Atlanta Falcons: Expectations Tempered in Loss to Bengals

Some Bright Spots, Some Areas for Concern

D is Progressing (AJC)

Even though the Falcons actually lost the game against the Ravens in the first preseason game and the backups looked pretty bad, fans were filled with hope from the new coordinators and the first team’s play. Expectations were tempered a little bit as the Falcons lost again to the Bengals on Thursday night. More than the score, there were some areas for concern in the second preseason game. To be sure, there were still plenty of bright spots in all phases of the game, but not quite the performance from a week ago. A review from the Falcons-Bengals game:

Offense and Defense Back to Earth

The defense came out and dominated the Ravens in the first game, holding them to three straight 3 and outs. The offense looked superb, driving at will on a team known for it’s stellar defensive play. Hope was sky high. The Bengals game may not have been terrible, but it surely didn’t inspire the same confidence the first game did. The offense stalled out on their first two drives (a painful reminder of the Mularkey Era) and the defense gave up some big plays, with many of them coming on 3rd and long (an ugly remnant of the Van Gorder Era). There were plenty of bright spots. Ryan and Jacquizz Rodgers looked good and on form. The full inclusion of the offensive arsenal being included by Koetter is making many fans smile. Mike Nolan is running an aggressive defense that, despite some hiccups, is producing consistent pressure. But there were plenty of areas to be concerned about as the season approaches.

Matt Ryan Looks Better In Many Ways

Ryan a Different QB (AJC)

Continuing the same point from last week was another encouraging display from the franchise QB. Who knows the exact reason, but the fact is that so far Ryan looks quicker, stronger, more accurate, and above all more comfortable at quarterback. The new offense appears to play more to his strengths and it shows. The offensive line is giving him more protection as well, at least more than last year. There were some stalled drives in the beginning and some points left in the red zone, but at one point he was 11-for-11 in the game. Maybe, just maybe, the Falcons QB might be taking the long-awaited “next step” that so many media members love to talk about.

Tackling an Issue

Although fans don’t particularly love preseason games, coaches do so they can work out issues like tackling. It’s likely a problem with most teams, but the Falcons looked particularly weak against the Bengals. Sean Weatherspoon missed a tackle on Jermaine Gresham that may have forced the Bengals into a fourth down. After the miss, Gresham rumbled for another 15 yards or so. Asante Samuel came up and looked pitiful on an attempted shoulder tackle where the running back easily jumped over him. Ray Edwards had his hands on a sack and couldn’t finish the deal. It’s nothing to panic over just yet, but it does need to get cleaned up.

Turner Just Doesn’t Seem to Fit

This shouldn’t be seen as a call to immediately drop Turner or that he can’t give some good contributions to the Falcons, but he no longer seems to be a feature back, at least so far and at least in this offense. Turner looks slow and the offense seems to grind to a halt when he’s in the game. That’s surely an oversimplification because the offensive line has it’s issues and sometimes plays aren’t called right, but Turner doesn’t seem to fit in this new offense. Whether it’s a not a good scheme fit for him, the dreaded “30 age wall” has taken hold, or some combination of both, Turner looks ineffective, plain and simple. Maybe it’s only preseason and he’ll hit get his mojo soon, but right now, Jacquizz Rodgers should be getting most of the backfield snaps, for when he’s in the game, the offense seems way more productive.

Expect Defensive Lumps to Come

Turner Struggling (AJC)

One of the worst plays of the game was easily Asante Samuel getting absolutely torched by AJ Green down the sideline, but that wasn’t the only one. The Falcons had the Bengals hemmed up with another 3rd and long, only to see Bruce Gradkowski impersonate Tim Tebow and gallop for a huge gain. There were several other defensive breakdowns that led to 1st downs and big gains for the Bengals, including several long passes given up Dominique Franks. Overall, the defense is already much improved and more aggressive, but installing a brand new defensive philosophy will take time and there will be errors.

A Few Stalled Drives Concerning

Obviously, no team can convert on every single drive, but the Falcons offense seemed to be going well on their first two possessions only to bog down and fail to convert on some short 3rd down and distances. That was a trademark of the Mularkey Era. To their credit they did follow up with an excellent TD drive, but it was a slight cause for concern.

Is it Really an Open Competition on the OL?

There’s still two games left and 3 weeks until opening day, but knowing Coach Smith’s tendencies and past, there’s a feeling among fans that they already know who’ll be starting against Kansas City: the exact same starting lineup from 2011. Sam Baker has definitely looked better at left tackle and, predictably, Tyson Clabo and Justin Blalock have done well. Even Todd McClure seems to have a legit hold on the center job for 2012, but the right guard issue still remains. Garrett Reynolds hasn’t looked as bad as he did last year, but that’s not saying very much. He looked OK against the Ravens but didn’t have a very good game vs. the Bengals. On one 3rd and short, Reynolds completely blew an assignment that led to a killed drive. Peter Konz looks pretty good, but has only worked with the second team. Andrew Jackson had a horrid game at left guard and Mike Johnson didn’t fare much better at right tackle. Questions have arisen in the past about the validity of a “fair and open competition” at various positions. Will fans be sick over right guard again in 2012?

