Atlanta Falcons: Give Your Bye Week Fixes

Falcons Must Get Better

QB Matt Ryan completed 34-of-52 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns, and led the team on a fourth-quarter drive that was capped by Michael Turner's 13-yard TD run.

Can the OL EVER Get it Together (Evan Vucci)

Even though it’s technically game week as the Falcons prepare to face the hated Philadelphia Eagles, the Birds are coming off their bye week and, even though they’re 6-0, they better get some things fixed and fast if they want to stay that way. If the the bye week had come after the San Diego game, everyone’s confidence would be really high, but after 3 straight weeks of lackluster performances that needed a last minute comeback, most Falcons fans have to be one of the least confident of any 6-0 team in NFL history. So as our Atlanta Falcons get ready for the enormous game in Philly, give your fixes the Falcons must make………..

Improve the OL By Any Means Necessary

Newsflash: The Atlanta Falcons have a problem with their offensive line! It’s impossible to fathom that the Birds have issues with their offensive line, but they do. In all seriousness, this has been an issue, basically forever. Fans and the media elite alike have been harping and carping on this area for years, but especially this off-season. Some of the blame of course falls with Dimitroff for not bringing in quality offensive lineman, but he at least tried to correct the error a little by using his first two draft picks (2nd round on Peter Konz, 3rd round on Lamar Holmes) on offensive linemen. We’re not likely to see any changes after the bye week, at least in personnel due the Falcons being undefeated. But does that mean we shouldn’t?

After a disappointing end to the 2011 season, many were wondering how the Falcons will bounce back this season. Here's a game-by-game look at the season, including early scores and upcoming schedule.

Same OL Group as Last Year (AJC)

Maybe it’s that whole deal of “the backup quarterback is always everyone’s favorite player,” but how many times can you continue to trot out the same lineup and expect different results? Perhaps the coaching staff feels as though the musical chairs rotation at right guard and left tackle last year led to inconsistency and ultimately poor play. Despite some decent performances to start the year, the OL continues to be the Falcons Achilles Heel. If the Falcons don’t get it fixed, fans are expecting some tough days ahead.

Tackling, Tackling, Tackling

ProFootballFocus came out with some stats the other day detailing how many tackles the Falcons defense is missing. It went on to say something to the effect that it would shatter any missed tackles record for the Falcons in the Mike Smith Era. The Falcons have been playing pretty good defense through the first 6 games, but they’re certainly showing some cracks, especially in the run and the fundamentals of tackling. One of the reasons the Falcons have been gashed by runs is the inability to bring their opponents down on first hit. They’re making some big hits, but not wrapping up. Nothing to be too concerned about, but something that should be cleaned up during the bye week.

Break the Offensive Slump

After the first three weeks, the Atlanta Falcons offense was seeming to finally become the juggernaut that so many had expected for so long. Matt Ryan was being tossed in the MVP conversation and the offense could do little wrong. Everyone was getting the ball and the offense was rolling along. Then the Falcons played the Panthers and it slowed down a touch, where they bogged down plenty of times in the game. They went on the road against the Redskins and had issues pretty much the entire game until the 4th quarter, when they had to get it done. The the offensive collapse happened against the lowly Raiders. After sweeping the problems under the rug, it became impossible to do so against Oakland at home. Hitting the offensive wall reminded so many fans of the previous years where it could fall apart in a flash and seem completely inept. Poor blocking, bad reads and throws by Matt Ryan, tons of drops by the running backs and receivers, and a very weak running game pulled an explosive offense crashing back to reality. Maybe the no-huddle attack can help or quicker and better designed route combinations or even better run play-calls. Dirk Koetter, Matt Ryan, and Co. have to find a way, any way, to get back their mojo from the beginning of the season.

Mix It Up in the Backfield

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner breaks away from Carolina Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura for a 60-yard touchdown reception and run and a 24-14 lead during the third quarter at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Time to Split the RB Load Up More? (AJC)

Michael Turner and the offensive line are the easy scapegoats for a really weak running game, but it’s more than just their faults. The Falcons have to dislodge their running game some way and somehow. Michael Turner shouldn’t necessarily be relegated to never playing, but fans sure would like to see Jacquizz Rodgers (in the right playcalls), Jason Snelling, and even speedster Antone Smith get some touches in the backfield. Much like the offensive line, when fans keep seeing the same old, same old, it gets frustrating the max degree. The OL hasn’t done a very good job blocking and creating holes, but the running backs (Turner in particular) don’t seem to be hitting the hole very hard. If other NFL teams can see rookie running back after rookie running back (sometimes undrafted) find success, can’t the Falcons coaches at least mix it up?

