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FalcFans Podcast – Episode 22 – Parts 1 & 2

December 16th, 2012 Comments off

Aaron is back and is joined by Allen Strk and Scott Carasik for a lively conversation on a wide range of Falcons-related topics. You’ll hear their thoughts on many of the current Falcon players and what sort of seasons they are having in 2012 and what they could be expecting in the future. You’ll also hear them opine on some past Falcon players as well. Scott shares many of his thoughts on what the Falcons could be looking at in the draft and this upcoming off-season. They give their insights on what the upcoming playoff picture could look like for the Falcons. This episode does contain EXPLICIT content, so be forewarned.

Part 1:

Episode 22 Part 1 [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 2 minutes

Part 2:

Episode 22 Part 2 [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 6 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. Scott also writes for Bleacher Report and ScarDraft.com. You can also hear Scott on his weekly radio show: “Kvetching Draftniks Radio.” His twitter handle is: @scar988.

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons dump Ray Edwards

November 12th, 2012 Comments off

In what is a surprising move, NFL insider Jay Glazer tweeted that the Falcons would be cutting ties with defensive end Ray Edwards earlier this evening. The move comes as a surprise due to the fact that it is a mid-season release of a player that was the team’s top free agent addition following the lockout of last summer.

Edwards came to the Falcons after several seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, earning a reputation as one of the league’s up and coming pass rushers. In five seasons in Minnesota, including four as a starter Edwards tallied 29.5 sacks. Last year with Atlanta, after coming off a knee injury, Edwards had a disappointing 3.5 sacks. This past off-season, now healthy and with the introduction of Mike Nolan as the team’s defensive coordinator, greater production was expected of Edwards. What resulted was the loss of his starting job to Kroy Biermann and very limited playing time, predominantly serving as a run defender. In 9 games and 4 starts this season, Edwards recorded no sacks and just 9 tackles.

More than likely, Edwards’ release will lead to increased reps for Lawrence Sidbury, as well as Cliff Matthews and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi. Both Matthews and Massaquoi have been inactive for the majority of Falcons games this season.

Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

Moneyball 2012 – Week 9 Review

November 8th, 2012 Comments off

Despite scoring only 19 points, I was impressed with how the offense performed against the Cowboys. Breakdowns in pass protection and their inability to run the ball in the early part of this game prevented them from finishing some drives. But for the most part, the Falcons had little issue moving the ball against the Cowboys defense.

Matt Ryan had an excellent game despite not throwing a touchdown. Roddy White and Julio Jones for chunks of this game appeared uncoverable to Dallas defenders. The Cowboys only effective way of slowing down the Falcons passing attack was with pressure, something they got regularly in the first three quarters. But when things counted late the O-line stepped up, protected Ryan, and opened some running lanes for Turner.

I think Turner may have looked the most like his former self in this game, running hard, and breaking a number of tackles. The Falcons goalline and short-yardage blocking has been abysmal this year, so it was nice to see Turner pound it in from 3 yards out for the team’s lone touchdown on the night. In previous efforts, it might have taken the team 3 or more plays to run it in from that distance. Konz got the key block on that play, and had a much improved effort than he did last week. Clabo continues to struggle in pass protection despite not giving up any pressures or sacks. I counted five “hurries” he gave up, which I’ve previously explained are times when pressure happened but did not result in an incompletion, or there was light enough pressure where the QB had to rush a throw or move off his spot. The rest of the line combined for just two hurries. So while Baker’s earnings were less, I think he had the better game among the tackles. Overall, a subpar effort up front which has been a regular occurrence this season.

The team cut Lousaka Polite this week. You might make the case that this was his strongest lead blocking effort of the season, but that isn’t really saying much since he was fairly poor in all other games. The dropped pass, missed assignments, and poor pass protection combined to force the team’s hand. Personally if I was calling the shots in Atlanta, I would just move Snelling to fullback. Cox is largely serviceable, and probably won’t be a Falcon next year (due to Ewing’s return), thus I’d try to find some developmental guy to use his roster spot on. Or perhaps give Matthews or Massaquoi more reps on gameday with the extra spot. But it’s fairly inconsequential. And who knows, maybe Cox actually helps improve the ground game down the stretch.