Jerry Looking Good

Time for Football! (AJC)

The loss of Corey Peters with a foot injury spelled doom and gloom for Falcons fans across the board. Peters still isn’t back, but a silver lining may be seeing Peria Jerry looking as good as he ever has in a Falcons uniform. Jerry looks quick and sturdy and has generated good pressure already in Peters place. He was credited with a sack and forced Andy Dalton and the Bengals into a 4th down, but the replacement refs really botched a call on Jerry, giving them a new set of downs. As long as Jerry can stay healthy, he may have his best season in store for the Falcons and their fans.

Dominique Davis is Reaching a Critical Mass

There’s really no other way to say it, but Coach Smith and Thomas Dimitroff are reaching a critical mass where backup Dominique Davis is concerned. The current backup quarterbacks are inept at best and atrocious at worst. John Parker Wilson beat out DJ Shockley in 2009 and there was some belief at the time that he could eventually take Chris Redman’s place as the solid backup. Not only has Wilson shown an inability as a backup, but he’s also revealed his status in the NFL at large. Chris Redman is 35 years old and has a ton of experience and zero upside coupled with an extreme case of declining abilities.

Dominique Davis, however, has shown immense potential in all aspects of the game: awareness, arm strength, accuracy, decision-making, and all the rest. Redman is done and Wilson’s out of practice squad capability. The time for youth and potential is now with Davis. The East Carolina product has shown an excellent play-making ability and potential. The critical mass has been reached with Davis: he’s simply too talented to put on the practice squad and risk getting poached by another team. And as longtime Cage member JohnWaynesWorld mentioned, all these other teams that desperately need a backup QB have been watching very closely. Sometimes it’s easy to rest with your principles and play it safe with veteran experience.

But Coach Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have reached a critical mass, where everyone can give the eyeball test and know that Davis is supremely talented and too potential-laden to put on the practice squad and risk losing. It’s time to cut the proverbial cord and promote talent and upside (Davis) over perceived experience.

Improved Their Chances

Beasts @ DB (AJC)

Robert James is looking as good as he ever has. He’s making plays on defense, running to the ball-carrier, and getting it done on special teams. After so many discarded him (heavily including this author), it’s nice to see someone persevere and be so determined. He looks to wrapping up the last LB spot.

Travian Robertson will likely be a starter sooner rather than later. The big boy from South Carolina looked superb in his chances against the Bengals. He was flowing to the ball, standing up stout in run defense, and getting his hands up to deflect passes several times. Not only will this guy make the roster, he’ll challenge for snaps as a rookie

Jonathan Massaquoi, Antone Smith, Michael Palmer, and Pat Schiller showed some flashes and should be considered for a roster spot, but the  numbers game may not be in his favor.

A Deflating Balloon

Barring an earthquake-sized reformation, Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson should be looking for a post NFL career. We can talk all day about the reasons and circumstances, but the simple fact remains that they just haven’t been that good. Time to cut the cord. Davis should be the new #2.

Garrett Reynolds wasn’t as bad as last year, but he’s not the future at RG either. What has happened to Dominique Franks? He is an extremely talented cornerback, but he had a bad night on Thursday, giving up a touchdown and a very long pass. Andrew Jackson looked really bad at left guard. He literally appeared to be getting burnt on every play. Mike Johnson played right tackle and looked OK for a while, only to take a sharp nosedive in the second half.

Will Svitek looked rather pedestrian in his work at left tackle. He was beaten a few times. Kevin Cone and Drew Davis canceled each other out. Both had drops and missed opportunities. The battle for 5th receiver seems to be between Cone and Davis.

Disappearing Bubbles

It’s likley that Spencer Adkins and maybe Cliff Matthews will make the final roster, but they haven’t gone above and beyond to ensure it. There’s always a the battles for the remaining few roster spots. Adkins has made the team since being drafted. Cliff Matthews has shown potential, but hasn’t been heard from in preseason. It seems as though the final TE spot is coming to UDFA Lamark Brown and recently signed Chase Coffman. There’s still a few weeks to go, but the roster will only get more competitive.

Your Turn

1) Simple Leadoff: your thoughts on the Falcons-Bengals game?

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your confidence level in the Falcons (1 being least and 10 being most)

3) Are you worried about the Mularkey-esque, stalled drives on offense?

4) Concerned about the big-play potential from defense?

5) What is the deal with Michael Turner: just warming up or done?

6) What’s your opinion on the OL, especially RG?

7) Is Jerry finally ready to blow up?

8.) What should the Falcons do with Dominique Davis: #2 or #3 QB?

9) Do the stalled drives concern you?

554 comments Add your comment

realitycheck

August 19th, 2012
12:31 am

A little early to say Ryan is a different QB. Lets hold off on that after only 2 preseason games.