Help John Abraham Out for Goodness Sake

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just like the offensive line woes, the failure to generate a good pass rush not named John Abraham is a problem yet again. Many thought that Abraham may have played his last down in Atlanta and be seeking a max contract to finish out his career. Luckily for the Falcons and all their fans, he decided to finish a Falcon. His play has not dropped a bit and is having a great year. Problem is, the Falcons continue to not give Abraham the help he needs. Sean Weatherspoon is second most with 3 sacks, Jonathan Babineaux has 2.5, Vance Walker has 2, and William Moore along with Kroy Biermann each have one a piece.

Those aren’t outright terrible numbers, and do go in line with Mike Nolan’s desire for a bunch of sacks from different players, but the Falcons don’t seem to have any players ready to pick up Abraham’s slack when he finally does start to taper off. Biermann seems better suited for linebacker, Ray Edwards is evidently starting to enter the B-word territory, Lawrence Sidbury is pulling his disappearing act again, and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi along with second year man Cliff Matthews are always on the inactive list. Regardless of who or where it comes from, the Falcons must find a way to help Abraham rush the passer.

Don’t Fear the No-Huddle

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

Bet Roddy Likes the No-Huddle (AJC)

It’s understandable that most coaches don’t want to use the no-huddle attack as their main offensive base since it speeds up games, can increase the chances for errors and/or turnovers, and doesn’t give the defense hardly any time to catch their breath on the sideline. However, if it works and your quarterback thrives in it, why not? Ryan seems to operate best in the no-huddle attack, calling plays based on the defense, keeping the opposition on their heels, and most importantly, driving the ball down the field. Even the running game seems to flourish more in the no-huddle. Should the no-huddle attack only be used to unstick an offense that’s bogging down, instead of perhaps putting great pressure on the defense?

Improve the Run D

Akeem Dent has been many fans favorite player to pile on the first 6 weeks. The second year man out of Georgia has struggled taking hold of the middle linebacker spot vacated by Curtis Lofton. Every once and awhile he’s shown a few glimpses, but overall he’s had issues at MLB. He’s been over-running plays, missing tackles, getting blocked with ease, and had an overall tough time against the run and in coverage. The Oakland game wasn’t all his fault since he was being asked to play both MLB and outside linebacker with Stephen Nicholas being hurt. Dent is far from the only one to take blame. The defensive tackles have done well getting penetration, but they’ve had issues anchoring the line and keeping linebackers and the secondary clean from getting free-release blocks from the OL. As mentioned above, much of it is just tackling better. This is a big one to get fixed with the tough part of the schedule coming up.

Any Chance for New Faces?

While this likely is just hoping for something for hope’s sake, many fans would love to see some players get some chances on offense, defense, and special teams. Would it be that terrible to see Peter Konz or Lamar Holmes get some snaps on the OL? Kevin Cone has showed his game-breaking speed in pre-season, not to mention getting HD more involved. Then there’s running back with Snelling getting lost in the shuffle and and a backfield dying for speed not even giving speed merchant Antone Smith a chance.

September 17, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga.,: Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud (28) is pushed out of bounds by Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker after DeCoud intercepted a pass by quarterback Peyton Manning in the first half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome Monday night in Atlanta, Ga., September 17, 2012. The Falcons defense intercepted Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning three times in the first quarter. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Defense Needs that Early Year Spark (AJC)

On defense, Lawrence Sidbury’s speed is never used and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi along with Cliff Matthews never even make the active roster. Could rookie DT Travian Robertson help out in at defensive tackle, not to mention Vance Walker likely earning a starting spot over Peria Jerry so far in the season. Could they just try Kroy Biermann at linebacker to appease many of us Cage fans? Again, these players likely don’t hold the answers that fans are looking for, but it sure would be nice to see for ourselves instead of always thinking, “what if?”

Bird Cage Patriots Turn

1) Simple Quick Draw – what’s the biggest thing the Falcons need to fix?

2) Rank your list of areas that need fixing, highest priority to least?

