Atlanta Falcons: Birds Embarrassed by Panthers

One of Worst Losses in Smith Era

Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams (34) runs for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. The Panthers won 30-20. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

No Falcon in Sight (Chuck Burton)

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It’s hard to know where to start on this one. To be blunt, this was one of the worst losses in the entire time that Mike Smith has been head coach. This team has serious problems and they just proved to all the doubters and skeptics that they may be right after all. The Falcons may not always win while under Smith’s reign, but they usually always play hard and fight until the end. Well, that appeared not to happen on Sunday in Charlotte. The Falcons were not only beaten, but flat out embarrassed. Fans likely started getting that same sick feeling in the back of their throats the way they did the last two years in the playoffs, because that’s how bad they looked. A look at the horror show that was:

Offense Just Pitiful

Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (11) leaps into the end zone past Carolina Panthers' Haruki Nakamura (43) for a touchdown as Falcons' Harry Douglas (83) watches during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

One Bright Spot (Chuck Burton)

15 yards in the first quarter. 40 total yards in the first half. Michael Turner 2 carries for 3 yards. Do those stats strike you as a team ready to make waves in the postseason? Sure, they turned it on when they decided to start playing, but by that point it was entirely too late. When they were well behind, they decided to start playing a little offense and looked pretty good in the no-huddle which bogged back down when they needed points. The running game was non-existent, the line was horrible, and Matt Ryan was off yet again. Most of us tried to chalk up the poor offensive game vs. the Saints as just a blip, but they actually looked worse against the Panthers.

Rodgers Should Get Bulk of Carries

That’s putting it nicely. The fact has long been that Jacquizz Rodgers has shown way more upside and the ability to carry the bulk of carries in the backfield. All Falcons fans appreciate what Michael Turner has done for this franchise and he’ll likely have a banner hung in his name when it’s all said and done, but he’s just not getting it done. It’s hard to part with players who have meant so much to the franchise, but the time has come. Mike Smith obviously hasn’t got that memo. The entire offense played terrible so it’s unfair to scapegoat just one player, but Jacquizz Rodgers is just better and the facts don’t lie. Rodgers had 21 yards on 4 carries and Michael Turner carried the ball 7 times for 14 yards.

Just a Blip or Playoff Preview?

Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams (34) leaps high as he is hit by Atlanta Falcons' Stephen Nicholas (54) and Dunta Robinson (23) during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Yuck (Chuck Burton)

This game had trap written all over it. The Falcons clinched the NFC South and were playing a 3-9 team with the Giants coming up next week. Fans are trying their best to chalk it up as just a blip, but there’s a growing fear that we’re starting to see an eerily similar storyline. In 2010, the Falcons won a lot of close games en route to a 13-3 season and the NFC #1 seed. The rest, of course, is history seeing the Birds have a complete meltdown catastrophe vs. the Packers. Being completely objective, the Falcons are still 11-2, have already won their division, and are still leading the NFC, but the nightmare scenarios are getting worse and not better with the Falcons seemingly playing their best football at the beginning of the season and playing their worst football closer to the playoffs. There’s still 3 games left and all 3 teams will be good tests for the playoffs. This one can be chalked up to a trap game, but we’ll know everything we need to about this team the next three weeks, starting with the Giants at home in a one week.

Ryan is Trending Downward

Yes, he threw for 325 yards and one touchdown, but he also does not look the same quarterback that he did in the first half of the season. He missed throws, looked jittery in the pocket, and just didn’t seem to be in a good rhythm. Maybe it’s playing behind a weak offensive line, maybe he’s suffering from a weak running game, or maybe his coordinator is not helping him at all. Who knows why, but the results say that Ryan is going in the opposite direction. He looks the most comfortable in an open, no-huddle type offense, but for whatever reason, the coaching staff seems to avoid it except when they are 23 points down. Here’s to hoping Ryan gets it figured out and quickly.

Defensive Line Must Improve

It’s been common knowledge that John Abraham has been the Falcons only pass rush for a long time. Problem is, when he’s not completely on his game, the Falcons have nothing else. Biermann has great hustle, but is more of a linebacker playing as a defensive end. No one has taken advantage of Ray Edwards absence whatsoever. In particular, the defensive tackle position appears particularly weak. Peria Jerry has never turned that mythical corner, Corey Peters is likely not 100%, Vance Walker is a good rotational player, and Jonathan Babineaux is playing more defensive end and on the downside of his career. The Falcons were gashed by the run yet again and it allowed Cam Newton be precise in his passing. All considering, the defense did pretty decent since the offense didn’t help whatsoever until entirely too late.

