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Archive for November, 2009

Ryan will not play vs. Eagles

November 30th, 2009 Comments off

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on his twitter feed that Matt Ryan would be out for Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles due to a toe injury. This news was confirmed by Falcons head coach Mike Smith later on Monday.

Per Glazer, Ryan suffered ligament damage to his right toe this past Sunday in the Buccaneers game. Ryan suffered the injury in the first quarter, on the final play of the Falcons opening series in which he was sacked.

As to be expected, Chris Redman will start in place of Ryan vs. the Eagles. The Falcons have no plans to make a roster move to shore up depth.

Smith announced also that running back Michael Turner has not been ruled out for the Eagles game yet. Turner also suffered an injury on Sunday.

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Go ahead and boo Vick

November 30th, 2009 Comments off
A Homecoming

A Homecoming

The Philadelphia Eagles come to town this weekend and along with them Michael Vick. A lot of mixed emotions I’m sure among Falcon fans in regards to Vick. A mix of fond and frustrating memories. But for all Falcon fans that will be at the game this Sunday in the Dome (I won’t be among them), I insist that you boo the heck out of Vick when given the opportunity.

Why? Not because you dislike him. Personally, if there was a Hall of Fame for disliking Vick, I’d be a first ballot inductee. But Falcon fans should take a page from the Green Bay Packers and boo Vick. For Packer fans, I imagine they were just as conflicted when Favre came to town. They loved him for years, but he seemingly slapped them in the face by going to a hated rival. In a few years once Favre retires, many of the Packer fans that felt betrayed by Favre will forgive and forget about this little episode and focus on remembering Favre for the player he was in his heyday in green and gold.

My suggestion to Falcon fans is to do the same in regards of Vick. Support the team like the Packers fans did and boo Favre. Regardless of your personal opinion of Vick, I suggest Falcon fans show their team pride and not wear their old No. 7 jerseys and if Vick ever steps onto that field to hear a chorus of boos.

The Falcons are in the midst of a playoff chase, and taking a timeout this weekend to cheer for Vick is very unseemly. A true Falcon fan roots for the Falcons only, regardless of who lines up across the field.

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Redman leads Falcons to comeback win

November 29th, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/K.C. Cox

Getty Images/K.C. Cox

The Falcons won in a closely fought division game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 20-17. Chris Redman hit Roddy White on a game-winning score with only 23 seconds left for the Falcons in a dramatic come from behind victory. The Falcons started the game fairly well going up 10-0 before injuries to Matt Ryan and Michael Turner stalled momentum and the Bucs were able to take the lead in the third quarter and held it until the very end.

Matt Ryan started the game, but only made it through one series before he was sidelined with a toe injury. He finished the game 2 of 3 for 15 yards. Chris Redman subbed in and had 23 completions on 41 attempts for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Turner also left the game with a lower leg injury early in the third quarter. Turner still managed to lead the team with 33 yards on 12 carries. Jerious Norwood had 6 carries for 22 yards. Both Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins had season-high performances. Gonzalez caught a season-high 9 passes for 83 yards. Jenkins had 7 grabs for 80 yards, both season-highs for him. Roddy White added 5 catches for 57 yards. Jerious Norwood also had 2 grabs for 28 yards and a score. With the team down 4 points late in the game, and capitalizing on a missed 51-yard field goal by the Bucs, the Falcons were able to get the ball back with 2:30 left at their own 41. Redman led the team on a 15-play drive to get the game-winning score. Gonzalez came up big, catching 4 passes for 34 yards on that drive. The Falcons were aided by a defensive holding call on a 3rd & 10 incompletion at the Buccaneer 10-yard line, which gave them a fresh set of downs. Redman hit White for a 5-yard score on 4th and goal. Injuries to Ryan and Turner were not the only ones the Falcons had to deal with as both Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl were pulled from the game with injuries.

While not one of the best efforts of the Falcons defense this season, they were able to hold the Buccaneers offense to 318 yards, and made some stops on third downs at critical times to give the offense some opportunities. The Bucs were only 3 of 12 on third downs for the entire game. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 8 tackles. Jamaal Anderson (5 tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), Kroy Biermann (3 tcackles), Chris Houston (4 tackles), Chevis Jackson (3 tackles, 1 forced fumble and recovery), Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles), Chris Owens (5 tackles), and Mike Peterson (3 tackles) had noteworthy games.