3) Should the Falcons mess with the OL or give it a few more chances?

4) Can better tackling alone cure an ailing defense?

5) How best can Koetter, Ryan, and Co. break their offensive slump?

6) What kind of running back split would you like to see going forward?

7) Any new looks or players to help out Abe on the pass rush?

8.) How often should the Falcons use the no-huddle? Should it be a potential base offensive set?

9) What’s the best way the Birds can fix the run D?

10) Any personnel changes you would make to starting lineup in all 3 phases?

11) Should the Falcons give some new guys a chance? Which ones?

964 comments Add your comment

Coop

October 22nd, 2012
10:23 pm

First! Yay D3!

D3

October 22nd, 2012
10:33 pm

Coop — Just read a guy post on Chip Towers blog (take it for what it’s worth — likely nothing), that he’s heard from several sources from the Bulldog Club officers that Richt will be “walking away” from football either this year or next. Yeah right. My @ss. Talk to you tomorrow. 6 am comes early. Cheers bro!

Big Ray

October 22nd, 2012
10:40 pm

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/2012/10/22/qa-falcons-coach-mike-smith-on-first-practice-after-the-bye-week/?cxntfid=blogs_atlanta_falcons_blog

What to take from this article:

1) Nice to have Peters and Palmer back at priactice.

2) Peters is not yet ready to contribute…like I said…and it may be a 2-4 weeks before he’s back in game shape. Assuming he doesn’t get bit with the injury bug again.

3) I know the Smitty refrain by now. Anytime he uses the word “progressing” on a player that’s not starting…that player ain’t gonna start anytime soon. Look for Konz to get a crack at the starting lineup…next year. Unless of course somebody can convince Tonya Harding and her stick-wielding friend to do a run-by on either Reynolds…or preferably Clabo. :twisted:

Coop

October 22nd, 2012
11:16 pm

D3 – Lord willing, Richt will leave us. Perhaps the boosters are wooing a better coach and will keep Richt until they can find one. Maybe Peterson? Maybe the coach from Miss St.? Who knows. We may take a step back, but I won’t weep when Richt goes. So many years of wasted talent.

Mike Franklin

October 22nd, 2012
11:25 pm

Falcons Must Get Better?

How about AJC sports desk’perts learn to appreciate a team that goes 6-0 in the NFL. No, NOT the lingerie league, but the flippen National Football League!

So sick of all the Falcons bashing. You guys must get dips from ESPN.

Slant Pattern

October 22nd, 2012
11:26 pm

“Anytime he uses the word “progressing” on a player that’s not starting…that player ain’t gonna start anytime soon. Look for Konz to get a crack at the starting lineup…next year.” – BR

Very astute. Smitty is back to his “I like them french fried potaters” coach speak again. Watching Da Bears I am liking what Tice is doing with their offense.

Riverman

October 22nd, 2012
11:28 pm

You are being way to kind and giving way too much credit to Akeem Dent. The way I see it he has not shown “a few glimpses”. He has shown zero glimpses. I doubt seriously that he’ll ever take the field again except for special teams. The question then becomes: Can Mike Peterson take over at MLB. I’m really afraid that he is too far past his prime to be effective. I think that it may be time to work Robert James in and give him a starting shot. What do we have to lose? To me the MLB position is the weakest link in the Falcon’s chain. There may not be an answer to this desperate situation.

Mike Franklin

October 22nd, 2012
11:30 pm

Coop – take a freakin powder. Compare Richt’s record at UGA with any other coach at one school for the same number of years.
Case close – mouth sewn shut.

Coop

October 22nd, 2012
11:52 pm

Oh, Mike Franklin… Welcome to my wheel house! Let’s compare Richt’s record with other coaches in the SEC. Since Richt took over in 2001, ZERO national championship appearances. None. Never played in a single game for the whole enchilada.

In the same span:

2003 Saban at LSU
2006 Meyer at Florida
2007 Miles at LSU
2008 Meyer at Florida
2009 Saban at Alabama
2010 Chizik at Auburn
2011 Saban at Alabama

Wait… Wait… That’s not the same time span. You said compare Richt to any coach in the same time span… Hmm… He may have more wins, but all the coaches above had been at there school less time than Richt. Not a single name on the list was with the school in 2001! Not one.

