The Falcons were Vick-timized, but mostly they’re just vexed

The Eagles didn't need him to win. The Falcons need everything. (AP photo)

Michael Vick had his moments, but they weren't key. (AP photo)

“Disappointing and embarrassing,” was how Arthur Blank put it, and such was the overstuffed nature of the day a listener felt moved to ask: Which part? “The performance,” Blank said.

And the the Michael Vick aspect? Blank all but waved that away, saying, “I thought the reaction was mixed. A lot of people are happy to see him back in the NFL, and to see him have success … the reaction certainly was understandable.”

What Vick did Sunday was stimulating but inessential. He scored a touchdown to make it 20-0 and threw for another to make it 34-7. And some Falcons fans indeed cheered his deeds, but it must be noted there were a slew of Eagles fans in the Dome and they’d have saluted Kevin Kolb with much the same gusto.

No matter how it seemed on TV, Vick’s sort of homecoming commanded no consensus. He drew more boos than cheers when he made his first appearance, and even after the two touchdowns this was not — no matter how the national media might portray it — a case of every single Falcons supporter changing sides. The majority came ready to support the home team, but the home team did nothing to hold up its end.

The Falcons were beaten 34-7 in a game with massive playoff ramifications, and they needed a deflected touchdown pass at the final horn  to make it that close. Put simply, the 2009 Falcons looked no better than the 1989 Falcons. They looked like a team falling to pieces. Which they pretty much are.

The team that changed five defensive starters over the offseason was forced by injury to change five offensive starters in one week. “We will not make excuses,” Mike Smith said, and a team might well bite the bullet if it’s down a man or two. But  down five?

Wasn’t it unrealistic to expect a high-level showing from an offense at half-strength? “Yeah,” said linebacker Michael Peterson, but then he backpedaled. “Not really. Guys have to come in and perform.”

The Falcons, sad to say, have run out of guys. If they get enough men back within the next couple of weeks, the forever-sought second consecutive winning season might still occur. But the playoffs? That ship is steaming out of sight.

What happened Sunday wasn’t a repudiation of the post-Vick design but a grim reminder that an NFL team is only as robust as its health. “Both parties have moved on,” Vick said afterward. “They have a franchise quarterback and they’re putting people around him, and they’re going to continue to make strides. And I’m going to do the same.”

Alas, the franchise quarterback has turf toe. The franchise back has a twice-sprained ankle. At least three starting offensive linemen are injured. The team lost badly Sunday because it lacked the manpower to do any better. Sometimes it’s not who wants it more. Sometimes it’s who has more healthy bodies.

Said Blank: “The team didn’t play up to the level of our expectations. That’s not what Falcons football is about.”

The latest installment of the Michael Vick Experience was a one-shot deal. He won’t be back anytime soon. The Falcons have another game next week, and then the next, and then two more after that. And for all the expressions of embarrassment — Peterson said he was so abashed “it hurts to do this interview” — there wasn’t a real alternative. You need good players to play well. Too many of the Falcons’ good players didn’t play Sunday.

As galling as the score might have been, the game itself was an accurate reflection of relative worth. The Eagles are so stacked they have three quarterbacks better than Chris Redman. The final month can be reduced to this: Either the Falcons get healthy or they keep getting beat. And right now you wouldn’t bet on recuperation.

212 comments Add your comment

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:04 pm

first again!

heywood

December 6th, 2009
6:04 pm

heywood

December 6th, 2009
6:04 pm

get a life, willie.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:06 pm

heywood, didnt you get another name for the blog?

william cranman

December 6th, 2009
6:07 pm

Such a loser for saying this….first?

heywood

December 6th, 2009
6:07 pm

had to ditch jablomey

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 6th, 2009
6:07 pm

Were the Falcons worried JPW would lose eligibilty if he got into the game?

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:08 pm

i have never seen such a poor defensive performance in my life.

van gorder needs to resign, right now.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
6:08 pm

OK, the ground rules: I’m going to leave this open for commenting until I can drive home. But if too much objectionable content gets posted — and things got pretty objectionable late on the live chat — I’ll shut off commenting. I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I finally closed that one, which makes four Falcons posts I’ve closed in the past two weeks.

