Atlanta Falcons: Birds Grind Out Tough Win vs. Bucs

Falcons Earn Hard Fought Win Over Rivals

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass as teammate guard Justin Blalock defends during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Falcons Earn Tough Win (Brian Blanco)

The naysayers will keep finding ways to doubt the Falcons and their close wins. As Terry Bradshaw said today, “the Falcons are winning, but they just aren’t dominating.” Strahan chimes in that if they play too many close games, they may eventually lose one, maybe in January.” The fact is that the Falcons beat a very good division opponent who’s been one of the hottest teams in the NFL on the road, while still not even coming close to playing their best football. Sure, it wasn’t pretty at times and downright ugly others, but overall the Falcons won another tough game on the road, improved to 10-1 (which is still tied for the best record in the NFL), and essentially own a 4 game division lead with 5 games to go. A short week lies ahead in yet another enormous game, this time to the rival Saints, who handed the Falcons their only loss. A look at the Falcons big win over the Bucs………..

Huge Win Over a Streaking Rival on the Road

Some still say the Falcons aren’t winning big enough or dominating, but the fact remains that they are winning and have done so 10 times out of 11. There are those that continue to believe the Falcons are a House of Cards and that’s somehow projecting to another playoff failure. However, you can’t have it both ways and sing the praises of a team that’s one of the hottest in the NFL and when a win is achieved, it somehow wasn’t pretty enough. This wasn’t the Cardinals, Panthers, or Raiders, it was a division opponent who’s been playing really good football lately. Of course it wasn’t always pretty, but the Falcons overcame two turnovers and plenty of missed opportunities to get it done yet again. This time it was against a tough team on the road.

Samuel Gives a Heroic Effort

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) is shoved out of bounds by Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ahmad Black (43) after a reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. Officials ruled that Jones was out of bounds. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Julio's Career Day (Brian Blanco)

Most believed that the trade for Asante Samuel would lead to a much needed infusion of attitude and swagger the Falcons have sorely missed. Well, that surely has had a good impact, but the former All-Pro cornerback turned in an effort worthy of heroic proportions. With the Falcons either clinging to a tiny lead or having to come back to win the game on the road, Samuel willed himself in the game while visibly being injured. Several times it was possible to think that he may have separated his shoulder and be out for the year. He gutted it out through pain and suffering knowing how important the game was and epitomized heart and effort. He dropped a few potential interceptions, but seeing the amount of pain he was in, it became completely understandable. If anyone wondered about Samuel’s ability to back up his boisterous personality on the field, all those questions were answered with authority and then some with his gutty performance.

Super and Stout Run Defense

The belief among many was that rookie running back phenom Doug Martin would run laps over and around the Falcons porous run defense. It’s been a struggle pretty much all year and Martin has been tearing up the league the last few weeks. The Falcons defense bowed their necks and found a way to corral and stop the streaking running back. Martin did score two touchdowns, but the Birds held the former Boise State RB at 50 yards on 21 carries. Only the Washington Redskins held Martin to fewer yards (33) and that was only on 8 carries. Twice the defense kept the Falcons in the game after two costly turnovers and played a huge role overall in the game. They may not be a dominant defense just yet, but they are getting it done when they need to, especially regarding points and keeping hot players in check.

What Will it Take?

Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) eludes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, incuding, ptb54n=, strong safety Mark Barron (24) and free safety Ronde Barber (20) to score during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Time to Give Quizz the Rock (Reinhold Matay)

No point in beating a dead horse, but it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room. What will it take for Coach Smith and OC Koetter to give Jacquizz Rodgers the start and the vast majority of carries over Michael Turner. Smith and Koetter are “gradually” giving Rodgers more looks and he’s not disappointing. He had 49 yards on 10 carries and chipped in another 2 catches for 30 yards. And that’s not even including the huge return that Rodgers had to set up the game winning drive. This is not to say that Turner doesn’t have a place on the team, but as Cage Member Paddy O suggested, perhaps the Falcons should look to use Turner in more goal-line situations the way the Steelers did with Jerome Bettis towards the end of his career.

Maybe it’s unfair to just compare the numbers, but Turner averaged a meager 1.3 yards, gaining 17 yards on 13 carries, and that’s including a long run of 9 yards. Again, it might not be his fault as much as poor run play-calling, but it’s time to hand over the keys to Jacquizz Rodgers as the Falcons primary back. It doesn’t mean that Turner shouldn’t see the field anymore, but the evidence has also become insurmountable. Remember that it was Coach Smith himself who proclaimed that Rodgers was not exclusively a 3rd down back long ago in preseason.

