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Archive for September, 2007

Falcons get first win over Schaub and Texans

September 30th, 2007 Comments off

AP/John Amis The Falcons finally get one in the win column by defeating the Houston Texans by a score of 26-16. This win also ends the team’s five-game losing streak at home, and marks head coach Bobby Petrino’s first win in the NFL. The defense was able to come through with some key stops and turnovers in order to lead the team to victory in the end with the Texans keeping it close.

Joey Harrington led the team with 223 passing yards, completing 23 of 29 passes for 2 scores. Warrick Dunn rushed for 62 yards on the ground on 18 carries (3.4 avg), while Jerious Norwood added 29 yards on 9 carries (3.2 avg). Dunn also had 4 catches for 9 yards. Michael Jenkins led the receivers with 6 catches for 64 yards (10.7 avg) and 2 scores. Roddy White (3 catches for 64 yards), Laurent Robinson (4 catches for 31 yards), and Alge Crumpler (3 catches for 34 yards) also contributed.

While the Falcons secondary gave up 305 passing yards, for the most part the defense did their job in keeping the Texans out of the endzone. The Texans had 3 trips to the red zone, but came up empty all three times. Michael Boley led the team with 9 tackles, and also forced a fumble. The team also got contributions from Keith Brooking (5 tackles, 1 pass defended), Stephen Nicholas (4 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), John Abraham (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), and Lawyer Milloy (6 tackles).

On special teams, Morten Andersen connected on 4 of 5 field goals. His lone miss was a blocked 42-yarder in the fourth quarter. But he connected on field goals of 28, 22, 36, and 46 yards. Michael Koenen punted 3 times for an average of 43.7 yards. Adam Jennings had 1 punt return for 18 yards.

The Falcons will travel to Tennessee next week to take on the Titans (2-1), hoping to begin a winning streak with two victories.

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Week 4 Game Preview

September 28th, 2007 Comments off

FALCONS OFFENSE VS. TEXANS DEFENSE

Advantage: Texans (slightly)

Despite the progress we made last week, I do think our offense will come a bit back down to Earth this week. Although Peppers and Jenkins are an excellent duo, they aren’t currently on a hot streak like Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye. The pass rush concerns me, as I’m still not sold if these team can stop the blitz. The fact that the Texans D was relatively stingy against the Colts last week doesn’t bode well for us.

FALCONS DEFENSE VS. TEXANS OFFENSE

Advantage: Falcons

This is a matchup we really need to take advantage of. Ahman Green is questionable, and the Texans top 2 receivers: Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones won’t play, as well as their ace return threat Jerome Mathis also being sidelined. Our run defense was terrible last week, but hopefully they rebound and shut down Dayne and Gado this week. It will be tough since Babs is out as well as Coleman now. Although the Texans no longer have a big play receiver, Schaub showed that he can get production out of Andre’ Davis and Owen Daniels. And with D-Hall possibly being benched for a quarter or two, our secondary will be pressured. We have to put pressure on Schaub. Giving him time, he WILL pick apart this defense. Abraham needs a big day, and this will be a great week for Jamaal Anderson to do something useful. The only reason I give us the edge is because the Texans are so beat up.

OVERVIEW

Our defense needs to come through this week and make some plays. Get some sacks, create some turnovers, and for Pete’s sake stop the run. Offensively, if we finish some drives, then I think we have this game won. I know Schaub and Okoye will have something to prove this game. Schaub for being traded, and Okoye for being snubbed in the draft by his old coach. But considering we’re an 0-3 team, we should have 53 guys that are hungry for a win instead of just 2.

