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Archive for November, 2008

Broncos triumph over Falcons

November 16th, 2008 Comments off

AP/K.C.Cox The Denver Broncos were able to end the Falcons five-game home winning streak with a 24-20 victory. The Falcons had a chance to win late in the game but were unable to make the necessary play to put themselves in a situation to win it. Roddy White dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass with 1:16 left on the clock. On the next play, Matt Ryan and the Falcons were unable to convert the 4th and 18 to give them another chance.

Ryan led the team, completing 20 of 33 passes for 250 yards with an interception. Michael Turner led the team on the ground with 81 yards on 25 carries and 2 scores. Jerious Norwood had 18 yards on 4 carries and 3 grabs for 25 yards. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins shared the lead among receivers with 5 catches each. White had 102 yards receiving and Jenkins 55. Brian Finneran contributed having 4 catches for 44 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons had an okay day but weren’t able to get the necessary big plays to effectively stop the Broncos offense. On the ground, the Broncos rushed for 124 yards without their top two backs in the lineup. The Broncos also converted 7 of 12 third down attempts, did not turn the ball over, and allowed only 1 sack. Lawyer Milloy led the team with 8 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (1 tackle, 1 sack), Erik Coleman (6 tackles), Chauncey Davis (2 tackles), Domonique Foxworth (5 tackles), Chris Houston (6 tackles), and Curtis Lofton (6 tackles) had notable games.

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on both his two field goal attempts, making 46 and 36-yarders. Michael Koenen had 2 punts for an average of 31 yards with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Jerious Norwood had 4 kickoff returns for an average of 20 yards, while Harry Douglas returned 1 punt for 9 yards.

Next week the Falcons hope to get back on track at home as they host the Carolina Panthers (8-2), NFC South division leaders. The Panthers beat the Falcons earlier in the season in Week 4, but with a win next week the Falcons can narrow the gap on the division lead and also keep pace in the NFC wildcard race.

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Game #7 AT Philadelphia Eagles Game Review

November 11th, 2008 Comments off

This was a very painful loss for the fans and the team as well. From what some would say is a bad call inside the 2 or simply a bad pass inside the 2, a phantom muffed punt call from the officials or just too little too late. Very tough ending to rewatch but it’s done and I’m certain the team will grow and learn from it.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Turner (17/58), Norwood (4/5), Ryan (1/4), Douglas (2/10). Effective Runs (4 yards or more or scores TD)-Turner, 4; Norwood, 1; Ryan, 1 and Douglas, 1. For the second week in a row, the running game just wasn’t much of a factor. The upside is that Norwood had 5 catches for 55 yards to increase the production from the backfield.

Breakdown of passes:

Ryan: 23/44, 277 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 11 Bad passes, 4 Dropped passes, 3 Thrown away and 3 Defended passes. Best outing of the year by far.

Drops (4): White, 1; Douglas, 1; Finneran, 1 and Jennings, 1.

YTD Drops (19):

White – 6
Douglas – 3
Jenkins – 3
Finneran – 3
Turner – 1
Peele – 1
Norwood – 1
Jennings – 1

Run blocking: Struggled with the Eagles defense and failed to open holes.

Pass blocking: No sacks until the 4th quarter. Not as good as it has been but with Baker out, that was expected.

Sack responsibility (2): First sack was on Ryan for not audiblizing out of the play. The blocking scheme called left Gocong completely unaccounted for. The second sack was on Ojinnaka on the left side.

YTD Sacks (9):

Justin Blalock – 2.0
Todd Weiner – 1.5
Tyson Clabo – 1.0
Busted Play – 1.0
Matt Ryan – 2.0
Quinn Ojinnaka – 1.0
Jason Snelling – 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: Poor day vs. the run. Giving up 6 yards per carry is horrid.

Pass Defense: Was pretty decent. Gave up far too much to backs and tight ends which accounted for half of the Eagles passing yards.

Defense was visibly different without Jamaal Anderson on the field.

Sacks: First sack went to Jamaal Anderson and the second came from Curtis Lofton on the blitz (congrats on first sack!)

