Atlanta Falcons: Birds Stumble to Ugly Win Over Cardinals

Going for Ugliest Win in NFL History?

111812 ATLANTA: Cardinals cornerback William Gay breaks up a pass to Falcons wide receiver Roddy White in the endzone during 1st half action in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012.    CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

One of Those Days (AJC)

Goodness gracious. This is one of those games that sees the Falcons win a game they shouldn’t even been close. How can a team turn the ball over 6 times and still win a game? Well, the Falcons found a way to do it. A win is a win is a win, but if the Falcons play like they did today it’s going to a bad collapse ready to happen. A look at one of the ugliest wins in NFL history……..

A Win, But…………….

The Falcons once again found a way to win the game, especially at home, but goodness gracious, the idea of winning an NFL game with turning the ball over 6 times is unthinkable. Gone are the days of feeling good about coming back and winning the game. The Falcons put themselves in that position and it was just an ugly display of awfulness for 95% of the game. Matt Ryan threw 5 , yes FIVE, interceptions in one game and somehow won the game. The Falcons better improve in a very quick manner because a their schedule gets infinitely harder in a hurry.  However, the ugliest win in the world is always better than the prettiest loss in history.

Despite All the Bad, they Find a Way to Win……Again

It was one of the worst imaginable games, but the Falcons still somehow found a way to win the game. They are continuing to win the games even though not playing nearly close to their best. Although much in the post may sound negative, the underlying point is that this team keeps finding ways to win and that’s surely helping them in confidence. Watch out if this team ever puts together 60 minutes of their A game.

Ryan’s Collapse Day

111812 ATLANTA: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws an interception to Cardinals cornerback William Gay under pressure by David Carter during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Ryan was intercepted five times during the game.   CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Was This One Picked? (AJC)

Maybe it’s the case that 2 or 3 of the interceptions that Matt Ryan threw weren’t his fault, but good Lord it was a terrible display by the franchise quarterback. It started by his first play from scrimmage that was picked from a tipped pass. Another pass was tipped, but overall this looked like the QB from 2009 that was tentative, worried, and unsure of himself. The lack of running game, rather the insistence of running Michael Turner regardless of the circumstances, likely is taking it’s toll. Ryan found a way to win the game in the end, but everyone’s new favorites Tampa Bay Bucs are ready to celebrate Ryan’s career interception day next Sunday.

Loss Hangover

You can’t call it a trap game when you lose the week before, but the Falcons suffered from an ugly game seeing a team that saw a weaker opponent and played accordingly. The Falcons came out flat, executed poorly, and generally played awful. It wasn’t a deal of coming off a great game that you won and celebrated as such, but rather a game that was awful and you felt just as terrible. It was a tough game to get up for, but the Falcons nearly blew an opportunity to win one at home.

Questionable Play-Calling

Let’s get past the point of starting and running Michael Turner in spite of what actually works, but the play-calling and route combinations were pretty horrid to say the least. It seemed as though once the Falcons started moving the ball with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling that a stall flag was raised and Turner was inserted back in the game. Although painfully clear to most Bird Cage members that the new way to dominate on offense is with versatile and responsive running backs, Koetter, Smith and Co. are bound and determined to force Michael Turner regardless of what the circumstances say. Not only that, but there were several times where the WR route combinations were terrible. Several times it was seen receivers and tight ends were running into each other’s zones. There is so much talent to be seen, however it seemingly gets minimized by a somewhat decent defensive coordinator. Better get it fixed or it’s going to be a bad slide to end the season.

To Turner Do Us Part

Falcons running back Michael Turner finds the endzone on a short run for a touchdown and a 23-19 victory over the Cardinals during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18d, 2012.    CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Turner, Turner, Turner (AJC)

Evidently Mike Smith is attached to Michael Turner and feels that he can’t make success without him. It’s not a smash against Turner himself, but the fact remains that when Jacquizz Rodgers or Jason Snelling are the feature backs (sometimes in at the same time), the offense simply rolls better, that has been the case all the way back to preseason. It appears to many that the offense is at it’s peak when Quizz or Snelling are in the game. Funny enough, when the Falcons offense is rolling and doing great, there is a need to bring Turner back in the game to slow it down and generally make the offense predictable, weak, and not good. If Mike Smith doesn’t adjust accordingly, fans may be looking at 0-4 in the playoffs. This isn’t to say that Turner doesn’t have a place on the offense, but it’s painfully clear that, regardless of what the coaching staff force, he is no longer a feature back and the offense is insanely predictable when he’s in the game.

Anyone Else at Punt Returner

It doesn’t feel good to talk down about any Falcon and Dominique Franks has surely absorbed some criticism, but the simple fact remains that Franks is just not getting it done returning punts. Franks doesn’t fair catch and that leads to terrible starting field position and he looks very timid returning punts. Even when there’s several openings, Franks looks to get tackled as soon as possible and any dynamic ability he showed in the preseason is definitely gone. At what point will the Falcons coaching staff make a change? There’s always Harry Douglas and they brought back Tim Toone and, just like those first down Turner runs, returning punts are becoming wasted plays at best and horrible miscues that lead to awful field position at worst.

