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Game #13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Review

December 30th, 2006 Comments off

Hate to say it but this is yet another game where the offense started off real slow, the defense bent (a good bit in the first half) but never broke and really won this game for us.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (11/45), Vick (3/5), Norwood (7/32), Griffith (12/57, 1 TD). 5 of Dunn’s carries went for 4 yards or more. Not a bad day for Dunn until he got hurt. Vick was held in check by Tampa’s defensive scheme. 4 of Norwood’s carries went for 4 yards or more. He was having a really nice day until he injured his knee. Big day for Justin Griffith. The big man showed he could pick up the tough yards and made a great fake for a TD. Seeing him run in power situations and getting 2 to 4 yards a shot really makes you wonder why he hasn’t been used as our goal line back.

Breakdown of passes:

Vick: 14/23, 155 yards, 0 TD/1 INT. Breakdown of incompletions are: 5 bad throws, 1 pass defended (the INT because Lelie was at fault) , 1 throw away and 2 drops. The bad throws number was a little above the 25% but not a huge concern because most were on taking shots downfield and those are low percentage plays to begin with. Vick completed 61% of his passes and while not throwing for a TD, managed the game well.

Drops (2): Crumpler (9) and Jenkins (12).

Sack responsibility (2): The first sack was when Shelton Quarles trucked Dunn. The second was Vick running left then reversing field to the middle and getting sacked.

Pass blocking: The best word I could use is “adequate”. 7 hurries and 2 sacks. Just not good enough for the number of times we pass.

YTD Sacks (35):

Michael Vick 14 (5 rushing attempts that went for negative yards)
Matt Lehr 2.5
Kynan Forney 2
Eric Beverly 1
Wayne Gandy 5.0
Justin Griffith 1.0
Warrick Dunn 3.0
Alge Crumpler 1.0
Todd Weiner 1.0
Tyson Clabo 1.5
P.J. Alexander 1.0
“Scheme/No line adjustment” 1.0

Note: Vick sacks are those that he has at least 3 seconds and either chose to try to scramble or stayed in the pocket when the better decision would be to throw it away. Also includes those rushing attempts that go for 0 or negative yardage that for some reason are counted as a sack.

Defense:

Run defense: Very good today. Gave up some yards here and there but really was stout all day long.

Pass Defense: It was pretty good. Rossum got picked on again and DHall got caught gambling a couple of times but other than a couple of long completions and the last drive of the game, nothing really major allowed.

1 sack: The lone sack was by Abraham and resulted in a fumble and the game-changing TD run by Demorrio Williams.

Special Teams:

Rossum had 3 kickoff returns for: 7 (fumbled out of bounds), 16 (to the 22), and 21 (to the 23). Extremely mediocre day.

Rossum also had 2 punt returns: -2 yards and 9 yards. Nothing special here either.

Koenen had 4 punts. 1: 33 yards, out of bounds at the 31 of TB. 2: 42 yards to the TB 28, returned 10 yards. 3: 35 yards, return of 12 to the 26 TB. 4: 41 yards, to the 14 out of bounds. The last two were kicked inside the 20 while the first two were very average. Okay day.

Kickoffs: Koenen had 4 kickoffs: 1: to the 10, returned to the 27. 2: to the endzone,touchback. 3: to the 5, returned to the 23. 4: to the goal line, returned to the 16. Pretty good day.

Field Goals: Andersen hit 1/1. Good from 23.

Special Teams leading tackler: John Leake had 2 solo and Jordan Beck had 3 total tackles.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Pass protection.
2. Better route running/separation/come back to ball.
3. Continue improvement on drops.

Offensive MVP: Justin Griffith

Defensive MVP: Keith Brooking 17 tackles AND John Abraham (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hurry and 1 fumble forced)
Special Teams MVP: Morten Andersen

Goat of the Week: Allen Rossum

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: VS Dallas, December 16!

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Like Father, Like Son

December 25th, 2006 Comments off

Jim L. Mora may ultimately face the fate that his father, Jim E. Mora suffered in Indianapolis. His job security is now tied with his willingness to fire one of his coordinators.

As you may recall, Jim E. Mora (the dad) was asked to fire his defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio. Mora refused and thus the Colts dismissed him, to later bring in Tony Dungy.

Which if not both of the Falcons assistants that will be pegged by Blank as a “must go” I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that sort of ultimatum will come at the end of this year.

Well, that may be only if the Falcons win next week against the Eagles. 7-9 finish will be hard to swallow for Blank, who basically stipulated a repeat of the 8-8 season of a year ago wasn’t going to cut it, so an even worse finish will likely be the proverbial last straw.

It could be Greg Knapp. I don’t blame Knapp entirely for the Falcons offensive struggles, but 3 Bottom 5 finishes in passing offense in 3 years has to be a very negative indicator for him.

