The Falcons’ bye, the run defense and Abe’s honest effort

The un-blockable John Abraham slams Carson Palmer. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The "un-blockable" John Abraham slams into Carson Palmer. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Note: This post is an adjunct to the game column off the Falcons’ 23-20 victory over Oakland, which can be found here.

1. The Falcons’ bye week comes at a propitious moment. They’re 6-0 and riding high, and after three fourth-quarter escapes they’re getting the feeling they can win without playing their best. They need to disabuse themselves of that notion posthaste, and having a week away from football might serve as a reality check. If not, the guess is that Mike Smith will remind them that these past three games could easily have been lost when the team reconvenes next week in Flowery Branch.

2. The run defense is getting offensive, as it were. The Falcons ranked 28th among 32 NFL clubs in rushing defense entering Sunday’s game, and the Raiders, possessors of the league’s lowest-ranked running attack, ground out 149 yards. If that’s not a red flag, then Betsy Ross wasn’t a seamstress. Particularly galling was backup tailback Michael Goodson’s 43-yard burst to the Falcons’ 47 in a tie game with 5:41 remaining. Thanks to Asante Samuel, the Raiders didn’t score on the possession, but still.

3. If you have to have a one-man pass rush, John Abraham is the one man to have. He had three sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Offensive tackle Willie Smith, charged with trying to stop Abraham, was called for holding three times. The Raiders were flagged 13 times — 12 of those penalties were accepted — and five of those calls were holding against Raider linemen. Said Mike Smith of Abraham: “He was un-blockable.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering, “Where’s the Monday morning Heat Check?” … it’s right here.

Further reading: The Falcons are 6-0, but certain other numbers don’t add up.

By Mark Bradley

109 comments Add your comment

[...] further reading: Here are three other observations regarding the Falcons’ 23-20 victory over [...]

Rickyroo

October 15th, 2012
8:03 am

Jamaaliver

October 15th, 2012
8:16 am

Mark, are you of the opinion that the struggles in the run game are more scheme and coaching? Tune had 5 carries for 25 yards the half Sunday. Not nearly enough carries. Koetter is looking more and more like Mike Martz every Sunday.

C from Marietta

October 15th, 2012
8:18 am

The Falcons are first in the only stat that matters. WINS!
My coach in college use to say statistics are for losers.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2012
8:20 am

Kudos, Rickyroo.

Blue Fender

October 15th, 2012
8:20 am

If we don’t get the running game going, we’re in serious trouble!

falCANS

October 15th, 2012
8:32 am

Yea Turner was off to real good start and instead of letting him gain momentum and rhythm we totally neglected him. Oh yea Akeem Dent sucks

Same old, same old...

October 15th, 2012
8:42 am

…First down at the two following a HUGE play, and the Birds lose yardage and cannot score a TD and have to settle for yet another field goal! And this situation is what doomed them last year and is supposed to be what the concentrated on alleviating during the off season and pre-season!

6-0 is great, but, as we all know, miracles can’t last forever, though they have been quite prevalent the last 3 weeks…

nbrdrdnk

October 15th, 2012
8:44 am

In 7 weeks the Falcons could easily be 6-6. Just sayin’…

Jacket Detective

October 15th, 2012
8:49 am

What did the Saints pay to get our linebacker?
Why didn’t we match the offer?

yeahsure

October 15th, 2012
8:49 am

In 7 weeks the Falcons could easily be 12-0. Just sayin’…

Sid

October 15th, 2012
8:53 am

mixed feelings:

on the one hand Ws are Ws & football ain’t figure skating: no points for artistic impression…

on the other hand the tackling yesterday looked like Tech – no, scratch that, it looked like WALTON!

on the 3rd hand how cool is it that we’re complaining about/dissecting HOW the Falcons got to 6-0 going into 1st bye? 5 years ago this would have been considered irrefutable proof of an omnipotent deity or confirmation of the coming Mayan apocalypse… great job all the way up & down the organization!

Rickyroo

October 15th, 2012
8:56 am

Well, my life is complete–except for that retirement plan thing. Falcons have issues, but it is nice to have such a lead on the division and a 6-0 start. Eventually, this will all be judged by the post season. As a long time fan, it is nice to be using playoff performance as your criteria for success or failure.

Jacket Detective

October 15th, 2012
8:56 am

The NY Giants just destroyed the SF 49ers.
Remember the beatdown they put on us on the way to their championship.
Why would a playoff game with them be any different this year?
And the Packers destroyed another team not as good as their record (like us): The Houston Texans.
Are we on the same level as the Giants and Packers?
Dream on.

Jacket Detective

October 15th, 2012
8:59 am

Week 6 in the NFL was statement week.
The Giants and Packers made them.
We didn’t.
The lowly Raiders were kicking our butts before Asanta Samuel saved us.

