5 things the Falcons must do before they play again

Matty Ice needs to fling a few long snowballs. (AP photo)

Matty Ice needs to fling some longer snowballs. (AP photo)

1. Move Jamaal Anderson to defensive tackle. Again, he has supplied next to nothing in the way of a pass rush. (Except for a roughing call against Tom Brady on Sunday, which was kind of funny when you think about it. Jamaal? Roughing somebody?) But he’s pretty good against the run; if he weren’t, he wouldn’t still have a job. The center of the Falcons’ line was pushed backward in Foxborough, suggesting Thomas Johnson and Trey Lewis aren’t the answer in Peria Jerry’s absence. Could J.A. be?

2. Play Lawrence Sidbury at defensive end. This is a bye week, which means the Falcons’ coaches have time to tinker. Sidbury came hailed as the steal of the draft. Time to put him to work. The defensive line hasn’t had a sack in two games.

3. Find a role for Jerious Norwood. Michael Turner managed only 56 yards against New England and fumbled for the second time in two weeks. He’s still a big-time player, but Norwood can be big-time, too. Two weeks should give him time to heal from the head injury suffered on the opening kickoff against Carolina. This is the third different coaching staff that has paid lip service to Norwood’s talent. It’s time to Mike Mularkey and Co. to find a more frequent application.

4. Resolve to stretch the field. Matt Ryan has completed 60 passes in three games. His longest gain is 27 yards. The Falcons must find a receiver who can get downfield, and Ryan has to find him when he does.

5. Resolve to get urgent. “Urgency” is the watchword for 2009, and it could stand some sharpening. The Falcons forced four turnovers against Miami in Week 1, two against Carolina in Week 2, none on Sunday. Safety Thomas DeCoud could have intercepted a Brady pass in the end zone but didn’t. John Abraham had a hand on Brady before the quarterback stepped forward and found Chris Baker for the clinching touchdown. Too many plays went unmade. The Falcons need to make them.

160 comments Add your comment

leland

September 28th, 2009
8:00 am

Dear Mr. MB–could it be? Your pal, Leland

Rex D

September 28th, 2009
8:06 am

Totally on-point again Mark – I was literally thinking about all of your remarks last night! The Rexster.

SirReal

September 28th, 2009
8:07 am

Well said. I agree with this article. Also, where was Gonzales all day? I saw him open numerous times. I dont know what MR2 was thinking about yesterday. Just wasn’t a good showing from the birds yesterday. There were a few bright spots but not enough to win. Yeah, move JA to DT b/c he’ll never be a pass rusher in this league. I concede it at this point. I too wondered why we have not stretched the field. When we have so far, Ryan has misfired badly. Does he really have a noodle arm as some suggest. I’m not sure but we’ll see soon enough. I wont hang the brids out to dry over one game. We have time off this week and I expect to see everyone play a bit better when we start the meat of our schedule. If they don’t, then I’ll be ready to comment further…..Oh yeah, where was Turner?

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2009
8:07 am

Yes, it could. Kudos!

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2009
8:08 am

The Patriots were bracketing Gonzalez, meaning covering with both a linebacker and a safety. That should have freed other men.

Sarcastic Blogger

September 28th, 2009
8:10 am

Leland makes me feel like I’m an idiot when I read his posts – or do I mean that he’s an idiot? I’m really not sure.

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2009
8:14 am

Leland’s the furthest thing from an idiot. You’ve heard about the sharpest knife in the drawer? Leland might be the sharpest knife.

TP

September 28th, 2009
8:17 am

Yes, it’s only one loss, but I can’t help but be disappointed. Mainly because of the “urgency” I didn’t see either. Personally, rather than sit through all of those 3 and out’s in the second half, I would’ve accepted the risk of throwing an interception knowing that Ryan took some chances down the field.

There was one series in particular where he through the ball out of bounds after rolling left. I mean, come on, you’re down16 points – couldn’t you at least tried to fire the ball in between defenders? I can understand if it were the first quarter or a close game. But it was neither, and the Patriots were doing whatever they wanted on offense.

I still think we win 10 games, but the lack of a healthy pass rush is going to be our downfall this year. If Abraham gets hurt, we may not ever get a sack!

Tuckerboy

September 28th, 2009
8:17 am

Was it me or did The Pats left tackle hold up John Abraham more times than the First National
Bank?????Obviously the league wants to protect pretty boy Brady. Hopefully, Matt Ryan gets the same treatment.

Bat Masterson

September 28th, 2009
8:18 am

Tough loss, but did anyone expect the Falcons to go undefeated. The game was poorly called by the officials, and that is being generous.