Always Ball First

Falcons defensive end John Abraham sacks Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley with Kroy Biermann applying pressure during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18d, 2012.    CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Abe and Kroy Stand Firm (AJC)

This really doesn’t apply to this game since the Cardinals won the toss and elected to defer, but throughout the season, it seems as though the Falcons always get the ball first to open the game. Mike Smith believes in getting the ball first and trying to go down and score to set the tone for the game. That’s all fine and good when you go down and score a touchdown, but more times than not the Falcons are going 3 and out, stalling on drives, and in worst case scenarios, turn the ball over essentially wasting a possession and even helping the opposing team. Most want to get their defense on the field first to see if they can make an early stop, score themselves first, set the tone for the game, and even get the ball back at halftime. Of course you can’t control who wins the toss, but when your defense is outperforming your offense, it may be time to rethink that strategy.

Time to Panic on Run Defense?

The Falcons continue to have major issues stopping the run. Each week the Birds are finding new ways to make rather unheralded running backs look like perennial Pro Bowlers on the ground. To it’s credit, the defense stiffened up when they needed to, but much of that had to do with pitiful quarterback play from the initial starter and then a brand new rookie. It’s a total team failure effort. The defensive tackles are getting blown up, the defensive ends are getting pinched, the linebackers are taking poor angles and getting blocked easily (Akeem Dent looking at you), and the defensive backs are taking poor angles themselves. And many of them are tackling poorly. Fans shudder to think about playing against some of the better running backs in the league and one of the best, rookie Doug Martin, looms in less than a week. Break out those prayer beads.

Offense Has Become Predictable

111812 ATLANTA: ----BABINEAUX TOUCHDOWN-- Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux recovers a Cardinals turnover during 2nd quarter action and runs it into the endzone for a touchdown to cut the Cardinals lead to 13-10 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012.    CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Great Play by Babs (AJC)

Attribute it to play-calling, the fact that Turner makes the offense predictable, weak offensive line play, or just poor execution, but the strain is becoming apparent on Matt Ryan and the offense. The Cardinals and other defenses are pinning their ears back and going after Ryan and trying to throw him off his game. It worked pretty well on Sunday. Also throw in those wasted 1st down runs and it’s easy to see the offense getting picked up with ease. Evidently there’s a hesitancy to let Ryan run the no-huddle. To be fair, the offense has been pretty good throughout the year, but as the season starts it’s final drive, the Falcons are showing some eerily similarities to seasons past.

McClain a Future Starter?

Some positive news from the game is the continued excellent play by cornerback Robert McClain. The undrafted free agent is potentially moving out of a role player / nickelback and possibly into a future starter for the Falcons at some point. With their two other corners on the downside of 30 and Brent Grimes coming back from a significant injury (and likely not re-signed), McClain’s good play is a great and needed sign for the future.

Spot on Commentary

We all complain about the media and the game announcers, but Daryl Johnston and his crew was pretty spot on. At one point Johnston said that “if the Falcons play like this against a quality opponent, it’s going to be a different outcome.” Also at some point in the game, Tony Siragusa said the “Falcons were doing everything in their power to keep the Cardinals in the game.”

Minimal Impact from new DE’s

This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise, but Ray Edwards release didn’t lead to any new explosions from any of the other defensive ends Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews, or Jonathan Massaquoi. It was only one game and Kroy Biermann is still taking the majority of snaps as the new starter, but there’s a hope that one of these guys can show some promise.

Just Another Bad Game or Paper Tigers?

111812 ATLANTA: Falcons cornerback Thomas DeCoud (left) and Drew Davis celebrate a defensive stop against the Cardinals during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012.    CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Despite Everything, they're 9-1 (AJC)

Are we the ones who are wrong after all? The Falcons are 9-1 and that’s nothing to sneeze at in the NFL, but it’s getting harder and harder to defend some of the things the Falcons do and they way they play. They blew an enormous opportunity to essentially bury the hated Saints and the Bucs are suddenly right on their heels in the division. They obviously can’t control their schedule and have won 90% of the games they’ve played, but many of what seemed big victories at the time (Chargers, Eagles, etc) aren’t looking nearly as good, lost a huge division game, and have looked downright terrible against some of the league’s worst (Raiders, Panthers, Cardinals). Many in the media have felt the Falcons are paper tigers of sorts, gobbling up weaker opponents and looking generally weak overall. Fact is, fans are having a harder and harder time defending the Birds as of late, but they are tied for the best record in the NFL through 10 games and every team beneath them has their own set of problems and issues. Bottom line is we’ll know everything we need to know in the next 11-12 days. It won’t matter how ugly the wins are if they find a way to pull out W’s against the Bucs and Saints.

