Atlanta Falcons: Birds Edge Past Redskins to 5-0

5-0 for First Time in Franchise History

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is hit by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Huge Hit by Spoon (Evan Vucci)

The Atlanta Falcons weren’t pretty, but they got the job done yet again on the road, coming from behind, and finding a way to win. The offense looked out of sync for almost the entire game, the defense had major problems with the run and even gave up a first career touchdown pass to a brand new rookie in Kirk Cousins, but nonetheless, the Falcons found a way to win the game and got it done when it really counted. And by the way, the Atlanta Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and they have plenty areas for improvement. They may have “sucked” as Roddy White jokingly said after the game, but they’re also undefeated. A look at the Birds road win in DC………

An Ugly Win Always Beats a Pretty Loss

It marks the second week the Falcons have looked less than stellar and had to make a comeback in the 4th quarter to win the game, but an ugly win beats a pretty loss, or as some call them “moral victories,” every day of the week. The offense slogged around the first half, throwing a pick-six in the process, and the defense got gashed by the run and torched by a brand new rookie QB, but the Falcons buckled down when they had to. Matt Ryan led the offense to score 17 points in the 4th quarter and the defense came back from their awful blown coverage TD to Cousins to steal two interceptions in a row to close out the game. If they Falcons continue their overall subpar performances, than it’ll be a cause for concern, but for now their finding ways to win, and they’re only one of two teams that are undefeated, by the way.

Run Defense a Concern

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez pulls in a touchdown pass under pressure from Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Ageless Wonder (Susan Walsh)

Cam Newton almost racks up 100 yards himself and 6th round draft pick rookie steams to 114 rushing on Sunday. The Birds are doing a great job in the pass game and takeways, but are showing some weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the run game. The Falcons are currently ranked 27th against the run and will face plenty of strong running teams as the season goes along. In particular, the defensive tackles and middle linebacker play seem to be giving up large amounts of yards. Jerry, Babineaux, and Walker are excellent getting penetration against the pass, but seem to be wearing some vs. the run. Akeem Dent is having major issues at middle linebacker (more below) and that’s putting more and more pressure on the outside linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks. It should be said that the Falcons are 7th against the pass, but they need to stiffen up against the run a little bit.

Gonzo the Great

Did someone say Tony Gonzalez is supposedly retiring this year? It appears that the 36 year old is on track for one of his best seasons yet. Gonzo hauled in 123 yards with a touchdown and is tied for 3rd overall with 4 touchdowns (among all wide receivers) and 15th in yards including all wide receivers (1st among tight ends). He is surely benefitting from teams trying their best to keep both Julio Jones and Roddy White in check and Koetter is happy to oblige him with the targets. Many teams have talented receiving corps, but few have the additional talent at tight end to occupy the middle with authority the way Gonzalez does. No one is surprised at what he does anymore and he’s playing like he just came into the league. Looking forward, the Falcons and their fans are starting to realize how big the hole will be at TE when he leaves.

Enough with the “Offensive Linemen as Tight End” Mess

Fans and the Bird Cage faithful were ready to toss anything they could get their hands on at the TV seeing Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, and Garrett Reynolds go out for passes, line up as a 3rd tight end, or doing anything other than blocking on the line (Reynolds illegal man downfield was an accident, but still). What in the Hades is going on here? Some thought the first pass to Joe Hawley (he’s a center remember?) was just an accident, but when it happened again, it bordered somewhere in between being nauseous and bewilderment. Seeing Hawley trying to catch the ball was akin to seeing him in a tutu on a highwire.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan congratulates wide receiver Julio Jones on his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

JJ Back in the Groove (Susan Walsh)

The Falcons are struggling at fullback in losing Bradie Ewing in the first preseason game and not having Lousaka Polite active this week, but having Hawley or others go out for passes with all the talent available is just criminal. Mike Johnson has been playing a lot of 3rd tight end roles lately which brings up another point: if Tyson Clabo is needing that much extra help in blocking, why is he still in there? Every time Johnson or Hawley are in as an extra lineman, that’s taking out guys like Harry Douglas, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, or even Kevin Cone and Drew Davis. Very, very puzzling and strange.

Julio Back in the Groove

Another game, another big drop early in the game. The Falcons had a huge play drawn up where Ryan hit Julio Jones on a nice deep ball right at the end zone only to see him drop another big one. Fans were starting to get anxious after seeing Jones struggle the last few games, mainly with drops. Could so much talent not explode as everyone thought? The good news is that Ryan and Koetter kept feeding Jones the ball and he looked like the stud we’ve all come to know in the very short time he’s been in red and black. He helped the offense drive down the field with excellent routes, good catches, and his signature extra effort to get more yards. He capped it off with a dazzling touchdown catch where he adjusted to a sidline pass, snagged it, and kept his feet in for the score. Great to have you back JJ!

