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Archive for November, 2011

Grimes out ‘a couple’ of weeks

November 30th, 2011 Comments off
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Brent Grimes

Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that cornerback Brent Grimes will miss ‘a couple of weeks’ due to minor surgery on his injured right knee that is scheduled to occur tomorrow. Grimes is expected to miss at least two weeks according to Charles Odum of the Associated Press. He left last Sunday’s game early in the first quarter due to the injury, that he suffered reportedly aginst the Lions in late October and has been sore since.

The Falcons are already thin at cornerback with Kelvin Hayden missing today’s practice due to a toe injury and likely to miss this Sunday’s upcoming game against the Houston Texans. Hayden missed last week’s game. In his absence, Chris Owens filled in at the nickel. But due to Grimes injury, Owens is expected to replace him at left cornerback, and Dominique Franks will likely slide into the nickel role.

Also held out of Wednesday’s practice were linebacker Stephen Nicholas (quad), wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), running back Michael Turner (groin), and defensive tackle Vance Walker (groin). The team also sat defensive end John Abraham, center Todd McClure, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, but not for injury-related reasons. McClure had what was deemed a minor procedure on his knee in late August, and missed a total of three games and was limited in two others due to the injury.

Offensive tackle Sam Baker (back) was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Baker returned for last week’s game, after missing four games. Cornerback Dunta Robinson (neck) was able to fully participate in practice, after suffering a stinger early against the Vikings.

Moneyball 2011 – Week 12 Review

November 29th, 2011 Comments off

A solid performance by the offense in the first half. I think Mularkey called a good game there, and the Falcons executed that game plan very well. I think things got a little too conservative at the outset of the third quarter and you could see a hint of the Falcons playing to protect a lead as opposed to a team that wanted to keep attacking and being aggressive.

A strong performance for Matt Ryan, the type of game that he had with regularity a season ago. But those games have come with far less frequency this year, but he seems over recent weeks to be getting back into that 2010 stride.

Roddy White had an excellent game, and both Douglas and Gonzalez had solid contributions. Jones was an afterthought for the most part, and it’s a shame because he was wide open on the TD pass to Michael Palmer, and it would have been a much easier throw for Ryan to make if he had spotted him. And he was also open deep on a play late in the game, that Ryan threw to Roddy instead for a 26-yard gain, but if he had taken the deep shot perhaps the Falcons score then rather than six plays later on the pass to Palmer. But I guess you could argue that the additional 3 minutes they were able to milk off the clock on those six plays helped them just as much.

The ground game was solid when the holes were there. A lot of missed blocks on the part of the Falcons. Svitek had a good game, shutting down Jared Allen in pass protection, but struggled at various times as a run blocker, missing 3 blocks. Everyone except Clabo missed a block or two, and everytime Turner was stopped for a minimal gain was due to the blocking. We saw a bit more of the Falcons mixing in Snelling and Rodgers into the rushing rotation, although there are still some instances where the Falcons call plays and I’m wondering why Turner is in the game rather than Quizz.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$16$0$0$0$0-$1$15.00
Michael Turner$0$10$0$0$0$0$10.00
Roddy White$0$0$10$0$0$0$10.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$1$0$0$5.00
Harry Douglas$0$1$3$0$0$0$4.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$2$0$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3.5$0-$1$2.50
Michael Palmer$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1.5$0$0$1.50
Mike Cox$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$0$0$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1-$1$0.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50
Julio Jones$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$0.5$0-$1-$1.50

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Falcons sack Vikings

November 27th, 2011 Comments off
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Sidbury sacks Ponder

The Falcons overcame a late push by the Minnesota Vikings to win 24-14, to move their record to 7-4. The Falcons got out to a 17-0 lead at the half, but allowed the Vikings to score 14 points before they could get back on the board to seal the win late in the fourth quarter.

Matt Ryan completed 27 of 34 passes for 262 yards with 3 touchdowns. Michael Turner led the team on the ground with 60 yards on 19 carries (3.2 avg). Roddy White led receivers with 10 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez (9 catches, 69 yards), Harry Douglas (2 catches, 45 yards, 1 touchdown), and Michael Palmer (2 catches, 8 yards, 1 touchdown) also contributed in the air. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try from 37 yards.  Matt Bosher averaged 50.4 yards on 5 punts with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems averaged 13.5 yards on 4 punt returns, including a 42-yarder, 26 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. The Falcons were able to convert on half of their 14 third down attempts and also scored 3 touchdowns on 4 redzone trips.

