How Carolina might get it right against the Falcons

Were I you, I wouldn’t listen to me. I’m the guy who felt strongly that Georgia Tech would beat Miami. (And the Jackets would have won, I still maintain, had they been playing Miami of Ohio.) So feel free to disregard anything I say. Heck, I’m disregarding, and I’m writing it.

But collectors of MB  whiffs have already begun salivating over yet another on the horizon. Last month I picked Carolina to beat the Falcons in Week 2. This was before the Falcons bowed up — coaches are always exhorting their men to “bow up,” whatever that means — and shut down Miami, and also before Jake Delhomme conjured up five more turnovers, bringing his two-game total to 11, which puts him in Favre-land.

Am I changing my pick? Not exactly. But let’s just say I feel less strongly about the Panthers than I did about the Jackets, who lost by 16 points in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. That said, I wouldn’t be true to my high-school debating roots if I couldn’t concoct some sort of scenario in which Carolina might just win. So here goes:

This is a last stand, if not for the Panthers as a team then surely for Delhomme as the No. 1 quarterback. The belief in NFL circles is that there’s nothing physically wrong with him — he’s just psyched out by those turnovers. So Carolina must come here and do as any team with a skittish QB has to do: Lighten his load.

The Panthers will try to run the ball, and the Panthers run pretty well when Delhomme isn’t throwing it to the other team. They can also play a little defense. They’ll try to shorten the game and give their quarterback the chance to work off play-action — play-action works only the running game works — and hope Steve Smith can run past one of those Falcons cornerbacks a time or two.

And maybe the feeling of desperation will turn the Panthers, who didn’t win an exhibition game and who lost at home to Philadelphia by 28 points last week, into something approximating a real team. Maybe this will be their given Sunday to get it right. That said …

If I can figure out the Panther plan, I’m reasonably certain Mike Smith and Brian VanGorder can, too. And Smitty’s defenders pride themselves on stuffing the run. So I guess what I’m saying is …

I’m about to get something else wrong. Story of my life.

(Oh, and for those asking, “Hey, genius — whaddaya think of those Jackets now?” … the answer will be forthcoming in the day’s next post. Were I you, I wouldn’t read that one, either.)

119 comments Add your comment


September 18th, 2009
2:31 am

The Falcons will score early and often. The Cats won’t know whether to scratch their nose or twitch their A$$.

David Smith

September 18th, 2009
2:32 am

The Panthers will try to come out on fire against us this Sunday after being embarrassed by the Eagles last week. I’m fairly confident that we will shut down their running game and our D-line will continue to cause havoc by pressuring Delhomme into making some mistake throws (and cursing out his offensive line on the sideline again). Bottom line, we have to go into New England next week with some momentum and beating the Panthers will do just that.

Ostrich Racer

September 18th, 2009
2:56 am

Delhomme will play well,
But the Birds take one more step.
Twelve and four this year.


September 18th, 2009
3:04 am

Historically, this is the kind of game that the Falcons lose. I am willing to give Smitty the defensive benefit of the doubt. The mark of a good team is winning games you are “supposed” to win……Fly high Dirty Birds!!!!

Dr. Warren

September 18th, 2009
3:20 am

Lest anyone forget, the Panthers were 12-4 last year. (Last year ended just 9 months ago). The personnel hasn’t changed much, and neither has the coaching staff. Sure, I want us to crush them, but this thing will probably be a dog figh…uh…wrong phrase…I mean, a real barn burner.


September 18th, 2009
4:23 am

After the comments between Smith and Delhomme on the sideline last week, I predict a disjointed team. Falcons roll.

Felix the Cat

September 18th, 2009
5:49 am

I am going against my own kind and picking the birds. Be closer than many think..

Mitch (the one in Rome)

September 18th, 2009
6:02 am

I would like nothing more than to open up a can on Carolina. I still have the awful taste in my mouth from 2006 when, in the final game, they literally ran the ball out of a high school offense every down and made Mora and crew look like they did not belong on the sidelines at all. So, they deserve to have a can opened on them. However, something tells me Dr. Warren is right. This may be one of the better games all year.
Falcons win, but it is a war. 24-17 Falcons
Off to work! Rock on all.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 18th, 2009
6:15 am

Mark, 11 turnovers in two games make Jake the Mayor of Farveland.

I just hope the Falcons don’t knock him out of the game. He’s the Falcon’s 12th man.


September 18th, 2009
6:34 am

Yes our defense will need to shutdown the run, but our offense led by Ryan and Turner (and Gonzalez) will need more than 19 points. Roddy, where are you? (counting all your new money?).
I’ll give Elam another game for redemption, he’s certainly earned it. But if he gives back another 7 points in this game? We’re in trouble.


