Mularkey on Falcons’ offense: Do what we do, only better

What are Tony Gonzalez's strengths? Only everything, Mike Mularkey says. (AP photo)

What are Tony Gonzalez's strengths? Only everything, Mike Mularkey says. (AP photo)

Flowery Branch – We know what can happen when we assume, but here’s a case study. Outside consensus holds that the Falcons’ offense will be both expanded and expansive in 2009, what with Matt Ryan being an established pro and Michael Turner being a money back and Tony Gonzalez being aboard. Lots more plays! Lots more looks!

Said Mike Mularkey, the offensive coordinator: “We’ve taken out about 30 pages of the playbook. Last year we didn’t know who we had and what we had, so we put everything in. This year, from OTAs [organized team activities] on, we’ve said, ‘We don’t have to expand anything. We just have to do it better.’ And that’s we what want to do: Just do what we do good, and do it better.”

Those concerned that the addition of the All-Pro Gonzalez might induce Mularkey to overpass don’t know Mularkey. (And shouldn’t that be the title of the Falcons’ pruned playbook? “A Bunch of Mularkey”?) He wants to run the ball. “That’s always been my philosophy,” he said. But his guiding principle is even more pragmatic.

“We want to score every time we touch the football. There are no boards, no sheets, no objectives [posted in the offense's meeting room]. We don’t say, ‘We’re going to get 20 first downs and eight explosive plays [20-plus yards] or have 35 percent of something. If you score every time, every goal you’d shoot for is going to accumulate.”

Against every expectation, the 2008 Falcons mustered a first-rate offense from a rookie quarterback, a career backup tailback and an offensive line regarded in preseason as the NFL’s worst. They finished 10th in scoring, sixth in yardage, 14th in passing, second in rushing. The team that we figured — well, I sure figured — would need to win every game 17-14 wound up scoring 20-plus points 12 times in 16 regular-season games.

The 2009 offense should be better still, for many reasons. Chief among them: Gonzalez. “I know what his strengths are,” Mularkey said.

What are they? “Everything. He doesn’t get enough credit for his blocking. He’s one of the best blockers I’ve ever graded coming out of college. We’re not going to create a whole new offense for him, but we can move him around.”

Another misconception: The Falcons simplified their offense a year ago owing to their rookie quarterback. Mularkey: “The easy answer would be to say, ‘Yes,’ but I look back and we had more checks [audibles] going into the Detroit [season opener] than in any game I’ve ever been part of. I must have had confidence in him.”

The Falcons averaged 24.4 points last season. What will they average in 2009?

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Ryan’s potential? How high is up? “He grows from everything he does,” Mularkey said. “Even if it’s something he does well, he wants to expand it. He’s never going to get comfortable. He’s not settling for normalcy.”

Given that we on the periphery were so wrong about everything regarding the 2008 offense, are we right to expect bigger and better? “Teams are going to be a little bit better prepared for us,” Mularkey said. “But the thing I don’t know is if they can prepare for how hard we play. People ask how Michael can do what he does. He can do it because the rest of the team is running downfield knocking defenders off him. That’s hard to prepare for. I’ve never seen it anywhere else I’ve been.”

And here we pause to note: Mularkey worked for the Pittsburgh Steelers under Bill Cowher. That team had a defense to complement its O. These Falcons figure to need to score in bunches to prop up a fledgling D. But that’s another assumption, and we know all about those.