Issues at MLB

Akeem Dent is struggling mightily at middle linebacker. There’s really no other way to spin it. He looked lost, had weak instincts, overran plays, missed tackles, and was blocked with ease. Even though some are bringing up the B word already after many thought he was a big reach for the 3rd round, it may be a little premature for that. To be fair, Dent hasn’t had a ton of snaps since Nolan is a fan of the big nickel and he’s only a few games into his first starting year. Sean Weatherspoon didn’t look that great as a rookie himself. Dent also has undergone some serious changes the last 4 years, going from a 4-3 defense under Willie Martinez as a junior at UGA to the 3-4 as a senior under Todd Grantham back to a 4-3 under Brian Van Gorder and finally to a new scheme, more of a hybrid, under Mike Nolan. He is, after all, from a Mark Richt led Georgia team well-known for under-developing their players (see that Justin Houston is top 5 in sacks and Blair Walsh is on fire in Minnesota). Also, Dimitroff did sign Lofa Tatupu in a great low-risk, potentially high-reward move before he was injured.

However, defending Dent can only go so far and he can only get so much time to improve. At what point will Mike Peterson get brought back in or Kroy Biermann get a permanent move to LB (a very popular idea here in the Cage). This much is a lock: linebacker moves to the top of the 2013 draft board.

These Falcons Have Some Mettle

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan looks over the top of the line during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Can an OL play QB Next? (Evan Vucci)

On one hand, the Falcons have had two performances that are easy to forget, playing an opponent that is decent-to-good, but surely not great or elite. However, the Falcons have proven the last two weeks that they can find ways to win even if they’re not playing their best. At some point, this will start being an issue instead of a strength, but for now, they’ve won two games in a row down at various points in the game.

What’s Up with the Drops?

The drops are starting to add up and it’s not that big of deal just yet, but something to be looking out for moving forward. Julio dropped a potential long touchdown catch, Quizz dropped an easy screen/dump-off, and then there was Joe Hawley dropping two catches….oh wait, he’s a center running passing routes like a receiver, but surely that can’t be right? In all seriousness, the Falcons need to start locking up the easy catches when they get a chance and eliminate as many drops as possible.

Defense Had RG3 Hemmed Up Anyway

Even though it wasn’t as much as expected, there are surely some who think that the game may have been different if RG3 hadn’t got injured and left the game, but just like forcing Peyton Manning into his interceptions, the Falcons defense brought the wood to him when he pulled the ball down and started to run. Also, the Birds did an excellent job keeping him hemmed up even before the injury. The Falcons defense held him to 91yards passing and only 7 yards rushing in the 3rd quarter. Overall, the Falcons defense pretty much shut down the rookie QB.

5-0 Feels So Good

Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, and Arthur Blank just keep on knocking down those walls. The newest one is getting to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, which doesn’t mean too awful much to being so early in the season, but it’s been a great start to the campaign and bodes well for the Falcons and their fans going forward.

Your Turn

1) Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

2) How concerned over rush defense?

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

827 comments Add your comment

Greg Mendel

October 8th, 2012
10:00 pm

To paraphrase the motto of the Legion Etrangere — Sleep or Die!

G’night Cagers.

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falcon21

October 8th, 2012
10:14 pm

#10. I’m still worried about this O-line. It will get us into the playoffs but how will it stand up against a good D-line or just a good aggressive defense? Carolina made them look like rookies and it was Carolina.

D3

October 8th, 2012
10:14 pm

I know it’s a little 20/20 hindsight, but (at least considering what LB’s were available) there wasn’t a ton to choose from in terms of LB. If firmly believe that if Mason Foster had slipped a few more picks, he’d be in a Falcons uni right now……

Akeem Dent – LB – Round 3 – 91st

KJ Wright – OLB – 6′4 – 246 – Round 4 – 99
((’11 stats – 12 starts – 65 tackles – 2 sacks – 3 passes defensed))

Colin McCarthy – LB – 6′1 – 238 – Round 4 – 109
((’11 stats – 7 starts – 68 tackles – 3 passes defensed – 1 INT))

Casey Matthews – Round 4 – 116
((3 games started in 2 years))

All guys after that either have not made any starts and most have been cut. Was it a reach? I could see it, but considering what was there around that time (at any position) , I’m not inclined to say so just yet.

I will say that if TD really did know he would let Lofton walk, than he should have moved up and snagged Foster.

