons lost, I thouroughly enjoyed watching the young talent play. C. Peters, B. Grimes, S. Weatherspoon. C. Lofton, L. Sidbury. I’m just loving watching this team play, they are exciting to me.

I could be totally wrong, but I have a feeling the Falcons are about to rip off about 5 in a row, and I’m expecting Atlanta to beat Carolina rather handily tomorrow. I have been working out of town the first weeks of the football season, so have only watched the Falcons on my laptop, courtesy of DirectTV. Not like being in the Dome or my living room needless to say. I love the way the Falcons come to play under this coaching staff, and look forward to a resurgent next few weeks.

Big Ray

October 15th, 2011
7:13 pm

1) Yes, it’s a must win game. We go down 2-4, and what will the explanation be? Some teams are good enough from a coaching, scheme, and execution standpoint to be able to claim injuries. We’re not, apparently. Win this game and we have a chance to get back on track and claim a winning season record and hopefully playoffs. Lose it and we find out real quick whether this franchise has the toughness to come back…and that begins with the coaching staff, while filtering down to the players. History is NOT on our side with this.

2) Mularkey was being defensive. His seat is quite hot at the moment. And media and fans might not be the only people applying the heat….hint, hint….

3) I hope so. But if not….there will be changes. And if our Birds can’t turn it around, maybe it will spark changes where needed most. Of course, there is always going to be an argument about where those changes need to take place, but it is what it is. If the Falcons don’t turn it around with this game, they may not get any turnaround this season. Not to be all gloom and doom, but it doesn’t look good. Especially when talent does not seem to be the prevailing issue by a long shot (unless of course you decide to pick Dimitroff as your favorite target…which isn’t too brilliant).

4) Perhaps Smith need not speak to the players at halftime. Whatever he’s saying isn’t working, apparently.

5) Containing Cam Newton requires some speedy LBs who stay disciplined. Nicholas and Weatherspoon can do it. Blitzing Newton would be a problem for us, as he knows how to keep throwing down field to Steve Smith and to his tight end. Not only that, but our blitz schemes leave something to be desired…we nearly always get stopped by the protection.

That includes blitzing a safety or cornerback…risky proposition, and you better hope that Steve Smith isn’t on that side of the field, or it could be 6 points.

What we need is a good, solid, consistent push from our front four to keep Newton from seeing the field clearly. But, we also have to account for the Panthers’ two RBs.

6) We couldn’t possibly know that. But there is one here, and every other Falcons blog. And the media isn’t helping any.

Nearly every talking head has the Panthers coming into the Dome and winning “because they’ve been so close in every game.” So to the sports world, we’re the patsy to Newton and his yardage-gaining Panthers. They win, and they’ll receive the “growing up” award that Tampa got when they beat us earlier this season….until other teams exposed them (and thereby…exposed US). Should have won that game.

Big Ray

October 15th, 2011
7:18 pm

Matt Ryan is not a QB that can carry a team that has a poor O-Line, he can`t make the deep throws when pressured or extend plays with manuverabliity.

Show me a QB that can carry a team that has a poor O-line. Oh wait, Mike Vick can….wait a minute….the Eagles are 1-4 as well. Ooops….

Defensively, poor cover corners and a weak pass rush limit DVG`s scheme, that`s just the way it is.

It’s true. Our corners do not cover well in zone coverage. Strange….the Eagles have three Pro Bowl level CBs and they seem to be struggling mightily in the same damn defensive scheme . I think I smell a trend here, but what do I know?

Big Ray

October 15th, 2011
7:18 pm

Wabe

October 15th, 2011
7:36 pm

It’s true. Our corners do not cover well in zone coverage. Strange….the Eagles have three Pro Bowl level CBs and they seem to be struggling mightily in the same damn defensive scheme . I think I smell a trend here, but what do I know?

————

Hit the nail on the head. That’s it in a nutshell. Folks can continue to bash the personnel, but how many DB’s have we run through now? At some point, you’ve gotta point to the scheme.

DHunt

October 15th, 2011
7:47 pm

D3 thanks thanks again for maintaining this space and giving us something to talk about.

I for one don’t see this a s must win or the season is over kind of game. Win or lose we still have a chance to split with all division rivals (and even sweep the Saints). 4 losses is four losses, but a 10-6 team can win the Super Bowl.