So you love getting close, but never winning it all. You love wasting talent. That’s right, WASTING! UGA is in the top 5 of colleges for total number of players in the NFL today. The difference between us and say USC is that since he’s been ther for 11 years, they all played for Richt. That is the only coach who can say that. Further, draft sights are predicting that 6 members of the current defense will be drafted in the first 2 rounds. The same defense that couldn’t stop Tennessee, South Carolina, or Kentucky…

So the best, talent in the last decade and not ONE SINGLE national title APPEARANCE!

Enjoy your mediocrity.

Big Lou

October 23rd, 2012
12:55 am

I just want Sunday to hurry up, so we can see where the Falcons are at. As long as its a close game, win or lose. I am happy.

lowdownjj

October 23rd, 2012
12:59 am

Put Konz in for Reynolds. O-line is weakest link. Focus on tackling instead of always going for the big hit. DON’T change the D scheme. We are taking the ball away and defending the pass. We all have seen how we fare with a top 10 run D and bottom feeding pass D. Yes Dent has been horrible…but Mike Pete… SERIOUSLY? Let him stick to locker room dejay and D-Block host.

lowdownjj

October 23rd, 2012
1:00 am

And Peters will greatly help the run D whenever he gets himself in football shape

DHunt

October 23rd, 2012
1:47 am

I was headed to bed, then out of the corner of my sleepy eyes I see, A NEW BIRDCAGE BLOG POST!! So I can live without this next 15 minutes or so of snooze time.

1) Simple Quick Draw – what’s the biggest thing the Falcons need to fix? Fan(atic) expectations. I’ve been watching a lot of teams, and I just don’t see where the Falcons are so god-awful bad in comparison to the rest of the league. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got new coordinators with new schemes. Can’t we give this part of the process just a bit more time to work out the kinks? OK, since the Falcons can’t actually do anything about Fan(atic) expectations, lets go with EXECUTION. Just do the things we are trying to do a little bit better and we will be fine.

2) Rank your list of areas that need fixing, highest priority to least? Tackling, Blocking, Catching, Running, Throwing. Seems pretty simple when you look at it like that, doesn’t it? Smitty says they are working on the fundamentals. I’m inclined to believe him, and to think the team realizes that it’s been less than stellar, and bringing the proper focus to the games from here on out.

3) Should the Falcons mess with the OL or give it a few more chances? If there was a better option perhaps they would take it. When it’s good, it’s decent, but when it’s bad, it’s very obvious. Clabo needs to step it up, but for the most part the rest of the line has been decent. There will be a couple of times that we lose a one-on-one matchup. This is the NFL. It happens. Not a reason to bench a guy, unless it happens over and over and over again with no sign of improvement.

4) Can better tackling alone cure an ailing defense? HELLS YEAH! But in the case of the Falcons, they could also use better hand work to get off blocks in the run game. Tighter coverage in the passing game couldn’t hurt either.

5) How best can Koetter, Ryan, and Co. break their offensive slump? Execute. Catch the catchable balls. Give them more catchable balls to catch. Spread the field, and use more creative and harder to cover route trees. Become a better passing team and the run game will fix itself. We are now a pass to set up the run team. Get used to it and use it to our advantage.

6) What kind of running back split would you like to see going forward? Quizz is more of a threat in the passing game which means he needs to be on the field more. Turner and Quizz in the same backfield is a better bet than the FB right now. Snelling isn’t going to take Turner’s job and he’s had plenty of time to try. Smith isn’t healthy so we will have to wait until next year (or at least later this season) to hope to see a speed demon in the Red and Black.

7) Any new looks or players to help out Abe on the pass rush? This one is tricky. Nolan is supposedly scheming to get more sacks out of different guys. Seems like we’ve been concentrating more on coverage than pressure. Maybe inserting McClain, who is a better cover corner than Dunta, and unleashing a bit more and varied pressure packages can make a difference. One thing I will give the defense is that other than the Raider game, where they were just dog tired, they have seemed to come on stronger late in games.

8.) How often should the Falcons use the no-huddle? Should it be a potential base offensive set?
Considering that Ryan can generally audible no matter whether we no huddle or not, I can’t see this as the biggest factor in jump starting the offense. It does keep the defense on their heels, but it also keeps the Falcons from subbing at times too. At least 50-50 for now, and more up tempo as needed based on game situations.

9) What’s the best way the Birds can fix the run D? Don’t get locked up with blockers, and make that first contact count.