Special Teams:
Norwood had 4 kickoff returns: 1. from the 1, 21 yards; 2. from the 15,14 yards; 3. from the 5, 13 yards; 4. from the 11, 20 yards. Very substandard day.

Mughelli returned a short kick for 17 yards..

Jennings had 5 punt return opportunities: 1. from the 25, 16 yards; 2. from the 14, 4 yards; 3. from the 32, 2 yards; 4. from the 17, fair catch; 5. from the 40, muffed (or at least that’s what was called) and recovered by Philly. There were also two punts downed by the Eagles. While the call was horrible, Jennings should have been able to easily catch the punt or get far away from it. We desparately need a new punt returner.

Koenen had 7 punts: 1-29 yards to the 15, no return. 2-25 yards to the 16, no return. 3-41 yards to the 14, 5 yard return. 4-53 yards to the 40, no return. 5-34 yards to the 12, no return. 6-34 yards to the 14, -12 yard return. 7-48 yards to the 43, 2 yard return. Jackson was non-factor in the return game and Koenen pinned them inside the 20 5 times.

Koenen had 3 kickoffs: 1-to the 7, 17 yard return. 2-to the 17, 14 yard return. 3-to the 1, 16 yard return. Would still prefer touchbacks but the third kickoff was great.

Field Goals: None.

Special Teams coverage: Very good coverage.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Cover the middle of the field better in pass coverage (especially Tight Ends).
2. Eliminate 3rd and long conversions by opposition.
3. Defensive consistency in the second half.

Offensive MVP: Roddy White (8 catches, 113 yards, 2 TD’s)

Defensive MVP: Jamaal Anderson (2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 hurry) Main reason is how noticeably different the defense was without him.

Special Teams MVP: Michael Koenen.

Goat of the Week: Adam Jennings and the ref making the phantom muffed punt call.

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Oakland Raiders November 2nd!

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Bye Bye Boley

November 9th, 2008 1 comment

While the Falcons are now focused on making a playoff push this season, as a fan I have the luxury of looking ahead to the off-season.

The second off-season is always pivotal when it comes to a recent regime change in the front office. There you are afforded often the opportunity to retain or purge many of the holdovers that do or do not fit into the new coach’s system.

We have seven current starters that will be unrestricted free agents after the season. And I think one prominent one that won’t be back is Michael Boley. Boley has really had a subpar season this year. Last year, he was consistently a playmaker from week to week. But I’m guessing either he just isn’t playing as well, or Mike Smith/Brian VanGorder’s defense doesn’t afford him as many opportunities to make plays as the scheme under Mike Zimmer. I don’t think it’s the latter since, I’ve seen many chances for Boley to make plays but he simply has not. He certainly would top my list as one of the most disappointing Falcons so far this year. Today against the Saints, one play I think summarizes the type of season Boley is having. When Deuce McAllister scored on that screen pass, Boley had an opportunity to make a touchdown-saving tackle. But instead of trying to wrap up McAllister like you’re supposed to, he simply lowered a shoulder as if that would b e enough to bring the 232-pound running back to the ground. That is simply not the 2007 version of Michael Boley. Now, he will have more opportunities to improve his play over the next 7 games, but if we get more of this, I think the Falcons would be smart to let him walk this off-season and promote Stephen Nicholas into his starting spot and/or draft or sign his replacement. He is just not playing like he’s playing for a big long-term contract.

Other players that have stepped up their level of play and look like they are playing for a new contract are Jonathan Babineaux, Domonique Foxworth, and Michael Jenkins. Babineaux won’t make anyone forget about how good Rod Coleman was for us, but Babineaux has improved each season he’s been a Falcon, and there is still hope that trend will continue into the future. Foxworth has only been recently elevated into the starting lineup, but he had a very good day today against the Saints, and he certainly is showing that the Broncos were mistaken in giving up on him as a future starter there. Jenkins isn’t great, but he’s playing better as the season has wore on. I think he and Ryan are getting comfortable together. And while I wouldn’t think about giving Jenkins a huge contract since he’s only on pace to have 43 catches this year, but he’s providing this team with a nice No. 2 option.

