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Ranking the Falcons: No. 17 Matt Bosher

July 20th, 2013 1 comment
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Bosher

The 17th-ranked Falcon player is punter Matt Bosher. Click here to read the scoring system that devised these rankings.

Total Score: 61

Player Grade: 60 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 16 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 16 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 16 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +5
Positional Bonus: +2

These rankings don’t really discriminate against specialists. Bosher is ranked fairly high because he’s a young, ascending player. After a dismal start to his career as a rookie in 2011, Bosher has really developed into one of the team’s more consistent players. He consistently showcases a strong leg as a punter, and if the Falcons can get a bit more consistency from their coverage units his production would be better.

Bosher has a big leg that can routinely help the Falcons flip field position. Of 12 punts made last year where the Falcons were backed up inside their own 20-yard line, 7 of them went for 50 or more yards. Bosher also displays his big leg on kickoffs, ranking tied for sixth in the league with 45 touchbacks.

Bosher certainly has room for growth in both areas. The growth he’s already shown in his short two-year career is immense, and if he has comparable growth over his next two years, he could be potentially considered among the best punters in the league by the time his first contract runs out.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Falcons Needs: Special Teams

February 14th, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons won’t be making many major changes here. Their primary goal, if any, at this position group will be upgrading their ability in the return game. The team lost Eric Weems last off-season, and their in-house replacements for him did not suffice.

Jacquizz Rodgers was a competent kickoff returner at times, but if he is going to carve a larger role on offense, they should have another player that can play here. If the Falcons do add a wide receiver or cornerback this off-season, it would make a lot of sense to find one that can also return kicks.

Dominique Franks struggled throughout the year to make any impact as the team’s punt returner. He was replaced late in the year by Harry Douglas, who did very little in his brief time. At this point, finding a competent punt returner would appear to be the biggest priority.

The Falcons probably will let players like Tim Toone and James Rodgers get opportunities to win either job next summer. But it makes sense to bring in more competition if possible via a free agent signing, a mid or late round draft pick, or do what the Falcons did a year ago and target a number of undrafted players that have return and special teams experience.

As for the other specialist positions, besides bringing another camp body there is no need there. Kicker Matt Bryant still seems to be going strong. His leg strength isn’t what it once was, but inside the Georgia Dome he’s about as good a kicker as they come. Punter Matt Bosher showed improvement in his sophomore season. Bosher’s big leg has the potential to really affect field position. He’s also a very good kickoff specialist.

Long snapper Josh Harris had a couple of miscues during his rookie season, but for the most part was solid to good. If any one of the three specialist deserve competition, it would be him, but it’s not really necessary. Other than that, the Falcons might want to kick the tires on an undrafted kicker just to get a look-see at the young talent that is out there given Bryant’s increasing age. Bryant turns 38 in May and has two more years left on his contract.

The teams’ coverage units took a step back in 2012 due to the absences of Weems and Akeem Dent, who were the team’s best cover guys in 2011. Dent got more work on coverage towards the end of the year. The team still has solid performers with players like Kroy Biermann, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, Drew Davis, Robert James, and Chris Owens. Healthy seasons from players such as Bradie Ewing, Kerry Meier, and/or Shann Schillinger could also improve the unit. Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews flashed ability as well late in the year, and the team needs to get a greater contribution from Charles Mitchell, who will be replacing Chris Hope in all likelihood as the top reserve at safety. Overall, the Falcons coverage was more than capable last year. If the Falcons target reserves at wide receiver, linebacker, or in the secondary this off-season, you can be sure they will be expected to contribute in this arena as well.

Moneyball 2012 – Week 17 Review

January 6th, 2013 Comments off

I must apologize for getting this review up so late. I don’t know what it is about the bye week that makes me very lazy. But I think part of it was the fact that I didn’t really want to watch this game. It was was a throwaway game, and ultimately a throwaway loss.

But I did see some things in this game that give me pause. The Falcons continue to struggle with pressure, and when teams can get pressure on Ryan, the Falcons offense becomes very mediocre. Ryan was hit three times on the opening series. Then on the second series, the drive started out brilliantly, but then Lavonte David hit Ryan on a blitz, and the Falcons wound up settling for a field goal instead of a drive that a few plays earlier seemed like a guaranteed touchdown. This has been a problem throughout the latter half of the regular season. Agains the Lions, the offense stalled in the third quarter when pressure was dialed up. They looked very good against the Giants because there was hardly any pressure.

The Falcons seemed to be going through the motions in this one. Mike Smith made the right decision to play the starters, but unfortunately those starters just seemed disinterested in this game, looking as if they were hoping to get through this game with just perfunctory and minimal effort as possible. This is the same thing we saw a few weeks ago against the Panthers. The team just lacked an edge. So clearly despite Smitty’s best intentions, his plan did not work. Where I will criticize Smitty is when he opted not to pull the starters at the outset of the fourth quarter. The Falcons were down 12 points at that point, and while it was still a winnable game, there was no need for the Falcons to make the effort to overcome that deficit at this point in the year. It’s tough conceding defeat, and you know a guy like Smitty is a competitor, but that was one of the few times where you just got to know when it’s over, and to count your blessings that no one suffered a major injury. But then of course, Abraham did then suffer an injury. And we’re still waiting to know if he’s going to play next week in the playoff game.