Better Pass Rush

The Falcons only came away with 2 total sacks (one by Biermann and the other by D.Robinson), but they pressured Josh Freeman very well on Sunday. They didn’t seem to get to him too much early on, but the they surely did as the game wore on. Many times it was seen that Freeman was getting hit as he released the ball and having to pick himself up after the play. In fact, at least one of the would-be picks came after Freeman was getting hit while throwing the ball. John Abraham was getting his usual pressure and Jonathan Babineaux seemed to almost exclusively play defensive end much of the time. Young guns Cliff Matthews and Travian Robertson were both seen getting decent pressure as well, a welcome sign. It was also good to see Corey Peters come back in the game after leaving with an injury. Some of the blitzes seem to get picked up a little too easily, but that’s just going to happen sometimes. The blitz and sack by Dunta Robinson was a thing of beauty.

Defense Makes Some Big Stands

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) throws a pass as he is pressured by Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters (91) during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Pass Rush Better (Reinhold Matay)

As mentioned earlier, the Falcons defense still won’t be confused with being dominant. However, they are making some big stands lately to keep the the team in the game, many times after offensive mistakes. The Cardinals game saw the defense save an offense in major meltdown mode and they made some enormous stops against the Bucs that could have easily led to a much more difficult game. And remember that this is only Mike Nolan’s first year at the helm and while there’s surely a ways to go, this defensive is showing excellent progress. They held the Bucs to 3 points after Matt Ryan threw an interception. When Ryan was pummeled by a Bucs defender and fumbled the ball away, the defense again held them to a field goal. They also held the Bucs to a 56 yard field goal attempt, which they missed. If the Bucs cash in a touchdown many of those times, this may be reporting a second loss.

Props to DRob

Dunta Robinson has been one of the fans and critics favorite lightning rods since he signed the eye-popping contract as a free agent cornerback back in 2010. Many called him a free agent bust and a major overreach in a weak free agency class to simply fill a gap. While Robinson hasn’t been an All-Pro cornerback, he has looked much better this year and had a very tough and gritty game against the Bucs. He’s one of the few defensive players that will deliver a huge hit that many of the best defenses possess. Robinson had a bone-crunching hit on Doug Martin, popped up, and seemingly might be done for the day. He went and got check out and returned soon afterwards and help lead the defense to a big win.

Struggling Safeties

What has happened to the Falcons safeties that looked like world-beaters the first few weeks? It was a good talking point throughout the off-season on which player or what position would benefit the most from Mike Nolan’s new scheme. While the safety position wasn’t the highest on many fans lists, some thought that it could see a major improvement. Some thought William Moore might elevate his game to a Pro Bowl level and Thomas DeCoud could get back some of the early magic he flashed in 2009. Early on, it looked as though those premonitions may come true. DeCoud and Moore were all over the field, making interceptions, knocking down passes, and delivering big hits.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Smith Looks Serious (Brian Blanco)

Recently, however, they have both looked less than stellar. Moore hasn’t necessarily done poorly, but he’s not having the same impact he was in the beginning. DeCoud, on the other hand, has looked pedestrian at times. He’s often seen getting caught out of position, using shoulder bumps on players instead of giving big hits, and sometimes looking downright awful in coverage. It’s surely not all their fault as many other positions have had their own issues and that’s likely having a negative impact on them. Some of it may have to do with the front 7 having problems against the run and thus inching closer for run support. Whatever the reason, it would be very nice to see the safety tandem get back to their early season form.

Walking Wounded at Cornerback

Thankfully the Falcons have found Robert McClain to step up and in an otherwise huge gap left by a slew of injuries to the Falcons cornerbacks. Brent Grimes was lost for the year in game 1 vs. the Chiefs and Asante Samuel has been banged up the last few weeks. Dunta Robinson left for a spell on Sunday, but returned later. There’s a sense of concern on the depth chart after McClain as Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks are next on the list and are surely not the model of consistency. While McClain has been the best surprise of the season, this is a position that will have to have some infusion of talent, whether through the draft or in free agency. They don’t necessarily need starting quality, but definitely need some better depth.

