Atlanta Falcons: Mixed Emotions as Birds Down Dolphins

Fans Stuck Somewhere in the Middle

This Pic Sums It Up Pretty Well (MCT)

It was a win and when the real season hits, that’s all that will matter. It’s preseason though, so everything’s still fair game. Most fans seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle after three preseason games and the all-important 3rd “tune-up” contest. The scoreline doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story. This post is not meant to seem overly negative or critical, but there’s a big fear among many fans that problems from preseason can drag into the regular season, as it did when the Falcons had an absolute collapse in Chicago in their 2011 opening game. A look at the 3rd preseason game:

SmittyBall Appears Here to Stay

Although Mularkey still shares a lot of the blame in terms of the offensive construction, Mike Smith appears to drive this conservative ship and seemingly really enjoys it. Whether it be stubbornness or just his overly conservative nature, the apprehension is that changing coordinators may not change as much as some hoped. This will be said over and over throughout the post: yes, it is just preseason and the Falcons did win the game, but for a long time against the Dolphins, the 2012 squad looked no different whatsoever from the highly underachieving 2011 team. Points are points, but kicking 3 field goals in a preseason game (he did go for it once and that 4th down play call looked worse than the infamous Saints overtime call) doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

Although Turner looked better in the pass game, he still just does not look like a feature back. It is true he didn’t have much blocking, but he can’t do much of anything on his own and this offensive line is far from a group of road graders. It appears as though Smith is “forcing” Turner into the gameplan. How else can we explain seeing less and less of Jacquizz Rodgers as the games have gone on? Then there’s the stubborn commitment of sticking with Garrett Reynolds evidently through every amount of awfulness possible. Even though Konz may not be an All-Pro as a rookie, he surely has way more upside. Sure, there’s always the chance that they are “saving” the real stuff for the season, but as longtime Cage member Paddy O said, at some point that excuse runs out and this team may have to actually overcome SmittyBall to win a playoff game.

Ryan Levels Off a Touch

Ryan Leveled a Touch (Getty)

Ryan’s had a great preseason overall and actually had a pretty decent night, as he went 18 for 26 for 220 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps it’s just a case of suffering from the high expectations he created over the first two games. There were a few throws that looked pretty bad. The major underthrow was saved by Julio Jones on the long pass. He couldn’t quite connect with him on two other long throws. One may have been caught by Jones, but the other was on Ryan. This is nitpicking a little bit and it wasn’t all Ryan’s fault, but bogging down to a screeching halt 3 times in a row in the red zone and kicking three field goals in a preseason game is more than a little concerning. A few other passes definitely could have been intercepted, but the Dolphins came up short. Overall, there’s a ton of hope and the former BC qb has had an overall great preseason, just a little leveling off, that’s all.

Biermann’s Looking Good

Some questioned when the Falcons gave Kroy Biermann a starter’s level contract (3 years / $9 million) and whether it was too much to give a supposed backup. That contract sure is looking good about right now. The Bier Truck has looked great this preseason both with his hand in the dirt and standing up as he’s done a lot of this preseason. He’s registered a sack and made some excellent plays in the backfield for a loss. He may not have taken over for Ray Edwards as a permanent starter, but he sure is playing better. As many fans thought, Nolan’s scheme and philosophy is playing right into Biermann’s wheelhouse.

Excellent Receiving Corps in Many Ways

Face-mask is One Way to Stop JJ (AP)

The play on the field has been exemplar, as expected. Julio Jones is getting ready to take the NFL by storm, Roddy White is looking fit and on form, and Harry Douglas is finally getting in on the action. The final two spots will only add to a one of the best WR trios in the NFL. Not only is their play on the field looking up to par, but Julio and Roddy had an excellent interview during the pouring down rain talking about how much they enjoy playing with each other and how close the receivers are. There was some worry about Roddy potentially losing focus or getting disgruntled, but judging from the interview, there’s not any hint of that to come. Something that stuck out was the fact that all they cared for was “getting the W.” With so many teams filled with divas and locker room issues, TD, Smitty, and Co. should get major credit for their “black dot character” evaluation system. It appears to be working pretty well.

Red Zone Woes

Again, yes it’s still preseason, but one of the biggest areas for worry for fans is the continued red zone woes. This is something that reared it’s ugly head all the time in the Mularkey era and the hope is that it doesn’t continue. Whether it’s playcalling, personnel, or just unfortunate mistakes or errors, the red zone issues must be solved if the Falcons want to go far in 2012.

Can the Offensive Line Be Fixed?

