The 2009 Falcons: A slow start yields to a furious finish

Good news: The team is accustomed to its coaches, and vice versa. Bad news: The schedule is much more difficult. Good news: The defense is faster. Bad news: The defense is younger. What will it all mean for the 2009 Falcons? Something like this:

Miami, Sept. 13: The first pass of Matt Ryan’s first season went for a touchdown. The second pass of his second season will do likewise. This won’t become a negative until he’s as old as George Blanda. Falcons 27, Dolphins 17.

Carolina, Sept. 20: Here’s what we private detectives call a red herring. The Panthers come to the Dome, exploit the Falcons’ remade secondary and lay early claim to the NFC South title. Panthers 23, Falcons 17.

At New England, Sept. 27: Speaking of an exploited secondary, here come Messrs. Brady and Moss and Welker, and there go 41 big fat points up on the ol’ Foxborough scoreboard. Patriots 41, Falcons 14.

At San Francisco, Oct. 11: The Falcons come off their bye and begin to put things right. And didn’t the annual trip to San Fran used to be a nightmare? What happened to the Niners, anyway? Falcons 30, 49ers 17.

Chicago, Oct. 18: New quarterback in Chi, as you’ve doubtless heard. Won’t matter. The Bears still haven’t gotten over those final 11 seconds from last season, and now Jason Elam does it again. Falcons 23, Bears 20.

At Dallas, Oct. 25: Not much in-between with the Cowboys. Depending on the observer, Dallas is either a Super Bowl team or NFL’s the most overrated club. It won’t look overrated this day. Cowboys 28, Falcons 20.

At New Orleans, Nov. 2: When last the Falcons played on Monday night in the Superdome, they were overwhelmed in the Katrina Game. They won’t be overwhelmed this time. They won’t win, either. Saints 31, Falcons 24.

Washington, Nov. 8: The Falcons are under .500 and are 0-2 in the NFC South, which makes this a gut check. It will also be the game on which the season turns. Defense starts to grow up. Falcons 31, Redskins 14.

At Carolina, Nov. 15: The Falcons weren’t better than the Panthers in September, but they are now. They’ll win a massive road game and serve notice that the division title is still within their reach. Falcons 23, Panthers 17.

Bradley's 10-6 forecast sounds:

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At New York Giants, Nov. 22: Boy, the schedule just won’t let up, will it? The Falcons give the NFC’s best team a royal scare, but the noise and the cold and the opponent prove too tough. Giants 24, Falcons 20.

Tampa Bay, Nov. 29: Don’t look now, but the schedule is about to ease, just in time. The Falcons nose back above .500 with a comprehensive win over the club that dumped Jon Gruden. Falcons 30, Buccaneers 14.

Philadelphia, Dec. 6: Let’s assume this one’s sold out. Let’s assume this gets moved to Sunday night. Let’s assume Michael Vick not only plays but scores the winning touchdown. Eagles 27, Falcons 24.

New Orleans, Dec. 13: It’s starting to coalesce — offense, defense, Mike Smith’s pregame speech. The Falcons bear only slight resemblance to the team of September, and that’s good! Falcons 33, Saints 20.

At New York Jets, Dec. 20: Back to the Meadowlands for a much easier assignment. The Jets are OK, but they’re not the Giants. And the Falcons, bang on cue, are really rumbling. Falcons 23, Jets 14.

Buffalo, Dec. 27: Confetti drops from the ceiling two days after Christmas. The Falcons clinch a second consecutive winning season for the first time ever. Only took 43 years. Falcons 30, Bills 17.

At Tampa Bay, Jan. 3: Two days after Georgia wins the Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium, the Falcons win the NFC South. They finish 10-6 and head to the playoffs. Wasn’t easy, though. Falcons 28, Buccaneers 13.

145 comments Add your comment

Barry

August 21st, 2009
10:55 am

First!!! I love ya Mark. You articles are what blogs are all about. They inspire conversation. I think you’re record prediction is right on, just some of the specific games are off. They beat Carolina here, but not there. I think they win in N.O. Come to think of it, they might go 11-5

rduck

August 21st, 2009
10:55 am

rduck

August 21st, 2009
10:56 am

gdg73

August 21st, 2009
10:57 am

It might be a shoot-out in New England. More like 41-34, New England. Also, I just don’t see the Cowboys beating the Falcons. I think they are over-rated. When all else fails, just run right at Brooking 3:16.

rduck

August 21st, 2009
10:57 am

I would hope that they do not lose to Philly. The dog-diehard fans of Vick would never shutup about it.

washedup

August 21st, 2009
10:59 am

Mark, that would make for an interesting and exciting season, should it play out that way. “Sure things” are fun in some things, but not football.

