Atlanta Falcons: Birds Escape vs. Panthers

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrate a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers to remain undefeated at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

No Caption Needed (AJC)

It was an ugly, ugly win, but the Atlanta Falcons stayed perfect with their come from behind win against the division rival Panthers. Even though it wasn’t pretty, the Falcons showed some serious resolve in finding a way to win when they weren’t playing their best. The bottom line is that the Falcons are 4-0 and they beat a division rival primed for a good game after being embarrassed on Thursday Night Football and having 10 days to prepare for them. A look at the miraculous win…………

Matty Ice

It’s been said a million times over, but the cool-as-ice quarterback willed his team to win against absolutely impossible odds. Having to drive 99 yards in less than a minute with no timeouts is the stuff legends are made of. Backing up to the end of his endzone, he chunked the ball 60-65 yards in the air and Roddy White made a huge catch. He engineered the drive against impossible odds and this one has to rank up there with one of the best. The guy is taking the step before our eyes and did all this despite getting beat to death and sacked 7 times.

Roddy Clutch

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White goes up for a long reception over Carolina Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura (center) and cornerback Josh Norman setting up the winning field goal for a 30-28 victory in the final minute of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Roddy Clutch (AJC)

Julio Jones has gotten a lot of the hype about the next great wide receiver, but Roddy White is the one who to turn to when you need to make a play. Julio Jones has gotten the TD catches to date, but Roddy finally got both the yards, touchdowns, and huge plays. Not only did he help rescue the game with his amazing catch, he also had a fantastic touchdown catch where he had to adjust mid-air to haul in the pass. Jones may be the future,

The Second Matty Ice

Enough can’t be said about someone who may get overlooked on an offense loaded with weapons and that’s Matt Bryant. Matt Ryan already has the Matty Ice nickname, but Matt Bryant has been absolutely money in clutch situations since he’s been here. Luckily, he hasn’t been needed for a game-winning field goal until Sunday, but making those unbelievable comeback drives mean nothing if your kicker can’t finish the deal.

The OL Nightmare Returns

Was it just a mirage or was there some credence to the offensive line actually looking better in the first 3 games? Right now, statistics have to fall on the side of it being just one bad game against a very hungry defense. And maybe it had something to do with the Panthers scheme seeing something in their 10 days of preparation to confuse Ryan and the offense. But this much is certain: it was a complete nightmare on Sunday, leading to 7 sacks and bringing all those bad feelings about the offensive line roaring back in terrible fashion. Ryan was sacked almost double in one game (7 sacks) that he had in the first three (4).

Sam Baker has always been the lightning rod of criticism, but the left side of the line is doing OK with Baker having a good year and Blalock always being the solid rock with little to no issues. The problem, as many all knew, was the right side of the OL. It comes from a somewhat surprising place in Tyson Clabo. To be sure, Garrett Reynolds is getting the job done but is surely not dominant in the least and still doesn’t project as a long-term option. Clabo has given up a majority of the sacks this year all on his own and has looked downright terrible all year, going back to preseason. Maybe it’s his age catching up or maybe he’s just missing a solid force next to him at right guard, but he’s simply not getting the job done. They made a change with Sam Baker last year, how long will they give Clabo? Lamar Holmes looked just fine in preseason and many Cage members would love to see Clabo move inside to RG (where his size could potentially dominate) and Reynolds move back to his old natural position of right tackle. Todd McClure hasn’t been the worst, but he had some problems on Sunday, as many fans thought would happen as the season wore on. Is the nightmare here to stay or was it just one bad game?

Time for an OL Change?

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry tackles Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart with the defense swarming for a short gain in the final minutes of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Gotta Stop the Run Better (AJC)

As mentioned above, the offensive line has to get the benefit of the doubt so far in that they did a pretty good job in the first three weeks (even though their run blocking was weak). However, how long will the coaching staff give this OL before a change is made? Last year, Sam Baker got some opportunities in different spots but was yanked in favor of Will Svitek and Joe Hawley, respectively. Same goes for Garrett Reynolds. As fans discussed in the preseason, the likelihood was very great that the same offensive line with so many problems in 2011, would start exactly the same in 2012, with literally no changes made. Sure enough, that’s been the case. If this becomes a trend, fans will at least want to see something change on the OL, including getting looks at Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes, and maybe moving Clabo inside to right guard?

