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DeCoud, Moore to Pro Bowl; Ryan, Gonzalez to sit out

January 24th, 2013 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

DeCoud congratulates Moore

Falcons safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore were added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster in the wake of the San Francisco 49ers going to the Super Bowl. They will be replacing 49er safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner in this Sunday’s all-star game.

Also, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will sit out the game due to a shoulder injury he suffered late in the Falcons loss to the 49ers last Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Ryan suffered a sprained AC joint in his left non-throwing shoulder. The injury will require up to a month for recovery, but will not require surgery.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez will also not be appearing in this weekend’s Pro Bowl due to personal reasons. He has been replaced by Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. Gonzalez is expected to be mulling over his NFL future as he is finishing his 16th season in the league. Prior to last Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, reports indicated that Gonzalez was leaning closer to retirement after indicating at the outset of the year that he was 95 percent certain that 2012 would be his final year. Gonzalez’s contract expired once the Falcons season ended.

Wide receiver Julio Jones is the other Falcon player voted to the Pro Bowl team.

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49ers end Falcons Super Bowl hopes

January 20th, 2013 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzalez leaves the field for possibly the final time.

The Falcons season ended with a 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons got off to a strong start, going up 17-0 at the outset of the game before a 49ers comeback ended their Super Bowl hopes. The Falcons had a last minute opportunity for a game-winning touchdown deep in 49er territory, but were unable to convert on fourth down. The Falcons end their 2012 season with a 14-4 combined regular season and postseason record.

Matt Ryan led the team passing for 396 yards while completing 30 of 42 passes for 3 touchdowns and an interception. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led rushers with 32 yards on 10 carries. Michael Turner also added 30 yards on 8 carries. Julio Jones had a dominant performance, catching a pair of Ryan’s touchdown passes for 182 yards and 11 receptions. Tony Gonzalez caught 8 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown as well. Roddy White (7 catches, 100 yards) and Harry Douglas (3 catches, 31 yards) also had notable performances in the air. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try from 35 yards. Matt Bosher had a pair of punts for an average of 45 yards with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Harry Douglas had three punt returns for a total of 6 yards. The Falcons offense looked sharp in the first half of the game, putting up 297 total yards including 271 in the air. But the offense had much less success in the second half, as only 180 total yards were generated with 125 coming via the passing game.

Defensively, the Falcons got off to a strong start, holding the 49ers to just 160 total yards in the first half. However the team’s inability to get stops in the redzone contributed to their loss, as San Francisco scored touchdowns on 4 of 5 total redzone trips. Their lone stop in the redzone came on a Michael Crabtree fumble at the 1-yard line. The 49ers running game was highly efficient, racking up 149 total yards on the Falcons. Thomas DeCoud and Akeem Dent tied for the team-lead with 8 tackles each. DeCoud also broke up a pass, and Dent had a tackle for loss. Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles); William Moore (5 tackles, 1 pass defended); Stephen Nicholas (3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Corey Peters (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defended); Dunta Robinson (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Asante Samuel (4 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (5 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