Defensively, the Falcons dominated the game in the first half, holding the Vikings to 97 total yards. Sean Weatherspoon led defenders with 10 tackles, and also had a sack and 3 tackles for loss. Curtis Lofton (9 tackles, 1 pass defended), Stephen Nicholas (4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defended), Chris Owens (4 tackles, 1 sack), Corey Peters (4 tackles), James Sanders (8 tackles), and Lawrence Sidbury (2 tackles, 2 sacks) all had noteworthy games.

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Falcons Highlight of the Week

November 25th, 2011 Comments off
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Michael Turner

This was a tough choice, because part of me wanted to give it Ryan and Roddy for their deep connection, because it’s been so rare to see those plays made by the offense this year. But I had to give this week’s highlight to Turner for his bruising run.

Turner rumbles for 35 yards

Honorable Mentions:

Michael Turner’s 27-yard sprint

John Abraham’s sack

Roddy White’s 32-yard screen

Ryan to Roddy for 43 yards

Ryan’s 17-yard strike to Gonzo

Dunta’s interception

Moneyball 2011 – Week 11 Review

November 21st, 2011 Comments off

A solid performance for the offense, although there wasn’t anything great about. Matt Ryan had a solid game managing the offense, with only 1 poor throw on the day. Michael Turner had several nice runs and was his old powerful self, breaking tackles on some of them.

The Falcons were able to spread the ball around to different receivers with Julio Jones out of the lineup, with Michael Palmer and Eric Weems getting some action in the passing game. Roddy White had a nice bounce-back game from last week, although he still wasn’t perfect. But he made some nice grabs on the day. Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas also were solid.

The blocking was solid, with Ryan having good protection. Justin Blalock didn’t have a great day, missing 3 blocks, although it is worth noting most of them came when he was pulling or supposed to hit an assignment on the second level. Neither of those two things have ever really been his strength.

Overall, it was a solid performance for the offense. But nothing special. This is the type of game that is giong to be quickly forgotten because there really wasn’t anything notable to happen in it. The struggles the team had converting in the redzone are a chief concern, and it’s hopefully something that can be nipped in the bud.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$13$2$0$0$0$0$15.00
Michael Turner$0$14-$1$0$0-$3$10.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6$1.5$0$0$7.50
Roddy White$0$0$5$0$0-$1$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$4$0$0-$0.5$3.50
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$2.5$0-$1$1.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Michael Palmer$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0-$1$1$0$0$0$0.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$1-$1.5$0.50
Justin Blalock$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Falcons handle Titans, 23-17

November 20th, 2011 Comments off
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Abraham sacks Locker

The Falcons rebounded from last week’s tough loss with a strong 23-17 win over the Tennessee Titans at home. The Falcons record moves to 6-4, as they attempt to keep pace down the stretch in the NFC playoff race.

Matt Ryan led the team, completing 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown. Michael Turner had 100 yards on the ground on 21 carries (4.8 avg) and a touchdown. In the air, Roddy White led receivers with 7 catches for 147 yards. Tony Gonzalez caught 5 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Harry Douglas added 4 catches for 51 yards. Matt Bryant connected on 3 field goals of 19, 33, and 24 yards on the day. Matt Bosher punted twice for an average of 33 yards with both kicks placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems returned a pair of punts for 27 yards. The offense was not at its most crisp on the day, only converting 4 of 12 third down attempts and scoring only 2 touchdowns in 6 redzone trips. Turner also had the team’s lone turnover with a fumble near the goalline.

Defensively, the Falcons handled the Titans much better, particularly early in the game. They gave up only 298 total yards and forced a turnover with a Dunta Robinson interception. Chris Johnson was shut down with only 13 yards on 12 carries. Chris Owens led defenders with 7 tackles on the day, he replaced Kelvin Hayden, who left the game in the second quarter with a leg injury. John Abraham (3 tackles, 1 sack), Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 2 passes defended), Ray Edwards (1 tackle, 1 pass defended), Brent Grimes (1 tackle, 2 passes defended), Curtis Lofton (6 tackles, 1 pass defended), Robinson (3 tackles, 3 passes defended), James Sanders 94 tackles), and Sean Weatherspoon (3 tackles) had noteworthy games.

