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

Ivan

August 17th, 2012
10:51 am

Man this blog is a riot! I’m not sure what’s funnier…

The fans up in arms over a preseason loss
The trolls actually trying to troll a preseason result.
The idiots falling hook, line, and sinker for the trolls.

Good way to start the Friday. Keep it going, fellas.

Flacons never learn

August 17th, 2012
10:54 am

dan the nerd

August 17th, 2012
11:02 am

Matt Ryan still looks weak. He is afraid to throw down the field because of his noodle-arm. At one point he had 7 completions and averaged less than 5 yards per attempt! Take away the RACs and he was throwing 2 and 3 yard passes. WEAK!

Offense will be the same as last year.

JSS

August 17th, 2012
11:02 am

Never fails, the self-professed “Troll identifiers” just can’t help themselves…

rollo lawson

August 17th, 2012
11:03 am

I don’t know what game Jeff Schultz was watching. The Falcons look like a different team from years past. Pressure from the dline and an assertive, more confident Matt Ryan is what stood out to me. Cincy is no slouch, on offense or defense. AJ Green can beat ANY corner in this league.
My only concerns and Turner and Gonzalez. My goodness they looked SLOW!!!

rollo lawson

August 17th, 2012
11:04 am

Correction: My only concerns areTurner and Gonzalez.

falCANS

August 17th, 2012
11:13 am

Yea I forgot to talkin about offense. We need a while new line except RT. They’re better than last year but still not getting a push. Ryan looks like he is ready to go Brady on use and throw 40 passes a game if line holds up. Roddy White hasn’t lost a step, Julio is Julio even going up against a top ten CB in leon hall. Turner is looking horrible BUT we all know he goes 5 attempts for 4 yards then goes fa 25 on the next . Tony has lost a step but still top ten tight end

Whadda Ya Know?

August 17th, 2012
11:24 am

Defense needs to be more discipline that’s for sure. The tackling was subpar last night and the secondary is STILL allowing receivers to get behind them. We need a serious upgrade of talent on this team. Lofton still looks lost and he doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. Where’s Crisp Owens been? Injured? Must have tripped over his own feet again.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 17th, 2012
11:25 am

Oops meant Franks still looks lost. Lofton is lost because he’s gone. LOL

WooYeah

August 17th, 2012
11:32 am

Sound the alarms! Sound the alarms! The sky is falling!

A few things to keep in mind here….
…We didn’t scheme this week… (Its called pre-season).
…AJ Green makes a lot of people look bad… (He’s good, in case you didn’t notice).
…Every corner gets burnt from time to time… (Even Revis and Asomugha).
…We have an offense that is capable of keeping up in a shootout… (Our D will not stop everybody all the time. That’s why we have brought in a new offense, to take advantage of our weapons).

The tackling needs work, but that’s something that can be corrected.

I feel good about this team. Again, they’re not perfect, but no team is.

Son of Sammy Davis Jr, Jr

August 17th, 2012
11:37 am

The two words together Atlanta Falcons is reason for concerns.

Chop Buster

August 17th, 2012
11:45 am

JSS = Just Simply Stupid. Who is this clown? Master hypercritic? Which team are you a fan of? It’s obviously not the Falcons.

GA Dome

August 17th, 2012
11:53 am

Yes the defense need some more work but it appears in the second exhibition game we have found a quarter back that look likes he can be a very good back up to Ryan.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
11:54 am

DAVISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
11:58 am

It wasn’t the defense that got shutout vs the Giants in the playoffs :)

Flacons never learn

August 17th, 2012
12:06 pm

How bad did Perriery Jerry play?

He cheep shoted the QB. Anoter fist round draft bust by TD.

realitycheck

August 17th, 2012
12:09 pm

Just a few more weeks til we start hearing all the “wait til next year talk”. It’s only preseason, but this team isn’t going anywhere, and other than the homers and dreamers, most everyone else already knows it. Ryan looked pretty good last night, but he usually plays better at home anyway. Let’s see what he does in KC on a grass field with lots of crowd noise. The defense will be no better than last year, and possibly worse mainly because of the loss of Curtis Lofton, and not having draft picks. Signing overpriced DB’s like Robinson and Samuel isn’t the answer. Dimwit hasn’t been held accountable!

eric

August 17th, 2012
12:10 pm

Come on Jeff. A little early for the nay saying isn’t it? The starting defense had a great game last week against the Ravens. I liked the aggressiveness but yeah the tackling was terrible. So what, its the preseason.

Curt

August 17th, 2012
12:16 pm

Matt Ryan is definitly not the problem with the Falcons. It appears that Ryan has in creased his arm strength, accuracy and timing. This is evidenced by how he hits players crossing on the intermediate routes. I will agree (somewhat) that Ryan is not as good as some others at throwing the very deep ball but we have not seen much of that so far so it is difficult to tell.

