LIVE BLOG: It’s Falcons vs. Vick (and the rest of Eagles)

Vick: first start vs. Falcons.

Michael Vick: His first start vs. Falcons.

Ryan: first start vs. Vick

Matt Ryan: His first start opposite Vick.

If I could just make one request before we get started: Let’s be civil. Please.

I don’t like deleting comments. I don’t like banning people from commenting. I certainly don’t like preventing readers from cheering or yelling or venting about their team, the opponent or something that just happened in the game. That’s what having a live blog is all about. But too often in blogs and columns — particularly those involving Michael Vick – emotions cause some readers to jump the rails and I’m forced to take action.

So let’s go over two simple and obvious rules:

1) No profanity. Not even profanity cleverly disguised with asterisks and missing letters or spelled out phonetically. (And, yes, I notice it; and, no, it’s not cute.)

2) No commenting that addresses — even remotely — anything about race. I’m forced to draw a clear line on this because I know from past experience that giving an inch allows many to take a mile. So it is zero tolerance. If you want to have a Michael Vick vs. Matt Ryan debate, you should be able to do so without pointing out that one is black and one is white and claiming that anybody who doesn’t agree with you must be racist.

If you can’t handle these two rules, then don’t comment. And don’t preach to me about the first amendment. The first amendment is kind of my area.

That’s it. I think. Now let’s have fun.

Tonight, the Falcons play Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles on national television. That should be enough to get everybody excited.

The Falcons are coming off a dreadful performance in the season-opening loss at Chicago. Tonight’s game isn’t a must-win situation, but a loss would dig the Falcons quite a hole. They would be 0-2 with these six games left before the bye week: at Tampa Bay (difficult), at Seattle (bad team but long trip), Green Bay (defending champions), Carolina (better than expected) and at Detroit (possible playoff team).  A win changes the outlook significantly.

The Eagles won impressively at St. Louis 31-13. Vick completed only 14 of 32 passes but he had two touchdown passes without an interception and rushed for 97 yards. Downside: He also had a fumble at the Rams’ 19, killing a scoring drive.) Ryan had some good but more bad in the Falcons’ loss, including two key turnovers that both led to Bears’ touchdowns. A few bullet points:

Big for Ryan: I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier in the week. If the Falcons win, it will be the biggest victory of Ryan’s career. Yes, bigger than beating Baltimore and New Orleans and Green Bay. Vick’s shadow still looms large over the organization and Atlanta, especially with his return to prominence, and defeating Vick on the field would have no equal.

Reeves comments: I was a little surprised, though not stunned, at Dan Reeves’ comments regarding the Falcons’ decision to release Vick. Reeves is one the classiest men I’ve ever known. a tremendous football coach and, in my view, he was wronged when he got fired by Falcons owner Arthur Blank — effectively because the Falcons fell apart after Vick broke his leg. So I know there’s some bitterness there. But I can’t agree with Reeves’ reported comments to the Philly Sports Daily: “When Mike really needed them they turned their back on him in my opinion. They could have been a big supporter and they let him go. I think it could have been handled differently. I wasn’t there so I don’t know the organization’s standpoint, but I thought they could have been more supportive and instead they severed ties with him.”

Vick’s lies, actions and all that came with that made his return to Atlanta impossible. Vick obviously still has thousands of fans here, but he alienated more fans than he retained. The Falcons could not take him back. If Reeves has an idea about how Blank could have better handled the situation, I would like to hear it.

Falcons’ offense: It must show more aggressiveness and creativity against the Eagles than it did in Chicago. That doesn’t mean Ryan needs to chuck 10 bombs down the field. But he, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and coach Mike Smith must trust that Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas can beat their defender and make a play. There was too much standing still last week. Pass protection also needs to be better.

• Falcons defense: The Eagles have a slew of great weapons around Vick: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Ronnie Brown. Stopping them won’t be easy, especially with the Falcons clearly having issues in their secondary and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux missing his second straight game. But what they can do is get physical with Vick. That means hitting him whenever possible. He still has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and is prone to fumbling. Turnovers, as always, could be key this game.

OK, here we go. Looking forward to tonight. Let’s have some fun.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

2,828 comments Add your comment

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:30 pm

Well, let’s see

Jeff Schultz

September 18th, 2011
5:31 pm

JSS — I know you’ll set a good example.

DeepDiver

September 18th, 2011
5:31 pm

bluecole

September 18th, 2011
5:33 pm

J.J.M.