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Baker could return this week, Jones might not

November 18th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons released their injury report this week, and Sam Baker was listed as questionable after limited participation in all three days of practice. Baker missed the past three games with a back injury. Two weeks ago he was reportedly expected to miss 3-4 weeks. He has been replaced by Will Svitek in the team’s past three outings.

Wide receiver Julio Jones was also listed as questionable, despite not practicing all week due to re-aggravating a hamstring injury in last week’s loss to the Saints. Jones suffered the original injury in a Week 5 loss against the Packers, missed two games, but then returned two weeks ago to have a big game against the Colts. If Jones is unable to go on Sunday, he will be replaced by Harry Douglas who is coming off a career high performance against New Orleans.

Expected to miss a second consecutive game is William Moore (quadricep), as he also did not practice this week. James Sanders will start in place of him at strong safety.

Several other players were listed as probable for this weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans. Harry Douglas (thigh), Ray Edwards (knee), and Antone Smith (knee) all were able to participate fully in the past two days of practice and were probable. Brent Grimes (knee) and Jason Snelling (hamstring) were both limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but participated fully in Friday’s practice. Curtis Lofton (ankle) was added to the injury report after Thursday, but also went full bore on Friday. John Abraham and Todd McClure were also included on the injury report, but only because both were held out of Wednesday’s practice for non-injury related rest. They had full participation in both Thursday and Friday’s practices.

The Titans linebacker corps is shaken up with starters Gerald McRath (hamstring) and Barrett Ruud (groin) both listed as questionable on their injury report. Both were able to practice fully on Friday. Backup linebacker Colin McCarthy (knee) is also questionable after missing the last two days of practice. Defensive end Dave Ball will miss the game with a concussion.

Falcons Highlight of the Week

November 17th, 2011 Comments off

Unfortunately, this little feature has slipped my mind the past two weeks. So we’ll bring it back again. This week’s highlight has to be Jason Snelling’s 24-yard catch and run where he broke several tackles and rumbled through practically all of the Saints defense. He would not be denied.

Snelling Rumbles

Honorable Mentions

Harry Douglas 46-yard catch & run

Ryan threads needle to Gonzo

Bryant’s game-tying FG

 

 

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 10 Review

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

A really tough outing for the Falcons as they had multiple opportunities to win this game, but could not take advantage. This is traditionally how the Falcons have played the Saints over recent years, and why they have lost most of those games. A dropped ball here, a penalty there, a blown assignment there, and it all adds up to the Falcons coming up short at the end of the day.

Personally, I think the decision to go for it on fourth down in overtime was the right call. If you can’t get 8 inches, then you probably don’t deserve to win. I didn’t agree with the play call on that play though, with less than a foot to go I think you just sneak it up the middle rather than handing it off to Turner.

For the most part, Matt Ryan had a really good game. He continues to struggle with throwing the ball downfield, as 6 of his 8 poor throws were deep (20+ yard) passes. He does a good job on the majority of his throws from 15-20 yards, but once you start pushing his throws to 25 yards or more, he tends to struggle. I’m still not in love with the Falcons overall play-calling and design of their passing plays, although there were several calls during this game that I think are good ones from Mularkey. I just want to see the Falcons use those plays more. Getting 4 or 5 options on the field at the same time, and running more vertical routes with clear outs worked very well for this team in the fourth quarter. We should be doing more of those plays earlier in the game, and particularly on first downs rather than running the ball into the pile for 1 or 2 yards.

Michael Turner had a strong start to this game, earning $7 of his $13 on the first series. But after that, he was pretty non-descript. Had a few more nice runs, but he didn’t do much. Part of that was because of the blocking. The blocking was solid early on, but as the game wore on the Falcons could not get any push.

Cameron Jordan was punking Tyson Clabo throughout this game. Will Svitek doesn’t really seem to be an improvement over Sam Baker in pass protection, although his run blocking is much better. But Ryan’s interception is probably just as much on him giving up the pressure to Will Smith as it is on Roddy White for dropping the ball. Joe Hawley is probably our meanest offensive linemen, but he’s miscast as a guard because of his inability to get consistent push. McClure is clearly starting to slow down, and Blalock is solid, but that doesn’t bode well for your offensive line when he’s your best blocker. He’s the type of player that should be your third best blocker.