Nite ‘all.

falcon21

October 8th, 2012
10:15 pm

D3

October 8th, 2012
10:15 pm

RE: Dent Reach Post — I meant to include the 3rd round that was available after Dent and forgot, see for yourself………

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_NFL_Draft#Round_3

Really gone now. :neutral:

Michael

October 8th, 2012
10:49 pm

You raise some good questions D3. As far as the run defense goes, I lean on the side of optimism and believe as the season wears on, the D-line will get better as they get more time in Nolan’s system. As for the main problem with the run defense (Akeem Dent), I was never high on him and as I’ve noted time and again, when your hopes are built around 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks, you are in trouble. (see exhibit 1; Falcons run defense).

What I would love to see (and I am no expert) is Biermann as an OLB standing next to Abraham or Edwards. then its a “take your pick as to who to block” from the outside. Biermann is clearly at his best when he’s turned loose and flying around the field wreaking havoc. Then slide Nicholas to the MLB spot as he is emerging as a tackling machine. This way when Nolan wants to use his hybrid nickel package, he can only use one DT, two DE’s and Biermann to rush the passer (4 guys) while either blitzing someone from the secondary or an extra LB and/or just dropping 6 in coverage.

As for throwing the ball to O-lineman, I agree, enough is enough. Besides, you can’t run the same gag forever. Teams will catch on. Why aren’t they using Snelling more as an extra TE if needed or at FB? What is up with the staff that they just don’t use him properly. Everytime he touches the ball, he runs hard. He blocks hard. What does he have to do to get some respect from the coaching staff? Good grief.

Finally, I still think JJ’s hand is still bothering him. But as Mike Smith is very tight lipped about injuries, no one is saying anything. If you watch him when the cameras cut to him on the sidelines, he is often seen holding his injured hand up as if to keep the blood from rushing down and throbbing. But he has to be out there or they double down on both Roddy and Gonzo. What I was hoping to see (or hope to see very soon) is them intentionally feature Douglass for a game. I think when that happens, teams will truly be nervous because there is no way they can game plan to double Gonzo, JJ, Douglass, and Roddy while also trying to stop Turner or Rodgers from running. Hope springs eternal.

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Falcons Chic

October 9th, 2012
7:20 am

I’m not worried if DeCoud and Gonzo are not worried. I would like to see Nicholas back at full strength. PLEASE don’t let Raiders be a trap game. THAT would be embarrassing. If Matty Ice 2 and Matty Ice 3 can keep it rolling … I think we’ll have a nice bye week just reveling in the possibilities.

Ray

October 9th, 2012
8:25 am

Although this is a bit off-topic

Looking at ESPN just found out Texans only beat jets by 6 points and yet people talk about us only beating Washington by 7.

Honestly I wish people would realize that the only team to be considered extremely sorry is the Jags, and not only that when people know you’re undefeated they’re gunning for you on that lone reason.

Still though 5-0 for the first time ever that’s all that matters until Sunday darn it. Then if we win all that matters is 6-0 for the first time lol until 2 weeks later.

Wings

October 9th, 2012
8:33 am

The big tests for the Falcons are Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, and Saints. I only put the Saints in the list because of the rivalry. I consider the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants as the BIG GAMES that the Falcons seem never to win in previous years.

Ray

October 9th, 2012
8:46 am

If we beat the Eagles people will begin to give us more looks if we man-handle the Saints twice it gets better, and if we beat both Gaints and Cowboys well I’ll be happy that’s for sure.

John Waynesworld

October 9th, 2012
9:17 am

Thanks, D3…

1) What are your overall thoughts on the Falcons win? It was a good win, a solid road victory against a decent team. 5-0 and undefeated!

2) How concerned over rush defense? Not concerned AT ALL. We have encountered a number of good rushing teams in this early season, and the only fact I see in this game is that we allowed a 100+ yard rusher. Other than that, the Redskins offensively scored only 10 points, they had 12 first downs to our 28, they were 1 for 9 on 3rd Downs, and possessed the ball for 15 minutes less than we did. We were solid defensively.

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all? Yes, definitely. Unless we don’t win a playoff game (or we win it all), he will be a Falcon for one more year. He may postpone retirement because of the benefit to his vitamin company with all the interest in his longevity. After all, what are all the announcers on TV always saying, “Where did he find the fountain of youth?” and Tony will say, “Go to my All Pro Science website!”

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes? I wanted to throw a tube of stick ‘em to Hawley for his hands. No harm, no foul on the odd play calls.

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can. It just provides another blocker much like the jumbo package, or it gives the opposing defense the look of using an extra blocker for another propose. There is quite a bit of deception that goes on from play to play with real OCs, so who knows.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games? The only thing limiting Julio in the NFL is that he is only in his second year and he needs to learn all the nuances of the WR experience, such as individual opposing player tendencies and even referee tendencies. Julio is way ahead of the curve.

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall? Overall, I think…Is E.J. Henderson still available? I’m not happy about anything from UGA right now.

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down? For teams with a winning record, getting “ugly” wins are a sign of mettle.

