Archive for November, 2009

Breaking it down, Falcons still have good shot at wild card

Don't worry, Arthur. I think your team might still make it.

Don't worry, Arthur. I think your team might still make it.

Not that there isn’t reason to be concerned about the Falcons, what with Matt Ryan struggling, and Michael Turner hobbling, and the defense never being that good to begin with, even before injuries.

But have you looked around? I just did.

For sake of argument, let’s give the four divisions in the NFC to New Orleans (South), Minnesota (North), Dallas (East) and Arizona (West). That leaves up to seven teams (I’m being generous) vying for two wild card berths in the conference. It’s way too early to get into tiebreakers, although it’s worth noting that losing to the New York Giants Sunday would hurt the Falcons in head-to-head scenarios. But you know what? The Giants may not even get that far.

Here’s the breakdown. I’m listing the teams in order of how I would rank their wild card chances.

♦ Green Bay (5-4): I’m betting the Packers are in. They have a relatively easy schedule with one very difficult game (at Pittsburgh). …

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Richt’s plan should be based on Georgia’s start, not finish

Mark Richt is intent on keeping everybody focused on the last few games, not what happens next. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Georgia coach Mark Richt is intent on trying to keep everybody focused on the season's last few games, not what may happen next. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@AJC.com)

ATHENS — In Mark Richt’s let’s-salvage-what-we-can-out-of-this-season nirvana, Georgia closes the year with five straight wins, the coach adds a 9-4 season to his resume and the panicking masses calm down just enough to stop waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming something about the triple-option.

Maybe 9-4 wasn’t the dream in September. But it became the dream in November.

There’s only one potential pitfall to that scenario. Wins over Tennessee Tech, Auburn and even Georgia Tech (rivalry game) can send out false signals. A strong finish says something about the character of young players who didn’t quit on a season that unraveled early. But it doesn’t explain a year and a half of disappointment in the program.

What will Georgia’s final record be after the bowl game?

  • 9-4

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Countdown: Bird-flippers, Glanville and now Barkley’s face?

This week's guest host is Big Bird. The term, "flipping the bird," actually was named for his cousin Vinny.

Big Bird, guest hosting for the vacationing Count, denies ever "flipping the bird." You be the judge.

The Count is vacationing this week. Too bad. He could have given us all a lesson on the number one. According to The Count’s favorite source, legend, the number one sign dates back to the ancient Romans, where it was commonly referred to as digitus impudicus, or, get your hands off my wife’s toga or I’m going to kickus-your-butticus. Much later, at least three or four weeks, digitus impudicus came to be known as, “flipping the bird.” When I asked Big Bird if this dates back to one of his ancestors, as I was told, he waved hello. At least, I think he waved hello. Can you tell? We count down . . .


10. Bud Adams: You’re a old bitter man

In full disclosure, let me start by saying I don’t like Bud Adams. I don’t like any sports owner who tries to hold up his city for a new stadium and then moves the team when he doesn’t get his way. Adams took the Titans (Oilers) out of Houston …

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This one is on Matt Ryan, and Falcons may be in trouble

Everything went right for Matt Ryan in year one. Notsomuch in year two. (AP photo)

Everything went right for Matt Ryan in year one. Notsomuch now.

CHARLOTTE — There’s a problem with setting the bar so high in year one. When you run face first into the bar in year two, everybody notices.

Matt Ryan hasn’t necessarily been a spectacular crash this season. But he certainly hasn’t been the quarterback that most expected after a first season that saw him lead a seemingly flat-lined franchise to the playoffs. And yes — any doubts about whether something was wrong just ended.

The Falcons lost to the Carolina Sunday, 28-19. We can rationalize several reasons why this may have happened. Kicker Jason Elam botched a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. The defense crumbled yet again. Aliens abducted John Abraham.

But put this one on Ryan. He threw two interceptions — dreadful interceptions. The first came in the second quarter after the Falcons had closed to 14-10. It led to a Panthers’ touchdown drive just before the half that made it 21-10. The second was a …

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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 …

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There’s no stopping Georgia Tech this time around

Jonathan Dwyer ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns -- and his team is on a run of eight straight wins.

Jonathan Dwyer ran for two touchdowns, and Georgia Tech is on run of eight straight wins.

DURHAM, N.C. — Don’t misunderstand. It’s not like Georgia Tech reached some new plateau Saturday. This isn’t the first time the Jackets have won 10 games in a season, nor the first time they’ve clinched a berth in the ACC title game, nor certainly the first time they’ve beaten Duke.

