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Archive for September, 2008

Offense struggles against Panthers

September 28th, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/S.Dykes The Falcons continued their woes on the road, losing today to the Carolina Panthers 24-9. The Falcons have now lost five straight road games. The teams’ record falls to 2-2. The Panthers committed 11 penalties, but the Falcons were able to capitalize on the Panther mistakes.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with 158 yards passing and completing 21 of 41 attempts. They couldn’t get Michael Turner going, as he was limited to 56 rushing yards on 18 carries. Jerious Norwood added 51 yards on 3 carries and 4 receptions. Roddy White led the receivers with 7 catches for 90 yards. The Falcons offense struggled on third down, only converting 2 of 15 attempts.

Defensively, the Falcons struggled to slow down the Panthers passing attack, giving up 294 yards in the air. Brent Grimes led the team with 10 tackles. Other notable contributions were made by: Curtis Lofton (8 tackles), Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles), Michael Boley (5 tackles), Erik Coleman (5 tackles), and Grady Jackson (4 tackles).

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on all of the Falcons scores with field goals of 33, and two of 44 yards. Michael Koenen had 6 punts for an average of 34.8 yards with 1 placed inside the 20. Adam Jennings average 12.5 yards on 2 punt returns, and Jerious Norwood averaged 18.5 yards on 2 kickoffs. John Abraham blocked a punt, but it was another failed chance to capitalize on a Panthers mistake.

The Falcons will have an even tougher road test next week taking on the Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Lambeau Field. The Falcons have won two of their last three however at Lambeau, however have lost their last two to the Packers. The Falcons are 1-9 in their last 10 road games. The Packers are 7-3 in their last 10 home games.

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Game #2 AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers Game Review

September 28th, 2008 Comments off

A tough loss on the road 24-9. There were several factors with the turnovers being the major culprit but also the defense gave up quite a few long 3rd down conversions that could have changed the complexion of the game as well as not being able to punch it in when in the red zone.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Turner (14/42), Norwood (6/18), Douglas (1/33), White (1/2) and Ryan (6/10). Effective Runs (4 yards or more)-Turner, 3; Norwood, 3 and Douglas, 1.

Breakdown of passes:

Ryan: 13/33, 158 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 10 Bad passes, 2 Dropped passes, 1 Busted Play, 6 Throw aways and 1 Defended pass.

Drops (2): White, 1 and Jenkins, 1.

YTD Drops (3):

Peele – 1
White – 1
Jenkins – 1

Run blocking: Not as good of a job as week 1. Tampa got quite a bit of penetration, there were several missed blocks that could have sprung big runs and the opportunity to establish a rhythm never presented itself.

Pass blocking: Was okay for the most part. Before getting hurt, Baker had no negatives. Blalock did get beat on a stunt and looks to have problems with those. McClure had a missed block on an early run and a holding penalty that was declined due to Jenkins’ drop. Dahl had a rather rough day as he tripped over McClure’s feet blowing up a running play in addition to several pressures and a false start penalty. Weiner and Clabo also struggled specifically in the second half.

Sack responsibility (4): First sack came on the 7th drive with Clabo and Snelling responsible. Second sack came on the 10th drive and was a result of a busted play (miscommunication with the running back). Third sack came on the 11th drive with Weiner and Clabo responsible. Final sack was also on the 11th drive and on Blalock (on the stunt previously mentioned).

YTD Sacks (5):

Blalock – 2
Clabo – 1
Busted Play – 1.0
Jason Snelling – 0.5
Todd Weiner – 0.5

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: Was very good until allowing the 68 yard TD to Graham.

Pass Defense: Allowed way too many 3rd and long situations and also Tampa’s tight ends were often wide open.

Sacks: Jonathan Babineaux and John Abraham each had one.

Special Teams:
Norwood had 4 kickoff returns and 1 touchback: 1. from the 1, 22 yards; 2. from the -2, 24 yards; 3. from the 1, 39 yards (nullified by illegal block on Snelling); 4. from the 8, 18 yards (fumbled and recovered by Snelling). Very average day.

Jennings had 5 punt return opportunities: 1. from the 24, 6 yards; 2. from the 13, fair catch; 3. from the 40, 37 yards; 4. from the 19, downed (improved by Tampa holding penalty); 5. from the 26, 0 yards (illegal block on DeCoud). 1 excellent return, otherwise very average.

