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Archive for December, 2011

Falcons Defensive Highlight of the Year

December 31st, 2011 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Peters gives the stiff arm

Defensive highlights usually don’t get quite as much pub as the offensive ones. But Falcons defenders have made their share of big plays. And it was hard choosing which one was the best of the year.

Kroy Biermann’s pick six in Week 1 was a very impressive play, but probably doesn’t seem as great since it was in a one-sided loss. Ray Edwards fumble recovery the following week against the Eagles probably would get more points if he had taken it the distance for a score. Corey Peters did take John Abraham’s sack-strip of Blaine Gabbert vs. Jacksonville all the way to the house, but that wasn’t his most impressive play of the year.

So in the end, it has to go to Peters for his one-handed interception against the Panthers which gave the Falcons the ball back late in that game, and a few plays later they sealed the victory.

Other plays that get honorable mention:

Falcons Offensive Highlight of the Year

December 31st, 2011 Comments off
AP Photo from Houston Chronicle

Jones makes a diving grab

A lot of great plays have been made by the Falcons offense this year. Some bruising runs by the backs and some acrobatic catches on the part of the receivers.

It was very tough to pick a winner and it really came down to three acrobatic catches that really stood out in my eyes, each from a respective receiver: Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Julio Jones. But in the end, I had to give the rook the love for his diving catch against the Colts.

The Gonzalez one-handed grab in the back of the endzone against the Eagles and White’s finger-tip grab vs. Detroit were the other two plays.

Here are some other plays of note for the year, including some more from the receivers:

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 12 “2012 Free Agency”

December 30th, 2011 Comments off

Ryan and I discuss 2012 free agency and going position by position to look at what prospective free agents that the Falcons could or should target. We each give a bevy of players that we think could be good additions to the team next year. During the course of our discussion, we touch on several current Falcons including Brent Grimes, Michael Palmer, Curtis Lofton, Ray Edwards, Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, and Spencer Adkins.

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Falcons add James and Cone to roster

December 28th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons promoted wide receiver Kevin Cone and linebacker Robert James to their active roster to replace the spots vacated by cornerback Kelvin Hayden and linebacker Mike Peterson, who were placed on injured reserve yesterday. The Falcons also added linebacker/safety Matt Hansen to the practice squad.

Peterson suffered a torn triceps injury against the Saints on Monday night, and will miss the rest of the season. Hayden has missed the past five games with a dislocated toe, and his season will also now come to an end after a slow recovery. Due to a lingering toe injury from starter Stephen Nicholas, the team is expected to start Spencer Adkins at strongside linebacker for the regular season finale this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

James and Cone have been on the practice squad since the beginning of the season. James was originally a fifth round pick by the Falcons in 2008. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve, but spent the bulk of the 2009 and 2010 seasons on the practice squad. Cone was an undrafted free agent signed by the team this past summer out of Georgia Tech. He will add some depth at wide receiver due to a groin injury to Kerry Meier.

Hansen also was an undrafted rookie free agent for the Falcons this past summer. Hansen played linebacker at Rhode Island, but spent the bulk of his summer playing safety for the Falcons.

Moneyball 2011 – Week 16 Review

December 28th, 2011 Comments off

I needed an extra day to process and get over this loss. Personally, I was very disappointed with how poorly the Falcons played in this game. But as usual with these reviews, upon re-watching the game, I’m not as upset.

Matt Ryan played very well in this game. The problem the Falcons had in this game offensively was that they had some critical mistakes, particularly penalties and pressure killing a couple of their drives. If there is any complaint I have about Ryan’s performance is that in the third quarter when the Falcons were down 18, I think Ryan started to play a bit too conservatively. Perhaps it was the pressure that was causing him to get rid of the ball a bit too quickly, but he seemed a bit too willing to check the ball down. And then the intentional grounding later that drive in the redzone, forced the team to settle for a field goal. But other than that series, he had one of his better performances.

The running game was a non-factor in this game, and part of that seemed to be by design. It looked like the Falcons entered this game with the intention of throwing the ball, and it was effective for the most part in terms of moving the ball. But drives stalled mainly because of penalties. Rodgers holding penalty was a killer in the second quarter, and the Falcons punting on that drive was probably the major momentum shift.

The Falcons had opportunities to get it back in the third quarter, but again penalties on Svitek and Clabo, as well as pressure given up by Clabo killed subsequent drives. I think Mularkey’s game plan was a pretty good one. Only two complaints were his play calls on 3rd & 1 in the 2nd quarter and 4th & 1 in the 4th, where the Falcons tried a pair of rollouts.