The Falcons offense roared to a brilliant start, generating a 7-play, 80-yard drive at the outset of the game. Matt Ryan was able to complete 2 of 3 pass attempts for 29 yards to help move the Falcons into 49er territory, before hitting Julio Jones who got behind the defense for a 46-yard score. That gave the Falcons a quick 7-0 lead just three and a half minutes into the game. The Falcons defense stepped up big and forced a 49er three-and-out on their opening possession, limiting their opponent to just 1 yard of offense. Ryan found Jones three times on the next Falcons series for a total of 41 yards. Overall, Ryan completed 6 of 8 passes for 64 yards on a 12-play, 65-yard drive for the Falcons. Ultimately the Falcons settled for a 35-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to go up 10-0, after Navorro Bowman broke up a throw in the flat to Jacquizz Rodgers on 3rd & 4 from the 49ers’ 17-yard line. Again, the Falcons defense held the 49ers without a first down on a three-and-out, where they generated just 3 total yards of offense after Corey Peters sacked Colin Kaepernick on third down to force an Andy Lee punt. The Falcons took over with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter at their own 43-yard line. Michael Turner got a pair of carries for a combined 14 yards before Ryan hit a streaking Roddy White on a deep post for a 23-yard gain on the final play of the quarter. On the very next play to start the second quarter, Ryan found Jones again on a 20-yard scoring grab. Jones was able to make a clean catch over 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown in the back corner of the endzone, tapping his feet in bounds for the score. The Falcons now had a 17-0 lead with 3 quarters left to play. But the 49ers offense finally got into gear on their next drive, as running back Frank Gore started them off with four consecutive carries for a combined 20 yards. Then Kaepernick hit four short passes to get the ball into Falcon territory before a delay of game penalty set them up for a 3rd & 7 at the Falcons 42-yard line. But then Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis, who beat DeCoud for a 27-yard gain. Two plays later, the speedy LaMichael James ran off the right side virtually untouched for a 15-yard scoring run to get the 49ers on the scoreboard for the first time. The Falcons offense followed that up with a four-and-out and Bosher punted for the first time on the day. On the opening play from their own 18-yard line, Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis for a 25-yard gain, but it was called back due to a holding call on guard Mike Iupati. But two plays later, Davis would break free again for a 19-yard gain on a Kaepernick pass. Two plays later, Kaepernick would scramble down the left sideline for a 23-yard gain to put the ball in Falcon territory. Davis came up big again two plays later with a 25-yard gain to put the ball at the Falcon 4-yard line. On the next play, Kaepernick hit an open Davis in the flat for the 4-yard scoring pass and catch. The 49ers had now cut the Falcons lead to 17-14 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half. But the Falcons offense would respond with a 7-play, 80-yard drive to go up before the half ended. The drive began with Ryan hitting Roddy White for a 15-yard gain, followed by the team going into their no-huddle attack. Ryan would complete 3 of his next 5 passes for a total of 44 yards to get the ball inside the redzone. Tony Gonzalez would catch a pair of passes to end the drive, including a 10-yard touchdown catch working against double coverage to cap off the drive. The half would end after a LaMichael James 1-yard run, as the Falcons now had a 24-14 lead going into the intermission.

