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Archive for December, 2010

Babs questionable for Panthers

December 31st, 2010 Comments off

Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was listed as questionable for the regular season finale this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in the team’s weekly injury report earlier today. Babineaux missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder injury. Also listed as questionable are defensive end Kroy Biermann (calf), linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee), and center Todd McClure (ankle). Defensive end John Abraham (groin) and wide out Roddy White (knee) were listed as probable on the report.

Babineaux was the lone Falcon to miss all three days of practice. Lofton, McClure, and White each missed Wednesday and Thursday practices, but White fully participated on Friday, and both Lofton and McClure had limited participation as well.

Second-year defensive tackle Vance Walker is listed on the team’s depth chart as Babineaux’s primary reason. His absence will likely mean increased playing time for Peria Jerry as well.

Seven Falcons named to Pro Bowl

December 28th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons had a league-leading seven players named to the Pro Bowl squad, announced tonight. That total eclipsed New England (6), Baltimore (5), Dallas (5), Green Bay (5), and Philadelphia (5). The bulk of the Falcons players came on offense with 5 of their Pro Bowlers being named to the NFC squad on that side of the ball. This is the most Pro Bowlers for the Falcons in a single season, eclipsing their 6 players that made it in 1998.

The NFC squad will feature 3 starters from the Falcons, including running back Michael Turner, fullback Ovie Mughelli, and wide receiver Roddy White. Turner leads the NFC in rushing with 1,304 yards and ranks 5th overall in the league. His 11 rushing touchdowns also tie for the conference lead with Adrian Peterson and a tied for third overall in the NFL. It marks Turner’s second stint as a Pro Bowler, as he earned his first bid in 2008, his first year with the Falcons. Much of Turner’s success can be attributed to Mughelli’s fierce lead blocking, which is likely why he was named to the team as the conference’s top fullback. It is Mughelli’s first career Pro Bowl. For the season, Mughelli has 28 rushing yards, 11 receptions, and 1 receiving touchdown. Roddy White leads the league in receptions (109) and is in second place with 1,327 receiving yards behind Denver’s Brandon Lloyd (1,375). White is so far ahead of the curve in the NFC, that the conference’s second leading receiver only has 84 receptions. White also has 9 receiving touchdowns, which is tied for 6th in the conference. White needs only 3 more receptions to eclipse Terance Mathis’s franchise-record 111 receptions in a single season. He only needs 56 more yards to break his own record he set in 2008 for single season receiving yards. It marks White’s third consecutive Pro Bowl bid.

Also making the NFC’s offensive roster is quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez, neither of whom were named starters. Ryan has completed 62.2% of his 539 pass attempts for 3,469 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. That gives Ryan a passer rating of 89.8, which only ranks 7th in the conference, but due to the success of the Falcons who sport the conference’s best overall record at 12-3, and because of several come from behind wins and drives led by Ryan gave him the not over some more highly rated passers.

Gonzalez currently has 64 receptions for 603 yards and 5 touchdowns. He ranks 4th in receptions, 6th in yardage, and is tied for 3rd in touchdowns among NFC tight ends. It happens to be the lowest reception and yardage totals for Gonzalez since the 1998 season. This marks the 11th time Gonzalez has been named to the Pro Bowl, but the first time since joining the team a year ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end John Abraham has been named a starter. Abraham’s 13 sacks ranks him tied for second in the entire league, but first alongside Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware in the conference. But it also makes him tied with Jason Babin for the top marks among defensive ends. It’s been a resurgent year for Abraham, after many raised concerns about his ability to produce after a 5.5 sack season a year ago.

Rounding out the Falcons Pro Bowlers is special teams maven Eric Weems. Weems sits atop the NFC with a 27.7 kickoff return average and also ranks highly with his 10.3 punt return average. He also has been one of the Falcons top performers on special teams coverage.

The Pro Bowl will be played on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu.

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Brees lifts Saints over Falcons

December 28th, 2010 1 comment
Getty Images from Yahoo!

Brees celebrates a touchdown

The Falcons lost a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints 17-14, their first home loss since in Week 14 of the 2009 season, and their first home loss since with Matt Ryan as a starter since November 16, 2008. The Falcons are now forced to win in the season finale vs. the Carolina Panthers in order to clinch their No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and the NFC South division crown.