10) Any personnel changes you would make to starting lineup in all 3 phases? Somebody, anybody, get me a new punt returner! As mentioned earlier, McClain to the left corner, and Dunta to the nickle. With St. Nick healthy, we should be in more nickle than base anyway, since that’s arguably our best personnel grouping.

11) Should the Falcons give some new guys a chance? Which ones? Did I mention McClain? And let your tight ends do that extra blocking work. No more linemen as fullbacks and tight ends. Here’s hoping Palmer is back and on his game. Not ready to jump on the Konz, Holmes, Matthews, Massaquoi, or Robertson bandwagon just yet. Making those guys active means somebody else doesn’t dress. They haven’t won the jobs or they would be in the jobs. Giving all benefit of the doubt to the coaching staff and their decision making ability at this point.

Of course I reserve the fan(atical) right to completely flip flop on any or all of this following this Sunday’s tilt in Philly

Falcon James

October 23rd, 2012
6:42 am

Dang DHunt

Nice work. Enjoyed reading your stuff!! AJC should talk to you about being a beat writer!

Wabe

October 23rd, 2012
7:38 am

I see another one has arrived…

Welcome, Mike Franklin.

Wings

October 23rd, 2012
7:45 am

From previous blog:
JB Falcon – “Just out of curiosity I counted the posts on this page and found that 36% of the 47 posts are from the same person, the next closest, out of the ten different folks who posted, was 6%.
But who’s counting, huh? LOL”

More good insight JB; I guess it could be called a “Filibuster Alert”.

waynester

October 23rd, 2012
9:25 am

I think our coaching staff can see clearly what we’re doing wrong (and right), thus, the emphasis on fundamentals. Despite the fact that the basics of the game have been drilled into our heads since childhood, sometimes going back to first principles is needed. Our Lines are still my main concern, especially on offense. We have got to give Ryan another second or two to work his progression and our WRs to run their routes…everything we’re trying is dependent on Matt having time to operate calmly and confidently in the pocket. When our opponents get to Ryan he starts to get nervous(who wouldn’t)–fortunately, he rarely panics, but he does have to rush throws off the wrong foot too frequently due to protection breakdowns. The only way our young linemen are going to get playing time is in the event of injury or a huge 4th quarter lead. HCMS loves his veteran players and more importantly, TRUSTS them. Having observed Smitty over the years, it becomes apparent that trust is his major issue when adding staff or players–especially coaches– and familiarity gives him that trust level since these guys have been with him in the heat of battle.
ps
Jamie Dukes just can’t bring himself to say something good about his former team. He was on this morning talking about how Philly was going to kick our asses because they were “hungrier” and “wanted it more” and how we couldn’t handle their pass rush. What a jackass…..

JB Falcon

October 23rd, 2012
10:57 am

I think the word on the head of the nail is “basics” in all areas. MS & Co have recognized that and I expect to see the same team I saw in the first three games.
I have seen the same thing happen many times when you train someone to do something one way, and their success or production starts to slide later on down the road, nine times out of ten you will find that they have added way too much personalization into their basic methods. It human nature, they say.

Rob

October 23rd, 2012
10:57 am

Mike Smith and the Falcons don’t need any advice from me on football, or from you Dawson Devitt. Every win the Falcons get, the AJC heaps on more criticism. I have a simple system for the Falcons.

Step 1 Make the Playoffs

Step 2 Win the Playoffs and the Superbowl

Step 3 Enjoy a parade while being showered with confetti, made out of shredded AJC newspapers that no one read

Wings

October 23rd, 2012
10:58 am

Waynester I am planning to view the Eagles game as our “first playoff game”. Will the team be prepared?

D3

October 23rd, 2012
11:15 am

Rob — You’re right, especially since I’m a fan just like you who does not WORK FOR THE AJC. They call it a “fan” blog for a reason. Yeah, I guess getting blown out in the playoffs two years in a row is reason they shouldn’t listen to anyone……..EVER!

Coop

October 23rd, 2012
11:17 am

Rob – Before you criticize D3, educate yourself. He doesn’t work for the AJC. After you realize that, welcome to the Cage!

Coop

October 23rd, 2012
11:17 am

D3 – Relax. Don’t defend yourself to the trolls. We got your back.