Screen Pass

August 19th, 2012
12:34 am

“SP… regarding Drew Davis… In the Ravens game, he caught a pass on a scramble, I think by Dom. Davis, to pick up a first down, but his toenails were across the out of bounds line… that was the first thing fans liked… a little later in the game, he tackled a punt returner, Bobby Rainey, by his shoestrings to prevent a huge run back… that was a great special teams play that got the announcers’ attention, and probably Smitty’s too…
That said, I’m pulling for Kevin Cone to beat him out…
And it’s okay with me if we cut Redman and JPW and just go with Davis and somebody we pick up off the waiver wire after the fourth preseason game… and why didn’t we go after Gradkowski when he was available? He looked pretty good the other night! He bounced from the Bucs, I think, to the Raiders and now to Cincy… looks like we coulda had a shot at signing him…” – Pooler Spirit

Thank you for actually proving you understand my point. There is an unfortunate reality that people will not like and that is there is a very good chance Dom Davis will be put on the practice irregardless of whether it is a smart or dumb move, and whether or not the fans like it. I was making fun of Smitty’s “criteria” because it sounds really silly when you say it the way his quote came out but his reality is that he has to make tactical decisions that include hard choices that might not allow for very smart strategic roster decisions. TD did a good job getting a nice batch of UDFAs no doubt…how many can be kept while keeping our tactical roster up to speed is yet to be seen. A bunch of our cast offs have gotten to go far in the playoffs for their trouble..enough that maybe TD should cut our entire team and pick them all back up off waivers for good luck .
Kevin Cone and Calvin may do nothing this year nor ever but their measurables made them prime prospects for DEVELOPING…if the FO feels that losing that possible bounty in return for a better chance to win things this year and keeping WR that have no real developmental or starter possibilities but can contribute on special teams than that is their choice and strategy. Same goes for the back-up QB position. Knowing and discussing this in no way means someone is saying they are “smarter” or “know more” than the FO. If we don’t win it all than you can bet some of the people being cute will be the people screaming loudest at the “wrong choices” made. In the end they are choices culminating in rolling the dice and hoping. If it were up to me I would keep the developmental currency and go with a stronger team in the future rather than making sacrifices for the sake of this year but that is just my opinion and my job isn’t on the line.

EDIT; Moved from last thread as new thread was put up while I wrote this novella.

falcone

August 19th, 2012
12:45 am

@ SP, irregardless is not a word *cringes*

Yellow jacket for life

August 19th, 2012
12:45 am

I don’t know what the big fuss is over Travian Robertson I have seen some good plays and then i have seen many plays where he looks confused or he let up on plays maybe a year on the practice squad and he should get better. Now Jerry looking better. and Vance Walker is back I’m looking for big things out of him they need to give him more playing time

Paddy O

August 19th, 2012
1:37 am

It appears to me that all can not be dropped in MM’s toilet bowl. the Falcon apprenticeship program is still alive and well, and must be a back room element of SMITTY BALL. I’ve really liked Travian;Schiller seems to have a good grasp; my comfort score, due to Garrett still at RG is about a 4.3 or so. As SW indicated last post, despite my profound loss of confidence in Baker, the ZBS may help him – at least for the sake of MR2, I hope so. I still hope to see Quizz & Snelling in the back field. Very disappointed NOT to see HD get more action; and although Meier is on the field, he is not getting any touches. Jerry has looked good. Can anybody diagnose that Tim Tebow run by Gradkowski? Somebody should have been guarding the middle 25 yards of the field – somebody, and don’t tell me its the guy in NO. this will be a good test of Smitty’s learning curve – will Davis get moved up? If not, we may have some serious headaches this year – as Smitty has to become a more complete HC, or we may again have a winning season, but lose in the post season. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Dunta. Not so much on Asante; Moore had a nice fumble punch out. I personally thought Ryan appeared to be slightly hurrying the plays -as though he perceived the O line was not holding their blocks – at least around the endzone and that hurried pass to Tony G. If Smitty & co are doing their job, eventually Davis will be the #2 guy sometime this year.

Paddy O

August 19th, 2012
1:40 am

falcone – get up to speed, buddy – irregardless is an established and recognized word here in the cage. frequently utilized for comic relief.

Big Ray

August 19th, 2012
2:23 am

A little early to say Ryan is a different QB. Lets hold off on that after only 2 preseason games.

This is little more than resistance to a grudging admission that Ryan in fact IS a different QB. He’s the QB that he was drafted to be, moreso than ever.

Let’s be honest here and have a REAL reality check – if Ryan wasn’t so accurate, quick to get the ball out of his hands, and effective as he’s been in the first two preseason games, you and other detractors would be VERY quick to point out that he has peaked and can’t/won’t get any better.

So STFU.