On special teams, it was not a great day. Jason Elam continued his inconsistency. He made a 45 and 37-yarders, but missed on a 43-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that would have cut the Bucs lead to one point and would have allowed the team to possibly win on a field goal instead of the necessary touchdown. Michael Koenen had a punt blocked, which set up the go-ahead score for the Bucs. He finished the day however with 4 punts for an average of 50.3 yards and 2 were placed inside the 20. Eric Weems had 1 punt return for 18 yards and 4 kickoff returns for an average of 19 yards.

The Falcons hope to get players healthy and carry some of this momentum into a home matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) next week. It’s probable that the loser of that contest will drop out of a playoff contention. It will also be a noteworthy game because it marks the return of Michael Vick to Atlanta. The Falcons lost to the Eagles last season in a road contest. The Falcons have won three of their last four vs. the Eagles at home dating back to 1997. But have lost 5 of their last 6 games against the Eagles going back to 2000.

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Happy Turkey Day

November 26th, 2009 Comments off

Gobble, gobble.

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all the Falcon fans. Enjoy the meal and the games if you can. And don’t fret too much about how much grief your drunken uncle gives you. Or if you happen to be that drunken uncle, don’t come down too hard on your nephews and nieces.

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Moneyball Update – Week 6

November 25th, 2009 Comments off

Finally got around to reviewing the Bears game. I decided that as I attempt to try and catch up by the end of the season, I’m going to forgo the playing time earnings for the time being. I’ll go back and do them once I’m all caught up, but they are really tedious to do since I’m making notes of every play on the field for every snap, and it’s very time consuming. So for the time being, these tables will only include players that did actually did something in the game.

This wasn’t the most “polished” of games. The offense really got off to a slow start, particularly Matt Ryan. But things picked up in the second half. Michael Turner had a good game, although the team clearly missed Ovie Mughelli at times during the game. Verron Haynes just wasn’t up to the task of being a lead blocker. Gonzalez and Roddy made some plays, particularly with yards gain after the catch. Jenkins had a really bad game and was a non-factor, dropping two passes, and also having a penalty. The blocking was fairly solid, with most of the mistakes made by backs and tight ends. The Bears were able to get some pressure by blitzing, but the offensive line held strong.

PLAYER
PASS
RUN
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTAL
Michael Turner$0$10$1$0$0-$1$10.00
Matt Ryan$7$2$0$0$0$0$10.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6$0$0$0$6.00
Roddy White$0$0$6$0$0$0$6.00
Jason Snelling$0$2$2$0$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$2$0$2.00
Jerious Norwood$0$2$0$0$0$0$2.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Harvey Dahl$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Verron Haynes$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Michael Jenkins$0$0-$1$0$0-$1-$2.00

Defensively, this was not a good game for the cornerbacks and linebackers. They made a lot of mistakes in coverage. Lofton and Peterson both made plays getting some pressure on the quarterback and making some stops in the backfield, but had their woes in coverage, particularly Lofton. Brian Williams and Chris Houston did not perform well either, giving up some long plays. Williams did break up a pass in the endzone, but it happened to be the play he was hurt on. Chevis Jackson came in, gave up the score, and then later in the game gave up the pass that put the Bears in position to score with only a few seconds left. He didn’t get deep enough on his zone drop on that particularly play. Luckily, Orlando Pace’s false start on the next play killed the Bears momentum, and Cutler missed Desmond Clark for the game-winning touchdown.

But Babineaux was lights out this game, he was really all over the place. He did miss half a tackle, where he and Brent Grimes tried to tackle Garrett Wolfe, but Babineaux didn’t wrap up and knocked Wolfe into Grimes, who missed the tackle. But he forced a fumble, got a QB pressure, batted down a pass, got a sack, and got two tackles for loss, one of which came on a third down.