Worries at LB

The Panthers exploited one of the Falcons biggest weaknesses in defending the run. The option-give that Newton did was hard for the Birds to stop. Their outside linebackers, Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas, have been outstanding, but they’ve operated mostly in the nickel defense. The base 4-3 defense include middle linebacker Akeem Dent and he didn’t have the best of days on Sunday. It’s way too early to make a call on Dent and his future since he’s basically a rookie getting his first live snaps, but it does need to be addressed. Throw in the fact that the Falcons are razor thin at linebacker anyway and it may be time to take a look at one of the defensive ends, like Kroy Biermann, at OLB, allowing Spoon or Nicholas to move inside.

Trap Game or Cause for Slight Concerns?

This game had trap written all over it. The Falcons were flying high. The Panthers were humiliated on national TV. Their sophomore Super(interception)Man was called out. The Panthers had 10 full days to prepare for the Falcons. The Birds had a short week in traveling back from the west coast. It may not have been a trap game, but the Falcons surely weren’t at their best and the Panthers knew the importance. On the positive side, the Falcons won a game ugly and that’s all that matters.

However, potentially on the negative side, as longtime Bird Cage member Unca’ Bob said, we may be benefitting from a pretty easy spot of the schedule. We’ve played and won 4 games, but 3 of them have been against the roundly considered weak AFC West. The other was against an NFC South team with 2 losses to show, one of them being a blowout. You can’t control your schedule and the Falcons have won the only games they’ve played, but this game brought many fans back to Earth a little bit and realized there are a ton of areas to improve upon.

Turner the Stud

Falcons running back Michael Turner breaks free for a first down past Carolina Panthers James Anderson, right, and Captain Munnerlyn during the first half at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012.

Turner the Stud (AJC)

Often beleaguered Falcons running back is showing an rebirth the last two weeks with excellent performances against San Diego and Carolina Panthers. Turner has made some fans (heavily including this author) to eat some major crow. And it will happily be done. Turner may not be the best fit for the offense going forward, but he’s still a major cog on this team filled with explosive offensive weapons.

Sometime You Have to Win Ugly

The title says it all and an ugly win is better than the prettiest of losses or as some call them “moral victories.” The Falcons played their worst football of the year in all aspects and they met a team playing with a major hunger knowing the importance and having plenty of time to prepare. The Falcons found a way to win and that’s a testament to this team’s character in finding ways to win and special seasons are made up of those.

848 comments Add your comment

JJ

October 1st, 2012
6:54 pm

Enter your comments here

GregKennesaw

October 1st, 2012
7:23 pm

I’m glad Matt Ryan doesn’t feel the need to pose after a good play.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

October 1st, 2012
7:34 pm

All I can say is…..THAT WAS ONE HELL OF AN ENDING TO THE GAME!!!! The team continued to fight back after losing the lead. Hopefully that will help them later in the season to know that they can always come from behind to win the game.

The Dome was again rocking and it is only going to get better with each home game. I just wish the Dome security could get their act together better so that they can minimize the time fans have to stand in the long lines prior to the game…..e.g., maybe add more security to move more people through the scanners quicker….??????

falcon21

October 1st, 2012
7:38 pm

The comeback was amazing. I love the fire this team is playing with. Although we didn’t play well in many areas in this game, we still found a way to win. The coaches are going to have to address the O-line soon or Matt may take the hit we all are worried about. Speaking of Matt Ryan, “WOW”. The dude is incredible, he took a beating and still kept making the big plays. The weak arm BS can be put to rest!

Birdman

October 1st, 2012
7:42 pm

Hello Cage
Back in Hilton head with the work . My thoughts of the game .

Matt Ryan has got to have more protection in the pocket . And our D has got to some how stop the run . The Ice man looked good once again even after he was put on the turf 7 times . Outstanding throw to RW and a heck of a houl in by RW .

My concern with Jones is ,is he going to be hurt a lot . I have heard its just his hand and that his main job Sunday was a decoy . But it still conserns me . Next week is a game that now I am not so sure about but we should win. M Turner was a beast Sunday but the Panthers suck at stoping the run . The Birds were just not in the click as far as I saw and they need to fix some problems . To me the D just did not look like they had the drive are the spark they have had in the first 3 games . Almost a lazy look compared to the other games .

I look forword to the reads this week . Everyone have a Blessed week

Birdman

October 1st, 2012
7:48 pm

Them other Birds looked good last night . They will run the ball all over the Falcons if somthing ant fixed before we meet

GO FALCONS !!!!!!!

JB FALCON

October 1st, 2012
7:56 pm

I grazed through all of the past quotes and did not find one prediction less than a two touchdown win for the Falcons. Meaning, no one expected that game to turn out like it did. Mine was 38-10 Falcons and I am among the surprised. Of course we’ll take the win and I think the comeback attitude was one of the few positive things I liked. We will learn from this and the CS will take whatever steps possible, within what we have to work with, to make corrections. We will be stronger next week against RGIII and Co.

