Falcons Get Playoff Berth, Ready for Saints

Playoffs 3 Out of 4 Years

Take Bow Mr. Smith, You've Done Us Proud! (C.Compton/AJC)

Well, the Falcons still have two games to go and it doesn’t get any bigger than Monday Night against their biggest rival in New Orleans against the Saints, but the Birds have made the playoffs in 3 out of the last 4 years. Sure, they didn’t punch their own ticket to “the tournament,” but they put themselves in the position to get the help needed to get in the tourney and immense credit goes to Coach Mike Smith, the entire coaching staff, all the players, Arthur Blank, Thomas Dimitroff, and everyone involved with the Atlanta Falcons organization on their 2011/12 playoff birth.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears and the Falcons now have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons and 3 out of 4. Blank, Dimitroff, and Smith talked ad nauseum about wanting to be a consistent contender and be considered when playoff time came around. Sure, they still have bigger goals to reach, but for a franchise that never even had back-to-back winning seasons in their history, we as fans should take a moment to give credit and praise to this organization for giving us a winning product and a team that fights tooth and nail on the field. Will be back with a new post for the big Falcons-Saints game, but for now, enjoy yet another postseason birth Bird Cage Faithful!

529 comments Add your comment

Unca' Bob

December 25th, 2011
11:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Screen Pass

December 25th, 2011
11:27 pm

Congrats 2011 Falcons. Now win out.

snacktastic

December 25th, 2011
11:32 pm

Um, it’s “berth”.

Regardless of what the bandwagon fans or the media say (or don’t say), this team has accomplished a lot since 2008 and can only get better with the talent they have. Everyone will realize that soon enough.

Is it game night yet?

Coop

December 25th, 2011
11:38 pm

Congrats Birds! Now go lay the wood to Brees. Make no mistake, NO fears ATL. Beat that @ss!

stendek

December 25th, 2011
11:52 pm

Merry Christmas Dawson. What remains of it anyway. I do not know whether the Packer massacre of the Bears is cause for celebration or not. Sure it pushed Falcons into playoffs but did it kill any competitive fire for Monday night? The birds will need every advantage in Louisiana. Will Falcons play loose? Too loose? How will Saints look at this showdown? Which Matt Ryan will show up in the Big Easy? The one that dissected the Jaguars or the one that looked helpless in Chicago and against Texans? Will Falcon D allow Drew Brees to thrive against soft zone or send everyone including Mike Smith and Arthur Blank? I still contend this showing will determine how the Falcons fare in the upcoming playoffs. An 11-5 record is a Helluva lot better than 10-6. Trust me. I know. Best all. :)

D3

December 25th, 2011
11:52 pm

Not sure what to make of this, but I don’t really feel like it would be a “great” step up……….

JT (Stafford, VA): When Mularkey leaves, who do you think the Falcons look to for an OC?

Pat Yasinskas: They’ve got Bratkowski as their QB coach right now. He’s been an OC before. I think he’d be the logical choice.

D3

December 25th, 2011
11:53 pm

stendek — Thanks. Merry Christmas to you as well!

stendek

December 26th, 2011
12:00 am

Just read your column again. I am grateful. :) Since my fanship was formed along with team in mid 1960s. I am just disappointed that Falcons took backward step this season after a division championship. Some of the losses this season still stick in my damn craw. Especially the one to those arrogant upstart Buccaneers! Oh well. Such is life as a bird watcher. Blessed be. :)

stendek

December 26th, 2011
12:02 am

Brat is not the answer! Neither is Mike Bobo. Hee hee. :)

Lamar

December 26th, 2011
12:32 am

Now if the Falcons will get rid of Dunta Robinson at CB they might be better on defense. How this guy is playing in the NFL is beyond me! Maybe Robinson will get the FLU before tomorrow night! If not, WATCH #23 GET TORCHED AGAIN! This guy is PATHETIC!

