LIVE: Falcons try to get back on track (again) at Carolina

Can a Panther be that tough with a wreath around his neck?

Can a Panther be that tough with a wreath around his neck?

CHARLOTTE — Good morning. I wrote this blog while listening to Darryl Ledbetter defend his University of Cincinnati goons. Don’t be fooled by the bow tie.

Drove up to Charlotte last night and stayed in a hotel that turned out to be the Carolina Panthers team hotel. Discovered that this morning when I was on the elevator with one of the players. Didn’t recognize him, but I know it wasn’t Cam Newton. And no, I didn’t trip him.

It’s cold here. My car temperature gauge said 38 degrees. So maybe the weather will wake up the Falcons. Wrote a column in today’s AJC with coach Mike Smith, whom I spent about 30 minutes with the other day. He acknowledged the Falcons’ inconsistencies and conceded that his players’ focus isn’t where it needs to be.

At 7-5, the Falcons are still in a good position to make the playoffs. (They’re currently the sixth seed in the NFC and would play at New Orleans if the playoffs started today.) But last week’s loss at Houston was troubling and it illustrated the team’s ups-and-downs this season.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank (standing below the "L" of NFL logo) hopes his team has a better showing today.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank (standing below the "L" of NFL logo) hopes his team has a better showing against Carolina than it did at Houston.

That said, I expect the Falcons to play well today. They’re 16-3 following defeats under coach Mike Smith.

Expect a heavy dose of Michael Turner on offense. Turner has rushed for 707 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games against Carolina, including  five 100-yard-plus games in the past six.

“He’ll be the real focal point this week,” wide receiver Roddy White said earlier this week. “We might run it 50 times.”

That would be one way to avoid the ills of the passing game. I know offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is everybody’s favorite whipping boy, but Mularkey wasn’t the problem in the 17-10 loss at Houston. Receivers had at least seven drops and quarterback Matt Ryan had several misfires, at least a couple of which could’ve gone for touchdowns. That’s not about play-calling.

The Falcons beat Carolina 31-17 in week 6. Newton hit 21 of 35 for 237 passes but he had three interceptions. Turner rushed for 139 yards and two scores in the game. The Panthers’ defense ranks only 27th in the NFL against the run

The Falcons have only four games left. This is the time of year when strong playoff teams start to separate themselves from the field. So let’s see how the team reacts today.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

2,127 comments Add your comment

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2011
11:49 am

Here are the inactives:

Atlanta Falcons
4 – QB John Parker Wilson
20 – CB Brent Grimes
26 – CB Kelvin Hayden
54 – LB Stephen Nicholas
66 – C Brett Romberg
73 – T Kirk Chambers
98 – DE Cliff Matthews

Lineup Changes
24 Dominique Franks will start at cornerback for 20 Brent Grimes.
53 Mike Peterson will start at linebacker for 54 Stephen Nicholas.

Carolina Panthers
2 – QB Jimmy Clausen
21 – CB Brandon Hogan
53 – LB Jason Phillips
69 – T Jordan Gross
86 – WR Darvin Adams
91 – LB Kion Wilson
92 – DE Eric Norwood

Lineup Changes
70 Travelle Wharton will start at left tackle for 69 Jordan Gross.
73 Mackenzy Bernadeau will start at left guard for 70 Travelle Wharton.

Dre

December 11th, 2011
12:00 pm

Let’s go Falcons! Catch the damn ball this time!

Terry

December 11th, 2011
12:04 pm

Jeff Schultz, Inconsistency would be the best word to describe the Falcons average season, It seem’s like they are trying too hard to pass, instead of running the ball, and taking what other teams are giving them.

mark

December 11th, 2011
12:05 pm

Go Falcons !!!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan0

December 11th, 2011
12:11 pm

When CHOKE throws 40 or more passes he has a 3-11 record with 17 tds & 15 PICKS and a 73.0 qb rating. What does this mean?

CHOKE is a JOKE & a BUST :)

painter

December 11th, 2011
12:14 pm

SHUTUP Choke, you choke on your own vomit when you puke after Matty Ice throws 5 TDs today. Yeah!

Steve

December 11th, 2011
12:16 pm

Jeff if you have time after the game, go get a burger at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. Fantastic burgers there. Go Falcons! 28-24.

MATT RYAN=ERIN MURRAY-MIKE BOZO=MULARKEY

December 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

MATT RYAN WILL BE OUT PLAYED BY ATL’S OWN CAM NEWTON!

HOW COULD MATT RYAN BE OUT PLAYED BY A 3RD STRING QB FROM MARIETTA,GA? BECAUSE T J YATES AINT NO JOKE,BUT MATT RYAN IS A CHOKE!

Steve

December 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

People, just ignore “Matt Choke Ryan.” He WANTS you all to make comments and get upset. Ignore and he will go away. He obviously has no life or friends and these blogs are all he has.

MATT RYAN=ERIN MURRAY-MIKE BOZO=MULARKEY

December 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

27-20 PANTHERS

MATT RYAN=ERIN MURRAY-MIKE BOZO=MULARKEY

December 11th, 2011
12:20 pm

2 WEEKS IN A ROW THAT MATT RYAN WILL OUT PLAYED BY A GEORGIA BOY!

MATT RYAN=ERIN MURRAY-MIKE BOZO=MULARKEY

December 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

Steve — Do they have stuff to go? I’m hitting the road after the game.

mountain_jim

December 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

Hopeful as always, but my confidence has been blown out by the way this team has played this season.

