The Falcons: From 1-15 to the NFC title game, SN says

OK, this Falcons’ mania, over which we’ve remarked at length, is officially off the hook. The Sporting News Pro Football yearbook, which last season picked the Birds to go 1-15, rates them somewhat more highly this time.

It picks them to go 11-5, to win the NFC South by two full games and — wait for it — to win two playoff games and play the New York Giants for the NFC title.

(Thankfully, the magazine does not pick the Falcons to win the NFC title.)

I’d link to all of this gushing, but no such link exits. (Preseason magazines don’t usually appear online, for a basic reason: If they did, nobody would pay $7.99 plus tax — as I just did — to read one.) But I have offered visual proof above, and I will take the liberty of quoting from SNPF 2009.

And let me just note that, once again, the overall forecast doesn’t appear to have been offered by the same person who wrote the Falcons’ profile. Last year’s team outlook was the work of esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter, who was as surprised as anyone over the 1-15 projection. This year Falcons’ capsules were done by Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, who writers:

“These Falcons appear to be built for the long haul. But if they can’t make a swift transition on the defensive side of the ball [Editor's note: Why not simply "on defense"?], the Falcons could lose the momentum gained last year and go from being the league’s biggest surprise to its biggest disappointment …

“Expectations for this franchise are high again — maybe too high. The defense remains in rebuilding mode and the offense is still young at the most crucial spot on the field. The special teams are strong, though. If the defense can get better and the offense can avoid a precipitous drop in production, the Falcons should stay in the hunt for a division title to the end. This doesn’t look like a team that’s ready to make a long run in the playoffs, but a second straight postseason is possible.”

OK, so now you’re asking: Does SNPF 2009 really like the Falcons or not? Yes and no, I guess. But I’ll leave you with the magazine’s obligatory View From An Unnamed Opponent:

“You have to start with Matt Ryan, who was just lights-out last year. He’s an outstanding player, and he obviously has a great command of the game and great knowledge and awareness of what’s going on around him. They’re real solid there and should be for a while.

“They have a very strong running game, too, with [Michael] Turner, and with [Jerious] Norwood they’ve got that changeup kind of back there as well. They also have one of the best fullbacks in the league [in Ovie Mughelli]. You talk about one-on-one blocking and moving people; he’s really good at it.

“On defense, the pass rush needs a little bit of a kick-start. Everybody’s getting on Jamaal Anderson, but he’s still playing pretty well. I’m not ready to sign off on him just yet. If he can get better or if they can add another guy to help out John Abraham, they should be OK there.

“Chauncey Davis could be that guy, but I see him more as a rotational guy. If they get that pass rush going, they should be all right. But they’ve made a lot of changes at linebacker and in the secondary, so you have to see how that’s going to work out.”

(Coming attraction: The next Bradley post, set to arrive at 10:40 a.m., will be the Monday Bradley’s Buzz. Topics include Frenchy in NY, the Thrashers and … Jim Harrick?)

149 comments Add your comment

All-Ball-Bearings

July 13th, 2009
5:06 am

Preseason magazine stuff is more full of wild guesses than, well, a blog filed at 4:38 a.m. on a Monday. Go birds! (But with a whole lot of caution.)

Coach (2010 or Bust)

July 13th, 2009
6:30 am

Hey, I’m not a Falcons fan but I must say, For someone to put a fresh blog at 4:38 in the morning is like beating the Rooster to his crow!

MiltonDawg

July 13th, 2009
7:21 am

Good Stuff MB. Expectations are there, let’s just hope the jinx doesn’t happen. SN feels bad for picking the Birds to go 1-15 last year and trying to save some face by picking them to go deep in the playoffs. Ryan will be phenomenal this year.

MightyQuinn

July 13th, 2009
7:30 am

re, the 0438 posting, they have drugs for insomnia, Mark. As they say in the commercials, see your doctor. As for the Falcons, all these accolades (sp? too early to look it up) make me nervous. Tough schedule, lots of questions on D. Do we have enough O to win shootouts? Like the story of the Zen Master in “Charlie Wilson’s War”….we’ll see.

athensdawg

July 13th, 2009
7:45 am

quinn….well put. as with all atlanta sports franchises….we’ll see.

Tman

July 13th, 2009
7:48 am

Prognostications have a way of being wrong, and I don’t think there’s any way to tell exactly how things will play out on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons’ linebackers, I believe, are better than advertised, but the secondary has many question marks with the drafted William Moore and the cornerbacks. The Tampa quote about the line is dead-on. A historical question for you, Mark. You’ve noted (as have many others) that the Falcons have never had back to back winning seasons and that they fail whenever they seem to be on the verge of breaking out. During the years 1971-1973, they had records of 7-6-1, 7-7, and 9-5. Not a bad run, but then they tanked. Who was the general manager? What led to the downfall? This was a near-miss!

