NFC South Report: Falcons up, others in pieces

Here's Arizona's Antonio Smith, not treating Jake Delhomme very nicely. (AP photo)

Here's Arizona's Antonio Smith, not treating Jake Delhomme very nicely. (AP photo)

This will be the first in a series of blogs during the NFL season checking on the Falcons’ competition in the NFC South, and not a minute too soon because they won their season opener and I think their magic number for clinching the division is down to 16 . . .

♦ New Orleans Saints: They’re pretty good. We’ll get back to them in a minute.

♦ Carolina Panthers: Not so good. Most figured the Panthers, who come to Atlanta Sunday, would contend for the division title. But after Jake Delhomme went 7-for-17 with four interceptions and a fumble, and Carolina was pounded at home by Philadelphia, 38-10 — the worst opening day loss in franchise history –  the

So I'm assuming Tony Romo is laughing at Tampa's defense and not telling a Jessica Simpson joke. (AP photo.)

So I'm assuming Tony Romo is laughing at Tampa's defense and not telling a Jessica Simpson joke. (AP photo.)

Panthers’ home now is that they can just stay ahead of Tampa Bay. The enterprising Charles Chandler of the Charlotte Observer figured out that Delhomme has committed 11 turnovers in his last seven quarters of play. It’s so bad that the Observer even accumulated a list of available quarterbacks, in case the Panthers want to go shopping for a replacement, although they deny that. (Teams not taking the advice of sports writers is somewhat universal.)

On the list: Brian Brohm, Jeff Garcia, Joey Harrington, Andrew Walter, A.J.

I'm sure Drew Brees (right) told Matthew Stafford comforting Sunday, like, "Cheer up. There's only 15 games left."

I'm sure Drew Brees (right) told Matthew Stafford something comforting Sunday, like, "Cheer up. There's only 15 games left." (AP photo)

Feeley, Brian Griese.

And finally, there are some great quotes from wide receiver Steve Smith. When asked whether he was concerned about Delhomme, Smith said: “I don’t want to comment on something that’s outside my pay grade.” And when asked about the Panthers’ next game, he said: “I’m not fooling, who do we play? Atlanta? Divisional opponent, we’ve got to play. We could be playing Independence High School next week, and if we don’t come out and execute offensively …”

♦ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They were expected to stink, so they really disappoint anybody Sunday, losing at home to Dallas, 34-21. Love the headline in the St. Petersburg Times’ sports home page above columnist Gary Shelton’s column: “If only optimism could play safety.”

First-year coach Raheem Morris might end up being a fine coach, but he’s been handed a bag of rocks. The Bucs haven’t been any good offensively for a while now, so that part’s not alarming. But the decline in personnel on the defensive side of the ball is staggering, and coupled with the departure of long-time coordinator Monte Kiffin, the defense has gone from one of the NFL’s best to one of its worst.

The Cowboys finished with 462 yards in offense. Tony Romo threw for 353 and three touchdowns. And try this: The Bucs gave up passing plays measuring 80, 66, 44 and 42 yards (three of those going for touchdowns).

♦ Back to the Saints: Can’t wait to see the two games against the Falcons. Should be 21-21 by, “. . . and the home of the brave.” The Saints beat up on the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford (16-for-37, three interceptions), 45-27, and  DrewBrees threw for six touchdowns and 358 yards.

The scary thing about the Saints offense is they scored 45 points despite committing three turnovers. But it’s not really fair to grade a team against the Lions. They’re the Louisiana Tech of the NFL. Want a better read on them, Falcons fans? Next week: New Orleans at Philadelphia.

With Donovan McNabb out and Michael Vick still suspended, maybe Brees can play quarterback for both teams.

128 comments Add your comment

Merideth Ford Goldman

September 14th, 2009
11:58 am

Merideth Ford Goldman

September 14th, 2009
11:58 am

Serioulsy…..I’m a snob and a poor speller.

Larvell "SugarBear" Blanks

September 14th, 2009
12:00 pm

Ahhhh……..first!

Pompano

September 14th, 2009
12:04 pm

Mike Peterson made more impact plays for the Falcons in one game than Keith Brooking made all last season!

F-105 Thunderchief

September 14th, 2009
12:05 pm

If I’m Carolina, I go with Garcia AND Brohm.