Matt Ryan led a tough offensive effort, completing 15 of 29 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons got little going on the ground, with Michael Turner rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries. Ryan added 26 yards on 4 carries. Michael Jenkins led the receivers with 5 catches for 40 yards. Roddy White caught 4 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons offense struggled on third downs, only converting 3 of 12 attempts. Their 215 total offensive yards was the lowest output of the Falcons offense since December 16, 2007.

This was a defensive battle between both teams. Only one first down was gained between the two teams on each of their first two possessions. The Saints got their first points on the board on their third offensive series with a 52-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley. On the very next series at the start of the second quarter, Todd McClure botched a snap which led to the Saints getting the ball back in Falcons territory. Five plays later, Pierre Thomas marched in from 2 yards to get a touchdown, taking the Saints lead to 10-0. But the Falcons were able to counter on their next series with an 8-play, 78-yard drive helped by a 27-yard run by Turner and several Saints penalties. Ryan hit White from 7 yards for six to cut the Saints lead to 10-7 which carried over into halftime. The Falcons were impressive on their opening drive in the second half, going 80 uyards down the field thanks in large part by a pass interference on Tracy Porter against Michael Jenkins giving the Falcons the ball at the Saints 1-yard line. But two plays later, Michael Turner fumbled, preventing the Falcons from taking their first lead of the ballgame. Both teams traded unsuccessful possessions until the end of the third quarter. But at the start of the fourth quarter, Jonathan Babineaux pressured Drew Brees, who flipped an errant ball into the waiting hands of Chauncey Davis who return it 26 yard for a touchdown. On the ensuing series, Brees had another pass intercepted on a tipped pass from John Abraham, but the Falcons were unable to take advantage to stretch their lead. The Saints rebounded with a 13-play, 90-yard drive to take back their lead 17-14 with 3:24 to go in the game. The Falcons got the ball back, but were unable to convert and punted with 2:52 left on the clock. On the very next play, Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham on a 7-yard throw, but he fumbled. But the refs reviewed the play and rightly ruled Graham down by contact, reversing the call. Two plays later the Saints converted a first down with 2 minutes on the clock, sealing their victory.

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Moneyball – Week 15 Review

December 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Matt Ryan had another solid game. Not spectacular, but efficient, which is what you look for on the road. Michael Turner had a nice game on the ground, particularly getting better as the game started to wear on and the Seahawks defense wore down. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins both had good games. i think this might have been the first game that Tony Gonzalez did not earn anything as a receiver, but I guess he made up for it with a key block. The blocking was hit and miss. Dahl struggled. The Falcons had some issues with Raheem Brock stunting, as he was able to clobber Matt Ryan on two plays like that. Overall, offensively it wasn’t a standout performance, but they made the plays they needed to in order to win.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTAL
Michael Turner$0$12$0$0$0$0$12.00
Matt Ryan$10$1$0$0$0$0$11.00
Roddy White$0$0$5$0$0$0$5.00
Michael Jenkins$0$0$5$0$0$0$5.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$2.5$0$2.50
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Brian Finneran$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Ovie Mughelli$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$2$0$0-$2$0.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$0.00
Harry Douglas$0-$1$1$0$0$0$0.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Justin Peelle$0$0$1-$1$0-$1-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Harvey Dahl$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

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Falcons thrash Seahawks

December 19th, 2010 Comments off

AP from Yahoo! Sports

Anderson goes for the strip

Despite going down to an early 7-0 deficit, the Falcons came back and never looked back as they took down the Seattle Seahawks on the road by a score of 34-18. The Falcons finish their road schedule with a record 6-2, and are now 12-2 going into the final two weeks. This week’s win also clinches a playoff berth for the Falcons.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons, completing 20 of 35 passes for 174 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. On the ground, Michael Turner rushed for 82 yards on 25 carries. Roddy White led receivers with 7 receptions for 65 yards and a score. Tony Gonzalez added 4 grabs for 26 yards. Jason Snelling (4 catches, 15 yards) and Michael Jenkins (3 catches, 48 yards) each had touchdown receptions as well. The Falcons were able to dominate time of possession for most of the game, especially in the second and third quarters where they held the ball for 21 minutes vs. the Seahawks 9.