RDM

September 28th, 2009
8:21 am

98 should be cut! He’s lazy and takes too many plays off. Also, it looked like Abraham was getting held a bunch. On the play you mention, their lineman was pulling his jersey off.

darrell starks

September 28th, 2009
8:24 am

Bradly thanks for bring that up about jamal as we can see he is not and defense end but he is excellent against the run move him to DT and starte sidbury at DEFENSE END what do you have 2 loose changes must be made.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

September 28th, 2009
8:24 am

Matt Light is the Patriots’ left tackle. He’s an All-Pro. Which means he’s great at holding.

darrell starks

September 28th, 2009
8:29 am

And please no more sorry a$$ CHRIS HOUSTON i hope ty hill will be ready against 49 niners.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!

NCFalconFan

September 28th, 2009
8:32 am

Bradley, what are your thoughts on our Defensive Coordinator? When Smith was hired I envisioned a “Jacksonville like Defense”. Boy was I wrong. I like Smith’s approach of allowing his staff to take charge, but do you see a change there? Smith being more involved with the defense?

T Rock

September 28th, 2009
8:37 am

Did Abraham get held on that last touchdown pass??? Are you kidding me. He had his hand on Brady but was being slow danced by the offensive tackle. That was the most inept officiating crew I have seen since I startedwatching the Falcons in 1966. The Patriots beat us but come on – you have a better chance of getting a call when playing Satan at home in Hell then playing the Patriots in New England!! The refs didn’t beat us but it looked like the NBA, don’t touch Jordan, I mean Brady or Moss.

mountain_jim

September 28th, 2009
8:45 am

Van Gorder learned nothing from the Jet’s attack, and his defensive scheme was a joke pressuring Brady.

Mularky’s game plan was his worst, least imaginative as a Falcon.

Smith punted with 7 minutes left on 4th and 7 down 16, talk about a concession speech. That really ticked me off. We had only one stop all half, and he punts it back?

Worst performance by coaching staff since Quitrino. That’s the first thing they half to fix. Get agressive. Quit relying on a run-based O which no longer works, though they do need to figure out why that is.

Playing not to lose

September 28th, 2009
8:45 am

Patriots kept Falcons in the game but Atlanta played conservative lackluster game. Shouldn’t underdog play aggressively?? If Brady was on, Falcons lose by 35 easy. Pats doing two 4th down conversions in one drive was a slap in the face. When it was Falcons turn to go for a 4th down with 7 mins left, Falcons punt. That was a ridiculous decision.

EDGE

September 28th, 2009
8:46 am

I don’t want to play the what if game, but straight up: if Turner hadn’t of fumbled the ball when we were driving at the end of the half, it would have been a totally different game! I think we score a touchdown there and would have broke the will of the Pats. Brady was already frustrated and using very colorful language on the sideline. A touchdown there would have made them meltdown. I know they say one play doesn’t make a game, but i truly believe one play can change the emotion, motivation, and will of a team. Atl was flat after that fumble!

Anderson

September 28th, 2009
8:48 am

Good points MB!! You are right about Jamal Anderson. His play against the run is why he is still in the starting line-up. He is 6′5 and close to 300 pounds. Maybe inside as a tackle is where he is suited best.

The offense is nowhere near being where they are capable. Michael Turner is avg. 3.5 yard per carry and fumbling. Jerious Norwood has been slowed by injuries and Roddy White is not making big plays. The coaches might want to devise some potentially explosive plays(slants,skinny posts,etc.) for WR Michael Jenkins. He is a better receiver than he is credited for being.

I was disappointed with the conservative play-calling yesterday. I thought they pulled a page out of Lane Kiffin’s playbook when Tenn. played Florida. I don’t understand why they didn’t go for it on fourth down a couple of times. Especially the 4th and 5 when they were at NE’s 38.

The linebacking corps looks to be the strength of the defense. The safety play has been pretty decent. Though Thomas Decoud missed on two good chances for interceptions.

I think the Falcons will be fine. I think they will beat SF on the road and Chicago at home. I’m still predicting a 11-5 record for them this season.

Hercule Poirot

September 28th, 2009
8:54 am

Ah, leland, another triumph to cherish forever!

On the issue of the Falcons, I believe you, Mr. Bradley, have made some very astute points. I offer another … perhaps some seven-inch cleats for Mr. Grimes would make it possible for him to actually make plays rather than watching receivers catch passes way above his head.

