Archive for the ‘Falcons / NFL’ Category

Falcons’ startling admission: Ray Edwards was a blunder

Here's Ray Edwards without pads. No reason to show him with pads because he seldom did anything with them. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Here's Ray Edwards without pads. No reason to show him with pads — he seldom used them. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated: 10:15 p.m.)

Say goodbye to one of the few significant personnel mistakes of the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith era.

Defensive end Ray Edwards, the epitome of a free agent bust, was drop-kicked by the Falcons Monday night. How bad does a supposed high-profile player have to be for him to be found useless by two defensive coordinators (Brian VanGorder and Mike Nolan) in two seasons?

The Falcons alibied for Edwards last season, when he managed only 3.5 sacks after recording 16.5 the previous two seasons in Minnesota. They said he wasn’t healthy. There also were suggestions that he wasn’t being used right by the since-departed VanGorder.

Well, excuses apparently weren’t being accepted this season – and Nolan presumably was given a bigger hammer to swing than VanGorder.

Edwards had become a highly paid part-time player. He was brought in to help the pass rush. He …

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Falcons’ Dirk Koetter may be candidate at Kentucky

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Is Dirk Koetter peeking at Kentucky job? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There’s a problem for a football team when one of its assistant coaches is viewed as being good at his job: He becomes a candidate for a better one. But the question Dirk Koetter may have to ask himself is whether being Kentucky’s head football coach is superior to being the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.

Koetter, whose work with the Falcons’ offense and quarterback Matt Ryan has contributed to the team’s 8-0 start, has been listed as a coaching candidate at Kentucky, which fired Joker Phillips on Sunday. Yahoo’s Pat Forde listed Koetter, Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes and “several college offensive coordinators” as job candidates, attributing the

Aaaagggh! My eyes! My eyes!

Aaaagggh! My eyes! My eyes!

information to unnamed sources.

Coaching rumors often are baseless. But Forde is a solid reporter, generally doesn’t throw stuff against the wall and also is pretty tapped in to all things Kentucky.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday that …

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Short takes: On Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, no turnovers

Falcons have followed the franchise mandate through eight games (all wins).

Falcons have followed franchise mandate through eight games (all wins). (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Here are my three short takes from the Falcons’ win over Dallas Sunday night:

1. Julio Jones is a difference maker: With every play he makes, the Falcons’ receiver buries concerns by some that the Falcons might have given up too much in trade for him before the draft two years ago. Jones finished with five catches covering 129 yards. That includes a 38-yard catch in the first quarter while he was being mugged by Morris Claiborne (who was called for pass interference) and a 48-yard gain in the fourth quarter when he lined up in the backfield, took a short pass and bolted past the likes of DeMarcus Ware. He also ran for eight yards on a reverse on third-and-1.

2. Matt Ryan shows toughness: Ryan was hit so hard on a blindside sack by Ware that it looked like he might have to come out for a few plays. He didn’t. He was sacked three times and leveled after several throws on a night when the …

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Falcons just keep winning — has anybody has noticed?

Linebacker Mike Peterson reacts after another defensive stop by the Falcons' defense against Dallas. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Linebacker Mike Peterson reacts after another defensive stop by the Falcons' defense against Dallas. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

OK. Now what?

They have played eight games and won eight games. They have won at home and on the road. In warm weather and cold. On Sundays and Monday, day and night. On national TV and probably when not too many were paying attention because, well, the Braves were still teasing us.

Are they great? I don’t know — what’s great? Halfway through the NFL season, the Falcons are the only team that hasn’t lost a game. So even if they’re just very good, isn’t every other team somewhere south of that?

One week after ending their history of horrors in Philadelphia, the Falcons knocked off Dallas 19-13 Sunday night. And the national analysis figures to focus on the decline of the Cowboys in 3 … 2 … 1 …

“I’m anxious to see what happens, to see if all the networks make it all about the Cowboys,” Tony Gonzalez said. “But that not our primary concern.”

No. Winning is. …

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Dirk Koetter a big reason for Falcons’ early success

Dirk Koetter has been drawing up plays since he was eight years old. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Dirk Koetter has been drawing up plays since he was 8 years old. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Some parents keep finger paintings from when their children were young. Some keep report cards or little league trophies. The Koetters of Pocatello, Idaho, kept a scrap of paper with an offensive formation that little Dirk scribbled when he was 8 years old.

“He has all the players lined up right and everything,” Jim Koetter said by phone. “They’re all going in the right direction. It’s hanging on the wall in the basement.”

The Falcons are 7-0 in this season. Dirk Koetter is one reason why. The team’s new offensive coordinator is doing imaginative things with the same players that Mike Mularkey too often hit a wall with. As it turns out, it pays not to be predictable. Go figure.