Blown Opportunities

The Falcons had plenty of chances to put some distance between themselves and the Bucs on Sunday. The Birds of course got the ball first as they always do and had a nice opening drive bog down yet again for a field goal. Of course there was the botching of the red zone opportunity to end the 1st half when Julio Jones caught a pass on the 4 yard line, where Coach Smith seemed more concerned with eating up the clock than scoring a touchdown. Matt Bryant misses a chip-shot field goal to get the lead at halftime. After the break, the defense holds the Bucs to a field goal and the Falcons promptly score a touchdown with an 80 yard strike to Jones. The defense gets a three and out to give the offense the ball back and big chance to gain some separation. What does the offense do? Only go three and out themselves with a rather pitiful play selection. Even though you can’t fault the defense very much, they did have the Bucs backed up to their goal-line at 1st and 21, only to let them drive all the way down for a touchdown. At the end Matt Bryant essentially misses a game-ending field goal. It’s a little nitpicking because they ultimately won the game, but the Falcons have to learn to stop squandering so many opportunities to gain some separation when they have the chance.

Will this Falcons Team Ever Fully Click?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) huddles with the team during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Will they Ever Fully Click? (Brian Blanco)

Fans keep talking about how awesome this team will be if everything clicks for one game and how they could be unstoppable. If the offense hits on all cylinders, the defense continues it’s excellent progression, special teams is on point, and coaching doesn’t bog down in too much conservatism, it could be a beautiful sight. The Falcons have obviously done some good and great things throughout the season, but rarely have all the phases been hitting at once. It seems each week that one of the phases takes their time off (defense earlier in the season, offense more recently). The Birds know better than anyone how important it is to be hitting the right gear at the right time and there’s still plenty of time, but the window is drawing more narrow as the season hits the final push to the playoffs. If this team can all click in at once, the ultimate goal could truly be in sight.

Bird Cage Stalwarts Turn

1) Simple Bomb – what’s your thoughts on the Falcons road win vs. the Bucs: huge win on the road vs. a streaking team or still making it too hard on themselves?

2) How about Asante Samuel’s gutsy performance. Could it be a rallying point of sorts?

3) Was the stout run defense a blip or sign of good things to come?

4) Will Smith and Koetter ever turn over the keys to Jacquizz Rodgers as the feature back?

5) Is the running back position the main thing holding this offense back from being great?

6) Was the pass rush better overall or more having to do with Josh Freeman’s errors?

7) What’s your thoughts on the defense overall this season, particularly of late?

8.) Is the Falcons defense having to keep the team in the game too much?

9) Has Dunta Robinson improved enough for your liking?

10) What’s going on with the Falcons safeties lately?

11) Time to panic on CB depth just yet?

12) Can the Falcons stop blowing opportunities to get separation on their opponents?

13) Will the Birds ever click into gear all at the same time?

1,178 comments Add your comment

Arno

November 26th, 2012
10:48 am

There were positives. I like this from Alex Marvez: “The gutsy play of Atlanta’s defense was embodied by cornerback Asante Samuel, who continued to play despite a shoulder injury that left him repeatedly bent over in pain for much of the second half.”

He sums up the other positives of the game nicely: http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Marvez-Week-12-Rewind-San-Francisco-49ers-Atlanta-Falcons-Denver-Broncos-Separation-Sunday-112512

Shotgun

November 26th, 2012
10:57 am

I’ll wait till you finish the article to go over the game in detail–my thoughts, ect.

Keep up the great work, D3.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
10:59 am

Already looking forward to Thursday night. Birds should be out for blood. They ARE out for blood!

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
11:00 am

Sure hope that Asante Samuel is ok. We do need him, risk-taking and all. He showed some real toughness out there and was THERE when the ball was there. Can’t ask for more than that.

Wings

November 26th, 2012
11:01 am

BR I believe Thursday night will be their dominating GAME!

Paddy O

November 26th, 2012
11:05 am

well, considering we have the best QB in team history, the best WR in team history, and the RB with the most TD’s in team history, we should be a pretty good team. Very happy with our run defense yesterday. Dunta played a good game. Missed Spoon quite a bit. JJ was a beast – that 80 yard TD pass was excellent. Mike Pete made a terrific play preventing a TB score. HOnestly, our D did an excellent job. Biggest problem for us is the unsafe play of DeCoud, and Asante’s injury. I actually saw quite a bit of our rookies out there. Babs had a couple potential tackles for a loss. If we win Thursday, our season will be looking up even more than our record indicates. I was hoping SF would knock Brees out. selah.