Getaway

October 1st, 2012
8:01 pm

I give the Panthers a lot of credit for taking advantage of their 10 days to prepare for the Falcons. I think the Falcons were more distracted this week with the flight back from the west coast, another arrest, and all the media attention.
Yesterday served as something of a wake up call, I have a much better feeling about this coming game. Was it just me, or did all of the pressure come from the right side? I don’t think Baker gave up much did he?

on track

October 1st, 2012
8:16 pm

I’m a little concerned about the defense not getting much of a pass rush to QB’s. If they had gotten in Cam’s face no telling what the score could have been. Atlanta still leaves too many points on the field..gotta tweak the little things. Loved Ryan and his show of attitude…get the $@#* off our field!!!!!!

Paddy O

October 1st, 2012
8:27 pm

Pass rush and O line protection were problems. the O line play was horrific. even with extra O line men in there mimicking TE’s. I saw Gallarda make a nice block on a run. folks must be seriously looking at tape of Clabo – and concluding he is SLOW and vulnerable to an outside speed rush. We need to use an I formation with the fullback (snelling or Turner) providing Clabo with help, and still being able to use Quizz for screens. Ryan was slower in his reads this game – could be good Panther coverage; plus the general absence of JJ; but then, we need to get Harry D in the game – despite that glaring drop. I don’t get the Turner passing – although the 1 success was wildly good; he did drop 2 others. hit or miss I suppose; we got lucky – Cam is not yet a very accurate passer; but his style of option play drove us nuts – we need a Cam spy. AT least we were on the Giants – Vick suckered Omeniori all night long – and Vick still has some wheels you gotta respect. 2 VERY LONG, beautiful passed from Matty Ice to RW84. Still the most effective tandem in the NFL. We might start to consider drafting another Fineran/possession type guy – we still have not replaced him on the roster (Meier was the heir apparent). Somebody else mentioned it – try Holmes at RT. OR, we MUST give Clabo help. IF baker starts to get leaky, we have serious problems.

Paddy O

October 1st, 2012
8:30 pm

JB – I apparently gave our D too much praise – I thought we’d hold them to 2 FG’s – mine was 38-6. However, Dunta played a really good game, and Cam did a much better job of protecting the ball. Moore was off a bit; but DeCoud still looked good – did not see much of Spoon or NIcholas. Like our D line play despite the lack of sacks. Bierman looked very good. Our CB’s played well over all.

Paddy O

October 1st, 2012
8:35 pm

final comments, then I’ll see you folks tomorrow: Matt Ryan and his arm won this game. 369 yards; 3 TD – that is nice and close enough to elite for me. I also must say our special teams have played well – well coached; All aspects. But, we got lucky to win that one. We need some long hard work in the film room prior to the next game. I hope Julio gets healthy – I’d like to see both our guns going long.

Arno

October 1st, 2012
8:38 pm

The Panthers came in loose, focused, and ready to play. Looking for a re-start on their season. Same could be said of Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers– looking for a statement game against the Falcons. Makes these four wins all the more impressive.

Box

October 1st, 2012
9:07 pm

The seasons with Dahl, Clabo seemed to be an asset, but now a liability. New scheme, RG play, or conditioning? Just a question that seems appropriate.

Rick

October 1st, 2012
9:09 pm

I love the intensity of this year vs last year….coaching has made a change in the confidence and the player enjoyment of the game..

Smith also appears more confident and in control of this team. I love what I’m seeing

Chop Buster

October 1st, 2012
9:20 pm

Carolina came prepared to beat the Falcons yesterday. It was a good experience for the team overall and let them know where the obvious holes still exist…OL, lack of pressure on the QB, went back into zone most of the day (lost the aggressiveness), gave Cam way too much respect. LBs were taken out of the game as well. Ryan showed what he’s made of after being sacked 7 times. Last year he would have went down at the first sign of pressure, now he’s hanging in there and delivering balls at the last minute. The team is 4-0 and hopefully this game them more fight for the other fights that they will for sure in upcoming games. We just don’t have the pieces in place to make our defense really stout right now. They’ve been doing pretty good with what they have–which is unbelievable. Keep fighting and Julio needs his hand healed which will take time.

SCFalcon

October 1st, 2012
9:36 pm

Heck, I’m just glad Matt Ryan doesn’t fly around the field like a fairy before the game or do some silly superman routine. The Charlotte Observer hit the nail on the head concerning Cam Newton. “hello kitty”

On to the next game. They will all be tough from this point forward.