The game kicked off with a long, methodical drive by the Seahawks to march 80 yards on 12 plays, finishing with a 1-yard run from Marshawn Lynch for the score. That drive ate up the first 7:32 of the first quarter. The Falcons answered back with their own 15-play, 51-yard drive that consumed just over eight minutes. That drive included two gutsy 4th & 1 conversions to extend those drives. Ryan finished it with a 3-yard pass to Jason Snelling for the score. After a three and out by the Seahawks offense, the Falcons got the ball back and continued their long, methodical drives with another 51-yard drive for over 7 minutes. It ended with a 27-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. Another Seahawks three and out would give the Falcons the ball back with over 4 minutes remaining in the half, but Matt Ryan threw an interception to Jordan Babineaux, which set up a field goal from Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare to tie up the game. But with getting the ball back with 2:05 on the clock, Matt Ryan led the team on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, hitting Michael Jenkins for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds to go to take a 17-10 halftime lead. The second half got off to a promising start after the Falcons punted on their opening possession. On the first play, Jamaal Anderson stripped Matt Hasselbeck in the endzone, which led to a recovery for a touchdown by Jonathan Babineaux. The next Seahawks drive led to another turnover, with Brent Grimes picking off Hasselbeck. That turned into another Bryant field goal to give the Falcons a 27-10 lead. Another interception on a tipped pass from Grimes landed in the hands of William Moore on the very next possession. And the Falcons capitalized four plays later with Ryan’s 5-yard scoring pass to White. With a 34-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Falcons proceeded to run out the clock. With a quarterback change, the Seahawks were able to score again under the command of Charlie Whitehurst, who scrambled for the touchdown from the 1-yard line. And then hit Ben Obamanu on the two-point conversion, after a pass interference penalty on Chris Owens negated the Falcons stop on the previous conversion attempt. But it was the Seahawks parting shot as the Falcons were able to run down the clock and close out the game for the win.

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Moneyball – 3rd Quarter Stats

December 15th, 2010 Comments off

Here are the accumulated stats for Moneyball through the first 12 games of the season. The numbers in parentheses () indicate the stats that each player earned in the past four games. You’ll probably notice that Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Michael Turner have all exceeded their cumulative totals from last season already at this point in the season as far as passing, receiving, and rushing goes, respectively.

You can click here to see the stats from the first quarter of the season as well as the first half stats. And you can also click here to see the glossary and Moneyball rules.

PASSING
1st
3rd
20+
40+
TD
PT
INT
Skd
TOTAL
Matt Ryan58 (25)57 (20)22 (7)5 (0)22 (8)60 (22)7 (2)2 (1)$123.00 ($44)

2-point conversions: Ryan (2)

RUSHING
5+ yd
10+
1st
3rd
YAC
TD
MH
TOTAL
Michael Turner49 (17)23 (8)15 (2)7 (3)9 (2)7 (3)2 (2)$138.00 ($44)
Jason Snelling16 (2)6 (0)6 (1)5 (0)4 (1)2 (0)1 (0)$46.00 ($4)
Matt Ryan6 (1)1 (0)06 (1)000$14.00 ($2)
Ovie Mughelli1 (0)01 (0)3 (2)000$5.00 ($2)
Gartrell Johnson0100000$2.00
Jerious Norwood1001000$2.00
Michael Jenkins0000100$1.00

RECEIVING
1st
3rd
YAC
20+
40+
TD
Drop
TOTAL
Roddy White24 (9)21 (8)7 (2)11 (4)3 (0)7 (2)3 (3)$91.00 ($25)
Tony Gonzalez12 (6)13 (2)3 (2)4 (1)04 (1)6 (2)$34.00 ($11)
Michael Jenkins7 (6)6 (4)1 (0)3 (1)2 (0)1 (1)1 (1)$22.00 ($12)
Jason Snelling2 (0)4 (3)5 (2)1 (1)02 (1)0$16.00 ($8)
Brian FInneran05 (2)1 (0)1 (0)03 (1)1 (1)$12.00 ($3)
Harry Douglas5 (1)3 (0)2 (1)3 (1)01 (0)4 (1)$11.00 ($2)
Ovie Mughelli2 (1)1 (0)4 (2)001 (1)10$9.00 ($5)
Justin Peelle2 (2)2 (0)0001 (1)0$6.00 ($4)
Michael Palmer2000010$4.00
Eric Weems1 (0)1 (1)1 (1)0000$3.00 ($2)
MIchael Turner10300011$3.00
Jerious Norwood0010002-$1.00