Tom Osborne

September 14th, 2009
12:06 pm

Lets not write off the Panthers after just one game. They still have a strong ground game and should contend. However, it is funny to see them falter. Their fans are notorious for being cry babies.

mountain_jim

September 14th, 2009
12:13 pm

Saints may catch a break with McNabb playing hurt or out for next game.

rms

September 14th, 2009
12:14 pm

Jeff, Its not how you start its how you finish. How many teams start off strong, even have a 5-0 or 6-0 record going into the second half of the season and then completely fall off missing the playoffs. I am never excited after the first few games but look to see how strong we finish. Good starts are good, don’t get me wrong but you gotta finish strong-that’s what really matters!!

Tom Osborne

September 14th, 2009
12:16 pm

@rms. It’s they way they win. The Falcons defense was very suspect going in to this game, yet twho would have guessed it was the defense that would win the game for them.

Jeff Schultz

September 14th, 2009
12:16 pm

F-105 — Talk about a bust, Brohm was a second-round pick (56th overall) and he’s already down to be a practice squad player in Green Bay. But I’m with you on Garcia.

Osborne — Aside from QB, that defense is shakier than I thought. But we’ll see.

Ryno

September 14th, 2009
12:17 pm

Jeff Garcia playing for the Panthers is not a happy thought. He done well against the Falcons in recent years (last years home victory over Tampa not withstanding).

F-105 Thunderchief

September 14th, 2009
12:23 pm

I was thinking Brohm for longterm development. Can he be a bust yet?

JG

September 14th, 2009
12:23 pm

The games against the Saints should be great ones this year! I’ll be curious to see how our secondary plays against a QB like Drew Brees. Dolphins didn’t really put much emphasis on stretching the defense down the field.

I am also curious if anyone still thinks Jake Long is a better pick than Matty Ice. JA treated him like a rag doll! How great was that? I hope Tuna was watching!

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 14th, 2009
12:26 pm

Between the prior 4 qtrs. and 3 before being benched, Jake got a HUGE contract extension. Baring injury, Carolina’s gonna trot him out there each and every week.

Falcons fans are thanking the Panthers in advance.

midnite

September 14th, 2009
12:28 pm

I was in total shock when Carolina extended Delhomme, with $25M guaranteed!! He can be pretty good sometimes, IF his head is on right.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 14th, 2009
12:32 pm

When starting and completing a game leading by two scores Ol’ Jake has a losing record.

S. Barwick

September 14th, 2009
12:33 pm

The Louisiana Tech of the NFL? WTF? Louisiana Tech won a bowl game and beat an SEC team last season. They also have a proud football tradition. Louisiana Tech won a Division II national championship in 1973. Only Alabama and LSU of the SEC has produced more NFL Hall of Famers than La Tech (Terry Bradshaw and Fred Dean). In fact, as many NFL Hall of Famers have played for La Tech since 1970 as the Detroit Lions, and that’s counting the not yet enshrined Barry Sanders. The Lions aspire to be the La Tech of the NFL.

Turtsnap

September 14th, 2009
12:43 pm

Sucks that McNabb will be out next week! One thing though, that high powered Saints offense has to go against a pretty stout Philly defense!

On the Falcons… How good is it to say that our worrisome defense actually outplayed our potent offense? One can only hope the defense continues to build and gel from here!

Beeeeg Boy

September 14th, 2009
12:44 pm

Don’t forget Jeff George!!

Hall of Fame

September 14th, 2009
12:46 pm

S. Barwick

Hit a nerve did he?

Boo Boo

September 14th, 2009
12:48 pm

I seem to remember the Pittsburgh Steelers being embarassed by a 51-0 rout, opening week in 1989 (to Cleveland [now Baltimore]). Pittsburgh finished 9-7 that year, won the Wild Card game, and lost 24-23 to Denver in the Division playoffs. I imagine smart sports writers made so much fun of them after that loss, they played over their heads the rest of the year. The last thing the Falcons need is Steve Smith mad at them.

Jeff Schultz

September 14th, 2009
12:53 pm

F-105– Second-round draft picks aren’t on practice squads in year two unless there’s a big problem. Also, being on a practice squad means he’s available to every team, and so far nobody has bit.