JB FALCON

October 1st, 2012
9:43 pm

I have been trying to find out exactly how serious JJ’s hand problem is. Anyone have more luck than “Jones has a history of coming up with some sort of injuries.” I’m looking for something more specific than that. Players who play hard are more inclined to get injured more and I wouldn’t want to think his history, if that’s true, is repeating itself.
Has anyone got any details on the current injury?

Wabe

October 1st, 2012
9:48 pm

I’m as stoked as anybody we won. This is one of those games you can either view the glass half-full or half-empty. As happy as I am with the win, there are questions that need to be answered moving forward.

1 – the O-Line

Dumervil and Von Miller was a test. I thought Denver’s defense as a whole wasn’t all that bad. Carolina’s defense shouldn’t have had as much success as they did, especially up front. I think theree was a combination of things going wrong. As we all have noticed, Ryan’s been getting that ball out of his hands extremely quickly this season. I think we saw him hold that ball a bit longer than he wanted to yesterday mainly because the coverage was probably tight. Result = sacks. Regardless of what it was, we need to get that area corrected. I don’t wanna see our franchise QB taking that kind of beating. If the Panthers can manage to rattle our line like that, think of playoff type teams like the G-Men, Iggles, Bears, Niners, Clay Matthews and the Packers.

2 – Rush Defense

Are we gonna be able to stop the run when necessary. I know we played a whole new element yesterday with Cam Newton. But, our run defense hasn’t been all that stellar this season. It’s been middle of the road. Teams that come out looking to pound that football, like the Niners, are teams that we’ll need to be more stout against. They definitely need to work on this as the season continues. We’ll face teams in the playoffs that’ll be determined to run the football.

3 – Playmakers

Bottom line, find ways to get Julio Jones the ball. Period. We can sit here and say that RW84 is going nuts thanks to Julio commanding coverage, but truth is, Roddy’s been putting up numbers and monster games wayyyyy before Julio got here. This offense needs to get both of these guys going at the same time. Julio can’t just be a decoy. Dude needs to be involved. He’s disappearing wayyy too much in these games. He had himself a monster game against KC, disappeared vs Denver, had moments against SD, and yesterday again, was AWOL for a good chunk of that game. Get him, and even HD for that matter, more touches.

Rick

October 1st, 2012
9:53 pm

Jb. JJ has a laceration on his right had….

Wabe

October 1st, 2012
9:55 pm

Despite all of the concerns, I am happy with the 4-0 record. I’m happy with what we’ve done thus far. I understand you can’t blow everybody out. I understand they had 10 days to prepare.

So, I’m happy we got the win. I remember the Bears vs Cardinals when Dennis Greene made the infamous ‘the bears are who we thought they were’. I remember the Falcons vs Niners when Roddy stripped Nate Clements. Sometimes, you just gotta find ways to get it done. Yesterday was one of those games.

But, can’t overlook the potential flaws, and I’m sure Smitty and company won’t. Smitty + TD know that even a 16-0 season won’t mean anything unless we’re successful come playoff time. Continue to improve and rack up the wins.

SCFalcon

October 1st, 2012
9:56 pm

I hope it wasn’t a 3 am injury while doing something stupid. JJ has been a great addition to this point. TG and RW difinately think so!

Rick

October 1st, 2012
10:00 pm

Haha SC. He cut it in the opening drive of the SD …stitched up in locker room and he came back out….hear that it’s still causing problems but I’m thinking hell be close to 100% Sunday….he still makes a great decoy regardless right?

JB FALCON

October 1st, 2012
10:03 pm

Rick, do you have details. I had a “laceration” shaving the other day!

JB FALCON

October 1st, 2012
10:06 pm

Wabe, very good analogy and post. I’ll let you continue everything I have to say tonight. Bedtime for me.

falcon21

October 1st, 2012
10:11 pm

JB, from what I hear the laceration is between the fingers, kind of a split. It’s not that easy to deal with.

TalkReal

October 1st, 2012
10:32 pm

In conclusion I am excited about the win and our 4-0 record. My opion of the teams play this week is nothing more than a disappointment. I observed as rushed 7 to eight people and yet unable to record a sack, I also observed as players took plays off routinely and over pursued without a thought. I believe that there should be more incentive and effort placed on sacks and not just pressuring the quarterback as well as more chewig out of players who take plays off. I say this because i belive that this is what it willtake to win a superbowl. I belive we are talented but still lack focus.

TalkReal

October 1st, 2012
10:37 pm

Also when is Julio ever going to be the receiver we all thought he was. Julio was suppose to be something like michael irvin but yet hes ditsy. He drops more balls than he catches, lacks effort, ad apparently doesnt know how to keep two feet in. love that roddy continues to play like the number one receiver he is but more effort and production out of julio and harry wouldnt be to much to ask. Defense run with your heads up and stay alert, sacks,fumble recoveries and tackles are very important.

