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Falcons backups fall short against Jaguars

August 30th, 2012 Comments off
Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

Dominique Davis rolls out to throw

The Falcons dropped their fourth and final preseason game to the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 24-14. The game got off to a great start for the Falcons, going up 7-0 on the second play of the game. But from that point on, the Jaguars battled back to pull out the victory.

Dominique Davis got the start for the Falcons under center and played every snap. He finished the game, completing 14 of 24 passes for 175 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. On the ground, Antone Smith led the team with 33 yards on 12 carries. Dimitri Nance (4 carries, 25 yards) and Jacquizz Rodgers (5 carries, 24 yards, a touchdown) also had productive evenings on the ground. Smith also led the team in receiving with 3 catches for 40 yards. Kevin Cone caught the lone touchdown on a 49-yar scamper, ending his night with a pair of receptions for 64 yards. LaMark Brown (2 catches, 15 yards), Nance (2 catches, 12 yards), and Marcus Jackson (2 catches, 8 yards) also produced in the passing game. Matt Bryant had no field goal attempts on the night. Matt Bosher had a good night as he punted 7 times for an average of 47.3 yards with 3 placed inside the 20-yard line. James Rodgers returned a single kickoff for 27 yards, while Tim Toone and Dominique Franks each had a punt return for 8 and 4 yards, respectively.

Defensively, the Falcons backups played most of the game and had their struggles to get off the field at times. While the Jaguars only converted 4 of 13 third downs, they won time of possession by holding the ball for 11 more minutes than the Falcons did. Pat Schiller and Akeem Dent led the team in tackles, each with 8 stops. Dominique Franks (5 tackles, 1 INT); Robert James (3 tackles); Jonathan Massaquoi (4 tackles); Cliff Matthews (4 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Robert McClain (3 tackles); Charles Mitchell (5 tackles); Peyton Thompson (5 tackles); and Vance Walker (1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery) all had noteworthy nights.

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Roster Talk: Offense

August 28th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Lousaka Polite battling for a roster spot

I want to go position by position and discuss which players I believe will make the Falcons final 53-man roster come Friday. For this first part I want to look at the offensive players. Later I will discuss defensive battles.

Typically an NFL roster is going to consist of 25 offensive players, 25 defensive players, and 3 special teams players. Those numbers can be tweaked by 1 or 2 players often given how injuries effect you at that point in the year and other places where you have strong depth.

For example, the past few years the Falcons have kept five defensive tackles on the roster mainly because they’ve had injuries and other issues hit them during the summer. In 2010, Jonathan Babineaux was suspended for the season opener, prompting them to go into the season with a fifth tackle in Trey Lewis. Last year, Corey Peters missed the season opener against the Bears with a knee injury, thus allowing Carlton Powell a chance to make the roster as the fifth defensive tackle. Normally, the Falcons would only keep four defensive tackles as they did in 2008 and 2009, but injuries prompted them otherwise in 2010 and 2011.

Situations like that can affect a player or two making the roster or not as the team is trying its damnedest to get 46 players healthy and active for the first Sunday of the year.

Quarterback

The big question going into this week was whether or not the Falcons would choose to keep two quarterbacks or three, and whether Chris Redman would be among them. Earlier today, the Falcons seemingly answered that question by dumping Redman and replacing him with veteran Luke McCown. It was a move that I thought possible, but not probable. Well, I was wrong. But even with this late addition of McCown, he’s not guaranteed to be on the final 53 on opening day. McCown’s relatively hefty veteran salary of $825,000 would be guaranteed if he is on the roster for Week 1, as are those of any of the other 52 players. The Falcons could cut him prior to the start of the season with the expectation and understanding that they would bring him back in Week 2. Such a money manipulation is not foreign to the Falcons, as they pulled this with Brett Romberg a year ago who also signed a mere 48 hours before their final preseason game as well. McCown could get some reps in the preseason finale, although it’s doubtful given the limited amount of work he’d have to prep for it. Instead, Dominique Davis will likely play the entire game. And if he has another strong performance, then it increases the chances that the team opens the season with him as the No. 2 QB, and subsequently pulls the opening day switcheroo with McCown. If Davis struggles, then McCown will almost certainly get the nine days between the Jaguars game and the season opener to take the No. 2 job.

