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Archive for December, 2007

Falcons look at coaching candidates

December 31st, 2007 Comments off

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Falcons are expected to begin a round of interviews for their vacant head coaching position. Interim coach Emmitt Thomas was able to lead the Falcons to a win in their season finale, but he is not considered a serious candidate to take over the position permanently.

According to Glazer, the Falcons will seek permission to interview Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, and Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell this week. He also reports that Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and previously mentioned candidate Mike Singletary may also sit down for interviews.

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Redman lifts Falcons over Seahawks

December 30th, 2007 Comments off

Getty Images/Chris Graythen The Falcons were able to end a six-game losing skid by defeating the Seattle Seahawks at home in their season finale in a close 44-41 victory. Due to a surge at the start of the fourth quarter, the Falcons were able to take 41-27 lead over the Seahawks, and simply had to outlast them from that point on. The Seahawks made it close by scoring in the final minutes, but were unable to recover an onsides kick which would have given them a chance to tie or win.

Chris Redman led the Falcons, completing 17 of 27 passes for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns. Warrick Dunn led the team’s ground attack with 70 yards on 14 carries and a score. Jerious Norwood added 46 yards on 11 carries. Roddy White led receivers with 5 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Alge Crumpler caught 2 touchdown passes, finishing the game with 3 catches for 67 yards. Joe Horn also caught 3 passes for 32 yards and a score. The 44 points beat out the season’s previous high of 26 points scored, and the team also ended it’s long losing streak when trailing entering the fourth quarter.

The Falcons defense gave up 501 total yards, but was able to make stops and plays when it counted. They forced 3 turnovers and sacked the Seahawks passers four times. Chris Houston led the team with 8 tackles, while Lawyer Milloy (7 tackles), Antoine Harris (6 tackles), Keith Brooking (6 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles, 1 sack), Jonathan Babineaux (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery), DeAngelo Hall (5 tackles, 2 passes defended), Chris Crocker (5 tackles, 1 interception), John Abraham (3 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble) also made noteworthy contributions.

Morten Andersen connected on three field goals of 30, 37, and 32 yards. Michael Koenen had 3 punts for a 45 yard average and put 1 inside the 20. Jerious Norwood returned 4 punts for 30.8-yard average and Adam Jennings had 3 returns for an average of 38 yards.

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Ex-Giants GM Accorsi helps Blank

December 29th, 2007 Comments off

Arthur Blank has enlisted the help of former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi in his search for potential GM candidates here in Atlanta according to an AJC by Steve Wyche. Accorsi is working as an adviser to Blank in helping the Falcons compile a list of potential candidates to replace Rich McKay as GM of the team. Blank has indicated that McKay will have the opportunity to stay with the franchise in his other capacity as team president.

Accorsi spent 8 seasons between 1998 and 2006 as the Giants GM, after serving the previous 4 as an assistant to then GM George Young. Accorsi retired this past January and was replaced by Jerry Reese.

In the article, Wyche also names several possible candidates, listing: Dallas Cowboys president of college and pro scouting Jeff Ireland, Kansas City Chiefs V.P. of player personnel Bill Kuharich, Green Bay Packers director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie, and San Diego Chargers assistant GM Buddy Nix as potential candidates. Once a GM is hired, he, Blank, and McKay are expected to work together to hire the team’s next head coach.

As well, Wyche makes mention of several candidates that could become the Falcons next head coach: Marty Schottenheimer, current Falcons assistants Hue Jackson and Mike Zimmer, 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary, Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss, Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia.

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Shanahan rumored to be a potential target

December 28th, 2007 Comments off

Getty Images/Doug Pensinger Amidst more discussion of potential hires for the Falcons head coach, Pro Football Talk has thrown a new name into the fire: Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The website reports that league sources have indicated that the Falcons are currently exploring the possibility of pursuing Shanahan.

Because Shanahan is currently under contract with the Broncos, the Falcons might be liable to compensate the team. Shanahan is on the verge of finishing his thirteenth season with the Broncos. He has compiled a 137-90 regular season record and 8-5 in the playoffs, including 2 Super Bowl victories in 1997 and 1998 over the Falcons. He also coached for a little more than a year with the then Los Angeles Raiders in the late 1980s. He compiled a 8-12 record before being dismissed partway in the 1989 season.

Pro Football Talk also reports that the Falcons may hire Bill Kuharich as their general manager, replacing current GM and president Rich McKay. Kuharich currently is the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs. Kuharich served as GM for the New Orleans Saints prior to joining the Chiefs in 2000. Kuharich was in charge of the team’s personnel department during the infamous 1999 draft day trade in which the Saints parted ways with their entire draft class in order to move up to draft running back Ricky Williams.

