Live from Flowery Branch, and I’m still a bit antsy

Jerious Norwood made the Rams' David Vobora turn the other cheek. (AP photo)

Jerious Norwood made Rams linebacker David Vobora turn the other cheek. (AP photo)

Flowery Branch – Last week I thought the Falcons had looked kind of peaked (pronounced “peak-ed”), as we say in Kentucky, against the Lions. This week I’m thinking they looked almost too good (the starters, at least) against the Rams. The point being: I’m going to find something to sweat even if I have to stay up all night to find it.

I’ll admit: This never-consecutive-winning-seasons deal has gotten me all a-twitter. (As we say on Twitter.) I’m afraid they won’t be ready. I’m concerned they’ll peak — not to be confused with looking peaked — too soon. I half-expect the starting cornerbacks for Game 1 to be Bruce Pickens and Charles Dimry.

In its final “Letter from Camp,” USA Today leads with the no-consecutive-winning-seasons thing. Jarrett Bell calls it “one of the weirdest factoids in all of sports,” and I wouldn’t disagree. But here’s what I want to know. Why were the Falcons the last of the 32 letters? Does the Nation’s Newspaper know something we don’t?

I’m here today to focus on the Falcons’ offense, which I think should be really good. Which means, probably, it won’t make a first down all season. I am, as you’ve gathered, a bit confused. I’m expecting this team to be good. I’m also expecting the other shoe to drop. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck.

56 comments Add your comment

GT97

August 24th, 2009
11:21 am

This is what it is all about in being a Falcon’s Fan for the last 25 years. Surprises and disappointment! As far as being a sports fan goes, nothing replaces the excitement of an unexpected run through the post season. We may go 13-3 or 6-10 or 8-8 or 7-9 or 9-7 or 4-12. Who knows? I am betting on 9-7 or 10-6.

JEM

August 24th, 2009
11:23 am

JEM

August 24th, 2009
11:23 am

Vick=Dog killing thug

August 24th, 2009
11:25 am

Looking forward to a great year from the dirty birds…. We’re on the right track. UGA and Falcons… Couple of top notch programs to enjoy… life is good !

midnite

August 24th, 2009
11:31 am

You do look a little peaked today MB. I’m gonna choose to be optimistic and say the “curse will be broken” in 2009. Of course I also thought that in 1999 also, but this is a different kind of bird now.

Bobby

August 24th, 2009
11:39 am

Falcons are going to have to win a lot of 27-24 games this year.

butch t

August 24th, 2009
11:47 am

If you look at the schedule, you have cause for concern, but the bottom line is that we finally have a core group that will give us several seasons of opportunity to forget about this curse stuff. This management teams understands what it takes to win in the NFL. Go Falcons!

Mac

August 24th, 2009
11:49 am

And paranoid, apparently.

BugKiller

August 24th, 2009
11:54 am

Bradley… you’re in need of a valium and half a glass of red wine, man

Chillax.

The Falcons have never had a team like this coming off of a winning season.

In 1999, they had no Tony Martin and a journeyman QB coming off of his greatest year ever. It only took one injury to derail the whole season.

In 2003, they were a one-man team, and that one man was hurt before the season started.

In 2005, they had an idiot Head Coach and a thoroughly mediocre offensive coordinator, and the NFL had caught up with the Mike Vick Show, but Mike Vick, the guy who was always last guy in, first guy out, never worked hard enough to become better or a leader, and so the team went nowhere.

Yes, this year they’re replacing 5 defensive starters, but even that stat is misleading. Was Boley really a starter at the end of last year? Was Jackson anything more than a one-down player? Was Keith Brooking anything more than an overrated and slower version of Zach Thomas?

Peria Kerry is an UPGRADE on Gravy Jackson.

Mike Peterson is an UPGRADE on Brooking, who is addition by subtraction. I don’t think YOU would have blown your coverage assignment in the playoff game last year.

Thomas DeCoud or William Moore are both UPGRADES over Lawyer Millory, who will be missed for his locker room leadership only, as his on-field play was embarrassing at the end of last year (see: Larry Fitzgerald highlights on ESPN where the re-run his 128-yard TD catch on Milloy (okay, it only SEEMED like Milloy got burnt that bad) is on a constant loop).

The ONLY defensive starter that will be missed on the field was Foxworth. I think, in his time as GM, Dimitroff’s refusal to match Baltimore’s contract offer has been his ONLY mistake thus far. The Falcons’ corners are gonna get abused in the early going.

Yes, this team will have to win some 30-28 games.

On that note, let me introduce you to the most prolific Falcons offense in the history of the franchise (even without Douglas).

Mark, this is an offense that can easily score 30 points a game, Patriots-style, while the defense improves under BVG’s fiery and intelligent teaching (unlike the defense at his former job, which just gets worse under their over-his-head DC).