9) Are the drops starting to worry you? No, as long as they aren’t coming from Roddy, and that Julio is catching most of his. Matt throws such a soft pass that the drops from Turner and Quizz are just a matter of focus. After all, the RBs are new to this passing game stuff. Harry needs to step up, though, as he doesn’t get enough looks to drop even one pass.

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons? The fact that they are the only sports team in town with BALLS enough to seize victory, instead of being a passive frontrunner.

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons? The fact that we may get talked about too much in the media in coming weeks and months, and it will go to our heads. Other than that, what’s not to like? 5-0 BABY!!

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
9:19 am

http://m.espn.go.com/general/blogs/blogpost?blogname=nfcsouth&id=40067

As I expected, all this downing Dent is a bunch of rambling without understanding the full situation. Stephen Nicholas was taken out part of the game with an ankle injury, which made Mike Nolan shift Dent to outside linebacker. That’s not his natural position. Also, Stephen was out in the second half, which the Falcons did a better job against the run game.

Instead of head hunting the kid after only 5 games, understand that not only has he had to play a new scheme, but he has been shifted out of his natural position. At least give the. Guy a year before calling him a bust. I am not saying he is the future, but you got to give the guy a year.

Maybe these are the reasons why he looked lost.

waynester

October 9th, 2012
9:28 am

it’s going to take a good while before Dent is really up to it. He’s replacing a guy that was awesome against the run, so he’s bound to suffer by comparison. If Clabo has a hip problem, that would explain a lot–the loss of power and flexibility would be significant. That run “D” could be a problem vs. OAK–their run game is pretty good…Overall, I’m happier than a pig in slop…..

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
9:50 am

Great article D3…

Before I answer the questions, how about the Texans looking pedestrian last night? I guess they have crappy coordinators too, eh? No. Teams have bad games. It’s the NFL. Yet, like the Falcons, they are 5-0.

Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

Resilient victory. The Falcons had offensive luls, but the defense held strong versus one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. Holding the Redskins to zero offensive touchdowns in the first half is no easy task. Kudos to Matt Ryan and the offense bringing things together in the 4th quarter.

2) How concerned over rush defense?

Not concerned until after the Raiders game. We went against two offenses with dynamic QBs. They improved with RG3, which shows that Mike Nolan adjusted. I. AM. NOT. WORRIED. ABOUT. THE. D!

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

If they win a couple playoff games and come short of a Super Bowl title, then yes.

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

Nothing, because if he would have caught the passes, he would have had huge gains. DK would look like a mastermind. Execution people, execution.

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

Help with pass protection, and try to change the flow of the game with different looks.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

Yup.

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

Read my previous(and objective) post.

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

Mettle. Teams have these games every year. I mean, look at the Texans last night. Their offense was atrocious. Washington is no scrub team. They have been in every game this year. I think people have their expectations too high, and think that every opponent is suppose to be easy. This is the NFL. There is a lot of upside to this team–arrow is pointing up.

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

Julio needs to tighten up, but the check down drops will be addressed by DK. I am sure of it.

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

Swarming defense, “pick your poison offense”, and very fundamentally sound(fewest penalties in the league). What’s not to like? Of course you can be nit picky, though. Every team can continue to improve, though–none is perfect.

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

I am still worried about the offensive line protection, but we will not see the true test until the Eagles game. I am also annoyed by the execution from our offense by not taking advantage of the good play calling. They are making Matt Ryan and our OC look bad. Catch the dang ball!

Paddy O

October 9th, 2012
10:11 am

I’d like to 2nd MIchaels notion of essentially targeting HD for a game, just to get an idea of how open/productive he can be. The key I get out of the Hawley thing is opposition manipulation – get the opposing team to NOT take Hawley for granted – thus reducing coverage on our regular playmakers. I’m hoping Tony G keeps on playing.

waynester

October 9th, 2012
10:17 am

More on Dent–this time from Pat Y
in game 2 Dent was in on only 1% of plays…vs SD it was up to 36%, vs CAR, 47% and vs WA 55%. HCMS & Co know he’s not ready for the full load, plus it has a lot to do with the type of offensive attack we’re facing. We’re bringing the kid along patiently– but of course, we fans aren’t known for our patience–but 5-0 has quite a calming effect on the fanbase….

Hamad Meander

October 9th, 2012
10:19 am

I think the most impressive thing abot the Falcons record so far is that we have 3 wins on the road. The last few years haven’t been kind to us on the road. I like the aggressive playcalling on both sides of the ball, and it looks like special teams have been solid so far.

This is a really good football team. Let’s beat the Raiders, have a week off, and go onward!

Dane

October 9th, 2012
10:50 am

@wings I have to disagree on not winning the big games. In 2010 and 2011 seasons we beat the eagles at home and away, we beat Peyton on monday night this year, we beat a hot detroit team last year in their house, we beat the packers in their superbowl year during the regular season even though they beat the snot out of us in the playoffs.