Best Guess for Final 53: Ryan, Davis,  McCown.

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Preseason Stock Exchange (Week 2)

August 21st, 2012 1 comment

Here is a look at which players increased and decreased their chances of making the Falcons roster this year, as well as which players are setting themselves up for success and others who are not.

Stock Up

QB Dominique Davis – Davis built off his previously solid performance against the Ravens to play at a level where it seems now a forgone conclusion that he has made this team’s roster. He has looked the sharpest throughout the first two preseason games. Which is both praise of Davis, and also an indictment of the team’s other quarterbacks, Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson. Davis has been far from perfect, as he can still struggle at times with his accuracy and mechanics. But he has been significantly better in limited reps than either of the passers ahead of him on the depth chart. While it seemed unlikely that the Falcons would need to keep three quarterbacks on the depth, Davis play means that should be a probability. The big question for the Falcons is whether or not they keep either Redman or Wilson as the No. 2 or address it with a free agent pickup/trade later this summer.

RB Antone Smith – While Smith was the front-runner to land a roster spot as the fourth halfback on the team, his performance against Cincinnati helped solidify his hold. He showed very good quickness and speed in the open field, able to turn in a couple of nice runs and catches in the screen game. Smith was one of the team’s top gunners on special teams last year, and showcasing that he has some ability as a third down back should help keep his job safe.

FB Lousaka Polite – Polite has impressed despite only a limited time with the team. He caught a touchdown pass against the Bengals, but also did a good job as a lead blocker, showing his trademark power and pop at the point of attack. His major competitor, Mike Cox has been solid but doesn’t really have that eye-popping power at the point of attack. If Polite can keep this up, he can take the job right out from under Cox.

WR Marcus Jackson – He ended the game with 3 catches for 40 yards, but Jackson was one of the few highlights among the receivers late in the game, showcasing an ability to get open when Davis was in the game. He was targeted 6 times, all in the fourth quarter, and all of the incompletions to him were the result of poor throws not hiccups on Jackson’s part. While he is probably on the outside in terms of a roster spot, his offensive prowess could potentially give him the inside track on a practice squad spot.

TE LaMark Brown – Brown’s athleticism was his best asset and best chance to make this roster, and against the Bengals he got an opportunity to display it. While listed as a tight end, Brown has basically worked more as a flex player/wide receiver. His combination of size and athleticism does make him an intriguing developmental prospect as a guy that could be put on the practice squad.

DE John Abraham – Abe has been one of the more reliable players and playmakers on this team for the past six seasons, so it’s a bit odd to put him on this list since his stock is always high. But Abe seems to be adjusting well to the Nolan defense, getting quite a bit of work as a stand-up pass rusher. It’s a role he has performed well in the past with the Jets, but hasn’t got a ton of opportunities in Atlanta to do. But against the Bengals, he was consistently giving Andrew Whitworth, one of the league’s premier left tackles some troubles with his speed and burst off the edge.

DT Peria Jerry – Jerry had a good game against the Ravens, and backed it up with another solid effort against the Bengals. Aside from his roughing the passer penalty, he was active and disruptive, able to get some pressure up the middle and stuff the run as well. With Corey Peters out indefinitely, the Falcons will need players like Jerry to step up and be solid in the starting lineup.

Stock Down


WR James Rodgers – Rodgers has yet to really distinguish himself in the return game, and his two critical drops on the final drive against the Bengals may have really killed his chances of making this team. He’s going to really have to step up his game against the Dolphins if he wants to make this roster. The key will be showcasing that he is worthy of the kickoff return duties, because the door is near closing as an offensive skill player.