E43

December 26th, 2011
1:09 am

D3- Bratkowski was actually a beast as a coordinator and I think its best for a QB coach to take over the duties. If the Oline is able to gel properly then I like Bratkowski. Problem is that no one knows what will happen up front or with an aging Turner. That’s why I think Terry Robiskie who also was a beast is a more valid candidate. I think he would be a better option hiring from inside because he has had success with balance. I see him able to work better with a handicapped for whatever reason offense.

Hiring from outside is a free ball. Your guess is as good as mine but at the end of the day, those guys are unemployed for a reason. I wont expect any record breaking turnarounds from them so I guess it really doesn’t matter who they hire. Mike Smith will lead us to the promised land when the time comes.

E43

December 26th, 2011
1:11 am

Bring on the Trolls..

DHunt

December 26th, 2011
1:57 am

Confucious say, “either this changes everything, or this changes nothing…”

I’m just a fan so what do I know. I’m silly enough to expect that every time my team takes the field they are more than capable of winning the game. I’m honestly shocked and amazed when by some stroke of misfortune they actually manage to lose one. I think every single player comes out and gives everything they have to make every play. Hell, I think they’re all capable of making every play.

So I fully expect a hyped up Falcons team to come out an put a beating on the sAints. It’s game day. Time to Feed The Beast!

Paddy O

December 26th, 2011
2:20 am

As long as we play crisply on MNF, no one gets hurt, JJ shows continued development, Bosher keeps booming, and a few sacks of Brees, should be a fun game. If we get blown out, adios.

Screen Pass

December 26th, 2011
2:30 am

“Not sure what to make of this, but I don’t really feel like it would be a “great” step up” – D3

The rest of our games this season is a chance for Brat to shine if he is gonna. We are chalk full of weapons that gather dust…if this is Brat that has dusted some off by employing a scheme that better utilizes our talent then by all means he should be in the discussion. I don’t really care what the name of the guy that takes off the beast’s leash is or where he coached before. If they can employ a scheme that maximizes Ryan’s QB attributes and fully uses ALL the talent we have at our disposal to good effect then honestly I don’t care his pedigreee, resume, etc. …just that he is here and MM is gone :) .

stendek

December 26th, 2011
3:02 am

Post Merry Christmas all. I know ALL true Falcon fans are awaiting one last late present from Kris Kringle. Hopefully the bearded guy will deliver one more time. Yawn. Time for beddy bye. Night, uh, morning all. GO BIRDS! :) ZZZZzzzz

stendek

December 26th, 2011
3:05 am

Rerun of one of the football bowl gamea is on bow! Man is it EVER time for bed. Blessed be everyone. :) – 0 -

stendek

December 26th, 2011
3:07 am

…now… :( – 0 -

trademark

December 26th, 2011
4:59 am

Typical ESPN, STILL haven’t put that nice little “z” by Atlanta’s name yet in their playoff standings….must be killin’ ‘em. :P

theriddler

December 26th, 2011
5:39 am

Samuel

December 26th, 2011
6:20 am

Like I said before the Falcons must win these kind of games.

Birdman

December 26th, 2011
7:11 am

Congrats to the Team . Thanks for 3 years of good football and a great team.

Now let;s go and Kick some Saints Butt and show us the team we no we have . GO FALCONS…!!!

Wabe

December 26th, 2011
7:30 am

Gamedayyyyyyyyyy

Wabe

December 26th, 2011
7:49 am

Hate on junior…

Falcons4Eva

December 26th, 2011
7:58 am

All I wanted for Christmas was a Brees broken leg….

rlm

December 26th, 2011
8:02 am

You go Ryan. Come on Falcons you got it in you to win.

Angelo

December 26th, 2011
8:09 am

Its Matty ice time go Dirty Birds.

BT

December 26th, 2011
8:19 am

Congrats for making the tournament, Falcons.
I don`t recall being more pumped for a Falcons v Saints matchup.
Last years game (at this time) was big but this late season game has a diffrent feel.
I`m confident tonights game will be one of the better MNF games of the year.