Game of the Year to Date

What an enormous game looms for the Falcons. The Falcons travel to Tampa Bay to play one of the hottest teams in the NFL and play one of the biggest games of the season. Considering what’s at stake, it has to be the largest. The Bucs are only 3 games behind the Falcons and winning here would put the Birds in a great position for the division, giving them a 4 game lead with 5 games to go. However, if the Falcons lose, the door swings wide open once again putting the Bucs only two games behind the Falcons and some difficult games coming up (Saints, Giants, @ Lions). If the Falcons can go down and win any way possible, fans will get some sense of comfort back. If the Birds go blow one on the road, as they did in New Orleans, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Bird Cage Faithful’s Turn

1) Simple Run Stuff – your thoughts on the Falcons ugly, ugly win?

2) What in goodness name happened to Matt Ryan?

3) What’s your confidence level right now?

4) Did the Falcons suffer from a “loss hangover” or did they just play down to their competition?

5) What’s going on with the play-calling on offense?

6) Will the coaches stick with Turner regardless of the realities on the ground?

7) What is the deal with punt returner?

8.) Does it annoy you that the Falcons always get the ball first?

9) Time to hit the panic button on run defense? Why so bad?

10) Why has the offense become so predictable?

11) Is Robert McClain a potential future starter?

12) Are the Falcons paper tigers after all?

13) How big is the Bucs game on Sunday?

1,276 comments Add your comment


November 19th, 2012
10:04 am

Once again, sorry for lack of new post guys and gals. The post is completed, but having major computer issues. Will get the new post up as soon as I get the problems fixed. Until then, discuss the ugliness that was.

Be back soon.


November 19th, 2012
10:10 am

I’m not sure I even want to discuss it. But thanks for the post anyway.

Actually, I will say one thing:

We have two huge games coming up next week–TWO–against teams that are primed to exploit the weaknesses we’ve done little to correct. The coaches and players are well aware that something needs to be done, and the next two games will show how committed they are to doing it.

These ugly wins have gotten old. Get it fixed, Birds.

Big Ray

November 19th, 2012
10:12 am


November 19th, 2012
10:21 am

Questionable coaching IMO to play Julio, aggravating that ankle. Douglas did fine with 5 of 6 receiving.

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
10:26 am

Interesting that Ryan was only sacked once and had only 5 QB hits. He seemed like he was under more duress than that….But it appeared the Cards really saw the weakness and attached that A gap.

Anyone have an opinion if we looked a little stronger up the middle once Hawley went in? Not sure how coaching got a good grade, other than is was so bad and we won, it was genius.

But really, the play that set the tone was first of the game where Roddy pick. Guys are going to have to pull it together. That’s for sure.


November 19th, 2012
10:28 am

Just a sign of how far we’ve come… Nobody’s mentioned that we should be celebrating a winning season… before Thanksgiving… everyone’s grumbling about the win rather than being happy we’ve got another guaranteed winning season…


November 19th, 2012
10:31 am

U G L Y we aint got no alibi.. we ugly.. yep yep, we ugly!!

That being said.. McClaine should get a game ball for his performance yesterday. one of the best acquisitions we made pre season. Granted the AZ QB play was not good, but the kid led in tackles and was flying all over the field.

I am very happy to come out of the dome 9-1.,., but Tampa is going to run roughshod over our D line. Are we going to be able to stop Martin? We need Spoon back for this game…. And worried that we will be so concerned to stop Martin , that we will Freeman to drop some bombs on us.

Win is a win…. and have not heard the boo birds like I did yesterday in a long time…


November 19th, 2012
10:37 am

LRD: For an elementary school rhyme, that’s disturbingly appropriate.


November 19th, 2012
10:42 am

Yeah that A+ threw me too, as well as the C for the run game.

I can certainly understand a bit of doubt creeping into Falcons mania. But IMHO, the Falcons still have a far better offense than Chicago, Houston, or San Francisco, and can keep up offensively with Green Bay, New England, Denver, and New Orleans. the Falcons also have a reasonably good defense. It can’t be called bend but don’t break anymore; it’s more like get gashed and survive the wound.

I still trust this team to win games. The cage complained about the “media” obsession with the o-fer playoff record, now it seems like some in here think that we have to win in the playoffs tomorrow, playing like we did yesterday, assuming any opponent will be playing like the three Super Bowl teams who put those playoff losses on us over the past few years. When you say it like that, it really doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Only elite franchises can boast of 5 consecutive winning seasons in the NFL. WE know the Falcons can win when they don’t play their best football on offense or on defense. We know they have teh potential and capacity to play at a much higher level than they displayed yesterday. I fully expect at least 3 more wins this year, and we have a good chance of winning out the stretch. Because this team wins football games, when other teams would get beat. This team was literally one yard away from still being undefeated. This isn’t the same team that lost those last playoff games, and they can’t wait to prove that to the world. Until then, all the genius clairvoyants will be happy predicting their ultimate demise.


