Falcons’ defense still showing reason for concern

Asante Samuel got to A.J. Green too late and was burned for a 50-yard touchdown. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Asante Samuel got to A.J. Green too late and was burned for a 50-yard TD(Curtis Compton)

If there is one absolute about NFL exhibition games, it’s that it never is a good idea to make blanket statements about how great or dreadful something or someone is.

The games don’t matter. More often than not, coaches don’t scheme. Players don’t care. Or maybe one guy cares but the guy who’s supposed to be guarding him is just trying to remember whether he Tivo’d “Shark Week.” And then sometimes, as was the case again Thursday night, NFL replacement officials who in their normal everyday life would be pointing you to the historical biographies section at Barnes and Noble, are so completely botching calls that it’s easy to miss that somebody made a great play.

(Example: The Falcons’ Jonathan Babineaux tackled Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, but was given a personal foul for grabbing the facemask, even though Dalton’s facemask was nowhere near where Babineaux grabbed. I can’t figure out if this is better or worse than last week when the referee kept referencing “Arizona” on the microphone, either because he forgot where he was or he just hadn’t made his way through all of the “A” teams yet in his homework.)

Anyway, back to the Falcons. They played their second exhibition Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. In short, they were just OK.

On defense, actually, they were less than OK.

More like, just, oh …

They lost again, this time 24-19. That really doesn’t mean anything. (Somewhat amusing stat: The Falcons have lost seven straight preseason games.) Maybe none of this will mean anything when they open the regular season in a few weeks in Kansas City. They can only hope.

It wasn’t just that A.J. Green (50-yard touchdown catch) shifted into fourth gear just as Asante Samuel popped a clutch. The Falcons showed some liabilities when the first-team defense was on the field against Cincinnati, and that’s a concern for a team that has been trying to improve its pass rush and third-down defense (and because they’re a team that has allowed 40, 48 and 24 points in consecutive playoff losses).

There was some good. The defensive front was able to pressure on Dalton. Peria Jerry and Babineaux in particular were strong inside. Jerry got called for a borderline roughing-the-passer penalty, throwing down Dalton when it probably wasn’t necessary. But the Falcons probably would take that mistake right now over not getting to the quarterback at all. (It’s easier to coach down than coach up.)

Defensive end Ray Edwards, who needs to have a strong season after a mediocre first season, fell short of impact again. He pressured Dalton but failed to wrap him up for a sack. (Dalton eventually scrambled out of bounds for no gain, and a sack was credited to Jerry.)

The Falcons also missed tackles. They were gashed for a running play by Cedric Peerman (who might’ve gone to the end zone if safety William Moore hadn’t punched out the ball for a fumble). But the biggest issue was the secondary.

Green is great. We know that. We watched him at Georgia and again last season, when he was the first rookie to earn a Pro Bowl trip since 2003. But he made the Falcons’ secondary look silly a few times. He got behind everybody late in the first quarter from the 36, but Dalton threw long and Green made the catch out of the end zone. In the second quarter, on third-and-15 from the 50, Green ran down the right side, made a slight move for an out pattern that Samuel didn’t bite on, but then just blew past the Falcons’ cornerback and cradled a rocket from Dalton for a touchdown.

There was a third play in which Green beat Samuel down the sideline, but Dalton’s pass was underthrown and Samuel was able to close and get a hand in for the breakup.

Samuel is known as a gambling cornerback, and sometimes that costs him. But Green’s touchdown wasn’t the result of gambling — it was merely getting scorched. It wasn’t great foreshadowing for the season considering he was easily the team’s biggest transaction this offseason.

In a few weeks, maybe this won’t matter. Maybe defensive coordinator Mike Nolan can tweak some things. Maybe Samuel gets better. Maybe Edwards gets better. Certainly, everybody will care more. But in Week 2 of the preseason, there was reason for concern.

By Jeff Schultz

172 comments Add your comment

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:35 pm

Time to start cutting folks

NUNNA!!

August 16th, 2012
11:36 pm

NUNNA!!

August 16th, 2012
11:36 pm

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:36 pm

Gumby Fade Spoon….

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 16th, 2012
11:37 pm

Forget the defense It’s time to start Davis.

The Davis era has begun :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 16th, 2012
11:37 pm

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

Explosive!

August 16th, 2012
11:39 pm

“The games don’t matter. More often than not, coaches don’t scheme. Players don’t care.”

and yet the NFL has the nerve to charge people to come out and watch these games.

Anyways as for the defense …. the sun rises in the east and the Falcons D is average or below, that’s just the way things go. If they were good/great, then I’d be surprised.

