Atlanta Falcons: Birds Win Huge Game vs. Saints

Falcons Take Another Step

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham, right, sacks New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees in the fourth quarter of their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Huge Night by Abe, Defense (AJC)

The offense was anemic after the first drive and it was yet another nail-biter, but the Falcons removed another monkey off their back by beating their fiercest rival Saints on Thursday Night Football. After getting up early 17-0 and giving fans a hope of a blowout, the Falcons offense hit a stonewall and leaned heavily on one of the best defensive efforts likely in it’s history to beat the Saints. Not only did they win a big game, but the defense also nabbed a new career high 5 interceptions from Drew Brees along with snapping his 54 game streak with a touchdown pass. As of Sunday, the Falcons also clinched their 2nd NFC South division title in 3 years with the Tampa Bay Bucs losing to Denver.

Falcons Clinch 2nd NFC South Title in 3 Years

With the Tampa Bay Bucs losing in Denver on Sunday, the Falcons clinched their 2nd NFC South Division Title with 4 games remaining on the season. It’s hasn’t always been pretty and spectacular, but the fact remains that the Falcons still are tied for the best record in the NFL at 11-1 and, besides the Houston Texans, most other teams are finding their own struggles and actually losing games. No one is likely celebrating in Flowery Branch on the news of winning another NFC South Title, but rather on what they need to get fixed in the next month before the playoffs start. However, Coach Smith, all the coaches, the Falcons players, Thomas Dimitroff, Arthur Blank, and everyone else involved with the Atlanta Falcons franchise deserves amazing credit for giving Atlanta and it’s fans something to be proud of, which is a team that is consistently good to great every single year and has a chance at getting the whole thing someday.

Amazing Defensive Effort

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: The Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud (28) jumps on the back of safety William Moore after Moore's first of two interceptions in their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

D's Big Night (AJC)

Really all that needs to be said is the stat line: Drew Brees intercepted 5 times, which has never happened before and the Falcons defense breaks his long-standing TD streak at 54 games. It simply was a beautiful thing to behold, a defense that has had fits trying anything to shut down Brees and one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL the last 5 years. Even though John Abraham came away with only one sack on the night, the entire defense hurried, harangued, and hit Brees all night long to get him out of his comfort zone. The linebackers were all over the place batting balls, making plays, and giving tight coverage. The defensive backfield really stepped up with William Moore looking every bit the Pro Bowler with 2 awesome picks. Thomas DeCoud set the tone with his pick in the endzone in the beginning of the game. Along with Dunta Robinson, Robert McClain continued his excellent year with Christopher Owens having one of the best games of his career. And finally of course, much of the credit goes to one Mike Nolan for finally taking this defense to the next level in less than a year. In fact, if the offense never gets their consistency down, the Falcons defense may have to lead the way in the postseason.

1 for 11 on 3rd Downs. Really?

Let’s all just hope it was a really bad night on offense and not a disturbing trend. Matched up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Falcons offense hit a cement stonewall after their awe-inspiring and dominating first drive. It was a thing of beauty to witness the Falcons shoving the run game down the Saints throats, but after that they evidently checked out. Ryan was off-target, the running game got cute and had some more of those infamous wasted plays, the receivers were dropping the ball and disappearing, and they couldn’t gain a first down to save their lives, normally a very good area (coming into the game as #2 in NFL in 3rd down conversions). Roddy White said they got complacent. Let’s all just hope that it was one of those bad nights, but it’s still unfathomable to understand how an offense loaded with so much talent can get completely shut down. They better get some things fixed and start getting it together very soon because the calendar is running out and they don’t want to head into the playoffs limping on offense. Especially when the defense is playing at such a high level.

Running Game Gets Going………..Early

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) fights for extra yardage as New Orleans Saints defenders tackle him after a gain in their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

This Must've Been Later in Game (AJC)

It was the best that Michael Turner has run in a long while. The first offensive drive was a sight to see. Turner was pounding the rock, running hard between the tackles and Jacquizz Rodgers was adding in the quick and shifty runs as a perfect complement. This was exactly what Falcons fans had been waiting to see: a sort of “thunder and lightning” combination. It sure was nice to see, but for whatever reason, the running game and the offense as a whole just fell off a cliff. It was a shame to see the running game going so well early on and the passing game be so terribly off. Which leads directly into the next point.