November 19th, 2012
10:46 am

Well as others have said.. but again.. can we imagine what this team would be like IF we played our best for 4 qrtrs> The adjective would be UNSTOPPABLE.. we have the talent, we have the win at all costs attitude, and I for once think we have the coach staff …
We have yet to play a complete game from the entire team.

Besides… you know this is all part of TD’s evil genius right.. play real crappy allowing the hopes of our division to rise.. and then we go to Tampa and smack them around… and that is the warm up for when we bring out game to the Dome and slap the sAINTS around for 4 whole qrtrs. Ruining once and for all their hopes of making it into the play offs… see the cardinal game was all part of the plan

Section 242

November 19th, 2012
10:48 am

I prefer an ugly win to a “moral victory” in a loss.


November 19th, 2012
10:53 am

Sure it was an ugly win, but did anyone think we were ever going to lose the game? I sure didn’t. Even on bad days; good teams win.


November 19th, 2012
10:59 am

Hey Gang. About to throw my computer through the window (no I didn’t do it during the Falcons game). Will get the new post up somehow.

Wanted to restate what JJ said last night. We’ve had 4 really good wins and 5 mediocre and crappy ones. Yes, style points don’t matter, but for goodness sake, how much longer can we defend these crappy performances? I know many of you will jump on me, but Smittyball is in full effect. The deal with Turner will cost us soon if we keep this garbage up. Even your standard non-fan can tell this is holding us back and now its affecting Ryan and his confidence.

I refuse to called negative because all this is simple realism. This teams not very good lately…..period. Better get it fixed or we could see an ugly 6 game collapse on the horizon.


November 19th, 2012
11:02 am

Something is going on behind the scenes with this team. I mean, they are playing really tight. They say the team chemistry is good and the locker room is strong, but they’re not playing like it.

To me, there’s no sense in even commenting on the execution from Sunday’s game. Everyone sucked equally and looked like they’d rather be somewhere else doing something else.

Mark my words: there’s a fracture somewhere, whether it’s in the locker room, between the staff and players, between the staff and FO, I don’t know; but, there’s a problem somewhere behind the scenes. This team is just playing too tight . . .

DJ Sniper

November 19th, 2012
11:06 am

D3, do you think that Smitty is having more input than usual in the play calling? There are some times when it seems like we go back to being more conservative than we were earlier in the season.

And for God’s sake, please play Quizz and Snelling more often, because Turner just does not cut it anymore. The man just does not have any sort of burst when he carries the ball.


November 19th, 2012
11:10 am

The only thing I can determine about the grade for coaching is DLED asked HC Mike Smith what he would grade the coaching and he said A+.

I came to that conlusion because absolute nothing has been done to correct the things on offense for two years, and HC Mike Smith must be in denial with what is wrong. That is the only plausible reason I can come up with.

That was a horrible game to watch yesterday. I hope AB realizes the games this year have been very unpleasant and his BRAND is being damaged every week.

Do any of you remember after the Washington game there was talk about improving the run game and then in the Oakland game, Matt Ryan has three interceptions. What is the coaching staff doing that stymies the OL in pass blocking and Matt Ryan after the tinkering to improve the run game?

D3 I was absolutely sure you might be speechless and find it impossible to create an article after that abomonation of a football game.


November 19th, 2012
11:14 am

D3, in fact my anticipation to read your next blog is much stronger than my anticipation to see the next Falcons’ game.


November 19th, 2012
11:18 am

Zoomie — good point. Leads to the point SW always talks about a “disconnect.” I don’t think itd anything other than Smith and his hyper-conservatism. JMHO


November 19th, 2012
11:37 am

Zoomie – Concur. I said last week that Edward’s release smacked of a fracture. Of course, I was scoffed at by some, but sh!t like that doesn’t just happen. According the the Glazer story, Edwards caused a scene after the loss and wouldn’t join the team. Did it in front of TD, AB, and the entire team. Say waht you want about RE (I agree it’s a boneheaded move), but you gotta be pretty pissed with the CS to be that disloyal. I sense that players are frustrated with the conservative style they are forced to play on both sides of the ball. I think they don’t believe their own talents are ing fully utilized. I fear Smitty is losing his locker room.

Finally, did you see the look on Turner’s face when he scored yesterday? No celebration, no jumping around, no… smile. He looked pissed and not in a good way. He looked like someone angry to playing for his own team and angry at the fans who’ve been calling him out.

If we lose in the playoffs, the players might have an all out revolt.


November 19th, 2012
11:40 am

Coop.. turner had to hear all the boo’s yesterday on his first few carries.. I mean it was just a few here or there, the dome was echoeing with boo’s…

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
11:48 am

You know, if I was MT7 and CS, I would be pissed too. I can see them winning a SB and saying EFFF YOU.