Chop Buster

November 26th, 2012
11:07 am

Falcons took care of business and took another step toward wrapping up the NFC south division and gaining homefield advantage. Style points do not matter with Smitty and that percentage sheet he uses for play calling is the reason we win without appearing to dominate. I’m happy they cleaned up the tackling and was able to shut down Tampa’s running game. We know they could do it, they just need to be more consistent with it each week. Sometimes I wonder if Smitty is holding back on attacking teams and saving something for the play offs. There’s always room for improvement, but all we can do is enjoy the wins and hope we have actually changed this year–and not have another let down. Time to take on the Taints this Thursday and I’m looking forward to another beat down after the 49ers tenderized them for the Falcons.

SeminoleWarrior

November 26th, 2012
11:17 am

What’s up Cage Family.

Hope that everyone had a fine holiday weekend. In mourning here as my Noles looked flat out funky against those hated Gators. Will bounce back this week in Charlotte though as we take the ACC title.
Ok, stop laughing all you SEC fans in this family. I know, I know. But it is what it is. And after losses to NC State and Florida that were just painful, the beauty of the trophy and the trip to Miami for New Year’s is just what I need right now.

Now on to the Atlanta Falcons…

I told you when the Bucs hired Schiano that it was going to be a beautiful move in the long term. The team has always had the core talent. It was a college team in need of a leader. They got one in Greg Schiano. There is tremendous upside in Tampa.

Again, back to my Falcons. I am not going to break the game down. What I am going to do is let you know WHO is the number one player on the Cocoa Mel Big Board.

DA BIRDS!

November 26th, 2012
11:18 am

This team is bad for my blood pressure, but they can lock up the NFC South this week. Where are all the Matt Ryan “noodle arm” critics lately?

SeminoleWarrior

November 26th, 2012
11:23 am

The Falcons have three issues that need to be address immediately in the off season. First, they need to make the move to the 3-4 defense. IMHO, it is better suited for the talent we have on the defensive side of the roster.

Second, the OL needs to move towards a totaly ZBS philosophy instead of this 60-40 mix of power versus ZBS.

Lastly, the Falcons MUST, MUST upgrade the rushing attack. And the Cocoa Mel has the man for the Job.

From the staff that brought you draft pick proposals Sean Weatherspoon, Aldon Smith, and Mason Foster, The Tee Pee offer you this:

With the pick in the FIRST round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Falcons MUST, MUST I SAY, MUST take Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor.

Taylor is the complete package. He is not super fast but he is the totaly package. He can hit the hole, he is a fine blocker and receiver, and he is built like a litte tank. If you like what Doug Martin is bring to the Bucs offensive playbook, IMAGINE, IMAGINE what DK could do with the likes of Quizz and Stepfan.

Watch the Cardinal play in the Pac 12 title game and in the bowl game this season if you have not already.

The Cocoa has served notice. TD, I hope you hear me or read this. Stepfan is the man!!

SeminoleWarrior

November 26th, 2012
11:27 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8jwc3NNSZ8

Stepfan Taylor….just watch as the body of work speaks for itself.

Greg Mendel

November 26th, 2012
11:32 am

Cagers: My apologies, but I’m reposting (below) a post I just put on the last blog, because I think it’s relevant to understanding of positive-negative comments, and to Monday mornings in the Cage.
In a way, it’s kind of a fan letter to the Cage:

John Waynesworld:

Good post. My attitude towards yesterday’s game was the same (as well as my enthusiasm for Caesar’s upcoming funeral).

I think most Cagers (including me) are frustrated by a pick-your-poison passing game that isn’t as toxic as we think it should be, and by a drink-your-poison running game that only seems to get worse. The frustration is greatest among those most desperate for post-season success, because they see every regular season weakness pointing to another playoff collapse. I understand their frustration, and can’t dismiss their logic.

I just have a different attitude. I won’t let mistakes overshadow great plays or blame the coaches when the team wins. Especially when the team wins ten of eleven games.

Fact is, we’re all fans. Some more intense than others. I’ve noticed a recurring psychodrama in the Cage — which I enjoy, frankly. During games and immediately after, there’s a lot of teeth-gnashing. But, after a spell, when the intensity and excitement abate, the general mood gets brighter. The sky didn’t fall. Thoughtful, reasoned analysis begins, along with furtive worrying about stuff like gaining home-field advantage for the playoffs.