Just me but I don`t see where the Packers having MFA through out is any an advantage for them.
Considering the Falcons, 49`ers and the Saints have superior run games and defenses, making all 3 team bettter suited to play in adverse, outdoor weather conditions, in January.

Coop

December 26th, 2011
8:50 am

Playoff prediction: Falcons travel to Dallas and beat a hapless Romo. Then go to the cesspool in Southern Canada and beat the Pack like a government mule. They finish back in NO where they play tonnight for a ticket to Indy in the balance.

Pack and Saints love to post on this blog… cause they fear this team the most. They can’t help from reading about the Falcons from their mother’s basement with cheese puff dust all over their non-dominant hand. They can’t help reading about their biggest fear.

E43

December 26th, 2011
8:57 am

Screen Pass- “if this is Brat that has dusted some off by employing a scheme that better utilizes our talent then by all means he should be in the discussion.”

1) Bratkowski is your safest bet considering the possible sweepstakes to replace a coach. But he is just not an upgrade over Mularkey. Bratkowski is like the Atlanta Hawks of offensive coordinators. He’s just consistently inconsistent. That’s also why I prefer Robiskie.

2) Bratkowski flopped with the Terrell-Ocho show. The departure of Mularkey does not fix the Falcons problems unless your praying and hoping an Andy Reid type comes through. If that were the case then you would have to remind yourself about the Atlanta market. At that point you’re down to praying and hoping Matt Ryan will bail the team out even more.

Brian Hunt

December 26th, 2011
8:59 am

Anytime you secure a berth with two games left to play, you punched your own ticket. I am very proud of the team. I hope they take advantage of the opportunity they have provided themselves and go deep into the playoffs.

trademark

December 26th, 2011
9:05 am

And STILL ESPN won’t put that nice little “x” by the Falcons….hate on East Coast Sportswriter Trolls…hate on.

Coop

December 26th, 2011
9:15 am

Trade – They aren’t even talking about tonight’s game on Mike and Mike. Ridiculous

DePlane

December 26th, 2011
9:38 am

ESPN and the rest of the national media can kiss off….

They have no respect for the Falcons…nada…zip…zilch. You would think instead of zero coverage that a team with winning seasons 3 of the last 4 years would be given some credit for the great job it has done turning around a woeful organization. But there is no love to be given for the accomplishment. Nobody is picking Atlanta to win on MNF except us loyal fans.

I’m going to savor the ultimate Christmas present tonight when our Birds make the city of Atlanta proud and the talking heads sit up and take notice.

DePlane

December 26th, 2011
9:48 am

Oops..I meant playoffs 3 of last 4….4 winning seasons!

D3

December 26th, 2011
10:37 am

DePlane — Sorry about the miss on our OBCM. I was just going off the top of my head at that point, but a major THANK YOU to you as well for your support and excellence here in the Cage. To your point on the national media, last year I finally just pulled the plug on all talking heads garbage. I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I made a pact to to never listen to idiots on ESPN, NFL N, sports talk radio, and especially Clown Collinsworth. My life has been wonderful ever since. I will still admit that it still bugs me that we never even get so much as a mention. To be honest, I can understand this year because we haven’t beaten anyone of significance, but last year that wasn’t the case. Some of it justified because we haven’t won a playoff game yet, but some of it is a little much when you consider how much they talk about other teams (Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers, Tebow’s Broncos, Jets, Giants, etc) regardless of how good they are. Hell, I even saw a headline last night about how “great” the Eagles were gonna be next year. Really? A team that has already lost 8 games after trying to buy a Super Bowl and the NFC East winner will be 9-7? Learning to tune out all that garbage noise has made my life much better. Not saying it’s right, but we’ll just have to accept that until we do something major in the postseason. It’s still annoying as hell. We’re truly the ultimate underdog this year, maybe tied with only Detroit as underdog status this postseason.

D3

December 26th, 2011
11:12 am

Regarding tonight’s game……….