The 49ers started the second half with a four-minute, 7-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Kaepernick completed all 3 of his pass attempts on the drive for a combined 58 yards, while Frank Gore pounded the ball for 4 carries and 24 yards. That included a 5-yard scoring run off the right side to cap the drive to cut the Falcons lead back to three points. On the Falcons ensuing drive, Ryan found Gonzalez on his first two passes for 14 yards each. But then as the Falcons had just moved the ball into 49er territory, his pass to Roddy White was intercepted by Chris Culliver after White slipped on the comeback pass allowing the defender to jump the throw. The 49ers took over at their own 44-yard line. On the very next play, Kaepernick hit Davis for a 31-yard gain after he beat linebacker Stephen Nicholas. But after that play, the Falcons defense held a few plays later on 3rd & 5 thanks to a pass breakup by William Moore on a pass from Kaepernick to Chad Hall. David Akers came on the field to attempt a 38-yard field goal, but it hit off the left upright for the miss and the Falcons retained their lead. The Falcons looked to try and establish their ground attack on the next drive. Jacquizz Rodgers carried the ball 3 times for a combined 18 yards while Jason Snelling had a single carry for 12 yards. After the next play, Ryan tried to go for it all on a deep pass to White but Carlos Rogers broke up the pass. Two plays later, Jones was able to convert on 3rd & 10 with a 13-yard grab. After a 1-yard run by Rodgers, Ryan muffed a shotgun snap which Aldon Smith was able to fall on for a second straight Falcon drive ending in a turnover. The Falcons defense looked to hold as Kaepernick’s 3rd & 7 pass to Vernon Davis fell incomplete. But the refs threw a flag on Cliff Matthews for roughing the passer for a blow to the head of Kaepernick giving San Francisco new life and a fresh set of downs at the Falcons 45-yard line. After a 2-yard run by Gore, the fourth quarter began. To start the quarter, Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree on a crossing pattern who broke a couple of tackles for a 33-yard gain. That put the ball at the Falcons 10-yard line. Following a 5-yard run by Gore, Kaepernick found Crabtree again on a quick slant, but Dunta Robinson was able to strip the ball before he could reach across the goalline and Stephen Nicholas was able to recover at the 1-yard line. However the Falcons had little success moving the ball out of their own territory and had a three-and-out on their subsequent possession. After a 42-yard punt by Bosher was returned 20 yards by Ted Ginn, the 49ers had very favorable field position to start their next drive, beginning at the Falcons 38-yard line. The 49ers ran the ball four straight times for a combined 21 yards to put the ball at the Falcon 17-yard line. Crabtree caught an 8-yard pass to get inside the 10, which was followed by a 9-yard run by Gore for another score. That gave teh 49ers their first lead of the game, 28-24 with 8:23 left in the game. On the third play of the next Falcon series, Ryan looked for Jones deep but the pass was broken up by Tarell Brown. Ryan would complete his next three passes for a combined 16 yards to get the ball to midfield. Then Ryan found a wide open Harry Douglas down the right sideline for 22 yards, however Douglas slipped on the turf on what might have been a possible scoring play had he managed to keep his feet. The 49ers challenged the catch on the play, but the call was upheld upon review. The Falcons had 1st down at the 49er 28-yard line with under 4 minutes left. After a pair of Rodgers runs for 10 yards and another Ryan pass to Douglas for 3 yards, the two-minute warning hit. The Falcons now had the ball at the 49er 15-yard line on 2nd & 9. Pressure forced Ryan to check down to Jason Snelling on second down for a 5-yard gain. On 3rd & 4, Ryan’s pass to White was broken up by linebacker Ahmad Brooks. On 4th & 4 from the 49ers 10, Ryan’s pass to White fell incomplete. There was contact between White and NaVorro Bowman, but no flag was called on the play and it was a turnover on downs. Now the Falcons needed a quick stop with 1:09 left in the game and only a pair of timeouts. They were able to get it with a three-and-out, but without the third timeout the clock bled down to just 13 seconds when Andy Lee came on the field for his third punt of the game. Douglas lost a yard on his return, leaving just 6 seconds on the clock with the Falcons having the ball at their own 41-yard line. Ryan took a deep shot to Jones which was completed for 24 yards, but 35 yards shy of the endzone as time expired.

The 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl, who defeated the New England Patriots 28-13 following the Falcons defeat.

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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 squash Giants in shut-out victory

December 16th, 2012 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

John Abraham bottles up David Wilson

The Falcons laid a beatdown on the defending Super Bowl champions, routing the New York Giants by a score of 34-0. It marks the first regular season shutout of the Giants since 1996. It is also the first time the Falcons have shut out their opponent since a 24-0 win over the Oakland Raiders in 2008, and their first time doing so in the Georgia Dome since a 30-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers in 2002.

After a couple of lackluster performances, Matt Ryan bounced back with a strong effort completing 23 of 28 passes for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. He started the game completing his first 8 passes. His efforts today give him 4,202 passing yards on the season, breaking the Falcons all-time season high of 4,177 he set a year ago. On the ground, Michael Turner led the Falcons with 52 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers added 11 carries for 25 yards, while Jason Snelling closed out the game with 6 carries for 39 yards. Julio Jones had a pair of touchdown grabs, leading the team with 6 receptions for 74 yards. He passed the 1000-yard receiver mark for the first time in his burgeoning Falcon career. Tony Gonzalez also had 6 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Harry Douglas (3 catches, 83 yards), Jason Snelling (3 catches, 16 yards), and Roddy White (2 catches, 16 yards) also contributed on the day. Matt Bryant hit on a pair of field goals, from 38 and 19 yards. Matt Bosher punted a pair of times for an average of 40 yards. Dominique Franks returned a pair of punts for 10 yards, and the Falcons had no kickoff returns on the day. The Falcons offense was efficient, converting 9 of 13 third downs. They also dominated on time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 39 minutes, compared to the Giants’ 21-minutes of possession.