Home field advantage as concern beats years of praying for any advantage at all. But that’s the fun of the Cage, which sometimes reminds me of an old joke about Puritans:

Long ago in Salem, MA, two Puritans passed on the street. “It’s a glorious morning, Ichabod,” said one. “Aye,” scowled the other, “and we’ll PAY for it!”

rhettt

November 26th, 2012
11:38 am

It is a great day in Dixie when our Falcons are 10-1 and there are still many naysayers. You ould think there would be joy and excitement about the team records our Falcons have been setting in the last five years. Look, no NFL team is perfect. All NFL teams have strengths and weaknesses. Having a steady presence from the head coach, along with teaching a system for success, seperates winners from losers. There is an old saying, it is easier to reach a top position than to maintain a top position. It appears Coach Smith has the winning skills to do both.

Slant Pattern

November 26th, 2012
11:47 am

“Stepfan Taylor….just watch as the body of work speaks for itself.” – SW

Good to see you posting again. Hope things are working towards a positive direction for you. I liked the blitz pick-up and pass blocking I saw in your clip. This clip ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD_ucs2_ve0 ) shows him in action off a checkdown screen. He runs a little high for my tastes but defintely looks like someone to consider.
I am hoping Smitty will allow us to keep “dipping our toe” in a non power running direction to see what we truly have. A full force cannonball into the deep end against the Taints would be even better but I’m not holding my breath lol.

tdawgmom

November 26th, 2012
11:54 am

Truthfully I have also had my moments of being a naysayer. However, I plan to enjoy the rest of the season by understanding that all teams do have their issues. That’s the nature of the game. Wow, the Dawgs in the SEC game this weekend and the Falcons 10-1. What more could you ask for. Can’t wait for the game this Thursday. Falcons have the attitude and parts to win over those righteous Saints. Go Birds.

LRD

November 26th, 2012
11:57 am

A game of the good , bad and ugly.
Ugly.. turning the ball over yet again.. and our D not forcing a turnover. We must force NOLA to turn the ball over on Thursday
Bad: Injuries… and Asante being injured when we will need him this thursday.
Bad: Turner up the middle. Cmon… how many of us were screaming at our TV yesterday?

Good: Ryan with over 300 yds again. Julio starting to look healthy and primed for Thursday.
Good: Dunta having a great game. I just hope he literally doesnt knock himself out with his punishing hits.
Good: our entire D… everyone on the D contributing.
But the biggest Good.. our Run Defense. I stated that I thought we would lose this game due to the fact we have had a hard time stopping the run.. and yet we come out and hold Martin to 50yds. FIFTY YARDS… that is just awesome.. but with the 3 prong running attack of NOLA on Thursday, we need that run D to come into play.

I think we are setting ourselves up for a great game against Nola. After the Tampa game, they have to plot/plan on stopping Quizz around the corners, a healthy Julio making our passing game the threat we all know it should be. Spoon back to help reinforce against the run.
And I think our Team is really starting to jell now as a team. Even with backups in our D playing, it seemed we didnt miss a beat. Good coaching man… good coaching… and strong desire by players.

Happy with the win.. and saving my lungs for screaming on Thursday night. We can put a nail in NOLA and finalize sealing up the NFC South.

af fan

November 26th, 2012
11:59 am

SW,

Agree with your observations, but think the 1st pick should go to defense. A DT or LB will help that 3-4 work.

Sandra

November 26th, 2012
12:02 pm

Thank you Julio and Matt for the win!!!!!!

John Waynesworld

November 26th, 2012
12:06 pm

Good call, SW! Normally I wouldn’t even consider a RB, especially in Round 1, but SW you’ve got a good eye in picking Taylor out of Stanford. I saw him a few times recently and he is in the same line with Ray Rice and that muscle hamster we saw yesterday. They all hit the hole like they have a nitro gear all their own, and you can tell about these guys because it doesn’t look NORMAL. It appears they are gliding and it looks too fast for normal! I remember seeing the same thing with DeAngelo Williams when he was at Memphis. It is fortunate for us over the years that Williams has always been hurt. I totally agree with your pick, SW!! That is of course unless we can get the ND Tight End at the end of the draft (not likely). That would be a no-brainer if TG does retire after this season.

snacktastic

November 26th, 2012
12:19 pm

As cool as ESPN’s Playoff Machine is, Pat Y sure made himself sound like an idiot when hyping it up:

“December is almost upon us and that means it’s not too early to start talking about the playoffs.”