Will This Team Ever Fully Click?

You surely can’t blame the defense at this point, but this will be an ongoing question either until this team comes together in all three phases or they it will be a case of untapped potential. Yes, they’re still winning, but the teams that find a way to get to the Big Dance and hoist that Lombardi Trophy are the ones that find a way to come together and play great in all three parts. At times it’s been the offense and others it’s been the defense. Others, the special teams has bailed the team out. Fans keep waiting. Offense are you listening?

Woeful Offensive Line

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) attempts a pass as lineman Peter Konz (66) blocks New Orleans defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (76) in their 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

A Yucky Offensive Performance (AJC)

There’s nothing else to say that already hasn’t been beaten to a pulp going all the way back to preseason and even last year. There’s certainly no immediate help and, just like the team itself, it seems as though the entire line can’t all perform on a high level at the same time. In the past the problem has been pressure from the outside, particularly from Clabo’s end. Sam Baker has done pretty well overall. During the Saints game, the tackles seem to hold their ground only to see the middle get blown up all game long. Rookie Peter Konz was getting handled, 35 year old Todd McClure had his hands full, and even the usual steady Justin Blalock was shaky. The Falcons don’t have a whole lot of reinforcements available this deep into the season and really didn’t change anything from last year’s underwhelming OL. At this point, it’s up to OL coach Pat Hill and Dirk Koetter to find ways to either improve the OL, minimize the deficiencies, and play to their strengths. Let’s all hope they find a way to fix it the best they can down the homestretch.

Is Ryan a Rhythmic Passer?

There definitely have been times when Matt Ryan has gotten off to a bad start and come back to play well. And surely, to an extent, all quarterbacks need to get some type of rhythm. However, it seems particularly acute with the Falcons quarterback. When Ryan gets off to a good start, he usually finishes with a fantastic day. Look no further than some of the games this year, the first Saints game comes to mind. Maybe it’s unfair to say that Ryan must start good to finish good, but the opposite does seem to be true: when Ryan gets off to a rocky start with constant pressure, he usually struggles the entire game. With this porous offensive line even the best quarterback would have a hard time, but when Ryan has a few bad series to get the game started, it appears to be an uphill battle from that point on. Three games in particular stick out this season in that regard: the Raiders, Cardinals, and the Saints most recent game. Thursday night’s game would seem to be a dream for Ryan with the running game dominating early on, but the passing game was non-existent and managed only one TD after the first drive even though the defense nabbed 5 interceptions. Once again, this may not be all his fault because the offensive line was dreadful and receivers had plenty of drops, but if Ryan needs a good, quick start to get going than that should be an emphasis in game-planning.

Owens Redemption

November 29, 2012 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons cornerback Chris Owens (21) deflects a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joseph Morgan (13) in the first half of their game at the Georgia Dome Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., November 29, 2012. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Owens Good Game (AJC)

It didn’t come in a playoff game, but Christopher Owens had a night to remember. Long known (unfairly) as the main scapegoat to the Debacle in the Dome destruction vs. the Packers in the 2010/11 playoffs, Owens had a big night subbing in for Asante Samuel after the first play of the game. Owens had several nice passes defensed, including an especially athletic one in the endzone that would have otherwise gone for a TD. It was great to finally see Owens play up to his potential that most fans remember back when he took over at the end of 2009. Seeing Owens and Robert McClain doing so well under Mike Nolan’s defense has alleviated some worries at cornerback going forward the next several years.

Will Falcons Ever Find Killer Instinct?