FINAL SCORE

Falcons 19, Texans 17

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Lewis to start on Sunday

September 28th, 2007 Comments off

Contrasting earlier reports that he was suffering from only a mild knee injury, the Falcons updated defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux’s status to indicate that he will not play this weekend against the Houston Texans. Babineaux had been serving as an injury replacement for Rod Coleman in the starting lineup, but will now be replaced by rookie Trey Lewis. Head coach Bobby Petrino was hopeful that Babineaux might be able to return next week, but the AJC is reporting that he might miss three weeks. This injury leaves the Falcons with only three active defensive tackles for Sunday. Sharing time with Lewis will be Montavious Stanley, who will perform swing duties at both tackle spots, backing up Lewis and nose tackle Grady Jackson as well. Petrino indicated earlier in the week that it is possible that Coleman will return to the lineup next week. Lewis will be the fourth Falcon rookie to start this season, following Jamaal Anderson, Justin Blalock, and Laurent Robinson. Although there is a good possibility that another rookie starter will be joining him in the lineup, either cornerback Chris Houston or David Irons due to the possible benching of DeAngelo Hall.

In other injury news, both Chris Crocker and Todd Weiner are expected to start and play this weekend. But tight end Dwayne Blakley is listed out once more.

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Coleman still out with sore knee

September 27th, 2007 Comments off

Falcons defensive tackle Rod Coleman was held out of practice today, and is currently listed as out on the Falcons injury report as of Wednesday. He is not expected to play this weekend against the Houston Texans.

Coleman underwent knee surgery just prior to the start of the regular season, and the initial prognosis was that he would miss four games. Coach Petrino indicated during his Wednesday press conference that it is doubtful that Coleman will play this week, and that the team hopes to get him ready for next week. His still has soreness in knee after working it over the weekend.

In other injury news, tight end Dwayne Blakley (pectoral), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee), safety Chris Crocker (knee), and offensive tackle Todd Weiner (knee) also missed practice today due to various injuries. Blakley did not play last week. Babineaux has filled in for Coleman in the starting lineup. Crocker missed the first two games due to the same knee injury, but managed to start against the Panthers this past week. Petrino indicated he expects both Crocker and Weiner to participate in Thursday practices, indicating they should play this weekend. But Blakley is likely to be out for at least another week. No update as of yet on Babineaux. The AJC reports that his knee injury is only mild.

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Hall to appeal fine

September 26th, 2007 Comments off

As an update to previous reports, the Associated Press reports that DeAngelo Hall will be fined $100,000 and may sit for at least a quarter in this week’s upcoming bout with the Houston Texans. Hall plans to appeal the fine through the NFL Players Association.

The report indicates that Hall may be benched this week for a quarter or the entire first half. Hall indicated that he did not believe that the team’s punishment was fair.

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Hall to be fined, not suspended

September 26th, 2007 Comments off

ESPN reports that sources indicate that Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall will not be suspended for his outbursts and penalties that occurred during the Falcons recent loss to the Carolina Panthers, but rather fined.

Exact details to the amount of the fine are unknown, but the sources report it will be in the low six-figure range, but not be as much as a single game check. Due to Hall’s $3.11 million salary, he receives payment of about $183,000 per game.

It is not known whether Hall will appeal the fine, but words spoken to the AJC imply that he will not: “If it’s a suspension or a fine, especially if it’s a suspension, I take it in full stride. It don’t feel good to be the reason your team loses a game. Whether you give up a touchdown pass or you get a stupid penalty, it all feels the same.”

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Vick indicted again

September 26th, 2007 Comments off

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was indicted once more, this time by a grand jury in Surry County on Tuesday. He and his three co-defendants, all of whom plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges on running dogfighting operations, have now been indicted on two state charges of killing a dog and engaging in and promoting dogfighting. They will be arraigned on October 3.

The AJC reports that these two additional felony charges can carry the maximum penalty of ten years in prison, which could be served either consecutively or concurrently with his federal term. He is set to be sentenced in the federal case in December.

The AJC also reports that an arbitrator is set to meet the day after Vick’s arraignment to hear arguments on the Falcons attempts to recoup roughly $20 million in paid bonus money from Vick.

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Falcons drop heartbreaker

September 23rd, 2007 Comments off

AP/John Amis Falcons lost a close one to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 27-20 in their home opener, dropping the team to 0-3 for the first time since 1999. The game had some questionable officiating, but ultimately the Falcons inability to stop the Panthers ground game cost them the win.

