Archive for the ‘Falcons / NFL’ Category

SHORT TAKES: Gonzalez, Bryant, no RG3 key Falcons’ win

Robert Griffin III left the game in the third quarter with a concussion after a hit by Sean Weatherspoon. (AP photo)

Robert Griffin III left the game in the third quarter with a concussion after a hit by Sean Weatherspoon. (AP photo)

(I’ll be back shortly with the game column. Until then, here are my three short takes on the Falcons’ 24-17 win over the Washington Redskins.)

1. Plan B always works: The Redskins’ defense effectively shut down the Falcons’ deep threat of Roddy White and Julio Jones for most of the game. But as we’ve seen this season, the offense always has a backup plan. In this case, it was tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had 13 catches (one short of his career high) for 123 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for a 36-year-old who plans on retiring after this season. Maybe he can be talked out of it.

2. RG3 injury benefits defense: You’ll never hear anybody on the Falcons admit this but it obviously helped their cause when quarterback Robert Griffin III left the game with a mild concussion. Yes, rookie backup Kirk Cousins threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss. But that …

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LIVE: Falcons try to provide some relief for Atlanta fans

The weather in the Washington D.C. area has been similar to mood of Falcons' fans: gloomy. (AP photo)

Weather in the Washington D.C. area has been similar to mood of Falcons' fans: gloomy. (AP photo)

LANDOVER, Md. — Good morning. It’s the Sunday of what is shaping up as one of the worst sports weekends in Atlanta sports history. (I don’t want to declare it as the worst. Too much competition.)

On Friday, the Braves lost their wild card playoff game to St. Louis 6-3. On Saturday, Georgia got bodyslammed by South Carolina 35-7 and Georgia Tech lost to Clemson 47-31.

Today, it’s the Falcons’ turn to . . . well, what exactly?

They face the Washington Redskins. On paper, this is a game they should win. The Falcons are 4-0 for only the third time in franchise history (1986, 2004, 2012) and have one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Redskins are 2-2, their only wins this season have come over New Orleans (0-4) and Tampa Bay (1-3) and they have one of the worst defenses in the the NFL (29th in total defense, 31st in pass defense, 27th in scoring defense).

But if the backdrop of the …

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Predictions: No bagels, but Dogs win, Jackets don’t collapse

board

Having just completed my annual day of Jewish repentance — 24 hours usually isn’t enough, so I tend to just focus on the top seven or eight sins — I was surprised to see a headline on the London Daily Mail website about, “Bagel Heads” taking over Japan. And I’m thinking, OK, I break my fast with bagels every year. I can see the Japanese liking bagels. Everybody likes bagels.

(The real bagels, not the press board at Kroger. There are two things that never should be considered acceptable: replacement bagels and replacement NFL officials. I swear, if Roger Goodell ever got on stage and said, “I think these replacement bagels are getting the job done,” he’d have 7,000 rabbis jump him and make him scream, “Onion! Sesame! Poppy!” within seven seconds.)

Where was I? Right, “Bagel Heads.”

Oy. Really? (via natgeotv.com)

Oy. Really? (via natgeotv.com)

So it turns out this actually is a “fashion trend” in Japan. I wish I was making this up: Misguided youth are having saline injected into their forehead, after which …

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Video: Are Falcons NFL’s best (after 3 weeks)? We debate

The Falcons are 3-0. That includes two road victories (Kansas City and San Diego) and a home victory in ESPN’s coming out part for Peyton Manning. They have been impressive. But are they the best team in the NFL? I discuss this topic in living color with CineSport’s Noah Coslov.

And, action …

By Jeff Schultz

Here’s a link to previous CineSport videos

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Falcons are looking special, and it starts with Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan says he feels more confident than ever, and it shows in his performance. (AP photo)

Matt Ryan threw three more touchdown passes Sunday and seems to have taken his play to a new level this season. (AP photo)

SAN DIEGO – The common refrain in football is that the quarterback gets too much credit when everything is going right for a team and too much blame it’s circling the drain. So let’s start with this: The Falcons aren’t 3-0 just because Matt Ryan seems to have morphed into Roger Staubach.

A defense that lost its best cover cornerback (Brent Grimes) in Week 1 forced four more turnovers and made the San Diego Chargers look anemic Sunday (three points). Ryan has a receiving corps that enables him to alter his targets (Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez) the way others laugh and change aim in a boardwalk shooting gallery (ducks, birds, wildebeest-looking safeties). There also is an obvious resilience about a team that bodyslams Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on a Monday night, then travels to the West Coast in a short week and humiliates a pretty …

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Short takes: Resiliency, Ryan and turnovers carry Falcons

Thomas DeCoud had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. (AP photo)

Thomas DeCoud, here tackling Ryan Mathews, had two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

(I’ll be posting the column soon on today’s Falcons’ win over San Diego, which will focus on quarterback Matt Ryan. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.)

• 1. This was an impressive win on many levels, but no moreso than in the resiliency they showed. They were playing on the road in a short week after a physically punishing win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night, yet they flew to the West Coast and dominated San Diego from the opening drive. It’s only three games into the season but this might have been the strongest sign yet of how good the Falcons can be.

• 2. The Falcons will need to be able to run the ball effectively at some point. But it hasn’t been an issue yet, primarily because of quarterback Matt Ryan. Michael Turner was not a factor when the team built a 20-0 halftime lead — he had only eight carries for 15 yards for a 1.9-yard average through two …

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

Falcons coach Mike Smith can't let his team go into a funk over the loss of cornerback Brent Grimes. (AP photo)

Falcons coach Mike Smith knows his team can't go into a funk over the loss of cornerback Brent Grimes. (AP photo)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Lawrence Taylor spent his career terrorizing and sometimes mangling opposing quarterbacks. But even he, the assailant, couldn’t avoid the physical residue of his profession.

“When you get old, everything is hurting,” Taylor said. “When I get up in the morning, it sounds like I’m making popcorn.”

Football is a brutal sport. No player goes through a season without an injury. The only question is whether that ailment involves a broken bone or a shredded ligament, something that can’t be merely iced, duct-taped or sufficiently numbed for the following week’s game. When there’s only 16 of them, the words “can’t play” are avoided at all costs.

Brent Grimes suffered one of those injuries. A torn Achilles not only ends an athlete’s season, it can be career-threatening, particularly for a relative Munchkin cornerback who makes his living running and …

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