Benjamin

August 21st, 2009
11:05 am

7th!

I like the 10-6, but think we’ll take a different path to get there.

El Bravo

August 21st, 2009
11:05 am

MB, I think the record is on target but we take a different path to get there. We probably havee to start the season 4 and 1 to get to 10 wins. We have to win early games against Miami, Carolina and Chicago at home plus San Fran on the road before we get to the meat of the schedule. The five games following Chicago will be very tough…

T-Bone

August 21st, 2009
11:09 am

Good stuff. I think one of the Panthers games, the Dallas game, and the Philly game are toss ups.

Duh!!

August 21st, 2009
11:13 am

Mark are you bored?

Herschel Talker

August 21st, 2009
11:17 am

MB – kissing the butt of the Vick supporters again. It never ends…

FALCONS SORRY

August 21st, 2009
11:18 am

ATL FALCONS! YOU ARE TRYING TO CELEBRATE THE PAST BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE KNOW THE BEST DAYS OF THIS FRANCHISE ARE BEHIND IT! THE BEST DAYS FOR THE FALCONS TOOK PLACE BETWEEN 2001 AND 2006 WHEN THE GREATEST QB AND FOOTBALL PLAYER TOOK THE FILLED AND PUT HIS SKILLS ON DISPLAY HERE! VERY FEW TEAMS HAVE THE CHANCE TO HAVE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME AND A FUTURE HALL OF FAMER PERSON BE THE FACE OF THEY FRANCHISE! THE FALCONS WERE ONE SUCH TEAM BUT WERE TOO STUPID TO REALIZE THE MONEY AND FAME AND FORTUNE AND FANS AND TICKETS SOLD OUT THAT THIS MAN BROUGHT TO THIS CITY! HAVING # 7 PLAY ON YOUR CITYS FOOTBALL TEAM IS LIKE HAVING MICHEAL JORDAN TIGER WOODS AND BIG SHAQ ALL ROLED INTO ONE! THE NFL MAY BE CRAZY BUT THEY ARE NOT STUPID AND THAT IS WHY THEY ARE SELLING THE # 7 EAGELS JERSEY AND SELLING OUT OF THEM EVER DAY! HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING TO STILL GET THE FALCONS REGULAR AND THROW BACK OLD SCHOOL JERSEY WITH # 7 ON THEM INSTEAD OF # 2 WHEN HE DONT EVEN PLAY HERE ANY MORE! THE FALCONS COULD HAVE THEY CHEER LEADERS PROMISE TO TAKE OFF ALL THEY CLOTHS AND HALF TIME AND THE FALCONS COULD STILL NOT SELL OUT THE DOME WITH MATT HOPELESS AS QB! NOT UNLESS OLD # 7 IS MAKING A SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE LIKE HE WILL DO ON DECEMEBER 6! VENGENCE WILL BE SERVE IN THE DOME THAT WEEK! KEEP CLINGING TO THE PAST BECAUSE THAT WILL BE ALL YOU GOT LEFT TO HOLD ON TO AUTHUR BLANK!

DawginLex

August 21st, 2009
11:29 am

1st, the unis scare me. All I can see is Marion Campbell roaming the sidleines. Maybe I will get past it.

I had originally thought 10-6 but hadn’t really looked at the schedule. The only sure “L” is NE away. Split with Carolina and the Saints, sweep the Bucs and drop one at NYG and/or Dallas.

I’m now thinking 11-5. Philly will not win the game in the Dome. No way. Ain’t gonna happen.

Falcons sorry:

1st, turn your all caps off
2nd, no one is a racist in regards to Vick just because he broke the law, got caught and did time.
3rd, Matt ryan will win more games as Falcons QB than Vick ever dreamed of winning.
4th, Vick has his 2nd chance. Let him earn respect.

Bubba

August 21st, 2009
11:31 am

Too bad your “Submit Comment” button doesn’t have a “Stupid” filter on it. I feel sorry for FALCONS SORRY’s wife, she has to listen to that ignoramus all day. Unless she’s either A). as stupid as he is, or B). nonexistent.

