LIVE: Falcons try to fix defense, slow Aaron Rodgers (UPDATE: Abraham out)

Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith go over pregame strategy. And maybe a pregame prayer.

Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith go over pregame strategy. And maybe a pregame prayer.

If Sunday night football fixes the Falcons again this week, owner Arthur Blank might need to look into petitioning the league to move the rest of his team’s schedule to NBC’s weekly prime time slot.

Three weeks ago, after a poor season opener at Chicago, the Falcons returned to the Georgia Dome and defeated Michael Vick and Philadelphia 35-31. But the feel-good atmosphere was short-lived, as they’ve followed that with a 16-13 loss at Tampa Bay and an unimpressive 30-28 win at Seattle.

That leads to tonight’s game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons’ defense has been shaky all season and was shredded last week by the lightly regarded Tarvaris Jackson (career high 319 yards and three touchdowns).

Aaron Rodgers has 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions in his last 15 starts. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Rodgers has 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions in his last 15 starts, including playoffs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

It’s not as if the Falcons aren’t capable of winning tonight. But they’ll have to get great performances from two of their highest paid and highest-profile acquisitions — end Ray Edwards and cornerback Dunta Robinson — and find a way to put pressure on Rodgers. The Falcons’ are sack-less in the last four games.

We can’t know for certain if the biggest  problem has been player performance or scheme, or whether head coach Mike Smith (whose background is in defense) or defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder should be targeted for more blame. But the defense has regressed since a year ago, and it wasn’t even that good then. The Falcons struggled last week against a Seattle team that began the week ranked 31st in offense.

This week they’ll face a Packers offense that is ranked No. 1 in scoring (37 points per week), No. 5 in offense (429 yards per game) and No. 1 in quarterback efficiency (120.8).

Green Bay has won 10 straight games, including playoffs, going back to last season, since Rodgers returned to the lineup from an injury. In those 10 games, Rodgers has 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his last 15 starts, he has 37 touchdowns and six interceptions. That’s just sick.

The Falcons need only to look at tape of last year’s 48-21 playoff loss to know what Rodgers is capable of. Rodgers had an almost perfect night. He went 31-for-36 for 366 yards, three no touchdowns and zero interceptions. Green Bay also converted eight-of-12 third-down situations.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan also played a significant role in the loss with three turnovers. The Falcons are going to have a difficult enough time slowing the Packers, so that can’t happen again.

UPDATE (7 p.m.): Defensive end John Abraham, who suffered a hip injury last week in the Seattle game, is inactive for the game. Suffice to day, it’s a huge injury. Kroy Biermann will start at right end. The Falcons will get defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee) back after three games but logic dictates he might not be in great game shape.  Also, as expected, center Todd McClure (knee) is out and will, be replaced by Joe Hawley.

That’s it for now. What’s your confidence level for this game?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter: @JeffSchultzAJC. Friend me on Facebook: Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC.

Some pregame photos, from our Curtis Compton:

cheers2

ryan

julio

2,093 comments Add your comment

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:24 pm

No shame in beating Seattle.

South GA Falcon

October 9th, 2011
6:24 pm

First in line….to recieve this Packer/Rodgers butt whuppin!

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:25 pm

Been a crazy season….Jus think, Vick shoulda spurned Goodall’s advice and signed with the Bills after all.

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:26 pm

Lets just hope that Rogers does not head toward Savannah when he is done at the Dome tonight.

voola

October 9th, 2011
6:26 pm

hope they win .. or have them walk 30 miles and drown in the atlantic.. this is it, you win or die trying, this is my SUPERBOWL!!!!!!!!!

voola

October 9th, 2011
6:27 pm

FALCONS .. show them what you are made of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rm

October 9th, 2011
6:28 pm

Low, very low..

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:29 pm

CHOOOKKKKEEE. Where are you? My guess is your gonna brown bag it tonight.

The Natue Boy

October 9th, 2011
6:31 pm

Jeff..please tell Chris Collinsworth I want to wrestle him…I’ll wipe that smirk off his face..

J.J.M.