The Falcons ultimate Achilles Heel is the constant and vomit-inducing discussion of the offensive line. This has been an issue in the past, but the bridge finally broke in 2011 when Matt Ryan was running for his life and they couldn’t open holes in the run game against elite opponents. To his credit, Dimitroff used his first two draft picks on offensive linemen, getting the best center in the draft in Peter Konz and potential-laden left tackle Lamar Holmes. It’s still preseason and seeing Sam Baker play better has been a nice highlight, but for every highlight it seems another hole in the boat pops. For example, Baker seems to improve and then Clabo starts getting torched. Right guard is the bane of Falcons fans existence at the moment. What is the obsession with Garrett Reynolds? If you like him so much, stick him at right tackle (the only position he ever played) and move Clabo inside as Seminole Warrior has said many times.

Lamar Holmes looked pretty darn good for his first NFL experience and is the case with the Smitty development program, he may not see the field for years. Peter Konz may have had his lumps in the first half, but he looked good in the second half. If nothing else, Konz has infinitely more upside than Reynolds, so what are they waiting for? Then of course there’s the issue at center. Todd McClure seems to be doing OK for the moment, but can his body take an entire 16 game season? Then we’re back to square one once again, this time having to break in yet another offensive lineman, this time a center. So the question goes, can the Falcons offensive line even be fixed or is it destined for crappiness?

Defense Better, but Growing Pains Remain

Defense Still Some Growing Pains (MCT)

Overall, the defense does look better. They are more aggressive and are getting constant pressure in the backfield. Players are excited about Nolan and the new scheme and this may be the most talented group on defense in quite awhile. As mentioned before, though, there will be some growing pains as we’re seeing. They did clean up their tackling from a week ago, but there’s still issues in giving up third downs (especially to a rookie QB) and even though they’re getting pressure in the backfield and on the QB, they aren’t getting sacks. Those are hallmarks of the Van Gorder Era. Again, nothing to panic about and much of it is nitpicking considering Nolan’s immensely successful resume. Just something to clean up a little.

The Debate is Over

This is the most direct way to say it: Dominique Davis should be the #2 quarterback and if he’s not, it’s an outright travesty. Fans can safely assume that Davis won’t be put at risk of losing after his excellence this preseason, particularly after his performance against the Dolphins. Considering Smith’s tendencies, the Falcons will keep all on the 53 man roster and allow Davis to develop a year under Redman. As long as they keep him, it’s not that big of a deal, but based on pure performance, Davis should be the #2 quarterback. It’s a no-brainer in fact. Whatever Redman offers in experience, Davis more than quadruples that gap in talent. In fact, some fans are starting to think that Davis may be a long-term option after Matt Ryan instead of just developing a quarterback. This kid is for real and the longer that Smith keeps him buried on the depth is simply delaying the inevitable. If TJ Yates can lead the Texans to their first ever playoff win, than Dominique Davis is more than capable of being the #2 to Matt Ryan. Stop the charade and give the guy the nod.

Remember Chicago

There’s a natural tendency to believe that “it’s just preseason and everything will be worked out.” While that has some truth to it and this team definitely looks better than last year’s squad, the idea of sweeping everything under the rug in the name of “not showing your cards” gets lost in the shuffle.  Just last year many fans were complaining about things in preseason that very well bled into the regular season, in painful fashion. It’s another away game to start the season on the road (3 years in a row by the way) and the hope is that 2012 is not a repeat of 2011, where the Falcons not only got beat but kind of got embarrassed.

Time for Good

Great to See HD in the Mix (AP)

Those ready to pounce on the idea that “you do nothing but spew negative garbage,” here’s the fix. This team looks good overall. The offense has a pep in it’s step, the defense is definitely going to be much better, and this team has a feel of hard work and something special. It was always going to be an adjustment to new coordinators and in general the play has matched the hype. As passionate fans we all get caught up in perfection, but to say that this team doesn’t look better than last year’s  is to deny reality. As long as the Falcons start giving Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith some more carries, everyone will be happier.

Final Wide Receiver Spots are a Jumbled Mess

Kevin Cone had it locked up back when the Falcons started training camp. Well, the cards have turned and the battle for the final spot is as muddied as ever. Although Cone and Drew Davis were the lead candidates, the position appears to be a confusing guess to make. Recently picked up Tim Toone had a fantastic night and gives glimpses of a Wes Welker or Brandon Stokely type of receiver. Many fans feel that Kerry Meier shouldn’t have a lock on the #4 wide receiver spot since he can seemingly never play more than 2 consecutive quarters without getting injured. This one will be fun to watch.