MightyQuinn

July 13th, 2009
8:11 am

Dawg, thanks. And Tman, I can’t remember who was the GM then but they were owned by the Smith family and thats all you really need to know!

Mac

July 13th, 2009
8:15 am

Editor’s answer: Perhaps he’s getting paid by the word.

Beagledog

July 13th, 2009
8:29 am

The pubs are just guessing like us. The success or failure will depend on how quick the young guys adapt and get after it on D. I have faith in Smith but they may take a little time learning each other’s tendencies. We may have to score 35-40 points to win.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
8:55 am

I would imagine there will be some 38-35 games this year, but what do I know? I thought the 2008 Falcons would have to try to win every game 20-17.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 13th, 2009
8:56 am

ENorm Van Brocklin was coach/gm

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 13th, 2009
8:57 am

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 13th, 2009
9:02 am

D has always been the Falcons achilles heel when it comes to back to back winning seasons. We have a lot of question marks this year but I feel pretty good about the staff and I feel great about our Offense and Mularkey running it.

dwayne

July 13th, 2009
9:03 am

Falcons have never had back to back winning seasons, D is a big question mark. Tougher schedule. Does not look good for our Falcons. Can they out score some opponents? Sure they can, but they better stay healthy. Wild card will be a stretch, history says 8-8, no playoffs. I hope I eat crow.

BRAD

July 13th, 2009
9:07 am

The Falcons have a tougher schedule this year, but it is basically the same as the rest of the division, so they should have a great chance to win the division.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
9:15 am

That’s the key, Brad. The rest of the division is in flux. The Falcons seem — at least to this observer — the soundest of the NFC South teams.

doo mauh mauh maunz

July 13th, 2009
9:15 am

STOP CRYING ABOUT THE SCHEDULE!

HighHopes

July 13th, 2009
9:15 am

I think the absence of Milloy has been underrated. I got high hopes for Moore, but when looking at Milloy’s tackle numbers and just how he helped in run support, you’ve got to hope that these new linebackers and whoever it is playing safety for us can put a stop on the run. The Buck often stopped with Milloy in rushing D, and now he’s gone. Our DT’s are a little undersized, more pass rush types I’m afraid, and the last thing i wanna see is RB’s running wild on us. That happens and we’re back to wondering what a winning season felt like. Love the Gonzalez grab though… If you wanna beat the Falcons, i’m hoping your gonna have to put up some silly points to do so, because we should be able to give opposing defenses fits trying to decide if they are going to defend pass or run. BVG has my confidence, i just hope he has the personnel to pull it off.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
9:19 am

I think the Falcons will miss Foxworth more than Milloy. But maybe I’m alone in that.

N

July 13th, 2009
9:24 am

Wait. Did you insert an “editor’s note” into a quote you stole from someone who actually wrote an original column? You know, instead of pasting in copyrighted material that people are supposed to pay for (ESPN insider, this SNPF magazine, etc.) and then bloviating? I keep waiting for the infringement lawsuit filed by ESPN against AJC / Cox Communications.

Anyway. Since I’m being snarky today, and because your glass house long since had all of its windows knocked out, I figure I’ll throw some rocks into its frame by inserting some of my own “editor’s notes”.

“The Sporting News Pro Football yearbook, which last season picked the Birds to go 1-15, rates them somewhat more highly this time [why not just "rates them more highly" -- the understatement is not witty enough to warrant clogging up the sentence].”

And of course … “Last year’s team outlook was the work of [OUR -- because even at 0438, proof reading your work product is important] esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter….”

Anyway, blah blah blah, I’m a jerk. But I am shocked week after week that you’re getting away with pasting other people’s work in for your “column” and haven’t been sued or canned. That said, I enjoy reading your “gloss,” and the free look behind the curtains of material that I would never pay for… but your snide comment was too much.

Cosmos

July 13th, 2009
9:24 am

The biggest challenge will be the schedule which is very difficult this year. They could be a better team and have a worse record than last year. I look for the offense to continue to improve but the defense has some young players that will have to get up to speed quickly.

FMV

July 13th, 2009
9:42 am

No way the Falcons win 11 games this year with Ryan at QB. Last year was a fluke as well as the league looking out for Ryan to justify putting Vick in jail and running him out of the NFL.

MightyQuinn

July 13th, 2009
9:43 am

Damn, who peed in your Wheaties this morning, N? Like it or not, its a whole new world out here in cyberjournalism. Get over it or get out.