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:40 pm

If DeCoud was not the safeguard behind Samuel and the other corners the problem would be so great, but I’m sorry he’s learned nothing

NUNNA!!

August 16th, 2012
11:41 pm

Its time to cut ties with Matty Ice..He is not gonna be any better than he is now..He is what he is..
We have to do sooooooo freaking much for this guy to be succeed..
MIller would have won a playoff game by now..
Bart would have won 2 by now..
Vick would have taken us to the Super Bowl with the teams we had in the past 2 years(if he was healthy)..
Matt is a good QB but like i said when we drafted him,he will progress only so much because with his weak arm,and him needing a trillion dollar supporting cast,he just isn’t worth the investment..

Start Davis Now!!

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:42 pm

Explosive, they believe they are hiding things in the scheme to mask those things

Dominique "Choke" Davis

August 16th, 2012
11:42 pm

< start this guy?

eddie willers

August 16th, 2012
11:44 pm

AJ will make a lot of cornerbacks look silly.

Thomas DiNatale

August 16th, 2012
11:44 pm

Not a bad showing! Still in shock that this was broadcast on TV nationally. Can’t wait fo the season!!

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:44 pm

Y’all know they ain’t letting Davis start… They riding or die with Ryan… It’s going to be a heck of a funeral!!!

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:47 pm

“AJ will make a lot of cornerbacks look silly.”

That wasn’t silly, that was Serena-vs-Sharapova… That was Elvis Toast Patterson land!!!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 16th, 2012
11:48 pm

Okay folks lets start a petition to start Davis.

CHOKE is too boring and Davis moves the chains………….

DAVIS…..DAVIS…..DAVIS…..DAVIS…..DAVIS :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 16th, 2012
11:49 pm

A.J. showed why he was drafted 4th and Julio 6th.

Once again Dimitroff is a day late :)

bart

August 16th, 2012
11:52 pm

Surely you jest. Samuel had pretty decent coverage but Green is or will become one of the elite receivers in the league and made the play. I guess you could say all the DB’s covering Julio suk too because he makes plays. But I do agree that the defense as a whole doesn’t look ready. And on offense I believe it’s time to say so long to Turner. He’s becoming the wimpiest power runner in the NFL.

The Truth

August 16th, 2012
11:54 pm

Roughing the passer call. Sounds like a bounty offense to me.

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:56 pm

I jest not, he blew past him and Asante looked like the 4×100 when they realized it was their night… Toooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssttttttttt!!!

Ahab

August 16th, 2012
11:57 pm

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:58 pm

Your 4 of the first 5 games feature teams with supersonic jet fighters on the edge, you know they’re rewinding that video…

JSS

August 16th, 2012
11:59 pm

Ahab, your white whale is calling!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
12:00 am

When Andy Reid is done with you….well…..you are done.

Suckers :)

section 340

August 17th, 2012
12:06 am

this is trollville here. You guys need start getting laid. This is a horrible life style choice to get your rocks off. See ya in the Super Bowl
Go Falcons
Super Bowl Champs

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

August 17th, 2012
12:08 am

The NFL needs to not charge fans full price for these preseason games. Also if you want to fans to better attend the preseason games, quite scheduing them on week nights. It is difficult for working folks to make it downtown on a week night to see brand “X” players after the 1st quarter of the game.

Maybe Asante getting beat that bad on that one play might cause him to dial down all the rhetoric. It appeared that he was too busy celebrating the previous defensive play wich might have caused him to lose focus. Asante….quit mouthing off and just play the game.

JSS

August 17th, 2012
12:15 am

Get yourself “laid!”

JSS

August 17th, 2012
12:17 am

Asante ain’t dialing after all of these years… Ray Buchanan with less jewelry and a better haircut!

Gumbo

August 17th, 2012
12:18 am

DeCoud – UGH! Is anybody watching film at Flowery Branch??? For the past 3 years?? The Emporer has no clothes. Call it a bust, TD, and get on with finding an NFL safety Its OK to miss on one now and again…..

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
12:25 am

You guys act like this is the post blog of the 1st round of the playoffs. What’s with all the sad faces? ha ha :)

section 340

August 17th, 2012
12:38 am

Its a daily over here. But seriously it sad. All of you our just trying pick a blog fight. You probably go to sleep in your moms house feeling that today was a good day because 8 people responded to my word vomit. And I’m looking at you “choke”, jss, where is your brotha seen b4.