Thanks to Blank

Even though it probably went on too long and the audio was all messed up, this is a time to acknowledge, appreciate, and respect the magnificent job that Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has done not only for our Birds but also for the City of Atlanta. Blank has presided over a top class franchise that employs great people who give of themselves outside of football. Blank’s commitment to the City of Atlanta and his effort to improve the lives in this city and state are unmatched. You literally can’t ask for a better owner. He cares for people, works to help improve their lives, and is committed to winning. The Falcons and their franchise may not have had success in the postseason, but he’s already been the ultimate champion for the City of Atlanta, it’s citizens, and anyone who cares about humanity.

Your Turn

1) Opening Drive: After the “real game of preseason” how’s your confidence level now? (1 being lowest, 10 being highest)

2) Is SmittyBall real and in play or is it just a fabricated myth?

3) Are we fans being too hard on the Birds. It’s just preseason, right?

4) What’s your thoughts on Ryan’s play?

5) Should Biermann replace Ray Edwards permanently?

6) Where does the Falcons top 3 WR’s rank?

7) Who should get the #4 and #5 WR spots?

8.) Are you concerned about the red zone woes?

9) Can this offensive line be fixed or should it be torn down and reconstructed?

10) Thoughts on the defense?

11) What will you do if Dominique Davis is not the #2 QB?

12) Are you concerned about a “Chicago Collapse” repeat?

13) Are we as fans too critical of preseason?

14) Give a practice run of your final 53 man roster with 8 practice squad players…..if you dare.

437 comments Add your comment

DePlane

August 25th, 2012
10:43 pm

Nice blog D3…some great points as usual. I’ll circle back..the wife is calling.

waynester

August 25th, 2012
10:44 pm

Ryan is among the leading passers in the league in this preseason and should improve even further with more game reps. Davis has earned the the #2 spot, but we’re paying too much $$$ to Redman to move the youngster up…..

John Waynesworld

August 25th, 2012
10:49 pm

Good stuff, D3.

I agree there is an issue of production in the Red Zone, however I still see evaluation going on here. I also see a preseason game where the coordinators use their usual annual vanilla play-calling. Despite that, our offensive line seems pourous in the run game. I had heard from the homers on TV that there was to be more emphasis on pass protection in this game, but that boat didn’t float too far. That’s why I was hoping Manuwai could have lasted because if nothing else he could push a pile. We might yet find some O line help in these league-wide roster cutdowns.

You’re absolutely right about the mess at WR, past the obvious choices. Meier has been invisible and beside Toone the other receivers have had some good catches but some bad drops. This is another position of need around the league that may be picked from our practice squad.

As far as Arthur talking during the game, it is some orchestrated BS throughout the league as I have seen it on almost every replayed national game. Media people insisting on wanting to talk to famous people (or each other) on camera, as if in their “professional opinion (which is far better than yours), these games don’t warrant as much attention as Goose’s TV setup or what the booth guys had for dinner. I wonder where we go to complain. haha

Surg the urge

August 25th, 2012
10:57 pm

The team looks good, but I want them to step up their intensity. Dunta didn’t look too good out there in Miami. I hope Smith and the O coord have saved their best for the regular season. I know they aren’t trying not to give anything away, but what they have done in the preseason so far has not instilled any confidence in me at all. I also would like to see Quizz play faster, he has not been effective at all, good hands dont mean anything if you cant get creative in space. Turner needs to stop being selfish he got the money but he needs to understand this is a team game. If they want to cut down his carries for the sake of the team then he should have a Coke and a smile and agree with the decision. I better see some fire this season and I mean FIRE. I want to see our team play their hearts out, like they truly believe in themselves. We have one of the toughest schedules and the teams in our division are no slouch.

falCANS

August 25th, 2012
11:20 pm

falCANS

August 25th, 2012
11:23 pm

Our strength on defense s our secondary. Their scary. Daunte had good coverage. Any better and hed be D Revis. Roddy should b focal poinr of offense

JB FALCON

August 25th, 2012
11:25 pm

Enter your comments here

Re

August 25th, 2012
11:33 pm

Watch and appreciate REAL FOOTBALL…..Barcelona Football and a REAL player…Lio Messi.
American football SUCKS. A three hour game ….and only 11 minutos 30 seconds of action !!!!!…in the entire game. Give me a break.

SeminoleWarrior

August 25th, 2012
11:36 pm

Another outstanding piece of literary work, D3. I totally agree with you a 1000%.

For those that will be critical of us, let them be. The truth is in the pudding. From January to now, we heard talk, talk, talk. Now it is time for action.

The issues that were issues in January are still issues even as we speak. We have new band aids on the same wounds. We have a new suite of doctors (Hill, Nolan, Koetter) to supervise the healing process. But the clinic administrator is the same and it is HE that decides the TRUE course of treatment.