FALCONS SORRY

September 28th, 2009
9:00 am

I TOLD YOU WHEN MATTY HOPELESS PLAY A BIG GAME HE WETS THE BED ! HE CAN’T STRETCH THE FIELD CAUSE THAT NOODLE ARM THE FOOTBALL WOBBLE LIKE A DUCK
AND GET INTERCEPTED EVERY TIME!TAKE NOTES ATL DEC 6 THE DAY VICK CRACKS YOUR DOME! FIRST IT WAS DEON SANDERS WHO SAID THIS IS MY HOUSE NOW IT WILL BE #7 THE GREATEST QB TO EVER PLAY IN ATL WHO SAY THIS IS MY HOUSE

Jonnyboy

September 28th, 2009
9:01 am

Coaches need to step it up, The corners are horrible and Decloud needs 1,000 reps from the pitching machine to learn how to catch the football. That missed interception was very big. Come on guys your professionals you get paid to intercept the ball. So do it.
Now having said that I do believe the loss was a true team effort.

PMC

September 28th, 2009
9:02 am

6. Teach Thomas Decoup how to catch. He should be in front of the juggs gun for 2 weeks. Roddy White style tennis ball gloves.

Gritblitzer

September 28th, 2009
9:05 am

Enter your comments here
You’re spot on with all of your comments Mark, but I would add one more. The game planning by the coordinators (on both sides of the ball) has to become both more creative and more fluid within the games in order for this team to progress. VanGorder chose for this defense to “die by a thousand cuts” yesterday rather than at least attempt to dial up some exotic blitzes and/or different looks to try and at least rattle Brady. Brady had time to catch up on some light reading back there. Mularkey had a poor game too. With the shell coverage on Gonzalez all day there should have been some open routes for White and Booker both in the seams and down the sidelines all day.

If you play “not to lose” and to keep it close against the elite teams in the NFL you will lose every Sunday against those same teams.

NCFalconFan

September 28th, 2009
9:05 am

FALCONS SORRY… You are an IDIOT!!!

Elvisinthehouse

September 28th, 2009
9:07 am

Just like i thought,here comes all the excuses from the bird fans.The birds lost fare and square,they just went up against a better team.Until the falcons start playing D or pick up winners on D,THEY WILL GET THE SAME RESULTS AGAINST GOOD TEAMS.The pats had you falcon fans fooled,and i guess the falcons did too.Like i said before,whats the use of having a good offense when you can’t stop nobody on D-fence.The pats aint miami or carolina.Gonzalez got shut down and abe got shut down.Now the other teams can see if you shut down there best player on offence and there best player on D-fence,there NOTHING.THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WHERE!

Jonnyboy

September 28th, 2009
9:08 am

Falcons Sorry,
A newsflash for you. Vick was a great athlete but was know where near a quarterback let alone the greatest ever to play ATL.
I will agree with MR being tentative when playing big time games.

SWAMI

September 28th, 2009
9:08 am

Where to begin.

I predicted a 8-8 season for the birds. Still looks good to me.

I predicted that Roddy Whites case of the dropsies were just in remmission last year. They are back.

Matty Ice is at best an average long ball thrower, and that aspect of his game will never change.The O line gave him plenty of time. Tony G. was open on many occassions but Matty had his mind made up yo go elsewhere.

If you had told me before the game that the birds would not blitz on every other play, I would have predited a 40 point victory for NE. If the Pats receivers had been half-way decent it would have been a 40 pt victory. BVG is waaaay too conservative and is too stubborn or too dumb to make in-game adjustments. True that our dbacks get torched often in 1-on-1 coverage, but giving Brady all day to throw is just giving the game away.

Mike Mularkey is well aware of Ryan’s shortcomings and calls plays accordingly (very few longballs). Quick screens or reverses to R. White will NEVER work. He is not that kind of a runner. He is OK at full speed but is incapable of making a defender miss in close quarters.

Mike Peterson was exposed as being old and slow. He is still better than that guy on Dallas. Nicholas is young and slow.

We all know about the dbacks…ptooooie

Mike Smith has no cajones. He knows the quality of his team is somewhat lacking and is resigned to a mediocre middle of the road season. He is playing to survive and possibly get lucky, not to win. He is not a risk-taker and never will be. It is not his nature. Playing conservatively will get you exactly what we are getting; hangin in there with mediocre teams with a chance to get lucky and getting beat by goood teams.

It is what it is, EIGHT AND EIGHT!!!!

PS. It seems that the refs are getting worse and worse. There must be MORE and IMMEDIATE accountability for them.

David

September 28th, 2009
9:09 am

Thing we have to do:

-Roddy White is being paid like a big time receiver. It’s time he starts acting like one. Make big plays, get touchdowns, earn your paycheck.

-Like Mark said: Attack down field. I can’t imagine the loss of Harry Douglas has rendered us useless in downfield attacks. Mularkey needs to open the playbook, or any defense will be able to Cover 2 us to death.