Oh, really? What about all those other months before December? You know, the ones where you couldn’t stop talking about the playoffs?

Kee Kee

November 26th, 2012
12:35 pm

Pat Yaksinkass needs to join “C-VIV” in Winnipeg.

They are both Atlanta hating tools.

Curt

November 26th, 2012
1:22 pm

Yes, the naysayers! Too many close games? If you look at it the other way, just one more yard in New Orleans two weeks ago and we would still be undefeated. Think about it, our only loss was a tight road game, and one yard would have wone the game for us in that one. We’re right where we are supposed to be…..still winning tough games (two more after the tough loss), and we’re not playing great yet. A lot of things to clean up, we’re a little dinged up, but things look great for us. Green Bay, Chicago and even the Niners all still have their issues too. I love our chances in the playoffs this year. We need to continue to utilize Jason Snelling more, he’s just so much more versatile than Turner, and bigger than Quiz. Go Falcons!

Zoomie

November 26th, 2012
1:29 pm

Okay. New blog is up.

It was a pretty well-played game by the Falcons, though the score didn’t show it. I only got pizzed twice during the game, and both times at MR2. 1) Bush-league, second-rate college-level play to stare down your primary receiver from the snap, as Ryan did when he threw the pass to Ronde Barber. Assante’s been on MR2’s booty about that, and it’s high time he starts listening to a man who knows. 2) Since MR2 seemed to miss the flares and smoke signals from the TB DB, telegraphing that he was coming on a corner blitz, I suppose he should just be invited into the offensive huddle next time so he can just tell Matty that he’s coming. That kid was juking and popping for a good ten seconds before he came clean on the blitz. How Ryan missed that call is beyond me. Stupid miss. Disastrous result. Falcons’ D bailed him out.

Okay. I lied. I got pizzed four times. The other two were on the Bryant misses. Should’ve been a 7-point game, and everyone knows it. Bryant has racked up an impressive “Attaboy” column, but his “Oh, sh*ts!” are starting to get some attention. That’s two big misses and one miss that gets attention just because it came on the heels of two big misses. The “Attaboy vs Oh, sh*ts!” analogy was custom-designed to apply to NFL kickers. Just sayin’ Bryant; just sayin’ . . .

Game wasn’t as close as it looked. A health Assante would’ve racked up two INTs. As it was, he still made the plays. Heckuva game for the veteran playing hurt and showing some real leadership.

Asking the Cagers to look back at the last two games and try to start giving some credit: we saw a lot more Quizz and Snelling in the last two games. In the AZ game, it looked like they were still working out some kinks. Against the Bucs, it looked like they’re getting good at making space on the edge and getting the Quizz and Snell out in space. Please be honest about what you saw, folks: Turner spent a lot of time watching the game yesterday.

Got no pressure from the D front. Not a failure, in my opinion, have to give credit to TB’s O-line. They managed to contain 55 and 71 got knocked around like a rag doll. When you sell out to stop the run, the blitz packages are limited, so I’m not too upset with a lack of pressure on the QB. Looks like the Falcons took in a game plan to force Freeman to beat them with his arm, and he couldn’t do it.

The Falcons outplayed and outlasted a team that’s quickly garnered a reputation of being physical. Beat ‘em on the road, in their stadium. factor in the two missed turnovers and the missed FGs, and the game wasn’t as close as the score seemed to indicate. Good game by the Falcons overall.

Oh yeah, terrible clock/score management at the end of the first half. I hope Smitty learned something from it.

Zoomie

November 26th, 2012
1:32 pm

Aargh! I’ve been Blog Monstered!

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
1:32 pm

Not gonna bother getting into the “who is too negative” conversation. Waste of time every time….and I see that now.

Ok, so New Orleans knows our tendencies and we know theirs. Who enforces their will more? Who adjusts to the opposing schemes better? Those are the questions.

Being fully healthy will also make a difference. Of course, I’m not convinced we’ll be fully healthy. Need Dunta and Asante to recover from injuries. I think Dunta will be good to go. Asante….I’m not sure a short week will help him.