Joey Harrington answered most of his skeptics having a fine day. He completed 31 of 44 passes for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns. Warrick Dunn led rushers with 55 yards on 11 carries (5.0 avg), and Jerious Norwood added 32 yards on 6 carries (5.3 avg). Roddy White had another good day for the receivers with 7 catches for 127 yards (18.1 avg) with a 69-yard score. Alge Crumpler (6 catches for 63 yards) had the Falcons other score, and Michael Jenkins had 6 catches as well for 76 yards.

DeShaun Foster slashed the Falcons with 122 yards on the ground, as the Falcons gave up 182 yards on the ground. 99 of them came in the second half. Michael Boley led the defense with 8 tackles. Chris Crocker (6 tackles, 1 sack), Lawyer Milloy (6 tackles), and John Abraham (2 tackles, 2 sacks) had notable games. DeAngelo Hall was flagged three times on a third quarter drive which led to the Panthers tying up the score 17-17. The first penalty was a defensive pass interference, in which Hall was beat by Steve Smith deep. On the very next play, he was penalized for a personal foul for shoving Smith. And then two plays later, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a lengthy jawing session wtih Smith. Two plays later Jake Delhomme found Jeff King for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Those two latter penalties certainly raised a few eyebrows, and perhaps sapped any momentum that the Falcons might have had following their score on the previous drive to take the lead 17-10. Despite those penalties, Hall played well as he was matched up against Steve Smith the entire game, and shutting down the 3-time Pro Bowl receiver. Smith only had 1 catch for 10 yards.

Morten Andersen connected on both field goal attempts. He had one in the first quarter botched by a poor hold by Michael Koenen. Koenen had 4 punts for an average of 43.8 yards with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Adam Jennings was pretty non-effective on punt returns with 2 returns for 5 yards. Jerious Norwood was the opposite on kickoffs, returning 5 for 145 yards (29.0 avg).

Next week the Falcons will stay home to face off against the Houston Texans (2-1), which will bring former Falcon quarterback Matt Schaub back to Atlanta since he was traded last March.

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Game #2 AT Jacksonville Jaguars Review

September 22nd, 2007 1 comment

Unfortunately, this was another frustrating game that boiled down to missed opportunities to put up points, poor protection, bad decisions and at times, bad tackling. All little things but big enough to change the outcome of a game.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (13/50, 1 TD), Norwood (9/30), Pinner (1/0) and Harrington (2/2). Effective Runs (4 yards or more)-Dunn, 8; Norwood, 5. Both backs had 1 reception each.

Breakdown of passes:

Harrington: 12/20, 200 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 4 bad passes, 2 drops and 2 thrown away. 1 of the drops was a pass to Dunn that was a smart move to drop. Harrington hung him out to dry and it would have been a loss. Harrington did complete several downfield throws but needs to be more aggressive in my opinion.

Drops (2): Norwood, 1 and Dunn, 1.

YTD Drops:

Jenkins 2
Norwood 1
Dunn 1

Run blocking: Very hit and miss. 13 of 23 runs were good but they were often followed up with negative yardage or very short gains.

Pass blocking: Some of the sacks could have been avoided but protection still lacked and that’s being nice.

Sack responsibility (7): First sack was on Harrington for holding it too long. Blalock finally got beat but held his block long enough for Harrington to have at least thrown it away. Second sack was due to not having a hot route and the blitz not being picked up so Harrington held it too long again. The third sack goes on Harrington for holding it too long although Blalock failed to pick up a delayed stunt. The fourth was again, a combination of Blalock getting beat and Harrington holding it too long. The fifth sack was on Weiner and McClure, both beaten badly. The sixth sack was a combination of Norwood not picking up the LB who went right by him and McClure getting beat. The final sack goes on McClure who hit his man on the side as he flew by him. Not a good day for Blalock and McClure at all.

YTD Sacks (13):

Scheme 1.0
Norwood 1.5
Gandy 1.0
Forney 1.0
Harrington 4.5
Weiner 1.5
Blalock 0.5
McClure 2.0

Note: QB responsible 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: Excellent job overall. There were a couple of breakdowns for key 1st downs but very stout throughout the game.