Ranking-wise, the defense led by Ed Donatell has been better, but considering the wealth of talent the Falcons have lined up on that side of the ball, ranking 22nd in total defense the past two years is not good enough.

I’d be more willing to bet that Blank will want both their heads. Because Donatell and Knapp have basically worked in tandem to make this a underachieving one-dimensional team. Is it exclusively or mainly their faults? No, but as they say: heads must roll in times like these.

So we shall see what Mora does. Will he stand his ground, and do the noble thing and stand by his guys? Or will he throw them under the bus and try to save his own skin. I really wouldn’t judge Mora harshly for either route he chooses.

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Game #12 at Washington Redskins Review

December 24th, 2006 Comments off

This game started off horribly BUT did turn around midway through the second quarter. The bad part is that although it was a win, the signs of trouble are there. With 1:22 left in the first half, Greg Knapp elected to sit on the ball instead of going for more points despite the fact we had reeled off 10 unanswered points. I just don’t understand this. When I look at his playcalling in 2 minute situations or 3rd and 4th downs, I’m just not impressed.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (21/87), Vick (10/59), Norwood (9/107, 1 TD), Griffith (1/3). 11 of Dunn’s carries went for 4 yards or more. This is the kind of performance we need out of Dunn. Key thing to look for is for his 4 yards or more runs to be half of his carry total. That will pretty much tell the story on the his day. Vick didn’t get as many yards as usual on 10 carries but definitely not a bad day. What else can be said about Jerious Norwood? The man is a speed demon and flat out iced the game on 1 carry. No fumbles in the game either. I’ve been very impressed with the lack of fumbles this season.

Breakdown of passes:

Vick: 8/16, 122 yards, 2 TD/0 INT. Breakdown of incompletions are: 1 bad throws, 3 pass defended and 4 drops. The bad throws number was far less than 20% and the job done today was fantastic. The WR’s are still having issues.

Drops (4): Crumpler 2 (8) and Lelie 2 (8).

Sack responsibility (1): The lone sack was in the first drive and was on Gandy.

Pass blocking: Not a bad job at all. Only 1 hurry and 1 sack.

YTD Sacks (33):

Michael Vick 13 (4 rushing attempts that went for negative yards)
Matt Lehr 2.5
Kynan Forney 2
Eric Beverly 1
Wayne Gandy 5.0
Justin Griffith 1.0
Warrick Dunn 2.0
Alge Crumpler 1.0
Todd Weiner 1.0
Tyson Clabo 1.5
P.J. Alexander 1.0
“Scheme/No line adjustment” 1.0

Note: Vick sacks are those that he has at least 3 seconds and either chose to try to scramble or stayed in the pocket when the better decision would be to throw it away. Also includes those rushing attempts that go for 0 or negative yardage that for some reason are counted as a sack.

Defense:

Run defense: Was absolutely horrible especially on the ends. The Redskins ran sweeps and pulled guards which caused all sorts of problems for our defense. When you watch the game with that in mind, it really looks like our defense was unprepared for that as their reactions don’t speak to the contrary.

Pass Defense: It was okay. Teams are still trying to pick on Rossum and Crocker and pretty much get the best of us in those situations. Tons of pressure on Campbell which forced two INT’s and 11 hurries.

1 sack: Paul Carrington had the lone sack, unfortunately he also committed a facemasking penalty on the play which gave them an automatic 1st down instead of bringing on the punting unit.

Special Teams:

Rossum had 1 kickoff return for: 22. Decent return.
Norwood had 2 kickoff returns for 26 and 27. Not bad.

No punt returns in the game.

Koenen had 4 punts. 1: 39 yards, downed at the 31 of WSH. 2: 37 yards, fair catch at the 30 WSH. 3: 37 yards, return of 3 to the 42 WSH. 4: 43 yards, downed at the 5 WSH. 1 great punt and 3 very mediocre punts.

Kickoffs: Koenen had 5 kickoffs: 1: to the 2, returned to the 37. 2: to the 6, returned to the 27. 3: to the 12, returned to the 37. 4: to the 13, returned to the 23. 5: to the 18, returned to the 26. Not a good day kicking.

Field Goals: Andersen hit 1/1. Good from 34.

Special Teams leading tackler: Omare Lowe and Michael Koenen had 2 each.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Cure the drops!
2. Pass defense
3. Run defense.

Offensive MVP: Michael Vick

Defensive MVP: Lawyer Milloy (9 combined tackles, 3 hurries (caused a big INT), 2 passes defended)
Special Teams MVP: Morten Andersen

Goat of the Week: Run defense

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Tampa Bay, December 10!