Where’s the No-Huddle?

Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (2) hands the ball off to Michael Turner (33) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

This is Done (Chuck Burton)

Matt Ryan always does best in an open, no-huddle type of offense. If you think about some of Ryan’s best games, they have come from those type of gameplans going all the way back to the Ravens game in 2010. This offense is more in sync, has more rhythm, and it masks some of the weaknesses on the offensive line. The Falcons were at their best early in the season with many of the no-huddle type of looks and yet they are going away from it with diminishing results. Even the run game seems more productive in the no-huddle. Do they have to stay in all the time? No, but why not go with what works best. They only implemented it when they were down 23 points and, sure enough, they went right down the field. The great mystery remains.

Bad Calls

This may come off as sour grapes and ultimately it likely didn’t matter with how poor the Falcons played, but there were several questionable calls at a very critical juncture in the game. The first was one of the worst calls of the entire season. The Falcons scored a touchdown and converted a two point conversion. Even the line judge ruled the 2 point conversion good and was evidently overruled. The ref said that Roddy White bobbled the ball, but the replay clearly showed he never bobbled the ball whatsoever. It was only two points, but it seemed to cut down some of the Falcons building momentum. Another play showed a critical catch by a Panthers receiver who appeared to drop the ball, the play was ruled incomplete, but the refs overturned that call. Finally, Dunta Robinson was called for holding a play where the defense seemed to get a stop. He was holding and it was the right call, but there were tons of times when Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and John Abraham were being held to no avail.

Tackling Still an Issue

Carolina Panthers' Mike Tolbert (35) runs as Atlanta Falcons' Chris Owens (21), Stephen Nicholas (54), and Thomas DeCoud (28) defend during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Weak Tackling (Chuck Burton)

This is an issue that was supposed to get fixed earlier in the season, but the Falcons are still having issues bringing down their opponents. Corey Peters couldn’t bring down Cam Newton for a sack (but also got no help at all either) and there were several other instances where the Panthers running back or quarterback got extra yards after the first hit. At best, they’re simply inconsistent. Some weeks they’ll tackle well and others, they won’t. If they don’t get it fixed in a hurry, they won’t be going far in the playoffs.

Bird Cage Painkillers Turn

1) Simple missed tackle – how awful was this game?

2) Does this rank as one of the worst under Smith?

3) Is it panic time with the offense?

4) What’s most to blame on offense (besides the OL)?

5) When will the Turner Era end? Should it end?

6) Was this just a blip or playoff preview?

7) What is wrong with Matt Ryan?

8.) Which is worse: offensive or defensive line?

9) Why do the coaches refuse to run no-huddle, open attack?

10) Bad calls or sour grapes?

11) Will tackling ever get consistent?

12) Are you terrified of upcoming Giants game?

1,438 comments Add your comment

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:18 pm

I just don’t know. I sure hope something is learned from this.

As to Ryan…he had some issues in this game, I CAN see that. But I think they are magnified because it was like he was allowed to play for less than two quarters. I would be far more upset with him if he’d been given the reins for the bulk of the game and just screwed up.

One has to consider his 325 yards came almost all in the late third and early fourth quarters. He really only made one mistake.

And dude is just NOT mobile in the pocket (what pocket there was). Tom Brady and Peyton Manning take sacks in those same positions that Ryan does. Difference is maybe they make the play because of an incredibly accurate throw as they are being hit, or because their man gets separation and makes the play.

Just sayin’….

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

I wish I could say the Steelers losing to the defunct Chargers made me feel better, but it would be a lie.

Steelers are playing without their starting QB and having legit age/injury/talent issues at multiple positions. But there ain’t much wrong with their schemes. Or their heart. Or their effort.

I cannot say the same of our team, though I am loathe to bag on our defense.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

I’m firmly convinced that our defense would be top 3-5 if they had more talent on the DL and more health in the secondary. I really do think the problem is not scheme, and even the execution (tackling) problems are not so bad. Sometimes it’s bad, but that is nearly always after the defense has been played way too much.

