Atlanta Falcons Surge, then Hang On vs. Rams

Same Identity Shows Up Yet Again

Falcons Win........Barely at End (AJC)

That old and familiar scenario came once again with this Mike Smith-led football team: get an early lead and, for whatever reason, lets any and every opponent back in the football game, and must make a last gasp push to either win the game outright or pad the lead just enough. Fans are tiring of this identity. The Rams are a dang good football team and nothing should be taken away from them. But when one team is clearly the superior football squad on a given Sunday like this, it is maddening and supremely frustrating for fans to see this breakdown time and time again. It happens all the time and every single year often throughout the season.

Ice w/ Another Great Game (AJC)

Hardly anyone, even the most rabid fan, expects their team to go out and completely dominate every single week, especially in the parity-driven NFL. That’s not the issue here, though. Fans are sick of seeing the Falcons being the clearly dominate team (see Falcons 27 – Seahawks 7; Falcons 17 – Niners 0; Falcons 24 – Rams 3 among just a few) and then completely falling apart in some form or fashion in one quarter, one full half or 3 out of 4 quarters. A win’s a win and it’s one the Falcons needed, so that shouldn’t be discounted, but everyone knows that can’t and won’t last if they want to be champions. A look at the up and down win………

Atlanta Falcons M*A*S*H* Unit

The Falcons had one of the worst halves in terms of injuries to main starters and major players. Early in the game, the Falcons lost Asante Samuel, Sean Weatherspoon, Bradie Ewing, Steven Jackson, and Kroy Biermann in a very short timespan. Add that to some players that were already nicked up (Samuel, Stephen Nicholas, Roddy White, among others) and this is a really rough start to the 2013 campaign. It happens to every team and maybe it’s simply the Falcons turn after a 2012 years saw very minimal injuries in a 18 game span (22 including the preseason).

Snelling = Mr. Versatility (AJC)

News became even tougher today when fans found out that both Kroy Biermann and Bradie Ewing are both out for the year and will be placed on the injured reserve. This hurts pretty bad. After having a very solid start to the campaign, especially in the pass game, the former Wisconsin Badger has his second major injury in his first two years. Unfortunately, this puts his entire future in doubt moving forward. The Falcons aren’t completely helpless as Jason Snelling is ready to assume the new spot and the Falcons also kept FB Patrick Dimarco on the practice squad. Biermann hurts a little more since he was the most versatile defensive player on the Falcons defense and the main key to Nolan’s amoeba defense. It will be tough finding a replacement for Biermann since he did so much. Perhaps Jonathan Massaquoi or Stansly Maponga could fill that role, even though it’s unlikely with the latter considering Maponga has been inactive for the first two games. As long as the Falcons can start getting some of these nagging injuries shored up and don’t suffer any more major hits, they should be OK, but it’s been a very tough start to the year.

Osi, Mass with Good Games, Pressure

Bartu, the Man! (AJC)

The former New York Giant definitely isn’t JJ Watt, but he had a fantastic play with his pick 6 for a touchdown that showed he’s got plenty in the tank, at least for now. He hasn’t garnered the sacks so far, but he’s been getting decent pressure in the backfield and showed his versatility Sunday, something that will be called on more now that Biermann is lost for the year. Jonathan Massaquoi had one of the best preseasons of any Falcon and showed why fans are so high on him. He got very good pressure most game and gives fans hopes about finally, mercifully, perhaps actually developing a pass rusher of our own. He also may be called to play more of a joker type role since Biermann hits the IR. While far from perfect, the defense has shown a little better ability to create pressure without always blitzing.

That Old, Familiar (and Hated) Lull

Fans can’t even pretend that this doesn’t exist anymore. Furthermore, it can’t be wrapped in good feelings because “we won the game.” Those tend to go away when you lose these type of big games for ones that matter (see NFC Championship game and New Orleans). Some may try to defend Smith, but at a bare minimum, where does the buck stop for a team doing the same thing over and over and over again? The Falcons have assumed this identity for the last 5 years (excluding the first year since it was his inaugural campaign and a great comeback). They play down to any and every opponent and will literally let any team back into any game.

S-M-I-T-T-Y!!!!!!! (AJC)

There’s way more games like yesterday than there are ones like they put on display vs. the Giants last year. Some can make excuses all they want, but ultimately the buck stops at the head coach who prepares and runs the product on the field. The team absolutely assumes their coach’s style and philosophy. He may not even realize he does it, but there is simply to much evidence to suggest otherwise. After fantastic starts, something takes a hold of this team and they grind to dead-still halt. If you can’t put that on the head coach, who else then?

The Young Falcons CBs Continue to Grow

Osi Off to the Races (AJC)

With Asante Samuel exiting early once again, the trio of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Robert McClain stepped in and stepped up in their second game together. It’s definitely been one of the brightest spots to the early returns on the year. The Rams receiving corps won’t soon be confused with Denver’s high-powered arsenal, but it’s two weeks in a row that the young DB’s have stepped up. They will certainly get more and more tests as the season goes along, but it’s good knowing they are getting action early and often as the Falcons can depend less and less on the oft-injured Asante Samuel.

Offensive Line Up and Down

Similar to the Saints game, the Falcons offensive line started pretty well against the much heralded Rams defensive line. They protected Matt Ryan fairly decently in the early going and the running game showed some signs of life before an early injury to Steven Jackson. And like the Saints game, the offensive line both wore down and also suffered from an insanely weak set of offensive playcalling in the second half. To be sure, there are still major issues on the offensive line and it may need some type of shakeup at some point, but they showing some potential of just maybe getting better. If they can find a way to put 4 quarters together, they may be onto something.