Rodgers really came through with two critical third down conversions. I really want to see the Falcons do a better job integrating their entire receiver corps with Harry Douglas being largely an afterthought. I have no answers to offer them. I think one of the issues for Douglas in this particular game was the quality of Dallas’ corners, and his continued struggles with beating press and tight man coverage.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$16$1$0$0$0$0$17.00
Michael Turner$0$11-$1$0$0$0$10.00
Roddy White$0$0$9$1$0$0$10.00
Julio Jones$0$2$6$0$0-$1$7.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$4-$1$0$0$3.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Michael Palmer$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$0$0$0$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00
Lousaka Polite$0$0-$1-$1$0$0-$2.00

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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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5 Keys if the Falcons Want to Improve in 2012

September 7th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan

Often when people look to see if a team has improved, they will measure it with wins and losses. And while that is not a bad way to do so, it is not a true measure of a team’s ability. Because you’re not playing the same schedule year to year, and even the teams that you do play annually aren’t always the same quality as they were in previous years. Every NFL season brings a new and different set of challenges, and to simply measure them by how many games you’ve won or lost doesn’t accurately gauge whether you rose to meet those challenges.

Here are five areas that I think the Falcons need to improve in if they want to be able to say they have improved as a team from 2011 and previous years. These are five areas that you could set apart as mini-goals for this team. And if they were to accomplish all five by the end of the year, I believe this will result in more regular season wins for the Falcons as well as a greater chance of winning in the postseason. And not just winning one game in January, but potentially many multiple so that they could possibly be winning come February.

1. Matt Ryan Needs to Take the Next Step as a Passer

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 20 “2012 Preview”

September 5th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I discuss and preview the Falcons Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in this week’s episode. You’ll also hear our opinions on the Falcon’s additions to the practice squad, as well as whether an interview of Mike Nolan divulges some question marks within the Falcons front office. During our preview of the Chiefs game, you’ll hear our thoughts on how certain aspects of the Falcons offense and defense match up with the Chiefs. Later in the episode, we are joined by a FalcFans.com forum member in Allen Strk, who helps us reminisce on past Falcon players and games. You’ll also hear some thoughts on current Falcons, as well as predictions for the upcoming 2012 season including how good we think the Falcons will be and whether or not they are good enough to make the Super Bowl.

Ep. 20: 2012 Preview [Download]

Duration: 54 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com or myself at: pudge@falcfans.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: ustream.tv/channel/falcfans-show

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcon Players To Watch Tonight vs. Dolphins

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Tonight marks the final dress rehearsal for the regular season, at least as far as the starters go. They will likely play the entire first half and a bit into the third quarter as well. Most of the guys you’ll see on the field during that time period are locks to make the roster. Next week, most of those same players will sit for the preseason finale. The third preseason game is often considered to be the most important because it more closely mirrors the intensity of the regular season. With that in mind, here are some Falcon players that you should be keeping your eyes on against the Miami Dolphins:

Michael Turner – Turner has rushed 8 times for a total of 14 yards this preseason, not a good look for him. He has been successful on two of those runs. He hasn’t had great blocking up front, but he needs to step it up against the Dolphins. Turner wants to silence the doubters and having a solid performance in his final preseason action will be a key aspect in doing so.

Sam Baker – Baker has been really spared this summer, with both Terrell Suggs and Carlos Dunlap, Baltimore and Cincinnati’s top pass rushers, respectively being out of the games. Baker has yet to really be tested. Well this week, he should get tested against Cameron Wake, and it should be a nice indicator whether the Falcons brass was right to have confidence in Baker in 2012.

Lamar Holmes – Holmes will make his preseason debut tonight and should get a ton of reps. He’ll be one to watch to indicate whether the Falcons have good depth at left tackle. Holmes is not in the mix to start given his lack of reps, but he can answer questions about whether the Falcons might need to look at other tackles come cutdown days if he doesn’t have a good performance tonight.

Kerry Meier – I’ll keep harping on Meier needing to emerge until he does. Meier needs to show that he is capable of stepping into the lineup in the event of an injury to Jones, White, or Douglas, and has yet to do so. It would be nice to see him go out in the first half or so against the Dolphins starters and make a play. He missed the Bengal game with a leg injury and needs to play and produce against the Dolphins.

Ray EdwardsLast time I mentioned that Edwards stock was down due to the fact that he was being pulled off the field in nickel situations. This week if that remains the case, then Edwards makes the most of his pass rushing situations against the Dolphins.

Akeem Dent – Dent is back after missing last week’s game with a concussion. He had his ups and downs against the Ravens, and needs to come back with a performance against the Dolphins that shows more ups than downs. In particular, he needs to improve in coverage to at least give the team faith that he won’t be totally lost if he has to pull extended reps there during the regular season.

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.

Camp Battles 2012: Defensive Line

July 17th, 2012 Comments off
Thomas Campbell-US Presswire

Lawrence Sidbury

Relative to many positions on the Falcons roster, the defensive line won’t see a lot of shakeup during training camp. The four starters are pretty much settled and the majority of the reserves are fairly secure in their roster spots. The brunt of the competition will be based around many of those reserve players trying to carve out larger niches in the Falcons rotation.