Nookah

November 26th, 2012
1:33 pm

Greetings Cagers!!

I’ll repeat what I posted in a previous blog – we’ll continue to get no respect from the national media until we win the big one and even after we win the big one, expect to hear all kinds of reasons why our opponents lost and not why we won. We need to remind ourselves that in the media’s eyes, ATL will continue to be “loosersville” until we win a SB. All they are doing is playing the odds and it favours our not winning a SB. No analyst, bar none, will be brave enough to come out and say that our Falcons are SB bound. Even some of our same Cagers here are naysayers and timid instead of going all in. However, a history of losing will do that to you especially if you have been around through the bad years. As far as I am concerned, you are a fan or you are not a fan. As a fan I can criticize my team and be blindly optimistic because I choose to do so because that’s what fans do. But it’s a new day dawning Falcon fans.

79 yards of rushing offence? Anemic if you ask me, but we got the job done. More importantly 50 yards rushing for the opposition? Pretty remarkable after you meet a hot team on the road that was 10th in the league in rushing offence and hold them to 39% of their average up to yesterday (128.9 yds/game). Now they are down to 121.7 yards/game and especially when you are at the bottom or near bottom of the league in stopping the run. Clearly, kudos to the coaching staff for making the necessary adjustments but what of the rushing offensive adjustments? Without doubt we have work to do.

I really don’t care how we win as long as we do. Am I concerned about our weaknesses? Absolutely, as a football fan I am but as a Falcon fan I only want to use the Al Davis moniker, “just win baby” and for 10 times this year that’s what we have done.
10-1, that’s all that matters this week. Now on to the Saints in our house and with a score to settle and a chip on our shoulder. Regardless of the individual records of both teams, it’s always a dogfight and I expect nothing less this Thursday. That also goes for Tampa Bay by the way and this division is becoming a very competitive one.

I am a little concerned though that the Saints are in our proverbial heads(my opinion). I think they always think they can beat us and we seem to be always too cautious against them. I say open the playbook and let MR2 run things. Screen pass them to death and execute with reckless abandon. What do we have to lose? Stop the tiptoeing at 3rd & short and use all WMD at our disposal. We have an opportunity this Thursday to drive another nail in the ‘Aints coffin (49ers put one in yesterday), now we need to finish the job and help eliminate a dangerous opponent not only for the sake of winning the division, because we already have that sewn up, but also helping to eliminate an opponent who could potentially be our Achilles heel in the playoffs.

Go Falcons!!!

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
1:35 pm

Seminole Warrior ,

Don’t hear enough from you these days, but that’s the way it is sometimes. Hope all is well or at least getting better for you.

Nice post on drafting strategy…but I have to say you have taken me by surprise. Of course, I haven’t heard your full tilt (the rest of the draft)…which will be VERY entertaining at the least.

D3

November 26th, 2012
1:39 pm

Zoomie — Post is out.

Shotgun

November 26th, 2012
1:54 pm

Big Ray

Don’t forget that the Saints have Sproles this time. Glad the ATL LBs will be at full strength.

ROLL BIRDS ROLL

November 26th, 2012
1:59 pm

Anyone watching Monday Night Football tonight? It’s being billed as The Race to the Bottom! I’m cheering against $cam since he’s such an arrogant hot dog.

snacktastic

November 26th, 2012
2:04 pm

@ROLL: It would have been Underacheiving Mobile QB vs. Underachieving Mobile QB, but now it’s just Underachieving Mobile QB vs. Underwhelming Rookie QB. Panthers will probably win, not that it’ll get Cam out of his slump.

Shotgun

November 26th, 2012
2:07 pm

Zoomie

I agree with the first criticism of Matt Ryan with staring down the receivers and his lack of moving the safeties/LBs with pump fakes, yet you need to give Barber a ton of credit from leaving his cut man and jumping Roddy’s route(which was perfectly thrown to him).

Second one is a knee-jerk, coaching-armchair reaction I have EVER read. If you paid attention to the play, the DB moved over his coverage in the last minute. If Matt was in the shotgun(cough, cough), instead of under center, he would of easily seen it coming. Easy for us to say Matt should of saw it, but why was he under center in the first place?

It was just a great disguise and defensive counter. It happens.