Matt Ryan is the quarterback of the Falcons and that is not going to change any time soon. Ryan is also good and getting better. Time for everyone to complain about something else such as the non-existing run game so far this year. It appears that the line is getting better at blocking for the pass but worse at blocking for the run.

Also, I have to agree with this article about the defense. Right now, it appears to be no better than the last few years but, I am willing to wait and see what the coordinator has up his sleave and hope that the Falcons are holding back for the real season

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
12:34 pm

21 completions and only 175 yards? That is a lot of dink & dunk. Nothing has changed. Warrick Dunn could throw better than that :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
12:37 pm

CHOKE had 21 completions and Dalton had 14 completions and about the same amount of yards. CHOKE could only dream of throwing a 50 plus pass in the air with a flick of his wrist like Dalton :)

Rodster

August 17th, 2012
1:07 pm

No kidding. Our secondary made Dalton to Green look like Montana to Rice.

gl

August 17th, 2012
1:08 pm

AJ and Dalton tested Asante three times. After having success on the first two he got suckered on the third. It should be a reminder for him not to get too cocky and above all don’t get beat deep! At this point I would rather go with Dominique Davis as the number two quarterback because he has shown more in accuracy, mobility and drive. There are two more preseason games to evaluate the talent and I hope the Falcons notice the potential of Davis. Redman improved from last week but the majority of his throws were safe passes. JPW’s time was so quick I practically missed it. Ryan was 18 for 21 for 174 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions and some fans had problems with that.

Paul

August 17th, 2012
1:11 pm

True to form, Atlanta. The only people that come on the ONLY newspaper in town’s website to discuss the city’s teams are either haters from other teams or miscreants who still soil napkins in their mother’s basements. Not sure why I am always so blow away that the supposed “fan base” for Atlanta teams just doesn’t care. You have a baseball team that has the best record in baseball since the All Star break yet you have to beg people to “come out to the park” except when you are giving out bobbleheads. You have a football team that has had 4 straight winning seasons and has gone to the postseason 3 out of those 4 and one of the best young QB’s in the game and you let Saints/Bucs fans get on here to cackle along with all those poor souls who still think that Michael Vick got a raw deal from the team that gave him a $100 million contract and can’t let go. Intelligent, knowledgeable sports discussion? Fuggitaboutit!

DawgDad

August 17th, 2012
1:19 pm

” It appears that the line is getting better at blocking for the pass but worse at blocking for the run.”

It does seem that way. Rodgers’ runs are typically draws, which won’t establish a ground game, and Turner seems to be getting 0-to-minus yards instead of 1-5 yards on the meat-and-potatos power runs. They made a HUGE mistake letting Harvey Dahl walk, and you can’t lose a Pro-Bowl caliber blocking back and expect to be a better power running team. It seems to me the Falcons running game no longer demands special attention on defense.

Posters are complaining about Julio Jones? Huh?

Eric C.

August 17th, 2012
1:22 pm

Would not be surprised if Turner ends up falling off more this season, but in his defense, I will say the Bengal’s have a really good D. My biggest concern on defense were the gaping holes vs the run…kind of scary.

chris

August 17th, 2012
1:22 pm

I thought Samuel got hung out to dry on the TD play. It honestly looked liked one of Van Gorder’s awful calls from last year. The Falcons were in man coverage on the outside, zone underneath and only rushed four. Ridiculous scheme. If I have my CB’s in man then I’m always going to send 5 or six guys after the QB. We almost got there with four so there’s a good chance that Dalton wouldn’t complete that pass if we blitzed. That was on Nolan. What’s the point of playing man if you’re not going to kill the QB?

too tough

August 17th, 2012
1:42 pm

as for samuel…the eagles let him go …just sayin….Falcons D….get yall a## in gear and be somebody for a change!

Najeh Davenpoop

August 17th, 2012
2:05 pm

Samuel is good, but he gambles a LOT. The Eagles noticed that last year. And if he is losing a step at all at age 31 (I didn’t watch last night’s game so I don’t know) chances are he is going to start gambling more.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 17th, 2012
2:07 pm

” It seems to me the Falcons running game no longer demands special attention on defense.”

And that is a major problem, because the main reason the Falcons’ offense has been so good statistically the past few years is because they dominated time of possession and routinely had two or three more possessions per game than other teams. If they can’t rely on Turner anymore, they are relying an awful lot on Ryan’s ability to make big plays while not turning the ball over. They are really hanging their hats on Ryan making “the leap”.

explosive defensive line, linebackers, secondary

August 17th, 2012
2:12 pm

Jeff Schultz knows his football.

John Boy

August 17th, 2012
2:20 pm

As for the ref continuing to call Arizona for penalties, maybe he’s closely related to the Vice President.