DJ

September 14th, 2009
1:01 pm

The Birds *DID NOT* start strong; Ryan was inaccurate – Elam was weak – they couldn’t get Turner off, etc, etc, etc. Do you expect those three weaknesses every week? *I think not*. As far as the Saints go, it’s the Chuck and Duck offense – despite Drew Brees putting up all world numbers last year, the Saints were mediocre at best. I don’t expect the Brees stats will mean a hill of beans at the end of the season.

The Birds, despite yesterday’s shortcomings, so thouroughly destroyed the Dolphins that we don’t even know if the Fin’s 11-5 last year is a fluke; were they just that bad yesterday or are the Falcons that good that a 2008 division winner lost to a mediocre performance?

The Birds should treat the Cats like road kill next week.

Bullish-on-the-Falcons

September 14th, 2009
1:04 pm

Jeff, great idea for an on-going report.

Falcons fans, if you’re going to the game, do the team a favor and show up on time. Half to three-quarters full at player introductions is unacceptable. I know the security lines were terrible this week, but lets do our part to be 2-0 heading to see the Pats.

matt r

September 14th, 2009
1:07 pm

So it’s a good thing Petrino left before he could draft Dorsey in the first round and Brohm in the second and set us back even further.

wxwax

September 14th, 2009
1:08 pm

Jeff Garcia is the one big free agent QB who ought to be starting for someone.

He really should be back in Philly, ready to pick up after McNabb. And he’s head and shoulders better than anything Tampa shoves up their center’s heinie. I wonder if he’ll still be a free agent by Sunday?

Samuel

September 14th, 2009
1:08 pm

Man, After the beating Jake Delohmme took from the Cardinals last year in the playoffs. Coupled with the smashing he took on sunday against the Eagles, His confidence has to be at an all time low. go Falcons!!!!

Bobby Petrino

September 14th, 2009
1:22 pm

Tech alum

September 14th, 2009
1:30 pm

People, give it a rest with this “Matt Ryan was inaccurate crap.” He’s so accurate that we’ve all come to expect perfection. By the way, the announcers were wrong on one of the passes they said was woefully short and behind the receiver. That was because there was a safety and corner closing on the ball, so that was the only place Ryan could put it. He was off by a foot or two on the deep ball to Roddy and clearly missed Gonzalez on the skinny post. But come on people, he was his usual cool, calm, collected self and was rock solid other than a couple of throws. All while taking some pretty nice shots from a very talented Miami D.

Its funny how lofty our expectation are to get bent out of shape over a couple of missed passes. Atlanta is lucky to have this guy and he’s gonna be a Pro Bowler for many years to come..

Jeff Schultz

September 14th, 2009
1:45 pm

Bullish on Falcons — Thanks

The Ghost Of Vincent Lombardi

September 14th, 2009
1:53 pm

Blame the Atlanta traffic and non-designed road system for fans showing up late. At least they stayed once they got there, they could have pulled a Patrino and left letters in their seats while sneaking out of the building.

Kane337

September 14th, 2009
1:59 pm

I hope we make Jake throw another 4 to 5 interceptions and lose a fumble or 2 this weekend. That would be awesome.

Yup!

September 14th, 2009
2:03 pm

A QB with a…..

61 completion %
2 td
98 QB rating does not equal a BAD INACCURATE DAY!!

GET A CLUE!!!! And when you get it……leave! THANK YOU!

DJ

September 14th, 2009
2:23 pm

Yup….you must have watched on TV. Roddy White all alone behind the secondary and you miss him (that was an easy 6)? If you were there, you saw Matt make the right read but he threw the ball about 1/2 second too early. That kind of inaccuaracy won’t happen in week 16. Matt made up for his early jitters with excellent game management.

Keith Brooking

September 14th, 2009
2:23 pm

Mr. Pompano – when comparing me to Mike Peterson, please recall the institution of my matriculation and you might better appreciate my use of mathematical analysis in my playmaking. By initiating first contact with any ball carrier seven yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage, I increase the odds of avoiding pesky offensive linemen and increase the odds of ultimately completing the tackle. In my estimation, Mr. Peterson is making plays far too close to the line of scrimmage. Thank you.

Pompano

September 14th, 2009
2:53 pm

Hilarious post Keith – thanks for the afternoon chuckle!

Yup!