Big Ray

August 19th, 2012
2:32 am

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2012/08/18/atlanta-falcons-davis-in-hunt-for-no-2-backup-qb-gig/?cxntfid=blogs_atlanta_falcons_blog

And there it is. If Radio can see it, then everybody can. Dirk Koetter’s words kind of seal the deal, if you ask me.

If things go down with Redman or JPW taking the #2 spot and Davis being cut or relegated to PS duty, I’m blaming Smitty and marching on Flowery Branch.

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2012/08/18/atlanta-falcons-koetter-not-worried-about-rushing-attack/?cxntfid=blogs_atlanta_falcons_blog

Radio strikes again….but the premise of his article is off the mark.

Yeah, Koetter knows Turner can run the football. It’s coach speak if you ask me, though.

What we as fans know is that Turner is not a threat until he gets past the first level of the defense. We also know he’s close to useless catching the ball out of the backfield. So what does the CS think?

I hope they’re thinking that mixing in a much heavier dose of JaQuizz Rodgers in the first 2-3 quarters of a game is the way to go while Turner can be best utilized in pounding a defense into submission in the second half. That’s not to say that he can’t get carries in the first half. It’s to say that the offense flows better with a RB who can run, make folks miss, and fluidly catch balls out of the backfield (and actually make something happen after the catch). Turner will still get carries, but we simply CANNOT fall into the trap of relying on him to move the chains or be the focus of our first two downs of each 3 down series.

Big Ray

August 19th, 2012
2:53 am

Paddy O ,

This organization has no time for Smitty’s learning curve. He has to get at least one postseason win out of this team THIS SEASON, or face the hot seat. Plain as that….at least in many of our minds….we being the non-decision makers in all of this of course…

I agree with you on the Smittyball inspired apprenticeship program. I’m sick of Reynolds at RG, and I’m not sure what in the heck is up with the Prez at LG and Mike Johnson at ANY tackle position.

Seems to me that this swap meet style OL training has run its course. Either it reveals that Smitty does not know what the frak he is doing with the OL or it proves that TD does not know what the frak he is doing with OL players in the draft. Either way, something’s gotta give.

I don’t know about this OL competition and just how “real” it is. Smitty’s gotta show me something. I just have a hard time believeing in this hokey pokey right about now.

falCANS

August 19th, 2012
4:16 am

Where has HD been sheesh I.cant tell if its play calling or he cant get open. Roddy looks great.. O line stinks for a team with superbowl aspirations. Defensive line is great. Im loving the pressure and Avraham standing up!! Wtf!!! Isnt Grimes our #1 CB??? He hasnt allowed a catch yet. And rarely ever does. Shutdown corner if there ever was one

Screen Pass

August 19th, 2012
5:11 am

“@ SP, irregardless is not a word *cringes*” – FkTard

The fact you have nothing better to do in your pathetic life than to try and troll a message board about supposed double negative slang conotations speaks volumes about you. Learn to bathe thyself o’ guileless Shakespearean swamptard and thou may not cringe and wallow in thine micturition and lordosis behavior so much. Have fun looking those up my shallow Tainted friend.

Big Ray

August 19th, 2012
5:49 am

Daaaaamn. SP gets medieval on those hindquarters!

BobbyDawg

August 19th, 2012
7:22 am

Good Morning Cage…. I haven’t posted in quite a while but I still read the Cage every day. It’s the best way to keep up with our beloved birds. My overall opinion after attending both preseason games is it’s still too early to tell. I can see definite improvements on offense, but I’m still suspect of the o-line. I hope those guys do a better job of protecting MR than they did last year. Ryan is looking as sharp as I’ve ever seen him, but if the o-lie keeps letting him get pummelled every time he drops back it’s got to start eating at him, which can make for bad play, which we’ve all seen before. I’m looking forward to a trip to Jacksonville. I don’t know why but that place gets me stokrd for another football season. “GO FALCONS!”

BobbyDawg

August 19th, 2012
8:00 am

It would be nice to have a backup QB that could come in and actually move the team downfield and score a td especially in these preseason games where our opponent is playing their second string defense. Chris Redman is making a lot of money to sit on the bench and then not be able to move the team when he does get in the game. I hope Matt Ryan plays his whole career without serious injury, but if he does go down we’re in serious trouble. I don’t even want to think about it. Please disregard this post !

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steven a smith

August 19th, 2012
9:20 am

Based soley on performance, Dominique Davis by far has been the most competent Quarteback on the Atlanta Falcons Football Team…As i have said before, if someone dropped in from another “Planet” and watched these guys perform, i believe they would come to the conclusion that Dominique Davis is the most talented QB on this football team.

Screen Pass

August 19th, 2012
9:20 am

“Daaaaamn. SP gets medieval on those hindquarters!” – BR

You looked those up didn’t you :) . I wish I could remember those 50-cent words in real life more often lol.

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
9:55 am

D3, this was one of your better columns in a great body of work – I will take a shot, regardless of what the others have already said to eloquently -

1) Simple Leadoff: your thoughts on the Falcons-Bengals game?