PLAYER
DEF
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Jonathan Babineaux$6.5$0$0$6.50
Kroy Biermann$4$1-$1$4.00
John Abraham$2$0$0$2.00
Thomas Johnson$2$0$0$2.00
Jamaal Anderson$1$0$0$1.00
Mike Peterson$1$0$0$1.00
Thomas DeCoud$1$0$0$1.00
Chauncey Davis$1$0$0$1.00
Brian Finneran$1$0$0$1.00
Matt Ryan$1$0$0N/A
Brent Grimes$0.5$0$0$0.50
William Moore$0$0.5$0$0.50
Coy Wire$0$0.5$0$0.50
Erik Coleman$0$0$0$0.00
Lawrence Sidbury$0$0-$1-$1.00
Brian Williams-$2$0$0-$2.00
Curtis Lofton$0$0-$2-$2.00
Chevis Jackson-$3$0$0-$3.00
Chris Houston$1$0-$2-$3.00

Noteworthy Stats from Week 6

Dropped Passes (2): Jenkins
Poor Throws (5): Ryan
QB Pressures Allowed (1): Gonzalez
Missed Blocks (3): Haynes (2), Blalock (1)
QB Pressures (8): Biermann (3), Abraham (2), Babineaux (1), Davis (1), Peterson (1)
Missed Tackles (5): Grimes (1.5), Lofton (1), Peterson (1), DeCoud (1), Babineaux (0.5)

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The Genius behind the Gonzo trade

November 24th, 2009 Comments off
The right move

The right move

For those that have visited the forums, you may be aware that there are some Falcon fans that are skeptical of the so-called genius behind the decision to acquire Tony Gonzalez this off-season.

Gonzalez had a brilliant start to the season, but has come back down to earth a bit over the past month or so. And now there are opinions where Matt Ryan may be pressured to focus on Gonzalez a bit too much, which may be actually hurting the team more than helping. And despite the Ryan-Gonzalez connection essentially leading us on a comeback this past Sunday vs. the Giants, in general I would say that I agree with those opinions.

Another reason why some may cite why the Gonzalez move was a bad move is because it cost the Falcons a second round pick this year. Second round picks because of the relative cheapness yet the relative high quality of the players picked is really the most valuable pick in the draft. The New England people (Belichick, Pioli, and Dimitroff) understand this better than anyone in the league, and thus do their best to hoard these picks. Dimitroff however is much more willing than his former mentors to part with these picks because he’s a bit more aggressive than either.

A third reason why the Gonzalez trade may be a bad one is the belief that Gonzalez’s presence on the roster has forced Mike Mularkey to shrink the playbook, which has hurt Ryan’s development, and is one of the primary culprits why Ryan has been slumping as of late.

And all of the reasons are not wrong. The problem is that these reasons are based purely off the notion of seeing the Gonzalez trade as a one-year move. It’s only a small part of the big picture.

If one is only to look at this move from a first year perspective, you need to change your viewpoint.

At the website Pro-Football-Reference, they have a stat called expected wins and losses. You can read about it here, but briefly it’s a stat that indicates that points scored and allowed is much more accurate way than strictly wins and losses to examine how good a team will be in the following year. Last season the Falcons won 11 games, but based on PFR’s stat, their expected wins was 9.7 wins and 6.3 losses. Which means the Falcons were closer to a 9-win team than an 11-win team as far as expectations entering this season.

The mastermind

The mastermind

Dimitroff understood this, and knew that with a tougher schedule, and the youth movement on defense, that the Falcons would likely take a step back this year. Probably to the point that had they stood pat, they may have only been a 6 or 7-win team this year.  And one could certainly say that more often than not this year, we have appeared to be of that caliber.

So what acquiring Gonzalez did was not supposed to take an 11-win team to a whole new plateau. Essentially, it was taking a 7-win to another plateau. What Gonzalez has done is maintained the status quo. Gonzalez is the difference on what may be a 7-9 team that keeps them at 9-7. Dimitroff, like all members of the Falcons organization desperately wants to break the curse of non-consecutive winning seasons. The Falcons needed to make a significant move this off-season to break the curse.

Gonzalez’s addition to the offense was exactly that. Now, it’s up to the individual to decide whether breaking that 43-year streak merits giving up that valuable second round pick. Personally, I think it is. And I think when all is said and done this year, the Falcons will achieve at least 9 wins.

Now looking ahead, Gonzalez has two more years after this one on his contract. And as Ryan continues to develop, Gonzalez can help take a 9-7 team to another plateau. And if/when this team makes a deep playoff run between now and 2011 with Gonzalez helping all the way, those people that spoke ill of this trade will look fairly silly.