September 18th, 2009
6:35 am

Watch Biermann this week. If he has another week like last week, that defensive line “rotation without starters” Smitty has been harping on is going to rotate a little less, and we’re going to see a lot of Biermann. Babs and Peria in the middle are proving to be stout. The backers look great. Baker is protecting Matt’s blind side pretty well. Can they do it all again, or was it a mirage?


September 18th, 2009
6:42 am

Hey Mark,

You still on the Paul Johnson bandwagon? 1-2 against BCS teams it’s last 3 games and completely dominated in 2 of those. What would you say about Richt if that happened at UGA? Face it Mark, “something is missing at Tech” and I think it’s an offense that will work when playing the big boys!


September 18th, 2009
6:52 am

Last year is already off the table; the Panthers were 8-0 at home and will not repeat this year.

I’m not sure where the bloggers get their info but Fox is already on record this week as wanting to place more emphasis on draw plays which the Cats are very good at against the Falcons. I suspect the Smith brain trust knows this and will game plan as well as they have for the previous 18 real games.

Perhaps it will work out for the Cats on Nov. 15 in Carolina, but, this is not the time and the Dome is not the place. We have a blemish on last year’s 7-1 in the Dome that takes 8 (or more) games to correct; one down and 7+ to go.


September 18th, 2009
6:57 am

A classic “pride game” for the Panthers.

DJ The Realist

September 18th, 2009
7:22 am

This will be a tough test, we can’t expect Delhomme to hand us this game. My instincts say Falcons win because for the life of me I cannot understand how Jake delhomme got that big contract last year.Falcons 28 Panthers 21.


September 18th, 2009
7:34 am

Carolina is a good team. They do have off days, but they are great when they want to be. I vaguely remember a game a few years ago where basically 99% of their plays were running plays. They stomped the birds that day. Although I am rooting for the Falcons, I suspect this one will come down to who wants it the most. Carolina is getting blasted lately, so they may come out with a chip on their shoulder. Go Falcons.

Jack Schitt

September 18th, 2009
7:51 am

I looked up the word “Boob” in the dictionary and there was a picture of Mark Bradley. Go figure!

Reid Adair

September 18th, 2009
8:10 am

I think you’re probably right about what Carolina’s game plan will be, Mark. I also think you’re right that it’s so blatantly obvious that Mike Smith and Brian van Gorder know what they’re going to do too.

That being said, let the Panthers try to run and protect Delhomme.

STL Falcon

September 18th, 2009
8:10 am

I’ve said it before, but by year’s end the DL will be the best overall group in the NFC.


September 18th, 2009
8:11 am

Last week showed that Atlanta can hold their own against a quality opponent. This week is no different. Carolina is still the defending division champs and the Falcons cannot begin to take them lightly if they want to get to the next level of upper echelon teams in the NFL.

That said, I like the fact that Coach Smith will not let this team rest on the laurels of last week. Atlanta still has a lot to prove, not only to the national media, but to themselves. It’s a division rival so both teams will be up for this one.

That said, I like Atlanta to do the same thing they did against Miami last week, have their young defense flying around the field and confusing Delhomme. Also, Matt Ryan must be able to continue to mix it up on offense and not have the Panthers stacked up against the run.

Finally, Elam has to make some field goals! Falcons 23, Carolina 16


September 18th, 2009
8:12 am

I hate the Pathers.

I like Jake Delhomme…nice Cajun boy, but he’s leaking oil, and the Falcons need to pile on the pressure while he’s vulnerable. A few sacks early in this game and that leak will resemble the Jamestown Flood.

Better stop the run, or Jake won’t have to pass.

This game will be decided by the Falcons’ front seven.


September 18th, 2009
8:15 am


Nice prediction on the G-Tech Miami game. You know nothing about football. Period.

So now do you know who Mark Whipple is? Do you know who Jacor Harris is?

Get to work buddy.

Blue Fender

September 18th, 2009
8:15 am

All it takes is a few plays in a game for a team to get hot. Look at Arizona last year. They were loosing games by 40+ points at the end of the season. But they came together and got hot in the playoffs. It can happen to any team at any time. Beware of Carolina. Steve Smith always has a chip on his shoulder and he may end up scaring the crap out of Jake and make him play better.

I will not matter though. Falcons will bring their A game. GO BIRDS!


September 18th, 2009
8:19 am

Miami is a “good team” that was going to give us a “tough test”. Enough with the cliches. The Falcons spent the offseason addressing issues – specifically run defense; have you noticed the Falcons are now stacked on D-line?