I think we will beat the hell out of the Eagles the Cowboys and I think the Giants and the Cards will give us a tougher game. New Orleans and everyone in our division always plays Atlanta tough.

awright

October 9th, 2012
11:06 am

Every one is downing Dent without giving him a far shout just last year everyone was like get Dunta out of here and asking way did they resign Thomas DeCoud but now everyone is happy on what they are bringing to the table you have to give people a chance to develop in the scheme that they are playing I think he can be a decent player but in due time give hime more then 5 games into the season with only one game where he really played in to say how he is doing or did I’m just saying give people a chance before u just bash them

awright

October 9th, 2012
11:14 am

also spoon came along to emerge as the player he is today put it took a couple of years it first year wasn’t great so that being said it takes time

Matty Bicep

October 9th, 2012
11:17 am

how about the Texans looking pedestrian last night? I guess they have crappy coordinators too, eh?

Bingo. The thing about the NFL is, the other teams have mundo talent, and good coordinators too. That is what makes it so good. The days of the 49ers of the 80s are over. There is not “new” schemes, just wrinkles, but only well coached teams find what I call a winning combination, and it goes way beyond scheme.

Really, for all the consternation of the 13-3 season, BJEEESUS, we went 13-3. But yea, so “we got lucky”, so, lets say we to 10-6…So I say YAY….But then what did we do?

Ahh, go 11-5,

now we are 5-0. My point, 13-3 was not fluke. we have a WINNING PROGRAM.

I know, playoffs….PLAYOFF? PLAYOFFS?

Really, every NFL teams have concerns, every team is beatable, and every team plays in peaks and Valleys. Hopefully we peak when it matters the most. Scheme Scmeme.

Matty Bicep

October 9th, 2012
11:56 am

CS…My hat’s off to Coach Haslett and his staff yesterday. They did a nice job. It was very apparent what they were going to try and take away and force us to throw the ball underneath.

Well, there ya go.

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Run on sentences aside, awright is correct.

The bashing on dent is FANaticism at its finest.

Ken Strickland

October 9th, 2012
12:14 pm

Over the last 2yrs VanGorder’s DEF philosophy was to go all out stopping the run, and we were very successful. However, it came at the expense of our pass DEF, which routinely ranked at or near the league bottom in most categories. This yr under Nolan, our DEF philosophy has been to stop the pass, and it’s come at the expense of our run DEF. Pick your poison.

If stopping the run was Nolan’s main concern he would have resigned MLB CLofton. If our OFF continues to put pts on the scoreboard, teams will be less likely to rely on running the ball to stay in the gm. However, if our OFF continues to struggle with getting into the endzone early, like it has the last 2gms, teams will run the ball to control the clock and keep our OFF on the sidelines.

After watching our gm and then tuning in the the AINTS/TAINTS gm, I noticed the difference in the speed of DSproales vs JRogers. Rogers doesn’t appear to be anywhere near Sproales as far as speed and quickness, but he’s definitely stronger with simular running instincts and elusiveness. I don’t think he’s as fast as MJDrew, but again, he’s just as instinctive and elusive.

I can’t pinpoint why our OL is still having trouble with run blocking after doing such a great job of improving its pass blocking. With run blocking being the strengths of both RG GReynolds and LT SBaker, you’d think it would be the other way around. But last yr neither player did a good job at either, which prompted their demotions.

Personally, I think we should junk the FB position for now and go with a 1 RB set and 3 WRs. That would definitely spread the DEF and get the LBs more involved in the OFF. I also believe we’re seeing the effects of not having an outstanding Probowl caliber FB like OMughelli in the backfield. Our problems running the ball started immediately after he went down for the season.

Can you imagine where we’d be if we had gone all out like the Bills to sign their FA DE, like some of our fans wanted us to do? I wonder how VanGorder and Mularkey feel after seeing their former team go 5-0 with the same starters on OFF and DEF minus MLB CLofton. I also wonder how PBoudreau feels after seeing how Hill has turned the same OL he had into a very good at protecting MRyan?

Hill accomplished the feat of successfully protecting MRyan while operating strickly in a pass 1st OFF, while Boudreau operated in what was supposed to be a run 1st OFF. Last yr we were forced to become a passing OFF under Broudreau because we couldn’t run the ball.

D3

October 9th, 2012
12:20 pm

MB — I agree with you on the parity in the NFL. That’s something that took me awhile to come to the conclusion of coming from mainly a college fan growing up. The highest team is not THAT far from the bottom teams and that’s why we see upsets on a weekly basis. I’ve come to appreciate a win anyway you can get it, but sometimes (at least in the past), the close games were self-induced.