Simple thought – the Running game concerns me irregardless of the apparent lack of coaching concern in preseason losses,

and

an apparent deterioration in fundamentals concerns me (new preseason procedures that put more responsibility on the players as individuals + new coordinators + new schemes on both of the ball to learn??).

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:02 am

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your confidence level in the Falcons (1 being least and 10 being most)

Ok, I/m gonna do this kinna weird (irregardless of offending any legit CPA’s out there), but
Start with 10 brownie points for a hypothetically perfect plan/roster

Subtract one point for a MLB concern (can be covered schematically, but we still need a thumper that can cover in there and Dent is still unproven and perhaps susceptible to concussions in a position that is predicated on violence and a league that mandates removal for potential head injuries irregardless of the immediate diagnosis.

Subtract two points for an OL that is still not showing a substantial improvement over last year’s trainwreck

Subtract one point for the anemic looking run game (pro bowl blocking FB cut, heir apparent out with a major injury, pro bowl TE (also a blocker for the running game) is aging, and the pro bowl running back is coming into camp a step or two slow for some reason, not shedding tacklers. Reading what I just wrote maybe a one point subtraction may not be enough.

Maybe an unfair judging scale (far more than 10 areas to judge, so this method could give a negative confidence score on many teams which I think is legit), but irregardless of the subjectivity inherent in the scoring method (and the question for that matter) I go with a 6.

Coop

August 19th, 2012
10:03 am

Overall the team looks better. The schemes seem to be an improvement so far and Ryan and Jones have developed well beyond the rest of the team. They will be a fearsome duo this year.

Turner does look slower, our backup QBs do suck and DD should be #2.

But the biggest concern for me is still the HC. Smitty running out the same OL is starting to kill me. Punting on 4th and 1 in their territory during preseason is disturbing. Refusing to get Quizz ahead of Turner…

Bottom line, I see a little p[ositive change, but TOO much Smitty on this team to be hopeful yet. The fact is, we excel and win based more on our talent than our scheme or decision making. If Matt can hit RW and JJ, we’re good. If Abe and others can get to the QB, we’re good. But if it requires our HC to make adjustments, switch out players, or become creative when something isn’t working…

WE ARE SCREWED.

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:03 am

3) Are you worried about the Mularkey-esque, stalled drives on offense?

Yep, but it is preseason. The running game stagnation may be the culprit there. Perhaps an aversion to violent hitting in the preseason, irregardless of the down and distance situations??

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:05 am

4) Concerned about the big-play potential from defense?

Nope, I still like Samuels. A lot. He will help the D give Newton and Breezie sleepless nights. Irregardless of our preseason new scheme implementation hiccups.

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:05 am

5) What is the deal with Michael Turner: just warming up or done?

Lack of blocking that he is no longer able to overcome on sheer talent and speed alone. Irregardless (no contextual reason to throw that in, just wanted to include it somehow).

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:06 am

6) What’s your opinion on the OL, especially RG?

Indigestion, irregardless of how much pepto I take.

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:07 am

7) Is Jerry finally ready to blow up?

Hope you aren’t talking about his knee here????????

Irregardless of the clever Falcon focused Double entendre, I think he is in the put up or shut up part of his career, and I hope he mans up and takes advantage of the opportunity. He has the talent, does he have the wheels?

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:08 am

8.) What should the Falcons do with Dominique Davis: #2 or #3 QB?

#2, irregardless of what Redman does the next two weeks.

Potential SHOULD be a major component on deciding on which QB’s get paid to sit on the bench and learn. Can you say WILDCAT formation just to force the other team into a Time Out to stress out as a tied game winds down?

9) Do the stalled drives concern you?
Same as #3

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:14 am

Bonus Question – What do I worry about may happen on Sept. 9?

I am afraid that the lukewarm preseason will extend into the first game like last year against the Bears. WE need to develop that hunger BEFORE the season starts, not some point after.
Irregardless of coaching prostrations regarding the lack of concern over preseason losses.

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 19th, 2012
10:19 am

In the distant mists of TV history, there was a TV/Movie comedian named Groucho Marx, who had a game show.

On the show “you bet your life”, when someone said the secret word a duck would drop down and pay the lucky contestant a reward. If I were said lucky contestant, and the lucky word was irregardless, I could be a rich guy about now.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

August 19th, 2012
10:38 am

Morning Cage! OL/FB not opening holes for Turner Huh? funny how Quizz and Antone found some to run through. Just Sayin…

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

August 19th, 2012
10:47 am

Our arch-enemy ’saints’ may be parting ways with Chris Ivory, in favor of pre-season stand out Cadet. Cut Turner…add Ivory to go along with Quizz, Snelling and Antone.Just Sayin…

darrell starks

August 19th, 2012
11:39 am

I believe we gave Garrett Reynolds to much credit last week against Ravens, this game against Bengals he was horrible.

Back to reality for Reynolds.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 19th, 2012
11:43 am

Andrew Jackson, Mike Johnson, Sam Baker also look bad.