It certainly doesn’t seem so. Stop if you’ve heard this one before. The Falcons get off to a great start, even going up 17-0 in the first half with a foe (the biggest rival in this case) they seem to have on the ropes and on the verge of burying them. And then……….the Falcons let them right back in the game and have to find a way to win at the very end of the game. Yes, it’s going to happen from time to time, especially when playing a good opponent with a high-powered offense. But this is a common occurrence with the Mike Smith led Falcons. It can’t all be put on Smith for getting conservative when getting a big lead (in fact they started throwing the ball after being dominant in the run game on the first series), but do the Falcons always have to put themselves in this position? The score was 17-0 and the defense was playing lights out, only to see the offense hit a brick wall and go 1 for 11 on third down conversions. One of the biggest complaints from fans in the off-season was the Falcons inability to develop any kind of killer instinct. Obviously all wins can’t be blowouts, but whenever the Falcons have a chance to put a game on ice, they simply can not find a way to do it, whatever the reason.

Bird Cage Egg Tosser’s Turn

1) Simple Egg Toss – overall thoughts on beating the hated Saints on Thursday Night Football?

2) Is that one of the best Falcons defensive performances in franchise history?

3) Will the defense carry the torch in the playoffs, instead of the offense?

4) What in Hades happened to the offense?

5) Emerging trend (getting figured out) or just one bad night?

6) Thoughts on the running game vs. the Saints

7) Will this team ever fully click this season or postseason?

8.) Anything left to say about offensive line?

9) Is Ryan a rhythmic passer?

10) Thoughts on Chris Owens superb performance?

11) Will the Falcons ever find a killer instinct in 2012?

12) How good does it feel to be 2012 NFC South Champs?

750 comments Add your comment

Slant Pattern

December 2nd, 2012
8:41 pm

Yummm. Fresh blog space.

falcon21

December 2nd, 2012
8:49 pm

D3, been under the weather here too, anyway no worries, keep up the good work my friend. You are still da man.

snacktastic

December 2nd, 2012
8:53 pm

Bird will be ready to crush the Panthers after the break. Just two more wins and we lock up home-field advantage.

snacktastic

December 2nd, 2012
8:54 pm

…Birds. I’m pretty sure Bird is retired.

Chris

December 2nd, 2012
9:00 pm

Awesome win, dome was a rock’n. There are a few disturbing trends on offence and some db injury woes that are sure to show themselves sometime. I have just one question, will there be a complete game. Offence, defence, and special teams. I haven’t seen a complete game since the Chargers game. Overall a good win but still some uncertianty heading into the playoffs. Can they do it……I believe so…….but then again I always do…..I’m a Falcons Fan……

Michael

December 2nd, 2012
9:04 pm

Hope you are well soon Dawson. Flu’s been going around so be cautious.

I am impressed by Nike Nolan. Mike Smith owes him big time for bailing this team out. I was very anxious to see how well Nolan would scheme having played a team once before. We’ve all seen what he could do in making halftime adjustments. He definitely answered the question of how he makes adjustments after having an entire game under his belt.

As for William Moore, he showed that he can very well be a big time player. He was all over the field…in coverage, coming up in run support to make huge hits, and in making big plays. McClain also turned in yet another great game. And to think Mike Smith cut this guy to start the season. I think its safe to say the team will save some money on the salary cap next year by not re-signing Brent Grimes.

Don’t know why the team abandoned the run game that was going so well. Was it Smith or Koetter? I see this as the main concern going forward (though I know many will disagree and say the O-line is THE biggest). As I’ve stated before, Mike Smith is not a transformational coach, he is a transactional one. Transformational leaders motivate, inspire, and challenge their players to reach above their capabilities or to play at the highest level at all times. Transactional leaders look at and play percentages, nothing more. This method will win you more than you lose, but it doesn’t get you over the proverbial “hump.” I do hope I’m wrong but after listening to his entire press conferences after games each week, he can always throw out a lot of numbers and stats, but I worry about him being able to reach the hearts of men and speak to that when needed.

Congratulations Falcons. You won the division. Now two more wins and we get home field throughout the playoffs!!!

JB Falcon

December 2nd, 2012
9:18 pm

Great post Michael, I hope it’s not true, even though it has merit.