I too think the Falcons are primed for a big upswing in performance. This team is talented enough to go on an eight game winning streak, and we have more home games in the second half. This slow start has caused a lot of angst, well deserved in many respects. It’s given us a lot of room to really think about what it takes to make the team better, and I have no doubt it’s given players, coaches, and the front office the same food for thought.

One place my faith hasn’t been shaken in the least is the organizations commitment to winning. I don’t think single member of the organization has given up on the ultimate goal of Super Bowl champs. How could they with vets like Tony G in the locker room? I think the vibe at the Branch should be extremely motivated right now. Everyone wants to do better, and no one can rest on their laurels.

So I expect more improvement tomorrow and in the weeks to come. Some might say we peaked too soon last year, and went into the playoffs on a downward trend. Seems like we are getting the downward trend out of the way early this year, so we can look forward to roaring into the post season. I don’t hear no fat lady singing.

JJ

October 15th, 2011
8:09 pm

waynester, your 6:27pm post is EXACTLY how I feel. Know allot of us our pissed off at how this season started and how frustrating to get out coached every week. But I almost come to expect it after a 13-3 yr. I’m a falcon fan for over 40 yrs, so I’ve been trained/brainwashed to expect the let downs that ALWAYS occur after our hopes are raised.

Still think that the new owner and GM will eventually change this cycle (backtoback winning seasons is a start), but I have to many memories of the past. They say hope is eternal, that describes us long suffering falcon fans.

Tomm. will show us allot where our team is. I see Cam and their RB having monster stats and this coaching staff (ALL) will see their future pink slips coming by the end of the yr.

D3, your next buddy, are you ready??? (FFL)

JB FALCON

October 15th, 2011
10:36 pm

So the guy says, “Where’d you get that left handed chicken.”…..Sorry, wrong blog.

JB FALCON

October 15th, 2011
10:42 pm

Lawd have mercy! If ya’ll didn’t watch the Dawg’s game, you missed a good one.

mountain_jim

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Mularkey’s comment in that Jeff article has really ticked me off. Glad to see it re-iterated here.

With an attitude like that maybe his players are quitting on him. Something is sure wrong on that O, and not just the crappy oline either.

waynester

October 15th, 2011
10:59 pm

Dawgs won by the skin of their teeth against Vandy–much-needed SEC win….

Big Ray

October 16th, 2011
12:44 am

Dhunt ,

One place my faith hasn’t been shaken in the least is the organizations commitment to winning. I don’t think single member of the organization has given up on the ultimate goal of Super Bowl champs.

Well said. I agree completely.

Big Ray

October 16th, 2011
12:45 am

waynester ,

SEC is the toughest place to play in all of college football, and that game proved it yet again. Still….that’s five straight for the ‘Dawgs, and that’s a wonderful thing. Now if only our Falcons can bounce back in like fashion.

Paddy O

October 16th, 2011
2:23 am

I was pretty impressed with Carolina moves in the off season – kept the key components from last, got Newton, and signed two darn good TE’s. That give Newton throwing flexibily. If it is a shoot out -can we triumph? It will be interesting. Personally, I hope we do maintain our excellent run D, and blitz our LB’s & Safeties – if we send Grimes again, we deserve to give up a quick score – with the WR chugging past DeCoud like he is looking at a hot chic in the mezzanine section with her shirt up. I really don’t understand – from watching Roddy since he was drafted – why we think we can NOT use Roddy like we’ve tried using JJ – with Meier replacing Roddy as the possession guy. It boils down to our comfort level – does our O line create holes for Turner? We painfully miss Dahl. As stated, our O line is missing its swagger. Clabo needs to avoid all penalties. I’d be happy if HD scores twice, Meier catches a couple, and we run an I formation with Quizz and either Turner or Snelling. If Newton had come into the league & tanked, this should be a blow out. But as stated a couple weeks ago, he is ahead of where I thought he would be in year 2 – looks like the SEC is a good place to train QB’s. So, defeating Vandy is a big deal, eh? If you beat Florida & GT, then you will have had a decent year – maybe even get into the top 25.