So please: Keep it clean. Thanking you again.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:09 pm

i’d stick with heywood too.

Philly Girl

December 6th, 2009
6:09 pm

FalconUGAFan

December 6th, 2009
6:09 pm

Munz

December 6th, 2009
6:09 pm

What a disgraceful performance. Mark, you cannot blame that on a simple lack of healthy bodies. We still put up no fight, and the game was never in question. Absolutely awful and you should be calling them out more than this. Disgraceful.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 6th, 2009
6:11 pm

Falcons, by early remodeling design are thin on both lines and elsewhere.

Demi’s grand scheme hopefully will rectify this.

Jimmy

December 6th, 2009
6:11 pm

I know this has been a tough year for our team.
It’s been a tough year for the fans too.
After today’s showing…I’m feeling pretty low.
We all have been hoping to beat that curse.
Unless we find a way to move the ball, that hope is dashed too.
Our players have been working hard.
It’s hard to overcome the loss of so many starters.
We didn’t have that much depth to begin with.
Yes, I’m feeling low.

scott

December 6th, 2009
6:14 pm

At this point I will just be happy with 9-7 and a winning season, there is no way the Falcons are going to beat the Saints. MV7 will be a starting QB for some team this time next year.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:14 pm

says Mark keep the blog clean
no need for folks to be mean
sure the team stank
i told that to blank
and left for my driving machine

ATLfan15

December 6th, 2009
6:15 pm

The Falcons just played so poorly. VanGorder needs to be let go….now.

Could care less about Vick; his impact on the game was minimal at best. Even if he hadn’t scored two TDs, the Eagles would have still won the game.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:15 pm

Jimmy, there are hotlines you can call when you feel this way. i’ve called ‘em all. willie

Jimmy

December 6th, 2009
6:17 pm

Munz:
Our players just aren’t good enough.
It was not about “fight” at all.
We were outmanned.
Our STARTING defense has been outmanned since preseason.
That secondary and defensive line are both substandard.
With so many offensive starters out, I don’t see how we will win another game this year.
We looked weak because we are.
I’m ready to start trade talk.

JTH

December 6th, 2009
6:18 pm

It’s not over yet! 9-7, even 10-6 and a playoff spot is still doable.

As for Redman, one loss with one week of prep as the starter doesnt mean anything. I would still start him again if Ryan isnt ready. More concerning is Norwood’s disappearance. He must still be hurting, hopefully Turner is ready to go next week.

For those saying the Falcons have no chance against N.O. have no clue what they are talking about. Records and talent level means nothing when these two play. History proves this.

If you’ve given up, then leave. You’re not needed or wanted. Guaranteed Dimitof, Smith, and the players havent quit. Go troll elsewhere.

Go Falcons!

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:18 pm

asking a blank to clarify disapointing and embarrasing is like phrasing a question “who is uglier, your mother or sister”.. comeone mark.

Pete

December 6th, 2009
6:18 pm

Sunday’s game looked like Alabama (Eagles) playing The Citadel(lowly Falcons).
Beyond pathetic.

The Dogfighter Returns

December 6th, 2009
6:20 pm

where is sonny clusters? we want sonny clusters.

Don't deserve this

December 6th, 2009
6:20 pm

Sad, Falcon fans deserve better than this. We won’t have b2b winning seasons this year and we won’t for a while unless some changes are made. Mularkey and Van Gorder have to go, they’re not playoff quality coordinators. Game after game Mike Smith starts to remind me of another flash in the pan like buddy boy out there in Seattle.

This was one of the worse losses in Atlanta Falcon history, a very dark day for our franchise.

Mike Hunt

December 6th, 2009
6:21 pm

Same old falcons…they stink. Fast forward 20 years or rewind 20 years. It’s all the same for this franchise. Crap.

green giant

December 6th, 2009
6:21 pm

Did anyone else besides me not have any audio on the TV broadcast? By that I mean, background noise and field noise, but no play by play. That was weird. And oh yeah, the Falcons stunk.

pigpen

December 6th, 2009
6:24 pm

So much for breaking the hex. I will be amazed if the Falcons finish 500. Redmond has a hard time getting past the line of scrimmage, but who can balme him when it looks like a jail break as soon as he snaps the ball. Norwood is a trooper but the man is not an NFL running back. Look at him hard enough and he falls down. Spread him out wide and try and utilize his speed in space.