Bartu Shouldn’t Come Off the Field

HD Continues Excellence (AJC)

From his very first stop where he tracked the running back out of the backfield for an early 3 and out to his overall play, undrafted free agent LB Joplo Bartu is making it impossible to keep him off the field. He may not be perfect, but he’s showing that he’s every bit as good as any linebacker the Falcons have, including 1st round draft Sean Weatherspoon at times. It may be because all the others are getting injured, but it’s very refreshing seeing a young player with tons of talent get playing time that aren’t a 1st or 2nd round draft pick. It’s very early, but Bartu is making it really hard to keep him on the sideline.

Forced Destruction of the WPP?

They say that when one door closes that another one opens or whatever analogy you choose. One potentially positive side of the mounting injury list is the possible tearing away of the infamous “Witness Protection Program” that has seen many young players show promise in camp and preseason, only to never been heard or seen from again (hence Big Ray’s WPP name). Joplo Bartu played a ton of snaps and played well. After only getting 12 snaps in week one, Jonathan Massaquoi played a lot more and got good pressure. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone both got in the game a good bit as well. Fans were hoping to possibly see preseason stud RB Josh Vaughan, but that was asking a little too much since he was already on the inactive list. Could the Falcons finally be developing and actually playing some of their own, lesser known talent? It’s too early to tell, but just maybe. If you see Paul Worrilow or the aforementioned Vaughan next week, you may want to pinch yourself.

Rest of post on it’s way…………honestly

The Falcons Cage Podcast #13 – Falcons Hang on vs. Rams

769 comments Add your comment

cb795

September 16th, 2013
7:49 pm

With the injury to SJ39, will we see Vaughan activated this week? In the pre season he looked very good and JR32 look like the second coming of MT33. The Falcons must run the ball to keep Matt injury free.

Wings

September 16th, 2013
7:50 pm

For Unca’Bob

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
7:52 pm

I guess I can’t be too surprised at Ewing’s injury, although I am disappointed. How long will this guy last with our team? Came back stronger than he was before, but out for the season again. Two years of basically nothing from this guy (but man, he can catch a pass and go with it reliably!).

Snelling back in the driver’s seat at FB, I guess.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
7:53 pm

Losing Biermann really, really hurts. He is the one “Joker” on this defense, which allows us to go amoeba as often as we do. Can we still play that style of defensive front without him? It should be possible…but we’ve never had to do it this way before.

It might force us into a more traditional 4-3 at times, I don’t know.

If you can identify a silver lining in this cloud, it’s that this injury creates opportunities for guys who have been in the background. Massaquoi will get the majority of Biermann’s snaps at DE, Goodman may get some as well. I don’t think Maponga will get in on this…he’s not well-versed in the system and struggled in preseason/camp.

At LB, I expect that Bartu will play even more, but perhaps Worrilow will get some burn. Somehow I think it means more snaps for Dent, who will continue to stink in coverage, but what do I know?

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
7:54 pm

I’d like to see Vaughn activated. But Smitty doesn’t trust guys until they’re proven, generally. Of course, you can only prove yourself by quietly staying in the WPP for a couple years and doing well on ST in practice. (sarcasm off)

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
7:56 pm

Big Ray

While I too am sorry to see the Bier Truck’s injury, do you think that this will result in a more traditional 4-3 look than the hybrid “scheme” we have seen thus far?

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
7:58 pm

Massaquoi will be called upon for many more snaps now, and how well he holds up against the run will be key.

The question is will another guy also see more snaps? Here are your candidates:

1) Cliff Matthews. Asked to add weight and do some time at the DT position, Matthews could also see time at DE for the Birds.

2) Malliciah Goodman. The man has size, strength, and wingspan. His technique is a work in progress, but the potential is there. Does he get snaps at DE, or will Smitty/Nolan run Massaquoi to death out there?

3) Stansley Maponga. Doubtful. Maponga didn’t show out well in camp or in preseason. In fact, we didn’t even see him play much in preseason. This guy is at the bottom of the totem pole at the DE position, and will likely be in the WPP all season long. Thing is, I can’t argue with it much from what little I DID see of him. I’m also not sure he’s completely healthy right now.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:01 pm

SW ,

We probably posted at the same time. That’s exactly where I was going with it. More 4-3 alignment and less “amoeba” style defense.

The only question is can we still confuse offenses by doing so…because our 4-3 alignment is kind of average (no dominant force on the DL, especially at DT).

We’d get better at the LB spot purely because of Bartu then playing a good bit more. But we’d also see more of Dent in coverage. Ouch. Nicholas isn’t back to full health and also isn’t coverage savvy. Does Worrilow get some burn? Nah, probably not.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:01 pm

***FFL Alert***

To my ACC brother, a solid and convincing win as you made the trip into the Vet this weekend. Took a couple of chances and left a hell of a lot of points on the bench; but it is still early in the season and we will see how it all plays out.

Nice win….see you in the playoffs.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:03 pm

This actually worries me because the hybrid is what has worked against the better QBs (more cerebral pocket passer types). If we still run the hybrid, then who becomes the new “joker” in our defense?

Whomever it is, they have to be able to pressure/rush the passer, drop into coverage effectively, and support the run well.

Speaking of which, Massaquoi is going to have to prove himself against the run. Otherwise, we’ll see Matthews and possibly Goodman out there when it’s not an obvious passing down.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:04 pm

BR

I totally agree. Going to be very interesting to see how it is going to play out.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:05 pm

How about Bartu in the “hybrid” mole? He seems to be a presence in coverage and solid against the rush.

And as you stated, where does Worrilow fit into the mix now?