Birdman

December 2nd, 2012
9:24 pm

I think it was a victory that assured them a playoff spot. Now that the Bucs lost they got the NFC South title for 2012

The Saints game showed our defense can realty play hard even when our offence goes flat after a very good run game performance. Turner looked better in this game than he has all year maybe because of the blocking or maybe because the Saints D is no good at stopping the run

Matt Ryan looks as if he could use a break and catch up on some rest . I think it would be good to rest him and White as well as others if they were to clinch the home field in the next 2 or 3 games.

Moor ‘ Spoon and Abe played great in this game they deserve the top 3 best spots over all .

Falcons 2012 NFC South Champs …Gotta love it !!

Cage ya’ll have a good night and God Bless you all and this country

falcon21

December 2nd, 2012
9:34 pm

Birdman, no disrespect buddy but Ryan don’t need rest, he needs a good o-line.

Birdman

December 2nd, 2012
9:38 pm

I here you on that 21 and agree
. But I think a few weeks off would make a lot of them play better and have the fire reborn that we saw in the first 2 games of the year

falcon21

December 2nd, 2012
9:45 pm

You may be right Birdman but I’m not big on resting your players at this time of season. They need to get their act together now and go on a roll.

Arno

December 2nd, 2012
10:04 pm

Z-Atlanta

looks pretty good on the espn standings page

Matty Bicep

December 2nd, 2012
10:11 pm

It is the catch 22, there is something to being for being desperate. I truly agree with 1 week at a time, and not to be looking down the road, so we are in no-mans land. I just don’t expect to see anything exotic, even guy Smitty’s standards.

DHunt

December 2nd, 2012
10:34 pm

Would not be surprised if you saw nothing but vanilla from Atlanta’s offense for the rest of the regular season. We can win 2 of 4 with that, and that’s all we need for homefield throughout playoffs. So why pull out anything you may want to save for the playoffs at this point. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that GB and NYG were very prepared for what the Falcons had to offer the past two playoff appearances. Now everyone is going A-Gap, and trying to figure out which Falcon’s receiver to leave open. May be a good idea to keep them wondering. Keep the starters in, keep them playing, but keep it fundamental.

dbird1

December 2nd, 2012
11:04 pm

Nfc south champs. Ordered my shirt today. Hey seen, maybe you could get a nfc south 3rd place shirt made up. You know, everyone gets a ribbon. Lol !!!!! :)

Slant Pattern

December 2nd, 2012
11:23 pm

“Birdman, no disrespect buddy but Ryan don’t need rest, he needs a good o-line.” – falcon21

QFT. I try to just ignore certain things but every now and again even I get impressed with the bizarre stuff people come up with. Case in point, a Baker homer (yes apparently he does have one at least) was complaining about the announcers calling him out for getting beat like a drum and Ryan smahed. His post was along the line of “I don’t understand why people are so hard on Baker, I mean Ryan got the ball away”. Ryan has gotten pummeled far too often this year and it is amazing alot of our fanbase doesn’t see or care.
I don’t know what to say about resting up yet. I would like to see us go all out against NY Vagiants to take stock of where we are at. After that I wouldn’t mind seeing Dom Davis get the nod after a first series in the last two. Getting him some exposure will possibly raise his trade value up to a nice point if he does well. I don’t think Ryan is the resting type tho. I see alot of posts about “hiding” stuff but we have heard that song before. I don’t buy it for one second. The things we need to work on have to be battle tested and not just practice field perfection. We have seen the results from that too and most often they were not good.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

December 3rd, 2012
12:12 am

CONGRATS to the Falcons for clinching the NFC South title.

However, I agree with some of the other bloggers who’ve mentioned the lack of production from the Falcons’ O-Line. The team is stuck this year with what they have but hopefully the replacements for McClure, Clabo, and Baker can be identified before the season starts next year. They are simply too small in size to be effective against bigger/stronger linemen.

Falcons Continue To Rise Up!!!!!