Falcons Offensive Line – Falcon fans were privileged to see a lot of screens against the Bengals. It seemed as if this team called at least half a dozen screens or shovel passes in the first half. And in re-watching the game, it seemed that was the case because Dirk Koetter was trying to take advantage of the aggressive Bengals pass rush. While a positive for Koetter, it’s not necessarily glowing for the Falcons front who were essentially getting beat. Even without their top pass rusher in Carlos Dunlap, the Falcons front did not give Ryan and Redman a ton of time to throw in the first half of the game. The clocks in both of the quarterbacks’ heads seemed to be going faster than normal due to the pressure they were seeing. And one wonders whether or not this offensive line has really improved from a year ago. And only time will tell, but this game certainly does not inspire me with confidence.

OG Andrew JacksonAfter noting the struggles of Hawley and Johnson last week, this week it was Andrew Jackson that seemed to have problems. Part of could have been that he faced Geno Atkins a number of times, who was even punking Justin Blalock. It looks like seven of the OL spots have been locked up, with the current starting five as well as Konz and Holmes making the roster. The team will likely keep nine or ten blockers. And between Jackson, Hawley, and Johnson, they are all competing for that final two or three spots. And right now, none of them have really distinguished themselves from the pack.

DE Ray Edwards – Edwards stock is not down because he had a bad game against the Bengals. He played well, recording a tackle for loss, a pressure (when unblocked) and a hit on Dalton during the game. What is concerning is that Edwards continue to get pulled off the field in nickel situations. A year ago, his being pulled off the field in those circumstances were chalked up to injury and a less than civil relationship with Brian VanGorder. Neither of those issues should be factors this year, yet Edwards is still being pulled off the field in those situations. The Falcons did not pay Edwards $27.5 million to essentially be a two-down run defender. Hopefully against Cincinnati that was just a case of the team wanting to get other guys reps. But if that continues into the regular season, it’s going to be hard to envision Edwards living up to his price tag in 2012.

Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Ravens

August 9th, 2012 Comments off

Here is a list of several Falcon players that are worth paying some extra attention to if and when they get on the field tonight against the Baltimore Ravens in the team’s preseason opener. Typically in the first game of the preseason, the majority of the Falcons starters will only get a series or two of work. Then the reserves come in and remain in for the remainder of the game. The second half of the game typically will be full of players that don’t have a firm grip on the roster.

Typically fans will try and draw strong conclusions from that first series or so when both teams’ first team units are in. And while scoring a touchdown is certainly a positive development and should be a goal, people should not be too judgmental over things in an exhibition game where neither team has game-planned against the other. A typical regular season game will have a team having up to a dozen offensive possessions, and trying to extrapolate the performance of one or two series to that makes little sense when the overarching themes of tonight when it comes to the starters will be to avoid injury and not tip one’s hand. If you’re going to want to judge the first unit offense and defense, wait until the second and third preseason games for a better litmus test.

However, the first preseason game is a prime opportunity for many of the second and third unit players to shine and potentially take an early lead or make up one in some of these position battles. Roughly two-thirds of the final 53 that will make the Falcons this year is fairly set in stone, but that latter third which will be filled primarily with those that can shine on special teams is relatively wide open. Strong performances tonight can build off each other in subsequent practices and preseason games, and thus go a long way for some to make the team.

 