Besides needing this to keep the season hopes alive, my inlaws and their families live in Charlotte and are all big Panthers fans. I need this game for christmas bragging rights. :)

Mr Charlie

December 11th, 2011
12:23 pm

This says it all. The guy with the dogs is naturally your average Vick can, I, or course, am Charlie, and we fight the classic battle between right and wrong to influence the average blogger, who is represented by the little boy. Watch and learn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3FnCiRpdQ4

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan0

December 11th, 2011
12:26 pm

Steve

December 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

People, just ignore “Matt Choke Ryan.”

___________________________________________

Yet you can’t seem to follow your own words………………..

If brains were measure in gold you would own Fort Knox :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan0

December 11th, 2011
12:28 pm

22 PICKS as a 5th year starter = ZERO playoff wins in the NFL :)

Cricket

December 11th, 2011
12:28 pm

People should really wake up and realize that the Falcons have a good football team. Would be great if they could get out of their own way. They will come out hungry, and focused today to get a win knowing they don’t have much time left and little room for error. Carolina will be tough, but the Falcons will pull it out.

Steve

December 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

They sure do Jeff!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan0

December 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

When Michael Turner has 20 or more carries the Falcons are 26-2.

What does this all mean? :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 11th, 2011
12:31 pm

Junior quarterback from Bailor wins the HEISMAN. Another blow for the future of one dimensional quarterbacks :)

What happened to the Luck sweepstakes :)

Mr Charlie

December 11th, 2011
12:31 pm

Charlie Says,

I was right about Vick and the Eagles Charlie 1 – Choke and JSS 0
I was right that Ryan would be a better rookie than Cam Charlie 2- Choke and JSS 0
I say Ryan wins a playoff game this year….Jury is still out.

So I lead 2-0, I am playing with house money, worst I can do is 2-1.
Game, Set Match.

And don’t forget, Ryan might not have won a playoff game as a rookie, but he got there, which is more than Cam can say….So I can’t lose….

R Brown

December 11th, 2011
12:31 pm

Here’s hoping Matt Ryan is more accurate than last week
Here’s hoping JQ Rogers and J Snelling get more touches
Here’s hoping Harry D gets more touches
Here’s hoping Edwards and Abraham wreak havoc on the kid
Here’s hoping Bosher continues to improve on respectable performances of late
Here’s hoping Michael Turner cuts right or left and NOT up his linemen’s backs
Here’s hoping M Mularkey calls the flea flicker again (just pick a better time)
Here’s hoping BVG gets really mad and unleashes the hounds
Here’s hoping Mike Smith remembers what it’s like to be a really good team

Finally, and this is the most important, here’s hoping the Falcons win!!!

Mr Charlie

December 11th, 2011
12:33 pm

I am sure an “unconventional” will sine a superbowl one day, just like African American coaches rode the arms of Payton Manning and Big Ben to win theirs..

TBALL

December 11th, 2011
12:38 pm

We need to see that complete game today. Lets stop talking about it and be bout it Falcons!!
FALCONS RISE UP!!!

Steve

December 11th, 2011
12:38 pm

Peyton Manning never won a Heisman and I am pretty sure he ended up doing just fine in the NFL.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 11th, 2011
12:41 pm

With CHOKE passing 40 or more times = 3-11

With Mike Turner 20 or more carries = 26-2.

Why does it always have to be a Mike in a Falcons success :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 11th, 2011
12:42 pm

@Steve

Don’t feed the troll :)

mountain_jim

December 11th, 2011
12:46 pm

Good post R Brown.

5150 UOAD

December 11th, 2011
12:47 pm

Trolls eat S..t for breakfast and love it. Matt “Choke” Ryan is fat on his bowl of Cheereo’s and Crap.

R Brown

December 11th, 2011
12:54 pm

‘preciate it MJ – Now lets play some football.

painter

December 11th, 2011
12:56 pm

Drew Brees win/loss pct. .591
Matt Ryan win/loss pct. .690

In this his 4th year, he will find a way to win today, and win out. It’s time to rise up!!

J.J.M.

December 11th, 2011
12:58 pm

lmao at “bailor”

Falcaints

December 11th, 2011
1:04 pm

Will be a sad day for the defense, they are weak and can’t handle a good Qb. Panthers by 17

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2011
1:04 pm

Will Svitek starts at LT.

The Real Falcon

December 11th, 2011
1:05 pm

Must play with INTENSITY from the start. Begins with the QB

Dirk

December 11th, 2011
1:05 pm

Falcons will need at least 28 to win.

Falcaints

December 11th, 2011
1:05 pm

Slow man Turner, what does he run about a 5.0 forty?

ramblinwreck80

December 11th, 2011
1:06 pm

Why does Fox keep subjecting us to having to listen to Jim Mora for 3 hours???

Bonez

December 11th, 2011
1:06 pm

More uncreative plays how surprising

dean

December 11th, 2011
1:06 pm

Groundhog Day

J.J.M.

December 11th, 2011
1:07 pm

Falcaints

December 11th, 2011
1:07 pm

Roddy, crybaby White shows up big early.

AtlNative

December 11th, 2011
1:07 pm

Ughhh, Pass Int…

And Mora for 3 hours. Gonna be a long day

5150 UOAD

December 11th, 2011
1:07 pm

JSS

December 11th, 2011
1:07 pm

“Watch me dance” Is at it again!!!

Oily Rags

December 11th, 2011
1:08 pm

Rine may be the best one stairs up and down the line. When he throws hard corner back will come to the ball and Rine to end of the quarter. Carolina blue and more sore shoulder and time outs to win for the playoffs. What do you think?

Bonez

December 11th, 2011
1:08 pm

At least Quizz tried to male something outta nothing

5150 UOAD

December 11th, 2011
1:08 pm

WOW that sucked BAD.

dawgs01

December 11th, 2011
1:08 pm

not what we wanted on the first drive