I stated then and I will say it once more. The Process, Part II, is a full transition. And we are about to see how it plays out. For one, I am happy that Koetter is using MR2 in the manner to which I have been waiting to see. Last night’s game did not really bother me as much because I expected it. I have so grown accustomed to the pre-paid, pre-scripted speeches from the Branch. I knew from the beginning that all this talk of open competition was a smoke screen. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s that simple.

Totally agree on the Blank comments. I have been a fan for over 40 years. I knew what it was like under the Rankin/Taylor Smith regime. It is truly a heaven versus hell description now.

Arthur Blank is world class. The first time I met him at mini camp, he autographed a ball for me and my son. He took the time to ask my son what his plans for the future were. When my son told him he played football, AB told him he would love to have him as a Falcon one day. That made my son’s day.

When my niece got her wish to meet Eric Weems (the event that cost me a ice cream and cake party..lol), shortly thereafter, she got to meet Mr. Blank. She was on cloud nine when the owner asked her to share a pic with her; one that still graces her room walls right besides the one of Mr. Weems.

Arthur is world class in every sense of the word. The Falcons are damned lucky to have him. And we are damned lucky he is the leader of our franchise. I wish him nothing but the very best that life has to offer in the present and future.

SeminoleWarrior

August 25th, 2012
11:43 pm

FFL draft tomorrow!!

Been waiting for this since I got my collective @$$ smashed last season. JJ, enjoy the remaining days of your reign. The end begins tomorrow at 3:30.

falcon21

August 25th, 2012
11:49 pm

The underthrow to JJ was by design, we have all said throw the ball up and let JJ get it, Ryan does that and now we say it was a badly underthrown ball. Get use to it becauce it will happen a lot this season. It is by design, think about it.

falcon21

August 25th, 2012
11:50 pm

because, my spelling sucks.

D3

August 25th, 2012
11:52 pm

Re — I love “football” too. That’s actually no BS. I love the EPL more than college football and close to the NFL. I have a “Champions of Europe 2012″ Chelsea flag in my house. But to try and denigrate one sport to make the other look better is silly at best and childish at worst. BTW, Messi absolutely choked to pieces when he could do nothing else but hit the crossbar in two games against a much inferior Chelsea side in UEFA 2012 and they lost the La Liga title to Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola jumped ship. Save the champagne on Messi.

Back to regular programming folks…………..

unSATISFIED

August 25th, 2012
11:59 pm

Can we stick with Falcons, please. You don’t hear leading franchises discredit the brand like the whole “Dirty Bird” thing- that was a disgrace. As for your Blank paragraph, you must be in his back pocket. He’s a showboat, unlike successful team owners and is looking to milk us for a new stadium we don’t need until we win a few games. Otherwise, the assessment is decent. Go Falcons!

WR

August 26th, 2012
12:21 am

Hello again cage, been a long time, D3, great post as usual, obviously some things haven’t changed. Might just be my opinion, probably is just my opinion, but D3 made a great point about Smitty’s continual approach to not wanting to show to much going into the season. At 1st it played well because it was a new regime building a new team, so again, it made sense. Going into the 5th year of the regime, not so much. You take a team like the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Giants, and some of the other consistent contenders and if you really look, there not holding anything back. They focus on fine tuning, trying a few different looks here and there, but mostly its fine tuning what’s going to be the basics for their approach to every team.

Then you have the Falcons, could just be me, but its a sixteen game season, if your expectations are as high as you say they are, should you really be as worried as you act like you are about showing to much just to win the 1st game.

In my opinion that’s been the Falcons problem with winning a post season game under this regime, in the playoffs the talent is extremely similar, so coaching takes the forefront. This coaching staff (Smitty) takes a cloak and dagger approach like their afraid their going to give away their game plan, when the game plan should actually be changing every week anyway. Sure their should be some surprises that a team shouldn’t see coming, but said surprises are hard to pull off just based on an idea, it has to at least be put into practice, even if it doesn’t show up again to week 14.

But all and all, once again, I have high expectations for the Falcons, I just beg Smitty, not to put overbearing weight on those expectations.

falcon21

August 26th, 2012
12:23 am

What the hell are they talking about? Later Cagers. Be back later when real football talk is going on!!!

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
12:28 am

Ok, so where did these new trolls come from?

I don’t think Ryan has leveled off at all. It’s preseason and I don’t think dude has taken flight yet.

I’m tired of all the talk about “same this, same that.” We know what the deal is – either this team gets to the postseason and gets at least one win, or Smitty is on a major hot seat. Anything less and all of TD and Blank’s good graces will be gone. You can bet Blank knows that. I’m not so sure about the Mad Russina, but methinks he would know the writing on the wall if he saw it.