Big Lou

December 3rd, 2012
1:27 am

SP

I agree. I hope the SF 49ers start winning so the Falcons keep trying. I want the best effort versus the Giants. I want to see if our Oline can hold up against the best pass rush in the league and if the screen game will work. I am still looking for that dominant game like the Chargers where we had starters resting in the 3rd quarter. I want the defense like the Cowbous/Saints game and the offense like the Chiefs/Eagles game clicking at the same time!

Enough of this conservative, fail execution, excuse making BS. Pull out all the stops and blow out some teams!

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage ← Saban says he’ll enjoy SEC title for two weeks Cancel [...]

Zoomie

December 3rd, 2012
5:45 am

Get well soon, D3.

The Falcons could’ve effectively run against the Aints the entire game. A few short gains, and TFLs, but most of the runs were effective. The Falcons just abandoned the run for some reason.

Screens were taking too much time to develop, too obvious, and ill-timed. I was a little perplexed with the play-calling during this game. Hence, my earlier question about Koetter: I’m starting to wonder if he’s the guy that should have the keys to this high-powered, high-octane offense. WHERE THE HELL IS THE NO-HUDDLE?

(Is it just me, or are the Falcons exhibiting the disturbing trend of attacking the other team’s defensive STRENGTHS?)

Much of the Falcons’ offensive failure was due to good defense from the Aints. Beyond that, I pin the dull offensive performance mostly on the O-line. McClure and Konz got handled most of the game. Baker started fading to the inside to shore up the middle and the pocket started getting squeezed from the left side as well. Clabo had another decent showing in this game.

Not alarmed yet. Fatigue, especially by the rookie and the Old Man of the Line, could reasonably be expected on a short week. I’ll wait to see if they improve moving forward.

(I know the soft middle has been an issue in earlier games, but Konz is still pretty new to the mix. The Falcons are winning, so he has the latitude to grow and improve.)

Of the broken pass plays, there were three obvious WR drops that should’ve been catches. There were five bad throws by Deuce (but he didn’t have much of a pocket). The rest of the broken pass plays were primarily due to good defense by the Aints.

On the crosses and slants, the Falcons’ WRs are tailing downfield at the peak of their routes. This has been the cause of two of Ryan’s picks this year, and the cause of a few of the broken pass plays. A lack of fundamentals/discipline on the part of the WR corps. Slants and crosses must be run crisply and, if anything, cheating back toward the QB. Fading downfield allows the defender to undercut the route too easily. HD83 and RW84, I’m talking to you. (Something for you to watch too, JJ11.)

I’m not going to write a single critique on the Falcons’ defense. They earned a Fan B*tch Pass with this game!

Seems we all want to see the Falcons beat down some other team, as has been done to them too many times. That would be good, but with all their faults, this team just keeps winning. Maybe as others have said, they’re holding back now, waiting to let it all hang out in the playoffs. As it is, the Falcons are a pretty damn good football team and, I believe, will only get better. Onward and upward!

(Here, kitty – kitty . . .)

marko

December 3rd, 2012
6:10 am

Another ugly win. As I watched the games this weekend, I became convinced that ugly wins beat the hell out of moral victories. As it now stands , the top seed’s ours to lose. The Falcons have a commanding three game lead over every other team in the NFC. Two of our four remaining opponents , the Panthers, and the Lions have sub 500 records. The Bucs are 500, and the mighty Giants are a whopping 7 and 4. By the numbers, the Falcons are the best team in the NFC. This is December, The last few Super Bowls have been dominated by teams like the Giants, and the Packers. Lackluster teams with mediocre records that picked the right time to wake up and smell the coffee.

At this point, the Birds could settle for five hundred, and sleep walk into the playoffs. I hope they avoid that route. They’ve managed the best record in the league without ever bothering to play their best ball. This is the time to rise up. This should be our time to take in a strong whiff of coffee. We have the best record , but few give us credit for being the best team. They shouldn’t. Not till we prove it.