There’s nothing to lose now with us wrapping up a playoff spot so we should throw the kitchen sink at Brees and the Saints. Normally, I would say that we should go after Brees, but he’s shown he can beat the blitz. However, that doesn’t mean that we can just let him stand back there and have enough time to do his taxes and bake a cake picking us apart. Last game, he had so much time it was sickening, but the defense did get it done when it counted to give us a shot at winning the game (fateful drop by Roddy still stings). I’m not quite as worried about the defense because Smitty and BVG have shown they are one of the best at slowing down Brees. This one’s on the offense……….

The offense is going to be the one to win the game. Sure, a tried and true gameplan to beat the Saints is to keep #9 on the sidelines by running the ball and chewing up the clock. The problem comes into play if we can’t run the ball successfully, especially on 1st down. I have no issue with running the ball to win and eat up the clock, but we have to do more than simply running Turner up the gut for little to no gain, setting up 2nd and 3rd and longs all night. Get Quizz and Snelling involved early and often. Mix up the running plays and especially get the ball to the backs out of the backfield.

Another key to tonight is to get Roddy, Julio, Gonzo, and Ryan involved early with the short passing game and establishing rhythm. Ryan and the receivers always do their best when they establish some sort of rhythm early in the game. They always seem to do their worst when they are “forced” to get yardage on 2nd and 3rd and longs, particularly Ryan.

And despite how good their offense is, their defense is not. They are 25th in total defense, 28th in passing, and 12th in rushing. We have to get this idea out of our head that their defense is good. Hate to say it, but I think our offense has played scared in the past of the “good teams” despite how good their actual defense is.

I wish I could say with absolutism that we are going to play well and win tonight, but I have to see it with my own eyes before going full throttle. If that makes me a bad fan, than so be it, but I have to see our team step up to the plate, not play scared, play with confidence, come out hitting and playing hard, and beat an elite opponent.

D3

December 26th, 2011
11:20 am

One more thing before a little break. I know some will scoff at the idea of celebrating just “making the playoffs” in consecutive seasons and making them in 3 out of 4 years, but not giving credit where its due denies reality on how far this franchise has come in the last 4 years. Sure, there are cases of worst to first and franchises “exorcising their demons” in one year, but the vast majority of times it takes time. And despite the fact that we still are a long ways away, we have come a long way already and this has been a first important step for our organization and team. Gotta crawl before you walk.

Many will point to the Saints as having immediate success and winning the title. However, if you remember they went to the NFC Championship game in 2007 under Sean Payton and lost. Struggled the next year before going on a great run and winning the Lombardi. The very next year, they lose to a 7-9 team in the playoffs. My point is that, yes we still have a ways to go, but being a consistently good team that makes the playoffs almost every single year is a major step in the right direction.

GO D@MN FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr Charlie

December 26th, 2011
11:35 am

Exactly D3, just getting to the playoff year in year out is not an easy task. Ask the Jets, Miami, Cards, and a whole list of other teams. I think this team has really fought through adversity, struggled to make some changes that needed to done in order to incorporate some new weapons. But, as we have seen, it appears we are making progress. As much as I bad mouthed JJ on here, it appears he is starting to “get it”, and he very well might be the difference maker TD thought he was.

Tonight expect to see a lot of blitzes, Brees might beat it, but we gotta knock him down, gotta hit him in the mouth, and if we run into him in the playoffs, make him think twice, make him remember. This is a free game, a nothing to lose game, we need to take advantage.

SawThat1nce

December 26th, 2011
11:51 am

I have to agree with Brian Hunt, they needed 9 Ws to get to the playoffs, and they already had them.
I call that punching your own ticket. Thanks.

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Arno

December 26th, 2011
12:28 pm

Ryan throws sharp, our receivers snag everything, the Saint’s LBs and CBs get FedXed on their butts.

DePlane

December 26th, 2011
1:24 pm

Thanks D3….and I feel ya bro…I try to ignore them too….especially Chris Collinsworth…what a leaking sieve that guy is!