I say again, chillax, dude. It’s all good. In Ryan, Turner, White, Gonzalez, and Mularky we trust.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
11:57 am

“Chillax.” That’s another new one on me. And a good one.

Curlygreg

August 24th, 2009
12:11 pm

I look for big things from Peria Jerry at some point, but he hasn’t shown us anything yet this year. Frankly he has been overmatched. Anyway, you can’t call him an upgrade from Grady. I think depth on the DLine will get us through. These corners need some protection. It would have been great to keep Foxworth, but the price was way too high.

Godfrey

August 24th, 2009
12:18 pm

Let’s pull the reigns up on that witty wordplay, Mark. A little goes a long way.

Whopper Dawg

August 24th, 2009
12:23 pm

Why did we get rid of facts and replace it with factoids?

Dan

August 24th, 2009
12:24 pm

The offense should be much better
The defense about the same
The biggest problem is the schedule, big big difference between the AFC/NFC West vs East.
They could be a better team and finish 8/8
but hey 9-7 would still break the “curse”

tree rollins

August 24th, 2009
12:25 pm

The Falcons traded all the money for Lawyer Milloy, Keith Brooking and Grady Jackson for one Tony Gonzalez (even money swap pretty much). Now we have a great offense and not much of any depth whatsoever on defense. Every game’s a track meet to see who can score more points. Kind of like the old Denver Nuggets days when Dan Issel was in his prime. Or the old Redskins with Sonny Jurgenson. Each game is a 43-38 slugfest. Get ready for the fireworks!

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
12:25 pm

I believe USA Today pioneered “factoid,” Whopper.

Dink

August 24th, 2009
12:30 pm

Mark:

Worried about the D but looking forward to seeing the offense!

BTW, how was the Jonas Brothers concert Friday night? You’re a pretty good Dad, I’m not sure I could have taken that one for the home team!

Barry

August 24th, 2009
12:30 pm

Hey Y’all:

Bradley, you are showing signs of being “resistant to change.” It is natural to many organizations and fans when they fail to accept a “new world order” about how things are going to be done now as compared to what was done in the past.

This Falcon organization, from owner, management, and the team have been through a lot since Arthur Blank obtained ownership. They have seen up and downs. But now I feel that Blank has got a hold of this ownership game. He has learned fom his successes and his mistakes and is now a veteran in the ownership and management os a football team goes. Like with Home Depot, this man has finally put togethher a the Falcons, from top to bottom, that fits his style of management. He has hired the best football people in the league who have signed some of the best football players to contiue “THE PROCESS” of taking the Falcons to another level. A level that you and local football fans have never seen. we you have never seen in Atlanta is a good managed, organized and consistantly successful football team. Arthur Blank, with the help of his staff and coaches will make that happen with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will soon be a “name brand” as Home Depot. It will be a, consistantly, professional runned football team achieving great success on the field, for the fans, and in the community. They will exhibit exciting,smash mouth football, that wil win championships. The FANS, THE MEDIA, THE TEAM, AND THE COMMUNITY wil b overwhelmed with the success of the FALCONS. It will be something that they have never seen before in Atlanta. The beginning of the end of the Falcons losing started last year with an 11-5 record. This year will prove that “the train is on the track” for the Atlanta Falcons bringing quality football and championships to the FANS and the Atlanta community. And we as FANS will do ourpart in supporting them. We will do it together with the FALCONS. We will do it in “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!”

CHANGE HAS COME TO ATLANTA. IT HAS COME IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!”

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU, ARTHUR BLANK.

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!

……………………..”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!………………..

gafan1

August 24th, 2009
12:35 pm

We do have concerns on the defense. One saving grace is that with Turner, we can control the clock. Our secondary is certainly our weakness, we have to put pressure on the quarterback. Hopefully Jerry can compliment Abraham in our pass rush. Maybe Sidbury could step up as a situational pass rusher. We will see.

dooley

August 24th, 2009
12:36 pm

I believe there is more excitement for this team than in 1999. For good reason.I love Mike Vick, but he clearly was not mature enough to lead this team to glory. I hate that it had to go down like that for Arthur Blank and a few of the players who got caught in the MV7 uproar(Crumpler, Dunn).
Go Falcons Go Matty Ice Go Burner

dap01

August 24th, 2009
12:36 pm

It is nice to have a competant GM in TD (Falcons), a great GM in Frank Wren (Braves) and a competant GM in Sund (Hawks).

The Falcons are on the right track!

BugKiller

August 24th, 2009
12:38 pm

To the guy who thinks Peria Jerry has been “overmatched,” well, you’d be just about the only one who thinks so.