The four starters that are likely to open the season include John Abraham and Ray Edwards at defensive end and Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters at defensive tackle. As far as the starters go, the issues to watch are how much improvement both Edwards and Peters make, and whether Babineaux can bounce back after a subpar 2011.

Edwards was hampered by an injury last summer, but also never seemed to mesh with Brian VanGorder. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan hopes to fix that issue, and it seems that Edwards has already warmed up to him and his new scheme. Last season, Peters flashed top-level playmaking skills, but still has yet to develop the sort of consistency to put together a complete season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the fact that he won’t have to look too much over his shoulder will drive him for greater success this season. Babineaux was hampered by an injury early last year, and the Falcons are hopeful that his production will return to a level where it was prior to 2011 when he was one of the most disruptive interior players in the league.

For bench players like Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury, both won’t have to worry too much about not collecting a check from the Falcons this year. Last year Biermann stole reps in nickel situations from Edwards. He’ll be competing to show that the new deal he signed this past off-season was money well worth spending. Biermann likely benefited to a degree from the relationship with VanGorder, and will have to find a way to similarly impress Nolan that he is worthy of being the top backup in the rotation. Sidbury was no sure thing to make the roster last summer, so a year has made a world of difference. Sidbury flashed potential last season and will be working to carve out a larger spot in the rotation. He’ll push Biermann to be the team’s top reserve. He’ll need to show improvement as a run defender, where Biermann has the edge. Abraham’s playing time is stream-lined so that the majority of snaps he comes off the field will be in running situations. And if Edwards can bounce back and earn Nolan’s trust on passing situations, then there may not be as many opportunities there as well. Becoming a more all-around player will be the key to Sidbury taking the next step.

Outside those six, the roster spots aren’t solidified. The Falcons will likely keep at least nine, but potentially ten players to beef up their rotation. A big part of the competition will be at tackle, where Peria Jerry, Vance Walker, and rookie Travian Robertson will all be competing for playing time. Jerry’s roster spot is probably the safest because his contract is structured so that cutting him doesn’t help the Falcons cap situation to a significant degree. And Vance Walker has proven himself over the years to be a valuable rotation player, making him less likely to be cut. Robertson will need a strong summer to move up the depth chart, but should be kept as a potential fifth tackle. The Falcons carried five tackles for much of last year with Carlton Powell in that role. That makes undrafted rookie Micanor Regis on the outside looking in as far as the roster goes, since he’s unlikely to leap frog all three players to make the team. But with a strong summer, he definitely can be a candidate for the practice squad.

At end, one of the big battles will come in the competition between Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews for the fifth defensive end spot. It’s unlikely that the Falcons will try and carry six defensive ends. It’s not impossible that the Falcons may opt to carry six defensive ends, particularly if they try and work either Massaquoi or Matthews at outside linebacker. But given only four ends will likely be active on game days, carrying a sixth player will mean that the roster could be depleted elsewhere. Massaquoi has the edge given that he has a bit higher upside as a pass rusher. Most years the Falcons have only seen their fifth defensive end as a special teams player, which may limit Massaquoi’s contributions as a rookies. But if he has a strong summer, he could push for playing time during the regular season comparable to Sidbury back in 2009. Even if the Falcons part ways with Matthews, he is still a prime candidate for the practice squad. He will need to have a strong summer to make the roster.

Also competing will be Louis Nzegwu, who is in a similar boat as Regis in facing long odds to make the roster. But he has the sort of athletic talent that can make him a nice project to carry and develop on the practice squad for a year or two.

Overall the issue along the defensive line won’t about shuffling around the roster, but more about Nolan trying to get more out of the current slate of players.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 17 “The One About the Falcons”

June 10th, 2012 Comments off

In this week’s episode, Ryan and I get back to the grind of talking about the Falcons. Taking segments of recent live shows where we talk about different position groups on the offense, this episode is an amalgamation (I know, big word) of those discussions. Also included in this episode is our interview with The Bleacher Report’s Scott Carasik, another knowledgeable Falcon fan. If you want to hear practically every offensive player on the Falcons roster get discussed, then this is the episode for you. Topics range from who will make the roster to what can be expected from different players this year. What if any changes that Dirk Koetter has will affect different players and positions. Ryan and I get into a long debate about what exactly is an elite quarterback. Michael Turner’s future, Chris Redman, Kerry Meier, Julio Jones, and Sam Baker are other Falcon players that get extensive discussions in this episode.

Ep. 17: The One About the Falcons [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt