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FalcFans Weekly – April 6, 2014

April 6th, 2014 No comments
F. Medina-US PRESSWIRE

William Moore

Potential Atlanta Falcons newcomer and safety Rafael Bush appears very keen on joining the team. The Falcons signed Bush to an offer sheet this week as a restricted free agent, giving his former team, the New Orleans Saints until April 8 to match or let him become a Falcon. Bush is still friends with Falcons safety William Moore, from their days with the team back in 2010-11, and is the strongest candidate should he join the Falcons to replace Thomas DeCoud at free safety.

Blogging Dirty’s Jake Bennett has a nice write-up about how Bush’s addition can benefit the Falcons.

And speaking of Moore, he apparently now has a chip on his shoulder in regards to the contract the Saints gave Jairus Byrd this offseason.

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Vaughn McClure of ESPN has an excellent piece on how defensive tackle Paul Soliai’s contract came to be in Atlanta with a  candid discussion with his agent David Canter.

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McClure also shares insights into center Peter Konz, who has been working hard to improve this offseason. Konz has added some muscle and took to heart the final words of tight end Tony Gonzalez, when he addressed the team before the regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers.

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Is Zeke Motta An Option For Falcons at Safety?

March 18th, 2014 1 comment
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Zeke Motta makes a tackle

Two weeks ago, I discussed some excerpts from Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast.

Included in their discussion centering on the Combine, was a brief discussion of safety Zeke Motta. And it made me think that the Falcons are much higher on Motta than probably his play may merit.

Is it possible that the reason why the Falcons did not successfully land a free safety to replace the recently released Thomas DeCoud is because they believe Motta is capable of competing for the starting position?

But first, let’s take a look at what exactly Dimitroff said. This comes in the portion of the podcast where Eisen was asking whether or not the workouts done at the Combine influence teams’ draft boards.

Eisen: Does your board change now?
Dimitroff: No question. It changes and yet we’re very mindful of it not changing drastically. But there will be movements up and down. And quite honestly as much as we don’t want to talk about and we don’t want the agents to hear about it, when someone runs a truly horrible 40 time, it’s amazing how quickly a player can plummet.
Eisen: Just the one 40-yard dash?
Dimitroff: It’s amazing. One of the guys last year that we acquired through the draft was Zeke Motta from Notre Dame. Your guy Mike Mayock loved him and he didn’t run a good time at the Combine unfortunately. We drafted him in the seventh round and there was no way he should have been a seventh rounder. He fell quite a bit and we like what we have in him now. Some people just don’t run good times. They’re not good 40 time guys but they play a lot faster.
Eisen: So here you are using an example of how a guy dropped because of a 40 and yet he’s a football player that is more than useful to the Atlanta Falcons organization. So why read so much into somebody’s 40-yard dash?
Dimitroff: We talk about it all the time and the league is a matchup league. And that part of the matchup is so important. You can have the most athletic and smooth, fluid individual running routes, catching balls, doing whatever but if they can’t stay in phase, meaning they can’t stay with that player. Whether that’s a defensive back and a receiver or an O-lineman mirroring a D-lineman they have no chance in this league. So from a speed standpoint at his position it’s very important for him to have range and people pass him up. There are those situations where guys are football and game-speed fast and not on the fly.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 59 “That Bad Taste In Your Mouth”

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

Aaron is back with me to discuss free agency! Allen gives his long-awaited thoughts on the Falcons cuts made in the month of February, which includes a brief history lesson on the team’s free agent history. Later, we get into a discussion on which positions of need and possible targets the Falcons could target when free agency kicks off. During the course of our debate, we bring up Osi Umenyiora’s possible pay cut, Corey Peters and nose tackles, Robert McClain’s restricted free agent status, T.J. Ward’s ability, Champ Bailey’s value, and what are the differences between Lamarr Houston, Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson. In the end, we discuss how Antone Smith will quickly replace Jason Snelling as the team’s most underutilized player.