Koenen had 5 punts: 1-26 yards to the T 10, fair catch. 2-35 yards to the T 34, downed. 3-35 yards to A 49, no gain. 4-30 yards to the T 8, fair catch. 5-55 yards to the T 33, no gain (improved by illegal block penalty on Tampa). 2 punts inside the 10 and 1 very long one. Solid day for Koenen.

Koenen had 4 kickoffs: 1-Touchback. 2-to the -2, 17 yard return. 3-to the -1, 32 yard return. 4-to the 9, 12 yard return. Plenty of length on the kicks and enough hang time for coverage teams to cover.

Field Goals: Elam was 3/3 from 27,24 and 32.

Special Teams coverage: Outside of two penalties and one kickoff return, very good job.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Cover the Tight End.
2. Eliminate 3rd and long conversions by opposition.
3. Blalock must learn to transition on stunts.

Offensive MVP: Laurent Robinson (4 catches, 45 yards) – 2 really nice catches that turned the momentum and gave us a chance.

Defensive MVP: Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 1 sack, 2 hurries, 3 tackles for losses)

Special Teams MVP: Jason Elam, 3/3 on Field Goals

Goat of the Week: Matt Ryan – 2 Interceptions were horrible throws and couldn’t get it in the end zone. Positive note – didn’t give up and played much better in the 2nd half.

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: VS Kansas City Chiefs September 21st!

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Turner helps Falcons burn Chiefs

September 21st, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/D.Benc The Falcons extended their home winning streak to three games with a 38-14 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs. Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 2-0 at home, and 2-1 overall.

The Falcons offense got off to a slow start with its initial three possessions being three and outs, but Michael Turner and the Falcons ground attack was able to turn up the heat on the Chiefs defense. Turner finished the game with 104 yards on 23 carries and 3 touchdowns. Jerious Norwood added 75 yards on 11 carries with a single reception for 30 yards. Matt Ryan completed 12 of 18 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass was a perfectly thrown 70-yard strike to Roddy White who led Falcons receivers with 5 catches for 119 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons were able to take advantage of the Chiefs green quarterback Tyler Thigpen in his first NFL start. They forced three interceptions and sacked him twice. The team did however give up 184 rushing yards. Erik Coleman led the team with 10 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. Keith Brooking added 10 tackles himself, with contributions from Lawyer Milloy (9 tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles), Michael Boley (4 tackles), Curtis Lofton (5 tackles), John Abraham (3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble), Brent Grimes (1 tackle, 1 interception), and Chris Houston (1 tackle, 1 interception).

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on his lone field goal attempt of 27 yards. Michael Koenen had 6 punts for an average of 40.8 yards with 3 placed inside the 20-yard line. Jerious Norwood averaged 22 yards on 2 kickoff returns while Adam Jennings averaged 6.2 yards on 6 punt returns, including one muff.

Next week the Falcons will square off against another division rival in the Carolina Panthers (2-1), hoping to get their first road win of the season. The Falcons lead the all-time series 16-10. And they have won the last two contests on the road against Carolina.

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Falcons could be without starters in Week 3

September 19th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons released their final injury report today with several of the team’s starters being listed on it. Linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Grady Jackson, and offensive linemen Todd Weiner and Tyson Clabo were listed as questionable for this week’s contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. However offensive tackle Sam Baker was listed as probable.

Boley is listed with a neck injury telling the AJC that it is a “little stiff” and has improved as the week has progressed. Jackson injured his knee prior to last week’s contest against the Buccaneers and sat out that game. Weiner hurt his knee and Clabo injured his elbow. Clabo has started at right tackle this season, and Weiner filled in at left tackle last week for an injured Sam Baker. Baker suffered a concussion early in the Bucs game, but should be able to play this Sunday due to his probable status. Weiner’s knee injury will be one to watch. He missed much of last season after injury both knees and also sat for the majority of the off-season unable to practice.Also listed as doubtful was center Alex Stepanovich. He has already missed time due to a back injury he suffered in the summer.Also the Falcons would seem unlikely to sign free agent defensive Jason Babin before this week’s game. MLive.com reported on Wednesday that Babin was set to work out with the Falcons on Thursday, after he was released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier that day. Babin was a first round pick in 2004 by the Houston Texans and began his career as an outslide linebacker. But he was then traded to the Seahawks in 2007 and has played as a defensive end for them. He only played in 2 games in 2007, but in three seasons with the Texans had earned 22 starts. He has 13 career sacks and 126 tackles. The AJC reports that the Falcons are actively looking to improve their pass rush.