  • Antone Smith – While Smith has been labeled a darkhorse candidate for the kickoff returner spot, it seems that it makes the most amount of sense if he wins the job outright. That way, the Falcons won’t be forced to activate a fifth receiver on gamedays (such as James Rodgers), and won’t have to expose Jacquizz Rodgers to greater potential for injury. So it will be interesting to see if Smith or any of the other candidates on the roster can perform and make an impression as returners in tonight’s game.
  • Garrett Reynolds – With the Falcons seemingly comfortable with Sam Baker at left tackle, the only contested starting position on the entire offense is right guard. Reynolds is currently the starter and has been praised by the coaching staff and training camp observers alike this summer. While most of the offensive starters will likely only get a single series of reps tonight, traditionally the Falcons leave the starting offensive line in for a few more series. It should give them a longer look at Reynolds to see how much improvements he’s made last year. The key to watch for Reynolds will be whether he’s improved his technique, which will be determined by how low he plays. Reynolds’ height is a disadvantage inside at guard, and he’ll need to play much lower than he did throughout 2011 where he struggled in pass protection.
  • Akeem Dent – Similar to Reynolds, Dent is expected to be the lone major change in the defensive starting lineup this year. It’s unlikely he’ll get a ton of a playing time against the Ravens, but it would greatly alleviate the concerns of many Falcon fans if during that time he can make a couple of nice stops and tackles.
  • Peria Jerry – With Corey Peters out with a foot injury and no set time-table for when he could return, Jerry finds himself with a prime opportunity to excel. Essentially the door is open for Jerry to take back the starting job that he lost in 2010 when he himself was coming off a major injury. The key for Jerry that he will need to show this summer is if much of the explosiveness he lost due to that knee injury has returned now that he’s nearly three years removed from it. As well has he improved his hand use and technique that will allow him to better get leverage against the run and beat blockers will moves as a pass rusher.
  • John Parker Wilson – This summer marks the last chance for Wilson to make an impression as a passer. He’ll need to play well tonight, assuming he gets reps in the second half. The team carried two quarterbacks on the roster last season, with Wilson spending the first half of the year on the practice squad. But without a better effort this summer than he had last summer, it’s doubtful he’ll even get that opportunity. He’s entering his fourth summer in the NFL, and should be showing much better command and anticipation when running the Falcons offense than he has shown to date.
  • Bradie Ewing – Ewing has an opportunity to start this year, but needs to hit the ground running in his first preseason game. He’ll need to perform in three phases this summer to usurp Mike Cox as the starter: 1) as a lead blocker 2) as a receiver and 3) on special teams. Ewing is capable in all three areas and certainly offers more upside than Cox, but he’ll need to prove it starting with tonight’s game. Another key area to watch is pass protection. Will he handle his opportunities there with ease and hit his assignments.
  • Kerry Meier – The time is now if Meier is going to emerge as anything more than a special teams player. Meier has always displayed that he has good hands, but the key for him will be to show he can separate and get open against man coverage. He needs to have a good summer as a receiver to reassure fans that the team doesn’t have a depth problem at wide receiver. Meier’s primary role this season will be on special teams, but in the event of an injury to Jones, White, or Douglas, he’s going to be called upon to perform a big role on offense. Against the caliber of talent he’ll be facing this summer, he should be more productive offensively than he has shown thus far.

Camp Battles 2012: Special Teams

July 21st, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons will have arguably the most amount of competition for roles on special teams in seemingly a long while this summer. The team is two-deep at all three specialist spots, and both return spots are completely open to competition.

It is likely that the incumbents at all three specialist spots will retain their jobs with Matt Bryant at kicker, Matt Bosher at punter, and Joe Zelenka at long snapper. All three players have given the team little issue to worry about. Bryant is the savvy veteran that has been highly productive and consistent in Atlanta. He’s made 28 of 30 kicks at home, with his two misses being a blocked 55-yarder against Buffalo in 2009 and a missed 41-yarder against the Saints last year. But Bryant isn’t getting any younger, and one of the issues that often comes with age as a kicker is leg strength. So far, Bryant hasn’t shown any significant drop-off from long range, but it’s not a coincidence that the player they brought in to push him is known for his leg strength. Undrafted rookie Erik Folk will push Bryant, and while he’s a longshot to win the job he’ll be given an opportunity to impress the staff if he can showcase a powerful and accurate leg in camp.

At punter, Matt Bosher got off to a very slow start last year. In fact, there was little debate to who was the league’s worst punter over the first 6-8 weeks of the season because it was indeed Bosher. But in the second half of the season, he really began to come on, and his ability to drive kickoffs into the endzone with consistency as well as get good placement on his punts saw a huge boost to the production of the Falcons special teams unit. He’ll be pushed by undrafted rookie Dawson Zimmerman. As is the case with the kicker spot, Zimmerman will have to be extremely good to unseat Bosher, who cannot afford another slow start to this season.

