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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 76 “Aaron Doesn’t Know Talent”

August 26th, 2014 No comments

Allen and I discuss our favorite team: the Atlanta Falcons, with this week’s third wheel, Ben Grazebrook of Blogging Dirty. We review the Falcons preseason game against the Tennessee Titans before looking ahead to the regular season opener against the New Orleans Saints. We each give our thoughts on what may be some of the lingering questions surrounding the Falcons roster, including the tight end position, the defensive line rotation, the battles at outside and inside linebacker, nickel cornerback, backup quarterback and safety depth. As usual there is a bit of an around the league discussion centering on the 49ers wide receivers and the Buccaneers offensive line.

Episode 76 – Aaron Doesn’t Know Talent [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. Allen has a new article up reviewing who’s stock is up and down from the Titans game.

Ben writes for Blogging Dirty and can be found on twitter: @grazybizzle. Check out Ben’s review of the Titans game as well as his 53-man roster projection from last week.

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, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Atlanta Falcons Takeaways From Last Week – August 25, 2014

August 25th, 2014 No comments
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

The biggest question marks surrounding the Atlanta Falcons entering this past Saturday’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans centered on the team’s offensive tackle position.

But thankfully, both starting tackles: Jake Matthews and Lamar Holmes performed well against the Titans. Both players of course had their share of lapses, which comes with the territory of being a developing NFL player, but the Falcons should emerge with a good deal of confidence from that game based off their collective performance.

While Matthews missed a couple of blocking assignments against the Titans, he more than held his own against quality competition he faced in defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and edge-rusher Kamerion Wimbley. Casey is one of the best defensive tackles in the league, and while he had a solid overall performance against the Falcons, there were several times when Matthews was able to thwart and control him. Wimbley’s production has steadily declined since a nine-sack season in 2010, but outside one or two snaps was unable to get the better of Matthews.

Those are both positive signs. Compared to the play of the Falcons tackles from a year ago, there would have been very few instances where they would have managed to control the likes of Casey and would have looked overmatched almost every snap. The fact that Wimbley’s play has declined over the past three seasons is indicative of Matthews’ strong performance as well. It would have been more concerning had Wimbley gotten the better of him several times.

Matthews showed against the Titans that he indeed has a bright future ahead of him. While there will still be breakdowns and penalties from time to time, the Falcons should be confident in their ability to move forward with Matthews protecting Matt Ryan’s blindside. There certainly could be a number of games on the horizon where Matthews struggles, but the Falcons shouldn’t feel like the offense is going to be held back from having a rookie like him at left tackle.

That is a very positive development for not only the Falcons this season, but also moving forward. The Falcons just simply haven’t gotten a lot of good news when their offensive line has been involved over the past few years.

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2014 Falcons Preseason Stock Report – Week 2

August 20th, 2014 No comments
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Worrilow

The Atlanta Falcons lost their second preseason game to the Houston Texans this past weekend in somewhat sloppy and embarrassing fashion, getting outplayed in all three phases of the game. But despite the disheartening loss, there were a few players that raised their stock in bids to earn key roles or roster spots with the team, along with others that must do more to get back into the good graces of coaches and fans alike.

STOCK UP

DE Malliciah Goodman

Goodman is ascending with two solid preseason performances this summer. Showing the ability to penetrate and collapse the pocket, he was the team’s most productive pass-rusher against the Texans. Goodman has also made plays against the run, showing the ability to defeat double teams and disrupt plays in the backfield.

He’s an ascending player, and frankly has played at a level that is deserving of a starting spot if not for the deference given to veterans Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson. Goodman has appeared in the team’s sub-packages lined up beside Babineaux as an interior pass-rusher. That is possibly a role he could maintain in the regular season given that neither Jackson nor nose tackle Paul Soliai are known for their pass-rushing prowess. But Goodman’s ability to also stuff the run means the Falcons could tinker with the notion of starting him over either veteran. In the case of Babineaux, it would help keep the 32-year old fresher for those passing situations. In the case of Jackson, it may simply result in getting a better player on the field for the majority of snaps.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 74 “The 80th Time”

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic, Dave Choate, to discuss the current state of the Atlanta Falcons following their disappointing preseason performance against the Houston Texans. We discuss the Falcons offensive tackle situation and possible solutions in light of Sam Baker’s injury. Our discussion centers around whether the Falcons current options on the roster: Lamar Holmes and Gabe Carimi, can solidify the spot or does the team need more help. We then get into discussion of the returns of Corey Peters and Dwight Lowery; Kroy Biermann’s waning popularity; and roster battles involving Prince Shembo, Tyson Jackson and Malliciah Goodman. Dave departs, allowing Allen and myself to get into our usual around the league discussion.