DePlane

December 26th, 2011
1:27 pm

Also, agree on keeping Brees on the sidelines and that its on the offense to win this one. The Birds must keep the adrenaline under control early and get settled into that rythym your talking about. Then they can dictate as well as any offense out there…

DHunt

December 26th, 2011
1:52 pm

In the single brief Falcons segment I heard on NFL network all morning:
1. Steve Mariucci says we outplayed them last time, so we just need to go out and do it again
2. Deion Sanders says D-Block has to shut down the short passing and seam passing game
3. Michael Irving says John Abraham has to get to Brees

All three think the Falcons have a shot, but I haven’t seen the official picks (which could legitimately lean towards the sAints at this juncture). They may not talk about us, but they still can’t dismiss us when we pop up on the radar, like clinching a playoff spot will do for you.

Great Falconi

December 26th, 2011
1:55 pm

This season has finally accomplished something:

I no longer think of the Falcons as losers. For the first time in franchise history, the Falcons have made the playoffs in consecutive years. It’s about time.

When we were at 5-4 and needing to win four of five to give ourselves a great shot at postseason play, I didn’t believe. I was thinking that we might see the Same Ol’ Falcons rear their ugly head. I was wrong.

My expectations must be adjusted now, but I’m happy this team has finally raised my sights. It feels really good. You know what would feel even better, though? Beating the holy hell out of the Aints tonight.

falcon21

December 26th, 2011
2:04 pm

The talking heads wanted so much for both the Cowboys and Giants to make the playoffs and Atlanta screwed it up for them. Deal with it ESPN and NFL network!

Ken Strickland

December 26th, 2011
2:07 pm

D3-Offensively, we need to attack their DEF using 3-4 WR sets and the NO HUDDLE. Defensively, we need to play man to man, since their WRs and TEs aren’t very fast, and send 5 pass rushers. That still leaves us 6 pass defenders to cover their combination of 5 remaining receiving options. Playing tight man coverage, and jamming them at the line, will eliminate their timing patters, quick outs and WR screens.

It also puts pressure on Brees to hit tightly covered WRs on the run while they are trying to reestablish their predetermined patterns. Because of their lack of above average speed at WR and TE, it’s time we abandoned the zone against them, which they will destroy, and go with something different and better suited to our secondary talent.

Now I know there will be comments about our CBs alledged inability to maintain tight coverage in man to man from those who are terrified of us playing that DEF. But my response to that is, DO YOU THINK IT COULD POSSIBLY BE ANY WORSE THAN THE 8-10YD CUSHION RECEIVERS USUALLY END UP WITH AFTER MAKING A RECEPTION WHEN WE’RE PLAYING ZONE? Other than the continued refusal to effectively utilize our RBs consistently as receiving options, or utilize the screen pass, Smitty and Mularkey have recently done an excellent job of opening up the OFF.

Ken Strickland

December 26th, 2011
2:37 pm

DHUNT-None of our CBs can shutdown the short or seam passes as long as Smitty and VanGorder continue playing our CBs 8-10yrs off the receivers and allowing them to come off the line untouched and run through our zone at full speed. I also think we have to do more than just try to keep Brees on the sidelines. We have to SCORE, as well as eat up the clock, and I mean TDs not just FGs. By the same token, our DEF has to hold them to FGs rather than giving up TDs.

It’s time for Smitty to stop coaching scared and start being more aggressive, particularily on DEF. His entire offensive philosophy and approach, which I call SMITTY BALL, is based on keeping his DEF, as much as the oppositions OFF, off the field as much as possible. He plays this soft prevent zone because he’s afraid of giving up the big scoring play. As a results, we end up allowing several big plays that usually results in a scoring play. That’s why our CBs play 8-10yds off the WRs, to make sure WRs don’t get past them, and why our CBs and safeties are usually 8-10yds behind the WR after a catch.

The Saints pass rush and run DEF is far worse than ours. But because they play man to man, their pass DEF is better than ours.

snacktastic

December 26th, 2011
2:38 pm

falcon21, that’s exactly why I wanted the Eagles to get in–they actually look like a playoff team, despite their poor performance early in the season. Whichever NFC East team does get in isn’t going very far, if Saturday’s games are any indication.