Last year the Giants held our offense scoreless. If the Falcons really want to make a statement, they’ll kick their butts all over the field. the Lions and Panthers are enjoying miserable seasons. Let’s see to it that they stay that way. The pesky Bucks are still entertaining playoff hopes. All that enter the Georgia dome should be prepared to abandon hope.For outsiders it doesn’t exist beneath our roof.

Wings

December 3rd, 2012
6:43 am

Congratulations Falcons!!! Now the play ahead will require more!!

Michael – “..but I worry about him (Smitty) being able to reach the hearts of men and speak to that when needed.”

It needs repeating because it is the best communication and will be required to win a Super Bow.

Big Lou – “Enough of this conservative, fail execution, excuse making BS. Pull out all the stops and blow out some teams!”

New York Jets win 7-6 over Arizona Cardinals. HC Smith’s dream score. More points please!!

Sandra

December 3rd, 2012
7:07 am

It was an exciting game! Congratulations to the Falcons for winning the division. Go Falcons!

Chop Buster

December 3rd, 2012
7:12 am

NFC South Champs – Check
Homefield Advantage throughout
NFC Champions -
Superbowl -

One game at a time. Let’s play tough, disciplined, attacking football to keep our opponents down. Time to steamroll some teams and stop the sportsman like play (sitting on leads).

The Time is NOW

December 3rd, 2012
9:18 am

Congratulations to the NFC South Champs! More work to be done now. Finish strong and get on a roll, while hopefully allowing some of the walking wounded to heal up for the playoffs. Hated to read about the lack of historical success for teams starting 11-1, but I still believe the Falcons have a legitimate shot this year.

Big Lou

December 3rd, 2012
9:28 am

By the way…

Remember how I clamored for Russel Wilson in the draft?

I knew the kid will be a stud. Seahawks look like they will make the playoffs.

Hamad Meander

December 3rd, 2012
10:24 am

I was at the game Thursday night (wanted to hide in theDome until Saturday afternoon, but they found me!), and I want to say a few things: 1. Ugly wins are wins and I’ll take them all day long. 2. Why is a win where you force 5 INTs from a Hall of Fame QB “ugly”? 3. The Dome is tired and needs to be replaced (sarcasm). 4. We were 3 or 4 plays away from a complete blow-out of the Saints.

I still like this team very m uch and think they will go far.

SPS

December 3rd, 2012
10:27 am

Looks like a stress free December ahead for a change. It would be nice to lock up home field advantage in 2 weeks and play the final 2 like preseason games – starters only playing a couple of series. Stay sharp, but stay healthy.

I’m pulling for the Rams to get a wild card slot so they can knock off the 49ers again. What’s going on with that? And Peter King still has the 49ers ranked ahead of us. Then again he predicted the Panthers to win our division in 2010. He only missed that one by about 13 games.

Geo

December 3rd, 2012
11:08 am

SP: ” I see alot of posts about “hiding” stuff but we have heard that song before. I don’t buy it for one second.”

Agree. We’ve heard the same thing the last two seasons, and it never materialized. I will believe it when I see it.

Our offensive creativity seems to be regressing. I want to say that the reason is because of an effort to get Michael Turner going, but I just checked the playing time percentages, and he was in for 34% of the offense while Quizz was in for 53%. Then again, that could be enough. I know there were several touches for Turner that looked like Quizz would have gotten significant extra yardage out of. He should never be thrown to, and yet he was at least a couple of times against New Orleans.

So, is Koetter a smart, creative OC that is being handcuffed by Smitty and his Turner fixation? Can Turner still be involved without turning us into an easily defensed team with a worn out playbook?

Michael

December 3rd, 2012
11:19 am

Wings and JB Falcon

I do hope I’m wrong about Smith but again, just from listening to him speak the last five years, he is a data driven manager, not a transformative figure and in the end, that may very well hurt their long range chances. As a case study, observe Tom Couglin. Early in his head coaching tenure in Jacksonville and even in New York, he was a numbers person. He had his players winning games, but not championships. It wasn’t until AFTER his Giants team almost revolted on him and some seasoning did he become a more transformative leader, speaking to the motivation of men and not just addressing metrics. If Smith cannot do this, I fear for my heart because it sure can’t take much more disappointment and another off-season of hoping yet again, Rise Up!!!