The other starters that will hit the open market are Grady Jackson, Lawyer Milloy, and Michael Koenen. Jackson and Milloy while I would welcome them back, due to their ages it’s probably best for the Falcons to focus on trying to replace them with younger and better players this off-season. Koenen has continued to be his consistent and accurate self when it comes to punting and putting the ball into the endzone on kickoffs.

Obviously the season is not over. And each of these players will have chances to change my mind (and potentially that of Dimitroff) over the next seven games. But in the case of Boley, it may be time for the team to start giving Stephen Nicholas even more reps just for the sake of covering their bases.

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Falcons win big over Saints

November 9th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons earned their first NFC South division win over the New Orleans Saints 34-20. The Saints attempted a late comeback, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Falcons. Chevis Jackson had a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown which put the game out of reach.

Matt Ryan led the team with 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing 16 of 23 pass attempts. Michael Turner rushed for 96 yards on 27 carries with a score. Michael Jenkins led receivers with 6 catches for 72 yards. Roddy White had 5 grabs for 68 yards and a touchdown. Jerious Norwood had Ryan’s other scoring strike, scoring on a 67-yard pass, and finishing the day with 2 catches for 88 yards and 6 carries for 17 yards rushing.

Defensively, while Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for 420 yards, the Falcons secondary really showed up. They picked off Brees three times and were able to break up 15 passes. Erik Coleman led the team with 9 tackles, an interception, and forced 1 fumble. Coleman’s interception came on the very first play of the game, and he returned it 32 yards. Keith Brooking (8 tackles), Lawyer Milloy (8 tackles), Michael Boley (7 tackles, 2 pass breakups), Curtis Lofton (6 tackles), Domonique Foxworth (5 tackles, 3 pass breakups), Chris Houston (5 tackles, 1 interception, 2 pass breakups), John Abraham (1 tackle, 1 sack, 4 hurries), Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles), and Chevis Jackson (1 tackle, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups) had noteworthy games.

On speical teams, Jason Elam was perfect on two short field goals of 22 and 27 yards. Michael Koenen had 4 punts for an average of 35.3 yards with 3 placed inside the 20-yard line. Jerious Norwood returned 2 kickoffs for an average of 36.5 yards, while Harry Douglas had 2 punt returns for an average of 16.5 yards.

The Falcons will host the Denver Broncos (5-4) next week, hoping to extend their home winning streak to six games. The Falcons last played the Broncos in 2004, which was a victory, but it came only after six straight losses to the Broncos dating back to 1985.

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Falcons dominate Raiders in shutout

November 2nd, 2008 Comments off

AP/J.Jacobsohn The Falcons earned their first shutout victory in five years by beating the Oakland Raiders 24-0 on the road. The Falcons move their record to 5-3 and presumably are still in the thick of the NFC playoff race with half of their games remaining.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with 220 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, completing 17 of 22 passes. Michael Turner led the Falcosn on the ground with 139 yards on 31 carries. Jerious Norwood added 63 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, while Jason Snelling cleaned up with 47 yards on 8 carries. Roddy White led Falcon receivers with 5 catches for 54 yards, but Michael Jenkins caught both of Ryan’s touchdown passes finishing the day with 2 grabs and 64 yards.

Defensively, it came almost too easily for the Falcons facing the inept Raiders offense. The Falcons allowed -2 total yards in the first half. The Raiders finished the game with 77 total yards. The Raiders were only 1 of 9 on third downs and earned only 3 first downs in the entire game. John Abraham and Curtis Lofton tied for the team lead each with 5 tackles. Abraham added 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Erik Coleman (2 tackles, 1 interception), Lawyer Milloy (1 tackle), and Chevis Jackson (1 tackle) had notable performances.

Special teams might have been the only area where there was obvious need for improvement. Jason Elam connected on 1 of 2 field goal attempts, making a 48-yarder but missing one wide right from 51 yards. Michael Koenen had 1 punt for 33 yards, but had another punt blocked. Jerious Norwood returned 1 kickoff for 26 yards, and Harry Douglas had 2 punt returns for 13 yards.