I don’t think you can blame Van Gorder as much as the offense, the D had to be burned out from being on the field all day. The O line couldn’t stop me anf 3 of my neighbors much less the Iggles.

I hope Atlanta has a good foundation in place, because they need a major O line and D line overhaul.

GDog

December 6th, 2009
6:24 pm

Until I see otherwise I’ve got to believe the Falcon franchise is snakebit. Just like Deion, MV7 gave us so many great plays when he was here….I’m glad he is getting a second chance…However, I did not cheer for him during the game…didn’t boo either. To me the team is bigger than the individual. Despite what MV7 or Deion think, they are not bigger than the franchise and they do not “own” the Dome. The team does. On this return visit, just like Mr. Sanders, he left the franchise with egg on its face. You see, the way you prevent this from happening is to develop a winning tradition and play with heart in big games like today’s game. Despite what people are saying, the game was a referendum for the Falcon Franchise. A loss would have been understandable, but we did not even compete. We never had a chance. To look at a class organization, look at how the Packers handled Farve coming home. They lost and the crowd reaction was very similar…but no one, including Farve would dare say they “built” Lambeau field…and the Packers, unlike the Falcons, played with heart in defeat.

JSS

December 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

Interesting ground rules, lets see if people are adult enough to elevate the tone of the conversation?

Mr. Bradley, most true Falcon fans and observers remember Dan Hennings’ 1989 squad. Do you truly equate the meltdown today with the train wreck that was that team? Was the locker room that disheartened? And since we were not privy to the questioning; just how emotional was Arthur Blank?

Safe journeys…

P.S. IlliniDawg and others… Mr. Bradley closed commenting before I could readdress your statements (not questions). Not being adversarial.

bp

December 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

same ol same ol

Jimmy

December 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

JTH:
Wish I had your optimism.

bandwagon fan

December 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

i understand cheering for your favorite player but cheering against your team is just messed up. the man broke the law, he is a felon, no one made him do it. he bankrolled an illegal operation!!!! he was the leader of a dog killing enterprise. HE FLICKED U OFF IN THE STANDS!!! yet u still love him?? WTF

paul

December 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

I love it. I wish Vick would come back to ATL but I think he would be awesome in Minn next year. I’m over what happened. He is changed for the positive. He is speaking to kids like him that could be sucked into the underground dogfighting world. He is telling them don’t do it. That is pretty great.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
6:26 pm

snake bit forever.

col. Kurtz

December 6th, 2009
6:26 pm

You’re right it almost looked like the 89 Falcons or the 99 or the 07 Falcons or how about the same old Falcons. Once I even thought I seen Petrino on the sidelines today. A pathetic effort. Playoffs out of reach. Now we are playing to break the back to back curse. Ho hum–maybe next year, what else is new.

Carlita

December 6th, 2009
6:26 pm

I couldn’t believe all the cheering for Vick on his first TD! That was just wrong! Fine to like him and wish him well even, but to cheer for him and his team when they are the opposition at the DOME in a game with playoff implications??!! I don’t understand that! Whatever happened to supporting the home team (Most fans do, but enough don’t that it’s noticeable and really sad!! Shame on all you fans today wearing Falcon’s jerseys who were applauding a former Falcon–who, btw, really let the team and the city down with his illegal, brutal activities!! >:-( Booooo!

paul

December 6th, 2009
6:27 pm

Oh No! not the middle finger… my little feelings are so hurt…

The Dogfighter Returns

December 6th, 2009
6:27 pm

Sad, Falcon fans deserve better than this. We won’t have b2b winning seasons this year and we won’t for a while unless some changes are made. Mularkey and Van Gorder have to go, they’re not playoff quality coordinators. Game after game Mike Smith starts to remind me of another flash in the pan like buddy boy out there in Seattle.

This was one of the worse losses in Atlanta Falcon history, a very dark day for our franchise.
—-
blame arthur. he likes yes men. he can’t stand strong willed leaders like parcells and reeves.