Really, they catch more crap BY THEIR OWN FANS. Who cares what the media says, but when you are trying your best, busting your tail and WINNING GAMES, and your local “fan” blog master is saying :

“Better get it fixed or we could see an ugly 6 game collapse on the horizon”.

Hell, I don’t blame the Falcons for being pissed. I would not want to play for this town…. there is a ‘disconnect. Fans in this town don’t deserve a winner.


November 19th, 2012
11:57 am

And Pollyanna throws the first “nonfan” flag…



November 19th, 2012
11:59 am

MB keep quite!!! They are not pissed at any of us or D3.

Your time in the spotlight needs to be over.


November 19th, 2012
12:00 pm

MB, I for one want you to go to another blog. I am never responding to any post of yours again, and maybe all of the other cagers will do the same.

Paddy O

November 19th, 2012
12:05 pm

Gotta admit – Smitty Ball might be aggravating, but at least we don’t have a HC who yanks his starting QB while UP 13-0. Whisenhunt did us a fantastic favor. Defense played quite well – only 2 BIG problems were those gigantic runs – DeCoud again looks pretty unsafe. Dent again made some nice plays. I agree – using JJ on a screen pass with a high probability of getting tackled and re-injure the ankle was pretty dumb – he should have just been used as a decoy – and if he gets behind the D, heave it to him. NFL rules must be joking – you can’t challenge certain plays – and if you do, you get penalized for it and the penalty precludes a turnover from being reviewed? WTF?? the Cards saw something on tape about being able to deflect Ryan passes – 2 of them actually bounced off a guys body part – head or shoulder – not from being swatted by upraised hands. absolutely dreadful day by MR2 – but to take a win is pretty remarkable. Our first series was horrendous – Turner is NOT a receiver. We did a better job of switching our RB’s.


November 19th, 2012
12:09 pm

Coaching seems to be on everybody’s mind, thus looking at the ugly game as a coaching problem. Now speculation about the locker room. The Glazer story said it was PLAYERS who couldn’t get RE to the meeting. Shouldn’t we be looking at the worst game of MR2s career– from high school through college till now??

A few thoughts on MR2: The first pass to Roddy was behind him, like the last throw of the NO game. Three other INTs were tips from guys getting up in his throwing lanes. Maybe our O-line should do some tipping drills??

A long-standing question I have about Matt is his deceptiveness (or lack of it). Particularly on play-action. His body language is completely different on a true hand-off and on a fake. On a true hand-off, Matt does not survey the field, he leans over and projects himself toward the RB. On a fake, Matt starts his reads, stays bolt upright, and does a quick jerking action to the RB. Never fools me. On one bizarre play yesterday I thought I saw Quizz actually run past Matt before the fake! Could have been the camera angle. This lack of deceptiveness is something that gets Ds in our backfield a little bit too quickly. I had to wonder if Lofton gave NO good tips on reading Matt.

The INT that Washington58 snagged was on a MR rollout where Matt stared down his receiver the whole way.

Hey– I’m a MR fan. Thing is, people are saying this team is only going as far as Matt will take it. Maybe that belief is messing with his head. IMO, it DOES mess with his deceptiveness. A better job of it will help keep his lanes open and give our RBs a half second longer. Can’t help but notice how much better Brady is at all this.


November 19th, 2012
12:12 pm

MB — Wow my friend. Do you really think that was appropriate? Its great to be 9-1, but goodness sake, do you not see major problems with this team? If they play like that vs. good teams they will lose……period.

Coop — All I know is that was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen. Sure hope he’s not losing the locker room. If that’s true about RE, they did the right thing in cutting him out.

Paddy O

November 19th, 2012
12:30 pm

Ryan has a horrendous game. I don’t know what the problem is with him throwing behind guys – that has never been a problem before. Bad coaching making Ryan regress? I’ll agree with others – McClain did a heck up a job – any injury reports on our guys? JJ? Asante? MB – must really be arthur blanks mommy – MB – mommy blank !

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
12:41 pm

Do we feel we are support this team? Fans booing a 9-1 team? I get the feeling there are those would rather this team lose out, fire everyone and start over.

I agree, if MR2 throws 5 picks in all the rest of our games, if Roddy yips the ball up into the D on our first play of every game, we will lose out. I don’t think that needs to be said.

It is pretty apparent, for CS to get this done. he is pretty much going to have to prove everyone, even his most ardent fans, wrong, so he stands alone. This teams problems seem to be emotional, they are getting tight, and when you have fans highly critical of every play call regardless of the outcome, is exasperates the problem. We have problems well beyond scheme.

Sorry to offend you, but Somebodys got to say it.

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

Why don’t anyone talk about Dent? Guy was making tackles behind the line.