September 18th, 2011
5:34 pm

I just saw T.I. and Vick having a meeting in a alley not sure what that was about but Vick told T.I. his breath smell like hyena burps then T.I. told him his breath smells like wet zoo dirt…I guess they were just having some fun

DeepDiver

September 18th, 2011
5:35 pm

7 > 2. But go Falcons

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:35 pm

And just to add to the circus atmosphere that you’ll be encountering tonight, How about those ladies of The Dream! At least there’s one set of cojones in this town, and those ladies have them ;-) Run with the Dream!

Bear

September 18th, 2011
5:36 pm

The falcons will much better this week & the dome will be rocking.

bluecole

September 18th, 2011
5:36 pm

nope. See, Jeff, that’s a drawback to literacy; it slows down the first place post. Kinda like an obstacle course for the agile mind.

WitStream

September 18th, 2011
5:36 pm

Huge game. I have a feeling VIck is going to sh!t the bed tonight, and I will enjoy this thoroughly.

DeepDiver

September 18th, 2011
5:38 pm

That was really out of character for Reeves — he should not be commenting. There was no way the Falcons could take Vick back after he lied to AB, the Commish, and to a national television audience. It just could not happen here.

I am happy he is back on his feet but I hope the Falcons knock him off them many, many times tonight. Time to get over the hump against the Eaglets.

WitStream

September 18th, 2011
5:38 pm

What is the Dream?

Eric C.

September 18th, 2011
5:38 pm

The Saints made da Bears look like da Bears today…makes you feel even worse about the effort last week you know? It will take a near perfect game for the Falcons to win.

Gilley

September 18th, 2011
5:39 pm

I was a Falcons fan before Vick (Hometeam Baby) but I grew to love what Mike Vick did every Sunday and was hurt when he got in trouble and left the organization. My Sunday afternoons were never the same but with the resurgence of Vick, and his redemption story, I grew to love him again but I am loyal to the hometeam. I am going to the game tonight, my first NFL Game ever. Who will I root for? What love will I support Vick/Falcons? I can’t choose so I will be a neutral fan and just enjoy some good football.

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:41 pm

Jeff Schultz, I got everything off my chest, and lo-and-behold the Saints of all teams went out and proved my point all day long about attacking the vaunted Bears defense and how you get after them!

The Dream pulled off a two game sweep, and I’m in a good mood!

So much for my suppose “pasting! ;-)

Vinnie

September 18th, 2011
5:42 pm

Tonight’s game is being hyped as Vick’s return to the Dome. I wish the game was just being touted as two NFC favorites facing each other. I for one have moved on. Go Falcons!

Eric C.

September 18th, 2011
5:43 pm

I love Dan Reeves, but he was way off the mark with those comments…really disappointing to here that he takes that view.

Adam

September 18th, 2011
5:45 pm

The gestapo in full force today

MattyB

September 18th, 2011
5:46 pm

I hope Edwards and Abraham make MV eat Georgia Dome astroturf tonight, both teams win 12 games and get to meet again in the postseason. Go Falcons!

WitStream

September 18th, 2011
5:46 pm

Oh, and nice of Reeves to make himself look like an idiot.

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:47 pm

Jeff Schultz, are your cohorts daring to wade into the shark infested waters of social commentary masquerading as a football game online in blog style tonight?

Wow

September 18th, 2011
5:48 pm

Reeves must be having onset dementia

MattIsMyQB

September 18th, 2011
5:49 pm

john kincaid said it best on espn piece this morning in regards to Atlantans rooting for Vick. It makes no logical sense. He left our franchise in shambles with his irresponsible and self admitted lazy approach to being an NFL qb. Mike brought us many good memories but Matt is my guy.

Jeff Schultz

September 18th, 2011
5:50 pm

JSS — Yeah, just Tweeted on that: Brees threw for 270 and 3 TDs. I guess you can throw on Bears’ four All-Pros in secondary after all.

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:50 pm

This is going to be great, I’ve never seen so many grown folks crying about having to behave themselves! Sound like some of you are about to take your first trip to Salt Lake City or a Temperance Convention!

JMAYNE

September 18th, 2011
5:50 pm

Key to the game. Running the ball. Keep Vick off the field.

WitStream

September 18th, 2011
5:51 pm

Given that comment, thank God the Falcs fired him when they did. He must not be very bright or he’s going senile.

Eric C.

September 18th, 2011
5:51 pm

MV becomes very human with a little pressure…and a big key will be the 3rd downs and keeping containment on his scrambles.