BobbyDawg

December 3rd, 2012
11:31 am

I would love to see us end the regular season at 15 — 1, but more than that I hope we advance in the playoffs. Either way it’s GREAT to be a Falcon fan. GO BIRDS.

D3

December 3rd, 2012
11:40 am

Greetings Cage Family! — Over halfway done with new post. Not back to 100%, but am feeling better.

2012 NFC SOUTH CHAMPS!………..but I doubt anyone in Flowery Branch is celebrating that. But we can.

See you later…….

Geo

December 3rd, 2012
11:45 am

D3, get plenty of rest and mend. We got this.

Yeah, NFC South Champs. Gotta love it. And love hearing all the talk about teams fighting for spots, who’s in, who’s out, while we cruise into the post season.

Matty Bicep

December 3rd, 2012
11:45 am

Michael, I have compared Smitty to Coughlin often. They are both very similar, number crunchers who require discipline and near perfection, guys who understand the field position, clock management, penalty chess match that is today’s NFL.

But the changes in Coughlin are not dramatic, for if they were, no way he insists on running the ball all year after finishing the regular season with the worse YPC in the NFL. But I think he was able to crack the code to understand and speak to the stress his style puts on his players. to get them to play loose….I think Ryan’s mindset it key to our playoff success. If he is loose and throwing it around, we will be OK, hopefully he learned something from the NO win.

Coop

December 3rd, 2012
11:52 am

Play hard every game. Resting or going vanilla either leads to players getting hurt by playing “not to get hurt” or a team that can’t switch it back on. I’ve yet to see us play a complete game anyway.

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2012
12:26 pm

D3 – get well. But thanks for the new blog space! ;)

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2012
12:28 pm

The only person on the CS I can see “hiding something” for the playoffs would be Nolan.

Smitty only hides from the media when it comes to injuries to players or who will get the starting job.

Koetter – who knows? The groom is still worried about the shotgun the father of the bride is holding…

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2012
12:44 pm

Offensive thoughts:

1) Turner can still be useful. He looks sometimes like his runs are inspired…sometimes like they are not. But we should not throw to him. At least not by design. There will be plays, no doubt, where there are no choices or certainly worse ones. I’d say there is a trick to when to use Turner, but the fact is we just don’t know when the OL is actually going to open a hole.

2) Rodgers has a good deal more of an ability to gash a defense. Therefore, he should be the first guy to get carries. Plus, he can make guys miss. Furthermore, he is better at turning a short pass into something than Turner could ever hope to be.

3) Some of these passing routes really stink. As somebody else already said, they allow DBs to make a break on the ball while not having to change direction. I’ll say it again – most of the INTs Ryan is throwing involves DBs not having to change direction or even cross the field to make a play. Now you can look at that two ways – you can fault Ryan alone for this (and he does deserve some fault either way) or you can entertain the idea that there is some flaw in play design.

4) I don’t know what to say about the OL other than consistency would be nice. Folks don’t often “rise to the occasion” as much as they are reduced to their level of talent and training. Not a nice thing to say, but facts are facts. Against playoff teams, the running game will depend partially on how well the OL can open up holes. More importantly, since we go as far as Ryan takes us, that means also as well as the OL protects. Given time, Ryan can usually find the open guy or at least the guy who can make the play. Most teams can’t cover all of our guys as long as we don’t go all vanilla with Turner in the backfield as a blocker, rather than a threat.

Big Lou

December 3rd, 2012
12:45 pm

Top five defenses in the league with points allowed(most important stat, screw yards allowed):

SF 14.3
Chi 16.5
Sea 16.8
Hou 18.4
Atl 19.1

Not too freaking bad, Mike Nolan. Not too freaking bad. Yet, I was pointing out the Dolphin’s points allowed stats when he got hired in the beginning(which was 6th last year).