Zelenka might have the most tenuous hold on a roster spot among the three specialists. The team made an extra effort to bring a bunch of snappers this off-season, which could be a referendum on their desire to get younger at the position. In January, they added Corey Adams and Scott Albritton. Neither made it to camp, but they also signed undrafted rookie Josh Harris. It seemed that the team had plans to move on from Zelenka this off-season. He was one of the team’s final free agent re-signings, a move made in late March seemingly at a point when they realized they could afford to bring him back. That gives Harris a better than average chance to actually unseat Zelenka. The fact that Harris was actually a pretty solid snapper at Auburn. Harris probably needs another year or two to add polish, but if he can hit the ground running this summer, it would not be a surprise if he’s the team’s opening day snapper.

But most of the attention paid to special teams this year will be at the returner spots. The team will have open competitions for both kickoff and punt return duties this summer. While the team feels relatively secure at punt returner, as Harry Douglas and Dominique Franks will be pitted against each other. Douglas handled punt returns in the latter half of his rookie season in 2008, and Franks has been productive in limited action in each of the past two summers there. Between the two of them, the team should get a fairly competent replacement for the departed Eric Weems. Douglas appears ahead in the competition, but the positive for both is that losing that competition won’t cost either a roster spot.

The kickoff return duties are a lot less settled. The team will likely give several players looks this summer at the spot, but James Rodgers, Antone Smith, Jacquizz Rodgers appear to be the front-runners. James Rodgers was productive kickoff returner during his days at Oregon State, but will have to show that some of the burst he lost due to a knee injury in 2010 has returned. Smith is considered a dark horse candidate and because of his already established value on special teams coverage might be in prime position to win the job. Given the increased role on offense, the team would probably prefer not to use Quizz as a returner.

Depending on how the competition goes during the early days and weeks of camp, the team could easily throw others into the competition, including Brent Grimes, Franks, Douglas, Robbie Frey, and Marcus Jackson into the mix. It’s also possible that depending on how the competition goes the team could look elsewhere for an established returner on the waiver wire come August.

While the new rules around kickoffs lessen the impact that having a good kickoff returner can have on the game, it still remains important to have someone effective in that role. With Weems, the Falcons had a player that they were confident could field kicks 5 or so yards deep in the endzone and advance the ball past the 20-yard line on a fairly consistent basis. Not having that player won’t have a hugely negative impact on field position, but it does have still have a negative one. It’s mostly about trust. And if the coaching staff cannot trust the player to get 25 or more yards and the team is forced to kneel for touchbacks, then you’re not really helping the team.

Camp Battles 2012: Running Backs

June 28th, 2012 Comments off
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Jacquizz Rodgers

The Falcons return all three of their tailbacks from a year ago. Jason Snelling is playing under a new three-year deal he signed this off-season. Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to take more reps as a reserve. And Michael Turner is still locked in atop the depth chart.

Turner will remain the Falcons start this year although they have made statements that he will be on a “pitch count” this year, limiting his reps to try and keep him fresh down the stretch. This has been something that the team has tried to do throughout the past three seasons to limited success. It remains to be seen how much better Dirk Koetter will be at it than previous offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

The team is adamant they will be looking to mix more of Rodgers and Snelling in the lineup this year, who served as little more than third down backs that would get the occasional carry to spell Turner when he was tired. With the team expected to adopt a pass-heavier attack, the roles of Rodgers and Snelling should expand. Koetter will make ample use of screens in the offense, and Rodgers and Snelling’s quickness should make them the preferred options over Turner on those plays.

Rodgers and Snelling will be directly competing for who will be the top reserve behind Turner, but at the end of the day both players will be utilized extensively. But the team is likely leaning towards Rodgers, who they hope can blossom in the Koetter system, particularly on screens because of how effective he was at Oregon State. And if the team adopts more zone-blocking runs, that should also play to Rodgers’ favor.

At fullback there will be a new face, as Bradie Ewing is expected to take over for long-time lead blocker Ovie Mughelli. Ewing will get competition from Mike Cox, who replaced Mughelli last year after he went down with a knee injury. Cox was solid, but his upside is limited, which should give Ewing the edge in a camp competition. Koetter’s scheme is expected to reduce the overall workload of the blocking fullback from previous years, which means that Ewing may share reps with Snelling as well, who can fill in.