WR

September 16th, 2013
8:15 pm

BR, from the last blog, thanks, you know me, I’m not much a pessimist, but I hopefully try and do keep it real. Again I’m not as in dire straits as some fans, but I’m not an idiot either. If you start the season out the same way you ended it, fans should be concerned. If you have never shown a killer instinct no matter how potent you team is, fans should be concerned. Frustration can go all over the place, whereas reality gets a what have you done for me lately. Considering the frustration part, most of us assume with the likes of Belichick, Dungy, and so on this team would have a Lombardi trophy on its shelf. Can’t really argue much hear, add a Gruden to the fold and a team in Tampa that was consistently amongst the contenders wins a championship. Same could be said of all the destruction caused on offense by a Peyton Manning led team, but add a Dungy and they win a championship. Which means exactly what,absolutely nothing. Marv Levy only took his team to 4 consecutive SBs to win not one, is he still not a great coach.

Then you add the difference, not sure why Levy’s team’s could never get over the hump, but they were there, the concern amongst the Falcon faithful is that it’s the same old same old. Add some offensive knowledge to a strong TB D, they win a SB, its not however sustainable, add some defensive minded know how to the Colts, and there all world qb leads them to a championship. In my opinion its the same old same old in regards to Smitty, does he have his hands to much involved in the O, does he not have his hands involved enough in the D, the idea that we don’t know is not only the problem for the fans, its also the problem the team is going through.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:23 pm

Matt Ryan is too good and too far along for a collapse like this to happen, but it would do Mike Smith some good to pay heed to the below article, because when you don’t work towards a QB’s strengths and abilities, you either get him hurt or find another way to ruin both him and your team:

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/50702/schiano-is-right-bucs-failure-is-on-him

Noted: In the case of Ryan, who I believe has hit his stride….YOU LET HIM TAKE CONTROL AND DO HIS JOB. Let him make decisions. Don’t send him out there with your idea of “safe ball control play”, which is clearly not working when you decide to do it – because you’ll get him killed and lose games that way. Such as in game 1, and almost in game 2.

WR

September 16th, 2013
8:28 pm

***FFL Alert***

SW, your a great ACC brother, but you had to know fantasy wise, you were going to be destroyed once you entered the House. Now you mention seeing the House in the playoffs, if you make it, entering the House will only lead to further embarrassment, please don’t hope for something like that, stick to the great podcast your usually apart of, JJ will be joining you in that regard very soon.

WR

September 16th, 2013
8:30 pm

***FFL Alert****

This is just not the year you want to enter the House, pure Slaughters are taking place there this year.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:30 pm

SW ,

I actually think Bartu is the perfect guy for that role, as far as what we have on this team. Would Nolan try it? Would Smitty go along with it? Those are the questions. I think that he will have his moments where he will make mistakes, but he seems to be a VERY quick learner, has more physical speed than I thought he did, and is just as nasty against the run as he is in coverage…PLUS…he can actually rush the passer. The young man had a QB hit and 2 tackles for loss against the Rams.

All that as a UDFA rookie against a QB who has a few years of experience and a very experienced HC.

Worrilow fits like this – either they let him play some snaps in place of where Bartu was, or he doesn’t play at all. As good as he showed himself to be in the preseason, he just won’t get in ahead of Dent for anything.

Dent plays just well enough to keep his incumbent job…for now. Worrilow would have to play insanely well in a real game AND every day in practice to get more than a couple snaps in any game. That’s just how I see it with this CS. In part, I get it – because Bartu is better in coverage than Worrilow is. But in another way, I don’t think Dent is better than Worrilow – merely more experienced.

But we know how this goes around the Branch. If you do enough of your job + you do your job on ST…then you keep your spot until we spend a high draft pick on your position. If you are knocked out of your spot…it doesn’t happen during the season unless you incur injury (Nicholas may find this out this season)…it happens when you get cut the following year as soon as they figure they don’t mind swallowing the rest of your cap hit (again…Nicholas may find this out soon enough).

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:33 pm

WR ,

Very well said at 8:15 pm post….

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:34 pm

FTPB…..

Man did y’all read what Wabe was saying? He was ON POINT.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:36 pm

Give me a couple/few more games of what Bartu brought on Sunday, plus maybe some good body of work in the playoffs and I’m going to declare it now – Bartu is Nicholas’ replacement. Consider Nicholas CUT next season.

Again, need a few more games as far as body of work so we can see some consistency. But I have no reason to doubt that we won’t get the proof.

This isn’t about hating on Nicholas. This is about moving forward with a gem, the likes of which this organization doesn’t find but so often.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
8:40 pm

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/50696/upon-further-review-saints-week-2

I know I shouldn’t be reading Yasinkas when it comes to the Taints, but I slipped up. I’m going to go ahead and call this a major BS article.

In both weeks 1 and 2, the Saints defense has faced dysfunctional offenses….and both due to coaching. Let’s see how their defense does when facing an offense that is in sync…which ours should be…but wasn’t. Because of coaching (and blocking).

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:45 pm

BR

I agree with you on the MR analysis. But the critical element there is how long can this patchwork OL keep MR safe? They have already surrendered five sacks and numerous hits on him.

My ACC brother

I stopped worrying about what other think of my comments and analysis a long time ago. By no means do I think I have all the answers and despite the most intense of efforts, I have been wrong probably as many times as I have been right in my life.

But when it comes to this football team, the message is clear. There is something missing here. I have called it a disconnect; I have decried the lack of fire and intensity. I have called out coaching and referred to players are rentals and relics. That is all on me. But the MOST disturbing facet is that this team continues to challenge the very core of our faith. They tease us, they underachieve at the most inappropriate time, and they leave us in the role of Foo Foo the Fool too darn much.

The depth issues with this team are deeply disturbing. Gruden walked into his title; a title secured by a commitment to a solid defense by Tony Dungy. Where did he learn his defensive strategy? He was a player and got his coaching start with the Steelers.

“Hoody” walked into New England with a plan and got everything he needed from his owner. He took totally control, worked extensively with his draft/scout teams, and built a very solid core while also using STRATEGIC free agency to build a championship roster.