Still….with better talent and health, they’ll be dominant. 30 points against these guys is unheard of, largely. They’ve only allowed that TWICE this season.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:22 pm

Big Ray

Steelers starting QB did play… and the serious position injuries were healed up. They just got spanked. Lol

The Time is NOW

December 9th, 2012
4:22 pm

Enter your comments here

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:23 pm

Big Ray

Yup.

Both times against Carolina.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:23 pm

Cowboys completing a 4th quarter comeback makes me feel worse…largely because I know why they were able to pull it out – they didn’t make that big of a hole for themselves.

I don’t know what will be learned this week as far as the offense goes.

And if I’m Arthur Blank, I’m thinking to myself “Did I not tell these assholes that the OL didn’t play well last year, regardless of what their pithy statistical charts had to say?”

I know…I’m mad as hell (emotional) but if I’m Blank, I’m taking notes. Just taking notes. Season ain’t over, record isn’t determined yet. Postseason isn’t here yet either. We know we made it, but home field advantage slightly shaky at the moment.

Maybe I’ll come back and post later. My bloodpressure has me feeling my pulse in my f@cking eyeballs.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:23 pm

Big Lou – my bad…didn’t know…thought Batch was still out there. I still don’t feel better, but I can at least tell you you’re right and I’m wrong…

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:24 pm

D3

You confirm my comment last week. Post immediately up after a loss. Lol

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:25 pm

Big Lou –

Nope. Once against Carolina, once against New Orleans. Carolina scored 28 against us last time.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:26 pm

Big Ray

Not meant to make it feel better. Just pointing out facts. Still, it just feels like a weird day, that’s all.

Good news is… Mike Smith doesn’t usually lose two games in a row.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:27 pm

One caveat on this as my blood pressure tries to ease down (seriously, I can feel my pulse in my damn eyeballs).

Carolina matches up rather well with us. It does not excuse the horrible offensive game plan. It just shows that they can play us very tough, and have proven so. So we can’t go brain dead against them or other teams that play well against us.

This is a fact of life.

If you don’t believe in matchups, you have only to witness how the St. Louis Rams play the 49ers.

There are other matchups that are similar.

All the same… we will find something out next week .

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:27 pm

Oh, you’re right.

Saints did destroy us that first game!

Slant Pattern

December 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

Only good news today so far is Aikman is calling the Taints game. That disgusting bromance stuff during our game needs to be reveiwed by the NFL. Kids shouldn’t have to listen to verbal porn on Sundays.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:29 pm

Good news is… Mike Smith doesn’t usually lose two games in a row.

Pardon my mood…I get mad when we lose for stupid reasons.

D3

December 9th, 2012
4:29 pm

BL — Nah, just trying something different because the blog expires after 7 days and I hate when $hit happens.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:29 pm

Big Ray

QBs have to make plays with the possessions they get. Period.

I’m not saying Ryan was the only one making mistakes, but saying everyone else is at fault is also incorrect. There were multiple plays were Ryan threw the ball inaccurately or held it too long on a few plays. It’s called Romo syndrome. Nice stats, but poor choices trying to do everything himself.

Now, still, coaches, Oline, and Dline gets blame, too. I put this game mostly on the coaches, though.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:30 pm

Just watched Eli Manning try his best to complete a pass to Jabari Greer. Greer just didn’t want to catch it.

It looked very eerily like a throw Matt Ryan has been crucified for making. Hmmmm.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:31 pm

Same type of route, same type of throw. Damn near a pick. Right on Greer’s hands.

Coincidence? Nah.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:31 pm

D3

All good man. Just making a funny.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:32 pm

Giants pop the ball loose on a Colston reception. Refs in this game had no trouble avoiding making a bad call. Must not be in the House of FEMA. Either that, or the Giants have earned the right to good calls by winning in January. Who knows.

I’m out.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:33 pm

Fox Sports is stoked that Cam has grown up. Yeah, well they still can’t even get to .500, so blow me FoxSports.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:33 pm

Come on Saints! I’m actually wanting you to win this game.

I want the best shot from the Giants!

Arno

December 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

Ryan has a say on the sideline, not just in the no huddle. He bears more responsibility for this unprofessional effort than may be seen at first. He will also bear at least as much responsibility as Koetter/Smith for setting things right. The only positive note I have is that it happened this week and not later.