D3

October 9th, 2012
12:24 pm

BL — Totally concur on Dent. I tried to be as fair as possible considering I’m a GA homer. I think he’ can be OK eventually with more seasoning, since he’s basically a rookie out there. But he does need to improve. However, calling him a bust after a handful of games is definitely ridiculous. I posted what was available (AT ANY POSITION) when he was drafted and there are hardly any names that are making any impact whatsoever.

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
12:27 pm

MB

Glad you understand my point. It’s hard to get it through thick skulls, though. Falcons were 1-2 last year in games decided by one touchdown or less. We are 3-0 so far this year. They are focused and BELIEVE in themselves.

waynester

October 9th, 2012
12:28 pm

Ken
If we HAD signed Mario W we’d be lighter in the wallet but I don’t think we’d be a worse team. Would we be better at getting pressure on opposing QBs? John Abe would be eating QBs for lunch with all the attention on Williams. All speculation– but we’ve GOT to find a dominating force on the outside to replace Abe soon–within the next season or so, even if JA continues to play at a high level, since age is an opponent most (other than TonyG) can’t defeat…..

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
12:31 pm

waynester

I do not think Ken’s point was we would be a worst team. It’s more that he wasn’t worth the massive amounts of money, and that we have our own talent here. If we would have signed Mario, we wouldn’t have any cash left to resign Abraham, Decoud, Grimes, ect.

Ken Strickland

October 9th, 2012
12:37 pm

D3-As we’ve all recently witnessed as Falcon fans, sometimes the difference in winning and losing, and even the differences between teams, is often a matter of proper scheme, approach, and coaching, not just talent.

snacktastic

October 9th, 2012
12:44 pm

Thoughts:

-Home/away alternation aside, I think the schedule has worked out favorably for the Birds. We’ve had two ugly games in a row, but it’s good that they’ve been against sub-par teams whose flaws we could exploit and beat in the end. We’ve also had a few statement wins to give us some confidence. With the Raiders coming up, we should be able to handle them with ease and then cruise into the bye with some momentum, get Peters back, and fix our mistakes.

-Gonzo is probably gone after this year regardless of the result. He’s having a great season and expressed his desire to go out on top, so another year might be tempting fate.

-The drops worry me, but I don’t think it’s a problem that will hang around.

-Run defense is a pretty glaring problem, considering that it’s in direct contrast to our awesome pass defense. Not sure if it’s a personnel problem or a scheme problem, though.

-On the plus side, the defense did shut the Redskins offense out in the first half.

-How ’bout that O-line?

Ken Strickland

October 9th, 2012
12:45 pm

WAYNESTER-If we had signed DE MWilliams, we’d not only be lighter in the wallet, we’d be lighter in talent as well. There’s no way we could have signed him and resigned al of the players we resigned. In fact, JAbraham would have likely been one of the casualties of us signing MWilliams, along with CBs BGrime and DRobinson. We’d have to get rid of the big contracts, especially on DEF.

D3

October 9th, 2012
12:57 pm

Ken — You got that right!

Coop

October 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

Hello Cage – Great to be 5-0. Team played with mettle and overcame a day where they weren’t at their best. After Cousins hit Moss, I never once was worried that Rayn wouldn’t drive down the field to win the game. The team definitely has a different feel and attitude that I am definitely liking. CMS gets credit for being more diverse, less predictable, and letting his guys make plays. [Though we all knew after that 1st INT he was gonna run 3 times up the middle and punt it right back to Cousins, right?].

The Cage is filled with great insight and I enjoy reading it, even if I have to scroll through the garbage sometimes. Regardless, even when you’re 5-0, it’s fair and prudent to express concerns that you might have. I know you’re never supposed to complain, but… well that’s just stupid!

We have some issues that I hope we address. Otherwise we are certainly vulnerable as the year progresses. To date, it seems we are no longer ABLE to run the ball effectively. OK, our passing game has gotten us there and I think most of us prefer putting the ball in Ryan’s hands versus Turners for the most part. My concern is that the OL is an issue. When we play teams that can get after the QB and take away our passing game, our O could get completely shut down.

Add to that our inability to stop the run and I can see the Giants beating us 24-2 again.

So, I’m glad we are trying new things to help the OL, but playing Hawley and Johnson as TEs and FBs is pretty damaging statement on Clabo in my eyes. At the same time, I saw Walker, Jerry, AND Babs playing at the same time on multiple defensive plays and the Skins still running all over us. So, you can say Dent needs time and h’s not a bust (fair), but it doesn’t mean that WE CAN’T STOP THE RUN. So while he’s figuring it out, we still have that issue.

Winning formulas are great (use high powered O to build huge lead and force oppossing team to abandon run), until it fails (oppossing D sacks QB because OL stinks and you fall behind so now oppossing O runs the ball down your throat). So far, we have been able to execute our formula or overcome when lesser teams stopped it temporarily.