In the meantime, let’s try and enjoy some football, eh? Season ain’t even started yet…

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
12:33 am

The underthrow to JJ was by design, we have all said throw the ball up and let JJ get it, Ryan does that and now we say it was a badly underthrown ball. Get use to it becauce it will happen a lot this season. It is by design, think about it.

Thank God somebody else decided to speak up about this, I was damn close to doing it and in somewhat acidic fashion. Even those dumbass announcers mentioned this. Fact – it is much harder for a DB to readjust his speed and come back on a ball when he is running hard and trying to go stride for stride with a WR. Especially, a big athletic one.

Ryan has not been known for underthrows, he’s been known for overthrows. You know, the whole cautionary “well if I’m not accurate, then at least I’ll overthrow the DB as well” attitude. The minute I saw that play, I knew it had that crazy Koetter written all over it.

Look folks, either you want a fearless gunslinger or you don’t. Can’t complain about dink and dunk and all that rot, then b!tch when a play like that comes up and the WR makes the play. That was pure “throw it up and let the playmaker get it”. It was a shot down the field. And man did it eat up some yards.

Again, it’s not like we see this with any sort of frequency…

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
12:37 am

I didn’t think Walls would be outta here, but I didn’t recall him incurring injury.

I find it odd…this season the Falcons have been very proactive when it comes to injury settlements. Walls has to be the third or fourth guy to get cut loose that way.

What about Meier? Svitek? I mean, nothing against Svitek, but if we’re gonna go the cautionary route, lets cut him loose and start combing the waiver wires for another LT. We have Baker (can he stay healthy?) and Holmes (can he learn quickly AND stay healthy?). Svitek is GONE FOR THE SEASON. Why hang onto him? Is it the amount of money we’re paying him?

Anyway, no surprise on any of the other cuts. Why keep JPW around? Maybe they’re considering keeping him AND Davis and cutting Redman? I mean, one never knows…

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
12:38 am

Franks hasn’t looked great in the secondary, but hell if Owens has been given a chance all this time, then why not Franks. Speaking of Owens, what’s his deal? Haven’t seen or heard from that guy.

Since Walls is gone (I did have such hopes for him), then maybe somebody like McClain makes the cut.

NUNNA!!

August 26th, 2012
1:13 am

Falcon21,
Im not buying it..Ryans arm is weak,point blank and period! He should be leading JJ with his passes so that he may catch them in stride and take it too the house. THAT IS WHAT U DO WITH A SPEED BURNER!!
U don’t thow passes up for grabs or behind him alot. U lead him with your passes so that he can run under them and take it to the house..

If Ryan can’t do that and u and others have to come on here to make up failed excuses for our qb who is as good as he is gonna get,then maybe we need to get another qb in here who can..Or,move some people up and trade this guy..

NUNNA!!

August 26th, 2012
1:19 am

Big Ray”Thank God somebody else decided to speak up about this, I was damn close to doing it and in somewhat acidic fashion. Even those dumbass announcers mentioned this. Fact – it is much harder for a DB to readjust his speed and come back on a ball when he is running hard and trying to go stride for stride with a WR. Especially, a big athletic one.”
——————————————————————–
Ok,well how long do u think its gonna take for Def.Cordinators and DB’s to adust and look for the underthrow to JJ?
Redzone towards the endzone,ok..Ok,im cool with that. And this is working pretty well now,BUT ITS THE PRE SEASON..
Vanilla Defense..A little scheme here and there? And then what..
Matt looks like he is as good as he will ever get in his career..
He is the Ideal leader and face for this team that Blank wants and thats good..
He has his man..But,if he can’t lead u to a playoff victory with better talent that most falcons teams had within the last 10-12 years, thensomething is wrong with him..

NUNNA!!

August 26th, 2012
1:20 am

Correction:He has his man..But,if he can’t lead u to a playoff victory with better talent **than** most falcons teams had within the last 10-12 years, thensomething is wrong with him..

DHunt

August 26th, 2012
1:24 am

D3 is serving up a big meal on a short week, and with evidently a big fantasy draft upcoming as well. I’m gonna take this in several courses to appease the blog monster.
1)My confidence level is now a 9. Can’t get to 10 unless and until we are headed into the NFC Championship game. Why 9? Because I sincerely believe we can beat any team in the league. Will there be some very tough games? Absolutely, because there are several very good teams out there; some of whom will manage to beat us this year. Miami, as was mentioned, had a top ten scoring defense last year, so just because we didn’t trounce them is no reason to feel the team got worse from last week to this week. The competition got better. And we handled it. That’s got to count for more than the mistakes that happened, and mistakes will continue to happen, as they do to every team. The big difference this year is an abiding sense that the team is ready to overcome those mistakes, instead of succumbing to them.