The Panthers will need to start fast to have a chance. That means the crowd must be in their seats at kickoff. Forget the tailgate last call and get your butt frisked and in your seat; preferrably before player introductions.

We let the Miami team and fans get way too comfortable last week. Since we fans can’t play the game then we need to do the next best thing. Our participation is part of the game plan.


September 18th, 2009
8:26 am

Limited Penalties, holding on to the ball, and little ego’s will get us a huge win. Falcons 38, them 17.


September 18th, 2009
8:48 am

DJ is right! When is Atlnata going to wake up and act like they deserve an NFL franchise! SUPPORT THE TEAM, go to the damn dome early and often! Bring it on 12th man! Thank goodness, the dome painted the seats red and black because it gives the dome the appearance of being full of falcon fans. I must say last week it got load up in there, however we need fanatical support at the opening kickoff! GO BIRDS!!! To hell with the carolina PUSSYs.


September 18th, 2009
8:49 am

Hey coward!!!! Where is your article about Miami stopping the bees’ running game? Where is the article that the bees’ were out coached? How about Whipple beats Paul Johnson offense again? First on the I-AA level, now on the D-1 level?

F-105 Thunderchief

September 18th, 2009
8:57 am

This is a gut check game. So far so good, but the Birds really need this one in their quest to conquer the curse.


September 18th, 2009
8:59 am

This is 2009 not 2006. Atlanta does not have that sorry team or those sorry coaches anymore. Please don’t bring that game up……very bad memories!!

Falcons 34 Panties 17

Sonny Clusters

September 18th, 2009
9:09 am

We was often asked to handicap games and pick winners because of our lucky toe. That toe would hurt sometimes and if we could read it right we could determine the winner of a game. “Clusters Toe” was used in Las Vegas by some of the gaming houses there. Of course, Clusters being the highly principled people that Clusters are, we never used it for our own benefit or in the Georgia lottery. We was always of the opinion if we did the scratch off using our toenail that would result in some big winnings. Clusters has most always been the kind of people that would do the right thing and only cousin Nelly Clusters would be an exception to that. We was watching the game last night and couldn’t help but think maybe Tech was a little over-rated. The Braves played a nice game, though, and it is a shame they can’t go back and get some of those early games back when Bobby was making the wrong “picks”.


September 18th, 2009
9:56 am

Dr Warren said “Lest anyone forget, the Panthers were 12-4 last year. (Last year ended just 9 months ago). The personnel hasn’t changed much, and neither has the coaching staff. Sure, I want us to crush them, but this thing will probably be a dog figh…uh…wrong phrase…I mean, a real barn burner.”

As a Panthers fan. I appreciate the reminder theat we have been a good franchise. I must say, however, that our coaching staff changed a lot in the offseason. Among those gone – QB coach and DL coach (and many would argue that those are our two greatest weaknesses right now.


September 18th, 2009
10:19 am

Enter your comments here Geez, some of you guys must have eaten beans for breakfast!

An Observation

September 18th, 2009
10:36 am

Mark…..hopefully you’re WRONG about the outcome of the Falcons-Panthers game. Sunday the dome will be rocking and the fans will be the 12th man to help the team get another “W”.

Steve Smith has always been a difficult WR to defend, but I’m confident our defense will get it done on Sunday and contain him. I’m looking forward to the game that both experienced CB’s Williams and Hill start at CB to replace Grimes and Houston, especially against stronger and bigger WR’s. GO FALCONS!!!


September 18th, 2009
10:44 am

Last week we score only 19 points on many turn overs . so it looks like our offence got weak links too that im sure they are keying in on. defence got a lot of help last week, lets hope they can make a stand each week.and why are people downing Roddy, it’s the QB job to get the ball to him, and he did not do a great job last week, even the ball’s that Tony caught didnt look very thrown.


September 18th, 2009
10:46 am

Let’s just continue to rotate Biermann in rotation to maximize his effectiveness. No need to wear the man down on obvious running plays. Thats why we have Chauncey and Jamal. We need to put our offense on the field first to set the tone. If we go down on the opening drive and score a TD, lets see how long Carolina sticks with the passing game if we stuff them early and often. I believe the Panthers made a huge mistake in extending Jake. Players like Julius Peppers deserved the money more. Players in the locker room pay attention to stuff like this. Could cause a major rift in the locker room. One more bad performance by Jake and this NFC South division could be a two-horse race. Just my opinion.

By the way, I saw Miami’s offense up close and personal a couple of weeks ago living down here in Tallahassee. Harris is for real and I would put his supporting cast up against any in the country. I hate to say it, but the “U” is back. They will only get better and that is indeed scary!!!!