REFMan

August 17th, 2012
12:38 am

Good job folks ignoring Matt “CHOKE” Ryan, don’t feed the obvious troll with no job.

j

August 17th, 2012
12:38 am

Why the heck is Garrett Reynolds the starting RG? They had all offseason, a 2nd round pick, Mike Johnson, and a 5ht round backup tackle is the best they can throw out there? Horrifying.

Who Me?

August 17th, 2012
1:05 am

It is time to pare down the roster a bit more, but this isn’t a regular season L. There is cause for concern with the 2nd and 3rd unit D, but i did see Dunta actually make some solid contact back there tonight – while watching AJ light up Asante. Dude is laughable but I’m withholding further comment til the regular season starts. No DC or OC in his right mind is going to trot out anything more than vanilla coverages and standard offensive sets to get a repetitive groove going for both starting units.

Davis deserved better from the college kids trying to catch his passes in the hurry-up at the end of the game. The kid can play, but he got no help.

Would like to be in the film room tomorrow….

Falcon Jim

August 17th, 2012
1:07 am

Choke, you should be in bed, son.

Jaded

August 17th, 2012
1:19 am

Defense in the NFL is about rushing the passer. The Falcons have an effective but aging, part-time player on one edge and an overpaid bust on the other edge.

There actually are some things to like about the Falcons’ defense, but they need an every-down player who can consistently put the QB on his back. Until they get that, Rodgers and Brees will continue to play pitch-and-catch.

joey

August 17th, 2012
1:26 am

I was at the game. The players simply didn’t seem to be trying that hard. But I agree the defense seemed pretty weak though I did wonder if they had their heads in the game 110%. The offense seemed to be trying to practice their screen passes this week and didn’t take a lot of chances downfield (or just that the o-line sucked it up). But overall I felt the offense played well and didn’t have much trouble moving the ball (except turner running which is probably more a result of the weak o-line…).

And guys don’t feed the troll. Thanks.

cousin vicker

August 17th, 2012
1:28 am

Matt Ryan is like the anti chuck Morris to”choke”

When Matt Ryan heats up, he causes global warming.

When Matt Ryan drops back, the stock market drops.

Matt Aryans play

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
1:29 am

Start Davis and trade CHOKE for a bucket of footballs :)

cousin vicker

August 17th, 2012
1:45 am

Oh and meant chuck norris. Have no idea who chuck Morris is

Seattle Hawks fan

August 17th, 2012
2:17 am

Put down the crack pipe….. Matt Ryan looks like a top five qb right now….. He is going to have a monster year…. David was playing against practice squad guys

Dwayne C

August 17th, 2012
3:06 am

Last year the Atlanta Falcons went 0-4 in the preseason, losing all four of their exhibition games. Despite players and coaches on this team downplaying this fact, the Falcons got out the gate slowly looking like crap on the road in their first game vs the CHI Bears. They were 1-2 after three games and 2-3 after five games before getting things turned around and going 8-3 the rest of the season.

If the Falcons stumble early in 2012 I wouldn’t count on another turnaround like in 2011. The NO Saints will be good again in 2012, the CAR Panthers are improving and the TB Bucs will be better in 2012 as well. and the Falcons have some tough games on the road in 2012.

If the Falcons are 2-3 after five games in 2012 look for this team to finish no better than 8-8(and maybe 7-9).

Stinger2

August 17th, 2012
4:34 am

Obviously Dwayne is not the president of the Optimist Club.

Singletary

August 17th, 2012
5:37 am

Davis IS better than JPWilson, and probably should be the #2 next year. Samuel and our $57 million dollar man definitely didn’t light up anyone’s board last night (except the blinding pain behind my eyes.) Please let it not be a painful season of missed opportunities…

GTT

August 17th, 2012
5:52 am

Who the heck is Davis?

GTT

August 17th, 2012
5:54 am

Oh, OK, now I see why the Vickophiles want Davis. Thank you Google images.

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redcoat

August 17th, 2012
6:23 am

Joke of a blog………

WTF

August 17th, 2012
6:42 am

SSDD
These guys look like and perform like last year’s edition…hey, they ARE last year’s edition.
9-7 if they are lucky (and they aren’t) – 7-9 more likely.

buckhead benny

August 17th, 2012
6:46 am

Shultz- He was sitting on the route to the outside and AJ did a double move- they interviewed AJ and Dalton about the td pass and the admitted Samuel jump the first route which he did so they wanted to try the double move because they thought he would bite again and he did sit on the route since it was third down so you are stupid and have no idea what you are talking about, fyi-