Wabe

November 26th, 2012
3:19 pm

Only been a couple weeks since we last met the Saints…

The potential difference makers this time around:

a) stopping Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles in the run game
b) having a better gameplan to cover Jimmy Graham
c) getting Quizz more looks in the offensive gameplan

I think we have to play the run better and we have to have a better plan for Jimmy Graham. It’ll be tougher this time around defensively because they have the added threat of Darren Sproles. But then again, we have our defensive leader Spoon back in the mix. Regardless of whose back and whose not, the Falcons will have to play the run better than they did @ NOLA. Gotta make the Saints one-dimensional.

snacktastic

November 26th, 2012
3:32 pm

It’ll be interesting to see the impact Spoon has on the game, given that he watched the first matchup from the sidelines. It was definitely great to have him back yesterday.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

November 26th, 2012
3:48 pm

Travian Robertson played 16 defensive snaps against the Bucs, Might be the beginning of the end for Jerry.

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
3:54 pm

Shotgun – true. Sproles is a threat. But not one we can’t contain. I too am glad Spoon will be around for this one.

Arno

November 26th, 2012
3:55 pm

snacktastic — “It’ll be interesting to see the impact Spoon has on the game”

Vitt talks about Thursday: “This is not going to be a game about scheme. It will be abouit execution and physicality.”

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
3:55 pm

Seminole Warrior ,

Interesting that you didn’t bother with breaking this last game down. Tired of the same ol’, same ol’?

;)

Big Ray

November 26th, 2012
3:56 pm

Arno,

Vitt is telling the truth. May as well say “who wants it more” while he’s at it.

That’s why they say the first game is about finding out about the other team. The rematch is always about the fundamentals and who wants it most.

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
3:58 pm

D3 – Great job getting the post out so quickly! Thanks, man. You ought to get a raise for that… Oh, wait, nothing times nothing… Thanks again.

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
4:16 pm

Gotta close out some thoughts from this morning on the Cardinals game blog posts.

TRUTH – You got another witness. The OL manned up yesterday. I enjoyed your posts (9:16 am ff).

Kudos also to JWW (9:30 am), Wings (10:14 am), and especially Greg Mendel (11:18 am). Couldn’t agree more, Greg. I actually hate that your post was the last one on the old subject, rather than the first one on here. Such is life. Back later if I can.

Greg Mendel

November 26th, 2012
4:18 pm

The Aints always worry me. Not all of them, just Brees. Say what you will about him, but he’s a baller, and talented. Ryan is in the same mold, but younger.

It’s become almost impossible to think about the Aints without thinking about their relentless blog trolls. When they aren’t rub-your-nose-in-it arrogant after wins, they have an infinite list of excuses for losing. Which brings up another subject: Sports media and the Falcons.

Anyone — ANYONE — who thinks the national sports media will praise the Falcons in our lifetimes is delusional. If we get to the next Super Bowl, it will be a “fluke.” If we win it, that will be another fluke (and all about how the other team’s loss was a fluke). If the Falcons win four SBs in a row, they’ll all be flukes. Maybe our team needs a name-change.

Regardless, the Aints trolls will still be yammering about that ring they got way back when.

Lordy, I hate the Aints!

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
4:49 pm

Greg Mendel – glad to see you reposted at 11:32!

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
5:11 pm

Zoomie – great post (1:29 pm).

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
5:13 pm

Just dodgin’ in and out here.

Big Ray – you are right about Asante. Gotta hope the long week after Thursday will help. We need his ball hawking skills in the playoffs!

The Time is NOW

November 26th, 2012
5:16 pm

Nookah (1:33 pm) – Good post.

LRD

November 26th, 2012
5:27 pm

If you all have time.. this is a very good read on one of our LBs on the practice squad http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/magazine/the-hard-life-of-an-nfl-long-shot.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=todayspaper

Birdman

November 26th, 2012
5:34 pm

Great road win . Game ball goes to Ryan and Jones . They can split it

SW … It;s good to see you back in the Cage. I hope things with you and your family are getting a little better and your hearts are at least starting to heal some. God bless you brother.

Thursday Game . The game will be a big one for the Saints almost a must win But our Birds should be on fire to beat them this time around. To me this is a practice play off game for the Falcons and they should play it that way .

Concerns about Samuel for the game ?

Cage I hope you all a Blessed and great week

Birdman

November 26th, 2012
5:38 pm

On another note . GO DAWGS . Swim threw the Tide

russ7000

November 26th, 2012
5:44 pm