Screen Pass

October 1st, 2012
11:08 pm

“Pass rush and O line protection were problems. the O line play was horrific. even with extra O line men in there mimicking TE’s. I saw Gallarda make a nice block on a run. folks must be seriously looking at tape of Clabo – and concluding he is SLOW and vulnerable to an outside speed rush. We need to use an I formation with the fullback (snelling or Turner) providing Clabo with help, and still being able to use Quizz for screens. ” – Paddy O

I’m watching the Bears and Cowgirls game atm, I like the Walsh style stlants M. Tice is using to help combat Ware/ Dallas pass rush. The Coryell style passing game while effective can leave QB’s vulnerable to blitzes and good DE play. Koetter has done an ok job but I would like to see him incorporate a little more Walsh horizontal quick passing in addition to screens/ shovels etc. to help offset the pass rush. The blend of vertical and horizontal that OC’s like S. Peyton have started to come up with are hard to beat and seemingly the new flavor of things.
If one looks at the weaknesses of the Panthers D, the run game and deep passes against their secondary stand out. I can see how Koetter/ Smith game planned to try to take advantage of that but it should have become clear by the third sack we might wanna go away from the deeper, longer developing routes. We have the skill position talent to make Koetters Coryell be a dangerous offense but we just don’t have the line play yet. It might take awhile for that improvement to happen against better D’s so we should be looking at more scheme alternatives. We did see Turner finally break a shovel pass for a TD…will give future DCs something to think about at least. If we continue to have to utilize extra linemen it takes away from playcalling versatility and match-up advantages.

DHunt

October 2nd, 2012
1:41 am

Slant Pattern, Shovel Pass, SP you beat me to the punch on where I think the Falcons passing offense needs to improve to take some pressure of MR2.

Julio didn’t run the best routes yesterday, However, MR2 deserves some criticism for not putting the ball in good places for him to catch it. I saw at least one attempted quick slant where the ball was late and behind JJ11 and allowed the defender to make a play. JJ has to do better at getting some separation on that route though. ON the deep ball that JJ didn’t get two feet in bounds, (A) and obvious pass interference where the defender arm barred him slowed him down so he couldn’t get to the ball in time to not need to make a spectacular play, (B) even with the lacerated hand he made the catch, (C) WHY can’t MR2 throw that ball in bounds? If he doesn’t lead the receiver out of bounds, that’s another 60+ yard touchdown, and again the game isn’t even close.

Matt isn’t looking quite as crisp trying to hit moving receivers, and I think that tendency is being noted and exploited by defensive backs who are jumping a lot of our standard stop routes. I also think the tendency has been noted by the coaching staff who seem to be calling for fewer crossing, slant, and go routes. Again, not taking anything away from the two deep passes to Roddy, but honest appraisal is that Roddy made hella good adjustments to get both of those balls.

If you are honest about MR2, that interception at the goal line was a pass that was thrown behind JJ as he was crossing behind the safety that made the pick. If Matt leads him there it’s another easy touchdown. Taking nothing away from the fact the Matt Ryan stepped up at the end when it mattered most, he made a few glaring throwing mistakes that made the game far closer than it should have been. Mistakes that did not appear to be caused by the pressure he dealt with (and dealt with reasonably well I might add) all day. He really should have had 5 touchdowns and over 400 yards.

For those who still harp on the cost for getting Julio and his supposed “injury prone” nature. He took a big hit (helmet to his hand) on the first play of the Charger game, coming across the middle and still hung on to the ball. It’s very unfortunate that he was injured, and how and where he was injured. But it’s a pretty crab move to get down on JJ11 based on this injury, that he is playing through. He didn’t have a drop yesterday. He may need to attack the ball a little better to keep it away from defenders, but that’s something young wide receivers learn as they progress at this level. Way to much negativity about Julio at this stage of his career, in my humble opinion.

And can we please get Quizz the ball in space just a little bit more? Every time we do he’s good for at least 8-12 yards.

JosephDaKoolest a.k.a No Answer For Julio

October 2nd, 2012
3:21 am

I agree 100% with Wabe….The Panthers had extra time to prepare and they took full advantage of it. Now that doesn’t excuse poor play on our part. The O-line continue to play like they played in the first 3 games. Matt Ryan must continue to get the ball out quickly like he did in the first 3 games. And the D must continue to play better on 3rd down like they did in the first 3 games. My only concern is Mike Nolan only saving the exotic defense for “elite teams or “elite QBs” I know you wanna show different things on film from a week to week basis, but I wanna see better play to play, quarter to quarter, and better second half adjusments. Overall very proud of our response to playing behind particularly in the 4th quarter. We are entitled to a game like this during the season and teams are going to play us better. I understand that we won’t play perfect every game. But I like the resolve and the fight in our entire team. And we can never have enough pressure on the QB for me. I think we will play much better against Washington. I am just glad we were able to win this type of game. We lost a few of these games in the past. GO Falcons!!!! The Real A Town Got Your Back!!!!!!