2) Smitty has said that his job on game day is not play calling, for offense or defense. If his coordinators are afraid to call what they think are the best plays for the situation and players on the field, then I don’t want them around. If they are calling the game they think Smitty wants them to call, then I don’t want them around. That’s what got the last two guys to the point where they would have been ridden out of town on rails if not for their own quick thinking and death defying escape artist impressions. Personnel is more on Smitty, but here again, I think so far we have kept the best players, and played the guys most able to contribute. It’s a fact that some of those guys haven’t contributed what we fans expected or hoped for. My kids disappoint me sometimes, but I’m not going to throw them back and try for a new set. Arthur made a good point last night that we have to let some things develop, and that we are building for the long haul, not to be a one hit wonder. Building for the long haul actually gives us a better chance to be successful in the here and now as well. Smitty is not Sean Payton, or some of the other coaches in the NFL who are micro managing game day. He often doesn’t even have a play card in hand. So blaming him for going for it on 4th down is appropriate; blaming him for calling the toss sweep is not; blaming him for the bad blocking is ridiculous; blaming him if we continue to not be able to block and seemingly do nothing about it could be. Get where I’m going with this? So far Smitty ball has led to 4 consecutive winning seasons. I think the arrow is still pointed up and if/when we have playoff success I’m sure those who have been his biggest critics will give him some of the credit for it. Well…I’m not sure, but I would sure hope so.

3)I think the Cage has enough avid, knowledgeable observers that the critiques have to be seriously considered. That being said, there is a bit too much concern about what happened last year. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, and I’m feeling good about the Falcons. I think even the biggest critics would say the same think, if perhaps in a more guarded fashion.

DHunt

August 26th, 2012
1:25 am

D3, little help. Blog monster ate my homework again. I tried to keep it under 5000 words…

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage ← School lunch: no sandwiches Cancel [...]

Paddy O

August 26th, 2012
3:23 am

My assertion on Smitty Ball creep, is the similarity in this preseason to specific players and plays from the last few years – Snelling and Gartrell Johnson, plus Quizz last year – you will see the play/players come out, make some outstanding contributions for a VERY short time – and then suddenly disappear as though in the doghouse. this preseason is very similar to that – we started out passing like crazy in game 1, and have essentially devolved from there. However, we have shown dedication to integration of the screen pass – which I think will provide unlimited dividends – especially since Turner looks pretty good at it – provided he gets his feet planted properly. The Chicago game last year really did cement our preseason “hide our real capacity” argument as being dubious to plain wishful thinking. I’ve liked the play from our first line offense; although this red zone failure is bizarre – it only started last year, but has carried over – we don’t seem to have a very good jump ball for the TD play call – which with JJ is odd. I was very satisfied to see HD get more touches, and ryan’s comments from a video link on the last post. Meier continued vanishing act is really bizarre & reinforces the impression that Smitty Ball – which includes the Falcon KBG and the apprenticeship program, is still enforce. However, I think TD has amassed enough talent that we can triumph even over this mindset. I hope, anyway.

Paddy O

August 26th, 2012
3:27 am

regarding our defense, Dunta has me worried – our defense in the middle has me worried as we leave gaps that Moses would be proud of, at very inopportune times during the game. Finally, QB pressure – it has not been as effective as I would have thought – and this is with our DT’s playing pretty well. However, our safety play has been pretty solid. Our problem is not having a safety valve in the middle of the field once our DT’s collapse the pocket. I hope this glaring error gets fixed with lightning speed. Surprised Walls got cut; thought we would give Coffman more time. I’m pretty comfortable with the talent level of DD right now – he appears to be a natural, with a cannon.

Paddy O

August 26th, 2012
3:34 am

oh, ironies of ironies – a soccer fan telling Americans that there is no action in american football. soccer is very similar to watching water swirl down a drain – a lot of excercise requiring great athletes (molecules0, but at the end, did anything worth watching really happen?

Paddy O

August 26th, 2012
3:37 am

21 – I hope you are right, but I can see a savvy safety coming up and snatching a ball that underthrown.

robertussen

August 26th, 2012
7:44 am

1) Opening Drive: After the “real game of preseason” how’s your confidence level now? (1 being lowest, 10 being highest)- about an 8 or 9, falcons look good

2) Is SmittyBall real and in play or is it just a fabricated myth?- we do things we did well before, but we dont look the same. the offense is more creative and the defense is more aggressive.if smittyball means we are going to win a lot of games, then yes, if it means we are going to field the same type of predicable play calling then no.

3) Are we fans being too hard on the Birds. It’s just preseason, right? it is just preseaon and they will not fully tip their hand yet. you are being wayyyyyyyyy to hard on them.