To the matter at hand, I think the Falcons’ D is going to be better than everyone gives them credit for. Which is fine by me, the less other teams are prepared, the better. The problem with predictions like this, Mark, is that it’s all based on last year’s info. That was yesterday – what have you got to show me today? “Young” does not mean “worse,” Mark. Give us some tangible information – something other than “they’re young” – from which you base your conclusions.

MiltonDawg

August 21st, 2009
11:32 am

FalconsSorry- hooked on phonics worked for me!! Vick will get humiliated on 12/6.
MB- most games look pretty accurate- I think the Falcons will beat the Panthers twice though. Delhomme doesn’t look to be that solid this year. Great running game though. Cowboys will be overrated-again. I’m calling an upset @ DAL & NE (if that game was played in NOV or DEC..NE all the way because of the weather).

leland

August 21st, 2009
11:34 am

I agree, Falcons Sorry, vengence will be serve.

Ignore the trolls

August 21st, 2009
11:35 am

Stop feeding the trolls you fools. The troll above is some loser playing a character and nothing more. Stop reacting to him and he’ll eventually go away.

On another topic, the throw backs look good. In fact, I think they look better then the regular uniforms. The falcons should consider wearing them full time instead of the Arena like uniforms they wear now.

Cameron

August 21st, 2009
11:37 am

Falcons sorry:

Your ignorance shows in your grammar and spelling.

David Smith

August 21st, 2009
11:46 am

I was the only person at my job last season to believe this team had a chance to do something special last season (everyone laughed when I said we would at least win 10 games). For the first time in my 38 years of watching this team do I sense “something special” about this franchise going into a season this year. I hope that we will take the next step of the “process” deep into the playoffs this year and bring a championship home to this long suffering football city (my prediction is 11-5 again).

gdg73

August 21st, 2009
11:47 am

True ignorance is displayed when you “nuts” keep responding to FALCONSORRY’s posts. Sadly, it works everytime.

Mark Bradley

August 21st, 2009
11:49 am

Thanks, Barry. We do try here at AJC.com.

midnite

August 21st, 2009
11:53 am

Fingers crossed for 10-6, that should get us in the playoffs. I don’t think Philly will beat us in the Dome, glad we are not going to the Linc. There will be emotional pressure on Vick, but he probably won’t get in the game you know being the 3rd string QB. Love those throwback uni’s. Pumped for tonight in St. Louis. GO Falcons!

hawkfan

August 21st, 2009
11:53 am

10-6 or 11-5 sound good … but we should beat Miami and Philly camon …

Question

August 21st, 2009
11:59 am

Mark – Who’s the coach of the Dallas Cowboys when they are supposed to beat us Wade Phillips or Mike Shanehan?

BugKiller

August 21st, 2009
12:04 pm

Mark, you honestly believe an 8-win Georgia team is going to get a New Year’s Day Bowl Game?

With Soft Willie Martinez at the helm of the defense, we’ll be lucky to get to the Peach Bowl this year.

As for the Falcons, I’m with you.

They’ll be one game worse this year, even if they’re better.

What I don’t believe, though, is the small amount of points you have the offense scoring in some of these games, especially against an old defense like the Patriots.

Believe you me, that game will be a shootout, with a score more like 40 – 38 than your lopsided score.

The Falcons look to have one of the all-time offenses this year, with all of those Pro Bowl toys at Ryan’s disposal.

Mike's Pitt Bull

August 21st, 2009
12:11 pm

It will be ruff, but I feel better with a QB who throws down the field to receivers instead of a RB who takes snaps.

VICK SUPPORTER 2

August 21st, 2009
12:16 pm

EAGLES 50

FALCONS 3

EAGLES HAVE TOO MANY OFFENSIVE WEAPONS AND THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A DEFENSE. THE FALCONS DEFENSE WILL BE ON THE FIELD ALLLLLLLLLL DAY LONG!

oldbird

August 21st, 2009
12:18 pm

Why do you folks read Falcons Sorry’s posts? I started skipping over his racist ramblings weeks ago and have been enjoying the blogs ever since.

BugKiller

August 21st, 2009
12:18 pm

Yeah, Vick Jock Supporter, we certainly saw that “awesome” Eagles defense last night.

Seems to me, that when faced with a multi-attack offense like the Falcons will bring (much like Indy last night) and without Jim Johnson’s genius on the sidelines, Philly isn’t going to be quite as good as people believe.

Also, the bad karma from employing a sociopathic animal torturer and abuser will bite them in the @$$ (pun intended).