Roddy White really struggled in this game, and without even checking I’m sure this is by far his worst earning since I started doing Moneyball in 2009, and probably is one of his worst games since his rookie year. One of his penalties was a ticky tack call (the offensive P.I.), but his blocking was bad in this game, and he just didn’t really seem to have his head in the game. Speaking of officiating, this game was pretty sloppy in that realm. The Falcons got some calls, the Saints got some calls, but I feel like the refs missed some calls. There was a hold on Jonathan Babineaux late in the game, that I felt they missed. There was a block in the back on Martez Wilson that I thought they missed on Sproles one good punt return. And the pass to Roddy in the endzone at the end of the game that could have won it, I thought it was certainly debatable if Greer got there too early for a pass interference. But I tend to cut the refs some slack, but I’m not sure this is going to get a lot of positive grades for Terry McAulay & Co. when it comes time to picking who officiates in the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Tony Gonzalez was money in this game, but the Falcons just didn’t get him the ball enough. Harry Douglas had an outstanding game, and when the Falcons spread the field, that’s where most of his plays were made. It was also nice to see the Falcons get Eric Weems involved as well. And this is another knock on Mularkey, but why can’t either of these two players get involved in the offense unless Julio Jones is out of the game. They combined for 11 catches, and I would say probably on 9 or 10 those plays, they were good play calls and designs. Yet, they never seem to run those same plays when Jones is on the field, and thus both players essentially disappear whenever Jones is in the lineup.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Michael Turner$0$13$1$0$0-$1$13.00
Matt Ryan$12$0$0$0$0$0$12.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$8$0$0$0$8.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$1$0$0$5.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$4$0$0$0$5.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4-$1$0$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Julio Jones$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$1$0$0-$4-$3.00
Roddy White$0$0$3-$3$0-$4-$4.00

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Falcons miss opportunities in overtime loss

November 13th, 2011 Comments off
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Meachem makes TD grab over DeCoud

The Falcons dropped an overtime heart-breaker to the New Orleans Saints at home, by a score of 26-23. It marks the team’s third consecutive home loss to the Saints. The Falcons led a valiant comeback to tie the game at the end of regulation, but a failed fourth down conversion in overtime deep in their own territory set up an easy Saints field goal for the win.

Matt Ryan completed 29 of a career-high 52 pass attempts for 351 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. Michael Turner led rushers with 96 yards on 22 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers added 30 yards on 7 carries. Harry Douglas led receivers with career highs of 8 catches and 133 yards. Tony Gonzalez (6 catches, 71 yards, 1 touchdown), Roddy White (4 catches, 62 yards),  Jason Snelling (2 catches, 25 yards, 1 touchdown), and Eric Weems (3 catches, 25 yards) also contributed. Julio Jones left the game just before halftime, re-aggravating his hamstring injury. He finished on the day with 2 catches for 9 yards. Matt Bryant connected on 3 of 4 field goal attempts. His miss from 40 yards snapped his consecutively made field goal streak at 29. His 27-yarder at the end of regulation tied the game and sent it into overtime. Matt Bosher had a solid day punting, averaging 45.4 yards on 5 punts. He also had a touchback on a kickoff, a touchdown-saving tackle on another, but could not convert on an onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter. Eric Weems averaged 20.5 yards on 2 kickoff returns. The Falcons offense struggled converting third downs, going 5 of 16 on the day, went 0 for 3 in the redzone in terms of touchdowns, and were penalized 10 times.

Defensively, the Falcons had some success keeping the explosive Saints offense in check. While they gave up 363 total yards, they did hold the Saints to going 4 of 13 on third downs, limiting them to 41 rushing yards on 16 attempts (2.6 avg), as well as shutting them down in the redzone (0 for 3 on touchdowns). But they could not force any turnovers, snapping the team’s 27-game streak of doing so. They also struggled to get pressure on Drew Brees, resulting in no sacks. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 9 tackles including one for a loss. John Abraham (5 tackles, 1 QB hit), Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (7 tackles), Ray Edwards (3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss), Brent Grimes (4 tackles, 1 pass defended), Kelvin Hayden (4 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss), James Sanders (5 tackles), and Sean Weatherspoon (6 tackles, 1 pass defended) had notable performances.

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