-Michael Turner needs to stop tip-toeing around the line of scrimmage. Get the ball and run forward. Too much dancing around waiting for holes to open up isn’t helping him out any.

-Can someone other than John Abraham please come to the Falcons next game? The defensive line is absolutely atrocious. For all the people whining about Houston and the secondary, I’ll tell you this: You could have Namdi Asamauogh (spelling?), and Darelle Revis as your corners, Ed Reed as your FS, and Troy Polomalu as your SS… it wouldn’t matter with the time we give them to throw. If a DT can’t stop the run, and ends can’t put pressure on the quarterback, it’s going to be a long year on defense.

-Someone on the defensive line, please show up. Did I already say that? Our season hinges on if our defense gets more pressure, plain and simple. Teams will start doubling Abe every single down; and as Mark said, move Jamaal Anderson to the DT spot. (PS: Went back through the draft…. we passed on Pat Willis to get him. That just hurts.)

bugman

September 28th, 2009
9:12 am

I can add a 6th:

Scheme to your strengths.

I was dumbfounded watching both units totally in awe of being in electric shaver stadium. That screams preparation, of which it was apparent the Falcons staff blew it.

Poorly devised rush for the pass (anyone see a stunt all day? Bueller?).

Sporadic blitzes.

ZERO intensity.

I don’t believe NE won yesterday, I’m certain the Berdz lost.

David

September 28th, 2009
9:14 am

Mark,

Your feeling on the play where they said Ryan fumble. You’ve watched a lot more football than me. I’m 26, though, have been watching football since I was kid, but have had a very firm grasp on football since about the time I was 13 or 14. In those 12 or 13 years, I’m sure I’ve ever seen a worse call in my life. I was absolutely amazed that five different refs couldn’t spot that Ryan threw the ball.

At what point are you Roger Goddell looking at your officiating crews, and you simply ask them, “How in the heck did you miss that?”

I’d be concerned if I put the same five guys out there next week, having missed a play that everyone on TV, everyone in the stands, everyone on the sidelines and everyone in the booth saw very clearly.

Gritblitzer

September 28th, 2009
9:15 am

FALCONS SORRY huh?

I’m sorry that your parents ever met.

Jonnyboy

September 28th, 2009
9:15 am

Elivis quit screaming we can hear you. Who is making excuses? Most are saying how poorly the team played and that there are holes. I think that is just what you were says. I think you are who we thought you where. (rolling eyes insert)

Brent

September 28th, 2009
9:15 am

What was up with the Jenkins push off? Had his jersey had Moss on the back, it would have been 6 points. Our D line cost us that game. They never came close to Brady and that was the difference.

PMC

September 28th, 2009
9:23 am

I’ll still take 2-1 headed to the bye week. It’s one game. One loss. They still haven’t really put toegther a good game on offense. They don’t have a lot of bullets on defense. Field Goals are stops… The Falcon offense cannot sputter and die or Turner the ball over like they have the past two weeks.

This is a pretty good team. They are still fun to watch they are still getting better. We have great pieces on offense who are still coming toegther and BVG is getting the most out of what he’s got to work with on D. They just can’t give second chances with turnovers like they did yesterday several times. Biermann and Sidberry have to play more.

We’re not 0-3 we’re 2-1 and 1-0 in the NFC.

Jamaal Anderson is Aundre Bruce. He is an abomination of a draft pick. Could have had Patrick Willis could have had Okoye… I don’t care if he plays the run well. His paycheck should come with a dye pack.

All is not lost. Just be patient.

Falcons73

September 28th, 2009
9:27 am

Mark, you also forgot pay off the officials before a “must win game”…seems like it worked out well for New England.

DePlane

September 28th, 2009
9:40 am

I submit that the team took a step backwards against the Pats. I was surprised by the lack of blitz’s and even more surprised at the very poor play calling by MM. You don’t go into Foxboro hoping to fool such a well coached team with plain vanilla. They had NOTHING for them.

Oh well, it was the Pats. Losing to them is acceptable…but not the way we lost. We get two weeks to lick our wounds and hopefully we’ll see some new looks when they come back.

Singletary

September 28th, 2009
9:40 am

I wanted to say, “this is not the team they thought they were.” But I think the real take-away thought is they didn’t recover or implement a new game plan . To use Mike Singletary’s words, the’ve got two weeks to chew on this one.”

Blue Fender

September 28th, 2009
9:43 am

It was obvious that the officials were biased by New England’s “greatness”. The calls on the Falcons and the non-calls on the Patriots were very unbalanced. I’m aware that not every call will be correct due to human nature, but come on!