Also on the coaching search front, the AJC reports that the 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary has expressed interest in becoming the Falcons next head coach. Singletary indicated to the paper that he feels he’s ready to be an NFL coach right now. There has been no contact between the Falcons and Singletary as of yet, but he has thus far emerged as an early favorite.

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Dunn has no intention of retiring

December 27th, 2007 Comments off

In an AJC report by Steve Wyche Falcons running back Warrick Dunn indicated his desire to continue playing beyond this season. Dunn will turn 33 the week after the season is over was able to surpass 10,000 rushing yards this season, and many expectations that due to his age and that achievement he could retire after the season. But Dunn indicated to Wyche that due to the teams struggles this year, he does not wish to retire.

“I can’t go out like this. This is not the way I think anyone should go out. Any guy whose ever thinking about retiring and had to go through a situation like this, I don’t think this is the way you should go out. You need to go out on better terms. I’ll definitely come back next year and play football.”

– Warrick Dunn

However, Dunn did not indicate whether he expects or wants to play for the Falcons. Dunn has one more year left on his contract, with a base salary of $4 million. More than likely, if Dunn is retained he’ll likely have to restructure his contract in order to reduce that salary.

Dunn is the second Falcon to openly discuss his future with the team. Last week, DeAngelo Hall discussed his desire to play for a winning team.

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Cardinals fly past Falcons in OT

December 23rd, 2007 Comments off

AP/Paul Connors Despite a fourth quarter comeback, the Falcons fell to the Arizona Cardinals eventually in overtime by a score of 30-27. The Falcons entered the fourth quarter down 24-14, but were successful in taking the lead until the waning minute of regulation. In overtime, the Cardinals won the coin toss and were able to march down the field 58 yards on 10 plays to kick the game-winning field goal.

Chris Redman led the team, completing 28 of 42 passes for 315 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Jerious Norwood led rushers with 33 yards on 7 carries. Jason Snelling had 2 carries for 18 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Roddy White had a great performance catching 12 passes for 141 yards. He becomes the first Falcon receiver to break 1,000 yards since Terance Mathis did so in 1999. Laurent Robinson (7 catches for 114 yards) and Alge Crumpler (2 catches for 12 yards) were the recipient’s of Redman’s touchdown strikes. The Falcons offense found its groove in the fourth quarter, as Redman was successful in leading the team on three scoring drives. They converted 4 of 6 third downs in that quarter, while only converting 2 of 9 the rest of the game.

Defensively, the Falcons did not have much of an answer for the Cardinals passing game, particularly Anquan Boldin who had 13 catches for 162 yards and 2 scores. They wound up giving up 361 yards in the air. But they picked it up in the second half, forcing the Cardinals to punt on their first five second half possessions. But they allowed the Cardinals to drive down the field 58 yards on 6 plays in the waning minutes of the game to tie it up and send it into overtime. Brent Grimes, in his first action of the season led the team with 11 tackles. Jonathan Babineaux (8 tackles, 1 pass defended), Demorrio Williams (8 tackles), Keith Brooking (7 tackles), DeAngelo Hall (7 tackles), and Chris Crocker (5 tackles, 1 pass defended) had noteworthy games.

On special teams, Morten Andersen connected on both field goal attempts of 23 and 21 yards, the latter being the one that put the team up 27-24 with a minute to go in the game. Michael Koenen had 5 punts for an average of 40 yards, placing one inside the 20-yard line. DeAngelo Hall returned 3 punts for an average of 12.3 yards. Jerious Norwood had 5 kickoff returns for an average of 26.6 yards. Travis Williams even ran 37 yards on a successful fake punt, which was the catalyzing conversion which eventually led to Snelling’s score.

The Falcons will try to close out the season with a win at home against the Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons have lost three straight against the Seahawks. Their last win came in 1997, and their last home win against them came in 1991. But the Falcons may be able to sneak a win since the Seahawks have already clinched their division and playoff berth, and thus will not be helped nor hurt to any significant degree depending on the outcome of next week’s game.

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Game #14 AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers Review

December 23rd, 2007 Comments off

In a nutshell, turnovers from the offense and a special teams breakdown blew the game wide open in the first half and then the run defense was gashed in the second half. When you have the ball for only 17 minutes, you just aren’t going to win. When watching live, I noticed Devaney was sitting to the right of Blank instead of McKay. Knowing now that Blank pursued Parcells, it may have been that McKay was notified that he would not be the GM next season.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (8/32), Norwood (9/73), Snelling (1/-1), Mughelli (1/1) and Redman (1/1). Effective Runs (4 yards or more)-Dunn, 3 and Norwood, 6. Dunn also had 1 catch for 7 yards. One very strange call was Snelling’s carry to the outside. Why run your short yardage guy outside? Didn’t make sense to me.