Baker why is he still on the team ?

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dhunt

August 19th, 2012
11:46 am

As always D3, best blog on the AJC. Irregardless of the fact that the other guys get paid (seeing a theme here?) there’s a lot of B.S. and fluff coming from the press corps (what crackhead shot that Julio Jones video?). But that’s never the case here. On to the countdown!

1) Saw a lot more good than bad once again this week. And a lot of the good was confirmation that things we saw in the first game were not flukes. The bad: Tackling (almost always an issue in pre-season), penalties (which has never been an issue under Smitty’s watch), giving up big plays. I honestly think these issues can and will be handled before the reg season kicks off. There was a lot of good; so much that I won’t try to list it all on the first point. Bosher deserves some accolades after being roundly blasted last year. Ryan deserves praise every time I post, mainly because I got on his azz every time I posted last year.

2) 8.25. OL concerns. the fact that rojo and jpw (pronounced “j-pew”, as in pepe “le pew”) are still in uniform, safety and corner depth, are some issues still dragging down the score.

3) This year’s stalls are nothing like last year’s stalls. Last year it didn’t even look like we were trying sometimes. Cinci made some plays. Let’s leave it at that and keep MM’s bad mojo out of this.

4) This year’s defensive glitches are nothing like last year’s. Last year it didn’t even look like we were trying sometimes. Cinci made a few plays (a)when Asante got overly aggressive at the wrong time, (b)on a couple of missed tackles and blown assignments, and (c)when backups who should be doing better, didn’t. Here again, no need to bring up BVG bad mojo.

5) Big Ray posted the article. Koetter isn’t trying to run the ball. So we really don’t know about Turner do we? It’s fair to say that he isn’t the biggest pass catching threat out of the backfield, but the last four years there was virtually no chance the ball would even be thrown his way. If you saw 33 in the backfield, there was a 75% chance he was getting the carry, and he still got over 1300 yards. The simple fact that we might throw him the ball is a wrinkle defenses no have to consider, and even though he isn’t really a big play threat, 5-10 yards on a pass play to Turner isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hell, we all would have been celebrating it last year. Here’s to elevated expectations.

6) Got to get better. And unlike some, I’m hard pressed to put this all in Smitty’s lap. I’ve read two things this past week that least me to believe that he’s not a micro manager. He lets his staff do their jobs. He has to take the final responsibility for it all, no doubt about that. But the Koetter and Hill are on the hook for this one right now. I get the feeling it’s a work in progress, and still have hope that there will be continued improvement.

7) So happy that Peria is becoming the player I always thought he could be. I’m one of the few that cut him some slack over the past, because it’s hard for a big guy whose game is predicated on explosiveness to come back from the injuries he suffered. He seems to be back, and in an even better scheme to take advantage of his particular set of skills. Look for the Falcons D-line to be one of the most talked about units in the league this year. And for a change people will be saying good things.

8.) Redman’s only plus is experience. Expereience throwing incompletions and interceptions isn’t really much to hang your hat on. I’m done talking about jpw (waste of keyboard strokes). I admit it’s probably a bit of a risk to put Dom Davis at #2, and it’s not like TD and Smitty are noted for their risk tolerance. But really, what’s the worst that could happen? Release Red, and rehire him as a low paid consultant. Let him hang around the team and stay in shape (making a bit more than he would in the real job world). And if something happens to our franchise QB (yeah, that’s what Ryan is now), he’s right there and ready to roll.

Last year in preseason, it looked like we were trying to run our real offense and it just wasn’t working. This year, across the board it looks like we are evaluation personnel, plays, scheme, etc. And most of it seems to be working, with the notable exception of personnel who are not going to be here much longer anyway. There are a lot of the same faces, but this is a very different Falcons team. One worthy of that Super Bowl prediction that was a bit premature last year.

darrell starks

August 19th, 2012
11:47 am

Falcons still having a big issue at LT and RG.

In this next game i would like to see Svitek and Konz starte with first unit.

SVITEK, BLALOCK, TODD, KONZ, CLABO

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 19th, 2012
11:54 am

D3, I totally agree with you about Travian Robertson, have been a bright spot on Falcons DL so far in preseason.

Cliff Matthews have been a big disappointment, i had high hope for Cliff this year but have been bad so far.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 19th, 2012
12:00 pm

Have Vance Walker played any games in preseason, definitely been on the M. I. A list.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

steven a smith

August 19th, 2012
12:45 pm

Sam Baker is just not getting the Job done. Michael Turner has seen his best days. The Atlanta Falcons should have added a “feature back” via free agency or draft and it will cost them “Big time.”
Chris Redman looks like a 45y/o Steve Deberg out there and John Parker looks lost, reincarnation of Billy Joe Tolliver. Who is selecting players for this team????We drafted a Fullback and Punter in Back to Back years.

steven a smith

August 19th, 2012
12:47 pm

I hope Chase Coffman Makes the team. He was a baller in college.