September 14th, 2009
3:03 pm

DJ…..not gonna whine about one pass. But I do understand your point.
However, I’m not gonna worry about week 16 over one pass.

Sautee

September 14th, 2009
3:11 pm

Delhomme still scares me. I know he’s had 2 bad (actually terrible) games in a row, but that frightens me even more. When he’s ON, he’s a load to handle. Y’all KNOW this to be true if you’ve paid attention the last 6 or 7 years. I wish he had a GREAT game against Philly so he wouldn’t be as focused.

We need as good or better pressure from our front 4 this week. And at least 2 turnovers.

Rebel Fan

September 14th, 2009
3:12 pm

Saints-Falcons should be a good game. The score was not indicative of the game. The Lions returned a fumble for a touchdown and had a kick return for a touchdown. Other than that, the Saints shut down the Lions. Now, I understand that it was the Lions, but Bress completed passes to eight different receivers and threw 6 touchdowns. We’ll see how well they do against the Eagles thie weekend. You think McNabb plays?

DJ

September 14th, 2009
3:23 pm

The missed bomb play wasn’t just one pass…it was the gameplan. The play almost worked because Matt, Roddy, Turner, Gonzalaz, et al set the Dolphins up for it. And, my point is not that Matt (or it coulda been Roddy) was off by a half a tick of the clock, it’s your insistence that I get a clue and leave.

How about you show your tail in a seat and support your team.

midnite

September 14th, 2009
3:25 pm

DJ-if that was in the first series I think Roddy should have came back a little on that ball. You are right it would have been 6 for sure. The D picked us up yesterday, just like good teams are supposed to do. I don’t think we were able to get any real offensive rhythm going. Maybe Elam’s off day had something to do with that.

GeoffDawg

September 14th, 2009
3:28 pm

Independence High – alma mater to Joe Cox, Chris Leak, Mohammed Massaquoi, etc. I don’t know if the Panthers could handle them.

nhe

September 14th, 2009
3:44 pm

I agree with Sautee, now is not the time to WANT to play Carolina. They’ll be ticked off and hyper-focused and could pull the upset if they get an early lead. We NEED a fast start and can’t go scoreless in Q1 like we did Sunday.

DJ

September 14th, 2009
3:48 pm

The D did a great job. Notice the Dolphins didn’t drop the ball 4 times, the D took it from them. The missed pass play was highlight reel stuff; the ball was where it was supposed to be at that point of the game but it was early and Roddy never had a chance. You will see that series again this year (hopefully for six next time).

Despite the excess of execution errors, the Falcons systematically destroyed what is probably a decent team. You should expect more of the same all year. Here, kitty kitty.

Southside Falcon

September 14th, 2009
3:53 pm

Im glad Steve Smith is talking ish now, That will get an already fired up defense even more Amp’d, y’all get blown out at home and decide you want to throw vile our way I say bring it cause we will be glad to kick your teeth in. As far everybody being scared , pull your skirt down and grow a pair!

Ray

September 14th, 2009
3:54 pm

Before you go making comments about the Saints, maybe you should realize that three special teams mistakes are what kept the Lions in it. The defense is VASTLY improved and the offense is still very good. We’ll see what happens when we play our weak sisters from Atlanta.

midnite

September 14th, 2009
4:09 pm

Ray-did you say you are playing with your sister?

BamaBirDawg

September 14th, 2009
4:09 pm

Well… if wishes come true, then two things will happen in 2009.

1. The throwback game against TB (11/29) will feature not only the Falcs in their old unis, but the Bucs in their banana yellow with the Captain Butterknife helmet logo. Even if we don’t manage a win (though we should), we’ll have the best laugh of the year.

2. Fox Sports will stop spending 15 minutes focusing on Arthur Blank walking the sidelines in the 4th quarter. (Yes, he owns the team and if I had an NFL franchise, I’d be down there too but… after a while, you wish he’d just flip a finger at the cameraman.)

Izzat too much to wish for? Huh? Huh?

jerry

September 14th, 2009
4:38 pm

Carolina is a better team than Miami. If they can protect Delhomme he has an excellent receiver in Steve Smith and an excellent runner is DeAngelo Williams. And don’t forget, they broke McNabb’s rib.

Yup!

September 14th, 2009
5:28 pm

With 7 men in Ryan’s face all game I say he did a very good job.