Breakdown of passes:

Redman: 4/15, 34 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 5 Bad passes, 4 Dropped passes and 2 Defended passes.

Drops (4): Mughelli, 1; Dunn, 2; Norwood, 1. The running backs had a very hard time catching the ball this week.

YTD Drops (44):

Jenkins 9
White 10
Crumpler 6
Horn 3
Dunn 8
Norwood 3
Blakley 1
Robinson 3
Mughelli 1

Run blocking: It was decent. Still seems that most yards are on pure speed for the most part.

Pass blocking: It was okay again. A couple of passes batted at the line, a sack resulting in a fumble and 2 more pressures all on 15 attempts. Nothing to get excited about.

Sack responsibility (1): The lone sack was on Clabo which resulted in a fumble.

YTD Sacks (42):

Scheme 3.0
Norwood 2.5
Gandy 1.0
Forney 3.0
Harrington 8.5
Weiner 1.5
Blalock 8.0
McClure 3.5
Dunn 1.0
Foster 1.0
Clabo 3.0
Ojinnaka 3.0
Batiste 2.0
Redman 1.0

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: Allowed 190 yards and was very soft up front. Teams seem to just push us out of the way and do what they want.

Pass Defense: Wasn’t bad but when you get almost 200 yards on the ground, who needs to pass?

Sacks: Davis and Abraham each had sacks. There were also 6 hurries so we did a good job of putting pressure on Garcia.

Special Teams:
Norwood had 2 kickoff returns: 1. from the -1, 19 yards; 2. from the 10, 13 yards. Not an overly good day and stopped returning after injury on a running play.

Jennings had 4 kickoff returns: 1. from the -1, 28 yards; 2. from the 9, 25 yards (negated by holding penalty); 3. from the 5, 13 yards; 4. from the -1, 31 yards. Definitely had the better day.

There was also 1 pooch kick that wasn’t field cleanly.

Jennings had 1 punt return that resulted in a fumble but recovered by Chris Houston. He should have called for a fair catch on the play.

Koenen had 6 punts: 1-40 yards to the TB 34, 8 yard return. 2-36 yards to the TB 21, 7 yard return. 3-41 yards to TB 20, 8 yard return. 4-49 yards to the TB 26, 4 yard return (negated by illegal block penalty); 5-44 yards to the TB 41, 4 yard return; 6-63 yards to the end zone, no return. Very windy day but still a good day.

Koenen had 2 kickoffs: 1. to the 10, returned for touchdown; 2. to the TB 11, 8 yard return. Considering the wind, good distance.

Field Goals: Andersen made his only attempt from 33 yards.

Special Teams coverage: Outside of the touchdown allowed, very nice job.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Eliminate negative yardage plays (turnovers, penalties, negative rushes, and sacks).
2. O-line needs to get more push, reach the second level and put defensive players on their backs.
3. Find a GM AND Coach.

Offensive MVP: Jerious Norwood (73 yards rushing)

Defensive MVP: Chauncey Davis (4 tackles, 1 sack, 3 hurries)

Special Teams MVP: Stephen Nicholas and Ovie Mughelli (2 tackles each)

Goat of the Week: Bobby Petrino

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Arizona Cardinals, December 23rd!

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Schottenheimer has not heard from Falcons

December 22nd, 2007 Comments off

SI.com’s Jim Trotter writes that Marty Schottenheimer has not yet heard from the Falcons about their potential interest in him as a head coach. A report from the San Diego Union-Tribune indicated that the Falcons have made overtures to seek Schottenheimer to replace Bobby Petrino as head coach, according to league sources. Trotter’s report would seemingly refute that initial report.

“I have not heard a word from anybody about anything relating to the Falcons.”

– Marty Schottenheimer

The Union-Tribune’s report also indicated that the Falcons are seeking Chargers assistant GM Buddy Nix to serve as their own GM. Trotter’s report again refutes that, indicating that Nix has not heard anything from the Falcons either.

Schottenheimer also indicated that he is unsure if he will return to football, citing the changes that have occurred in the game over the years since he began. Schottenheimer in 21 years of head coaching in the NFL has yet to win a championship, and implied that any return to the league would likely be for a team that was in a position to win one in the short-term.

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Game #13 VS New Orleans Saints Review

December 22nd, 2007 Comments off

This was just miserable and the day after Petrino decides to walk out on everyone. After hearing the news of his departure, I just about decided not to continue the reviews this season because whatever we see won’t much matter since everything will be changing. However, these next few games may tell a lot about the players we have and more importantly, the players we don’t have. So unlike Petrino, I refuse to quit and will continue no matter how rough it looks.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Dunn (6/3), Norwood (6/21), Snelling (3/9) and Redman (1/4). Effective Runs (4 yards or more)-Dunn, 1 and Norwood, 1. Dunn also had 1 catch for 11 yards, and Norwood had 2 catches for 57 yards. Norwood also had a couple of nice runs called back on holding penalties by WR’s which has plagued this team all year. Also, I’d note that Snelling converted yet another 4th and 1 and appears to be golden in short yardage situations.