The blocking was not poor, as the Falcons only gave up 3 pressures on 52 dropbacks. But those pressures came at inopportune times. But overall, this was just your typical Falcons-Saints game. The Falcons managed to shoot themselves in the foot a few too many times, and the Saints were able to fully take advantage of those situations. And when the Saints made mistakes, the Falcons were unable to take advantage.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$16$1$0$0$0-$1$16.00
Michael Turner$0$4$3$1$0$0$8.00
Julio Jones$0$0$8$0$0-$2$6.00
Roddy White$0$0$7$0$0-$1$6.00
MIchael Palmer$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Chris Redman$3$0$0$0$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Eric Weems$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0-$2-$1.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0-$1$1$0$0-$1-$1.00

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Gonzalez named to Pro Bowl squad

December 27th, 2011 Comments off

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was the lone member of the team to be named to the 2012 NFC Pro Bowl team. Although it’s certainly possible that more could wind up being named to the team at a later date as injury fill-ins or alternates.

Gonzalez currently ranks third among all tight ends in the league in terms of receptions (79) and fourth in yards (867). His 7 touchdowns also are good enough to tie him for third-most among his position group. It is the 12th time he’s been named a Pro Bowler in his 15-year career, and the second time since joining the Falcons three years ago. He was a Pro Bowler last year. Earlier this season, Gonzalez moved into second place all-time among all receivers in terms of career catches.

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Falcons lay down against Saints

December 27th, 2011 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Jones gets hit

The Falcons suffered their worst margin of defeat since 2007 with a 45-16 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. The last time the Falcons lost by 29 or more points was a 34-point loss in December of 2007 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It also extends the Falcons loss record on Monday Night Football to six straight games, including five to the Saints.

Matt Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes for 373 yards and a touchdown. His yardage mark broke his career high of 351 yards set earlier this season against the Saints. Michael Turner rushed for 39 yards on 11 carries on the ground. He also caught 4 passes for 36 yards. Roddy White led receivers with 11 catches for 127 yards. Julio Jones (8 catches, 128 yards, 1 touchdown), Tony Gonzalez (5 catches, 41 yards), and Jason Snelling (4 catches, 28 yards) also contributed to the aerial attack. Offensively, the Falcons had almost no success on the ground, resulting in Ryan matching his career high of 52 pass attempts.  And they failed to score touchdowns on any of their three redzone trips. Matt Bryant connected on three field goals of  34, 51, and 30 yards. Matt Bosher punted 3 times for an average of 50 yards, with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems averaged 27 yards on his lone kickoff return. Coverage units gave up a 92-yard kickoff return to the Saints.

Defensively, the Falcons really struggled, only forcing two punts all game, which only came in the fourth quarter when the score was out of hand. The Saints were able to convert 10 of 13 third down attempts. They gave up 463 total yards, including 164 on the ground which is the most given up by the Falcons defense in their past eighteen outings. They did force two turnovers, but hardly had any pressure with Brees being sacked only once. Thomas DeCoud led the team with 10 tackles. Kroy Biermann (4 tackles); Dominique Franks (1 interception, 2 passes defended); Brent Grimes (7 tackles, 2 passes defended); Curtis Lofton (9 tackles, 1 for loss); William Moore (6 tackles, 4 passes defended); Mike Peterson (4 tackles); Dunta Robinson (4 tackles, 1 interception); and Vance Walker (1 sack) had noteworthy games.

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 15 Review

December 20th, 2011 Comments off

A pretty outstanding performance in this game for the Falcons. The Jaguars basically failed to show up for this one, and the Falcons took full advantage of their no-show.

Matt Ryan had little issue moving the ball through the air, with Roddy White having an outstanding game. Julio Jones also made some really nice plays and catches, but this really was all about Roddy. Tony Gonzalez had a very quiet game. MIchael Turner was solid on the ground, as were Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers in spots. The Falcons offensive line had their struggles trying to get push against the Jaguars front, but they were able to get the job done.