D3

October 23rd, 2012
11:23 am

Great Day Cage Family! — Must be “Troll Tuesday” or something and I didn’t get the memo. Not trying to be overly negative (those of you who know me, know I try to be as fair and honest as possible), but these are things I think any rational Falcons fan can admit that need to be fixed if we want to achieve our ultimate goal.

I’ve been on the positive side for the longest time, defending the Falcons, their record, and their flaws through the rough patch of games we’ve come across, but I got a little bit of a bad feeling about Sunday. I sincerely hope I’m dead wrong and you can call it the “Big Game Mark Richt / “Debacle in the Dome” / “Meltdown in the Meadowlands” Syndrome, but the worry wort is coming out in me right now. I can’t say it’s justified, but I keep thinking about what happened the last time we went up to Philadelphia. It was an embarrassing blowout. Don’t necessarily see that happening, but I’m still worried. I know I’m crazy, but I need to get that off my chest as we head to Sunday. If we come away with a win (as ugly as it can be) I won’t care one bit. Gotta get this one to shut up all the media talking ditto head elite.

Back later………….

old falc

October 23rd, 2012
12:03 pm

we have a half yard to go for a touchdown and can’t get it ! and DENT will never be a nfl linebacker or in his case nfl not for long

Trainwreck

October 23rd, 2012
12:11 pm

I think a big fix is being able to run on 3rd and 1. With Turner, all you have to do is neutralize the D-Line and he will fall forward for a yard. Just don’t give up penetration into the backfield. Easier said than done of course. Other than that, tackle better on D and keep feeding the open receiver on O. Our Offense should not be held to less than 23 points by any defense in the league, SF, SEA, CHI, HOU, etc. included in my extreme homer opinion.

Jeff B

October 23rd, 2012
12:27 pm

If you’re worried now, D3, imagine how worried you’ll get if we keep winning. What a disaster that would be! =P

Seriously, the “any chance for new faces?” section made me think I was reading about a 1-5 team, not a 6-0 one. Is this really the time to experiment with inexperienced guys, especially when we’re winning with the guys we’re playing?

Wings

October 23rd, 2012
12:34 pm

D3 your new post is on target no matter what the trolls say.

D3

October 23rd, 2012
12:46 pm

Jeff — Fair enough. But I did preface with Again, these players likely don’t hold the answers that fans are looking for . However, I do stand behind wanting to see Antone Smith get some touches @ RB and Konz and Holmes get some snaps on the OL. It wouldn’t kill anyone to see Kevin Cone’s speed at WR either.

DHunt

October 23rd, 2012
1:02 pm

I happen to be in agreement on the Kevin Cone idea. We need a four WR set that actually has 4 WIDE RECEIVERS. Tony G has been so consistent that it seems counter intuitive to take him out of the game, but there’s no doubt that Cone has more speed and athleticism at this point than the future HOF tight end. Not pushing for Cone to get a lot more time, just 4-5 plays a game to make the defense react to something different. There’s not a defense in this league that can deal with Roddy, Julio, HD, and Cone if the right route tree is used. When healthy Green Bay gives teams fits with their top four wideouts, and I would have to say the Falcons personnel in that area is just as good, though completely unproven because we don’t give them the opportunities the Packers receivers get.

Wings and JB, I get that sometimes it can look like a couple of people are monopolizing the Cage, but look at it this way. I often get so tied up with the rest of life that I can’t find time to add anything to the Cage discussion. Other times, I’m sitting around with nothing but time and I can chime in at will.. When I can participate, I really appreciate having an interesting thread of enlightening commentary to peruse. Lord knows Falcons fans don’t get much of that from any other source. Even the (not so) good natured back and forth is refreshing at times, and gives us all things to contemplate in the long week between games. Just another point of view.

Joshua malavenda

October 23rd, 2012
1:22 pm

Hi bird family

D3- great post as usual

My thoughts-

I think sleeper in this game will be Asante Samuel due to his previous experience working with the eagles. I think he and Nolan’s previous experience working with todd will put the falcons over the top vs eagles come Sunday. I predict they we will win 28 -14 and go 7 and 0 for the first time in franchise history. I think the extra attention to the fundamentals will be all they need to keep this freight train moving to a parade on peachtree st come late January.

snacktastic

October 23rd, 2012
1:23 pm

After watching some of the prolific running displays in Week 7, I’m convinced that the Falcons’ run game woes are not solely due to poor blocking or a slow Turner, but are a mixture of both. Alfred Morris and Arian Foster didn’t need a garage door’s worth of space to break for a decent run, but they also weren’t running running into walls either–they had just enough space. Plus, both of them were quick enough to get through the hole and leave the D-line behind.