Chop Buster

August 19th, 2012
1:07 pm

1) Simple Leadoff: your thoughts on the Falcons-Bengals game? Personally I think they used this game to evaluate more things (the running game and certain players) more than they did in the first game. First game seemed as though they set out to evaluate the passing game more.

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your confidence level in the Falcons (1 being least and 10 being most) I’d give them a 6 since I’m about 60/40 right now (60% Ryan and offense will do enough for playoffs and 40% in the defense’s ability to stop teams).

3) Are you worried about the Mularkey-esque, stalled drives on offense? No, what I saw was an attempt to see where the running game was with Turner (specifically) and some were just mistakes by the player (Gonzalez running backward instead of going forward for the first down, Turner not good at running or the screen–footwork too poor). Also, it’s still too vanilla and wasn’t much game planning.

4) Concerned about the big-play potential from defense? At this point don’t really know since they’re in evaluation mode and I believe just seeing what works and what doesn’t. If the first game was any indication I would venture to say we’ll see more big-play potential when Nolan starts game planning for teams.

5) What is the deal with Michael Turner: just warming up or done? Stick a fork in Turner. I’ve been saying this for the last year or two that his footwork is just not good. He doesn’t have the ability to change direction quickly or make moves to make players miss. He’s strictly a North/South runner that needs an OL that opens big holes for him. Also, his ability to get through the hole quickly really shows his age–or maybe just the lack of ability.

6) What’s your opinion on the OL, especially RG? OL is still under evaluation in my mind. I’d just wish they would find the right combo of players and let them play together through the remaining games. I was surprised how poorly Svitek looked in the Bengals game. I’d like to see Konz finally at the RG position with the other starters from last year. Baker and Svitek can fight it out for the LT position. At center we need to see who can hold down the middle–it was definitely a weak point in the OL last year.

7) Is Jerry finally ready to blow up? He’s looked good so far, but it still is preseason. I’d like to see more consistent penetration in the backfield and holding the point like Robertson does. Also, that was a dumb play by him on the Bengal QB that extended their play–he was way late taking the QB to the ground after the ball was gone.

8.) What should the Falcons do with Dominique Davis: #2 or #3 QB? Dominique should definitely be given the opportunity to compete for the #2 spot. He’s looked like night and day compared to Redman and JPW. The latter looked old, slow and lost. No velocity on Redman’s throws and JPW gets happy feet and breaks the pocket too soon.

9) Do the stalled drives concern you? Not at this point it doesn’t. The 3rd preseason game will give us more of what we can realistically expect since the starters play almost all game and there’s more game planning involved.

Also, Ryan appears to have turned a corner. If he still is looking sharp in the next game I think he would have taken the next step in his development (consistency of throws, accuracy, standing and delivering the ball).

I’m not feeling Franks for some reason. Maybe it’s his lack of play on the ball, timidness, and looking lost and out of position at times. I think he’s been on the team long enough to play better than he does. That play during the Bengals game of never looking back for the ball and throwing his hands up in an attempt to knock the ball down (without looking) looked ridiculous. It was Chris Owens like.

falcon21

August 19th, 2012
1:33 pm

My overall confidence level of the Falcons is an 8. Yes i am still worried about depth but we are not asking the whole 2nd string to step up and win games, just one or two here or there. And I don’t think we are looking at our starting O-line that will begin the season just yet.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
1:51 pm

What’s happening Cage Family. Another great topic line, D3, so I will get right to the matter at hand for I am sure that I will have a lot to comment on in this subject line.

First, I am not surprised at all that we are having this discussion. TeePee Sports warned last year and the season before that of a “status quo” mindset with a few, well chosen phrases to keep the fans in the game. Mad Mike and BVG were clearly in the cross hairs last season; we all knew that a failure to advance in the playoffs would result in changes.

January arrives. The failure is immense as the once again, the team looked ill-prepared for the big stage and the optimum moment. After basically being embarassed to the point of no return, the guys in control at the Branch gave us the stearn looks. They seemed to be serious upset about what had just taken place. An immensely talented ATL team had been humiliated by a Giants team that had to gut check itself in order to make the playoffs.

Enter the era of change, Part II. Enter Koetter, Hill, and Nolan. Now, we were hearing that there would be a new attitude. Explosive was no longer the word of the moment; it was replaced with aggressive.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
1:58 pm

The TeePee has constantly stated, time and time again, that there is an apparent disconnect in terms of what is supposed practiced and what is preached by the Branch. Open competition on the OL was all we have heard for months. But the same guys, the same core that was supposedly so horrid last January, is holding down the fort right now.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, according to Stephen A. Smith, it damned sure is not a mongoose. This cross training regime has been a MAJOR failure. It has not resulted in a proven player to handle the RG guard position, it has not improved pass protection, and it has not even been an essential element in an effective scheme. That is not on an OL coach; that is on Mike Smith.