But I know from where you are coming. I’m just saying that there this horse can run the race but this fan is beginning to seriously wonder if we can win the race. And that hurts to think that and hurts even more to have to accept it.

To quote Anita Baker; I’m caught up in the rapture. After all, they are my (our) Falcons.

Arno

September 16th, 2013
8:47 pm

We don’t know what’s going on at the Branch. Surely Matt Ryan can’t be satisfied with the shoe box he is continually put in. There was a glimmer of hope last Sunday. Falcons had just gone up 21-3 on the interception for six, and next possession they gave Matt a chance to go deep to HDouglas. I thought– what’s this??? Aggression??? It was like my TV screen was hit with a bottle of Visene. But then they put Matt back in the shoe box for the 2nd half. Teams that know how to employ their best players? Here’s a sample:

Q&A with Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase– July, 2013

How has your relationship with Manning changed now as offensive coordinator compared to last season when you were quarterbacks coach?

“I think we’ve got a good line of communication. I think it was good that we were together as much as we were for a year. It’s good that there’s an open-door policy with our coaching staff and our players, not just at quarterback. The way that we operate is that we work through a lot of things as coaches and as players. Our players are smart guys who have a lot of good suggestions. When there are issues, the players can help be problem solvers. The good thing about having guys that have played a lot is that they’ve seen a lot. They come up with answers just as much as coaches do.”

Matt Ryan has hit his stride. He’s a smart man. How much is he allowed to provide the answers the Falcons need right now?

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:47 pm

Big Ray

Not to rain on the parade but Nicholas was a goner next year anyway due to the economics of the matter. But you are on target.

As I have stated, the transition is in full effect. The new look Atlanta Falcons are coming to a field near you SOONER rather than later. Injuries (mounting injuries) are only expediting what the wallet was going to show us next spring.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
8:55 pm

***FFL Alert***

My ACC brother

“In order to be the man, you have to beat the man.”

You did put up a hell of an effort and your team is loaded.

But things happen and there is still a lot of time left to right the ship. Not going to go with any excuses; the victory was yours; clear and with no issues. But as I have stated before, it is how we finish the race that will matter. And the race is a long one. Will right this ship; stay tuned.

JB Falcon

September 16th, 2013
8:58 pm

SW, I had to go back to the last post to copy this since it fits in so well with your 8:47 post.
JB Falcon

September 16th, 2013
7:27 pm
Snelling has been a rock on this team and has always done whatever he has been asked to do. When he made that touchdown with a broken jaw was the telling of his loyalty. I can also see that “maybe” we will have to let Antione Smith our of his WPP cage and we know Vaughn has a lot of possibility. Seems like the injuries are forcing MS to dismantle the WPP and let the younger players have a chance to show what they have, in spite of MS. “Maybe” this will be his rude awakening? I can see him scratching his head saying, “Darn I didn’t even know he was on the team!”

DHunt

September 16th, 2013
8:59 pm

Whoa. Between the comments on the last blog and the general tone in Birdland, I almost thought we lost that game yesterday.

And I certainly understand the feelings of dread that come out of the display the Falcons put on. I bet there wasn’t a Falcons fan (or Falcons Hater for that matter) who didn’t say something to the tune of “here we go again” when the Falcons came out of halftime shucking and jiving their way to to yet another “close” game. There is a fundamental problem somewhere and for many that buck stops with HCMS.

I’m not quite ready to place all the blame there, but it won’t take many more performances like Sunday’s to push me over the edge with the rest of you. I don’t actually think HCMS call any plays on Sunday’s, offensively or defensively, so no particular play call can be laid at his feet. My evidence? The infamous notebook. That’s all HCMS has in his hands on Sunday. No play charts, nothing like that. He is not the one saying “run Quizz up the middle”; although he may very well be the one saying “let’s try to run the ball and milk the clock”. How Koetter chooses to accomplish that mission is more on Welcome Back than it is on anyone else. MR2 should probably take a little responsibility as well. As much as he audibles, (and as much as he is getting paid), if he gets to the line and doesn’t like the defense he sees for a run up the gut, then he should change the damn play. What are they going to do, bench him? You know Arthur loves himself a franchise QB, and MR2 is his guy now. So if Matt is the offensive genius some want to make him out to be, then he needs to step up and make some on the field decisions, and take the credit when it works, and the hit if it doesn’t. I bet Peyton wouldn’t run his RB up the gut into the teeth of an 8 man front, I don’t care who called the play. Everyone should know that Quizz up the middle isn’t the best way to use his skillset (although it may be good to occasionally try to surprise a defense with an inside run). Everyone up to and including Dimitroff, should be held accountable if guys aren’t being put in the best position to succeed.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
9:04 pm

BR @ 8:30

Totally agree with the analysis.

I saw it and felt it in my gut during the preseason. I recall the Boss wondering what I had added to my lemonade when I told him they both would make this team. I never imagined it would happen but I just felt that these two guys are going to be players.

And they will be the cornerstone of the defense, along with Alford and Trufant, for years to come.

Or at least I damn sure hope so.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
9:08 pm

Thanks JB F. Your points were excellent. And I have nothing but respect for the young man from UVA who has been a jack of all trades, a master of none during his ATL time.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
9:14 pm

DHunt

I can not speak for the masses nor will I try. But for me, I’m just tired of being sick and tired. This is as good as we have ever had it in my opinion. Yet, why do I feel that the sand is easing through the hourglass and with it, our chance of being a champion is as well?

DHunt

September 16th, 2013
9:25 pm

The injury bug was bound to bite us sooner or later. Ewing is cursed (did he get on the back cover of Madden or something?), and as much as he seems to be a decent player when he’s on the field, he was only on the field for two games (actually five quarters) in two years. He’ll get that one more chance to come back and the shoulder should be an easier rehab than the knee. But he can’t be considered anything but a wildcard until he shows he can survive a full season.