I thought the running game was largely a non-factor, except a few nice runs on the second series. Matt Ryan did not play well. Part of that was because of the pressure and hits he saw early in this game. But he seemed to be staring down reads and just didn’t look comfortable in the pocket all game long. Ryan has not dealt well with pressure throughout the second half of the season, as I’ve noted several times. It’s a glaring weakness of this team, and if this team falls short in the next week or so, I’m absolutely certain it will be because of erratic pass protection.

There isn’t a lot to say about this game. If the Falcons go on to win in the playoffs, this game will be long forgotten. If the Falcons however should lose, then this game is going to stick out as a sore thumb. I really hope that the Falcons make me forget this game. I feel slightly dumber from having watched it.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4$4$0$0$0$8.00
Matt Ryan$3$2$0$0$0$0$5.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Roddy White$0$0$3$1$0$0$4.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2.5$0$0$2.50
Peter Konz$0$0$0$2.5$0$0$2.50
Julio Jones$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2-$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$1-$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
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Falcons lose in finale against Bucs

December 30th, 2012 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Samuel walks dejectedly off the field.

The Falcons looked sluggish in a season finale loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 22-17. The Falcons opted to play the majority of their starters, but the offense stagnated early. While the Falcons were able to score some points late to make the game interesting, they could not overcome the early lead the Bucs built up. The Falcons finish the 2012 regular season with a 13-3 record, an NFC South title, and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Matt Ryan played the entire game, completing 28 of 44 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons running game did not do much, with Jacquizz Rodgers leading the team with 28 yards on 5 carries. Michael Turner added 18 yards on 6 carries and a touchdown. Rodgers also led receivers with 8 catches for 50 yards. Julio Jones (3 catches, 56 yards), Roddy White (5 catches, 42 yards), and Tony Gonzalez (5 catches, 41 yards). The lone passing touchdown was caught by Harry Douglas, who finished the game with 4 catches for 21 yards. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try from 28 yards out. Matt Bosher punted 6 times for an average of 50.8 yards, with 3 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Bosher had a punt blocked. Rodgers returned 3 kickoffs for 59 yards, while Douglas took over punt return duties from Dominique Franks and had 4 returns for 42 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons gave a decent effort, keeping the Bucs offense in check for most of the day. They allowed 366 total yards, including 144 yards on the ground which made the difference in the second half. The Falcons had held the Bucs to only 37 rushing yards in the first half on 12 carries, but thanks in large part to a 40-yard scoring run by Doug Martin, they could not slow down the Bucs ground attack in the second half. Sean Weatherspoon led defenders with 8 tackles. Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles); Corey Peters (3 tackles); Asante Samuel (2 tackles, 1 interception); and Vance Walker (5 tackles) had notable games.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 15 Review

December 18th, 2012 1 comment

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.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$15$0$0$0$0$0$15.00
Julio Jones$0$3$9-$1$0$0$11.00
Jason Snelling$0$7$2$0$0$0$9.00
Michael Turner$0$7$0$0$0$0$7.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$5$1$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6$0$0-$1$5.00
Mike Cox$0$0$2$2$0$0$4.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$1$0$0$0$3.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$1$0-$2$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00

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Midseason Superlatives 2012

November 7th, 2012 Comments off

A year ago at the midpoint I gave my picks for who I thought were some of the top performers for several superlative awards. I am doing the same this year.

Offensive MVP: Matt Ryan

Without a doubt Matt Ryan has been the most valuable player on offense. What a difference a year makes, as I had Ryan midway through last season as the most disappointing player (although he did bounce back to get the MVP by year’s end). But honestly without Ryan’s performance this year, I think the Falcons would be looking at just 5 or 6 wins instead of 8 right now. That is how much better I think Ryan is this year in comparisen to last year. He’s blossoming in Dirk Koetter’s offense and is in the mix for league MVP honors, not just some given out by some silly Falcon blog.

I should also note that on any team not helmed by Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez would also get love. Both are playing at elite levels for their respective positions, although Ryan certainly has a hand in that.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 3 Review

September 26th, 2012 Comments off

Sorry for the late update, I got busy earlier this afternoon and couldn’t check out the All-22 until a few hours ago.

This was about as low-key a blowout as you’re going to find. The Falcons never really broke a sweat in this game. This was what I would call very much a ball-control gameplan via the pass.

