Archive for August, 2011

It’s time for Falcons to turn Matt Ryan loose with offense

Expect the Falcons to take the clamps off of quarterback Matt Ryan a little this season.

Expect the Falcons to take the clamps off of quarterback Matt Ryan a little this season.

FLOWERY BRANCH — The oldish-looking coach who has been accused of putting his quarterback in leg shackles and handcuffs insists that his reputation is undeserved.

“Everybody may have this vision that coach Smith is a 50-plus-year-old, gray-haired conservative guy,” Mike Smith said Tuesday. “But that’s not the case. By nature, I am not a conservative person. We are going to be aggressive and we are going to be physical.”

With Smith as their head coach and Matt Ryan as their quarterback, the Falcons have gone 33-15, easily the best three-year run in franchise history. So criticism obviously is in short supply. But with two quick playoff exits and Ryan fizzling in both postseason games — four interceptions, two fumbles, two turnovers returned for touchdowns – shortcomings tend to get magnified by the populace.

Some of the postseason problems obviously fall on Ryan. But general …

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Could Falcons work a deal for Asante Samuel?

Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel would be a nice addition to Falcons' defense. (AP photo)

Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel would be nice addition to Falcons defense. (AP photo)

The Falcons’ signing of defensive end Ray Edwards last week should improve a defense that too often has come up short in two areas: pass rush and pass coverage. The question now is whether they can improve coverage, and that’s why I’m bringing up this name: Asante Samuel.

Several fans have emailed me (and Barrister Ledbetter) to ask about Asante. Here’s what I can tell you: The Falcons would love him but I just don’t know that a deal is feasible.

Asante is 30, but he has gone to the Pro Bowl the last four years. He’s also available. Philadelphia’s signing of free agent Nnamdi Asomugha and acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leaves Samuel expendable. The Eagles are hoping to trade him.

The cornerback job on the opposite side of Dunta Robinson currently is manned by restricted free agent Brent Grimes, who has yet to sign his contract tender (and isn’t at Samuel’s level anyway). It’s also …

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Can Braves catch Phillies in East? Schedule says yes

The streaking Dan Uggla (22-game hitting streak) and Braves can still catch the Phillies. (Hyosub Shun/AJC)

The streaking Dan Uggla and Braves can still catch the Phillies. (Hyosub Shun/AJC)

The Braves acquired Michael Bourn from Houston with the hope that they not only can make the playoffs but possibly compete for a World Series. Winning the National League East over Philadelphia would be a good start — and the chances of that happening are far from dead.

Going into tonight, the Braves (63-46) have played two more games than the Phillies (68-39) and trail them by six games. They are seven back in the loss column. Simple math: Even if Philadelphia goes only 30-25 the rest of the way, the Braves would need to go 35-18 (.660) just to tie them and force a one-game playoff.

Here's how Coolstandings.com has tracked Braves' postseason chances. The red line represents playoffs chances, the black wild card chances and the blue division chances.

Coolstandings.com on Braves' postseason chances: Red line represents playoffs, black wild card chances, blue division.

Coolstandings.com currently lists Philadelphia as having an 86.6 percent chance of winning the division, followed by the Braves at 13.0,  New York at 0.3, and Florida and Washington at less than …

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