2-point conversions: White (2)

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Moneyball – Week 14 Review

December 15th, 2010 Comments off

Not the greatest offensive performance from the Falcons, but they got the job done. Ryan wasn’t spectacular, but was able to spread the ball around to multiple receivers and the Falcons were able to get multiple players involved in the passing game. The offensive success was largely put on the back of Michael Turner, who had another strong performance. Because of that, blocking was mostly good, but was sloppy at times. McClure struggled a bit with some of the Panthers size inside, particularly Andre Neblett. But otherwise, he had one of his better games. Blalock had a nice game, and both Gonzalez and Jenkins contributed on the edge as blockers. Roddy had a pretty quiet game until the end where he had a couple of first down grabs.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTAL
Michael Turner$0$19$1$0$0$0$20.00
Matt Ryan$6$0$0$0$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$2$0$0$6.00
Roddy White$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Michael Jenkins$0$0$1$2$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Eric Weems$0$0$1$0$1.5$0$2.50
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Ovie Mughelli$0$1$1$0$0$0$2.00
Gartrell Johnson$0$1$0$0$0$0$1.00
Brian Finneran$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Harvey Dahl$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Falcons take down Panthers

December 12th, 2010 Comments off
AP from Yahoo! Sports

Biermann dives for the sack

The Falcons take their win total to 11 with a 31-10 over the struggling Carolina Panthers. The Falcons can clinch a playoff spot if either the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles lost this afternoon. The Falcons got off to a quick start against Carolina, but let the Panthers start to claw their way back into it before putting them out of their misery late.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons, completing 20 of 34 passes for 227 yards with a touchdown and interception. Michael Turner rushed 28 times for 112 yards and 3 scores. Roddy White led receivers with 8 grabs for 79 yards. Tony Gonzalez caught 4 passes for 28 yards and a score. Michael Jenkins and Brian Finneran each added two receptions for 26 and 13 yards, respectively. While the Falcons offense was able to convert 9 of 17 third down attempts and produce 327 total yards, there were times throughout the game where they couldn’t push a big lead against the lowly Panthers and take advantage of a strong defensive effort in the first half.

The game began with Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart fumbling on their first offensive play, forced by Mike Peterson and recovered by Dunta Robinson. The Falcons would score three plays later on Ryan’s touchdown pass to Tony Gonalez. The Falcons would then score on their next offensive series on a Turner 1-yard run. That series was helped by a 46-yard deep strike to Harry Douglas. While the Falcons defense held the Panthers offense in check, the Falcons offense would grow stagnant on their next two series as well. An 18-play, 64-yard drive that lasted almost 9 minutes resulted in a Matt Bryant field goal in the second quarter. The Falcons would get the ball back from the Panthers with less than a minute to go in the first half, but Ryan threw an interception to end the half trying to get the Falcons into field goal range with just seconds left on the clock. The Falcons got the ball to start the second half, but their first series resulted in a quick punt. A 48-yard run by Stewart set up the Panthers for their first touchdown. The Panthers attempt to go for it on fourth down on their next series resulted in a Chauncey Davis sack which gave the Falcons good field position at midfield. Five plays later, Michael Turner was in for 3 yards for his second touchdown of the day to push the lead to 24-7. The Panthers started out the fourth quarter with a field goal, helped by another big run (43 yards) from Stewart. On their next series, Stephen Nicholas tipped a Jimmy Clausen pass into Mike Peterson’s hands for an interception with promising field position at the Panthers 16-yard line. Turner would run it in for his third score four plays later to cap the Falcons win.

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Week 14 Stock Report

December 9th, 2010 Comments off

More looks at which Falcon players have raised or lowered their play in recent games.