Bierman will be missed, but I really thought that Bartu or Worrilow should have gotten the shot at that hybrid spot anyway. Bierman was the energy guy on the defense, which we thought would be Spoon but he seems to be regressing some, or trying to play hurt and suffering because of it.

As injuries go, the two season ending injuries shouldn’t put a cramp in the Falcons chances. This could be the year of the youngling for the Falcons, as Trufant, Alford, Bartu, Worrilow, Massaquoi, Matthews, and Dimarco should see significant playing time. That’s six new faces on defense, for actual rookies, two UDFA, and two guys from WPP. These young guys can step up and elevate the entire defense, and they’ve all shown they have the talent to do it. Now they have the chance, and we shall see how it unfolds. Unlike many, I’m still cautiously optimistic that there will be significant improvement in the defense over last year.

It hasn’t been said enough that the defense has to get better at protecting leads. Nolan, for all the good he’s done, isn’t taking advantage of what he’s being given. If you’re up 21, you know the other team is going to get pass happy. If you can’t capitalize on that, then you aren’t doing your job as a Defensive coordinator. What ever you were doing to hold them scoreless for most of the first half needs to be ramped up, not relaxed, for the second half. If the other team makes adjustments, then Nolan has to counter. Staying aggressive is an issue on both sides of the ball, especially if the defense is going to surrender touchdowns at the alarming pace we have seen over the past few games, even while being conservative. The defense hasn’t played badly, despite giving up 23.5 ppg thus far, and not having much in the way of impact plays (only two picks so far). Like the offense, they just haven’t sustained a high level of play for four quarters.

Again, cautiously optimistic that the signs of small improvement we see at various points in the first two games will increase to a consistent high level of play.

DHunt

September 16th, 2013
9:35 pm

SW, I totally understand your feelings. I am still in the stage where it infuriates me to see them do the same thing week after week, but I still feel like they will win every game in spite of it. I look at how the 49er’’s got spanked in a division game on the road, and I know the Falcons are in better shape than that, even as many people had crowned the Niners best team ever assembled prior to that thrashing.

And you said it yourself, the sand isn’t really slipping away. There are pieces in place that will make this franchise a force to be reckoned with each year for the next decade. The younglings are going to realize their potential. As MB is fond of saying, it takes a modicum of luck to win it all, but you have to be good enough to be positioned to take advantage of that luck. The Falcons are good enough now, and they will be for the foreseeable future.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
9:38 pm

DHunt

Thanks for keeping me grounded.

D3

September 16th, 2013
9:46 pm

Updates to the post………

Bartu Shouldn’t Come Off the Field

HD Continues Excellence (AJC)

From his very first stop where he tracked the running back out of the backfield for an early 3 and out to his overall play, undrafted free agent LB Joplo Bartu is making it impossible to keep him off the field. He may not be perfect, but he’s showing that he’s every bit as good as any linebacker the Falcons have, including 1st round draft Sean Weatherspoon at times. It may be because all the others are getting injured, but it’s very refreshing seeing a young player with tons of talent get playing time that aren’t a 1st or 2nd round draft pick. It’s very early, but Bartu is making it really hard to keep him on the sideline.

Forced Destruction of the WPP?
They say that when one door closes that another one opens or whatever analogy you choose. One potentially positive side of the mounting injury list is the possible tearing away of the infamous “Witness Protection Program” that has seen many young players show promise in camp and preseason, only to never been heard or seen from again (hence Big Ray’s WPP name). Joplo Bartu played a ton of snaps and played well. After only getting 12 snaps in week one, Jonathan Massaquoi played a lot more and got good pressure. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone both got in the game a good bit as well. Fans were hoping to possibly see preseason stud RB Josh Vaughan, but that was asking a little too much since he was already on the inactive list. Could the Falcons finally be developing and actually playing some of their own, lesser known talent? It’s too early to tell, but just maybe. If you see Paul Worrilow or the aforementioned Vaughan next week, you may want to pinch yourself.

D3

September 16th, 2013
9:46 pm

That Old, Familiar (and Hated) Lull
Fans can’t even pretend that this doesn’t exist anymore. Furthermore, it can’t be wrapped in good feelings because “we won the game.” Those tend to go away when you lose these type of big games for ones that matter (see NFC Championship game and New Orleans). Some may try to defend Smith, but at a bare minimum, where does the buck stop for a team doing the same thing over and over and over again? The Falcons have assumed this identity for the last 5 years (excluding the first year since it was his inaugural campaign and a great comeback). They play down to any and every opponent and will literally let any team back into any game.

S-M-I-T-T-Y!!!!!!! (AJC)

There’s way more games like yesterday than there are ones like they put on display vs. the Giants last year. Some can make excuses all they want, but ultimately the buck stops at the head coach who prepares and runs the product on the field. The team absolutely assumes their coach’s style and philosophy. He may not even realize he does it, but there is simply to much evidence to suggest otherwise. After fantastic starts, something takes a hold of this team and they grind to dead-still halt. If you can’t put that on the head coach, who else then?

The Young Falcons CBs Continue to Grow

Osi Off to the Races (AJC)

With Asante Samuel exiting early once again, the trio of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Robert McClain stepped in and stepped up in their second game together. It’s definitely been one of the brightest spots to the early returns on the year. The Rams receiving corps won’t soon be confused with Denver’s high-powered arsenal, but it’s two weeks in a row that the young DB’s have stepped up. They will certainly get more and more tests as the season goes along, but it’s good knowing they are getting action early and often as the Falcons can depend less and less on the oft-injured Asante Samuel.