October 9th, 2011
6:32 pm

Last thing falcons need is 3 .D line players hurt

WitStream

October 9th, 2011
6:33 pm

Let’s take a moment to hear from the VIck fans out there. This is a good chance to explain why you’d rather have him than Ryan now….

J.J.M.

October 9th, 2011
6:33 pm

so predictable Mr Charlie brings up vick for the 5th straight week

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:33 pm

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:34 pm

Do to some of the Green Bay Players what Tech did to the Maryland boy. What too soon. I hope the young man from Maryland is able to play again. That play looked very bad. When the Ga State patrol escorted his dad out of the stadium to get a ride to the hospital you knew it was BAD.

Falcons need to play a game like they are not wearing the UGA colors. Maybe we can change the red to Crimson like the TIDE.

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:35 pm

J.J.M….4 Picks, LOL….How do you NOT bring that up?

The Natue Boy

October 9th, 2011
6:36 pm

thanks Mr. Charlie…I started drinking to early..I hope I make to half time…GO FALCONS!!!!!

WitStream

October 9th, 2011
6:36 pm

Oh, and while we’re at it: let’s hear from the Falcon doubters, whining that the Birds barely got a win against a HORRIBLE Seahawk team, which just beat a 3-1 team in an east coast road game. Fire away!

R Brown

October 9th, 2011
6:36 pm

JS – My confidence level is not very high for us to beat GB. The first half last week was the first time since the debacle in the dome, the Falcons looked like they could be the real deal, then the second half brought me back to earth. Carolina, Detroit and Indy left for the first half of the season and I’m not CERTAIN we can beat any of them. All I can say is, if we lose today, promise to bring back Sofia. Tell the wife, you’re doing it for the fans.

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:36 pm

Mike Vick fans? Who are they? What are they doing? They are at the DAWG brawls betting their goMent checks.

Ted M

October 9th, 2011
6:37 pm

Very low confidence. Tampa is getting blown out by San Fran and we couldn’t beat them. Philly is not very good at all and we barely beat them.

J.J.M.

October 9th, 2011
6:38 pm

I didnt watch the game I dont care about any other team besides the falcons…but from what I heard on nfl network 2 of the INTs wasnt his fault but oh well im a falcons fan!

Waffle House or Bust

October 9th, 2011
6:39 pm

Hide your dogs Philly!!! Losing makes people do crazy things.

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:39 pm

Ted m……………Pro is so different than college. There is a lot of time to pix problems and for other teams to develop some problems.

Cousin Vicker

October 9th, 2011
6:39 pm

You were way off on UGA Jeff. Here’s hoping you are wrong about this one too

WitStream

October 9th, 2011
6:40 pm

Seriously, though, watch The Falcons pull this one off tonight—simply because hardly anyone thinks they can. Every powerhouse like Rodgers & Co. can struggle now and then. Besides Dunte Robinson, why not tonight?

I sure hope Mularkey has been laying low with some creative calls for the offense just for this game. It would be interesting to see, just for once.

Ted M

October 9th, 2011
6:40 pm

The Bears are not that good and they blew us out. The Panthers looked good today, we might not beat them next week.

J.J.M.

October 9th, 2011
6:41 pm

The day this blog dont ever talk about vick is the day gas prices will be $1.00

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:41 pm

I heard the Saint’s fans go so scared they didn’t flush their toilets the whole 4th quarter so as not to Suck and let CAM Newton beat them.

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:41 pm

But Ted, the Giants are good, and we beat Seattle. So, go figure….and of course the picks were not Vicks fault, they never are. Like I said, Buffalo should send Roger Goodall a nice gift for telling Vick to sign with Philly.

Vick 0
Fitzgerals 1

C’mon now, that is just flat out funny.

Cousin Vicker

October 9th, 2011
6:42 pm

Here’s my prediction for tonight: Matt Ryan glances down field for a split second, then dumps it off underneath. Rinse and repeat. Prove me wrong Matty

MGD

October 9th, 2011
6:42 pm

Since Arthur’s divorce the things have not been looking up. Can someone keep him AWAY from the sideline? Nothing, but micromanagement.

