Moneyball 2012 – Week 15 Review
A solid performance for the Falcons against the Giants. It was probably their most balanced game all year long. If they’ve been more balanced, then I just don’t recall that game, because it’s been a while since it happened.
The hat tip must go to the offensive line. After being manhandled by the Giants last January, they were very good. They were able to open enough holes to establish the run for the team early on. They also did an excellent job protecting Matt Ryan. I counted only 3 hurries (2 by Osi vs. Baker, 1 by JPP vs. Clabo), and no pressures. Last year, Ryan was sacked twice and pressured 6 times.
Propelled by one of the better line performances we’ve seen in 2012 (and by far their best at home), Ryan and the offense got back on track after two abysmal performances in previous weeks. Roddy had a relatively quiet game, his two lone catches were third down conversions. Jones also was fairly quiet in the first half, but came alive in the second half. Gonzo was Gonzo, you know being money on third downs and in the redzone. Douglas really stepped up and made some nice plays. Even Mike Cox got into the action. It’s nice to see the Falcons offense being able to spread the ball around and get multiple contributors involved.
On the ground, Turner had a solid game. But he was outshined by one Jason Snelling. I don’t think anybody’s ever earned as much money as Snelling did on that small amount of carries. Sure, all of his earnings came in the fourth quarter, and only $1 did not come on the final drive during garbage time. But he ran extremely hard, and it was clear that Snelling was going to give the coaches something to consider in film review this week. I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but he looked better on those 7 carries than I think any Falcon RB has looked all year long. The Falcons should be looking to mix him more in the rotation going forward.
Mike Cox, you’re going to get some love here too. Not only did you entertain us with your tumble over a defender, you also did a solid job blocking. Your blocking hasn’t been world-shattering, but you’ve been steady and consistent. You don’t miss assignments which is really all you can ask for from a fullback.
Defensively, the Falcons were opportunistic early, and really sapped the Giants will seemingly. They were able to pressure Eli early, particularly up the middle. Kevin Boothe got bull rushed a number of times, and Jim Cordle was a big drop-off from Chris Snee after the latter’s injury. I counted 5 hurries for the team, all of which came in the first half. Plus the 6 PPRs (Babs’ pressure came on the same play as Biermann’s sack, so not counting that twice) on 26 dropbacks, you have the recipe for a very effective pass rush.
Weatherspoon had a standout performance. The caliber of play that he had on a regular basis a year ago, but has been few and far between this year. Nicholas also had a solid game. Samuel played well too, and Hope really was able to step up and make some nice plays as well after a subpar performance last week vs. Carolina.
I do think this game’s outcome could have gone a different way fairly easily. Not taking anything away from the Falcons defensive performance, but I think the Giants missing Bradshaw was a key absence. David Wilson just didn’t look like a guy capable or ready of being the lead back. Lumpkin played better, but Bradshaw is better than both of them. And if the Falcons should see the Giants again and No. 44 is in the lineup, I would not expect a repeat of Sunday’s results.
The other interesting takeaway I had from the game is that the Giants really missed an opportunity early in this game. On the opening play of the Giants series after the Falcons went up 14-0, Manning missed Nicks on a deep shot. If that ball is thrown 2 feet shorter, Nicks catches it and likely scores. That makes the game 14-7 at the end of the first and likely changes the landscape of the game. It reminded me of last year’s Texans-Falcons game, where the Falcons missed some deep shots on their opening drive that could have really affected the outcome of that game. The Falcons were able to hang with Houston for the rest of the game though, because T.J. Yates was their QB. The Giants had no such luck with Matt Ryan being our quarterback.
Again, that’s not meant to take away from an outstanding performance by the defense. They earned every play they made and continue building their reputation of “Defending the Dome” at a high level. But it’s always interesting to me how things can be dramatically affected by the smallest of changes. Two feet difference on a throw and it’s definitely not a shutout, and probably not a blowout.
On special teams the Falcons should be making a change at punt returner with Franks being benched after his fumble. I doubt they will, but it’s a move that has been long overdue. Tim Toone and/or Harry Douglas deserve a shot there. Also Bosher had a booming 61-yard punt that was a touchback that had it been shorter by a few yards (say like 4) would have been a breathtaking backspin bounce that would have pinned the Giants inside their own 5, as opposed to being a touchback.
Bosher is among a list of players that I continue try to highlight their achievements, because they have proved me wrong. Wrote off Bosher, Cox, McClain, Grimes (many years ago), and all have come back and played very well despite my initial impressions of them. And when that happens, and it doesn’t happen that often because I’m usually right ;), I tend to become one of your bigger fans.
Advanced Stats from Week 15:
Poor Throws (5): Ryan
Key Blocks (7): Cox (2), Baker (1), Blalock (1), Douglas (1), Konz (1), White (1)
Sacks Allowed (1): Blalock
Missed Blocks (8): Konz (3), Baker (2), Clabo (1), Jones (1), McClure (1)
Pressures Allowed (0)
Tackles For Loss (4): Nicholas (2), Abraham (1), Weatherspoon (1)
QB Sacks (1): Biermann
QB Pressures (6): Weatherspoon (2), Babineaux (1), Biermann (1), Jerry (1), Peters (1)
QB Hits (0)
Passes Defended (3): Babineaux, Franks, Samuel
Blown Coverages (3): Robinson (2), Samuel (1)
Missed Tackles (6): McClain (2), DeCoud (1), Dent (1), Robinson (1), Weatherspoon (1)
Key Blocked (4): Biermann, DeCoud, Nicholas, Peters