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:52 pm

Kincaid has absolutely no place to talk, I see you’re one 5 listeners on that stale Sunday gabfest he calls a show! Is he still calling the Toledo Rockets, the MudHens? Pure genius!

Ditka

September 18th, 2011
5:53 pm

wow-those saints really put it on us today. is your team gonna show up tonight?

Biff

September 18th, 2011
5:53 pm

falcons 27
eagles 24

5150 UOAD

September 18th, 2011
5:53 pm

This had better not get Ugly…………..Falcons need to Play well. But Mostly they need to show they can make big plays. I fear the O-line mostly.

Janice J.

September 18th, 2011
5:54 pm

Excited about the game tonight. Die hard Falcons fan, but as a VT alum , I have followed Vick’s career since he was recruited for the Hokies and was so excited when the Falcons traded up to get him. Agreed…. he lied to the team and the owner, let down his family and his fans, and the Falcons had to let him go. Still feel he has tremendous ability and will never forget the joy and excitement he bought to us Hokie fans back when no one had ever heard of Virginia Tech. Hopefully, he is on his way back in his rehabilitation, and I wish him luck in his career (Just not tonight!)

MattIsMyQB

September 18th, 2011
5:55 pm

if he has a show in a top 10 market and a weekly national show i guess he’s doing something right but im not here arguing for JK, ha. I was saying i agreed with his point. Do you?

Stu

September 18th, 2011
5:56 pm

So if any player breaks free and runs for a score, we can’t comment on the race to catch him? haha

JSS

September 18th, 2011
5:56 pm

I could not believe that I saw two wide receivers and a tight end run straight multiple times in that game… Just astounding, somebody actually seemed to scheme in only one week for them!

James

September 18th, 2011
5:56 pm

What did Reeves Say??

old dawg fan

September 18th, 2011
5:56 pm

If the Falcons don’t play any better than they did last week then it doesn’t matter who they play today-they will lose.
I am glad Vick is doing well and has made a very good come back. In my opinion he was “overly prosecuted and sentenced”. I believe he was greatly humbled and is a different person-what he did was wrong, again glad he is doing well.

Sonny Clusters

September 18th, 2011
5:57 pm

Don’t worry, Jeff, Clusters are always civil and Clusters never curse. We was close to cursing though about the Braves. They got beat today but the night Lowe pitched they stole our money because we was at the game and Lowe didn’t even show up. About the 9th hit everybody was ready to go home and that was only 2 1/3 innings in. Let’s hope the Falcons show up tonight.

Reginald

September 18th, 2011
5:58 pm

GooooooVick! Whoooop those Falcons butt and show them who built the GA Dome and left it deflated after tonight!!!!! Go Eagles, go Vick! ATL native have no love for the home team!!!!! Bark at that!

Doug

September 18th, 2011
5:59 pm

Not even a score or article on the braves loss in the sports section?

MattIsMyQB

September 18th, 2011
5:59 pm

I’ll back up and say I, like old dawg fan, like to see that he has made his comeback. I was biggest Vick fan there was back in the day, endlessly defending him to all those who said his style couldnt get us to big game. but if you’re a falcons fan, why would you root for him tonight? that’s what i dont understand

5150 UOAD

September 18th, 2011
6:00 pm

MV7 sucks is OK right Jeff?

jerry

September 18th, 2011
6:00 pm

Hard to believe. Falcons lost 7 of their last 8, three in a row to playoff teams and just maybe Dimitroff is not a genuis after all.

JSS

September 18th, 2011
6:00 pm

Clusters, my Goddaughter Lindsey took a nine point in Wisconsin yesterday… I thought of you when I saw the pick on Facebook last night!

Peter

September 18th, 2011
6:02 pm

God this Vick stuff on and on and on is worse than marriage. It’s football can’t we just enjoy it.

the indiana of the sec

September 18th, 2011
6:04 pm

know this…mike vick NEVER led the falcons to back-to-back winning seasons…period…NEVER…don’t believe the hype…

UGA THOUGHT CAM NEWTON WAS A TIGHTEND

September 18th, 2011
6:05 pm

LOOKS LIKE MATT RYAN IS OVERRATED,LOOK AT WHAT THE AINTS DID TO THE BEARS!

Jeff Schultz

September 18th, 2011
6:05 pm

Sonny Clusters — Word was you came close to cursing one night when DQ guy said they ran out of vanilla. But maybe that was just a bad rumor.

Lyh

September 18th, 2011
6:06 pm

People…pls. get a life, this is just sports entertainment,,,,it is all meaningless in the end…really !