Offensive Line Up and Down
Similar to the Saints game, the Falcons offensive line started pretty well against the much heralded Rams defensive line. They protected Matt Ryan fairly decently in the early going and the running game showed some signs of life before an early injury to Steven Jackson. And like the Saints game, the offensive line both wore down and also suffered from an insanely weak set of offensive playcalling in the second half. To be sure, there are still major issues on the offensive line and it may need some type of shakeup at some point, but they showing some potential of just maybe getting better. If they can find a way to put 4 quarters together, they may be onto something.

Seminole Warrior

September 16th, 2013
9:50 pm

D3 @ 9:46pm

Totally agree on the Bartu point.

And if this truly is the beginning of the end of the WPP, there is only one way to describe it….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stdi-1tIUhM

The Time is NOW

September 16th, 2013
9:56 pm

If MR2 gets through the season with all his body parts intact, we have a shot. I see some hopeful signs from the youth movement on D. It certainly appears that we have some conditioning issues on the Oline. They start out well, but wear down quickly. It’s a long season. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

SW – I have not forgotten what I said in the offseason. We’ll talk about it at the appropriate time.

Good write-up D3!

falcon21

September 16th, 2013
10:13 pm

What Time Now said, great write up D3. Will be back later to read more, later all. Oh yeah, AH is a troll!

Matty Bicep

September 16th, 2013
11:20 pm

Wabe, it’s all good, we want the same thing…..i have just heard it s million times about why a team won’t win, or can’t, or how theirs scheme is great, or their coach sux, etc etc…..In an NFL game, anything can happen, and if your good enough to get in the game, you can win it. I am not is awe of other teams or coaches…

The only thing that really sinks a team is when the players think a coach is full of crap, and the tune him out, and I really feared that Smitty might be there this year, but he proved his ability to get is players to focus through adversity, and won a critical game yesterday and look forward to another fun season.

tyler

September 16th, 2013
11:28 pm

The injuries have struck, but as far as I’m concerned, the Falcons will not suffer from a lack of productivity with the loss of Beirman and Ewing. I hope they call Dimarco back, this guy can do everything Ewing did but hes not as big. The loss of Beirman to me is nothing. Now we get Massaquoi and Goodman more, as well as Bartu at the LB position.

I do not wish injury on anyone and I am praying for Beirman and Ewing, but I feel the Falcons had better players than the overpaid Beirman on the bench anyway, The Ewing injury is meaningless to the production capabilities as well. I mean, what has Ewing done to make this team what it is today? Nothing. I felt like his absence from the first 2 pre-season games was enough to cost him a job. I think the only reason he beat out Dimarco anyway is because Dimitroff drafted him.

But I tell you what, this game against the Dolphins is looking a hell of a lot more difficult than it did before the season started.

Oh, I did get to attend a charity dinner with M. Ryan and Tony G. tonight. Both guys looked great and were gracious hosts. The proceeds from the dinner were for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; and one Mr. Matt Ryan himself donated an extra $500 per couple for 100 couples. Hey, just wanted to let you guys and gals know he’s doing some good things with all that cash from A. Blank.

The Q@A session was fun and informative, till the last guy to ask a question decided to bring up the OL and their deficient talent. Matt’s response was immediate and to the point. Something along the lines of ‘nobody works harder than those guys and he would not the trade the 5 of them for anyone in the league, they are getting better everyday’. Yeah, that’s what a QB is supposed to say, but something about the way he said it was very genuine. And I’ll be damned if I don’t believe him.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

September 16th, 2013
11:30 pm

I am hoping, like many others have mentioned, that one positive outcome from all of the injured players will BE THE END OF SMITTY’S INFAMOUS “WPP”. Funny how other teams can get a lot of quality playing time from their rookies without relegating them to only playing special teams.

I’m be at the game in Miami on Sunday and I am hoping that the Falcons team playing the first half against the RAMS will show up for the entire 4 quarters in Miami on Sunday. RISE UP!!!!!

Mike

September 16th, 2013
11:36 pm

It is totally frustrating to watch week after week, that we all watch and know what is coming. I will start with the positives I saw this week. The young corners continue to impress. I like the way Moore is playing, but not so much DeCoud. Bartu is very impressive, especially considering that he came from a very low level program in college (where he was the defense). I am sure he had limited snaps with the first team in preseason. Fact is some guys can just play. Bartu is smart, athletic, disciplined, fundamentally sound, and like I said can just flat out play. When you consider how raw this guy is, and the level he is now….sky is the limit there. All that being said, it is still frustrating that the defense can not seem to get pressure. This week was better, but there were still times when Bradford had an eternity in the pocket, or so it seemed. Especially on third and longs. Then there is the offensive line. I do not know where to start here. Everyone knew what we had with Holmes, but fact is Baker has been as bad or worse. They get absolutely no push on runs. Managing 125 yards in two games. If that is not bad enough, 50 of those came on one run. Then the pass protection seems to break down after half time. I do not know if it is a personnel problem or if the fact is that we have a young center calling the protection, and is not doing a very good job of reading the defense alignments and putting his guys in the right place. Also Gonzalez seems to be a little off timing. Not sure if that is due to him showing up late to camp, or if it is him being used as a blocker more. The injuries are concerning, but I do think we will see what we have with some young guys, Massoquoi has impressed. I think the guy is great at getting in the backfield and disrupting the offense. He just needs to sharpen his skills when it comes to completing sacks. I also would like to see what Goodman has. I also really would like to see Worrilo on the field after a solid preseason. The main thing I would like to see is a team that keeps the hammer down, more like what we saw vs the Giants and less of what is the norm. Right now there is no team that plays Atlanta and gets down 2-3 possessions and believes that they are out of the game. If the staff does not believe it, the players don’t believe it, and the fans do not believe it….how can anyone expect other teams to come in and believe that we are always in the game.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
11:48 pm

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons/story/Falcons-overcome-injuries-run-foibles-to?blockID=940293&feedID=4354

This guy doesn’t exactly get why our offense stumbled (other than SJax being out), but he sure gets that there is one major reason why we compete in games, let alone win them – Ryan. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan.