Darrin "The Vent King"

July 13th, 2009
9:45 am

Although I find it funny now, I’ll give those guys a pass. 1-15 was harsh, but considering the season beforehand (and yes it was THAT bad), a new coach, QB, AND starting RB I can see why there were a bunch of gloom and doom picks for us pre-season. I’m also sure Coach Smith, the defensive minded coach he is, will be working hard to improve the defense. That happens and the Falcons should be fine. While I don’t expect the reg season record to be as spectacular, it won’t matter as long as we make the playoffs. Once we’re there I do expect some wins there and yes a NFC title appearance is not out of the question barring unforseen injuries. I believe this team is built for the long haul and I CAN’T WAIT for the start of next season…GO FALCONS!!!

Marcus

July 13th, 2009
9:47 am

Most interesting of all will be to see how the players react to all the presesaon praise. Is there enough veteran presence to keep us from “believing our own press”?
Hope so.

Darrin "The Vent King"

July 13th, 2009
9:47 am

I meant doom and gloom picks for us LAST season….doh!

J Smurf

July 13th, 2009
9:55 am

On a more serious note…Is Michael Turner Top 5 in PPR (Points Per Reception) Fantasy Leagues? And, will Matt Ryan throw enough to become an elite Fantasy QB?

N

July 13th, 2009
9:57 am

Haha, I thought they tasted a little off…

I’d say what peed in it was the audacity of insulting the word choice of someone from whom he is pirating his livelihood from. That he does pirate (with attribution) may well be “cyberjournalism,” but that doesn’t make it laudable or legal. As he’s noted several times, this is a _blog_ and should be read as such. I haven’t complained about it before, but neither has he insulted the other writers before. And over a mere quibble. It’s a word choice issue, with both being fine. I like Mark’s suggestion better, but that doesn’t erase the obnoxiousness of the comment, in context.

My obnoxiousness should be taken in context as well. It’s those damn Wheaties’ fault.

H

July 13th, 2009
9:59 am

Get over it or get out? Hey, MightyQuinn, call it a whole new world all you want, but MB is (at least for this week) a columnist for an actual newspaper/media conglomerate and has to abide by some of these “old world” rules, like copyright infringement. N’s point was simply that MB is quoting directly from material for which ESPN and others are charging fees and even stating that he is doing so to keep readers from paying. How he/his company have not been sued is beyond me.

Maybe there is some agreement in place that let’s the AP members lift from other sources, not being a journalist or an attorney I have no idea. Regardless, even if it is completely on the legal up and up, MB looks lazy and pompous dropping an editor’s note on the lifted piece. When was the last time one of his columns didn’t start by pointing to other columns and lifting threads from other people’s research and work?

Calvin

July 13th, 2009
10:01 am

The Falcons will never reach their full potential with THE GREAT MATT HOPELESS as the QB. The Falcons have throwed away the best athlete to ever play in ATL and it will haunt them FOR ETERNITY? Can you haters say THE 89 YEAR CURSE OF THE BABE RUTH??????? ROTFLMAO!!!!!

Supes

July 13th, 2009
10:04 am

I’m tired of reading/hearing about the “tough schedule”.

Do you think the teams that the Falcons are trying to be like…the Pats, Steeler and Colts go “oh shucks, we were going to be good but LOOK at the FRAKING schedule, it’s tough!”

You play the hand you are dealt.

Falcons will be just fine. IF they stay healthy at the key positions. That’s it. All there is to it.

12-4 and NFC south champs with a bye week and a 2nd round home game.

In TD and MS I trust!

sansho1

July 13th, 2009
10:09 am

N, you’re a lousy editor (although you do get points for omitting unnecessary characters in your screen name).

“Somewhat” understates for effect, and it works.

“Our” is implied in the work “colleague.”

As to your own contribution — “proofreading” is one word, and “work product” is redundant.

The most glaring editorial error in Bradley’s piece occurs in the pull quote. “Sign off on” means endorse, but the writer clearly intends “give up on.” Perhaps “write off” is the phrase he was searching for….

sansho1

July 13th, 2009
10:10 am

Subtract “work” and add “word.” Hoisted on me own petard!

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
10:11 am

FYI, ESPN.com linked to my alleged non-work twice last week. One of those times was in Buster Olney’s Insiders blog, to which I won’t link for fear of offending someone on here. Rob Neyer also did it, and I will offer that link for purposes of comparison.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
10:16 am

Thanks for the defense, Sansho. And I should note for the record that I don’t like using “our” to describe one of my esteemed colleagues. It’s short and accurate, yes, but to me it sounds stilted coming from a co-worker. So I use “esteemed colleague,” which of course (rolls eyes for effect) doesn’t sound stilted at all.