The best performance up front was probably by Clabo, as well as McClure and Blalock having solid games. Hawley had his good moments as well as his bad ones. He gave up a hit that should have been a sack had Ryan not quickly checked it down to Turner. But he continues to show that he’s filled in ably for Harvey Dahl as the team’s dirtiest blocker. He was able to draw a personal foul penalty on Nate Collins by virtue of getting away with horse-collaring Collins down the field away from the ball. Then when Collins retaliated after the whistle, that drew the flag, giving the Falcons a first down instead of punting. The next play, Ryan hit White on an easy 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons lead to 41-0. Jeremy Mincey gave Will Svitek and the others fits throughout the night. Honestly watching this game, I would have to say that Jacksonville’s front seven is really potentially good. The Falcons missed 12 blocks because they got overwhelmed at the point of attack. But their secondary was really bad in this one, but thats understandable when you’re starting third string corners.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Roddy White$0$0$13$0$0$0$13.00
Matt Ryan$13$0$0$0$0-$1$12.00
Michael Turner$0$10$0$0$0$0$10.00
Julio Jones$0$1$6-$1$0$0$6.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Jason Snelling$0$3$0$0$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2.5$0$0$2.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1.5$0$0$1.50
Mike Cox$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Chris Redman$1$0$0$0$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$1$0-$1-$2.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

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Falcons thrash Jaguars

December 16th, 2011 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Abraham strips Gabbert

The Falcons dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 41-14 victory on Thursday Night Football. The Falcons got off to a fast start with a 27-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Matt Ryan led the team with 224 yards passing on 19 of 26 completions with 3 touchdowns. Michael Turner rushed for 61 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Jason Snelling added 22 yards on 5 carries as well as 4 receptions for 26 yards. In the air, Roddy White caught 10 passes for 135 yards and 2 scores. Julio Jones also added 5 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Matt Bryant hit on both of his field goal tries of 33 and 31 yards. Matt Bosher punted 4 times and averaged 51 yards with 3 placed inside the 20-yard line. He did have one blocked which was returned by the Jaguars for their first touchdown of the night. Eric Weems averaged 7 yards on 4 punt returns and 26.5 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. The offense put up 220 total yards in the first half and converted on half of their 8 third down tries in the first two quarters. They dominated time of possession, holding the ball for over 38 minutes, compared to Jacksonville’s 21 and a half minutes. The Falcons took the pedal off the gas in the second half, subbing in Chris Redman and most of the backups late in the third quarter after putting 41 points on the board.

Defensively, the Falcons were outstanding, only allowing a last minute Jaguars touchdown with only a minute remaining in the game. Going into the fourth quarter, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert had only accumulated 22 yards passing. He was sacked five times and picked off once. Twice Gabbert was stripped for fumbles, one of which was ran 13 yards for a score by Corey Peters. The Jaguars muffed a punt as well, which also set up a quick Falcons score. Curtis Lofton led defenders with 8 tackles, including one for loss, and recovered a fumble. John Abraham (5 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles); Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles); Kroy Biermann (1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (1 tackle, 1 interception); Ray Edwards (0.5 sacks); Dominique Franks (3 tackles, 1 pass defended); William Moore (7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Chris Owens (2 tackles, 1 pass defended); Corey Peters (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Darrin Walls (1 tackle, 1 pass defended); and Sean Weatherspoon (2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) all had noteworthy games.

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 14 Review

December 13th, 2011 Comments off

A strong second half performance for the Falcons in this one, which has been a rarity for this team this year.

Matt Ryan had a good game, managing it well and putting his receivers in position to make plays. But the receivers really stepped up this week after a very poor game against the Texans last week. White, Jones, and Gonzalez all made some really good plays and catches. Jones only had -$1 going into the fourth quarter, and his two touchdowns earned him good money. But besides those two big plays, he was pretty quiet. Both White and Gonzalez really made some nice catches in this game, bailing out Ryan on some less than impressive throws. But the main thing with Ryan was that he looked more comfortable in this game, unlike last week, which seemed to be because of that boost in confidence in his receivers.

The blocking was improved this week, although Sam Baker looked lost for the most part at right guard. Baker just doesn’t have the ability to win in a short area to be an effective pass protector inside. Hawley wasn’t much better but he definitely can win a short area. McClure had a solid game, and Blalock had his moments preying on the weak Panthers interior. Svitek had his hands full against Charles Johnson, and it showed in his earnings. Clabo was solid was solid all game long. The ground game was solid with Turner having several nice runs.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$17$0$0$0$0-$1$16.00
Michael Turner$0$9$0$0$0$0$9.00
Roddy White$0$0$7$0$0-$1$6.00
Julio Jones$0$0$6$0$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$5-$1$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$2$0$2.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50
Michael Palmer$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1.5$0$0-$1.50
Sam Baker$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

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