4) What’s your thoughts on Ryan’s play? if he keeps it up……hall of fame in his future

5) Should Biermann replace Ray Edwards permanently?- no bierman will do well in nolans scheme, and will be one of our top pass rushers, but cannot play the run like edwards. edwards will do well this year too even if he does not get a lot of sacks.

6) Where does the Falcons top 3 WR’s rank? near the top if not #1

7) Who should get the #4 and #5 WR spots?-it’s going to be myer at 4 but davis and cone still seem to be the best options here. cone will never see the offense unless someone gets hurt but would be an asset on special teams because of his blocking ability. davis at 4 cone at 5

8.) Are you concerned about the red zone woes? no its preseason and the full playbook is not yet being shown. in fact with a new offense it would be dumb to show your hand.

9) Can this offensive line be fixed or should it be torn down and reconstructed? hardest question on here, ask me again in january.

10) Thoughts on the defense? top ten unit. we are going to surprise some people

11) What will you do if Dominique Davis is not the #2 QB? nothing im just a fan. but he seems to have earned it with play. so we should now be carrying 3 qbs. i think we may underestimate redmans use helping ryan in between series on the side line

12) Are you concerned about a “Chicago Collapse” repeat? against kansas city…..that must be a joke. we will not only win, but dominate

13) Are we as fans too critical of preseason? yes wayyyyyyyy to critical. or maybe im just way to optimistic

14) Give a practice run of your final 53 man roster with 8 practice squad players…..if you dare.53 man roster- (qb)-2-ryan, davis- (o-line)-10- baker, blalock, mcclure, konz, clabo, reynolds, holmes, jackson, hawley, johnson- (wr)-5- white, jones, douglas, myer, davis- (fb)-1- polite- (rb)-4- turner, snelling, rodgers, smith- (te)-3- gonzalez, palmer, ?maybe free agent or brown- (k)-1-bryant- (p)-1- bosher- (ls)-1- harris-(want to go with zelenka but harris is younger and was supposed to be the best long snapper in the draft)- (dt)-5- babineaux, jerry, peters, robertson, walker- (de)-5- abraham, edwards, beirman, sidbury, massaqui- (mathews to ps) -(lb)-6- dent, weatherspoon, nicholas, peterson, adkins, james- (s)-4- moore, decoud, hope, mitchell- (cb)-5- grimes, samuel, robinson, owens, franks.

ATLJBO

August 26th, 2012
7:50 am

Honestly… If it was a real game.. I dont think we would have ran that ball on 4th down…. I think since it was the preseason Smitty/Koetter wanted to see the run game (in this game) since we have mainly seen the passing game for much of the preseason.

Wings

August 26th, 2012
8:06 am

D3 – “Not only is their play on the field looking up to par, but Julio and Roddy had an excellent interview during the pouring down rain talking about how much they enjoy playing with each other and how close the receivers are. ”

I meant to comment on the interview in the last blog. I thought the interview was more indicative of the positive things happening with the team than any actual play during the game. If it is happening outwardly with the two receivers, it is happening with others.

Great article D3!

Samuel

August 26th, 2012
8:24 am

Ray Edwards has to step his game up or he he should be coming off the bench. The motto should be anyone who doesn’t produce should be the backup.

RobbE33

August 26th, 2012
8:36 am

My thoughts exactly. All across the board. I liked what I’ve seen of the Falcons this preseason until I watched the Saints and Texans schemes last night. How is it that their receivers run routes that have them open in space and catching the ball in stride? Our guys have to fight for every reception among a slew of their defenders. Smitty ball may have indeed hit a wall. I’m optimistic that he’s not showing all his cards just yet and that the Falcons will get hot in November when it matters.

RobbE33

August 26th, 2012
8:48 am

BTW- Julio was covered on the long ball. Hitting him in stride may have resulted in an interference call but chances are, he wouldn’t have made the reception. It appeared to me that Ryan put it where he wanted to. He threw with touch and hardly gave it everything he had. Kudos to Julio for playing the ball and not mindlessly running a route like receivers we’ve had in the past.

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:09 am

Ok,well how long do u think its gonna take for Def.Cordinators and DB’s to adust and look for the underthrow to JJ?

How often do you think we’re going to run that play? I’ll say it again – it’s not a play that will be run with any frequency. This is something you do to beat the defense when they hone in on a fast guy like Julio. Both of those DBs were running desperately to catch Julio. They would have never have been able to put on the brakes and make a play on the ball.

That play was all about putting the ball up in an area where an exceptional WR could make a play on the ball…because he KNEW what was coming.

Simple as that.