Disgusted

December 6th, 2009
6:28 pm

I have not been impressed with Van Gorder all year.Maybe Mike should bring in his brother and law Billick to run the defense.

NCFalconFan

December 6th, 2009
6:29 pm

We will be home this year for the playoffs. All I’m asking for is back to back winning seasons (and the Saints to lose). We have to look at the defensive side of the ball and a capable backup QB in the off season. Van Gorder and Emmitt Thomas (Secondary Coach) should be out!!! Don’t want to hear about building through the draft. Dimitroff better make some calls this offseason for defense. I am only giving Norwood and Snelling a pass because our OL is banged up. I was hoping Norwood to show the Falcons coaching staff that he is worhthy to get the ball more, but he was disappointing.

Don't deserve this

December 6th, 2009
6:29 pm

It is hard to not have a pessimistic attitude towards the rest of the season. For those that are still optimistic about the season, what a way to keep your head up.

Crag M.

December 6th, 2009
6:29 pm

Seems like we are jinxed. Unbelievable how many key guys have gone down. Our 1st and 2nd rd. picks, our star QB and RB. Our veteran corner. Incredible.

This year is a wash. But you gotta like us next year. We’ll be adding a healthy Peria Jerry and William Moore, plus some pretty high draft picks and free agents, with pretty much all of our key guys locked down.

Jimmy

December 6th, 2009
6:30 pm

I don’t know if the team is like that one from 1989.
I know I sure feel like a fan from that year.
It is so dissappointing to feel this way again.

Shaun M.

December 6th, 2009
6:30 pm

Mr. Bradley I don’t know what game you were at, but there was definitely a lot of cheers for Vick. The cheers were so loud they turned the music on to drown them out. Almost the whole Dome was chanting “We want Vick”!

Joe Falcon

December 6th, 2009
6:30 pm

I can’t believe all these fair weather fans. How could you cheer for the opposite team. There were fans in the Georgia Dome actually cheering for the Eagles to score. I don’t care how many years Vick played here in Atlanta, I would never ever cheer for the opposite team. All you fans that did cheer, you should never attend and/or cheer for any Falcon team.

SilverFox

December 6th, 2009
6:30 pm

Absolutely pathetic performance all around. Redman could not hit the inside of a barn with a shotgun, no blocking, no tackling, no pass routes, no nothing. And to think these guys get paid for this garbage. Losing is not bad when you show a little class and play hard. Not happening with this bunch…….again

The Dogfighter Returns

December 6th, 2009
6:31 pm

I couldn’t believe all the cheering for Vick on his first TD! That was just wrong! Fine to like him and wish him well even, but to cheer for him and his team when they are the opposition at the DOME in a game with playoff implications??!! I don’t understand that! Whatever happened to supporting the home team (Most fans do, but enough don’t that it’s noticeable and really sad!! Shame on all you fans today wearing Falcon’s jerseys who were applauding a former Falcon–who, btw, really let the team and the city down with his illegal, brutal activities!! >:-( Booooo!
—–
unless you paid for their tickets you should mind your own business. Why are you not talking about the lousy performance of the team?

The APD should arrest the whole team for impersonating an NFL team today. The fans were defrauded in broad daylight.

Danny

December 6th, 2009
6:32 pm

seems as if Vick gets more support than Matt Ryan. Wonder how that makes Matty feel??

TCCB

December 6th, 2009
6:32 pm

Mark,I really like the way that you do what you do. I need to say this to ” ALL ” of the anti-VICK people that talk all season long about the way That the Eagles Kept Mike on the Bench, you called him All kinds of nasty names, and did not have one forgiving word to say. THE HUNT IS ON. MR. BLANK THIS POST GOES TO YOU: GET YOURSELF A NEW COACH!!!!! I AGREE WITH YOU CHOKE; VICK SELL TICKETS. BLANK GO GET HIM FAST!!!!!! HE MADE A MISTAKE ,HE PAID FOR THAT MISTAKE, AND LIFE GOES ON GOD HAS BLESSED MIKE WITH A TALENT THAT CAN NOT BE DENIED AND THE PEOPLE OF ATLANTA LOVE HIM, AND THAT WAS PROVEN TODAY.