Defensively the Falcons clamped down on a Giants offense that put up 52 points last week against the New Orleans Saints. They were held to only 256 total yards, their second-lowest output of the season. They only converted 4 of 10 third downs, and were 0 for 3 on fourth down attempts. The Falcons picked of Eli Manning twice, and also forced a late fumble. Sean Weatherspoon led the defense with 9 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Kroy Biermann (1 tackle, 1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles, 1 interception); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (4 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); and Asante Samuel (1 tackle, 1 interception) all had notable games.

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Defense lifts Falcons over Saints

November 30th, 2012 Comments off

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Babineaux celebrates an interception

The Falcons defense stepped up and created a number of turnovers against the New Orleans Saints to pull out the ugly 23-13 victory. The game came down to the wire with a strong defensive effort and lackluster offensive one for the Falcons. The Falcons are now a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday from clinching the NFC South division crown this week with their 11-1 record.

Matt Ryan struggled in this game, completing 18 of 33 for 165 yards and a touchdown. Michael Turner led the team on the ground with 83 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. He had a late fourth quarter fumble that gave the Saints one last late game opportunity to try and steal the win. Jacquizz Rodgers had 43 yards on 8 carries. Julio Jones led receivers with 5 grabs for 48 yards. Tony Gonzalez had 4 catches for 58 yards and Ryan’s lone touchdown pass. Jason Snelling caught 4 passes for 28 yards. Roddy White had a quiet night, catching only 1 pass for 20 yards. Matt Bryant really made up for the stalled offense, connecting on 3 field goals of 45, 29, and a 55-yarder that put the team up two scores with over 4 minutes left in the game. Matt Bosher punted 6 times, matching a season-high, averaging 53.2 yards and having 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Rodgers returned 1 kickoff for 22 yards and Dominique Franks returned 1 punt for 13 yards. The offense started strong, rushing well on their opening drive, but then stalled out, unable to take advantage of multiple Saints turnovers. They started the game with 101 yards rushing in the first half, but only had 23 yards on 12 carries in the second half. They only managed to score 6 points off the five Saints turnovers. They finished 1 for 11 on third downs, unable to convert their first one until less than 7 minutes were left in the game.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up a lot of yards as the Saints racked up 436 total yards on the day. They also struggled to get off the field on third downs, allowing the Saints to convert 7 of 14 on that down. But they managed to pick off Drew Brees five times, which cut short a number of go-ahead or tying drives for the Saints. The run defense performed better than their last outing against the Saints, limiting them to just 38 yards in the first half. The Saints finished with 101 yards on the day. William Moore led the team with 11 tackles, including 2 for loss, and also picked off Brees twice. His second interception helped seal the Falcons victory after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections); Jonathan Babineaux (1 interception); Kroy Biermann (2 tackles); Thomas DeCoud (7 tackles, 1 interception); Robert McClain (6 tackles, 2 pass deflections); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Chris Owens (3 tackles, 2 pass deflections); Dunta Robinson (7 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (4 tackles, 1 interception) all had noteworthy games.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 8 Review

October 31st, 2012 Comments off

Initially from watching the game live, I was very impressed with the Falcons performance. Upon review, I still came away impressed but cannot dismiss that the Eagles did not play well in this game. Most of the positives come on the offensive side of the ball.

Matt Ryan had a strong game. The running game had its moments and you could certainly argue this was the most complete game the offense has played this year. Turner had one of his better performances and Quizz also ran what might be the best game of his career. The blocking was just OK in this game. Relative to recent games, the pass protection held up well. There were some holes in this game, but It was inconsistent. But probably less inconsistent than it has normally been this year.