Jerry has been solid, and even very, very good, like with the Rams game where the defense shut down the Rams running game when it was starters-on-starters.

Seriously, know a little about football before making stupid statements such as that. Jerry has been very good. The coaches and football “experts” have been happy with his play.

BugKiller

August 24th, 2009
12:41 pm

And can we stop with the ridiculous and hackneyed (ALL CAPS) motivational phrases?

This team will win because they do their jobs (as Belichick is often fond of saying).

Not because they live with ONE HEARTBEAT (sorry, just vomited a little in my mouth).

So juvinile.

Curlygreg

August 24th, 2009
12:45 pm

BugKiller, “very good” shouldn’t include being on the bottom of one-on-one pancake blocks…No point in being a homer. Lewis has looked much better than Jerry.

DaculaJones

August 24th, 2009
12:48 pm

The offense may need to be bridled back a bit to help give the defense a chance to rest. The no huddle may actually hurt the Falcon defense.

Smoothie

August 24th, 2009
12:50 pm

You can never look TOO good on offense in any season. The key is to get the offensive starters enough work so that they are sharp and cohesive as a unit without over-working them. I think the Falcons are doing just that, even if the Rams aren’t the strongest of defensive opponents. With the weapons we have, it seems pretty obvious that any defense is going to struggle at times against our O. The line looks really tough and they play with an edge you need to impose your will on other teams. Matty Ryan is as decisive and smart as they come. As long as he has a consisten running threat behind him, he will be very tough to stop through the air. The 2-minute drill, no-huddle against the Rams was surgical and clinical. Bring on the Dolphins!!

John James

August 24th, 2009
12:56 pm

First – I think we have good management (GM, coaches, etc), which will be what helps us kill the consecutive-curse. That, and a pretty good team.

Brent

August 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

Bug Killer…..excellent post! I was getting fired up as I read through your points on defense because I too was worried about it. That said, the WORST defense in the league last year (Texans) allowed less than 27 points per game on average. If we are even middle of the pack or in the lower third, our offense can bail us out a majority of the time. Another thing that I haven’t heard is Mike Smith is a defensive minded coach. The offense is there and the defense is on its way. It will just take some time and these picks that are playing look good to him and I feel comfortable with that.

TROTTINGHOMETUDD

August 24th, 2009
1:02 pm

“ALL A-TWITTER”…bRADLY,..you sound like a bytch

TROTTINGHOMETUDD

August 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

“OOPS”…..I GOT TO LEARN TO SPELL BETTER….BRADLEY*

FALCON SORRY (Impersonation)

August 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

I MEAN SHEEEEYAT FALCONS AINT NO GOOD WITHOUT MV7 NO MO. FALCONS WOULD HAVE WON THAT GAME AGAINST ST LOUIS 100-0 WITH MV7. HE THE GREATEST EVER AND YALL FALCON ARE SORRY. YOU SAY TONY GONZALEZ SORRY OLD BUTT RUBS OFF ON OTHER FALCON?! I SAY I WISH HE’D RUB ONE OFF ON ME. I’M WAITING FOR IT. WORD. PEACE. FO SHEEZY. DAS WASSUP.

Carl

August 24th, 2009
1:54 pm

As long as we can score 40 points a game, everything will be fine.

Dr. Warren

August 24th, 2009
2:07 pm

Hey BUGKILLER, nice post. Please explain what happened in 1981 to the second-best Falcons team of all time–the 1980 squad beaten by Danny White and the Cowboys.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
2:34 pm

The Jonas Bros. weren’t bad, Dink.. And Jordin Sparks, who also performed, was very good. Elizabeth Bradley, age 12, says it was the greatest concert she has ever seen. (And she has seen a few already.)

Mudcatjoe

August 24th, 2009
2:46 pm

Vick=Dog killing thug —— You forgot to mention the team at the top of the heap! The Georgia Tech Yellowjackets!!! Life really is good.

DAVID

August 24th, 2009
2:56 pm

The Offense is ready, I need to see what our defensive end is going to do… Davis or Anderson ONE OF THEM NEEDS TO STEP UP and I need to see what our secondary looks like…I like the direction the Falcons are going, I see a trophy in the Falcons hands soon do you….

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
3:03 pm

Oh, and here’s what I wound up writing about the Falcons’ offense, if you’re so inclined.

nhe

August 24th, 2009
3:12 pm

Mark – I am worried about a few things on offense:

1. Not varying the snap-count – the Cardinals seemed to have found something – jump the snap-count a few times, even at the risk of being off-sides, in an effort to disrupt our rhythm. That really worked for the Cardinals and I’m a little afraid that other teams will replicate it and have some success, even though I’m sure we’re addressing it.