188 comments Add your comment

FALCONS SORRY

August 24th, 2009
12:28 pm

MIKE MULARKY! YEAH THAT SOUND ABOUT RIGHT! MULARKY IS THE WORD FOR IT! IT MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHAT THE OFFENCE ON THIS TEAM COULD HAVE BEEN COMPARED TO WHAT IT IS RIGHT NOW! TONY GONZOLEEZ IS A BROKE DOWN OLD MAN WHO IS ONE GOOD HIT AWAY FROM BEING THE NEXT MICHEAL IRVIN! IT DONT HELP THAT HE DONT GET ANY GOOD ANIMAL PROTIEN BY EATING MEAT TO HELP MAKE HIS BODY STRONG AND KEEP HIS MUSCLES WORKING GOOD! EACH TIME I SEE MATTY HOPELESS TRY TO SLING THAT BALL WITH THAT POOR WEAK ARM HE GOT IT MAKE ME WANT TO FEEL SORRY FOR HIM! HECK I FEEL SORRY FOR THE WHOLE TEAM TRYING TO WIN WITH THIS CLOWN! TURNER BURNER! I HOPE YOU DONT BREAK YOUR BACK THIS TRYING TO CARRY THIS WHOLE FRANCHISE ON IT! YOU KNOW THEY SAY ABOUT TRY TO MAKE CHICKEN SALAD OUT OF CHICKEN AUTHUR BLANK! THE FALCONS WILL TRY TO BE TO MAKE SOME DECENT CHICKEN SALAD IN 2009 BUT THEY DONT HAVE ANYTHING WORTH EATING TO WORK WITH! THAT IS ALL GOING TO CHANGE ON DECEMBER 6 WHEN THE WHOLE FALCONS TEAM GET TURNED IN TO ROAD KILL WHEN THE KING RETURN TO CLAIM HIS THRONE! JUST TRY MAKING SOME CHICKEN SALAD OUT OF WHAT YOU GOT LEFT COME DECEMBER 7 FALCONS! PEARL HARBOR FALCONS! PEARL HARBOR!

Mike S

August 24th, 2009
12:30 pm

Man, I’m getting excited to see this offense for more than just a quarter!

FALCONS SORRY IS A MORON

August 24th, 2009
12:37 pm

YOU REALLY ARTICULATE YOUR POINT IN ALL CAPS!

And yes December 7th will be an interesting game. It will be interesting to see all the true Falcons fans who show up, and not just the supporters of Vick.

I want Vick to have an awesome season, but I also want him to lay a goose egg against the Dirty Birds.

Team loyalty first.

MiltonDawg

August 24th, 2009
12:42 pm

Falcons Sorry- quit snorting that stuff before you get on the blogs. Get over it and go play in traffic moron. Please do this city a favor.
Falcons are shaped to have a great season- I think they’ll average around 25-30 pts a game.

Paul H

August 24th, 2009
12:43 pm

LOVE this offense. Look for it to be among the best in the league, and featured on many Sportscenter highlights. Don’t want to speak too soon, but this one is going to be exciting.

Marcus

August 24th, 2009
12:43 pm

Lets just let things roll and see where we stand in jan. 2010. I am excited.

Patrick

August 24th, 2009
12:56 pm

It’s Dec. 6.

Patrick

August 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

It amazes how many people respond to the Falcons Sorry ruse. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs.

Amy Carter

August 24th, 2009
1:04 pm

My cat’s name was Misty Mularkey Ying Yang.

Sleeze

August 24th, 2009
1:15 pm

Patrick, I agree – ATLANTA SORRY probably had a Over/Under of 25 of how many people would respond back to his little tirade. No doubt he’s laughing all the way to his fry cook job at Burger King.

Clayton

August 24th, 2009
1:15 pm

We all believe the Falcons Off will be among the leagues best. I wonder how the defense will be. I think they will be better. The D line even with out Grady will be better with a healthy Trey Lewis (very underrrated) and Jerry. Also, if Anderson can’t hold his own, Davis and Sidbury are ready to play. I do have doubts about the DB’s esp at LCB I believe we will miss D foxworth, also believe LB’s will better, faster and stronger than last year.

Common Pact

August 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

Let’s just ALL AGREE to totally ignore anything posted by FALCONS SORRY and any of these other Vick supporters that are ALWAYS negative and can’t seem to find their way to a Philadelphia Eagles’ blog. FYI – Two Philadelphia Newspapers: The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News and they both have sports websites.