Big Lou

December 3rd, 2012
12:48 pm

If you think about it, the defense only had two bad games this season. The one against Carolina at home, and the one against Drew Brees with no Sean W.

Defense will make a huge difference this year going into the playoffs. I just hope the offense gets it together.

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2012
12:52 pm

The teams that got hot, that made playoff runs…they didn’t let off the pedal. Yeah, rested some guys in the end, but there was no slacking on execution. Lord knows THIS team, as much as they’ve won, cannot afford to slack off AT ALL.

Here’s another thought – I have mixed feelings about a bye for the first round of the playoffs. Sure, it gives you time to rest your guys (especially those with ailments). Sure, it gives you time to gameplan. But that hasn’t worked for us in the past, so I have a hard time feeling like it’s an advantage. But what does it do for intensity?

A bye works out best for us if it gives us a favorable matchup…in other words if it puts us against a team that we match up well with. Otherwise…ehhh, I don’t know. Case in point – SF seems to have it rough every time against St. Louis…because the Rams match up well with them.

Big Ray

December 3rd, 2012
12:53 pm

Big Lou,

Good points on Nolan and the defense.

Greg Mendel

December 3rd, 2012
12:53 pm

I’ve decided to follow the Falcons in one-game-at-a-time mode from here on out. They’ve won the division and a place in the playoffs. They can get some icing on that cake with home field and a bye, but that didn’t do them any good against the Packers.

Conjecture can be entertaining, but it’s still guessing. What we know for sure is that Smith’s team has delivered five straight winning seasons, and has won 11 games out of 12 so far in 2012. We also know the team has lost all three playoff games since 2008.

Of the four remaining regular season games, we could win them all, lose them all, or have a mix. No guarantees. We could be one-and-out again, or…?

Personally, I don’t think the Falcons (or any other team) are hiding any special magic for the playoffs. I’m guessing they start the first playoff game with the same conservative plan that got them all those regular season wins. But I’ll bet, this time, there will be a Plan B ready to uncork the moment it’s needed. It may fall short, but that playoff Albatross has grown bigger than the team bus.

LRD

December 3rd, 2012
1:40 pm

Heading to the playoffs.. is ATL really hot? Or just consistent? I say we are consistent and I am waiting for the clutch to be pushed down and we go into 5th gear. We have seen glimpses of it this year, but again, as a Team, I have yet to see a complete game.
I actually think this bodes well for us.. and expect the 5th gear to be seen against the Giants, as that is when we need the urgency and for the team to get “hot”. We need that payback against the Giants oh so bad… break yet another mental chain.

Paddy O

December 3rd, 2012
1:42 pm

That first interception and the last one were things of beauty.

Paddy O

December 3rd, 2012
1:45 pm

I have lost a lot of what little faith I had in Welcome Back. He does not come up with very innovative game plans. Nor does he make quick – say, after a single 3 & out possession – adjustments – especially when the O line is getting smashed around. I’m really wanting MORE, a LOT more no-huddle. Especially if we go consecutive 3 & outs.

Wings

December 3rd, 2012
2:06 pm

Big Ray if your four points were followed, the Falcons would win the Super Bowl.

Big Lou I would bet on it that HC Smith had some hands in those two games. He didn’t have as much time to “interfere” last week and was limited to the offense.

Wings

December 3rd, 2012
2:07 pm

Paddy O I don’t think we can say it is Koetter yet. He was give a set of plays, a running back forced on him, and the guy with the shotgun.

Chop Buster

December 3rd, 2012
2:10 pm

Paddy, I thought I read somewhere that Smitty controls when we go in and out of the no-huddle. I am mixed as to what is really going on with the offense. I don’t know if Koetter’s hands are tied by Mularkey’s playbook or he (Koetter) just can’t make the in-game offense adjustments.

Chop Buster

December 3rd, 2012
2:14 pm

Wings (2:07)- “He was give a set of plays, a running back forced on him, and the guy with the shotgun.” LOL…you’re right. All we can go is guess what may be going on offensively. I just wish I could be a fly on the wall for one game planning session.