Breakdown of passes:

Redman: 23/40, 298 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 5 Bad passes, 2 Throw aways, 1 Other (White quit on a route that looked very completable), 4 Dropped passes and 4 Defended passes. Despite the outcome of the game, Redman still appears to be the best option available.

Drops (4): Crumpler, 1; Jenkins, 1; White, 1; Norwood, 1. Jenkins had an opportunity late for a catch but was absolutely drilled and the ball popped loose. Probably technically a drop since he had it in his hands but I had a hard time calling that a drop but instead labeled it as “defended.”

YTD Drops (40):

Jenkins 9
White 10
Crumpler 6
Horn 3
Dunn 6
Norwood 2
Blakley 1
Robinson 3

Run blocking: This just hasn’t been very good all season and I don’t expect it to improve.

Pass blocking: It was okay. Redman does a very good job of getting rid of the ball in less than 2 seconds MOST of the time otherwise, the sacks would surely go up.

Sack responsibility (3): First one is on Batiste. Second was due to Redman holding the ball too long and the final one was on a delayed LB blitz who had no one available to pick him up so that goes on the scheme.

YTD Sacks (41):

Scheme 3.0
Norwood 2.5
Gandy 1.0
Forney 3.0
Harrington 8.5
Weiner 1.5
Blalock 8.0
McClure 3.5
Dunn 1.0
Foster 1.0
Clabo 2.0
Ojinnaka 3.0
Batiste 2.0
Redman 1.0

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: Allowing 145 yards to backups is embarrassing. The middle was very soft and taken advantage of all night in particular.

Pass Defense: Kornheiser said it best, it looked more like a passing drill than it did a game.

Sacks: No sacks and only 1 hurry. This was a huge factor in the why the pass defense looked as bad as it did.

Special Teams:
Norwood had 3 kickoff returns and 4 touchbacks (Mare did an excellent job on kickoffs): 1. from the -3, 19 yards; 2. from the -1, 23 yards; 3. from the 3, 31 yards (15 yards negated on McIntyre penalty). Nothing special tonight.

Jennings had 2 punt returns: 1. from the 39, 3 yards; 2. from the 23, 3 yards. Nothing special here either.

Koenen had 6 punts: 1-46 yards to the NO 9, no return. 2-23 yards to the NO 11, no return. 3-60 yards to NO 1, out of bounds. 4-58 yards to the NO 6, out of bounds; 5-53 yards to the NO 20, 1 yard return and fumbled (caused by Boley and recovered by Irons); 6-42 yards to the NO 39, no return. Outstanding day punting.

Koenen had 3 kickoffs: 1. to the end zone, touchback; 2. to the end zone, touchback; 3. to the 9, 19 yard return. Very good day kicking.

Field Goals: None

Special Teams coverage: Outside of the McIntyre penalty, very nice job.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Eliminate negative yardage plays (penalties, negative rushes, and sacks).
2. O-line needs to get more push, reach the second level and put defensive players on their backs.
3. Find a Coach.

Offensive MVP: Chris Redman (23/40, 298, 2 TDS/1 INT). Would have been Jenkins if not for the drop that resulted in a pick 6.

Defensive MVP: Michael Boley (4 tackles, 1 pass defended and 1 special teams fumble forced)

Special Teams MVP: Michael Koenen.

Goat of the Week: Bobby Petrino

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers, December 16th!

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Hall may want out of Atlanta

December 22nd, 2007 Comments off

DeAngelo Hall has called into question his future with the team per an AP report. Hall indicates that he does not want to be part of a losing team next season, implicitly saying that he may demand a trade if he and the new coach do not mesh well.

Hall had his share of run-ins with Bobby Petrino during his time with the Falcons, and was one of the more outspoken critics of Petrino upon his departure. Hall even indicated a week ago to the AJC that with Petrino gone, he would be much more open to stay with the Falcons. Hall’s contract is set to expire following the 2008 season, and he’s been outspoken about his desire to receive a large contract in the past. It was rumored that Hall asked to be traded this past October, but those rumors were later dispelled.

Hall’s most recent “outburst” could be linked over his displeasure at the team targetting Bill Parcells to take over football operations. In the AP report, Hall’s statements imply that he would prefer a coach much more akin to former Falcons head coach Jim Mora in being much more approachable than Petrino was, and Parcells is said to be.

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