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The Coaching Search

December 23rd, 2006 1 comment

If Arthur Blank and Rich McKay called me up and asked my advice about what to do with the coaching situation this would be it:

Give Mora another chance. I think the subpar performance of this team the past two years has been weighed down by the poor quality of assistants (particularly both coordinators) as opposed to Mora’s methods.

But at the same time, I would tell them that firing Mora is not a bad decision, just arguably not the most prudent one. And if they did decide to fire him, this off-season may be an opportune time to do so. Most conclude there may be as little as one available head coaching job this January (Arizona Cardinals), and if that’s the case then it means whomever is in the coaching search will have a lot of candidates to choose from but very little rivals to compete with. So it means there should be less leveraging of candidates using one team against the other, and a greater likelihood that any team searching for a coach will be able to get its first choice.

But thirdly, I would have to say firing Mora could make viable candidates less willing to take the Falcon job. Considering Mora’s body of work is probably better than any coach that was fired after 3 years, the point could be made that ownership is not very loyal when it comes to its coaches. If the Falcons have a new coach in 2007, it will mean the third coach in the five years that Blank has been owner.

And whether or not Michael Vick is a coach killer, it doesn’t matter what we the fans believe or the talking heads on TV think, but whether or not the potential successors to Mora think so, which could play a factor in how many people are really interested in the job.

Basically saying Blank and McKay don’t have an easy decision to make after this season. Hopefully, Mora will find a way to postpone their need to come to a decision until late January at the earliest, but we shall see…

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On and off the wagon

December 11th, 2006 Comments off

Fresh off watching the Saints dismantle the Cowboys, I’m a lot more confident about the Falcons chances to win next week. After two shaky wins versus the lowly Buccaneers and Redskins, it’s nice for the Falcons to have built some momentum heading into this week. But considering the opponents and the fact that the offense has had struggles over the past 6 weeks putting points on the board, it’s not a ton of momentum.

The Cowboys have averaged 24.2 points a game the past six weeks, while the Falcons have averaged 15.2 points. The Falcons need to escape this offensive funk they’ve been in recently, and start putting some points on the board. Hopefully the Saints putting up 42 on the Cowboys won’t be the exception and will be a trend, one that the Falcons can hopefully follow this upcoming week.

One stat that leans in the Falcons favor this year is the overall success of teams in short weeks. Coming off a win, teams in short weeks are 12-7, while coming off a loss they are 4-12. Also helping is the Falcons are at home. When teams have a short week, and are coming off a road win and playing at home, they are 4-2 this season. Alternatively, things bode poorly for the Cowboys. For a team coming off a home loss and playing on the road in a short week, this year teams have combined for a 1-5 record.

A thing that worries me about this matchup is the Cowboys passing game. The Saints effectively contained Tony Romo tonight, and he made some poor throws bringing up concerns on whether of not Romo is comfortable as a pocket passer. Not to mention, the Saints did an excellent job of locking down T.O. and Glenn with their “over the hill” corners in Fred Thomas and Mike McKenzie. Well, they didn’t look too old tonight. Hopefully the Falcons can follow this template. It helps that Abraham is healthy, and seemingly Mallard and Carrington are getting better each week. I’m not sure if Webster will be back for this one. I’m assuming he will be. But I have the feeling that we won’t be able to see a battle of T.O. vs. D-Lo Round 2 this year. Hall plays almost exclusively on the strongside, and T.O. lines up most of the time on the weakside. Which means he’ll have the opportunity to wreak havoc on a rusty Webster, a green Jimmy Williams, and an undersized Allen Rossum. Williams played well vs. the Bucs in really what amounts to his first extensive action on defense of the year, and Rossum has played better than I think anybody could have hoped over the past 3 or so weeks, but does that mean they are ready for Terrell Owens?

I’m hopeful that the T.O.-Irvin interview that aired on ESPN earlier today will get the Cowboy media up in a frenzy and create a distraction for that team in this short week. Making them focusing more on the behind the scenes drama, rather than focusing on making the proper adjustments to beat a seemingly unexceptional Falcon team.

Even if the Falcons beat the Cowboys, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get back on the bandwagon. Sure, the Cowboys are probably the best and most complete team we’ve faced all year long, and beating them we are perhaps beating the NFC’s rep for the Super Bowl. But this is exactly the Falcons M.O. Win a game that few expect them to win, and lose games that few expect them to lose. Beating the Cowboys would automatically make most believe the Falcons can get 2 wins against Carolina and Philly. I really can’t make a statement of where I am in terms of on or off the wagon until the regular season’s over. Of course, at that point it may be too late.