The Falcons will host the New Orleans Saints next week in the first of three straight home games. It will be the team’s first matchup with the Saints this season and hopefully their first NFC South division win. The Falcons have lost their last 4 against the Saints and have only won 3 of their last 10 against the Saints. The Falcons have split their last 10 against the Saints at home.

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Game #6 VS Chicago Bears Game Review

November 2nd, 2008 Comments off

Not many games can live up to the excitement that this one delivered. The defense really held up well except for 2 drives. Fortunately, the offense did just enough to make up for it.

Here’s what I saw:

Offense:

Running game: Turner (25/54), Norwood (3/31), Ryan (1/1), Douglas (1/-11). Effective Runs (4 yards or more or scores TD)-Turner, 4; Norwood, 3. The Bears really did a good job of bottling up Turner. With Norwood’s success, it’s hard not to wonder why he didn’t get more carries but there were only 8 real drives so opportunities were limited to start with.

Breakdown of passes:

Ryan: 22/30, 301 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. Breakdown of incompletions: 2 Bad passes, 2 Dropped passes, 2 Thrown away and 2 Defended passes. Best outing of the year by far.

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

YTD Drops (15):

White – 5
Douglas – 2
Jenkins – 3
Finneran – 2
Turner – 1
Peele – 1
Norwood – 1

Run blocking: With Turner getting shut down, the line didn’t adjust to what the Bears were bringing on defense

Pass blocking: Outstanding job keeping Ryan off the ground. Superb effort.

Sack responsibility (0): None

YTD Sacks (7):

Justin Blalock – 2.0
Todd Weiner – 1.5
Tyson Clabo – 1.0
Busted Play – 1.0
Matt Ryan – 1.0
Jason Snelling – 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: The trend continues, only 20 yards allowed in the first half but 56 allowed in the second half including a touchdown.

Pass Defense: Did it’s job except for two drives including the late touchdown drive.

Sacks: One sack and it goes to Jamaal Anderson, the first of his career. Congrats JA98!

Special Teams:
Norwood had 4 kickoff returns: 1. from the 2, 39 yards; 2. from the -3, 30 yards; 3. from the 0, 24 yards; 4. from the -2, 85 yards. Great day for Norwood.

Douglas returned the short kick for 10 yards to help set up the last second field goal attempt.

Jennings had 3 punt return opportunities: 1. from the 21, fair catch; 2. from the 19, fair catch and aided by a interference penalty; 3. from the 15, 6 yards. Another poor return day and at this point, not sure why he hasn’t been replaced.

Koenen had 2 punts: 1-37 yards, touchback. 2-45 yards to the 46, fair catch. No big returns by Hester means a great day.

Koenen had 6 kickoffs: 1-to the 21, 9 yard return. 2-to the 11, 25 yard return. 3-to the 10, 21 yard return. 4-to the 4, 19 yard return (nullified by holding penalty). 5-to the 4, 14 yard return. 6-from the 17, 33 yard return. Seems the strategy was to kick fairly short at the beginning, changed it and went back to it late. Not a proponent of kicking it short and the last kickoff showed why. Koenen did what was asked of him.

Field Goals: Elam was 5/6 from 29, 48, 32, 41 and 48. Lone miss was the 33 yarder that almost cost us the game.

Special Teams coverage: Very good on punts, not as good on kickoffs as it has been.

Things that really need improvement:

1. Cover the middle of the field better in pass coverage (especially Tight Ends).
2. Eliminate 3rd and long conversions by opposition.
3. Defensive consistency in the second half.

Offensive MVP: Matt Ryan (Couldn’t ask for much more)

Defensive MVP: Jamaal Anderson (4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for losses, 1 hurry, 2 passes defended)

Special Teams MVP: Jason Elam (accounted for 16 of the 22 points).

Goat of the Week: I’d say the entire defense on the last touchdown drive but specifically Chris Houston for allowing the receiver to get behind him.

Let me know your thoughts and questions otherwise:

Next up: AT Philadelphia Eagles October 26th!

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