This season, Turner has looked slow on some plays and rather quick on others. With his touchdown runs in mind, it stands to reason that he’d be hesitant when he sees that he has no holes to run through or knows he can’t get to the outside in time to evade defenders (and thus looks slower), but that he’d run with more authority and purpose when there’s space immediately in front of him (and thus looks faster). In other words, Turner only takes what the O-line gives him, because he’s not quite quick enough to take much else. This is why the Birds need to do what I’ve advocated from the beginning and adopt a more equal distribution of touches for the running backs; that way, even if the O-line doesn’t improve its blocking schemes, at least the backs will approach the run in different ways, and potentially achieve different (and better) results.

Big Lou

October 23rd, 2012
1:26 pm

Why not give Kone snaps over HD? Maybe he will do a better job at catching the ball or getting open.

To be honest, I felt Denver was the Falcon’s first playoff feel game. You know, national TV and all versus Peyton Manning. They pretty much dominated the game, and slacked off the 4th quarter. It would be nice to beat the Eagles, but I’m also okay with a hard faught loss. All I care about is not being blown out.

Big Lou

October 23rd, 2012
1:28 pm

I feel turner does better in the no huddle due to the defense being on their toes, plus the delayed handoffs to allow gaps to form. That’s just me.

Big Lou

October 23rd, 2012
1:32 pm

Changing the offensive line against the Eagles pass rush is a bad idea, no matter how you spin it. I would wait till NO game or somebody with a less dominant D to try that mix up. Just seems more logical to me.

Greg Mendel

October 23rd, 2012
1:37 pm

DHunt:

Good posts that make sense! I’m not knowledgeable enough to analyze schemes and position play, but I have certainly noticed a large number of mistakes over the past two or three games that I’d think were basic errors (missed tackles, dropped passes, etc.).

Homer that I am, I agree with others that the team has not been playing near its potential. I don’t think tightening up on the fundamentals will get the Falcons to that point, but I think those basic mistakes may account for slipping performance.

Good to get back to reading the Cage. I was in Savannah over the weekend for a wedding, but I did watch the “bye” on Sunday. (Didn’t know it was broadcast, did’ja!) One of the highlights was Turner falling out of his Barcolounger for a 2-yard loss.

snacktastic

October 23rd, 2012
1:42 pm

@Big Lou: Interesting idea. The offense as a whole certainly does well in the no-huddle, but I’ll look out for that specifically in the future.

snacktastic

October 23rd, 2012
1:49 pm

Alge Crumpler brought this up on 790 yesterday: Terrell Suggs had a sack on Sunday after coming back from an Achilles injury, but Ray Edwards still has no sacks on the season. Just something to think about.

D3

October 23rd, 2012
2:02 pm

snack — Through gritted teeth, I’m starting to have to admit that Ray Ed is entering “FA Bust” territory. I really thought it was a decent signing at the time, but I appear to be wrong. If we had some beasts in the middle (325+) than maybe he would be doing better. At least he’s good against the run.

BL — RE: Changing the OL…..that’s a very valid point. Honestly, I don’t expect any changes, but I just still have a really hard time believing that either Konz or Holmes seeing snaps would be the end of the world.

Matty Bicep

October 23rd, 2012
2:14 pm

Not ready to jump on the Konz, Holmes, Matthews, Massaquoi, or Robertson bandwagon just yet. Making those guys active means somebody else doesn’t dress. They haven’t won the jobs or they would be in the jobs. Giving all benefit of the doubt to the coaching staff and their decision making ability at this point.

No, you DID NOT say that.

D3

October 23rd, 2012
2:19 pm

MB — Would this be the end of the world in terms of active vs. non-active?

Holmes for Hawley

Cone and Drew Davis are usually active.

Massaquoi for Sidbury

Matthews I agree with.

Matty Bicep

October 23rd, 2012
2:27 pm

Philly has not had a sack in several games, so it appears they are not beating, or fooling anyone. I would stick with guys who we know are going execute correctly as a unit.