September 18th, 2009
10:47 am

I meant Carolina sticking with the “running game” in my previous post.


September 18th, 2009
11:46 am

Am I the only one who thinks Fox and the rest of the Carolina staff may try and surprise us with something other than the stated obvious? They are a great running team, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they try to boost Delhomme’s confidence and sneak one by us by employing a relatively pass-heavy offense.

Why would he publicly tell everyone he was going to focus on draw plays if that was his true intention? The only way they are going to let Delhomme redeem himself is to give him the chance.

Luckily TD, Smitty and the gang are smart enough to see that coming so no worries on getting a W on Sunday. I would expect the score to be higher and closer than a lot of people think though.

Offense shows up and D does enough to get it done. 31-20 Falcons!!!!!


September 18th, 2009
11:51 am

I think the struggle all Falcons fans are having right now, myself included, is that there is really no reason to think that the Falcons won’t completely dominate the Panthers…. but after 40+ years of being excited about a team and then being let down shortly thereafter, we’re all afraid to get too excited. I simply can’t get used to this new thing called “hope” and really believe it’s there in front of me. I still feel like Charlie Brown and have a hard time believing that someone isn’t going to pull the football away just before I kick it.

Unless both teams had fluke games last week, the Falcons D just got lucky for 60 minutes, Jake Delhomme is really an awesome QB who just happened to have 2 bad games in a row, our offense actually sucks, our coaching staff didn’t bother to plan for this game, and about a dozen other things that are ridiculously unlikely… all common sense tells me that we win this game. If it weren’t a division game, i’d even say it will be a blowout, but since NFC South games always seem to be close for some reason, I don’t think this game will be the massacre i’m tempted to predict.

Scott B

September 18th, 2009
11:53 am

As Al Davis once said: “The other team’s quarterback MUST go down, and he must go DOWN HARD!” Delhomme needs to GO DOWN HARD!

Bad News

September 18th, 2009
12:11 pm

The best remedy to get out of a rut?

Play the Falcons :) Last week against a qb who could not stretch the field is nothing to write home about and these idiot band wagon fans started buying tickets to the superbowl.

Pennington and Ryan are two of the BIGGEST NOODLE ARMS in the league. If the Dolphins wildcat doesn’t produce, they lose every game because Pennington throws even WEAKER passes than ole NOODLE ARM!

Delhomme will have the perfect situation to get that monkey off of his back. Steve Smith and Muhammed will carve up that weak secondary and that monster running game will smash Peterson and crew in the mouth and these loser fans will once again blame the defense again.

In the meantime, if you get 4 turnovers and only produce 17 points because you have an over rated NOODLE ARM behind center, you will get embarrassed in your own stadium.

Panthers 41

Falcons 17 (again)

Julius Peppers

September 18th, 2009
12:14 pm

First of all you are not the Eagles!

2nd, I have 17 million in my pocket and this is a contract year. I have only one thing on my mind – BREAK & BRUISE YOUR QB!

Even if it means a blind side late hit or two. Fine me! I’m rich biatch!

Panthers Fan

September 18th, 2009
12:19 pm

What happens when I click this here “Submit Comment” button?


September 18th, 2009
12:23 pm

Well looks like Bad News is getting ready for another helping of CROW!!
Hey Bad News….does it taste like chicken?



September 18th, 2009
12:29 pm

My sister loves dark meat!!!!!


September 18th, 2009
12:31 pm

I’m so stupidddddddd I can’t even spell “Loser”………

So I guess I’m the LOSER……shucks dude I freakin suck!


September 18th, 2009
12:34 pm


September 18th, 2009
12:43 pm

You got the score wrong…last time these two teams played it was:

Falcons 48
Panthers 28

The game wasn’t even that close.


September 18th, 2009
12:48 pm

For all those that are not Falcon fans and choose to berate our players by calling our QB noodle arm. Let me remind you that Joe Montana did not have a strong arm. But Jeff George did. Which one would you want? Being accurate, smart, and a real leader is worth more than having a million dollar arm and a 50 cent brain any day.


September 18th, 2009
12:51 pm

We would have scored 30+ points last week if Ryan had been even remotely accurate with his passes. He wasn’t exactly a sharpshooter in pre-season either. He’d better pick it up or good defenses (like Carolina’s) are going to make this a very long season for this offense. I’ve seen Carolina man-up and eek out tough physical wins like this game for years now. If Ryan performs like he has so far this year, 16-6 Panthers.


September 18th, 2009
1:08 pm

Better noodle arm than noodle brain. The the scrambled Jake and eggs continue (began Nov. 23 2008).