Episode 74 – The 80th Time [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Dave is The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @TheFalcoholic.

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, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Breakdown of Falcons Preseason Week 2 vs. Texans

August 17th, 2014 No comments
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Yates

Just like last week, I’m breaking down any and every player that stood out to me (or didn’t) in the Atlanta Falcons preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Since there are so many players, I’ve separated them by position group. Brew a cup of coffee and sit back, because we’re going to be here for a while.

Quarterback

What I Saw: It’s hard to be critical of Matt Ryan’s performance in this game. His numbers weren’t good, but he didn’t play poorly. He missed on the first big throw to Julio Jones down the sideline, throwing too far outside which made it hard for Julio to keep both feet in bounds. He then had two more incompletions because of what I’d call lackadaisical effort by Roddy White. His last incompletion wasn’t an ideally placed pass on an in cut by Jones, but more often than not, Julio wins in those sort of traffic situations.

The Falcons backup quarterback play was erratic at best, and just plain horrible at worst. Sean Renfree had a nice stat-line, but got help from defensive penalties that nullified a couple of bad throws and decisions. Renfree had a couple of overthrows and inaccurate passes that he should have hit on. But he fared much better than T.J. Yates, who had a very rough game with two picks. The first, a pick-six, I’d blame mainly on Julian Jones who didn’t even look for the ball on a miscommunication. The second pick was 100 percent on Yates. It was a 2nd-and-18, and Yates was looking for a first down from Jabin Sambrano, throwing late over the middle. Texans linebacker Max Bullough read the throw the entire way and made an easy pick. On that play, Yates had easier completions on check downs to Tramaine Thompson, Jerome Smith or Brian Wozniak that could have gained a few easy yards and set up a more manageable third down. Obviously, Yates got too aggressive and the Falcons paid for it.

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Breakdown of Falcons Preseason Week 1

August 9th, 2014 No comments
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jacquizz Rodgers

As I did last year with each preseason game, I will post my reactions to what I saw on the field in the Atlanta Falcons preseason-opening win over the Miami Dolphins.

The preseason is a time for individual player evaluation, and I’ve looked at every snap from the game and here are my thoughts, observations, and opinions based off what I saw. Since there are so many players to discuss, like last year, I will break them down by position group.

Quarterbacks

What I Saw: Matt Ryan played well in the game, getting pulled after the opening series, a 10-play drive. He completed all of his passes. His best throw was probably his first, which saw him thread the needle to Harry Douglas on a slant pass. To no one’s surprise, it was a solid night for Ryan and he’s poised for the regular season.

T.J. Yates stepped in on the second offensive series and played through the midpoint in the third quarter for five possessions. I thought Yates showed good decision-making throughout the night, but his accuracy wasn’t stellar. There were a couple of throws where he had to make his receivers work a little harder than they needed to, but in most cases they were catchable passes. The throw to Devonta Freeman at the end of the half probably was the most glaring example where Yates could’ve had better placement. That could have been a touchdown. He almost had a second touchdown on a slant to Geraldo Boldewijn at the end of the third quarter, but I put more blame on Boldewijn there even though it wasn’t a perfect throw. Yates pocket movement was good, but his lack of ideal arm strength and accuracy hold him back. But a lot of his incompletions probably had more to do with him working with green, inexperienced receivers. If he was to work with guys like Jones, Douglas and White, he should be okay as a fill-in starter behind Ryan.

Sean Renfree played four series in the second half and made a couple of nice throws. His wheel route to Freeman for 57 yards was his best throw. He almost threw a pick at the end of the game because he stared down Freddie Martino and did not see the linebacker underneath in the throwing lane. From this game, there appears to be a gap between Yates and Renfree, which should surprise no one. Jeff Mathews did not suit up.

Conclusions: Judging solely off this game, Yates probably has a firm handle on the No. 2 job simply because he seems to be operating at a much more cerebral level than Renfree. He’s more decisive and showed better touch, timing, and accuracy on his throws, despite not exactly grading off the charts in those areas. I will be curious if the Falcons do Mathews like they did Seth Doege, who did not take a single snap last summer in four preseason games. If Mathews doesn’t get a couple of series next week, that becomes a strong possibility.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 71 “All About the Roster”

July 28th, 2014 Comments off

FalcFans.comAllen and I are back to discuss the state of the Atlanta Falcons roster, including recent changes involving Pat Angerer and Darius Johnson. Then we compare notes with Vaughn McClure of ESPN’s projection of the Falcons final roster before discussing upcoming ideas about future podcast episodes, the Falcons Mount Rushmore and Jevon Kearse.

Episode 71: All About the Roster [Download]

Duration: 1 hour

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. You can check out Allen’s Mount Rushmore article here.

