A solid game for the offense particularly when it came to producing some explosive plays at key moments. Most of those plays came via the legs and speed of Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers had a career high in earnings, collecting as a runner, receiver, blocker, and on special teams. It’s probably about as good a game from him that you might be able to expect from him. The disparity in burst and elusiveness between Quizz and Turner has been noticeable in recent weeks, and it really doesn’t get more apparent than it was this week. The Falcons offense now is predicated on generating big plays and the coaches will be doing themselves a favor by continuing to give Rodgers more snaps, and more carries on the ground.
But I did notice in this game that many of the Turner runs were poorly blocked. It’s almost as if the team’s effort goes down when he’s running the ball. It’s a ridiculous statement to make, yes I know. Or maybe the Bucs effort goes up because they are keying on the run harder. That sounds more plausible, but it’s not any more provable just from watching tape.
Ryan had another solid game, although there were a couple of missed throws he had this week that I’m not sure he would have missed a month or so ago. It’s a very, very minor concern at this point, but it’s something I want to keep my eye on going forward. The last player I want to see getting into a bit of a lull is Ryan.
Julio Jones had another big game. He also had a pair of dropped touchdowns (one of which was negated by his OPI penalty). The actual drop was a bad throw on Ryan’s part, but Jones did an excellent job adjusting to the ball behind him and had a chance to catch it as it sort of bounced off his chest. I’m going to say it right now, I think drops are going to be a regular thing with Julio going forward. His range and ability to get his hands on balls that many, rather most other receivers cannot is going to lead to a lot of drops. Especially when you use the litmus test where if he can get both hands on the ball (which generally I do), then it should be caught. It just might be similar to Terrell Owens (a comparison someone made in the forums), although towards the end of his career it seemed like T.O. dropped a lot of easy passes due to poor concentration. Jones has certainly had his share of lapses in concentration during his short Falcon career, but it wasn’t a problem this week and hasn’t been the past few games from what I can recall. Brandon Marshall is that same way, and all three guys are/were physical specimens which occasionally seems to be a disadvantage (although I welcome that trade-off for all the times when it’s a major advantage).
A quiet game for Roddy White, but he made some nice plays when it counted. I think his low production had more to do with Ryan attacking matchups he liked with the weaker Buc corners. And that often was Julio on whomever. Gonzo was money on third downs, as usual. I did like the flat pass to Douglas working out of trips. I’ve seen the team use that a bit more often in recent weeks, and I think it’s a nice way to manufacture yards on first down via the pass, instead of relying on the ground attack. I hope to see more of that the rest of the season. If you’ve been wondering where Douglas can make an impact on this offense down the stretch it’s potentially there.
This also was one of the better games for the pass protection, who had a nice long run of not doing a great job. A couple of hurries where the Bucs were able to move Ryan off his spot, but nothing grievous outside a pressure given up by Baker, and a hit/hurry given up by Cox on a completion to Jones.
The run blocking still needs work however. The Falcons just really struggle to create any push at the line of scrimmage. Both of those late runs by Turner that went for negative yardage were poorly blocked. Turner made a mistake on the last one, and had he not fought for extra yards, it could have been “just” a loss of two. But I’m not sure I can really blame Turner too much because it’s silly to tell him that he should let Adam Hayward tackle him. The mistake was going deeper in the backfield however, not breaking Hayward’s tackle. But nonetheless, the run was doomed from the start. Again, even if Turner had not backtracked on that play, the best you could have hoped for was a loss of 2 yards, which is a failure on the O-line.
Clabo had both of his key blocks on early Rodgers runs where he pulled and was able to cut a defender. The first was on Quizz’s opening carry for 20 yards, the second on the 5-yard TD run. But Clabo also was credited for missing the block on that -8 yard run by Turner at the end. Other Falcon blockers missed their assignments as well (Konz and Johnson) but it was Gerald McCoy beating Clabo that really blew up that play.