Just pretent that you don’t even see all the CAPS and the ignorant non-coherent rants, the grammatically incorrect and spelling challenged attempt at the English language, etc. He obviously enjoyes the attention because it is probably the only attention that he ever gets.

In quoting Nancy Reagan……”Just say NO”….. TO FALCONS SORRY AND HIS POSSE of HATERS!!!!! GO FALCONS!!!!!

FALCON SORRY

August 24th, 2009
1:23 pm

THAT INCOHERENT!!!!!!!!!

YUP!!

August 24th, 2009
1:26 pm

The day Vick plead guilty was when the Falcons offense started getting better.

Thanks Vick for your support!! GO FALCONS!!!!!!

BugKiller

August 24th, 2009
1:28 pm

You know something, Bradley, it really angers me as a veteran (not of WWII, though) that you feel compelled to censor people’s blogs when they use the “T” word to describe Vick’s heinous, sociopathic actions because you view it as a stand-in for the indefensible “N” word, yet you do not feel compelled to censor FALCONS SORRY’S post in which he makes an allegory of his favorite sociopath’s return to Atlanta with Pearl Harbor.

Shame on you. Either you censor everything that is blatantly (or not blatantly in the “T” word cases), or you censor nothing.

Most of us have had it to “here” with this moron’s posts about his favorite sociopath, and this latest ranting about Pearl Harbor is his most offensive to date. To dishonor the men and women who died in 1941 by even having the event mentioned in the same sentence as that evil sociopath is a new low for this cretin.

Please remove his post.

MightyQuinn

August 24th, 2009
1:29 pm

Geez, Mark, you write a nice bit about OUR football team and it once again gets highjacked. Anyway, returning to point, I find myself getting almost giddy about this offense. I feel like the guy with a winning Mega-millions ticket worrying about getting to the GA lottery offices without having a fatal accident or heart attack. Intense anticipation with a foreboding sense of doom lurking in the back of my brain.

Clayton

August 24th, 2009
1:33 pm

Good point BugKiller.

collegeballfan

August 24th, 2009
1:35 pm

Better offense with Gonzalez. Better defense with all the youth?
Much tougher schedule.

Bad News

August 24th, 2009
1:39 pm

Are you people serious? How can you evaluate whether your offense is good or bad without playing “REAL” defenses?

You have played against the 0-16 Lions (lost) & the equally pathetic 2-14 Rams!

This organization is so pathetic that they look for anything to see a bright light, even if it is against talentless teams.

Let’s see what they will do against the Ravens and perhaps the Chargers. Those teams have some “REAL” pass rushing and coverage talent.

I would be very careful about the next 2 games, ryan is a thin and weak guy, and one or two hits and he will find himself on “IRL”.

The signing of Gonzalez is not going to be as significant as you “low self esteem” bloggers (non-paying fans) may think. The problem was not at the tight end position – the problem was Ryan in the redzone where they finished near the bottom of the league.

It was not because the tight ends were not open, it was because Ryan’s arm strength was not strong enough to zip the ball between press coverage. Gonzales will be effective on slants, but in the redzone he will not be able to be anymore effective than the other tight ends, because it’s the quarterback’s responsibility to get the ball to the receivers.

Sorry guys – the problem remains at qb.

MightyQuinn

August 24th, 2009
1:42 pm

The defense is indeed the ultimate question for this year. The offense is rock solid but the defense will be the making or breaking of this season. We all know that solid defenses win SUPPER BOWLS. (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself!)

Idiot Referee

August 24th, 2009
1:44 pm

“Bug Killer”

Actually we are fed up with racist idiots like you!

matt r

August 24th, 2009
1:46 pm

If FALCONS SORRY’s posts were removed that would reduce the comedy added to my day, and today’s was one of my favorites. Please leave them.

And BTW good column.

BugKiller

August 24th, 2009
1:52 pm

And to point; I too, like you do, Mark, believe that MANY people have used these blogs to voice their vile prejudice (from both sides) and have used the “T” word as a replacement for the “N” word.