Big Lou

December 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

Hurricane Sandy > Hurricane Katrina.

darrell starks

December 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

Falcons will not win the playoffs with Turner starting at RB.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

December 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

I’m so looking forward to Roddy Whites post game interview. He will tell TRUTH…and tell it like it is. He looked pissed after the game.

darrell starks

December 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

Falcons are rank 27th in running on offense.

Falcons are rank 22nd against the run on defense.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike Franklin

December 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

No more buckets of KFC before the gametime!

Very, very embarrassing regardless of record.

Chop Buster

December 9th, 2012
4:41 pm

Offense has some serious issues right now and look out of sync. Even if the defense maintains gap control it’s still difficult to defend a running QB once he gets outta the pocket. We looked horrible all the way around today. Yet when we came out at half time we were only two TDs and a field goal down. We marched down the field in the no-huddle and then stopped it. We went right back into that hand the ball to Turner conservative defense. How about let’s trying to get the lead first and then go back to the running game OR run Jacquizz if we’re going to run the ball. Coaching lost this game today. I saw nothing by the coaches to get the rallied. They looked like they just stuck with a mediocre game plan. Again, I hope this wakes somebody up on the coaching staff and the team.

JJ

December 9th, 2012
4:42 pm

Tampa lost but who cares. Chicago lost is good, need fins to beat Niners and Det to beat Cheeseheads. We HAVE to have homefield and 1st rd bye if we have ANY CHANCE of winning just one playoff game!

Slant Pattern

December 9th, 2012
4:43 pm

“Ryan has a say on the sideline, not just in the no huddle. He bears more responsibility for this unprofessional effort than may be seen at first:” – Arno

If you go down this path, you won’t end up at a good place. Smitty is in full charge of when the no-huddle is used by his own admission. Ryan has zero say in what plays are installed by HC/OC even tho they may ask him about comfort levels with various things. In the end it is not his decision at all. The only thing Ryan controls is using the installed plays of the no huddle. If crap plays are installed then he gets his choice of crap plays but he cannot do anything more than that.
Liking Smitty and trying to defend Smitty is fine. If you use nonsense to try and deflect blame to do it however, expect flying grilled cheese in your direction.

darrell starks

December 9th, 2012
4:44 pm

Quizz create his own hole, this adjustment should be the easiest decision made, why the Falcons continue 2 starte Turner is beyond my imagination.

Turner 7 rushes for 14yards

Quizz 4 rushes for 21yards

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

Geo

December 9th, 2012
4:48 pm

Howdy Cage. I just finished watching the game. Couldn’t clear three hours today from 1-4. To me it is clear as day: we suck with Michael Turner. We have an MT offense and it sucks. Period. Falcons came out and ran Turner up the middle! Of course the offense was DOA. It’s the definition of insanity.

Had to laugh, Turner at the goal line at the end, guy hits his ankles and he’s down — because his feet aren’t moving. We will not win in the playoffs with him, guarantee it.

Oh yeah, and the OLine. Matt was hit and huried all day. Great QB. Has never had a line.

He was a workhorse for a few seasons, and helped us quite a bit, but he is done. Someone needs to tell Mike Smith.

Geo

December 9th, 2012
4:49 pm

Somehow my last two sentences were transposed…and so it goes

Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:51 pm

For another game again the Defense was trying their best to help us out, but the offense needs to do soul searching even Matt Ryan they all look like they were in a funk.

Defense lost players, but pretty much held their own at times.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:51 pm

I’m so looking forward to Roddy Whites post game interview. He will tell TRUTH…and tell it like it is. He looked pissed after the game.

Yep, probably will.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:54 pm

Geo

I’m watching Eli Manning literally sit in the pocket with time to scan the field. You know…so he can find that wide open guy that fans always see from a million miles away.

I’m watching Manning’s guys get open on the same damn sideline passes that we throw. I’m serious. The same damn plays.

Chop Buster

December 9th, 2012
4:56 pm

BR we’ve all said the DL and OL has been a problem since Smitty’s arrival–and still not fixed. We got no pressure on Cam all day and the Panthers front four got after Matt all day.

COfalconsfan

December 9th, 2012
4:57 pm

This team frustrates me to know end. Mike Smith coached this game as if he wanted to give his team essentially a two week bye, which is fine, but they better come back next week and play.

We have to stop wasting reps on Turner, the dude is done. The eyeball test clearly shows Rogers should be carrying the ball 15-20 times a game.