Cox will be among others competing for the fifth and final running back spot. That role will likely go to the player who provides the most on special teams. Antone Smith would be considered the incumbent. He shined as a gunner throughout the latter half of last season, and will also be expected to compete for the vacant kickoff returner spot. Offensively, Smith has shown some ability in the passing game and some explosiveness as a runner, although his primary contribution will remain on special teams.

Also in the mix will be Dimitri Nance, Robbie Frey, and fullback Lee Meisner. Nance gets the benefit of being recruited by Dirk Koetter to go to Arizona State. Nance is probably the superior runner of the group, but he’ll have to reaffirm himself capable in passing situations as well as on special teams. Frey was a solid kickoff returner in college, so that adds potential for special teams. Meisner is a converted linebacker, that will need to utilize those skills to work on coverage units in camp.

The fifth spot will likely go to Cox, Smith, or Nance simply because they do offer more ability on offense, and have experience playing special teams. Cox’s best chance is to beat Ewing for the starting fullback job, otherwise Smith is the top candidate. Frey and Meisner are more likely competing for practice squad spots, hoping that they can make enough of an impact to be carried there.

Undrafted Sleeper: Robbie Frey

May 16th, 2012 1 comment
US PRESSWIRE

Frey takes one to the house in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl

A lot of talk has been made about the Falcons many undrafted additions at the wide receiver position that could be making the roster, including burner Cody Pearcy. But a player that might be going under the radar and has just as strong a chance to make the team’s final roster is former UConn Huskie and Kutztown Golden Bear Robbie Frey. Frey won’t have an easy road trying to make the Falcons roster, but his potential as a kickoff returner could give him a significant leg up.

With the loss of Eric Weems as the team’s primary return specialist, a big part of this summer’s training camp competitions will be to find a player or two that can replace him. The Falcons will likely rest on either Harry Douglas or Dominique Franks to return punts, both having done so before. But it leaves the competition for who will take over on kickoffs wide open.

That likely will mean that any one of the Falcons undrafted receivers and Frey will have an opportunity to shine and make the roster. Unlike the receivers, while Frey isn’t blessed with dynamic speed, he is unique in the sense that he was consistently productive and the most experience kickoff returner among the undrafted crop. The only other player with his level of experience is James Rodgers, and he’s been slowed by an ACL injury that he suffered in 2010, and is now still continuing to fight back from.

The departure of Ovie Mughelli does increase the odds that Frey coudl make the roster. The Falcons aren’t guaranteed to carry more than one fullback on the roster, something they did last season. The team carried Ovie Mughelli in that role until his injury, and then Mike Cox afterwards. They could do the same with fifth round pick Bradie Ewing being the run-away favorite to be the starter this season. Last year, they opted to keep four tailbacks in Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, and Antone Smith. Snelling’s ability to double as a lead blocker means that the team isn’t forced to carry more than one fullback at a time. Smith predominantly played on special teams, a role he shined in late in the year. But his roster status is far from a lock. And he’ll be pushed by Dimitri Nance and Frey for a potential fourth tailback spot. If Frey can prove himself as a return man, and also a capable gunner on special teams like Smith then he has as good a chance as anyone to make the roster. Another key part to the equation will be how well he can pick up the passing game. When Nance and Smith competed directly for the reserve role back in 2010, a big part of the reason why Smith made it and Nance did not was because Smith was the more polished player in pass protection. Frey did not have a ton of experience working in the passing game at either UConn or Kutztown, but if he can show he’s a quick study the team could give him the opportunity.

But the primary value Frey can bring to the table is kickoff return specialist. And while the rule changes to kickoffs have limited the ability of kickoff returners, it is not a throwaway position. The majority of kicks go into the endzone forcing teams to settle for touchbacks. But a good returner can add value if he can take kicks that would normally be called for touchbacks and get them beyond the 20-yard line to set up his team for success. If a team can trust it’s returner to be able to take kicks five or six yards deep and then turn that into a twenty-five or thirty yard gain, it is immensely valuable to an offense to give it the best possible field position. If Frey can showcase this kind of ability, and his extensive experience should help him, then he has as good if not a better shot than anyone of landing the role and finding a place on the roster.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

Falcons re-up with DeCoud

March 6th, 2012 Comments off

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Falcons have agreed to terms with safety Thomas DeCoud, who was on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent next week.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. DeCoud has been a starter for the Falcons at free safety since 2009. He was a third round pick for the team in 2008, playing exclusively on specail teams as a rookie. In 2009, he was elevated to the starting lineup and had 68 tackles and 3 interceptions. This past year, he posted career highs with 85 tackles and 4 interceptions.