A solid effort by the defense. They gave up a couple of big plays, particularly to Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark, but you have to give them points for shutting down Doug Martin after the Bucs first drive. Martin was successful on 6 of his first 7 carries (5 for 6 on the first drive). But only 3 of his final 14 carries were successful, all of which only came on that lone scoring drive at the end of the third quarter.
No one player really stood out as having a strong game. Samuel was the highest earner for his 3 “almost INTs.” He gets credit for breaking up those passes, but given that he could have intercepted all 3 passes (although one was the hail mary at the end, so I don’t blame him), means it’s not what I’d call a great effort. But I will give him some credit since he was playing with one arm for most of the game, and thus it’s kind of hard to catch a football under those circumstances.
Abraham seemed to get more active as a rusher as the game wore on, but chalk this up as another quiet week for him. His first pressure came on Robinson’s sack, where he might have made the sack had Robinson not gotten there a second quicker. Biermann’s sack was credited as a tackle for loss, since Freeman had begun running at that point. Babineaux got a pressure on that play for forcing Freeman to step up in the pocket. Other than that, the pass rush was pretty mediocre, although mediocre is an improvement from poor, which it has been in some recent games.
Nicholas got negative earnings because of his blown coverages. Although the half he split with Moore was due to zone coverage. But he struggled all day keeping up with Dallas Clark, and was barely a match for Luke Stocker. Considering the quality of TEs the Falcons could face come January, it’s a major concern going forward. But I thought outside that, Nicholas had a pretty solid game, doing some nice stuff as a pass rusher and making a few plays in run support. Over the years, Nicholas has very quietly been a very good pass rusher and if the Falcons more fully adopt a 3-4 scheme in the future, I think he could really be an asset on the edge. Spoon is such a good blitzer, that I think the Falcons often will put Nicholas in coverage, but I think they might want to think about mixing it up much more and be more willing to rush Nicholas, and drop Spoon into coverage to handle those backs and tight ends. Spoon wasn’t great in his first game back, but I’m not going to hold that too much against him.
McClain had another solid game. I do like the fact that when McClain blows a coverage, it’s on a 3rd & 5, and he’s there to make the stop almost immediately. The safeties did not have a great game. Moore struggled a bit in coverage. DeCoud gave up two big receptions to Jackson, one on the pass from Mike Williams, and the other on that 31-yarder down the sideline on the opening drive of the second half.
I’m not too worried about Matt Bryant. I’ve heard people call him shaky the past few weeks due to some untimely misses. But remember, his being shaky is being a slightly below average kicker in that span (still made 10 of 13 FGs prior to missing the 22-yarder). Bosher didn’t have to do much, but made a good punt the one time he had to. He’s becoming more and more consistent. Coverage units looked nice in this game. Noticed both Cliff Matthews and Drew Davis making stops and being in position. On Quizz’s big return that set up the last TD, it was Palmer and McClain’s blocking that helped open up that big seam.
Advanced Stats for Week 12:
Poor Throws (3): Ryan
Drops (1): Jones
Key Blocks (10): Clabo (2), Gonzalez (2), White (2), Cox (1), Jones (1), McClure (1), Rodgers (1)
Sacks Allowed (0)
Missed Blocks (7): Clabo (2), Gonzalez (2), Blalock (1), Konz (1), Palmer (1)
Pressures Allowed (1): Baker
Tackles For Loss (6): Babineaux (1), Biermann (1), Dent (1), Peterson (1), Robinson (1), Abraham (0.5), Weatherspoon (0.5)
QB Sacks (1): Robinson
QB Pressures (4): Abraham (2), Babineaux (1), Nicholas (1)
QB Hit (2): Babineaux, Moore
Passes Defended (4): Samuel (2.5), McClain (1), Moore (0.5)
Blown Coverages (8): Nicholas (2.5), DeCoud (2), Moore (1.5), McClain (1) Weatherspoon (1)
Missed Tackles (1): McClain
Key Blocked (4): Babineaux (2), Walker (2)