Falcons cut Milner

September 16th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons released tight end Martrez Milner today. Milner had been slowed by injury and had fallen on the depth chart. Milner was a fourth round pick for the team in 2007. He appeared in 8 games with 2 starts as a rookie, catching 9 passes for 50 yards before his season ended with an ankle injury.

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Don’t be too easy on Ryan

September 16th, 2008 3 comments

Matt Ryan really struggled in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Frankly, Matt Ryan is the reason we lost that game, at least the main reason. He played very poorly in the first half. He bounced back well in the second half however. But I don’t think we should mince words about Ryan’s performance. He played very poorly in the first half, and had he performed at a much higher level, we probably could have or even should have won that game.

And while Ryan’s early struggles are to be expected due to his lack of experience, Falcons fans shouldn’t give Ryan a pass on playing poorly. The Falcons coaching staff deemed Ryan was ready to start in this league. And as such, he should be held to a fairly high standard. Yes, he’s a rookie, so a reasonable person isn’t expect him to go out there in his second NFL start and win a game by himself. But if the Falcons coaches felt he was ready and prepared to face the music so early in his NFL career, then such a notion isn’t that far from the truth. Meaning, Falcon fans should hold Ryan to a veteran standard.

I was never a fan of the cult of excuse making that Falcon fans were involved in when it came to Michael Vick. Whenever Vick performed poorly, there would be a flood of excuses of why that was the case. Bad receivers, bad blocking, bad play-calling, etc. And I’m not going to say those things didn’t exist because they certainly did. But those things didn’t have much to do with the poor accuracy, touch, and decision making that Vick displayed often while our starter. And Ryan showed much of the same early on Sunday, and I’d hate for my fellow Falcon fans to get back into their old bad habits.

So when Ryan performs like he did on Sunday, don’t hesitate to say so. Trust me, Matt Ryan isn’t going to be reading these comments on the internet. He’ll be too busy worrying about our next opponent to care. You’re never going to hear Matt Ryan’s mother make a plea to the fans of Atlanta that her baby needs immense love and support to get through these tough times.

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Milloy arrested for DUI

September 15th, 2008 Comments off

The AJC reports that Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy was arrested for driving under the influence and speeding early Monday morning in Gwinnett County, Georgia. According to records, Milloy was booked around 4:30 am and posted bond at 9:48 am.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated to the media on Monday that the situation will be handled internally by the team.

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Bucs bottle up Falcons

September 14th, 2008 Comments off

AP The Falcons lost on the road to division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 24-9. The Falcons were able to rally late in the game to come within a score, but were unable to overcome their early 17-0 deficit.

Matt Ryan struggled in his second NFL outing, completing 13 of 33 passes for 158 yards and 2 interceptions. Although he did improve his play in the second half, completing 10 of 18 passes for 122 yards. On the ground, the Falcons did not repeat their Week 1 success. Michael Turner led with 42 yards on 14 carries. Roddy White and Laurent Robinson led receivers with 4 catches each for 59 and 45 yards, respectively. Harry Douglas contributed 2 catches for 34 yards as well as having 1 rushing attempt for 33 yards. Ryan was pressured throughout the game and was sacked 4 times.

The Falcons defensively had some issues, although for the most part they kept the Bucs offense in check, not allowing a Tampa score in the second half until late in the fourth quarter. However, a 68-yard scamper by Earnest Graham with 3 minutes left in the game sealed any chance of a comeback. Lawyer Milloy and Curtis Lofton led the team with 8 tackles each. Keith Brooking (7 tackles), Jamaal Anderson (6 tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 1 sack), John Abraham (1 tackle, 1 sack), Michael Boley (4 tackles), and Erik Coleman (5 tackles) had notable performances.

On special teams, Jason Elam was perfect on three field goal attempts of 32, 27, and 24 yards. Michael Koenen had 5 punts for an average of 36.2 yards with 2 placed inside the 20-yard line. Adam Jennings averaged 14.3 yards on 3 punt returns, while Jerious Norwood averaged 21 yards on 4 kickoffs.

The Falcons hope they can bounce back next week against the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2). The last time the Falcons faced the Chiefs was a loss in 2004. The Chiefs lead the all-time series 5-1. The Falcons lone win against the Chiefs came in 2000.

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Game #1 VS Detroit Lions Game Review

September 14th, 2008 3 comments

You can’t ask for a much better start than what we received this past Sunday. Great running game, pretty solid defense and a nice win 34-21.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Turner (22/220, 2 TD), Norwood (14/93, 1 TD), Douglas (1/7) and Ryan (5/-2). Effective Runs (4 yards or more)-Turner, 13; Norwood, 9 and Douglas, 1.