Just Sayin'

August 21st, 2009
12:19 pm

Week 13: Mike Vick, meet John Abraham. John-Michael. That said, 10-6 feels about right.

DawginLex

August 21st, 2009
12:29 pm

Falcons 35
Eagles 10

vick 0-7 0 yards 2 INT

Bad News

August 21st, 2009
12:31 pm

Did you guys know that Matt Ryan is only 5 years younger than Vick?

Matt is 24 years and is just now entering his 2nd year – that’s old for a sophomore season. Let’s put that into perspective, by the time Vick was 24:

Landed Brett Favre 1st lost in playoffs at home

2 Playoff wins

1 Championship game appearance

2 Pro bowl selections

Finalist for MVP in his 1st season as starter

Matt being a 5-year college player is a long time. 5 years in college is a long time, since Vick only played 2 years.

My question is this:

If Ryan is so-called more elite than Vick, how can this be if he spent 5-years in college, compared to only 2-years for Vick, yet Vick won his 1st playoff game as a starter at age 22, yet Matt at age 23 failed to win in the playoffs and has no pro bowl selections.

Someone please explain to me how he is elite?

Mark Bradley

August 21st, 2009
12:48 pm

The late Jim Johnson was indeed a fine coach and fine fellow. And he had, even though the Eagles always did well against Michael Vick, great respect for No. 7.

JAG

August 21st, 2009
12:49 pm

I like 10-6, but you have October messed up. Bears win it this time, then the Falcons turn around and win at Dallas. I understand the logic of losing to Carolina because it is week 2, young defense, etc. but I see them each winning their games at home.

Boo Boo

August 21st, 2009
12:50 pm

Who was the AJC seer that saw a 5-11 season last year? Only goes to show that Mark Bradley has as much ability to inaccurately fantasize about the future as anyone. The problem is he has now foreseen wonderful things ahead. That’s called a jinx. Looks like that 5-11 season is going to catch up with Bradley and the Birds this year.

Last in the NFC South, due to a defense that will be looking to sign big name free agents for 2011. Injuries will abound, most damaging will be the knee of Matt Ryan, by the third game of the year, and Mike Turner’s leg blowing out soon after. Led by another succession of backup quarterbacks, and the inability to sustain a running game, the offense will be pitted against the defense for which will be the NFL’s biggest laughing stock.

And darn it, Mike Vick will not play against the Falcons, but the Eagles will still win easily. Vick will be nursing a hamstring injury, and on the verge of being cut by the Eagles at the end of the year, rather than pay him $5-mil next year as a wildcatter.

There, the jinx is reversed. A prediction of doom and gloom, typical of 43 years of Atlanta Falcon history has been made. Now maybe the Falcons will have a chance to play each game as they come, without anyone knowing the outcome in advance.

BugKiller

August 21st, 2009
12:51 pm

Bad News, you’re a moron.

Vick spent 3 years in college, first of all.

Both of them were red shirted.

Matt Ryan, as a ROOKIE QB, led his team to the playoffs starting every single game while being asked to do much more than “not lose” the game as Joe Fluke-O was.

This has NEVER happened in NFL history.

Mike Vick played sparingly until his second year.

In his second year, he played the best he’s ever played. Yep. Guy peaked in his first year starting.

Hmmm. Why could that be?

Is it because after his first year, people (like Tampa in particular) figured out how to stop his gimmick?

Make him pass, and he’s a MEDIOCRE QB at best. Let him run, and he’s a running back, albeit a good one that can beat you.

Matt Ryan is by far a better QB.

Mike Vick’s stats and winning percentage got worse and worse every year he played.

Also, Mike Vick refused to do the kind of hard work that separated the talented guys from the all-time greats.

He was the last guy in and the first guy out. He didn’t watch film. He didn’t work with his receivers. He didn’t take part in offseason conditioning.

He was also had absolutely no leadership skills and non of the intangibles, the “it” that makes guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan stand apart.

I reiterate… you’re a moron.

Cincinatti Bowtie

August 21st, 2009
12:53 pm

MANILOVETHEALLCAPSBUTTONANDHATEMYSPACEBAR…GO VICK!!!

spectator

August 21st, 2009
1:00 pm

OK, bad news, I will explain but am guessing you won’t understand. Vick is a turkey who just spent two years in prison and may never start another game at QB. Vick left college early because he was too dumb to pass college courses. Matt Ryan had an excellent rookie year and was selected offensive rookie of the year. He also LED his team to an 11 win season. Every knowledgeable football person in the NFL rate Ryan as an ELITE QB. Got it now????