Actually, I a more concerned about our run blocking than our pass blocking. We have had some good games pass blocking and some bad ones. welcome to the NFL….Does anyone know if Green Bay changed their OL after Seattle had 8 sacks?

Also if Clabo has had nagging injuries, maybe he has healed up a little over the past few weeks.

Matty Bicep

October 23rd, 2012
2:30 pm

D, I want to see what the new guys can do as much as the next fan, but I do have trust in Smitty, and even more so in Nolan and Hill that if they wanted to play a guys, he would get some snaps.

But to answer your question, about actives vs inactives…Sure, only if Holmes can line up at FB.

Wabe

October 23rd, 2012
3:12 pm

And I see the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix jack ish’ crowd is in full swing now…

Man, we’ve won 6 games, and not a single one of those teams is currently over .500. Relax before we run around thinking we’re flawless. We can still make improvements.

Look at an offense like GB, NOLA, or PATS. Isn’t it something how they find ways to incorporate all sorts of guys? Even guys like Danny Woodhead find roles in that offense. Shane Vereen, who hadn’t seen playing time all season, opened up look like the focal point of the offense in the Jets/Pats game. All folks are saying is, there could be ways to incorporate and maximize ALL OF THE TALENT on the roster.

Folks seem to be giving HD a lot of heat, but why? Exactly how many balls has he dropped that have been crucial drops? Dude doesn’t lead the Falcons in drops or anything. He’s not seeing enough looks to be honest with you. The problem with a guy like HD is simple, or why he’s not looking like as much of asset as he could be. This guy is someone you wanna catch ‘in stride’ or get ‘in space’. But, by all accounts, it seems we use him like we use most of the guys on our roster, a possession receiver. By no means am I saying that HD is Percy Havin, but I think they could both play somewhat similar roles. Line him up in different areas, and have him work outta different spots. The dude has ability, it’s just not gonna show when you have the dude running in’s and outs. Some drags and fades would help.

Wabe

October 23rd, 2012
3:22 pm

Remember the YAC yardage HD piled up in that NOLA game last season at the Dome? They caught HD with room to run and he put on the burners.

But, all we see HD catching are balls where his feet are bolted to the ground. He either stops in the middle of a zone for a ‘move the chains’ type of catch or he’s running an out pattern towards the sidelines with little room to really make a move and turn the ball up field. The one time he looked like he had his man beat in the Raider game running up the field on a streak, the ball was underthrown, hits the Raider defender in the helmet, and HD still adjusts while the balls in the air and comes down with it. I mean, if the ball was thrown on target, that had big play written all over it.

Bottom line, rather than saying dude needs ‘more looks’, I’ll say, dude needs ‘better looks’.

Wings

October 23rd, 2012
3:28 pm

DHunt – I like reading your posts and I don’t think JB was focusing on you at all. You have a good perspective. JB has posted some good succinct points lately.

Paddy O

October 23rd, 2012
3:37 pm

Well, thus far – beyond the excellent record – 2012 is eerily similar to 2010. Going into the 2010 Philly Game, I was ready to lay some wood on those bleeping bleep eating EAgles. Did not happen. If we play WELL against Philly, even with their current chaos, it will indicate the organization has made progress. HOwever, I’d be disappointed if we lose – except the last 3 games indicate we’ve fallen back to earth. Still, Falcons 24- Eagles 17.

Paddy O

October 23rd, 2012
3:41 pm

I consider the wins over SD and Denver to be playoff caliber team wins. Now, some who are blind to seasonal evoluation and team dynamics plus trends (reality of perception?), want to believe KC, Carolina and Oakland are NOT bad teams. BUT, even though Philly thus far I’d rank as below average, our games have an intensity absent many other games – with Vick, I’d say we have a first class rivalry – ahead of TB, but below NO. As stated previously, I’d be ecstatic if we could hammer Vick into a pulp.

Paddy O

October 23rd, 2012
3:42 pm

However, as the pollyanna crowd says, execution can not be sloppy. Can our O line hold up? I’d prefer a focus on passing, and pass protection – last year was horrible. We shall see if we have adjusted.

Paddy O

October 23rd, 2012
3:46 pm

wabe – i’ve seen HD drop 2; not sure if they are crucial, but they were clearly on HD. However, I’d love to see a true 4 WR set. You could even leave Tony G in there. Blitz neutralization. I still remember the Smitty apprenticeship program. What did we ever get out of Meier?