November 19th, 2012
12:47 pm

I learned a long time ago that an apology doesn’t always negate the deed.

Greg Mendel

November 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

Before I type another word, I want to give a Thanksgiving-sized THANKS! to D3. This blog is excellent. Good writing, reporting, and analysis — good enough to attract and encourage the thoughtful, civil comments and conversation found here. I’ve spent many years writing for a living, and it ain’t as easy as it looks. Damn good job, D3! Thanks, again.

Several Cagers are fond of stats and numbers (and better at them than me), but I’m going to toss out some numbers I found. As the season progressed, it seemed the final score of every game (except Atl vs. SD) was relatively close. I have no idea if it means a thing, but it made me curious. Here are the numbers: 7.125, 9.0, 8.5 and -4. I think/hope they’re accurate.

7.125 points average victory margin in 8 wins (excludes SD game)
9 points average victory margin in 9 wins (includes SD game)
8.5 average final score margin over past 10 games (9 wins, 1 loss)

With one exception (SD), we’ve neither blown anybody out nor been blown out. On average, games have been decided by little more than one touchdown. Makes no difference whether opponents were expected to be “tough” or “easy” If anything, the numbers may suggest the Falcons could take a swan dive, or muddle through to the Super Bowl.

Regarding the rest of the season, I don’t have a prediction, but I have a guess. I figure we lose one to Tampa, one to somebody else, and win the rest, including New Orleans in the Dome.

Slant Pattern

November 19th, 2012
1:05 pm

“Can’t help but notice how much better Brady is at all this.” – Arno

I have been watching NFL am today and was noticing how other offenses look compared to ours. We did the dink and dunk thing off the bat to simulate a run game/ off-set the blitz etc. which clearly was a gameplan decision. The style routes the Pats and other offenses use do a much better job of getting their receivers in space and creating throwing lanes. M. Ryan will get all the blame from certain types which I won’t even bother to argue, but those looking at things without an agenda can see we have issues with Koetter’s play design and routes. Using a 5′4 RB like Quizz in crossing patterns 3 yards or so from the LOS is of course gonna cause a QB (any QB ) problems with trajectory and throwing lanes. I haven’t and won’t go back and watch that crappy game but after watching other teams highlights it is clear to me Koetter has some common sense tweaks and adjustments to make. M. Ryan might as well have had 2-3 interceptions by using an agressive more diwnfield playcalling philosphy then that dink/dunk conservative ish we saw yesterday but at least they would have been earned INT’s. Considering R. White fell asleep and let a perfect dep sideline pass go by his head it is not out of the easy realms of believability that we could have had 3-4 TD passes to offset an INT or 2.
We did not use the no huddle to change tempos and gas the Cards D, we did not adjust to use the Shotgun formation to counteract the Cards getting good pressure and lane disruption, and we rarely used riposte screens instead opting to use countless bubble screens. Blame whoever you want, let the “Radio’s” of the world give A+ grades to coaching…some of us see other things.

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
1:09 pm

I learned a long time ago that an apology doesn’t always negate the deed.

I was not apologizing for any deed, I’m sorry for those offended, but it had to be said.

There is fracture in this locker room, because the people who built this team, the team who brought this team up from the ashes, Baker, Clabo, Turner, Ryan, Abe, Smitty, are under fire, and except for Ryan, it has been suggested that we would be better off putting unproven rookies in, that any schlep off the street can do a better job.

These guys have done a lot, they should get the opportunity finish the drill.

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
1:12 pm

let the “Radio’s” of the world give A+ grades to coaching

LOL, and I am accused of being mean? But yea, the A+ was befuddling. Good line.


November 19th, 2012
1:25 pm

Got to say I agree with MB in one regard. It doesn’t make much sense to boo a 9-1 team. I’m not questioning anyone’s “fan” credentials. You can be a fan and be disappointed in the teams play. Hell, the team is disappointed in the way they played (particularly on offense). You can be righteously and rightfully disturbed about lack of a competent offensive run game, and continuing to get gashed in by the run on defense. I don’t think anyone with eyes is trying to pretend like everything’s just fine and dandy, especially in those two areas. It’s fair to say maybe they aren’t playing up to their potential, and certainly not playing up to fan expectations. But there is a harshness being displayed towards the home team that is sometimes hard to fathom.

It’s almost like some people want to get out in front of a potential loss (whether in regular season or playoffs) so you can say, “I knew it all the time. I never thought they were any good. I was the one who say that this team was fatally flawed from day one.” If the Falcons put up 150 yards rushing and hold the other team to 50 yards rushing, AND LOSE THE GAME, it seems from many of the comments from fans that would be preferable to finding a way to win.

There also seems to be a bit of an agenda in the caustic critique. Some folks have had it in for MT33 for quite a while. Some folks have an irrational dislike of CMS. That is apparent when all the ills of the team play is lumped on those two shoulders. In contrast, some folks have a puppy crush on MR2, and despite several lackluster performances this year, he has yet to receive much criticism and nobody dare boo him for fear of being labeled a Vick-ophant.