But others have not, simply using the “T” word as it is in it’s modern inclination.

Of course, if asked the etymology of the word, I don’t believe there is many people who actually understand or know its origins.

Regardless, it is your perogative Bobby Brown, to censor your blog as you see fit. I am simply merely pointing out that if you leave FALCONS SORRY’S post up, which is indecent at best and un-American at worst, you will have created a horrible double standard in which only some forms of questionable language is censored, while others are “okay” by you.

Clayton

August 24th, 2009
1:59 pm

Hey Bad news, How can you say the offense is bad when they were so good last year, added a pro bowl TE (who hasn’t lost a step, and lost no starters at all. Defense could be hurt but my guess is your a very jealous Bucs fan who doesn’t want to admit the Falcons are for once headed in the right direction

YUP!!

August 24th, 2009
2:01 pm

Bad News…….your last post just set stupid back 10 more years!!

Joe Flacco

August 24th, 2009
2:08 pm

If you delusional bloggers want to see a preview of next week’s beat down, check me and my boys tonight against a top 3 team in the NFL.

After we deal with them – may God help Ryan next week!

FALCONS SORRY

August 24th, 2009
2:11 pm

I AM SORRY FOR ALL THE PREVIOUS POSTS. I HAVE A DOUBLE PERSONALITY AND THE OTHER ME (MV7 LOVER) USUALLY SAYS THINGS I DO NOT AGREE WITH. THE REAL ME LOVES THE FALCONS STARTING WITH MR BLANK , MR DIMITROFF, MR MCKAY THECOACHING STAFF AND OF COURSE THE PLAYERS. JUST IGNORE ME AND DON’T REPLY TO MY POSTS.

"Mr. Falcon"

August 24th, 2009
2:12 pm

Enter your comments here

Dr. Warren

August 24th, 2009
2:12 pm

Mark–how much do you think the loss of Harry Douglas will hurt this offense?

Idiot Referee

August 24th, 2009
2:13 pm

“Bug Killer”

Stop your whining you little girl!

tbhawksfan

August 24th, 2009
2:15 pm

Hey Bugkiller; isn’t that always the problem; therefore the need to have free speech.

Oh, and the birds O looks killer. It’ll be interesting to see how the D shakes out.

"Mr. Falcon"

August 24th, 2009
2:18 pm

BAD NEWS, You don’t know what you are talking about. You obviously never watched the Falcons last year. The problem with the Falcons in the red zone last year was the lack of effort on the part of the tight ends and receivers. Ryan did not trust them to go and get the ball. How many drops did they have in the red zone last year. I remember 2 right off the top of my head. One was by a receiver and the other was a tight end. All quarter backs need a pass catching tight end in the red zone to open things up.

"Mr. Falcon"

August 24th, 2009
2:21 pm

The Falcons have a Superbowl caliber offense, any person who does not believe that is lying to their self.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
2:23 pm

Some, Dr. Warren. He’d be the No. 1 slot receiver. (Or, put another way, the No. 3 receiver.) And I think there’s a dropoff between Douglas and Finneran.

And my position on the “t” word has undergone some modification. After consultation with Ms. Q. McElroy, who’s the head of this department, I’ve decided to let the “t” word stand unless I deem it a blatant bit of code for a racial epithet.

As for Falcons Sorry invoking Pearl Harbor Day: I believe the Falcons and Eagles play on Dec. 6. I believe Pearl Harbor Day is Dec. 7. Let’s try to keep our sense of humor, shall we?

tbhawksfan

August 24th, 2009
2:33 pm

MB – I agree about the dropoff with Finn. Is it written in stone that Finn will be the #3 WR or might Booker/Weems etc beat him out for that spot.

I see Finn as a good situation reciever at best.

Sting 'em Buzz

August 24th, 2009
2:35 pm

on this subject, I agree with bugkiller….toe meets FALCONS SORRY

"Mr. Falcon"

August 24th, 2009
2:37 pm

Mark, did Shockly just ruin his chances to make this team? Can the falcons cut Jamal Anderson? Have you heard anything about the Falcons running the 3-4 defense some this year.

