Archive for September, 2012

LIVE: Falcons look for 3-0 start (and some help from Turner)

There will be more fans in the stadium later, but not enough to satisfy ownership.

There will be more fans in the stadium later, but not enough to satisfy Chargers' ownership.

SAN DIEGO — Welcome to the city where it’s impossible to miserable, or so would you think. Great restaurants, a revitalized downtown, beaches, Shamu — what more could anybody want? But temperatures have been in the 80s lately and people are complaining that it’s too hot. (They should try Georgia in August — and this little thing called humidity.)

Folks here don’t seem to have embraced their NFL team, either. The San Diego Chargers are 2-0, like the Falcons, but they couldn’t sell out today’s game and the contest is blacked out locally. It’s not an unusual occurrence. That fan apathy has fueled the organization’s public relations battle against the city for a new stadium deal.

It’s similar to the Falcons’ situation. Chargers owner Alex Spanos says he needs a new venue to generate more revenue and stay competitive. If he doesn’t get it, it’s possible they will be the team that moves two …

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Falcons’ defenders preferring Nolan to VanGorder

Mike Nolan's scheme and the way he's coaching it has paid early dividends. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Nolan's scheme and the way he's coaching it is paying dividends. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

SAN DIEGO — When the Falcons ended last season with another early playoff meltdown, it didn’t matter if anybody else in the organization preached patience and threw daffodils about the franchise’s future, because owner Arthur Blank’s vote would trump them all. Self-made billionaires tend to be results-driven, particularly ones who type emails in a red font. If significant changes weren’t made in personnel, they certainly would be made in scheme and philosophy.

Which is why before you could say, “season-ticket sales,” Mike Mularkey and Brian VanGorder were gone.

It’s true that both coordinators left for other jobs. But both may have beaten the Falcons to the punch. Mularkey filled Jacksonville’s head coaching vacancy, but his exit probably was cemented when the Falcons’ offense shot blanks in the playoff loss to New York. VanGorder’s future was no better than tenuous when he left for …

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Predictions: Dogs win cage match, Falcons upset Chargers

chalk 003

We here at Weekend Predictions, Career Counseling Services and Psychological Services reached the conclusion long ago that all coaches eventually snap.

We’re not sure why this is. It probably has something to do with the 22-hour, Red Bull-fueled work days and going home, only to have the dog tinkle on your shoe and the 5-year-old ask, “Are you my daddy?” and then having a game plan spontaneously combust when the opening kickoff bounces off his top draft pick’s head.

Or the starting running back deciding to get his Magic City on and drive home at warp speed. Hypothetically speaking.

Last week, USC coach Lane Kiffin went bat crazy. He tried to ban a reporter from practice for reporting that a kicker had knee surgery, but was overruled by the Politburo. This week he ended a news conference after 28 seconds because he didn’t like a question, which guarantees he’ll be asked that same question again because if there’s one thing the media likes, it’s knowing that a news conference …

Continue reading Predictions: Dogs win cage match, Falcons upset Chargers »

NFL in ‘fantasy’ world if it doesn’t believe product damaged

This is what it looks like when replacement officials lose control. (AP photo)

This is what it looks like when replacement officials lose control. (AP photo)

Right about the seventh time the NFL’s replacement game officials went into conference like some wayward Congressional subcommittee Monday night, I started having visions of them breaking huddle, with Curly turning and accidentally hitting Larry in the head with the ladder, which of course led to Larry dropping the paint bucket on Moe, which of course led to Moe turning on his microphone and announcing, “Personal foul. Red team. I mean, first down. False start? Ground-rule double? Wait, who had the turkey sandwich with no mayo?”

This is the NFL.

This is the NFL, isn’t it?

Last month I wrote a column stating that the NFL was damaging its own product by using replacement officials. League and former Falcons executive Ray Anderson disagreed with me, saying among other things: “By the time the season starts, this will be a very credible group of officials. We’re frankly very comfortable.”

This won't end well.

This won’t …

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Video blog: On Braves’ sweep of Nats and what it means

My rabbi permitted me the opportunity to break away from 10 days of reflection and repentance (give or take) so I could speak with the lovely and talented Tara Petrolino of CineSport about the Atlanta Braves, their sweep of the Washington Nationals and what it means moving forward.

And, action …

By Jeff Schultz

For previous CineSport video blogs, click here

And here are some things I actually typed

This Braves’ September isn’t anything like the last one

Georgia Tech shows its upside in win — and it’s impressive

Short takes: 3 thoughts on Georgia Tech’s win over Virginia

A Medlen start, a Braves’ win and finally a positive sign

Predictions: Falcons over 666, Tech wins, Pigs faceplant

Loss of Brent Grimes doesn’t have to derail Falcons’ season

Video blog: On Brent Grimes, Falcons’ offense and some early picks

Falcons finally show an offense worthy of their talent

Short takes: 3 thoughts on Falcons’ win over Chiefs

Short takes: 3 thoughts on …

Continue reading Video blog: On Braves’ sweep of Nats and what it means »

This Braves’ September isn’t anything like the last one

Jason Heyward scored in a two-run third when Braves jumped ahead 2-0, and they never looked back. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Jason Heyward scored in a two-run third when Braves jumped ahead 2-0, and they never looked back. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(UPDATED: 2 p.m., Monday)

Something became apparent about the Braves after they won their first two games against the Washington Nationals, and it wasn’t just the revelation: “Wait, they just won back-to-back games over the best team in baseball on a throwing error and a hit batter? Is this the baseball gods making up for Kenshin Kawakami?”