Go ahead and predict that the Falcons will lose, because they played a few games that were less than stellar. Just be man enough to admit you were wrong when they win. Don’t chalk it up to luck, or the fact that the other team gave it away. The ball bounced Arizona’s way all day yesterday, but the Falcons still found a way to win. The defense gave up 120 yards to a 3rd string back in the first half, and then held that same back to 20 yards in the 2nd half. You can find plenty of things to criticize (and every team trailing the Falcons in the standings has it’s own set of issues as well), but if you don’t also give credit where it is due, then perhaps you aren’t being the kind of fan that a 9-1 Conference Leading team deserves.


November 19th, 2012
1:32 pm

Hopefully, we’ll look back and be glad we got this bizarre game out of the way before the critical home stretch and the playoffs.


November 19th, 2012
1:37 pm

Somehow, I’m just not buying that the Falcons’ obvious issues are caused by the players reading D3’s blogs and getting their feelings hurt because the fans are critical of the glaring deficiencies instead of reveling in their 9-1 record. That somehow, if we all just wished it hard enough, that the Tinker Bell-Turner would just sputter back to life and we’d go all the way to New Orleans in February.

Of all the possibilities of why the Falcons are struggling to run the ball, getting gashed by the run, failing to execute at a level we see in other teams, and live on the edge in winning games, the above theory is the one to which I apply the least credence.

I mean, if wanting them to be great, wishing them to be great, is all it took, they would’ve beat the Taints 69-2 (the 2 pts being a MR2 end-zone kneel-down, out of simple pity), with Brees, Graham, and Lofton being sidelined for emotional problems (being too scared to play), because, after all, that’s what I WANTED to happen; that’s what I WISHED would happen.

Maybe instead of the Falcons red jersey, I should be wearing Ruby Red Slippers (There’s no place like the Super Bowl! There’s no place like the Super Bowl! There’s no place like the Super Bowl!) . . .

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
1:40 pm

well said D. Remember, I am not saying we should not analyze and criticize, but it needs to be kept in perspective, and contrasted with other teams, and we should equally seek out the bright spots in our analysis.

How about Dent? What was our thought on Hawley’s play? And you are right about Ryan, he put up a stinker, he will be the first to admit it.


November 19th, 2012
1:40 pm

ynot has a point. Despite such a weak performance by the Birds, I did not think we were going to lose. I figured we’d hit our stride and score just enough points to win, and indeed there was a late, well-executed scoring drive that put us ahead. I guess that’s a bright spot: I’m not confident that our team is going to put together four quarters of awesome football, but I am confident that they’ll win. More confident than last season, anyway.

Put on a showing like that against almost any other team in the league, and that confidence will start to dwindle.

Big Lou

November 19th, 2012
1:43 pm

Well, as the usual cage optimist, I would say that at least we had a travesty on offense against Arizona. Any other team would have been a blow out, no questions asked. Yet, give credit to the defense for doing their job most of the game. The one touchdown the cardinals scored only required 9 yards.

As far as fans booing Micheal Turner, I feel they weren’t booing him per se, more on the lack of explosiveness on the play. The boos only came when he gained no yardage, or lost a yard… which was always on the offensive line.

Let me do a positive sandwich routine(like I do with my employees) to describe the game–with more meat and less bread it seems.

I was impressed by the fortitude of our defense. Yes, the Cardinals have the worst offense in the league, but they wouldn’t have scored any points if it weren’t for the great field position given to them by offensive turnovers and special team gaffs. They gave the Falcons a chance to win.

Yet, the defense on the run was still subpar, usually because of poor gap discipline, getting of the block. The tackling was much better this game. Got to give Kudos to our secondary for stepping up, even with Asante injured the whole game. I wonder how serious it is…

Offense had nothing going for it, except Quizz/Tony–even Snelling had a stupid turnover. Everyone else made stupid mistakes or ran poor routes(HD slacks–two games in a row he’s ran poor routes). Matt Ryan’s preformance is not a trend, so I am not worried. It just seems he was trying too hard(the competitor in him). Shame on the coaching staff to not call more screen passes/outside routes to counter the blitz/linemen knockdowns. One thing I’m confident in is that Matt will bounce back–feel sorry for TB, really.

JJ is the key to our offense. Without him, it is quite anemic. We need to have plays for our backups. We need more creativity from our coaching staff.

Offensive line did decently on the pass protection, except from that complete gaff by the right gaurd on one play that lead to an INT. I don’t even want to talk about the run game. The TD Turner made in the end zone was all because of Cox–Oline’s push was still horrid.

All that being said, the Falcons are still 9-1 and have time to fix these glaring issues. Matt will bounce back and we will be getting Spoon back for the TB game(missed him).