2. Scoring too fast – we’re likely to show more no-huddle offense this season, because Ryan is so proficient at it. I’m a little afraid that there are going to be games where we score too fast either via big plays or the no huddle. I think this hurt the Colts signifcantly during many of their great “O” no “D” years, and it could hurt us – tired D in q4 giving up game winners at the end.

3. No real replacement for HD in the slot – Our WR most like Douglas is probably Bergeron, and it doesn’t look like he’ll make the team. I love the stable of vets Finn, Ferguson, Booker……..but can they really feel that role?

……………so I don’t think we’ve peaked yet.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
3:20 pm

I asked Mike Mularkey about the scoring too fast thing, nhe, and he said it really wasn’t a concern. As long as his team’s scoring, he figures it’ll be OK, and his goal is to score every series.

Greg

August 24th, 2009
3:22 pm

Mark, I’m with you on this one. We’ve seen the way the Falcons offense handled the Lions and the Rams. Big deal. The defenses of New England and Carolina and Chicago (and even Miami) are a different pot of pisces. Also, it wasn’t all pretty last Friday. Jerious might have put on some muscle, but he still tends to go down immediately if someone bumps those skinny legs. Thomas Brown has not looked very good at all. After Snelling, where’s the real depth at running back? Haynes? Who knows?

now tha't funny

August 24th, 2009
3:31 pm

The truth about this team is that no team wants to play us. Face it, you know when the Falcons roll onto the field you are about to get a steady dose of 230 lb tailback, running behind 240 lb fullback, running behind a nasty motivated o-line. Third and 5, Tony G for 7. Second and 1, Roddy White for 17. Our best defense is our offense. and our beautiful play calling. WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!!!!!!

BigTimeTECHFan

August 24th, 2009
3:41 pm

Sidberry looked like he may make an impact by mid season, I think we will loss 6th started on D, J. Anderson will get cut. Jerry was on his bottom a couple of plays, then he clogged up the middle a couple of times, so far he looks average at best, he may just need time to adjust to NFL blocking.

I like left side of the line, Baker and Blalock may be real nice combo on left side, Dahl and Clabo nice on right to. Baker back to form before he got hurt last year.

DB’s are weak point on team along with lofton at middle LB, but will see, maybe they can pickup anouther Foxworth like last year.

I say 12 – 4 this year

SirReal

August 24th, 2009
3:57 pm

I like the offense but i cant help but feel VERY WEARY with our D. I think the front 7 will gel nicely. We HAVE to be able to stop the run. QBs have rushed all over us the past two PREseason games. Not a good sign. I really hope they have a plan for our secondary b/c all I see is Brady, Eli, Brees, Romo, McNabb, and even Campbell (highly underrated, you try learning 6 systems in 6 years and have even a bit of success) lobbing it up and our guys getting torched. We’ll see what happens….

Robert Reagin

August 24th, 2009
4:02 pm

MB, please let’s put the bad feelings associated with the low times behind us. Strike the name “Charles Dimry” from future posts.

Dan

August 24th, 2009
4:24 pm

Mark – it was the Rams, not the 1985 Bears, although your enthusiasm is nothing compared to that of a certain local sports talk host who wondered this morning if the Falcons have the best offense in the league. To paraphase Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction, let’s not start sucking each other’s popsicles yet.

now tha't funny

August 24th, 2009
5:00 pm

Winston Wolf, nice one Dan. This offense is one of the best in the league. Matt Ryan is a superstar in the making. We may not even be the most prolific scoring offense, but the way we can control the game by running the ball and eating clock is scary. Our team will get better as the year goes on because our defense should improve from week one to week 16. We have the potential to GO TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!!!

SC

August 24th, 2009
5:21 pm

What Dan said, Mark. I hope the Falcons have the best offense in league, but the starters have only played about two preseason quarters against two of the worst teams. Last year, the Falcons running game was not that good against top running defenses. The extra organizational year of experience in the Mularkey offense will make a difference. The addition of Tony G. will decrease the number of defenders in the box.

So far, so good. I want to see how the offense performs against the Chargers and Ravens.

IBleedRed&Black

August 24th, 2009
6:10 pm

Another 11-5 Season…. I’m thinking 12-4…. Who knows but I betcha we wont lose those games to our division rivals. We will be first and that division championship is ours this year!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
6:18 pm

I agree, folks. I’m usually the one saying, “Don’t read too much into exhibitions.” But I’m pretty excited about the 2009 Falcons, and I’ve pretty much disregarded my own words. Which makes me, I believe, a moron.

jfreak13713

August 24th, 2009
6:54 pm

If Turner doesn’t get hurt the Falcons will have a winning season again this year! They are too talented on offense not to win most of their games. Defense will determine if they are a championship team but their offense will produce a winning season regardless.