Sam Baker usually gets destroyed by Trent Cole so only giving up two pressures is relatively a strong performance for him. Clabo continued to have his issues, but had his share of moments as a run blocker. Watching live, I thought Konz played well. Upon further review, I might hold off on that. He did have his moments particularly as a run blocker, but there were two many missed blocks and he had some struggles in pass protection. He had 2 hurries and a pressure on plays that we’re wiped out by penalties. I think he definitely flashed his potential in this game, but still needs to work out the kinks. Reynolds at this point might be more consistent/reliable, but I don’t think he has the upside of Konz, particularly in the ground game. It seemed that Konz had many of his issues trying to block linebackers in the run game, and also struggled versus stunts.

Speaking of blocking, my hat goes off to DJ Davis and Roddy White for their efforts there. Davis had an impressive debut, standing out as a blocker. Both of his catches came when he was wide open thanks to Eagle defenders focusing on the Falcons’ other playmakers, but he did make a nice catch on the TD since it was not a particularly well-thrown ball. Roddy has been an underwhelming blocker so far this year, as I’ve noticed several times this year where he misses an assignment that could have potentially sprung a runner for a big gain. But that was not the case on Sunday.

Julio was very impressive, as his two big plays were a welcome addition to the offense. He absolutely roasted Nnamdi on the touchdown, and if not for an excellent tackle by Kurt Coleman, could have potentially scored on the 37-yard screen pass. The Eagles really had a hard time defending the Falcons screens as well as the shovel passes to Snelling, which essentially doubled as running plays.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$15$3$0$0$0$0$18.00
Julio Jones$0$1$10$0$0-$1$10.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$7$1$0$0$0$8.00
Michael Turner$0$7$1$0$0-$1$7.00
D.J. Davis$0$0$4$2$0$0$6.00
Roddy White$0$0$3$2$0$0$5.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

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Falcons streak past Eagles

October 28th, 2012 1 comment
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Jones runs by defenders for TD

The Falcons extend their record to 7-0 with a 30-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons built an early lead, and pretty much were on cruise control for most of the day as the Eagles struggled to find a rhythm and made a lot of mental errors. Mike Smith pushes his post-bye record to 4-1, and gets revenge for his lone loss suffered against the Eagles in 2008. This win also snaps the Eagles post-bye win streak of 13 games under Andy Reid. Mike Smith has now won 50 games with the Falcons, making him the winningest coach in franchise history, passing Dan Reeves (1997-2003) with 49 wins.

Matt Ryan had another brilliant performance, completing 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led rushers with 60 yards on 8 carries, including a 43-yard run late in the game. Michael Turner added 58 yards on 24 carries. Julio Jones and Rodgers tied for the team lead with 5 receptions each. Jones had 123 yards and a score, while Rodgers contributed 20 yards in the passing game. Roddy White (3 catches, 38 yards), Tony Gonzalez (3 catches, 29 yards), and Jason Snelling (3 catches, 16 yards, 1 touchdown) also made contributions. D.J. Davis caught his first two passes of his NFL career for 30 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to start the game for the Falcons. Matt Bryant connected on 3 field goal tries of 43, 29, and 30 yards. Matt Bosher was forced to punt only once, not coming until the fourth quarter which went for 52 yards. He had another punt attempt blocked. Rodgers returned a pair of kickoffs for a total of 30 yards, while Dominique Franks had a single punt return for 11 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons limited the Eagles to only 256 yards of total offense and were able to get to Michael Vick 3 times. Thomas DeCoud led defenders with 9 tackles, and he also recorded one of those sacks. John Abraham (3 tackles, 1 sack); Kroy Biermann (7 tackles, 1 sack); Robert McClain (6 tackles); William Moore (3 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Chris Owens (2 tackles); Dunta Robinson (2 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (6 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

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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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Falcons smash Chargers

September 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Weatherspoon and Moore tackle Mathews

The Falcons pushed their record to 3-0 by taking down the undefeated San Diego Chargers with a 27-3 victory on the road. The Falcons got off to a strong start and never looked back, as the Chargers were scoreless through the first half of the game.