If you walked through the clubhouse, in the dugout or on the field for batting practice Sunday, a feeling of relative serenity for a stretch drive in September was obvious.

Nobody was stressed. Nobody seemed to be obsessing over first place  — or, more importantly, not first place. Nobody was thinking about injuries or losing streaks or .200 batting averages or the recent ugliness of a wrong-way series in Milwaukee.

“Somebody said yesterday we have a magic number or something,” Eric Hinske said Sunday. “Really? Who …

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LIVE: Will it be a sweep night for Braves over Nationals?

Closer Craig Kimbrel has a win and a save in the first two games of the Washington series. (AP photo)

Braves closerCraig Kimbrel has a win and a save in the first two games of the Washington series. (AP photo)

Welcome to the Braves-Washington Nationals series finale that few of us believed would mean anything,  and actually we’re still not sure if it means anything, but then again there is this thought: What if it means something?

After consecutive narrow victories Friday (2-1) and Saturday (5-4), the Braves go into tonight’s nationally televised game with a chance for their first series sweep over Washington in three years (Sept. 25-27, 2009). More significant than that historical moment (work with me here) is that the Braves have an opportunity to pull within 5½ games of first place in the National League East after going into this series 8½ back — and, depending on your perspective, seemingly comatose after being swept in Milwaukee.

Now, we learned last season what odds and percentages really mean. (Nothing.) The website Cool Standings calculates the Braves’ chances of …

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Georgia Tech shows its upside in win — and it’s impressive

Orwin Smith takes off for 77-yard touchdown run, part of Tech's first-half explosion. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Orwin Smith's 77-yard touchdown run was part of Tech's first-half assault. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The first play went for 70 yards and a touchdown. The third play went for 77 yards and a touchdown. The fourth play went for 60 yards. No touchdown. (Virginia’s defense celebrates this small victory, then two minutes later gives up a touchdown.)

Remember 2008, when Paul Johnson brought this scattering-fire-ants-looking offense to Georgia Tech, and the Jackets won games scoring 41, 38, 31, 41 and 45 points, the last coming in Athens?

Remember 2009, when the numbers just got more stupid (49, 49, 39 … 56?), and Tech fans tore down the goal posts after an upset of No. 4 Virginia Tech, and Johnson was viewed as some borderline deity on The Flats for winning the ACC title in only his second season?

That’s sort of what it looked like Saturday. Maybe the ramifications weren’t as great. Virginia, the afternoon sacrifice, wasn’t ranked. There was no title clinched. Tech isn’t even in first …

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Short takes: 3 thoughts on Georgia Tech’s win over Virginia

Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in Georgia Tech's lopsided victory. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in Georgia Tech's lopsided victory. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

(Hey folks. I’ll be posting the game column shortly. But first, here’s a new feature this season: My “short takes” on Georgia Tech’s 56-20 win over Virginia. Question: Did today’s performance change the minds of any of you who may have doubted Tevin Washington’s ability?)

1. Tevin Washington can handle the job: He’s not bad. Really. Some have had doubts about Washington as Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback and have been clamoring for freshman Vad Lee. But it didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with Lee against Virginia. He executed the offense effectively, didn’t turn the ball over, rushed for 93 yards and three touchdowns, did not have a single carry for lost yardage and completed 6 of 8 passes for 125 yards, including a 70-yard TD pass play to Zack Laskey. Tech coach Paul Johnson said Washington “missed a few reads, but all in all he got the …

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LIVE: Tech looks for win over Virginia, new life in ACC

On the video board: An ACC trophy and Orange Bowl promotion. Hey, why not dream?

On the video board: An ACC trophy and Orange Bowl promotion. Hey, why not dream?

Hello from Bobby Dodd Stadium. Can anybody explain what’s going on in Pittsburgh?

As I took a seat in the press box to read some game notes — yes, I actually do research, although I try to cap it at seven minutes — Pittsburgh was capitalizing on the third Virginia Tech turnover to take a 21-0 lead over the Hokies. This is the same Virginia Tech team that beat Georgia Tech in overtime in an ACC opener two weeks ago.

If you’re the Yellow Jackets, there’s two ways to look at this. There’s the depressing side: “We lost to a team that’s losing to Pitt … by three touchdowns?” And there’s the bright side: “They might lose! We’re alive!”

That game is far from over — actually, it’s 21-3 as I reach the second paragraph — but the game should be taken as a positive sign for a Tech. The loss in Blacksburg wasn’t a season-defining setback, despite the defensive collapse in the final 44 seconds of regulation and …

Continue reading LIVE: Tech looks for win over Virginia, new life in ACC »