The strengths of the defense was missing two key components in Moore and Samuels. I hate to continue hearing anouncers love fest with John Abraham. Our pass rush is pathetic, if we are not getting coverage sacks, we aren’t getting sacks. If we had a Vonn Miller type pass rusher on this defense we would be superbowl favorites.

Matt Ryan has reverted back to having happy feet in the pocket which is throwing off his accuracy. The offense line is soft, no push in the run game and no protection on must throw passing downs. When its third and long, and the defense pins back their ears, they can’t block, too much push being given up straight in Ryan’s face. If this team keeps relying on converting 3rd down to keep drives going, and think we are going to win in the playoffs, get reading for another playoff loss like last year. Stretch the field!!!

Unca' Bob

December 9th, 2012
4:57 pm

Well, from what I saw today, Carolina simply lined up and kicked our butts. No excuses, no could’a, should’a crap. They won and we lost. Get over it. I’ve moved on. Feel free to join me.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
4:58 pm

If you go down this path, you won’t end up at a good place. Smitty is in full charge of when the no-huddle is used by his own admission. Ryan has zero say in what plays are installed by HC/OC even tho they may ask him about comfort levels with various things. In the end it is not his decision at all. The only thing Ryan controls is using the installed plays of the no huddle. If crap plays are installed then he gets his choice of crap plays but he cannot do anything more than that.

Truth. And that goes for the personnel that are on the field with Ryan.

I’m sure I’m labeled a Ryan homer, even though I have issues with his performance/game as well. I just don’t think they are as prevalent or as all-encompassing as other opinions might assert.

But we’re not all gonna agree on this type of stuff.

Arno

December 9th, 2012
4:59 pm

SP– Not zero say. Ryan was quoted last week describing a play he helped design for Quizz on the sideline. I’m only saying that Ryan can and should speak up when the playcalling stinks. My comment had nothing to do with defending Smith. Smith said last week that the coaches had some “fun” planned for December. If what we saw today was fun, well… never mind.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
5:00 pm

Chop Buster –

You’re right. That’s on Smitty, but TD doesn’t escape this either.

Ray

December 9th, 2012
5:04 pm

Yeah Mike Smith has a stubbornness either him or Koetter to continue starting people who are not doing so well.

Look I’m happy what Mike Turner has done for us, but it’s time to change the guards let a new RB show what he can do. If this continues we’ll be in for another debacle in the playoffs.

I hope not though as I can’t deal with another let down in the first round well second round if we get the bye. Okay I don’t want to be a one and done team again.

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
5:04 pm

Arno ,

I ehar you, but designing one play is like saying he has half a percent of say in things. Ryan might need to speak up more, but how do you think that should go down, exactly? I mean…does Eli “talk back” to Tom Coughlin? Does Tom Brady tell Bill Belichick how to fix things? I’m not being a smart-ass, I’m being real here….Ryan might have a nice relationship with Koetter, but if he doesn’t have that good “give and take” relationship with Smitty…

Here’s another thing. Ryan designs a play for Rodgers, and we saw this weeks’ comments from Ryan on Rodgers. His comment was that Rodgers never lets up, never gives up, keeps on keepin’ on…basically (paraphrased).

We see the results on the field.

So tell me…what’s Ryan’s say in this-

1) Turner still gets the lion’s share of the carries.

2) Turner still plays a large number of snaps..without positive effect.

3) Rodgers is consistently taken off the field immediately after he makes a play.

Maybe this is where Ryan should speak up, but will Smitty listen?

Big Ray

December 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

Unca Bob ,

Good advice. I’m just failing to heed it. Takes me a little while sometimes.

LRD

December 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

Hindsight being what it is… I should have stayed up on the river fishing than coming home for that 1st half. THat was just horrible… no other way to describe
At least the trout were biting this morning… as the Falcons were this afternoon.

Geo

December 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

Big Ray, I still haven’t caught up to real time (and probably won’t for a while, like I said, too much goin on, and now the dog wants a walk), but, yeah, I believe it re: Manning.

darrell starks

December 9th, 2012
5:06 pm

Chop buster, I no we have the best record in the NFC but this team record is Flawed.

JUST MY OPINION.

Until coaching staff make some minor adjustment on this team Falcons will not go very far come playoffs.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!