Rational Voice

August 24th, 2009
2:40 pm

“BugKiller” and “Clayton,”

This isn’t the Soviet Union. “Falcons Sorry” has as much right to speak freely as you do.

Frankly, your ramblings are only mildly LESS absurd than anyone else’s, but no one is calling for censorship on YOUR ill-advised comments.

As far as I can see, “Falcons Sorry’s” post is actually somewhat on the topic of the article, doesn’t use any profanity, doesn’t personally attack or insult anyone on this blog and displays an enthusiasm expected of a typical rabid NFL (or Vick) fan.

Let’s all try to eat a little more fiber and not be so grumpy.

Go Falcons!

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
2:42 pm

I don’t think Jamaal Anderson will be cut, Mr. Falcon, but I think D.J. Shockley’s roster spot is 50-50. And TB, I’d keep my eye on Weems. I believe D-Led is writing a little something about him as we speak.

Clayton

August 24th, 2009
2:43 pm

Rational Voice, I understand where your coming from but me also being a veteran. I have seen things in the middle east that aren’t funny and shouldnt be used in posts like that. And remember all i said was good point and dropped it at that. I don’t believe I have rambled about anything except if the Falcons D will be good enough for them to make the playoffs.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
2:49 pm

You know, when I was a young writer trying to be creative, I once likened a blowout high school basketball game (the score was 100-24) to Little Big Horn. Steve Wilson, the editor of the Lexington Leader, told me to hold off on comparing sports to war. And I’ve tried very hard to do that ever since. I won’t even describe someone’s injury list as “a M*A*S*H unit.” (Although I wish I had a nickel for every time it has been done.)

Bat Masterson

August 24th, 2009
2:56 pm

So what are you saying Mark, now that you are older you have given up?

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
3:00 pm

Trying to be creative? Yes, I’ve given up that aspect of the writing game, Bat. Haven’t you noticed?

FALCONS SORRY

August 24th, 2009
3:11 pm

MR BRADLEY YOU DON’T NEED TO “TRY” TO BE CREATIVE ANYMORE. IT COMES NATURAL NOW. THAT IS WHAT EXPERIENCE WILL DO FOR YOU.

Ponce De Leon

August 24th, 2009
3:11 pm

The Falcons have to break the (no two winning seasons in a row) jinx. Are there any other NFL teams with that wierd statistic?

FALCONS SORRY

August 24th, 2009
3:17 pm

MR BRADLEY, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SIDBURY? HE LOOKED GOOD AGAINST THE RAMS. MAYBE HE WILL BE THE DE THE FALCONS WERE LOOKING FOR. 2 SACKS IN ONE GAME. WOW! IT TOOK JA 98 2 YEARS TO GET THAT MANY SACKS!

gabeaux

August 24th, 2009
3:18 pm

The term “thug” is an earned one. You have to make yourself a thug by your me-first, damn the team, damn the fans, I’m above the law attitude. I think Falcons Sorry is a pimpled eighth grader from Marist who doubles over in laughter when everyone responds to his remedial drivel. The Falcons will be fine this year, breaking their dubious record of never having back to back winning seasons.

Mark Bradley

August 24th, 2009
3:19 pm

The Houston Texans have never had a winning season, Ponce, and the “new” Cleveland Browns have had only one. But every other franchise has had consecutive winning seasons, as did the “old” Browns.

And thanks, Falcons Sorry.

Herschel Talker

August 24th, 2009
3:21 pm

Patrick – Great analogy, but I don’t think the bloggers here are smart enough to know who Pavlov’s dogs are.

FALCONS SORRY likes men

FALCONS SORRY

August 24th, 2009
3:27 pm

HERSCHEL TALKER I GUESS THAT IS ONE THING YOU AND I HAVE IN COMMON. BIG BOY!