BugKiller

August 21st, 2009
1:02 pm

Also, Bad News (nice name by the way idiot), Mike Vick came out after his redshirt sophomore year not because he was or is a better QB.

Far from it in fact. Most people in football told him to stay at least another year. No, he came out for one reason only: MONEY.

Money to start his dream of owning a Dog Fighting Empire.

Because you know that the FIRST thing he bought with his rookie signing bonus right? The house on Moonlight Rd, or wherever the frak it was.

So, we had a guy come out early so he can get MONEY to start an ILLEGAL dog fighting empire.

And we had one guy stay “one year too long” (so said Mel Kiper, Jr. about Matt Ryan) and risk injury and loss of draft status.

Why? Because he wanted to finish his degree.

Sounds like one guy is not only a better human being and QB than the other guy, but you know, have his priorities in order, too.

shadykraft

August 21st, 2009
1:16 pm

ThosE throwbacks are cool. Turning the page. Are they using them the whole season or just a few games? FALCONS SORRY, thanks for making me feel super intelligent. I needed a boost. Is the CAPS LOCK button stuck? or is it broken? I dont care what people say about you (myself included) I think your posts are well thought out. You will always have my undivided attention.

uga_b

August 21st, 2009
1:19 pm

I really miss the old logo. Much better looking than the new logo.

I will usually take 4 out of 6 inside the division, but I hope we can push it 5 out of 6. There are definitely a lot of trap games based on last season, but every years teams fall off or rise up. Let’s get that D moving in the right direction.

Timmaaayyyyyy....

August 21st, 2009
1:20 pm

Mark, Mark, Mark… you’ve got to be kidding me. No way we lose to Carolina at home the second game of the season. I think Coach Smith will have the guys motivated. This offens will average 28 a game no matter what defense is playing. Provided we stay healthy, I see a 12 and 4 record, an NFC Championship, and a Super Bowl victory. You heard it here first. This is not the team of years past. I’ll be you a steak at Bone’s if I’m wrong! Just a small steak. Great read though.

Timmaaayyyyyy....

August 21st, 2009
1:22 pm

LMAO at Boo Boo though!!!

gdg73

August 21st, 2009
1:23 pm

BugKiller,
It is possible to build Matt Ryan up without tearing Mike Vick down. Just wanted to share that with you.

Badmoon

August 21st, 2009
1:24 pm

I love the stupididty of some of the posts. If you are going to disagree with everybody at least learn how to spell. I agree with the majority of the predictions, although I feel that the NE game will be more of a shootout. There are a couple that could go either way.

Vick will be an asset to the Eagles, but they are still the Eagles.

Bad News

August 21st, 2009
1:24 pm

BugKiller (according to PETA killing bugs is cruel):

Speaking of “idiots” this is what you said:

BugKiller

August 21st, 2009
12:51 pm
Bad News, you’re a moron.

Vick spent 3 years in college, first of all.

Both of them were red shirted.

First you said Vick spent 3 – years in college, please name the 3 years.

Then later in your post you stated “both” were redshirt. I don’t know what they feed you in those trailer parks but here in the good ole USA “both” relates to the number 2 —- say it with me “2″.

You have just earned the “insignificant” award :)

As far as Philly defense not looking good last night, I recall a large majority of “YOU” people stating that “it’s just the preseason”.

So if that’s the case, then losing to an 0-16 team is in fact more of a reality of the season to come and “not just the preseason”. Interesting :)

ATL.BIRDS

August 21st, 2009
1:27 pm

You Vick lovers move to Philly, get down on one knee, then ask the dog killer if he will marry you pathetic idiots. Get off of VICTORIAS jock!!!!!!!!! GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe Flacco

August 21st, 2009
1:27 pm

Hey Matty want to borrow one of my playoff wins?

Oh by the way, you won offensive player of the year, but PEPSI voted me R O O K I E of the year, not just offensive rookie of the year.

Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. Well since you will be watching from your grandma living room, check me out again deep in the playoffs.

YUP!!

August 21st, 2009
1:28 pm

BugKiller……….you are on a roll!!! KEEP IT UP!! The REAL truth is what the Vick fans can’t handle!!!!

Bad News

August 21st, 2009
1:34 pm

Here is some reality for you:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=290103022

Oh the memories :)