JoeCool23

October 2nd, 2012
3:25 am

JosephDaKoolest a.k.a No Answer For Julio

October 2nd, 2012
3:29 am

And for all the Julio REALLY????? Julio Jones has been double teamed since the first game of his rookie season. And that was without a training camp or OTA’s. Yeah he can always improve but he does improve from week to week. He is running better routes and catching the ball. He will just have to learn how to beat double teams and the offensive coordinater has to learn how to move him around and put him better situations to succeed. But Julio is fine trust me…….Go Falcons!!!! The Real A Town Got Your Back!!!!!!

bytejockey

October 2nd, 2012
3:33 am

Helloooooo, Kitty!

Meowwwwwwwch.

don

October 2nd, 2012
6:21 am

We also did an article tlaking about the falcons the saints and a plethora of teams right here http://halftimechat.com/week-4-recap/

waynester

October 2nd, 2012
8:32 am

Luck is a factor in football. While it’s true you can “make your own luck” through preparation there is always an”X-factor” and how you react to those unexpected “bounces” says a lot about your team. Getting a punt downed inside the 1 yd line with a minute to go looked like good luck for the Panties but our preparation was enough to overcome it. We have to be able to still pull out wins under such circumstances and under Smith/Ryan we have….
In hindsight, it sure stinks that we didn’t want to spend the $$$ to grab Charles Johnson from CAR a couple of seasons ago. We “settled” for Ray Edwards, instead–doesn’t look too wise in retrospect….
HCMS was right about the QB pressures not being entirely the O-Line’s fault. Ryan was holding the ball too long(which we saw) and WRs not breaking off their routes to help Matt(which we couldn’t) and the Panters have an excellent pass-rush. A lot of factors had to come together for CAR to get all that pressure on Ryan.
HCMS is becoming a much sharper operator on the sidelines. He’s reacting faster and making good decisions at the right times. The “timeout” ploy was just another example of how Smitty is growing as a HC…..

Unca' Bob

October 2nd, 2012
8:50 am

I don’t know exactly how to put this so I’ll simply say it. I’m not sure we are the football team we seem to be. We are 3-0 against the AFC West and staggered Sunday while up against our division rival. We are in the middle of the league in yards allowed and yards gained. We have scored more points and given up fewer points this year than last but, outside of the Charger game we are above last years average. Is it smoke and mirrors or are we ligit?

D3

October 2nd, 2012
8:53 am

Nice read (for the most part). Not sure where they get “less than stellar defense” BS. Peyton Manning 3 INTS in 1st quarter, Phillip Rivers — completely shut down. Sure, (s)Cam had a good day, but you’re not going to shut down every offense and QB, especially those who had 10 days to prepare.

http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/at-n-f-l-quarter-pole-matt-ryan-is-most-valuable/

Big Lou

October 2nd, 2012
9:26 am

What I see in these posts is the staple of most Atlanta fans–knee jerk reactions.

Let me respond to a couple posts first, before giving my two cents.

SP

I totally and 100% agree with your suggestions. Quick slants, especially to Julio, would be a great way to take advantage of soft zone coverage by the secondary and allow MR2 to eat up the blitz. Also, a Quizz/Turner in the backfield at the same time could improve our run game even more and allow a couple of blitz killing plays. Personally, I feel they should have ran the ball more that game, period.

Unca’Bob

Stats do not always tell the story. Remember that in those NFC west games, the Falcons had a commanding lead in the 3rd or 4th and played conservative ball at the end. If they were closer games like Carolina, the offense would most likely be top in the league. Also, takeaways and red zone defense is what really matters in the NFL. Mike Nolan’s defenses has always allowed yards to the offenses in his history(since he gambles with blitzes), but they always have great points allowed/turnover margin. Also, keep in mind that Cam had a average day at best through the air(Falcons are still top ten in the league in the secondary play).