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:12 am

RobbE33

August 26th, 2012
8:48 am

BTW- Julio was covered on the long ball. Hitting him in stride may have resulted in an interference call but chances are, he wouldn’t have made the reception. It appeared to me that Ryan put it where he wanted to. He threw with touch and hardly gave it everything he had. Kudos to Julio for playing the ball and not mindlessly running a route like receivers we’ve had in the past.

You get it….

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:14 am

Watched some parts of the game again this morning…looking at OL….

Baker played pretty well.

Guess who our worst starter on the OL is? I thought it was Garrett Reynolds. It’s still a close call…but I really think it’s Clabo.

BTW, he was the one who gave up the sack of Matt Ryan in the 2nd quarter.

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:29 am

The more I look at the mechanics of that “underthrow” 49 yard pass to Julio, the more I like it.

You really have to look at the circumstances surrounding it. We fielded a punt at around the 10 yard line. It was getting close to the end of the half.

Last year, we would have run the ball two straight times, then left Ryan with a 3rd and long play, and it would have been some tightly covered play wherein we tried to throw towards the sideline or some other predictable BS.

Instead, we did what takes guts, trust, and a very talented WR. First play from that deep in our own territory, and we go DEEP. Instead of trying to beat double coverage with Ryan throwing hard to take advantage of Julio’s speed, we do the smart thing. Ryan throws it to a part of the field while Julio is sprinting, and lets him go and get the ball.

Again…wouldn’t have done that last year, and NOBODY saw that one coming. NOBODY. The DBs couldn’t make the play on the ball, that much was clear. Somebody brought a new set of cahones to the game and I LIKE IT.

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:32 am

You can even watch Julio turn his head and shoulders in anticipation of the pass. He wasn’t looking up and over his shoulder, he was looking for the spot the ball was coming to. Total foreknowledge. Total anticipation. This kid is really understanding the game.

DePlane

August 26th, 2012
9:35 am

BR, agree….you and I both made comments about Clabo during the game (or post game)…I went back and looked at the tape again and Wake def ate his lunch. Wonder how Reynolds would do at his “natural” position.

Big Ray

August 26th, 2012
9:38 am

DePlane ,

Good question, though I wonder if anybody has thought of it.

Still watching parts of the game but almost finished…. both sacks of Ryan were given up by Clabo.

The guy we paid a ton of money to stay. Damn do I wish we’d have kept Harvey Dahl instead. At least we know he was good all on his own. The Rams are still thanking us for that one.

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DePlane

August 26th, 2012
9:41 am

I am least worried about MR2, his arm, JJ, RW, the weapons…and more worried about the o-line…still. I suspect we’ll see more of Konz this week. If Garrett and Reynolds are to start together then they better get on the same page. I’m sure Hill isn’t gonna let it slide when they see the film.

DePlane

August 26th, 2012
9:46 am

BR, I know it has been mentioned in the Cage already, possibly by yourself :) . My former gaffe about Reynolds had him mixed up with Baker concerning the players “Natural Position” so I went back and did my homework on Reynolds. But we both know it won’t happen.

DePlane

August 26th, 2012
9:48 am

Harvey is a beast…love the guy. Yeah, hindsight is one of the greatest teachers.

DePlane

August 26th, 2012
9:56 am

Man, I love JJones…this guy is worth every pick and penny. Jerry Rice said barring injury JJ is going to be one of the greats. Jerry Rice! Quite an endorsement.

DePlane

August 26th, 2012
10:00 am

Big Ray, you must be ready to hit the hay? Thanks for holding it down this morning and giving me some things to ponder. I’m off to play a round of golf…a rare occasion of late…I’m sure I’ll be rusty. Have a great Sunday!

Fired-up Falcon Fan in a Fall Football Frenzy (F6)

August 26th, 2012
10:49 am

1) Opening Drive: After the “real game of preseason” how’s your confidence level now? (1 being lowest, 10 being highest)

7, I still think we can do New Orleans in Feb., but there are issues at WR (depth after the big three), the running game, and the O-line. Having said that, 31 other teams also have holes/issues and our strengths are such that I think we can do it this year.

2) Is SmittyBall real and in play or is it just a fabricated myth?

Dooley ball 2.0. BUT – I loved watching Hershel, I was a fan of Hershel, and Turner is no Hershel at this stage of his career.

Controlling the clock with no penalties/turnovers has merit and has its place. I am just not sure we have the power running game and OL to do what Smitty wants to do there. I think we have the passing game now to open it up and make defenses honest (jab, jab, jab, roundhouse knockout blow)

3) Are we fans being too hard on the Birds. It’s just preseason, right?

Right. But—I still remember Chicago last year. A culture of winning has it’s place.