We’re live from Falcons-Carolina (they have a DeAngelo, too)

Bruce Springsteen, singing, "I'm somewhere in the U-S-A."

Springsteen, singing, "I'm somewhere in the U-S-A."

CHARLOTTE –After driving from Atlanta to Charlotte for the night Friday, then to Durham for the Georgia Tech game Saturday morning, then back to Charlotte for today’s Falcons’ game, I’m happy to say I know where I am. Suppose that puts me ahead of Bruce Springsteen,  who clearly has jumped off one too many speakers and greeted a crowd in Auburn Hills, Mich., Saturday night with,”Hello, Ohio!” Oh, Bruce.

Anyway, Springsteen clearly is not the only lost and confused soul here on earth. Question: What was Ray Anderson thinking?

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because we’re a few days past the decision and I know you would much rather focus on today’s Falcons-Carolina game. But I never weighed in after Anderson, a former Falcons’ executive who now dispenses fines for the NFL, slapped Falcons coach Mike Smith

Mike Smith has his players' back, and vice-versa.

Mike Smith has his players' back, and vice-versa.

with a $15,000 fine and, more specifically, chose not to fine DeAngelo Hall anything for last week’s sideline scrum.

I can tell you this much: 1) The Falcons, all the way up to owner Arthur Blank, were stunned and furious about the decision; 2) You’re never going to hear them say that.

Privately, they’re still seething, but publicly they’ll tell you’ve moved on. They also know that in a credibility contest, Mike Smith vs. DeAngelo Hall is not a contest.

Smith’s hero status with his players and Falcons’ fans probably is even greater now than it was before. And you have to like the fact that somebody has set up an “Official Coach Smith Fine Charity” fund with PayPal.

“The only thing I will say is Mike Smith is truly an ambassador for this football league,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said this morning. “He’s highly regarded, highly respected, and not just within this organization but across the league. He’s someone for the entire fan base to be proud of. He’s going to stick up for his football team.”

OK, off the soapbox and onto today’s game. Carolina (3-5) lost last week to New Orleans. But the team has played much better since an 0-3 start. Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and is among NFL leaders with 768 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. And despite what you may have heard earlier in the week about Williams possibly being sidelined with a knee injury, he is not on Carolina’s inactive list.

The Falcons’ inactive list includes two significant absences: left tackle Sam Baker (left ankle) and running back Jerious Norwood (right hip flexor). This will be Norwood’s fourth straight game out. Will Svitek, a free agent pick up from Kansas City, will make his first start at left tackle.

Matt Ryan has to step up his game today. The Panthers’ defense likely will load up to try to stop running back Michael Turner, so Ryan should have opportunities. Obviously, pass protection, which has been an issue, also is key.

The Falcons need to win today because they have a difficult stretch of games coming up: at New York Giants, Tampa Bay (OK, that one’s easy), Philadelphia and New Orleans.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m going to grab some coffee and I’ll be right back.

1,282 comments Add your comment

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
12:36 pm

Matt Ryan has more interceptions than Delhomme the past month. Ive got to quit drinking so much.

Extremus

November 15th, 2009
12:36 pm

This one’s going to be a tough game I believe, on the road against a team that’s turned things around since starting 0-3, as you said, Mr. Schultz. We absolutely cannot look past this game toward the one next week against the Giants, because Carolina is still very potent and poentially dangerous themselves.

I agree with you 100 percent about Mike Smith; he’s earned a lot of credibility with not only his players and the fans, but perhaps with future free agents and draftees as well, as a man they can count on to have their back. How much this will ultimately impact future drafts and signings is not yet clear, but one thing’s for sure; it didn’t hurt one bit.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
12:41 pm

Cattle Dawg — Delhomme had 13 interceptions in first 6 games, but 0 in the last 2.

Extremus — Word about owners, organizations and coaches spreads quickly in this league. But I think a lot of players, particularly defensive players, already knew about Smith.

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
12:42 pm

Jeff, do you think u can dig into the whole Fergie and tattle tale stripper drama. Im sure you could uncover the real truth. Falcons roll today, as do my cowboys.

The Professor

November 15th, 2009
12:45 pm

That’s a real shame about Norwood. I wonder if the Falcons will try to draft a speedy change-up back next spring since Norwood keeps getting hurt.

old Tech fan in NC

November 15th, 2009
12:46 pm

The Smith you birds need to worry about is named Steve.

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
12:46 pm

How good of a job do you think Van Gorder has done so far this year? Also, do the players like him? Thanks Jeff, Ill hang up an listen.

DJ

November 15th, 2009
12:47 pm

What? The Panthers are going to try and load the box and stop the run?

After 8 weeks of the opponent’s using the same strategy my question has become have Matt and the Falcons learned how to counter this? And, can they do it against a good team on the road?

Not Disappointed!

November 15th, 2009
12:50 pm

Afternoon Jeff & Falcon Fans! Jeff, I appreciate you blogging with us yesterday and thanks for the great coverage. Let’s Go Falcons.

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 15th, 2009
12:50 pm

Matty bucks his trend today and puts the team on his back.

No Soup for you!