D3

August 19th, 2012
2:16 pm

Chop — Your post is out.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
2:17 pm

Matthew Thomas Ryan.

In 2008, when most we screaming for Glenn Dorsey or Brian Brohm, I was in love with this kid. I had seen this kid in the ACC. I had seen him execute very well in the west coast offense and he was a talent that was destined for great things. He reminded me so much of what I saw when Matt Schaub was the quarterback at UVA, running the SAME west coast offense. The difference here was that he was taken out of his WCO element and asked to be more of a game manager for a power rushing attack. Yes, a power rushing attack.

Mike Smith came to ATL in 2008 stating that he wanted to control the clock, play solid defense, and win close games. He did that well in 2008 and 2009 behind the rushing attack of Michael Turner. At the same time, the young cerebral assassin known as MR2 would slowly develop as a leader. His talents flashed before our eyes, but a system orchestrated by the Mikes, Smith and Murlarkey, held this young man back. His true promise, especially to those of us that knew of him best, was not on display.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
2:23 pm

January 2011. The number one seed is humiliated at home in the playoffs but a wild card team from Green Bay. Outplayed in EVERY facet of the game, we hear the magic words; vertical and explosive. We bet the farm on a young kid from Alabama to go with our QB.

Note: Houston did the same thing in reverse when they brought in Matt Schaub to pair with Andre Johnson.

On paper this was supposed to look great, for adding JJ11 to the arsenal that was MR2, TG88, RW84, and MT33 was the “great leap” that would propel the Falcons to the Promised Land. We were ready. Or were we?

The offense was predictable. Somewhere, someone introduced the concept of no huddle. Falcons fans, now increasing aware that something was not right, were lead to believe it was Smitty that was calling the no huddle. There is no evidence of that other than press reports (which the Branch could control, mind you). MR2 seemed to be arriving as a leader; a trait that was well know to most of us that again had followed his football career to date.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
2:35 pm

MR2 now has a OC that understands the talents he (MR2) brings to the table. Koetter, for all his so called short comings, had the common sense to sit down with this young man and listen. Koetter has implements the staples of a WCO (the screen pass, spreading the ball to multiple receivers, quick releases, greater QB mobility, and greater emphasis on the intermediate field).

This is what is making MR2 look outstanding thus far. What you see IS NOT a FLUKE. This is what we drafted.

If MR2 had been the man during the Mora era, when we had a true WCO guru in Knapp but a joke at QB (who recently admitted that he did not give his all), with the ZBS as implements and run by Alex Gibbs, with a rushing attack led by Warrick Dunn, and receivers like Jenkins, White, and Crumpler, can we imagine what may have been?

THE SAME is in place right now. Koetter understands the WCO. He understands that power OL are in short supply now days and that the ZBS is the way to go. He knows that he has a cold blooded snake at quarterback that is deadly accurate in the intermediate game, is mobile, and disciplined. He has a Warrick Dunn like back (in terms of talent if not heart) in Rodgers. He has three of the best receiving options in football.

So where is the rational for resorting back to forcing us to re-visit a “B” movie? Why in the hell are we wasting time passing the ball to a RB that we know can not be effective in the passing game? One simple reason….Mike Smith wanted it that way.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
2:39 pm

As I have stated, Turner is nothing more than a ball control option for the Falcons at this stage. Sure, he will gain 1000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns this season. But when he is on that field, defenses do not have to be “nervous”. But spread that field early and often, with Rodgers and another back; now you have the ability to do some damage, keep defenses honest and guessing, and put points on the board in a more consistent manner.

Turner can be used to “mop” up later. When we are in control of the game, then we can use the pounding nature that MT33 brings to the table. Time then is of the essence. But in a division like ours, in a conference like ours (the NFC), where speed and quick strike capabilities are a given now with over half the conference, we have to be Ferraris early and SmartCars later.

SeminoleWarrior

August 19th, 2012
2:50 pm

Enuf for the moment.

There is more I could say but will pause. My disconnect theory is well documented and well known.
My concerns about depth are chronicled in the archives of this blog. When others were silent, the TeePee and a few others were sounding alarms. So I will not go there except to address specific questions. Questions like:

Blocking schemes: Warned

Linebacker depth: Warned

Running back depth: Warned. (Called for Snelling to be moved to FB which would have allowed for flexibility; called for a RB selection deep in the draft as depth has been an issue for a while in ATL).

Quarterback depth: How is my Russell Wilson stance looking now?

OL: Could Clabo have moved inside to RG and allowed for Zebrie Sanders to play the RT position. He could not have been any worse that Johnson and Reynolds have shown.

Chop Buster

August 19th, 2012
2:51 pm

Chop Buster

August 19th, 2012
3:07 pm

Here’s Smitty’s take on the backup QB competition:

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2012/08/18/atlanta-falcons-davis-in-hunt-for-no-2-backup-qb-gig/?cxntfid=blogs_atlanta_falcons_blog

Very interesting if it’s in fact true. Dom has a real shot at the #2.