DHunt

The play where Matt threw to Julio and he stepped out of bounds was more on the receiver twisting his bod around and not having proper balance. The ball was placed where it should have been. Also, Matt Ryan was getting killed all day behind the line of scrimmage. It’s kinda hard to spread the love, when you are not having enough time to throw/go through your passing progression. Matt had 369 yards… 25-40 due to dropped passes/penalties(one being to Roddy in the end zone). I do not think the QB is the issue here. Only dumb play he made was the interception the end zone. Before yesterday, Matt was doing a great job at spreading the love across the field. The receivers need to get their heads in the game and catch the dang balls(Julio has a lot this year so far).

Wabe

I agree there needs to be something done about the o-line. I bet anything Patt Hill will have the issues addressed by the next game against Washington. Let’s see the coaching adjustments. Also, if I remember correctly, Matt Ryan had created tons of plays for Julio to get the ball, but he isn’t making the catches. It’s Julio’s second season. He will get better as the season progresses.

Big Lou

October 2nd, 2012
9:38 am

D3

I completely agree. You cannot just negate the defensive performances against River and Manning, due to one game. Mike Nolan’s defense strives against PASSING QBs, but is currently weaker against RUNNING QBS like Cam/RG3/Vick. I believe the defense had a rough time also due to the option plays, where Cam read the zone defensive schemes. I believe he will make the adjustments needed for RG3, like he did against Cam on Sunday. I expect a spy to be set up to focus on the QB to prevent him from running out of the pocket during pass plays.

I am not worried about the defense at all. I am more concerned about our o-line/receiver play more than anything else.

Greg Mendel

October 2nd, 2012
9:41 am

Unca’ Bob’s question is interesting, and I don’t know the answer. I think at least some of what we’re seeing is “smoke and mirrors.” But I also think smoke and mirrors — well employed — have their proper place.

Mulling over the Carolina game, I think it’s a mistake to underestimate the impact of Cam Newton. As much as his behavior grates on me, the fact is that he’s a very talented and versatile player who played hard last Sunday. Playing from the shotgun works well for his particular talents and style of play, while it makes him harder for defenders to reach.

On the subject of Julio, I think his presence — even with a hurt hand — is huge. I don’t think he’s going to be hampered by constant injuries. He plays hard, but he’s really a pretty big guy. Sky’s the limit with Julio. It’s just a matter of experience and figuring out how best to use him.

As far as his out-of-bounds catch, I can’t criticize too much. His momentum (hard and fast) was practically hurling him out-of-bounds when he made the catch. Also, I think he was determined to make the catch and run with it. Split-second decision that, had it worked, would have resulted in 6 points. Those extra, possibly all the way, yards is what Julio is capable of, and those will start to come with regularity. Just imagine the Falcons with a hybrid of Julio and Gonzo!

BIG DOG

October 2nd, 2012
9:55 am

Teams are now understanding if you shut down Julio Jones then you have a shot in shutting the Falcons down, HA

Panthers played cover 3 on Julio, SMH

Had over the top help and also LB fall back in zone on Julio side, JUST DAM

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

Big Lou

October 2nd, 2012
9:57 am

Alright, my thoughts on the game.

Matt Ryan is having one heck of a year so far. He is really maturing into a veteran in the league and the hands down MVP so far this season. He has played against respectable defenses(except for KC), and has preformed well, even with bad O-line play against Carolina. The guy has resolve, but we already knew that. Let’s hope that this is the season where he gets that playoff monkey off his back.

Roddy still has it. I know the guy runs his mouth more than we like, yet he is backing it up this year. He has been more productive and has been more focused than I have ever seen him before. He would have had three touchdown catches yesterday if it weren’t for him being tripped in the endzone(can’t believe the refs didn’t call that).

What happened to the offensive line? Was it bad preparation? Non-focused effort? Time will tell on next Sunday and I am more than sure that Pat Hill will make the adjustments necessary. Yet, it is a concern that most fans are having. I just hope it’s a hiccup like the Packers had against the Seahawks.

Our secondary is LEGIT. Did you see how Cam had to reduce himself to running the ball? How he had to hold on to the ball for long periods of time, which lead to sacks? We have one of the best secondaries in the league and are currently top 10 in passing yards allowed. THIS IS WITHOUT GRIMES!

Our run defense needs improvement. As I stated before, I feel the game against Carolina was more on Cam running the option/their potent running offense, but there still needs to be better play from our line. I see the running backs get to the second level too often. I expect Mike Nolan to make the right changes.

All in all, this was a divisional battle against a team who was trying to prove its worth. They were backed in a corner and gave it their all against us. We were resilient and pulled out a victory. There will be a couple more games like this during the season, and as long as we stay the course and never give up… I will be a happy fan.

Let’s wait for a TREND to get to anxious about this Falcons team. I am still liking what I see so far.