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Giants disappoint Falcons in OT

November 22nd, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/C.McGrath

Getty Images/C.McGrath

The Falcons dropped a heart-breaking game to the New York GIants by a score of 34-31 in overtime. The Falcons made a valiant comeback with two fourth quarter touchdown drives to tie it up at 31-31. But the Giants won the toss in overtime, and were able to drive down the field and Lawrence Tynes hit a game-winning 36-yard field goal. The Falcons fall to 5-5 and are now on the outside looking in as far as their playoff hopes are concerned.

Matt Ryan’s play improved from recent weeks, completing 26 of 46 passes for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jason Snelling replaced an injured Michael Turner today and rushed for 76 yards on 25 carries and 2 scores. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 8 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, including the game-tying one. Michael Jenkins had 6 catches for 76 yards. Roddy White added 4 grabs for 45 yards. Eric Weems had Ryan’s other touchdown pass, as his lone catch on the day was a 4-yard score which cut the Giants lead to 31-24 with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. On the first fourth quarter drive, Ryan led the Falcons on a 12-play 65-yard drive. Jenkins was able to convert a key third down early on the draft, while Gonzalez converted two more in Giants territory before Ryan hit Weems for the score. The Falcons got the ball back with 3:42 left at their own 24-yard line. Ryan led them on another 12-play drive. Gonzalez had 4 catches on that drive for 37 yards, including an 11-yard score with just 35 seconds remaining.

The Falcons defense had early struggles, giving up 203 passing yards in the first half. Eli Manning ended the day with 384 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. They were able to limit the Giants ground attack to 88 yards.  However, the defense gave up a lot of big plays in the passing game. They gave up a 23-yard pass to Mario Manningham in overtime, which put the Giants in field goal range. Manningham also had a catch of 33 yards, while Steve Smith had a 51-yard grab, Kevin Boss 28 yards, and Hakeem Nicks had a 30-yard catch as well. Curtis Lofton and Mike Peterson shared the team lead with 11 tackles. Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles), Erik Coleman (8 tackles), Chauncey Daivs (3 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles), Brent Grimes (7 tackles, 1 interception), Chris Houston (5 tackles), and Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles, 1 sack) had noteworthy performances.

Jason Elam continued his streakiness, missing a 35-yard field goal. He did however make a 25-yarder. Michael Koenen had 2 punts for an average of 26 yards with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems averaged 23.3 yards on 4 kickoff returns and 12 yards on 2 punt returns.

The Falcons hope to regroup for a home game next week vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-9). It will be the first of three home games that the Falcons hope can regain their momentum in their playoff push down the stretch. The Falcons are 4-0 at home this season and have won their last 7 at home. It will mark their first matchup against their division rival this season. They beat the Bucs in their last home matchup last season with a 13-10 win in overtime. And prior to that have split their last 4 at home vs. the Bucs.  However, they’ve lost 6 of their last 10 vs. the Buccaneers.

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Ryan’s struggles continue in Panther loss

November 15th, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/S. Lecka

Getty Images/S. Lecka

The Falcons fall to 5-4 with a tough division loss to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 28-19. The Falcons got off to a slow start and were on the verge of mounting a comeback, but a missed field goal by Jason Elam and an interception by Matt Ryan ruined their chances.

Ryan completed 22 of 41 passes for 224 yards, but threw 2 picks and a touchdown. On the ground, Michael Turner led the team with 111 yards on 19 carries, but was sidelined in the second quarter with a high ankle sprain and did not return. Jason Snelling picked up much of the slack, finishing the day with 61 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Roddy White led receivers with 7 catches for 98 yards. Tony Gonzalez added 6 grabs for 67 yards. Justin Peelle caught the Falcons only passing score, and finished with 2 catches for 12 yards. The Falcons pass protection improved from recent weeks despite left tackle Sam Baker missing the game, as they gave up no sacks on the day. Ryan’s scoring pass to Peelle came on a 4th and 1 attempt on the Panthers 3-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter to cut the Panthers lead 21-19. The defense made a stop, but the Panthers were able to pin the Falcons deep  in their own territory. Starting out at their own 4, they drove down the field to get to the Panthers 16. But a failed QB sneak on the 3rd and 1 forced head coach Mike Smith to challenge the spot, which came up empty. And when Elam trotted out on the field for the 34-yarder, he missed it wide left. The Falcons defense made another stop, and Eric Weems was able to make a good 24-yard return to set up the Falcons offense with the ball at midfield. But Matt Ryan threw an interception on an attempt to Michael Jenkins. Three plays later, Jonathan Stewart rushed 45 yards for a score to put the game out of reach with two minutes remaining.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up a lot of yards on the ground as the Panthers rushed for 185 yards. But they were unable to force any turnovers, but they did improve their play in the second half. Until Stewart’s big run, they had limited their offense to 113 total yards in the second half. The Panthers were 5 of 7 on third down conversions in the first half, but were 2 of 6 in the second half. Erik Coleman led defenders with 10 tackles and the team’s lone pass defense. Jamaal Anderson (4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss), Thomas DeCoud (3 tackles), Brent Grimes (5 tackles), Curtis Lofton (6 tackles), and Mike Peterson (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) had noteworthy games.