Vaughn’s roster projection discussed in the podcast can be found clicking here. Since recording the episode however, Vaughn has released an updated roster projection here.

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, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Defensive End

July 20th, 2014 Comments off

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Tyson Jackson

The Atlanta Falcons are undergoing a revamp of their defensive fronts this year, and it will begin with the defensive end position.

Under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Falcons have employed a multiple defense, which means it is not strictly a 4-3, nor is it a 3-4 scheme. It’s a hybrid between the two and for the most part over the two years that Nolan has been in Atlanta, it could be most accurately termed a 4-3 scheme with 3-4 principles.

But things might change in 2014 as the Falcons may flip it, opting for a 3-4 scheme with 4-3 principles instead. That change is signaled by the team’s expensive additions up front this offseason, including defensive end Tyson Jackson.

Jackson spent the past five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs playing in a 3-4 scheme, and is the second-highest paid defensive lineman on the roster behind only nose tackle Paul Soliai. Given that level of investment and the fact that Jackson has little experience playing in a 4-3, it does appear that at least for the team’s base packages, the Falcons will feature a lot more three-man fronts.

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Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 39 Malliciah Goodman

July 15th, 2014 Comments off
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Malliciah Goodman

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 39th-ranked player: defensive end Malliciah Goodman.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 40/100

Last year’s rank: 34
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 3 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 14 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +3

Goodman just missed the cut last year, as he finished 34th in my rankings. While it would appear he fell in the rankings this year, that has more to do with the Falcons doing a better job filling in the back-end of their roster rather than because Goodman is somehow worse.

Goodman has the potential to really climb these rankings this season. While he’s not expected to be a starter, he should earn significant reps in the team’s defensive line rotation. Jonathan Babineaux is getting up in age and the Falcons will need to find ways of keeping him fresh in 2014. Goodman is likely to be a big factor in their endeavors to do so.

The bulk of Goodman’s playing time a year ago came in the second half of the season when the team went for a youth movement on defense. After averaging just 10.6 snaps per game over the first five games, that number increased to 28 over the final nine games. It’s likely that Goodman’s playing time at the outset of 2014 will be closer to the latter figure.

Goodman flashed good ability as a run defender, although his pass-rushing was sporadic. It’s unlikely that will change much this year, as he has reportedly bulked up to over 290 pounds. That weight gain won’t help him add any quickness, but does mean that he should be better holding the point of attack as a five-technique defensive end when the team goes to a three-man front. Long-term, that will be Goodman’s role, and he is well suited to be the long-term replacement for Tyson Jackson at one of the end spots.

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An Early Look at Key Training Camp Battles on Atlanta Falcons Defense

May 31st, 2014 Comments off
ICON SMI

Peria Jerry

After taking a look at the key roster battles that will take place this summer on the Atlanta Falcons offense, it’s time we take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

Like the offense, the Falcons defensive starting lineup is relatively settled with much of the competition coming at depth positions.

Unlike the offense, the possibility that the Falcons look to bolster many positions with veteran additions at the end of camp is low. It could happen, if injuries become a problem, but for the most part the added presence of recent draft picks at several positions means the team has a vested interest in getting young guys more opportunities.

Defensive Tackle

The team signed Paul Soliai to a large contract, making him their starter at nose tackle. He will be joined by incumbents Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters. The only question among the three of them is whether or not Peters’ recovery from a late-season Achilles tear will force him to miss significant time in training camp. If so, he could wind up starting the year on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list, potentially opening up an opportunity and roster spot for someone else at the position.

Peria Jerry would appreciate that greatly, as he’s the most experienced remaining option at the position but on the bubble as far as his roster spot goes. He’ll need a strong summer to retain his job, with Ra’Shede Hageman, Cliff Matthews, and Travian Robertson also vying for time at the position. This summer is Robertson’s last chance to make the roster, but Peters’ absence opens up the possibility for the team needing more depth at nose tackle, which benefits Robertson.

Like Robertson, Matthews may be entering his final summer with the Falcons given their investment in Hagemen. A competent special teams player, Matthews will need to make more plays on defense this summer to prove he’s worth retaining for the Falcons.

Undrafted rookie Donte Rumph is a long shot to leap frog any of them for a roster spot, but given his size, a good summer could merit a practice squad position to prompt development down the road.

Defensive End

Tyson Jackson and Malliciah Goodman can be considered locks for roster spot. Jackson will be a starter, and Goodman’s performance this summer will determine whether or not he earns significant playing time in the regular season. There’s an outside possibility he could win the starting spot opposite Jackson if he performs at an exceedingly high level.

Hageman and Matthews will also get looks here, and undrafted rookie Nosa Eguae is also in the mix. But like Rumph, Eguae is likely looking at a practice squad spot if he has a strong enough summer.

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