BIG DOG

October 2nd, 2012
10:00 am

Falcons must get Julio the ball by any means necessary, teams now are doing there best to shut him down, this is good news for Gonzalez and White.

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

snacktastic

October 2nd, 2012
10:10 am

I mentioned before the game that I was looking for the deep game to open up. With two huge bombs to Roddy White, I can’t say I’m not satisfied. It’s not like Ryan’s going to sling it 50 yards every other play, but I’m glad the few times he did send it downfield worked out.

As for Julio, he will show up like he did last season. Not sure how bad the hand injury is, but if he’s in the game, he has a chance to have an impact. Better than him not being on the field at all.

Hamad Meander

October 2nd, 2012
10:11 am

I find nothing to criticize with this team at this point. We are 4-0. NOBODY predicted we would win our first 4 games and for that I am happy. Carolina played a pretty good game against us and we still found a way to win. Roddy was monster, and Matt was clutch. Turner looked fast (!) on that screen and actually caught a ball.

These are the types of wins that create the sense within the team that they can win every game they play. I loved it.

Wings

October 2nd, 2012
10:27 am

There are no knee jerk reactions especially Unca’Bob’s question. BL post but please stop dismissing other people’s comments.

Big Lou

October 2nd, 2012
10:45 am

Wings

Don’t try to start anything. I never said Unca’Bobs question was knee jerk.

Most of my responses were in agreement. I was dismissive to none of the people I responded to. All the individuals I responded to were individuals I felt were objective about the game. I do not bother to respond to knee jerk reactions.

Please, bring something to the table or do not post anything towards me at all.

I am entitled to my opinion. And my knee jerk reaction comment was general, not focused on individuals.

Big Lou

October 2nd, 2012
10:48 am

I respect Unca’Bobs posts more than anyone else in here. He says little, to the point, and when he isn’t having link issues… has given great articles.

If anything, he is one of the optimistic individuals on this board. If anything, I wish fans were more even keel like him.

Wabe

October 2nd, 2012
11:01 am

UB, valid question.

I think we’re a better football team than last season. I never had the expectation of this defense being a ‘top 5 caliber’ defense. I don’t think they need to be. As long as they’re opportunistic and Nolan’s aggressive scheme results in ‘mistakes’ by opposing QB’s, I’m happy. I know teams will move the football. As long as we don’t make it easy for them or play ‘reactive’, I’m happy. For the 1st time this season, I felt we were a bit more ‘reactive’ on Sunday. Sunday seemed more like a scheme designed by BVG than Mike Nolan. I saw a lot of 3-4 man rushes. Didn’t see as many exotic blitz packages. But, I’m not as worried. I’m confident Nolan will get this defense playing at a level we need them to be at in order to win playoff games.

Regarding our strength of schedule, some folks might dismiss it, but, our schedule hasn’t been all that difficult. I think most of us felt that way coming into the season. I personally felt we needed to take advantage of this 1st quarter to quarter and a half of the season before we got into the meat of the schedule (@ Philly, Dallas, NOLA then division). I think we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. We’ve won the games we were supposed to win without really slipping up. A lot of the ‘experts’ predicted a fall last week @ SD, and we blew the Chargers out. The Chargers aren’t a ‘great’ football team, middle of the pack at best IMO. But, don’t think anybody could downplay us going out west on a short week and blowing the doors off them. The Broncos may not be a ‘great’ team either, but we were pretty convincing 3 quarters of that game. 27-7 going into the 4th is pretty convincing to me, even though I think the Smitty brakes nearly put us in a bad spot.

Bottom line, through 4 games, we’re 4-0. As teams get more tape on us, they’ll pick up on tendancies. Can we adjust? More importantly, will we see real growth on both sides of the ball? I honestly think our offense is capable of droppin’ 35-40 consistently a game. Juggernaut potential. We’ve been solid thus far. But, I think the potential for ‘greatness’ is there. Can they grow into that as the season goes on? The Carolina game wasn’t all that impressive. But, flying back home from out West, playing against a desperate division rival who had 10 days to rest, maybe it wasn’t so smart for me to think we were gonna blow them away. The 7 sacks are concerning. But, again, we held up well against Dumervil and Von Miller, and IMO, that’s a better front than the one Carolina brought to the Dome. I just think they caught us playing our C game and they came with their best punch. They did raise concerns, no doubt. But, I still think this team has the potential to make a deep run in the postseason, a Superbowl run.

If our line holds up as it did the first 3 weeks, we’ll be legit. If our line stumbles, our playoff hopes go with it. That’s how I see it. Ryan’s playing some of the best QB in the league thus far. No doubt he can get us there if we protect the dude. That has to be the point of emphasis all season going into the postseason.