Pass Defense: Jax completely avoided Hall’s side except for once and he defended well. Sanders was abused as was the middle of the field. Brooking and J-Will did not have good days in coverage.

Sacks: Babineaux had 2 sacks, G. Jackson and Abraham had 1 each.

Special Teams:

Norwood had 2 kickoff returns: 1. from the 13, 16 yards; 2. from the GL, 28 yards. There were also 2 touchbacks. My guess is that with Laurent Robinson injured, they chose to protect Jennings a bit OR just trying to get Norwood more touches in the game. Not bad but I prefer Jennings back there.

Jennings had 1 punt return for 3 yards. Not a lot of opportunity to do much.

Koenen had 5 punts: 1-30 yards to the JAX 20, no return. 2-35 yards to the JAX 15, no return. 3-42 yards to JAX 23, no return (catch interference on Irons for 15 yards). 4-47 yards to the JAX 32, 10 yard return. 5-42 yards to the JAX 36, no return. Very mediocre day. Not a lot of return yardage but not very long either.

Kickoffs: Prater had 2 kickoffs both for touchbacks. The guy can boom kickoffs that’s for sure.

Field Goals: Prater went 0/2. Missed from 43 and 26 yards. Not a shock that he was cut.

Special Teams coverage: Very good coverage except for Irons interference penalty.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Offensive line needs work and Harrington needs to get rid of it quicker.
2. Eliminate negative plays. Sacks, penalties and negative rushing attempts have killed drives.
3. Better coverage opposite Hall and more consistency out of safety help.

Offensive MVP: Roddy White (4 catches, 81 yards)

Defensive MVP: Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 hurry and 1 fumble forced) Honorable Mention to Abraham who had a great game also.

Special Teams MVP: Michael Boley who had the lone tackle and also partially blocked a punt.

Goat of the Week: Lewis Sanders, Matt Prater and Todd McClure.

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: VS Carolina Panthers, September 23rd!

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Week 3 Game Preview

September 22nd, 2007 Comments off

Okay, in the past two games, I picked the Falcons to win despite the “logic” that indicated they would lose. That’s going to change this week.

FALCONS OFFENSE VS. PANTHERS DEFENSE

Advantage: Panthers (both)

The Panthers have given quite a bit of points considering their defense is currently ranked 6th in total defense. But considering the offensive struggles the Falcons have had putting points on the board, those issues won’t be as big this week. The Falcons really need to get out of a funk and start scoring.

FALCONS DEFENSE VS. PANTHERS OFFENSE

Advantage: Falcons (run), Panthers (pass)

Steve Smith is off to another brilliant start, and it will of course be DeAngelo Hall’s task to try and slow him down this week. A tall order. Hall is certainly capable, but it’s time he start really proving to the world he’s an elite cornerback, which will mean keeping Smith from becoming a factor in this game. Luckily for the Falcons, aside from Smith, the Panthers offense doesn’t represent any significant threat. Their running game is improving, but it’s not exactly the kind that should be running wild against the Falcons like they did late last season. If the Falcons can put pressure on Delhomme like they did in Week 1 last year, they can potentially take Smith out of the game. And unfortunately for the Panthers, it isn’t proven whether Foster and/or Williams can win them the game yet.

OVERVIEW

The Panthers win in three out of four categories. And it hasn’t been the defensive matchups that have hurt the Falcons, but the offensive ones. Our passing game hasn’t been as prolific as hoped this season, and the running game is average at best so far. Until this changes, or until the defense plays absolutely lights out a la the Patriots or Bears, then wins are going to be few. Are the Falcons capable of turning themselves around? Yes, certainly. It’s a division opponent, but it’s also a new head coach for the Falcons, so how he fares against the Panthers is anyone’s guess. The team can get a boost from home field, but I’m not sure how supportive the fan base is going to be this week.

Final Score

Panthers 20, Falcons 13

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