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:44 pm

MR SHEEN……………….HARVARD’s 1 ghetto VT trash 0.

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:45 pm

Ryan needs to dink and dunk, anything to keep the ball away from Green Bay.

dawg4u

October 9th, 2011
6:45 pm

I fully expect a high scoring game tonight. The Pack defense has not been playing anywhere near the level it was in January. The Falcons have really missed Harvey Dahl at right guard and McClure is not expected to play again either. The plus side is that we are at the Dome again after playing 3 of our first 4 on the road. I have a feeling Julio Jones will have a big game. The Panthers almost got it done against the Aints and TB is getting absolutely killed by the 49ers so a win would keep us a game behind the Aints. We should be sky high against the Pack tonight after that debacle in January. Go Falcons!

ramguy68

October 9th, 2011
6:46 pm

Just to get this out of the way, Vick threw 4 int’s today!

Ted M

October 9th, 2011
6:46 pm

Sackless in the last 4 games…that might be some kinda record.

I hope the Falcons take their chances with the blitz. Go for broke.

Jeff Schultz

October 9th, 2011
6:47 pm

The Nature Boy — I’ll pass it along.

Cousin Vicker

October 9th, 2011
6:47 pm

Hope my screen name is not confusing, not a Vick fan (unless he’s on my fantasy team). However, I’m also not a Matt Ryan fan. I am however, a Falcons fan. Wow that sounds confusing.

Mr Charlie

October 9th, 2011
6:47 pm

Poad, funny how nobody wants to talk about Vick anymore. Like I said, Buffalo needs to send a nice thank you note to Goodall….

Jeff Schultz

October 9th, 2011
6:47 pm

Mr. Charlie — No shame in beating Seattle. But there’s shame in allowing Tarvaris Jackson to throw for over 300 plus 3.

dawg4u

October 9th, 2011
6:48 pm

Sorry I completely forgot that Harvey Dahl wasn’t re-signed by the Falcons and is now in St. Louis!

Ted M

October 9th, 2011
6:49 pm

Thats true… Seattle might be better then we thought and we beat them on the road.

Still the Falcons haven’t beaten the crap out of anybody in a long time.

SeenThisB4

October 9th, 2011
6:49 pm

Looks like the division leading New Orleans Saints are starting to put some significant distance between themselves and the other NFCS also-rans. What’s that view like back there?

Jeff Schultz

October 9th, 2011
6:50 pm

Tampa just getting drop-kicked by San Fran. It’s now 41-3. I thought 49ers would win that game, but not like that.

WitStream

October 9th, 2011
6:50 pm

I’d like to step above the call-outs and bickering for a moment and propose a thesis on which we can all agree: Phil Simms is a f*cking horrible color analyst.

Cousin Vicker

October 9th, 2011
6:51 pm

Not defending Vick, but Mr. Charlie: why rub it in when he has a bad game? Be a bigger man than Chokester.

Sonny Clusters

October 9th, 2011
6:53 pm

Mr Blank should be dressed for success tonight because he will be on national television. We was thinking living out of a trunk must be hard on his designer suits. He may be sleeping at the Dome for all we know. We wish the Falcons well and we’ll be looking for Arthur on the sidelines unless the game is going badly for the home team. Jeff, we have a question for you that’s been bothering us but we may need to be discrete if it’s a touchy subject. It’s about Mr Blank’s horse and the photo that seems to have disappeared.

SeenThisB4

October 9th, 2011
6:53 pm

I understand that there will be a moment of silence before kick-off. Is that to show some respect for the team that’s about to get buried?

WitStream

October 9th, 2011
6:54 pm

“Since Arthur’s divorce the things have not been looking up. Can someone keep him AWAY from the sideline? Nothing, but micromanagement.”

Or ego run amok. The funny think is I don’t think he realizes what a tool he appears to be by insisting on late game jock sniffing. On the plus side, it’s mildly comical.

5150 UOAD

October 9th, 2011
6:54 pm

Stomp on Vick & his FANS face with a Hobnail Boot every chance you get. Same for the NoLa fans that are still in the ATL robbing, stealing, and killing in our neighborhoods.