But there is a difference in 2009. A different feel about what’s going on. A different expectation for what comes next. A 10-1 record, a trip to Tampa, a 49-10 win over Duke — this is not as good as it’s going to get for Tech. There is no ceiling. Only three more potential wins.

“We’re not satisfied,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “We won the ACC Coastal Division today, and, don’t get me wrong, that’s good and we’re going to celebrate. But we haven’t finished what our main goals were, which is to win the ACC and be in a BCS bowl game, and then win the BCS bowl game. And right now our minds are on …

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We’re live from Tech-Duke — and is it raise time for P.J.?

"So let me get this straight: I have to bow to you how many times a day?"

"So let me get this straight: The football coach has to bow to you how many times a day?"

DURHAM, N.C. — Made it to Duke. I knew I was in the right place when I found the empty high school football stadium next to the basketball arena. In a couple of hours, it will still be an empty high school football stadium next to the basketball arena. And that’s just the way Mike Krzyzewski wants it.

pauljohnson

Paul Johnson has puffed on a lot of victory cigars at Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

Wallace Wade Stadium is a strange backdrop for a game of such significance. But Georgia Tech will take it. Win today and they’ll clinch the ACC Coastal Division and a spot in the conference championship. That, of course, would put one more gold star on

Paul Johnson’s resume, which could lead to yet another raise in his contract.

Johnson already has had his contract re-done once. His current deal, which started in January, bumped his annual salary from $1.6 milion to $2.3 million. …

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NFC rankings: Falcons had George, Bears have Cutler

Pretty sure this is Jay Cutler blaming somebody else after throwing his fourth of five interceptions Thursday night.

Pretty sure this is Jay Cutler blaming somebody else after throwing his fourth of five interceptions Thursday night.

If you want to know why the Chicago Bears will never win anything with Jay Cutler — and why Jay Cutler will never win anything that requires leadership, forethought or something larger than a walnut between his ears — it was on display Thursday night.

Cutler threw five interceptions against San Francisco. The Bears lost, 10-6. After the game, the quarterback of the team said: “I have to apologize to the defense. I think the offense as a whole has to apologize.”

Uh, no. Cutler should apologize to the defense, the offense, the coaches, the fans and the guy flipping burgers at Billy Goat Tavern, then work his way up and down every “L” train in the city of Chicago and beg for forgiveness.

This dude is a disaster. I mean, disaster on the Jeff George scale of disasters. He has a league-high 17 interceptions. He has thrown at least three picks in three games. He has …

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Predictions: Pressure’s up but gorilla and Tech can handle it

week11 002

It has been a big week at Georgia Tech, and not just because the football team is preparing to clinch the Coastal Division. Researchers made tremendous progress in answering two of the world’s great questions: 1) What is the Coastal Division? 2) How do we get a gorilla to take a blood pressure test?

Yes, the best stuff is the stuff you don’t have to make up. That’s why I’m happy to report that some great minds at Georgia Tech, Emory and Zoo Atlanta collaborated to get Ozzie, a

Ozzie looks calm to me. He says Tech covers.

Ozzie calmly says Tech will cover.

48-year-old gorilla, to voluntarily submit to a blood pressure test. I can only assume Ozzie needed the test for the usual reasons, those being beer, nachos, stress, the guy from Duluth by the gorilla cage who keeps pretending to be a gorilla, teenage drivers, health care, more beer and the kickoff to Sarah Palin’s book tour, for which she’s receiving $7 million, which I guess she earned by submarining an election, resigning as governor before her first term ended, …

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So what’s Lane Kiffin going to talk about now?

Lane Kiffin has done a lot of talking. What's he going to say now?

Lane Kiffin has done a lot of talking since being hired. Is he going to be tongue-tied now?

This should not be construed as celebrating the fact that three young men at Tennessee just irreparably damaged their football futures and possibly their lives with an unbelievably dumb decision. But a lot of people are laughing at Lane Kiffin right now.

Back on national letter-of-intent day in February, Kiffin, the new Tennessee coach, entertained Volunteer fans with a story about one of the team’s hot new recruits, Nu’Keese Richardson (video below). It seems Richardson, who also was being heavily recruited by Florida, was receiving cell phone calls from Gators coach Urban Meyer while he was taking his visit on the Tennessee campus.

Kiffin told the crowd at signing day that such a move was illegal and Meyer was “cheating.” Problem is, it wasn’t illegal and Meyer wasn’t cheating. That’s one of several times Kiffin has gotten into trouble for something he said since being hired.

That …

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