And on an aside, kudos to the Saints who are now 9-4 and have the second seed in the NFC. Nobody has really given the Saints a lot of credit this year, viewing them merely as a nice PR piece and Cinderella story rather than a legitimate contender. But they beat the Cowboys in Dallas, a team that most were calling the favorites to win the NFC in the week leading up to it. The Saints have the league’s best offense, and assuming that Brees doesn’t turn the ball over like he’s done in recent weeks, and their defense plays more like this than they did against the Bengals a few weeks ago, they truly are a team to be reckoned with in the NFC. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of Falcon fans that are still in denial about the Saints. They beat a team that many believed to be the class of the NFC on a national stage, the sort of “statement games” that have been sorely lacking from the Falcons own resume this year. I wouldn’t call the Saints a great football team, but neither were last year’s Super Bowl champions. That was a Steeler team that got hot at the beginning of December and carried it through February.

I guess I’ve got more feet on the Saints bandwagon than I do the Falcons. Which is sad, but if the Falcons had merely beaten the Browns, I wouldn’t be standing where I’m standing now. In my mind, that Browns loss was every bit as disheartening as the Packers loss a year ago.

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Game #11 VS New Orleans Saints Review

December 2nd, 2006 1 comment

This one just plain sucked and hurt to watch again. The defense wasn’t up to par and the wide receivers were up to their old tricks again along with the o-line. Hopefully, we still find a way to turn this season around but it sure isn’t looking good at this point. At any rate,

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (19/52, 1 TD), Vick (12/166), Norwood (13/54), Griffith (1/9). Only 6 of Dunn’s carries went for 4 yards or more. What in the world is going on with him? Vick WAS the offense today. He had 1 fumble that was recovered by Gandy.

Breakdown of passes:

Vick: 9/24, 84 yards, 0 TD/0 INT. Breakdown of incompletions are: 3 bad throws, 7 pass defended (3 of which was easily on the WR’s either falling down or not coming back to the ball), 1 throw away and 4 drops. The bad throws number was less than 20% and that’s what we are looking for. The WR’s flat out killed the passing game today.

Drops (4): White 2 (7), Jenkins 1 (11), and Lelie 1 (6).

Sack responsibility (3): 1: On Gandy. Darryl Johnston thought Vick should have gotten rid of it but Vick had less than 4 seconds of time before he started moving. 2: On Clabo and Gandy both. Clabo allowed the initial pressure and Gandy allowed Smith to come through to clean up. 3: This one was on Vick, simply trying to do too much.

Pass blocking: Vick was hit at least 15 times and that’s way too much. The sack numbers don’t do the description justice.

YTD Sacks (32):

Michael Vick 13 (4 rushing attempts that went for negative yards)
Matt Lehr 2.5
Kynan Forney 2
Eric Beverly 1
Wayne Gandy 4.0
Justin Griffith 1.0
Warrick Dunn 2.0
Alge Crumpler 1.0
Todd Weiner 1.0
Tyson Clabo 1.5
P.J. Alexander 1.0
“Scheme/No line adjustment” 1.0

Note: Vick sacks are those that he has at least 3 seconds and either chose to try to scramble or stayed in the pocket when the better decision would be to throw it away. Also includes those rushing attempts that go for 0 or negative yardage that for some reason are counted as a sack.

Defense:

Run defense: Only allowed 95 yards on 25 attempts and was pretty solid but did get gashed for several big plays including 2 TD’s so it was a solid effort but could have been much better.

Pass Defense: Absolutely horrible. Crocker got burned on a play that teams have no victimized us with 3 times. Chris Henry and Roy Williams scored on long plays just like this one. D-Hall went for the pick at the half instead of just knocking it down. Finally, Rossum got abused by Henderson.

2 sacks: Keith Brooking and Edgerton Hartwell had 1 each.

Special Teams:

Rossum had 3 kickoff returns for: 28, 17, 19. Very mediocre return day.
Norwood had 1 kickoff return for 37. Nice return.

Rossum had 2 punt returns for 13 and 6. Mediocre.

Koenen had 6 punts. 1: 37 yards, downed at the 9. 2: 59 yards, touchback. 3: 54 yards, return of -1, inside the 10. 4: 65 yards, out of bounds. 5: 25 yards, to the 12. 6: 55 yards, no return. A great day punting.

Kickoffs: Koenen had 4 kickoffs: 1: to the endzone, returned to the 21. 2: to the 4, returned to the 37. 3: to the endzone, returned to the 18. Only one really good returned allowed, good day kicking.

Field Goals: Andersen hit 2/3. Good from 22 and 30. Missed the first FG try of the day of 43 yards wide left.

Special Teams leading tackler: Omare Lowe had 2 including the last kickoff at the 18 yard line.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Cure the drops!
2. Protect the QB.
3. Pass defense.

Offensive MVP: Michael Vick

Defensive MVP: Keith Brooking (8 combined tackles, 1 hurry, 1 sack)
Special Teams MVP: Michael Koenen

Goat of the Week: Roddy White

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Washington Redskins, December 3!

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