Big Ray

September 16th, 2013
11:53 pm

Arno ,

Excellent post at 8:47 pm. Man, oh man….you hit it right on the head.

Big Ray

September 17th, 2013
12:20 am

Amuses the sh!t out of me to see the criticism on Ryan when he’s playing better than I’ve ever seen him – despite the serious adversity he’s facing.

Kens Strickland

September 17th, 2013
12:28 am

I don’t like the sudden rash of injuries anymore than the rest of you. But with the talent we have on our bench, albeit relatively inexperienced talent, we just might end up becoming a better team down the stretch. With Ewing out for the season, & SJackson our indefinitely, we’ll see a backfield of JRogers & JSnelling.

This backfield will come very close to the type of versatile backfield we had during the days of LCain & WAndrews. Based on what we saw during preseason & during the 1st 2 regular season gms, we just might have the 2nd coming of Jessie Tuggle, or at least another version of SWeatherspoon.

I remember how we beat the Packers during the regular season the yr they won the SB. Like us, they had suffered an early rash of injuries. By the time we both met in the playoffs, they had healed and were on a roll & mission. Hopefully, the same can & will happen to us.

Big Ray

September 17th, 2013
12:36 am

I would never compare Peyton Manning to Matt Ryan due to the nature of the situation alone . Peyton RUNS things wherever he plays. He did in Indy. He does in Denver.

Ryan? Well, just reference Arno’s earlier post….

I do not at all accept the idea that this “go get a lead and then sit on it” philosophy has anything at all to do with Ryan. We know where that sh!t comes from.

You don’t see that in Green Bay, you don’t see it in Denver, nor New England, nor ANYWHERE that there is a 30 ppg scoring average (or thereabouts). I’ll say no more on this for now. Blood pressure going up….

Big Ray

September 17th, 2013
1:18 am

Peyton Manning vs. Matt Ryan.

You can start by examining the situation first…and stop right there.

Peyton RUNS things. He did in Indy, he does in Denver. No CS is stupid enough to do anything but frame things around the way Peyton plays the game, how he does it best.

Ryan is NOT in the same situation AT ALL. Is it Ryan’s idea to get a 21 point lead and then just try to sit on it? That requires perfect execution of “possession football”, something we’ve proven not to be good enough at….hence all those comebacks by Ryan (a well-tracked statistic).

Let’s not stop there. Let’s take a look at some of the QBs Ryan supposedly should be emulating. Let’s take a look at more than the QBs. Let’s look at the actual teams, and what they’re doing so far in the season:

Broncos : Denver isn’t leading the League in points per game because Peyton knows how to audible out of bad running plays. It’s because he and his team stay on the attack. Do they try to run the clock out? No. The goal in Denver is clear – SCORE. And score some more. The goal is achieved – to the tune of 45 points per game.

Packers : Aaron Rodgers is off to another hot start. While nobody is matching the prolific hot start of the Denver offense, Green Bay is a solid 2nd in the League with 33 points per game. Clearly the goal is to win…by scoring.

Eagles : Ok, nobody with half a brain wants Ryan to be like Vick. But there’s a reason why the Eagles brought Chip Kelly in – to score. Kelly’s philosophy is simple. Score quickly, score often…and never stop scoring, even at the end of a game when you should really be paying attention to clock management (thus the loss in the last game). But the attack style is there, and even with a million turnovers (again, just one reason Ryan > Vick), the Eagles are a very close 3rd in the League in scoring.

Chargers : That’s right – San Diego. A team we flat-out whooped last season. Rivers is cooking along and the Chargers are putting up 30.5 ppg. The Chargers aren’t as good as we are, if you ask me. Is it because Rivers is better, smarter, more accurate, and more aggressive than Ryan? Nope. It’s because his team is on attack mode. Why is his team on attack mode? Might be because they also GIVE UP 30.5 ppg. Their defense is not built and therefore not capable of holding teams down, much less holding leads. So how can they win? Simple – by staying on the attack.

Look, you don’t score 30 ppg or more in the NFL by accident. You do it because it is a concerted effort. Maybe it happens because your defense is heavily involved and likes to capitalize on forced turnovers (Chicago). Maybe it happens because your HC is an offensive-minded freak who just can’t stop trying to score (Philadelphia). Maybe it’s because you know you have a scoring juggernaut behind Center if you give him weapons and cut him loose (Denver, New England, New Orleans, etc). The reason is less important than the actual philosophical stance – Score, and keep scoring until it’s no longer necessary.

Scoring is what will make some playoff-caliber teams that look ok after 2 games, NOT look okay after 7. A few come to mind – New England, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans, and Cincinnati.

Honestly, Seattle provides an exception because of their dominant defense. Currently, they’ve allowed just 5 ppg, which is insane. Can they hold that pattern all season? No, but imagine if they allow just 15 ppg all season – it doesn’t require much scoring to overcome that if you can hold the opponent down to that standard.

Then there is New Orleans and New England. Both teams’ defensive stats are very misleading. The Patriots have faced the Jets (who stink badly) and the Bills (not a very good team with a rookie QB). New Orleans has faced one team that has a badly dysfunctional offense and another team that ashamed to say – has an offense that should be anything BUT dysfunctional…yet WAS).

Then there is San Francisco. True, the 49ers have had a TOUGH schedule to start things off. They’ve faced the rip-roaring Packers and then the defensive-minded Seahawks. But the fact is this – they managed to outgun Green Bay…but they’re giving up 28.5 ppg currently. If this trend continues, they’ll be in trouble somewhere along the line.