Paddy O

October 16th, 2011
2:34 am

Due to our current record, I do say that this a must win. As indicated when we tussled with Seattle, if we lose this game, I would seriously consider canning Mularkey – if the cause of the loss is another lousy 3rd quarter. Some learning curve would be beneficial from this coaching staff. Familiarity breed contempt, particularly when there are unexpected losses and iffy play. Winning is a cure all – and we need a 5 game wins streak.

Paddy O

October 16th, 2011
2:34 am

Oh,yeah – - – GO FALCONS!

Big Ray

October 16th, 2011
4:19 am

Worry list for tomorrow (what, me worry?):

1. Steve Smith getting into Decoud’s zone of the field.

2. Sam Baker vs. Charles Johnson

3. Clabo on a hard count. Clabo in protection.

4. John Abraham missing again. Didn’t like what I saw from Kroy Biermann last week…which was virtually nothing. Heck…give Sid the Kid the start this time if Abe can’t go. Sidbury had 2 QB hits, a sack, tackle for loss against Packers. Kroy had 3 tackles, none of them solo, nothing else, unless you count the fact that he got pushed around a lot. What is up with him this season?

5. Cam Newton’s burning desire to win. The Panthers are tired of losing, and already the media is beginning to latch onto his nether regions. Typical, but the talent is also undeniable.

Big Ray

October 16th, 2011
4:20 am

6) Steve Smith getting into D-Rob’s zone of the field, too.

Birdman

October 16th, 2011
8:33 am

Falcons just get by with a win with a field goal

BT

October 16th, 2011
9:09 am

Ken,
All those pro-bowlers (in years past) and potiental talent on both sides of the ball, mean about as much to me as last seasons 13/3 receord…NOTHING!
Just paper Lions, IMO.
Fact, (not opinion) they are not making plays.
You mentioined Abe being a sack leader over the last few years.
Well yeah, then we bring in Edwards and you would think the pass rush issue is solved?
News flash, the two have proudced exactly two sacks in five games between the pair.
Call that coaching if, you want?
I call it, players not making plays.

BR,
IMO, JJ has exposed MR#2 for what he is, or more importantly what he is not.
Too many times already we have seen JJ streaking wide open down the left side and he have to slow up for one of those off the mark rainbows.
Again, lets pin the blame on the lack of explosiveness on where the blame belongs.
Poor L-line blocking (for both run and pass) and MR`s inability to extend plays and execute the deep pass except for when (the rare instance) he has good O-line blocking and can step up in the pocket.

All of this is just my inconvent truth as it implies the issues are much deeper than just some bad game plans and play calls.
BTW, me pointing those things out absolves the coaching staff of nothing,
Most noteabily, in there evaluation of their own talent.
If that implies TD is not all that?
So, be it.

Ken Strickland

October 16th, 2011
9:33 am

BT-I am certain you want to stand by your accusations that the players, and not the coaching staff is totally at fault, so you conveniently avoided answering my question. We keep adding OFF and DEF talent, we still keep experiencing the same problems, and in the same situations. After 5gms, you’re definitely one of the very few who stills thinks it’s the players, and a lack of talent, that’s causing our OFF and DEF problems.

Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, as we all are, but yours just doesn’t hold water at this point. The fact that you have to blame the players for being unable to excel while playing in extremely flawed OFF and DEF systems, and you have to ignore, discount, or disregard everything our players have accomplished in order to defend our coaching staff, proves that much.

DHunt

October 16th, 2011
9:33 am

Maybe it’s not arm strength, but more letting the ball go too late, and not being able to judge his receivers speed and trajectory (what some refer to as “touch”). Like BT, I’m not bashing, I’m just asking you guys to start tracking that as a possibility. I think making a quicker decision to throw that deep ball is the key to Ryan being successful at it. he’s started to second guess himself, and that extra pat on the ball to steady his nerves is throwing of his whole mojo, not to mention giving the defense that critical extra second to get to him.

And, like Paddy said, I can’t understand why Roddy White isn’t sent on some of those deep routes. He’s playing hurt now and running away from guys. You want to believe that a healthy Roddy couldn’t stretch the field. He did it with the other guy at QB, just never could catch the ball.

And that’s a good article on Cam Newton in the AJC. Would never root for him against the Falcons, but I will be pleased and happy for him when he and Carolina put it all together. He’s gonna be a beast. Which means our window is even tighter to get a couple of Falcons Lombardi trophies quickly, so today would be a good day to RISE UP!