BIG TECH

August 17th, 2012
2:38 pm

Murray=Ryan..the two of the most overrated quarterbacks in the state of GA. “Garbage” Ryan is up to his old garbage passes again….3 to 5 yards per pass and you have two of the best wideouts in the league that are burners downfield and you dump the ball off for a 3 to 5 yard gain? No way No How! the Falcons will make the playoffs this year!

brad

August 17th, 2012
2:39 pm

Seriously? I thought our D looks a lot better than last year. Jeff wants have concern because Assante didn’t want to blow out his hamstring trying to make a play in preseason? I have CONCERN about the future of the AJC and their HACK, NON-ATHLETIC, writers. Obviously, none of these guys have ever played organized sports in their life. They got a degree in journalism and played ping pong and now they want to tell us about PRO SPORTS. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

ron

August 17th, 2012
2:46 pm

This is what happens if you overpay old, washed-up CBs and DEs.

Falcons are doomed. I better sell my season tickets on ebay.

Kyle

August 17th, 2012
2:58 pm

This article confirms the fact that Schultz has no idea what he is looking at when evaluating football.

Crisco

August 17th, 2012
3:04 pm

BIG TECH…uh butthead…Murray beat the Tech Turds didn’t he….another thumper dumper Johnson sucker

ron

August 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

I predict regressed defense and ok offense.

Falcons go 8-8

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

One thing for sure, Blank will never draft another 5 year college qb with 22 picks in his last season in college :)

Matty "Matty Ice'

August 17th, 2012
3:11 pm

I DO NOT CHOKE MR Matt “CHOKE” Ryan I MAY GAG A LITTLE PLAYOFF TIME BUT I DO NOT CHOKE AND THAT IS ALL CYA IN THE PLAYOFFS SUCKERS

BIG TECH

August 17th, 2012
3:16 pm

Crisco, Murray is going to stink up the joint against Mizzou the first game!!! I can’t wait to hear you Puppies start crying fire Mark Richt with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter! hahahahahahaha!!!!

Crisco

August 17th, 2012
3:23 pm

BIG TECH…how come you Tech Turds always know so much about UGA….could it be you’re a closet UGA fan or just in the closet

JSS

August 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Chop buster…
You’re either slow or just lost, care to enlighten us?

I don’t care about “fans!” Stick to what “you” know…

@ Davenpoop…
They are all in on that circus… Too bad it is Al Shirah and not Barnum and Bailey!

Wink

August 17th, 2012
3:56 pm

Falcons vs Ravens tickets $17.50 for two

Falcons vs Bengals tickets $21.50 for two

Parking for two games $20

Pre game meals …nice!

No emotional baggage after games….priceless!

JSS

August 17th, 2012
3:59 pm

“I DO NOT CHOKE MR Matt “CHOKE” Ryan I MAY GAG A LITTLE PLAYOFF TIME BUT I DO NOT CHOKE ”

Nope, that was a “Choke”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC0wxvCSxHE

The gift that keeps on giving…

Big Ray

August 17th, 2012
4:10 pm

Schultz,

I have no idea how you manage to attract so many damn trolls. Maybe you got all the ones left over from when Terrence Moore used to write for the AJC?

OH well, a blog hit is a blog hit, right?

It certainly explains JSS’s existence. I think somebody is paying that clown to post. Either that or the guy who called him out for not getting laid is dangerously close to the truth….LOL…

JSS

August 17th, 2012
4:15 pm

World is still spinning and as usual sniper, you’re still wrong! Go play with stalker boy, he loves your stuff between his psychotic episodes…

Big Ray

August 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

And that is a major problem, because the main reason the Falcons’ offense has been so good statistically the past few years is because they dominated time of possession and routinely had two or three more possessions per game than other teams. If they can’t rely on Turner anymore, they are relying an awful lot on Ryan’s ability to make big plays while not turning the ball over. They are really hanging their hats on Ryan making “the leap”.

Yeah. Because you don’t win games in the postseason with your RB, you do it with your RB. Name the RB who has won his team the SuperBowl the last few years.

How good have the starting RBs been for the teams who have won the SB for the last 4 years? Did we get beat in the first round these three times by teams with darn good RBs? Nope. Their QBs destroyed us.

I find it more than just ironic that Turner and the possession game gets mentioned in one breath about success of this team, but from the same mouths came all that noise about needing a better QB, Smittyball and his penchant for grinding games out, blah, blah, blah.

Just come out with what you really want to say. You still hate Ryan, you still are in love with Vick, and you can’t get the F@CK over it. Which means you’re going to be sick as a dog (no pun intended for Vick fans) when it turns out that Ryan’s preseason performance (check out his QB ratings and accuracy for the first two games) is more than just an aberration.

Go cheer for the Eagles. You don’t belong here.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

@JSS 3:59

How dare you show facts…..ha ha.

I love how CHOKE just falls down pretending he was trying to make a tackle…ha ha :)

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

WE WANT DAVIS

Wilson Pickett

August 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

Atlanta isn’t a very good football team. Not a real bad team but no way are you getting past the 1st round again if that far. Mr. Blank will take an axe to this group come January just like the Colts. He will be a complete DA if he drafts the QB from USC.