But it forshadows another epic collapse in the playoffs. It’s week 5 and most of us can clearly see the weaknesses on this team… and we aren’t being paid the big buck that OCs and DCs get to beat us in the playoffs.

With all that said, the one factor that is different to me this year is the mettle, moxy, attitude, etc. Though others discount this factor, it has won us the last two games. As much hell as I give Smitty, he deserves the credit for this massive improvement. We’ll win this week and go into the bye 6-0… just like I predicted.

Ken Strickland

October 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

BIG LOU-You nailed it, both on your previous post and your assessment on my meaning. Some of our fans have to start realizing what other teams already realize. We’re an elite team, and regardless of their record, teams are going to play us tough and go all out to defeat us. Defeating us now gives the lesser teams creditability.

Nolan constructed and schemed our DEF to compete with the type of teams we’ll most likely meet in the playoffs, like the Eagles, Packers, Giants, AINTS/TAINTS, Lions, which are basically passing teams. We lost DT CPeters, and we haven’t missed a beat with PJerry. When Peters does return, we’ll be even deeper and more talented at DT.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve see our CBs and OLBs make more big hits and create more big plays in 5gms than former MLB CLofton made in his 4yrs here. It’s really made a big differece.

D3

October 9th, 2012
1:35 pm

Coop — How ’bout that Georgia game baby! Jesus Christ, will we ever get rid of Mark “Choke” Richt?

Coop

October 9th, 2012
1:45 pm

D3 – I would be embarassed to admit this, except I’ve come to expect it from Richt. When we went down 21-0, I turned the game off. I had no confidence he could lead them back.

We’re stuck with him, because of the idiotic logic that he’s better than what we used to have.

Paddy O

October 9th, 2012
1:46 pm

I’ve thought we were close to elite the last 3 years. I’ve been pushing the MR2 elite train (top 8 in league for about 3 years – although Eli had been behind MR2 until this year). I was utterly impressed with our D against Denver & SD. I suspect Nolan concluded the next two teams were rather weak on passing, and he could thus put more responsibility on Dent – who needs game time. We shall see. The one glaring failure of the season was the O line play against Carolina; and a bit of timid offense play against Washington. However, we are 5-0; but, as Matty B says – that don’t mean we’ll thrive in the playoffs. I see the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants games being big for us – along with the 2 NO games; that is 5 of our last 11 being good tests. I’d like to think we avoid failure. If JJ gets over his drops, we come much closer to the 35 per game threshold.

Coop

October 9th, 2012
1:47 pm

How about FFL? Not top shabby for a guy who missed the draft.

D3

October 9th, 2012
2:03 pm

Coop — You got that right. My whole family are Dawgs and we all expected to get beat, but even I was a little shocked about getting embarrassed and humiliated on that level, but you called it, that loser mentality that many UGA fans have. “He’s a good guy, He’s better than before, Do you want Goff or Donnan back? Look at Tennessee?……excuse-make, excuse-make, excuse-make.”

waynester

October 9th, 2012
2:10 pm

Guess i misunderstood what you meant. Obviously we didn’t (and don’t) have very much below the cap–my concern is for the future at DE. Even if our DC’s philosophy foresees QB pressures coming from a lot of different guys(that’s good) other than J Abe our Ends leave a lot to be desired(that’s not good). Can we win with the guys we have now? Obviously, YES! Could our “D” be better with a realistic threat opposite Abe? Again, I say yes. Houston has the right idea (IMHO) stacking the deck with young talent in Wade’s 3/4 that can make a QB wake up with cold sweats in the middle of the night….Still dreaming of fielding a dominant “Gritz Blitz” defense again….

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
2:25 pm

Ken

No problem, brother. I know where you are coming from.

Coop

“Add to that our inability to stop the run and I can see the Giants beating us 24-2 again.”

Actually, the Falcons were stout defending the run last year. Most teams destroyed us in the passing game–so did the Giants. I rather us have a weak run defense(which isn’t really weak, by the way–it’s just them HAVING to run against us every down, so the numbers will be higher), and have a great pass defense. There is a reason why all the QBs who have played against us so far has had poor ratings. As for the run defense being weak, if you remove the last two games against DYNAMIC QBs, it was doing pretty well. No offense is going to beat you with 120 yards rushing, especially when your offense averages close to 30 points a game. Point is, this team (defensively) is NOTHING like last year. That in itself will make a huge difference in the playoffs.

As for the offense, I agree. We need to establish the run. Yet, if you have noticed, we haven’t been running the ball much at all. So, it’s sort of a pick your poison. Do you want more touches for Turner or do you want a dink/dunk offense like the Patriots? As Big Ray stated previously in this blog, Turner is going to be our 4th quarter bruiser. As defenses wear down later in the game, he will gain more yards. Turner has scored touchdowns in the last three games IN THE SECOND HALF.