Stock Up

Jonathan Babineaux – After a slow start this season, Babineaux’s play has picked up to his usual standards in recent weeks. He’s played well this season and has made his presence and impact known throughout the year but he has not played at the consistently high level he played for most of last season. Recent games have indicated he might be back.

Brent Grimes & Dunta Robinson
– Both Grimes and Robinson had strong games against the Tampa Bay. Grimes is more notable because of his game-saving interception and an interception that was overturned. But Robinson also did his part and arguably had his best game in coverage since joining the Falcons. The Falcons pass defense has been one of their weaknesses throughout this season, but if Grimes and Robinson continue to play at a similarly high level it may wind up being a strength as the games start to get more dire come January.

Stock Down

Jamaal Anderson – After a relatively strong first half of the season, Anderson’s play has tailed off in recent weeks. He’s been practically invisible for much of the past month. Early in the season, he was making his presence known as a run stopper and an occasional pass rusher on his limited opportunities there, but in recent weeks his ability as a run stopper have been on the decline. And without it, there is not much else with Anderson.

Justin Peelle – While Peelle has may his presence known in the passing game since his return, his blocking seems to be much more iffy. The gap between the veteran Peelle and upstart Palmer seems to be have been closed. Before the argument would have been that Peelle is the more reliable blocker, but that reliability has not been apparent in recent games. And if it doesn’t return before the year is out, it may never do so because the Falcons might consider going with Palmer as the primary backup to be not so significant a roll of the dice as it may have appeared to be earlier in the season.

Moneyball – Week 13 Review

December 8th, 2010 Comments off

I noted in a tweet during the game that Raheem Morris’s decision not to go for it on 4th & 1 at the Falcons 41-yard line with a 17-14 third quarter lead would come back to haunt him, and I honestly think it did. That is now twice in the Morris-Smitty series where Morris made a poor coaching decision that I think cost the Bucs the game. The first you may recall as his decision in the Falcons home win over the Bucs last season where he decided to kick a 51-yard field goal with a fledgling kicker with a 4-point lead with 2.5 minutes to go in that game. The kicker, Connor Barth missed the field goal given the Falcons the ball back at their own 41-yard line, and Chris Redman led the Falcons down the field and thanks to a defensive holding penalty on a 3rd down gave Redman four more plays at the 5-yard line to hit the throw to Roddy White.

And speaking of which, the same thing pretty much happened here. On the Falcons game-winning drive, Ronde Barber’s pass interference on a failed 3rd down throw to Tony Gonzalez gave the Falcons a first down. And two plays later, Quincy Black’s horse collar on Michael Turner out of bounds gave the Falcons a 1st & 10 from the 16, instead of a 3rd & 8 from the 31. Not to knock Radio Raheem too much because he has the Bucs playing hard, but they are a young and undsciplined team and he isn’t the greatest game manager which is why the Falcons have basically stolen two wins from Tampa Bay the past two years.

Matt Ryan didn’t have a great game throwing, but a lot of it was poor footing on the field. There were several times where he dropped back and slipped on his drop, which meant his footwork and mechanics were thrown off on passes. His second interception was because of Roddy slipping. Michael Turner had a nice game, but it should be noted that $11 of his Moneyball earnings came in the first quarter alone. The Bucs did a good job shutting him down after that point. Ovie Mughelli stepped up his play in the absence of Jason Snelling, in the passing game and on special teams. It was nice to see Michael Jenkins be the hero with the big catch at the end of the game, when he’s been the goat far too often over the past year or so. The blocking was good early on, but the Bucs were winning the battle in the trenches as the game progressed. Blalock had a much better game than he did a week ago. Baker missed a block because of poor footing.

Overall, it wasn’t a strong performance on the part of the Falcons offense, but they made the plays when they had to make them, and that’s really all that matters.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTAL
Michael Turner$0$13$0$0$0$0$13.00
Matt Ryan$7$0$0$0$0$0$7.00
Ovie Mughelli$0$0$4$1$2$0$7.00
Roddy White$0$0$5$1$0-$2$4.00
Michael Jenkins$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$2$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$4$0$0$4.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$4$0$4.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Harvey Dahl$0$0$0$2$0-$2$0.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Brian Finneran$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Justin Peelle$0$0$0-$1$0-$1-$2.00

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