Fan since 66

October 15th, 2012
9:00 am

While it’s wonderful to be 6-0, the last 3 wins haven’t been very pretty. I think the main problem in stopping the run may be as simple as wrapping up the runner. Several times I saw the Falcons hit the runner hard, but bounce off and the runner continued for more yards. I think the Falcons are going to get the reputation as the hardest hitting team in the league, but they have to finish the tackle. I’m sure CMS sees the same thing and will address it. MR2 was uncharacteristically off target for a good portion of the game. Hopefully, that’s just a one game deal. All in all, a great way to enter the bye week, 6-0! That’s just about the best record in the whole danged league…wait a minute…it IS the best record in the whole danged league! Go Falcons!

yeahsure

October 15th, 2012
9:00 am

Look at every other team in the league. They have losses, many times to inferior teams. Falcons have had bad games but they won those games. That is the difference.

No team in the NFL is the 2007 Patriots. This isn’t madden. All teams have to fight for wins. That’s what Falcons did and they have time to improve as well.

This upcoming game against Philly could potentially be epic. In the sense that, we have a chance to get MV7 benched and end his career in Philly. Let’s make it happen. He owe it to him.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

yeahsure

October 15th, 2012
9:09 am

What a bunch of whiners. How you play in week 6 does not affect how you play in week 18. Only win and losses matter. Dallas made a “statement” in week 1 by beating the Giants. Niners made a statement in the same week by beating the Packers. Seahawks beat the Patriots. SO WHAT!!

Ivan

October 15th, 2012
9:18 am

“Are we on the same level as the Giants and Packers?”

Yes. Next question….

yeahsure

October 15th, 2012
9:23 am

“Are we on the same level as the Giants and Packers?”

No. We currently have the top seed in the NFC.

GT Fan

October 15th, 2012
9:24 am

I don’t feel doom and gloom at all.

Say what you want, but the Raiders were coming off a bye week and anytime and NFL team has 2 weeks to get ready, they are going to give you their bestest of their best shot. Especially after physical game played by the Redskins and Panther the previous weeks.

The NFL is a funny league in that any given Sunday any team can win. Games are won on the scoreboard. What happens from 1st quarter to the end of 4th quarter doesn’t matter so long as at the end you have more points.

I’ll take what the Falcons have done and I don’t see anything wrong with it. All teams have problems. It’s something you play through. Find a way to win. That’s the mark of a championship team.

Ben

October 15th, 2012
9:36 am

Dungy was just on the Dan Patrick Show and he compared this Falcons team to his Colts Super Bowl team.

AzCat

October 15th, 2012
9:45 am

I’m sure some moron will now post that Tony Dungy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Monkey's can ask questions now?

October 15th, 2012
9:47 am

@yeahsure

Dunce.

Mike FR

October 15th, 2012
9:48 am

6-0 baby! Rise up!

So what if our last 3 wins have been all but pretty? I’d take a sloppy win over a beautiful loss any day. I don’t mind if Ryan is not tossing 4td performances every week (I do care for the ints) as long as at the end we are the team with more points on the board.

Any team can win any day…who was picking the giants to win over san fran? or seattle over the pats? bills over cards? .. Come playoff time, the only thing that will matter is how many w and l you have, not how well did you won ..I’ll take 16 horrible wins thank you very much

sam

October 15th, 2012
9:50 am

I’m seeing the glass as half full here. We’re not playing our best football and we’re still 6 – 0. The bye week should help us focus on the things that need shoring up. And remember, you want to be playing your best football in December and January.

phil

October 15th, 2012
9:51 am

What’s concerning? The inevitable collapse…..

This IS the Falcons.

This IS an Atlanta sports team.

Let’s get real and keep it all in context.

Ryder

October 15th, 2012
9:51 am

In the end it really comes down to the defense and how well they play going forward. If they can continue to pressure the QB (yes, it was Oakland but still…) then that will go a long way towards determining their success. Remember, the year Peyton Manning won his only title it wasn’t because their offense was light years ahead of everyone, it was because their defense stepped up to the plate. The line must get a consistent pass rush like they did yesterday if they plan on beating an Aaron Rodgers or Eli Manning or Jay Cutler in January.

phil

October 15th, 2012
9:52 am

Dungy is developing dementia…..

Jamaaliver

October 15th, 2012
9:55 am

Your screen name is Hurtful…but Mike Turner avg 5 yards per carry in the first half of a close game when our QB had 3 picks. Perfect time to lean more on Turner and Quizz. No reason we need a 3 to 1 pass to run ratio every single week.

longtimefan

October 15th, 2012
9:56 am

Here we are at 6-0, the only undefeated team in the NFL and our fan base tries to come up with reasons why we aren’t elite. As a famous coach said once, you are good as your record says you are. Case closed.

Rabid Bird

October 15th, 2012
9:57 am

I LOVE the Falcons! However this team is beginning to look eerily similiar to the Dan Fouts Chargers. Heavy on the tight end and no running game. Their stats looked good but they never got to the Super Bowl. Smith and the gang must develop new schemes to eat some clock and pound the ball once the weather is cold. Else, we might not see any difference in the postseason. Additionally, the run defense is cause for great concern. The coaches must do a better job of preparing a game plan that gives the team the best chance to win. I haven’t seen that yet. Let’s see what happens after the bye. Perhaps they need a painful loss to regain the sense of urgency.