Do you notice the difference between last year and this year? Last year, teams purposely stacked the box to stop Turner from running, so Matt Ryan had to beat him with his arm. Now, they are stacking the secondary, daring us to run the ball. So far every game this season, when they do one thing, we gash them with another way. Teams are not going to shut down ATL easily. This team is not as one dimensional as last year. But, to think ATL is going to score 30 plus points against every team (even a sub-par passing defense in the NFL) is setting yourself up for disappointment.

“Winning formulas are great (use high powered O to build huge lead and force oppossing team to abandon run), until it fails (oppossing D sacks QB because OL stinks and you fall behind so now oppossing O runs the ball down your throat). So far, we have been able to execute our formula or overcome when lesser teams stopped it temporarily.”

Or when players drop passes that hit their chest, which of resulted in a 1st and goal(the first drive against the Redskins with Julio Jones). So, actually, they haven’t executed crap. The game plans are fine, but the players are not making the plays. The events of Sunday had nothing to do with how their defense prepared for the Falcons, the Falcons screwed themselves up with boneheaded plays. The O-line had nothing to do with the poor play Sunday.

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
2:36 pm

Houston has the right idea (IMHO) stacking the deck with young talent in Wade’s 3/4 that can make a QB wake up with cold sweats in the middle of the night….Still dreaming of fielding a dominant “Gritz Blitz” defense again….

Waynester, you better believe that our defense scared QBs and opposing offenses just like the Texans do, but in a different way. The Texans have a STOUT running defense, and tremendous pass rush, but their secondary is suspect. So, when they play GB, they will get torched. I am calling that game a loss already. Hold me to it.

But, the Falcons, teams have a different fear. They are afraid of interceptions. Receivers are scared to catch the ball because they know Dunta/Asante/Weatherspoon is coming to lay the wood(have you seen the dropped passes against us?). QBs are studying tape late into the night trying to figure out how Mike Nolan is disguising his blitz packages/coverages. They are an opportunistic defense. Yes, they will allow you to get yards, but they also take huge chances to get the big play. The Falcons remind me of Chicago’s defense. Also, the Falcons committed three sacks Sunday. Yeah, it isn’t because of the pass rush only, but that’s still getting pressure.

The Texans and Falcons have different philosophy on defenses, but you better believe the league is giving them the same amount of respect overall.

Coop

October 9th, 2012
2:38 pm

Big Lou – You’re right, the OL is awesome…

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
3:07 pm

Coop

Let’s try to have civil banter here. I never said that the O-line was perfect, and in my previous posts I even said the Eagles would be the first true test. I am saying that the O-line did a great job protecting Matt Ryan against the Redskins, and the run game was decent(we didn’t run the ball much). Lack of execution and mistakes is what made the game closer than it should be.

Matty Bicep

October 9th, 2012
3:13 pm

Turner averaged 4.5 per carry last year, he is averaging 4.4. You are right about MT in the 4th quarter. On his TD, the DBs were afraid to tackle him. Read smittys QA on the other blog. We are pretty much impossible to stop if we execute. I find it very interesting that Washington took way our deep game. When teams respecting our deep game, we have them right where we want them.

Big Lou

October 9th, 2012
3:14 pm

Let me point of a few things when I say POOR EXECUTION:

1. Remove the pick-six from Ryan: Score would have been 24-10.

2. Remove the fumble by Ryan that lead to a field goal: Score would have been 24-7.

3. Remove the boneheaded play by the secondary against Curt Cousins: Would have been a shut out.

The Falcons also left points on the field by two dropped pass by Julio Jones(one was more PI, that wasn’t called–don’t blame him for that one).

Game could have easily been 31-3 if the play-makers executed their opportunities correctly–just saying.

Coop

October 9th, 2012
3:15 pm

Big Lou – I am being civil. I’m also pointing out that lining up 8 OL to keep Matt ryan clean and open holes for the run game is not what I call optimal. Hell, it sucks. There is a major issue at the RT spot, period. When you have to sacrifice a WR, TE, or RB to insert one r two more linemen to protect your QB, you got issues.

The coaching staff is doing the right thing in that they are protecting Ryan. If it take 8 linemen, then you use 8 linemen. My point is, that doesn’t mean the OL doesn’t have issues. It exemplifies that the OL has issues. Just like defending the run with 3 DTs and still not stopping a rookie 6th round pick. That’s an issue. Oh, and Denver and KC ran fairly well against us too.

The Falcons are great, playing well, and having a wonderful season. But they have shown two vulnerabilities (IMO) that has nothing to do with execution. That’s OL play and the ability to stop the run.

To me, that’s concerning.