Yet, the real question is: will the coaching staff(offensively) adjust? I see Mike Nolan do it all the time on defense, and the offense needs to follow suit. Time will tell, and with the schedule coming up… the Falcons have nowhere to hide.


November 19th, 2012
1:44 pm

Section 242, i agree completly. even as ugly as it was, i had complete confidence we would win the game. this is the first year i have felt that even when we play our worst, we still have a chance. never felt that with Malarky and Van Gorder at the helm. i cringed most the game, but really, how many times can the ball get tipped and land in the lap of the defense. Ice needs to forget this one fast and move on to Tampa. 9-1 still feels pretty sweet. lots of time to get our roll on!

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
1:45 pm

Somehow, I’m just not buying that the Falcons’ obvious issues are caused by the players reading D3’s blogs and getting their feelings hurt because the fans are critical of the glaring deficiencies instead of reveling in their 9-1 record. That somehow, if we all just wished it hard enough, that the Tinker Bell-Turner would just sputter back to life and we’d go all the way to New Orleans in February.

agreed, but the general fan tone, the national media tone, is putting tons of pressure on this team. If I wanted to hear the falcons suck and will choke, hell, I will just watch sport center.

We are 9-1 and ready to throw in the towel, using a game were we used to lose, a game where we used to be Arizona as “proof” that we are doomed.

Naa,, I am gonna ride this pony, and I will stand tall to all the I told ya so’s if I am wrong. I have come too far to quit now.

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

it is like the Dawgs, I let people convince me that we will never get it done under Richt, but here we are, much closer than anyone ever thought they would get.

Big Lou

November 19th, 2012
1:51 pm


Hawley only played one down for Mudd Duck. He was taped and put right back in.

As far as Dent, he did his job, but I’ll be more excited when he makes plays like those on a stronger offensive unit. Let’s see how the TB goes.

As for your fan comment, I will just ignore it. There has only been one championship won in the state of Georgia. It’s about time fans started expecting more from their franchises. Trading playoff woes for a regular season champion is like breeding sub-par expectations in the state of ATL.

No more. AB would agree. Heads will roll. That’s why he’s a good owner.


November 19th, 2012
1:57 pm

The gam against the Cardianl should only be strong evidence that Matt Ryan is not the quarterback needed to win chanpionships. This game was so poorly played that it makes your head hurt. It really gets my jaws tight when I hear him say we made mistakes and we need to improve. He needs to take responsibility and put the blame where it belongs – on top of his shoulders. He needs to improve, he made the mistakes and he needs to practice and strudy and learn the play book. My 8 year old daughter can throw a better ball than Ryan. Need I go on ??????

Matty Bicep

November 19th, 2012
2:06 pm

Did not realize Hawley only played one series, just saw him get flagged for off sides, a center off side? WTF? I am not even sure how that works.

Dent made some plays behind the line, so that was positive…..Abe gave a clinic of what happens to rookie LTs when they are’nt ready.

And if this is Smittys last chance, the I even applaud him more. If you gonna go down, go down doing in your way. That is my philosophy.


November 19th, 2012
2:10 pm

I will give kudos to Dent, but we really need to give up for McClain. Wiht Grimes out, and with Asante out here and there, etc.. McClain has really stepped up, and seems to this fan, to be thriving in our D. Grimes is going to have to either find a new team, take a pay cut, or if he sticks, he will be fighting for a starting job.

As far as booing. yeah, I bood turner, and I boo’d the stupid calls they made. Heck, when we saw turner lined up we all saw what was going to happen. And we also screamed our approval when we also saw Franks actually return a ball instead of fair catching everything.

To my ears, and again, I am a bit up in the stadium, but the dome was loud yesterday. I saw only 3 cardinal fans between the marta, the tailgating and in the stadium itself.
I see more falcon swag in the last 3 wks than I have in the last 4 yrs.
Blaming anyting on the fan base is ridiculous. I pay good money for my tickets, and I can scream, yell, boo, jump and down all I want.
And they are call Professional Players for a reason…

That being said… my prediction for this year was 10-6 and play offs… so I am thus far more than happy with this season.Again, we have the talent, we have the coaching staff, we have the fans behind the team, and I for once actually think this is our year.. I honestly believe, not just convincing myslef since I am a fan, but BELIEVE we can go to the big game this year.

Oh, and a team that is mad, at the fans.. I love that. I want them to be mad at us.. why, as this should be a motivator to win the games, and prove they are worth us worrying about them so much.


November 19th, 2012
2:11 pm

D3.. for thanksgiving.. kill the blog monster, as it is killing me.


November 19th, 2012
2:13 pm

HAHA.. Ryan is not the QB for this team. Laughable, just laughable. Name another QB that can throw 300yds, AND 5 INTS and still lead a winning drive down the field??? ( jeopardy theme in background while waiting for the response…)