Earlier today in other free agent-related news, the team announced that tight end Michael Palmer and running back Antone Smith had signed their exclusive rights tenders. Both player as players with two years of experience were tendered at the $540,000 level. Both players will be restricted free agents after the 2012 season.

UPDATE: Schefter reports that the terms of DeCoud’s deal are $17.5 million over five years with $4 million in guaranteed money.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Moneyball 2011 – Week 13 Review

December 6th, 2011 Comments off

This was potentially one of the most frustrating watches of the year. It was not that shocking to me that the Falcons lost this game. A great deal of people got caught up in the notion that T.J. Yates was the Texans starting quarterback, which was the same mistake that they made when Dennis Dixon was the starting quarterback of the Steelers last season. But in both cases, those people forgot to realize that the strength of both of those teams rested on thei rushing attack and their defense. The Texans defense is not as good as the Steelers defense from a year ago, but still more than good enough to slow the Falcons offense. And slow it, they did.

Matt Ryan got off to a very rocky start. His inability to throw the deep ball effectively has inhibited the Falcons offense all year long, and it was no more apparent than the opening series of this game, where two poor throws to an open White and Jones really did change the face of this game. If the Falcons hit one of those, it’s extremely likely they are touchdowns. And instead of the Falcons being down 10 points midway through the second quarter, they would be up 7 points a minute into the game. Then Ryan’s two interceptions on the ensuing drives kill their momentum, although granted neither of those throws were completely his fault as Turner threw off his timing on the flea-flicker and Jones zigged when he should have zagged on the second one.

But truthfully, besides those initial series, the rest of the game Ryan played fairly well. The Falcons had a ridiculous amount of drops in this game (8). Three consecutive ones occur on the final series of the first half which killed any chance that the Falcons move down the field and at least get three points. Really the only other mistakes Ryan makes are on the pair of delay of game penalties. The second of which was a critical mistake because it comes on a 4th & 1 with 2:35 left in the game that the Falcons actually convert and would have put them in prime scoring position to tie the game. But of course the penalty nullifies the play.

He also saw quite a bit of pressure, as the Texans pass rush was basically able to pin their ears back in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter and the Falcons blockers did not do a great job holding up. Svitek struggled in this game, as did pretty much all of the other blockers in this game. He gave up 2.5 pressures, but had another and a sack-strip negated by defensive penalties. It’s become apparent to me that while Svitek is better than Sam Baker is today, he’s not better than Baker was a year ago, which was considerably less than where Baker was in 2009. It’s fascinating to look at the Falcons left tackle position has gotten considerably worse since 2008. Svitek has done his best to maintain the status quo from a year ago. And it makes you start to realize that since the decline of Bob Whitfield, the Falcons have been fairly middling at that position. But that’s probably a topic worth broaching in the off-season. Joe Hawley also did not have a great game, and it’s clear that if the Falcons actually want to get some serious production from the right guard position they should move on in another direction. Presumably, they are playing Hawley there to get him reps for his eventual move to center. I think Hawley still has a future as the starting center, but the Falcons need to give Kirk Chambers a try at some point. Either as a replacement for Svitek at left tackle or as a right guard. Otherwise, Chambers presence on the roster is a complete and under waste.

The Falcons ground attack was pretty useless. Turner had basically two nice runs, and 9 wasted runs. And one wonders that against the fast Texans defense, that giving Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers more reps would have been smart.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$7$1$0$0$0-$2$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Jason Snelling$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$2$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Julio Jones$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$0.5$0$0.50
Will Svitek$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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