November 15th, 2009
12:51 pm

Tough game today Jeffrey. Falcons have significant offensive injuries to overcome and I’m not sure Matty Ice is playing at the top of his game yet. Missing Finneran still, now Norwood is out, Sam Baker’s protected his backside pretty well and while Svitek shouldn’t be a pushover, the chemistry thing along the line will be iffy at best. Also, isn’t White’s knee giving him problems? All of a sudden our receiving corps is looking at bit thin….

If our line can keep Matt “Peppers – free” this afternoon, maybe he can do the slice and dice thing well enough to keep us in front of the Cats offense.

I think we can win, but I think its going to be much tougher than some of the folks think its going to be. My hope is that Van Gorder has his guys primed for punishment and we can play four solid quarters of defense.

Tampabound

November 15th, 2009
1:00 pm

how was the traffic Jeff driving from Durham to Charlotte? With Duke, Wake, UNC and NCSt hosting games along with App St at Elon, it was a pain.

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 15th, 2009
1:00 pm

I would like to know which TV markets warrant Suragusa’s job.

My distain for him is only rivaled by ESPN.

Sonny Clusters

November 15th, 2009
1:01 pm

Coaches should never be fined for taking up on they own sideline. Somebody coming over to the other team’s sideline and strutting around should be fined instead. Same with blogging.

Sonny Clusters

November 15th, 2009
1:03 pm

They is a vampire on the field.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:04 pm

Cattle Dawg — I’l have to get back to you about Fergie. And the stripper.

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
1:06 pm

Ill take the big goose over that motor mouth Berman any day. I cant stand Chucky Gruden as well

Cuz

November 15th, 2009
1:06 pm

Jeff thanks for doing Yeoman duty in your coverage of the Jackets yesterday and now the Falcons today. I would like to give you a laurel and a hearty handshake. Is Alex Karras at the game? Let him park wherever he wants.

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 15th, 2009
1:06 pm

Good 3 down hold by the birds.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:07 pm

And the CHOKE continues……………….

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:08 pm

Great cutback by M.T. .. He’s really run well the last 2-plus weeks.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:08 pm

4-Straight games with a pick…………..

Keep the streak alive :)

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:09 pm

Turner got them there, let’s see Peyton live up to the hype :)

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
1:09 pm

Turner is getting it going. I thought he might score.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:10 pm

Protection was fine. Carolina had good covg. on that play.

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
1:11 pm

The big goose just said Ryan has happy feet

tmac

November 15th, 2009
1:11 pm

shaky start for matt ryan. he missed jenkins on the LB and leaving the pocket to quickly… settle down.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:11 pm

Let’s recap………….

Turner got 47 hards on the drive and the best the CHOKE could do is a 5-yard bomb?

Is it still Turner’s fault?

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:12 pm

Not Disappointed – Thanks. One more assignment in NC and I have voting rights.

Sonny – Wait. You saying I should be fined?

Cuz – Alex Karras. I remember him. Lions could use him.

Jamie

November 15th, 2009
1:12 pm

Yay!!! We have these clowns on the broadcast again!!

BONE

November 15th, 2009
1:13 pm

Man Matty Choke u might as well stop. They wouldn’t blame Matt Ryan even if he had -50 yards and 3 ints.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:13 pm

Cattle Dawg — Actually, he’s might’ve had happy feet that last play. From up here it looked like he had more time than he might’ve thought.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:13 pm

“DUMP THE CHUMP”

He is looking worst than Harrington!

Does Turner have to pass the ball too?

gotech610

November 15th, 2009
1:14 pm

Go Falcons!

Matt Ryan needs to settle down a little and the recievers need to get open and finish the routes to give him something to throw too on the roll out

Matt "Noodle Feet" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:14 pm

I think this should be the new moniker…combination of Noodle Arm and Happy Feet.

Personally, I’m much more worried about the Happy Feet than teh Noodle Arm

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:15 pm

BONE

November 15th, 2009
1:13 pm
Man Matty Choke u might as well stop. They wouldn’t blame Matt Ryan even if he had -50 yards and 3 ints.

“And you know why” :)

Jamie

November 15th, 2009
1:16 pm

Why does Fox not like Falcons?

J.J.M.

November 15th, 2009
1:17 pm

“hey 50 is the mike” lol

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:17 pm

So where’s the pass covg?

bigdave

November 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

obvious push off…

Jamie

November 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

Wheres the interference?

cattle dawg

November 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

The Moose and the Goose. Should’nt they be a wacky fm morning show. D better step up, panthers driving

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

That’s not how you draw that up . . .

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

I think Jake is looking more Peyton like.

mmgtfan

November 15th, 2009
1:19 pm

DRAFT JOE HADEN!!!!

J.J.M.

November 15th, 2009
1:19 pm

we have no pass coverage

GTJackets

November 15th, 2009
1:19 pm

Falcons D looking horrible

Matt "Choke" Ryan

November 15th, 2009
1:19 pm

Steve Smith is about to open up a can of Whip Azz :)

tmac

November 15th, 2009
1:20 pm

Everyone calling M. Ryan a “choke” or he sux… chill the freak out! Everyone in the league compares his first year and now 2nd year to only P. Manning. Is he perfect? no, but he is WAY ahead of any young qb in a long time in this league.

Is it because he’s white? if so, then take your racist comments somewhere else please. Cause there is no better young qb better.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2009
1:20 pm

Dehomme went 4-for-4 in that drive … 5 for 5 in the game since opening with incomplete.