The Falcons did have their best game running the ball so far this year. Michael Turner had a couple of nice runs and seemed much more explosive in the second half than he did in the first. Jacquizz Rodgers did some things on the ground, and could have done a bit more had the blocking been better. The Falcons did definitely pick it up in the second half as far as the line goes. They did an excellent job in pass protection. The first sack they allowed I counted as a pressure because Ryan managed to step up in the pocket and was tackled while running rather than passing, so it’s more of a tackle for loss than a true sack according to the Moneyball rules. Justin Blalock earned well because he made some nice key blocks on certain plays, but there were a lot of other players where I think he looked sort of lost. McClure seemed to have his struggles early in the game with taking on the big 3-4 nose tackle. That’s historically been a weakness of his, and it showed up at times in this game. The Falcons problems running the ball going forward may not get fixed this year. They may have a couple of nice games such as this, but it’s not going to be anything they will be able to hang their hats on on a weekly basis. They just don’t really move guys off the ball ever. Which doesn’t help a player like Turner who is more of your plodding runner. And while Quizz is much quicker and runs with more burst, they still don’t create enough spacing to allow his style of running to really work. I did notice that both Mike Johnson and Peter Konz fared well in the fourth quarter as run blockers. That is something that may give this team optimism long-term that they can improve up front.

Matt Ryan played very well for the third straight week. He was being a distributor once again, basically doing his best John Stockton impression. Another cross-sport comparison would be another former Jazz point guard, Deron Williams. That’s how Ryan has played so far this year.

The Triplets as they will now be referred to: Julio, Roddy, and Tony, all had strong performances. Gonzo had the best game of course, and he and Roddy did a lot of chain moving. The Falcons need to get the deep ball better incorporated into their offense going forward. Ryan almost hit that deep pass to Roddy for six, and there were a couple of throws to Julio that did some damage. Those types of plays need to be regular occurrences in each week, and the Falcons pass attack that is operated at around 95% efficiency, could really take that next step to being indefensible.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$15$0$0$0$0$0$15.00
Michael Turner$0$9$0$0$0$0$9.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$8-$1$0$0$7.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$5$0$0$0$7.00
Roddy White$0$0$4$1$0-$1$4.00
Julio Jones$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$2$0$0-$1$2.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Mike Johnson$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50

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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.

2015 Falcons: Special Teams

June 21st, 2012 Comments off
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Bosher

Come 2015, there is only one current Falcon that remains on their special teams unit. That player is punter Matt Bosher. From underwhelming beginnings in 2011, Bosher has turned into one of the league’s better punters by 2015. His ability as a kickoff specialist also gives him value. No one confuses him with being among the best guys like Andy Lee or Shane Lechler, but he is quietly consistent and solid.

At kicker, the Falcons replaced Matt Bryant following the 2014 season with Nate Kaeding. Bryant gave the Falcons a lot of consistent kicking over the years, but it was time to go with a younger leg. While Kaeding has never been the most reliable kicker, the team is confident that kicking in the reliable indoor environment of the Georgia Dome will make him one of the league’s most accurate long ball kickers. It was the deterioration of Bryant’s leg strength that was the primary reason why the team decided to move on. Kaeding is no spring chicken at age 33 when 2015 rolls around, but given that Bryant was able to produce until he was 39, the team is confident that they can get at least four or five good years from Kaeding.

Snapping for both specialists is Josh Harris, their undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2012. While Harris did not win the job outright in a camp competition with Joe Zelenka that summer, he did impress the team enough that when they opted to part ways with Zelenka the following spring, he was the first guy they called to replace him. Harris has since snapped well in his two seasons as the Falcons snapper, and they believe he has the potential to continue to do well for another decade in a Falcon uniform.

As mentioned with the discussion of the defensive backs and receivers, Jordan Poyer and Cody Pearcy are the team’s pair of returners. Poyer works on punts, and Pearcy primarily on kickoffs.

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Year-End Superlatives: Special Teams MVP

January 4th, 2012 Comments off

Very little attention is paid to special teams generally speaking. The only time this unit gets much pub is when your fat Polish kicker booms a 60-yard field goal, or some team is foolish enough to kick/punt the ball to your game-breaking returner. The Falcons did not have any of those moments this year.

At the midpoint, Matt Bryant was the pick. Bryant had been solid up to that point, but really he stood out because the other best options: Matt Bosher and Eric Weems had really have undistinguished years.

But that changed in the second half, particularly with Bosher. In the first half of the season, you had to go out of your way to make a case that Bosher was not the worst punter in the league. But in the latter half of the season, he was consistently kicking at a high level. Almost all of his kickoffs went into the endzone, and he was consistently making big 50 yard punts every game and pinning teams deep in their own territory. Early in the year, he was struggling just to kick the ball 40 yards.

Weems had high expectations going into this year because of his Pro Bowl status last year. And while he was solid this year, without the big plays, he just didn’t really have a good enough year to deserve much credit here. Bryant’s second half of the season wasn’t particularly stand-out. He was still his usual solid self, but there weren’t the clutch last minute kicks that we had been so accustomed to seeing earlier this year and in 2010.

So in the end the award goes to Bosher, who went from zero to hero.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,