Special teams had its ups and downs. Elam hit on 35 and 24-yard field goals until his miss late. Michael Koenen had 2 punts that averaged 54.5 yards, with 1 placed inside the 20. Weems averaged 18.5 yards on 2 punt returns and 28 yards on his lone kickoff return. Chauncey Davis blocked a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter, which prompted the drive that allowed the Falcons to cut the lead to two points.

Next week the Falcons will hope to rebound in a tough NFC matchup with the New York Giants (5-4). The good news is the Falcons play the Giants on the road and since 1981 in their last twelve meetings, the road team has won that football game. The Giants have won the last two of the series, which were played in Atlanta in 2006 and 2007. But previously, the Falcons beat the Giants for three straight in road games from 2002-04. With both teams having 5-4 records, this game likely has playoff implications.

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Moneyball Update

November 12th, 2009 Comments off

Yes, it’s been almost a month since you’ve last seen any updates on Moneyball. It’s not dead. But work has picked up recently and I just haven’t had the time to really sit down for the 3+ hours in front of my computer to watch the games over again on NFL.com’s Game Rewind in order to do the update. And when I have had the time, other activities that I deem more pressing have distracted me. Anyone that knows me personally, knows that time management has never been a strong suit of mine.

My workload should lighten up after Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping that I’ll get the chance to review the Bears and Cowboys game and get that posted before then. Hopefully after Thanksgiving, I’ll be able to try and get caught up before the season is over.

In the meantime, if you have a jones for some sort of review of the games, one of the posters in the FalcFans forums by the name of Emmitt has been posting his own reviews. You can read his reviews of the Bears, Cowboys, and Saints games on the forums.

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Falcons take down Redskins

November 8th, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/K.C. Cox

Getty Images/K.C. Cox

The Falcons defeated the Washington Redskins at home by a 31-17 score to take their record to 5-3 and remain undefeated at home. The Falcons got off to an early lead and were able to sustain it for most of the remainder of the game.

Matt Ryan led the team completing 17 of 24 passes for 135 yards with 1 touchdown and an interception. Michael Turner rushed for 166 yards on 18 carries with 2 touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 5 catches for 41 yards and a score. Roddy White and Aaron Stecker added 3 catches each for 27 and 22 yards, respectively.

On defense, the Falcons allowed 312 total yards, most of which came in the second half. The Redskins only had 69 total yards in the first half and three points. Jonathan Babineaux led defenders with 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. John Abraham (4 tackles, 0.5 sacks), Kroy Biermann (2 tackles, 1 sack), Erik Coleman (8 tackles), Tye Hill (1 tackle, 1 interception returned for a touchdown), Chris Houston (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 passes defended), Chevis Jackson (3 tackles, 1 sack), Curtis Lofton (8 tackles), and Mike Peterson (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) had noteworthy games. Hill’s interception was returned 62 yards for a score to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead.

Jason Elam connected on his lone field goal attempt of 33 yards. Michael Koenen had 3 punts for an average of 42 yards with all three being placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems averaged 24.8 yards on 4 kickoff returns and 6 yards on 2 punt returns.

Next week the Falcons will take on division rival the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons beat the Panthers 28-20 in a closely contested battle in Week 2. The Falcons won their last contest at home vs. the Panthers last season, 45-28. But prior to that had lost their previous 3 home games vs. Carolina.

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