ImGumbyD**MIT

October 15th, 2012
9:58 am

RIse up! I know at some point they will get beat, all I ask is not to lose their first game to the Eagles or Saints.

Rollo Lawson

October 15th, 2012
9:59 am

When will Corey Peters make it back? Maybe he can help the run defense. We should have stuck with running the ball. Turner looked good on his first couple of runs. Then Koetter abandoned it. I don’t blame Turner for being pi$$*d off. I was too. Koetter seemed determined to make Matt Ryan “the show” yesterday. His gameplan almost backfired big time.

Ted M

October 15th, 2012
10:00 am

If the Falcons could run the ball themselves their run defense would improve too. They got hammered on time of possession yesterday.

Not being able to run the ball is gonna haunt them in the playoffs.

Rollo Lawson

October 15th, 2012
10:01 am

When will Corey Peters make it back? Maybe he can help the run defense. We should have stuck with running the ball. Turner looked good on his first couple of runs. Then Koetter abandoned it. I don’t blame Turner for being pi$$*d off. I was too. Koetter seemed determined to make Matt Ryan “the show” yesterday. His gameplan almost backfired big time. Also, bench Garrett Reynilds!

shannyeight

October 15th, 2012
10:02 am

Great win for the Falcons, but they really do need to tighten up the run defense…that is a concern, because most teams are going to attack that achilles heel.I do feel in this later part of the season, they need to address the run more,keep defenses honest- dont just come out slingin the ball..plus, if you build a lead and the run game is effective, it grinds out the clock.

Yeah, I was groaning over the goal line 3 and out..they need to get better effort in the red zone. Samuel also needs to stop playin way off these receivers…dude doesnt have the closing speed he used to have, and cant make the plays he used to.

D man

October 15th, 2012
10:06 am

Great start to the season. We have a two game lead on home field advantage. The defense seemed to change the way we are defending the last couple of games. We are not blitzing like we were and we are not playing bump and run on the wide outs. They had too many third down conversions when we had them third and long. overall, the D looked pretty good.

The offense played terrible but good enough. Matt was hit while throwing two of those INT’s so I only fault him for one INT. We need to straighten some things out during the break.

Great first 6 games…

PMC

October 15th, 2012
10:07 am

Its funny how people want to dwell on the negative rather than see the good in what’s going on.

This has been completely different organization since 2008, it’s been professional, and hardworking and we have seen the results of that. They are STILL building. They are still getting better. Dimitroff has made contributions every year. If you can’t see that, keep crying about seasons past and waiting for the sky to fall.

Rollo Lawson

October 15th, 2012
10:18 am

People “cry” because we know that if we can’t/refuse to run the ball and can’t stop the run, we will be one and done in the playoffs.

AtlantaDude

October 15th, 2012
10:20 am

If the Falcons don’t win in the playoffs, it will not be because Matt Ryan can’t throw deep, or because they choked, or beacuse Atlanta teams never win in the post season.

It will be because they don’t have a championship caliber line on either side of the ball. Abraham is the only man on either line who is consistently superior to the player he lines up against. The rest of them are mediocre, and that may not be enough when it comes time to play the Giants, 49ers or even the Packers in the playoffs.

TN Dawg

October 15th, 2012
10:29 am

Just think about all the game when we wished we could have said “Abraham: “He was un-blockable.”
Excited the Falcons won yesterday but unfortunately at present they look like a “first round payoff loser”. Hope they can turn it around after the off week.

KC

October 15th, 2012
10:29 am

The Colts Super Bowl team had a week defense but they stepped up when it mattered most! I don’t know why people still complain when we’re 6-0! Yes we could’ve lost 3 of those games and be 3-3… would you not be complaining then? Would you feel better?

juice sourcer

October 15th, 2012
10:31 am

yeahsure

October 15th, 2012
10:34 am

People complained when the Falcons were great at running the ball and stopping the run. Now that we have a vertical passing game and decent secondary, it’s more whining. There is no such thing as a complete team. Teams do what they have to do to win.

Getting Corey Peters back may help. Get Vance Walker and Peter Konz more playing time. Call Ovie and see how his health is. I don’t really see Polite making much of an impact.

jokeland

October 15th, 2012
10:38 am

gave up 474 yards c’mon Smitty got some things to work on. the birds will be fine

Leeman Bennett

October 15th, 2012
10:39 am

Yesterday’s game would have been very different if there was actual tackling. You know, when you wrap your arms around the ball carrier and actually bring him to the ground.

Rabid Bird

October 15th, 2012
10:43 am

Commentary about how the Falcons can be better in my opinion is NOT negative. I prefer to look at it as TQM (Total Quality Management)review. They are doing great but obviously could do better in a few areas. The coaches and players are saying the same thing. Negative is sticking your head in the sand while ignoring glaring issues.

Enkinan

October 15th, 2012
10:44 am

It was a well rested team coming off a bye and the Falcons found another way to pull off the win, but yeah, they need to do some work in the next two weeks. The tackling in particular was cringe inducing. I get going after a weak secondary, but Turner runs like a beast in the dome, you have to use him. Also, McClain had the game in his hands and instead of going down and sealing the victory he got greedy. I hope someone let him know about it on the sidelines.