Ronnie Mack

July 13th, 2009
10:17 am

Yeah, Calvin, the Falcons “have throwed away the best athlete to ever play in ATL”. Wow. I’m going to venture a guess that you’re the only person in the world, including his competitors that feel Matt Ryan isn’t the right guy for the job. Yes, Vick was a great athlete; however, as was shown on and off the field, being a quarterback isn’t just about being an athlete. It’s about being a complete football player who uses his head as much as his arm. Vick just never quite got there.

Hamad Meander

July 13th, 2009
10:23 am

Good grief! How did somebody’s prognostication of the Falcons making the NFC Championship game turn into a blog that Matt Ryan is over-rated and Michael Vick was the greatest QB in NFL history?

I would rather the Falcons come into this season underrated and misjudged, but hey, someday, if you want to win a Superbowl, you have to live UP TO the expections, and not just surprise everyone.

This team has a lot of potential to score a ton of points as long as everyone stays healthy. On defense, the Falcons should have enough talent to keep another team from running wild on us. That’s a good position to be in. I think, at this juncture, that the Falcons have built a team using the resources they had that can win consistently in the NFC South. You can’t be super strong on both sides of the ball in this era of salary caps, free agency, and other attrition. This team is very stong on offense, and moderately strong on defense.

Bring on the NFC.

N

July 13th, 2009
10:31 am

MB — they did link to you (but for Falcons) on the NFC South Blog as well, which is the only one I’d seen before. I figure they are aware of your usage and cool with it. Save all the examples, just in case ;)

Sansho — love the petard. You got the point, and I have no need to quibble with you or distract more from the Falcons (GO BIRDS!!!). For others, the point of my post is proven by its own architecture — word choice is word choice; why be a jerk? It’s always an obnoxious thing to do, and it’s even worse when you’re lifting someone else’s work product (btw — it’s a legal term, as in “attorney work product doctrine” — apologies for using terms of art, it’s old habit. Interestingly, sometimes work does not produce actually identifiable product . . . as in the case of “copy and paste” writing).

Anyway Sansho, I’ll start making people upset if I begin talking about articles, and other terms that exist in a sentence to aid readability. I also agree that it’s a good thing I don’t get paid to post anonymous comments, otherwise my miss hit on the space bar would totally be grounds for a spanking.

Reid Adair

July 13th, 2009
10:37 am

Out of curiosity, why would a writer from Tampa be doing the Falcons’ preview? Not saying it’s that bad, but it does seem strange that a magazine has a team preview that differs so much from its “predictions.”

Then again, the same thing happened a year ago.

Thanks for the information, Mark. Now I won’t have to waste money on this pre-season magazine.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
10:42 am

Oh, yeah. I forgot that one. Pat Yasinskas did that, which is only fair since I link to him all the time.

As a general rule, people like it when you link to them. And I try to be very careful not to pass off anyone else’s writing as my own. That’s why I boldface names of writers and their affiliations. That’s why I’ve taken to using the block quotes. (Also because I just now figured out how to do it on Wordpress.)

I should tell you that Bradley’s Buzz, which is and was always meant to be a collection of links, is in its 12th month of existence, and not one writer (or publication) has yet complained about the linkage.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
10:44 am

Don’t know why a Tampa writer did the Falcons preview, Reid. I’ll ask Mr. Ledbetter when next I see him.

Matty Ice

July 13th, 2009
10:49 am

I feel dumber just for having read “Calvin’s” comments. Imagine how dumb he must be because he wrote it.

doo mauh mauh maunz

July 13th, 2009
10:50 am

I’m 100% with you Supes.

I MUS WRITE-

July 13th, 2009
10:53 am

AMEN!!!! SUPES…… These guy’s are professionals -this aient the boy’s club

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 13th, 2009
10:59 am

MB, totally agree on Foxworth. I think losing him will really hurt. I also think the half-a** replacement of our LBs could be costly. We didn’t lose much but we didn’t replace with much. This could be a real weakness. As for the schedlule, totally agree. It is the same for everybody in the division. The out of division schedule determines if you win the division with a 12-4 record or a 9-7 record.

NoleRick

July 13th, 2009
11:10 am

Been a fan of this team for over 20 years, I will play the wait and see approach, although I love the attention we are getting.

Mark Bradley

July 13th, 2009
11:13 am

Remember last training camp? Remember the Falcons picking up Foxworth and Jamaal Fudge to bolster the secondary in August? Don’t be surprised if the Falcons look to find a linebacker around the same time this year.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 13th, 2009
11:17 am

I hope you are right MB cause Lofton is the only one I’m real comfortable and we have backups starting at the other two spots.

Ted Striker

July 13th, 2009
11:27 am

If you don’t like links and quotes, you probably don’t like a buffet either.

MiltonDawg

July 13th, 2009
11:38 am

Is Peterson supposed to be good? Enough to give Lofton some support? I’m a little uneasy about Lofton being the leader in the LB corps.