LIVE: Falcons hope for a new look and better start

Dirk Koetter has changes planned for Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Dirk Koetter has changes planned for Matt Ryan and the offense. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

KANSAS CITY — Good morning. After a solid 4½ hours sleep, I’m back.

Mr. Ledbetter (who was Mr. Sidebar at the Georgia-Missouri game) and I left Columbia at close to 1 a.m. CDT for the drive back to Kansas City and my head hit the pillow at 3:24 this morning. So I’m tired but not complaining. It was a great atmosphere at Mizzou and a fun game to cover (although, speaking for the entire media contingent, we would’ve preferred a day game).

Georgia started the SEC season right with a 40-21 win. Can the Falcons do the same in their regular season opener?

The backdrop for both games were similar in that both are/were slight road favorites but there are/were enough concerns to make fans nervous. The Falcons did not look great in the exhibition season (although it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from that). There also are these issues:

• The Falcons went into last season with high expectations but they laid an egg in the season opener at Chicago (losing 30-12), struggled with consistency problems all year, finished 10-6 and then got dropped by the New York Giants in the playoffs.

• There are questions again about the strength of the offensive line, which remains relatively unchanged.

• New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is expected to implement a more aggressive scheme than the team has used in the past, but questions remain about the strength of the secondary, the effectiveness of defensive end Ray Edwards (who actually may come out in passing situations) and how the loss of linebacker Curtis Lofton to free agency will hurt. The addition of Asante Samuel should help, although he got burned by A.J. Green in the exhibition against Cincinnati.

• We’ve been told to expect changes — needed changes — in the offense by new coordinator Dirk Koetter. He would be hard-pressed to do worse than Mike Mularkey, who got stuck in the same play-calling patterns every week and struggled to effectively utilize all of the team’s weapons. Expect more screen passes, an increased role by running back Jacquizz Rodgers and, most of all, a heavy dose of Julio Jones.

The Falcons do get a break today in that the Chiefs will be missing outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who was suspended for one game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Chiefs also are missing cornerback Brandon Flowers, safety Kendrick Lewis and nose tackle Anthony Torbio, all of whom are injured. So quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense catch a break.

Finally,  it should be a cool scene with tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is expected to retire after the season, playing his final game in Kansas City, where he spent most of his career. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chiefs fans give him a loud ovation.

Here’s the Falcons’ inactive list: Dominique Davis (emergency third quarterback), safety Charles Mitchell, cornerback Robert McClain, center Joe Hawley, tackle Lamar Holmes, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury (a little surprising) and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.

That’s it for now. I think I need my second cup of coffee. The cyber venting lines are open.

Welcome to the NFL season.

By Jeff Schultz

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749 comments Add your comment

Weaseal

September 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Time to take it to the AFC-Go Falcons!!!

Weaseal

September 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Time to take it to the AFC-Go Falcons!!!

Weaseal

September 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Time to take it to the AFC-Go Falcons!!!

Weaseal

September 9th, 2012
12:14 pm

OOOOppppss!!!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
12:16 pm

Welcome to the Matt “CHOKE” Rysn annual meltdown.

I loved Warren Sapps bold prediction this morning:

Chiefs 41

Falcants 0

I knew I liked Warren Sapp for a reason :)

Not Disappointed!

September 9th, 2012
12:18 pm

Afternoon all! Go Falcons!!!

JSS

September 9th, 2012
12:22 pm

Good luck today Jeff Schultz, with this bunch you’re going to need it! Oh for the j-a-g off who made the Circle Jerk reference, they were a great band! Saw ‘em live in Ann Arbor once…

JSS

September 9th, 2012
12:23 pm

And where’s our KC BBQ report?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 9th, 2012
12:31 pm

Schultz made it to Gates. I haven’t . . . yet.

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

Falcons will dominate today.

weownyou

September 9th, 2012
12:36 pm

Show Missouri that we own that state!

weownyou

September 9th, 2012
12:36 pm

Show Missouri that we own that state!

weownyou

September 9th, 2012
12:36 pm

Show Missouri that we own that state!

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
12:39 pm

I got some brownies

Georgiana Bulltiger

September 9th, 2012
12:39 pm

Can we collectively deprive choke the attention he so desperately craves this time around?

Did I say choke? I misspoke. There is no choke. Never has been.

The Truth

September 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

Ain’t skeerrd of no Chiefs….. it be gona be bombs away wit Ryan to Julio and Roddy all day 2day and thats the bottom line…. Falcons 34 Chefs 21

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

Jeff, thanks for the mild upset Auburn pick.

Wouldn’t have lost w/o ya.

JSS

September 9th, 2012
12:43 pm

Here come the psychologists, stick to your comments…

Mtn Falcon

September 9th, 2012
12:45 pm

Here’s for the start of something great! I can feel it!!

JSS

September 9th, 2012
12:45 pm

Ledbetter, you gonna make it there?

Steve

September 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

“Matt Choke Ryan” = No friends, woman, or life.

Steve

September 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

“Matt Choke Ryan” = No friends, woman, or life.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

Less FOX pregame comedy, more cleavage.

Steve

September 9th, 2012
12:53 pm

Jeff how was the turnout for UGA fans last night? I heard many made the trip.

lal909

September 9th, 2012
12:57 pm

Do Sidbury a favor and release him so he can be a pro bowler somewhere else! This man get less snaps and still is productive.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
12:58 pm

So the CHiefs are missing 3 starters on defense.

No excuses.

CHOKE show me what ya got you loser :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
12:59 pm

Dang it’s loud in Arrow Head :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
1:00 pm

TRIVIA TIME:

Who is the only Falcant qb making over 72 million to never win a playoff game?

Anybody? :)

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
1:00 pm

I dont believe sidbury is hurt

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

wait is this the braves game

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

Wish the TED still sound like that.

Jeff Schultz

September 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

And we’re off . . .

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 9th, 2012
1:05 pm

MIT play calling from jump street.

Jeff Schultz

September 9th, 2012
1:06 pm

Julio down the middle. Get ready to see a lot of that.

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
1:07 pm

come on turner explode through the holes

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

Julio is doing great. O-line is playing well so far.

Jeff Schultz

September 9th, 2012
1:09 pm

Sidbury is not hurt, for those asking.

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

Sam Baker holding up well. Entire O-line is.

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

Touchdown Julio! That was an impressive opening drive!

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

lol covering julio one on one come on!

Jeff Schultz

September 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

Hoooo-lio. … Beats Jacques Reeves to EZ, touchdown. 7-0. Efficient 12-play, 80 yard drive, 3 third-down conversions. Pretty impressive.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

If its possible to look like 72M, Matty just did.

The Real Falcon

September 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

1 down 10 to go for Julio!

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
1:13 pm

Where’s “Choke”? Oh that’s right, he only comes around when Matt Ryan does something wrong like throw an incompletion. What an idiot.

Dr J

September 9th, 2012
1:13 pm

Where’s “Choke”? Oh that’s right, he only comes around when Matt Ryan does something wrong like throw an incompletion. What an idiot.

Matty Bicep

September 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

Who it the right guard?

Matty Bicep

September 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

Who it the right guard?

Matty Bicep

September 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

Who it the right guard?

J.J.M.

September 9th, 2012
1:15 pm

where is choke?

FALKONFAN13

September 9th, 2012
1:15 pm

Lets check out the D now! Great drive by the Dirty Birds! Julio is a beast and Roddy is Mr. dependable! Come on D lets Go!