In last week’s win at Philadelphia, a fake screen to Julio Jones suckered in the defense and left Drew Davis wide open for a touchdown pass (leaving only one unanswered question: Who’s Drew Davis?). On the next …

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Falcons are NFL’s last unbeaten team: Here’s fate of others (VIDEO added below)

The NFL's last yearly unbeaten teams have had varying results. (via TheAtlanticWire.com)

NFL's "last" unbeaten teams have had varying results. (via Tripp Jones, TheAtlanticWire.com)

I’m not a huge fan of statistics and acknowledge that some things perceived as historical “trends” can often be misleading. But I find this interesting, especially since the Falcons (6-0) are the final remaining unbeaten team in the NFL (by virtue of their cardiac win over Oakland Sunday and Houston’s loss to Green Bay Sunday night).

According to information from FootballGeography.com – via Reddit user Tripp Jones and The Atlantic Wire — there have been 47 “last unbeaten” teams since 1970. (Note: In some seasons, there were more than one team. In 1970, for example, Denver, Detroit and the Los Angeles Rams all started 3-0 but lost their fourth game.)

Of the 47 teams since 1970, 22 have gone on to the Super Bowl — 11 winning, 11 losing. Six others made it to the conference championship before losing.

The rest of the breakdown: 11 lost in the divisional round, five lost in the wild card …

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Falcons 6-0 but Turner is frustrated with running game (UPDATED with video)

Michael Turner found little room to run on those rare occasions when he was given ball. (AP photo)

Michael Turner found little room to run on those rare occasions when he was given ball. (AP photo)

When a team is a 6-0, every negative critique should begin and end with, “… but they’re 6-0.” Because ultimately, the record determines the standings, the playoff field and whether some climate-controlled, pass-dominating offensive Dome team is going to be forced to head for the snowdrifts of Green Bay or Chicago in January in the postseason.

So we start again by reaffirming that the Falcons are 6-0. All hail.

But anybody witnessing the last three victories, sloppy exercises over mediocre opponents Carolina, Washington and Oakland, can attest to the team’s issues going into the bye week. Need confirmation? Ask their starting running back, who has had a close-up look at probably the Falcons’ biggest failing right now: their lack of a running game.

When Turner, a relative spectator in the mistake-plagued 23-20 win over the Raiders’ Sunday, was asked about the Falcons going into …

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LIVE: Falcons can make it 6-0 before getting a little rest

Michael Turner scored the wining touchdown last week at Washington. (AP photo)

Michael Turner scored the wining touchdown last week at Washington. (AP photo)

Five games into the season, the Falcons (5-0) already have a 3½ game lead over Tampa Bay (1-3) and a four-game lead over New Orleans (`-4) and Carolina (1-4). They also are one of only two unbeaten teams in the NFL and lead the race for home field advantage through the NFC playoffs.

What does this all mean? Well, not quite nothing. But not nearly everything.

It’s only October, and as impressive as the Falcons have been in many areas — particularly pass offense, pass protection and to so me degree pass defense — they weren’t great in consecutive come-from-behind wins over Carolina and Washington. The biggest issues remain the running game and run defense, which also happen to be the two factors (along with quarterback play) that generally separate the Super Bowl contenders from the also-rans in December and January.

Today’s game against Oakland seems to set up perfectly. The Raiders (1-3) aren’t very …

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Fan revolts out of control, one wanted to fight UGA player

Braves fans littered the field with beer bottles and garbage, endangering others. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Braves fans littered Turner Field with beer bottles after bad call. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fan as: 1) an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; 2): an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).

As with anything, definitions can often be broadened. The boundaries of this definition just seemingly shouldn’t stretch to home fans cheering when their quarterback crumbles to the ground with a concussion. Or throwing bottles and garbage on a baseball field, endangering other fans and players, in protest of an umpire’s call. Or egging and toilet-papering a home known to be rented by five college players out of disgust, merely because the team lost a football game. Or effectively challenging one student-athlete to a fight on Twitter.

Yes. One “fan” actually did that last week to Georgia’s Christian Robinson.

“There were all these people saying stuff about me on Twitter, it got …

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Falcons are easy highlight in Atlanta’s dark sports weekend

Roddy White jumps on Julio Jones' shoulders after the rookie receiver's 18-yard touchdown catch gave Falcons a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. (AP photo)

Roddy White jumps on Julio Jones' shoulders after Jones' 18-yard touchdown catch gave the Falcons a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. (AP photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After another playoff cameo role by the Braves on Friday and the ugliness by whatever remains of Georgia and Georgia Tech on a college football Saturday, the Falcons didn’t need to accomplish much Sunday to achieve some degree of popularity.

Almost anything north of humiliation would’ve been an improvement.

They provided more than that. They won.

They weren’t great. The quarterback threw a pick-six in the second quarter. A fumbled snap ended their next possession. The offense made the NFL’s 29th ranked defense look almost impressive at times. The defense allowed Washington’s far lesser of two rookie quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins to throw a 77-yard touchdown pass (and he hadn’t taken a snap all season).

So they weren’t perfect. Or close. And yet: They’re still perfect.

They rallied with a 17-point fourth quarter …

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