Cincinnati could also find themselves in trouble if their statistical trend continues (21 ppg scored, 24 ppg given up).

Why? Because like all of the aforementioned teams…they’re averaging less than 22 ppg. Can you see New England going anywhere averaging 18 ppg? I can’t.

So back to the point – you have to attack and STAY in attack mode. There should be no settling back and running off the clock until the lead is big enough that the opposing team simply doesn’t have enough time to catch back up.

Considering the fact that we don’t have a dominant defense, that should mean we need to maintain a 3-4 TD lead at all times. Sounds crazy, right? Maybe so, but if you stay on the attack, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. You should be able to score.

We have the capability. But we continue to dial it back down and sit on the fire, until it’s almost snuffed out. Then, when the rain comes, we try to light a fire again and get dry. It’s insane. It’s stupid.
And it’s not Matt Ryan. We know who it is.

In a QB-driven League, why would you ever want to limit the one thing that can take you all the way to the top?

Big Ray

September 17th, 2013
1:19 am

Peyton Manning vs. Matt Ryan.

You can start by examining the situation first…and stop right there.

Peyton RUNS things. He did in Indy, he does in Denver. No CS is stupid enough to do anything but frame things around the way Peyton plays the game, how he does it best.

Ryan is NOT in the same situation AT ALL. Is it Ryan’s idea to get a 21 point lead and then just try to sit on it? That requires perfect execution of “possession football”, something we’ve proven not to be good enough at….hence all those comebacks by Ryan (a well-tracked statistic).

Let’s not stop there. Let’s take a look at some of the QBs Ryan supposedly should be emulating. Let’s take a look at more than the QBs. Let’s look at the actual teams, and what they’re doing so far in the season:

Big Ray

September 17th, 2013
1:20 am

Broncos : Denver isn’t leading the League in points per game because Peyton knows how to audible out of bad running plays. It’s because he and his team stay on the attack. Do they try to run the clock out? No. The goal in Denver is clear – SCORE. And score some more. The goal is achieved – to the tune of 45 points per game.

Packers : Aaron Rodgers is off to another hot start. While nobody is matching the prolific hot start of the Denver offense, Green Bay is a solid 2nd in the League with 33 points per game. Clearly the goal is to win…by scoring.

Eagles : Ok, nobody with half a brain wants Ryan to be like Vick. But there’s a reason why the Eagles brought Chip Kelly in – to score. Kelly’s philosophy is simple. Score quickly, score often…and never stop scoring, even at the end of a game when you should really be paying attention to clock management (thus the loss in the last game). But the attack style is there, and even with a million turnovers (again, just one reason Ryan > Vick), the Eagles are a very close 3rd in the League in scoring.

Chargers : That’s right – San Diego. A team we flat-out whooped last season. Rivers is cooking along and the Chargers are putting up 30.5 ppg. The Chargers aren’t as good as we are, if you ask me. Is it because Rivers is better, smarter, more accurate, and more aggressive than Ryan? Nope. It’s because his team is on attack mode. Why is his team on attack mode? Might be because they also GIVE UP 30.5 ppg. Their defense is not built and therefore not capable of holding teams down, much less holding leads. So how can they win? Simple – by staying on the attack.

Look, you don’t score 30 ppg or more in the NFL by accident. You do it because it is a concerted effort. Maybe it happens because your defense is heavily involved and likes to capitalize on forced turnovers (Chicago). Maybe it happens because your HC is an offensive-minded freak who just can’t stop trying to score (Philadelphia). Maybe it’s because you know you have a scoring juggernaut behind Center if you give him weapons and cut him loose (Denver, New England, New Orleans, etc). The reason is less important than the actual philosophical stance – Score, and keep scoring until it’s no longer necessary.

Scoring is what will make some playoff-caliber teams that look ok after 2 games, NOT look okay after 7. A few come to mind – New England, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans, and Cincinnati.

Honestly, Seattle provides an exception because of their dominant defense. Currently, they’ve allowed just 5 ppg, which is insane. Can they hold that pattern all season? No, but imagine if they allow just 15 ppg all season – it doesn’t require much scoring to overcome that if you can hold the opponent down to that standard.

Then there is New Orleans and New England. Both teams’ defensive stats are very misleading. The Patriots have faced the Jets (who stink badly) and the Bills (not a very good team with a rookie QB). New Orleans has faced one team that has a badly dysfunctional offense and another team that ashamed to say – has an offense that should be anything BUT dysfunctional…yet WAS).

Then there is San Francisco. True, the 49ers have had a TOUGH schedule to start things off. They’ve faced the rip-roaring Packers and then the defensive-minded Seahawks. But the fact is this – they managed to outgun Green Bay…but they’re giving up 28.5 ppg currently. If this trend continues, they’ll be in trouble somewhere along the line.

Cincinnati could also find themselves in trouble if their statistical trend continues (21 ppg scored, 24 ppg given up).

Why? Because like all of the aforementioned teams…they’re averaging less than 22 ppg. Can you see New England going anywhere averaging 18 ppg? I can’t.

So back to the point – you have to attack and STAY in attack mode. There should be no settling back and running off the clock until the lead is big enough that the opposing team simply doesn’t have enough time to catch back up.

Considering the fact that we don’t have a dominant defense, that should mean we need to maintain a 3-4 TD lead at all times. Sounds crazy, right? Maybe so, but if you stay on the attack, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. You should be able to score.

We have the capability. But we continue to dial it back down and sit on the fire, until it’s almost snuffed out. Then, when the rain comes, we try to light a fire again and get dry. It’s insane. It’s stupid.
And it’s not Matt Ryan. We know who it is.