Matt Ryan had another strong performance, completing 30 of 40 passes for 275 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. On the ground, Michael Turner bounced back from a slow start this season by leading the team with 80 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers also added 10 rushes for 32 yards. In the air, Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 9 grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Rodgers each had 5 catches for 67, 55, and 35 yards respectively. Jones and Rodgers both caught Ryan’s other two touchdown passes. Matt Bryant did not attempt a field goal on the day. Matt Bosher punted 5 times for an average of 44.6 yards, with 2 placed inside the 20-yard line. Dominique Franks returned a pair of punts for an average of 17 yards. The Falcons offense had little issue moving the ball against the Chargers. They dominated time of possession, holding onto the ball for over 36 minutes compared to the Chargers’ 24. In the first half, the Falcons held the ball for over twice as long as the Chargers with nearly 20.5 minutes of possession. The offense finished 8 of 13 on third down conversions and put up 384 total yards.

Defensively, the Falcons were too much for the Chargers offense. The Chargers struggled to convert third downs, particularly in the first half where they were 0 for 3. They wound up finishing the game 5 of 11 on their third down conversion attempts. They were limited to 280 total yards and had four turnovers. Dunta Robinson led defenders with 7 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery);Dominique Franks (3 tackles); William Moore (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery); Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles); Asante Samuel (6 tackles); Vance Walker (4 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble) all had noteworthy performances.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 2 Review

September 19th, 2012 Comments off

This game was won in the first quarter by the Falcons with their ability to generate 4 turnovers, and score 13 points off those turnovers. Because otherwise, the offense was fairly mediocre for the Falcons on most of the night. The offense did generate 14 points of their own volition, but other than those two drives, they really looked lackluster.

First off the Broncos defense should get a ton of credit for that. They are a tough unit and kept their team in the game despite those numerous turnovers early in the game that got them behind. Von Miller is a beast and he showed it several times throughout this game. They had Reynolds help Clabo a ton in this game to keep Miller in check. Any time Gonzalez was put on an island against him as a run blocker, Miller made him look fairly foolish.

The offensive line did a fairly good job against the formidable Broncos pass rush. Miller and Dumervil were held in check. They were able at times to get pressure on Ryan, but it wasn’t an amount that swung the game in the Broncos’ favor. The Falcons gave up 8 pressures, with 3 of them coming from backs and receivers. The run blocking was non-existent and the Falcons ground attack was paltry at best. The Falcons had 15 first down runs in the game, and were successful on only 1 of them, which happened to be the 14th one on the final drive of the game. The Falcons averaged 1.6 yards per carry on first down. That’s the polar opposite of what I was talking about last week about how the running game could be an X-Factor. That’s a success rate of 7% on first down. A poor success rate would be 25%, so 7% is downright pathetic.

Most of the blame for that poor ground attack has to put on the line. But Turner missed holes and did not run with great burst or explosion. Quizz did little with his limited opportunities, but the Falcons have to start giving him and Snelling more opportunities, because Turner is not getting the job done. And in light of his off-field issues, this week against San Diego will be a perfect opportunity to shift towards an offense spear-headed by Quizz/Snelling. I also can’t help but think some of it is missing Ovie Mughelli. Not that Lousaka Polite has played poorly, but he’s an average fullback.

Ryan played well, making some very good throws in this game. Roddy White was excellent, and Tony Gonzalez played very well as well. Julio Jones was a non-entity and that is worrisome given that the whole point of trading for Jones was so that our No. 2 WR (formerly Michael Jenkins) would no longer be a non-entity in games.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$14$1$0$0$0$0$15.00
Roddy White$0$0$9$0$0$0$9.00
Michael Turner$0$5$0$0$0$0$5.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6-$2$0$0$4.00
D.J. Davis$0$0$0$0$1.5$0$1.50
Harry Douglas$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Lousaka Polite$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Kevin Cone$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Julio Jones$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00

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