Of course, leaving your cajones at home doesn’t help. Coach Smith, how can you punt with that much time on the clock down by two scores? If you want to just give up, what message does that say about the process?

AlternateReality

September 28th, 2009
9:45 am

One of the benefits of signing Gonzales was that he would draw double coverage (which he did), opening up the field for the wide receivers. But with the exception of Jenkins, it didn’t look like anyone was getting open deep, so I’m not sure it’s entirely Ryan’s fault that he kept throwing short.

At the same time, it looked to me like Ryan was in a hurry to get rid of the ball. Don’t know if that was the plan or if he was hearing footsteps.

MikeFromPhilly

September 28th, 2009
9:46 am

Y’all cut FALCONS SORRY some slack. His boy just set the single game rushing record for ex-convict QBs with 7 yards.

jam

September 28th, 2009
9:46 am

The falcon’s cant throw the ball because they cant run the ball, and our golden boy Matt can’t stretch a play so he throws the ball away rather than trying to make a play (when your already down).

Crawdad

September 28th, 2009
9:47 am

Boy we got out coached, behind 2 scores in opponents field 4th down got the momentum, and PUNT!!!. sisters of the poor can get 3 yard pass with
the caliber receivers we got. NE controlled the line cain’t let that happen, Coach Smith lost his cool a time or two. Lets regroup and work the weak areas and be ready next game. Crawdad

nhe

September 28th, 2009
9:49 am

Even though I’m a baseball fan, it was still very sad for me that the 9th inning of the Braves game at DC was more compelling than the 4th quarter of the Falcons game in NE (both happening at the same time). Who woulda thunk that a week ago??

It seemed like our coaches were under some kind of Bellicek spell throughout the game. I’ve never seen Smitty get out-coached like that.

It was crystal clear that Bellicek was content to take what the Falcons D gave him. Dink and dunk and run down the field and keep the Falcons offense off.

Smitty, you gotta take some chances on D. Don’t be afraid to use the Jets D as a blueprint – that blueprint works! Take Risks!……….sheez.

I can’t fault Mularky too much, because the Falcons “O” is based on rhythm…….when you only have the ball for 20 mins, there’s no rhythm to be found.

SWAMI

September 28th, 2009
9:56 am

Looking for “rhythm” from Matty Ice is like looking for “touch” from MV7.

eric

September 28th, 2009
9:58 am

The offensive interference call and the Ryan “fumble” were two of the worst calls I have seen in the NFL since they came out with the “tuck rule” (anybody EVER figured that one out yet???). The Jenkins TD puts us up 17-16 and changes the entire complexion of the game. We were definitely slugging it out with them to that point and really for the whole first half.

Now the 2nd half, the championship half, we looked like a HS team out there. After the Jets banged, bruised, and hurried Brady all day last week, we let him sit back, have a sip of mocha latte, peruse the local sports section, then calmly fire the ball off. Something, anything MUST be done on the D-line.

Other lowlights include MR and Smith’s conservatism to a fault. Sometimes you just have to risk an INT if the alternative is giving the ball back to a team you can’t stop anyway. Down 16 points in the 4th quarter, every drive is 4-down territory when you are on their side of the field. Drops kill you on offense, but not as much as fumbles deep in your opponent’s territory (Turner).

There is alot of blame to spread around but if you just throw out the sorry second half “effort”, the Birds looked fairly good in the first half against a championship team.

Mike in NH

September 28th, 2009
10:05 am

Some of that loss was coaching – How do you take a delay of game penalty coming back from a challenge?

Very quick and ill advised challenge of the down by contact (announced by the ref at the game as forward progress) Why not take more time to give the guys upstairs time to see it was clearly the right call, thus wasting a time out.

MalibuGT

September 28th, 2009
10:07 am

we had a tough loss to Tampa Bay early last year where we just didn’t seem to muster enough energy to accomplish anything. We bounced back ok. It was discouraging to see how much Jerry’s absence affected our run defense.

I have never seen a worse call in an NFL game than the Matt Ryan fumble. As if there is any doubt where the tuck rule, etc. come from. The league loves its marquee team…

Daniel

September 28th, 2009
10:09 am

Nobody is going to win all their games this year. No need to over react.
I like your idea of moving Jammal and giving Sidbury a try.
But, Mark… Getting Jerious involved?? Get more Urgent??
That is some master of the obvious stuff right there. Really, we need to get our injured change of pace back back on the field? Wow, hope Mike Smith is reading this.
If those pass for legit suggestions, then I can trump them all.
The Falcons need to play better and win.
Yes, I am that brilliant.