Breakdown of passes:

Ryan: 9/13, 161 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 1 Bad pass, 1 Dropped pass, 1 Throw away and 1 Defended pass.

Drops (1): Peele, 1.

YTD Drops (1):

Peele – 1

Run blocking: 318 rushing yards, need I say more? Outstanding job.

Pass blocking: Was very good for the most part. Blalock allowed a solo pressure, Blalock/McClure combined for 1 pressure; Norwood/McClure combined for another and Dahl/Clabo combined for 1 final pressure. Blalock was also penalized twice (false start and illegal block in the back).

Sack responsibility (1): The lone sack was on Blalock.

YTD Sacks (1):

Blalock – 1

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 only 62 yards rushing, fantastic effort overall.

Pass Defense: Coverage was a bit soft in the secondary. Houston had two huge penalties that directly resulted in 14 points. Milloy had a very nice athletic interception.

Sacks: Abraham credited with 3. I’ll note that Anderson had a hand in one of them and also Bierrman made an alert play on the bad exchange between Kitna and Smith that almost resulted in a fumble recovery and Davis was there to get the tackle.

Special Teams:
Norwood had 2 kickoff returns and 1 touchback: 1. from the -5, 31 yards; 2. from the 4, 34 yards. Very good returns.

Wilkerson had 1 kickoff return: From the 24, 10 yards.

Jennings had 6 punt returns: 1. from the 10, 10 yards; 2. from the 31, 2 yards; 3. from the 9, fair catch; 4. from the 16, -4 yards; 5. from the 27, 5 yards; 6. from the 26, 2 yards. Not a lot there.

Koenen had 3 punts: 1-28 yards to the D 41, out of bounds. 2-36 yards to the D 31, fair catch. 3-51 yards to D 33, fair catch. 1 great punt, 2 bad ones. Not a good day.

Koenen had 7 kickoffs: 1. to the 2, 14 yard return; 2. to the 7, 16 yard return; 3. to the 3, 23 yard return; 4. to the endzone, 27 yard return (and penalty on Jennings); 5. Touchback; 6. to the 5, 20 yard return; 7. to the endzone, 23 yard return. Not a bad day kicking off but I’d like to see more touchbacks.

Field Goals: Elam was 2/2 from 50 and 25.

Special Teams coverage: Very nice job outside of the Jennings penalty which gave the Lions great field position.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Blalock primarily in pass protection and o-line can eliminate pressures by finding someone to hit.
2. Houston needs to look back for the ball and that should eliminate penalties.
3. Brooking struggled in pass coverage.

Offensive MVP: Michael Turner (Franchise single-game rushing record!)

Defensive MVP: John Abraham (4 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 hurries)

Special Teams MVP: Jerious Norwood (2 good returns and 2 tackles on special teams)

Goat of the Week: Justin Blalock and Chris Houston

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers September 14th!

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Falcons cruise over Lions

September 7th, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/A. Messerschmidt The Falcons got off to an early lead in their season opener, taking down the Detroit Lions 34-21. The Falcons took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and pretty much coasted the rest of the game. It was a strong offensive performance by the team and was a very positive performance considering it was the first of the Mike Smith era.

Matt Ryan’s first official NFL start was a success. His first attempt was a 62-yard scoring strike to Michael Jenkins. He finished the game with 161 yards, completing 9 of 13 passes for a touchdown. Michael Turner led the team on the ground with a new team record 220 yards on 22 carries and 2 scores. Jerious Norwood added 93 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. He also had 2 catches for 6 yards. Roddy White led receivers with 2 catches for 54 yards. Jenkins only reception was his 62-yard score.

Defensively, the Falcons were tough. They gave up only 62 yards on the ground, and 262 yards in the air which more mostly accumulated as the Lions were in “catch-up” mode. Michael Boley led the team with 7 tackles. Erik Coleman (6 tackles), Brent Grimes (6 tackles), Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles, 1 interception), John Abraham (4 tackles, 3 sacks), Grady Jackson (4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss), and Curtis Lofton (4 tackles) had noteworthy performances.

Jason Elam shook off any preseason rust, connecting on field goals of 50 and 25 yards. Michael Koenen punted only 3 times for an average of 38.3 yards. Jerious Norwood had 2 kickoff returns for an average of 32.5 yards and Adam Jennings returned 5 punts for a 3-yard average.

The Falcons will travel to Tampa Bay next week to take on the Buccaneers (0-1), hoping to prove that their Week 1 victory was no fluke and get a win over a division opponent.

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