Episode 59: That Bad Taste In Your Mouth [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 34 minutes

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

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

2013 Year-End Superlatives: Defensive MVP

January 15th, 2014 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Trufant

My choice for the player most deserving of the most valuable player on the Atlanta Falcons is cornerback Desmond Trufant. Safety William Moore was my initial choice during the first half of the season.

Choosing Moore was difficult back in November since he was marginally the best among an unimpressive group of individual defensive performances. The choice didn’t get that much easier by the end of the year because again there wasn’t too many stand-out defenders in 2013 for the Falcons.

Other players under consideration were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who had a very underrated season due to the fact that he only finished with one sack. He was far and away our best defensive lineman over the course of the entire season, but the perennially underrated Babineaux likely won’t get credit for that. Even cornerback Asante Samuel was considered, since I thought he was the better of the two corners when both he and Trufant shared the starting lineup.

But eventually I went with Trufant due to his consistency over the course of the entire season and strong play down the stretch when Samuel was benched in favor of the team’s defensive youth movement. Whatever inconsistencies Trufant had early in the season were largely eradicated over the course of the final weeks where he was far and away our best defensive back. He became the team’s most (and arguably only) reliable playmaker as the season wore on.

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Gonzalez Bids Farewell in Falcons 21-20 Loss to Panthers

December 29th, 2013 Comments off

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons owner Arthur Blank honors Tony Gonzalez at halftime

The Atlanta Falcons finished a disappointing 2013 season with a disappointing 21-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers at home. The Falcons record fell to 4-12, their first losing record under head coach Mike Smith in six seasons. The home loss also marked the farewell game of tight end Tony Gonzalez, who heads to retirement after 17 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons in the NFL. Gonzalez played his last five here in Atlanta after a dozen in Kansas City with the Chiefs. He finishes his career as the all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns for tight ends.

Matt Ryan got off to a good start and finished the game completing 28 of 40 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Steven Jackson led rushers with 41 yards on 13 carries, and also added five receptions for 53 yards. Roddy White led receivers with eight grabs for 91 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown. Jason Snelling snagged Ryan’s other touchdown pass on a nine-yard score, and finished the game with a pair of catches for 15 yards. Gonzalez finished with four catches for 56 yards, while Harry Douglas added seven catches for 58 yards. Matt Bryant connected on both of his field goal tries from 42 and 37 yards. Matt Bosher punted five times for an average of 48.4 yards, placing two of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain had a trio of punt returns for 34 yards, while none of the Panthers kickoffs were returned thanks to four touchbacks. The Falcons was able to generate 307 total yards, but were limited by nine sacks allowed. It marked the largest sack allowance since December 2001. Ryan’s interception also gifted Carolina seven points due to an eight-yard return on a pick-six by Panthers cornerback Melvin White. The Falcons were unable to score touchdowns on two of their three red zone trips, but did manage to convert 44 percent of 16 third-down conversion tries.

Defensively, the Falcons were sharp, only allowed 283 total yards by the Panthers. However, 134 yards came on the ground as the Falcons struggled to handle the scrambling ability of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton led his team with 72 yards rushing. The Falcons did generate two turnovers, with William Moore intercepting a tipped pass and Desmond Trufant recovering a fumble by DeAngelo Williams. But the Panthers were able to convert both of their red zone trips into touchdowns and converted 47 percent of their 15 third-down attempts. Paul Worrilow led the team with 13 tackles and tallied the team’s lone sack and hit on the quarterback on the day. Robert Alford (three tackles, one forced fumble); Jonathan Babineaux (four tackles); Joplo Bartu (six tackles, two tackle for loss); Peria Jerry (three tackles, one tackle for loss); Jonathan Massaquoi (four tackles); Cliff Matthews (four tackles); William Moore (two tackles, one interception); Stephen Nicholas (four tackles); and Desmond Trufant (five tackles, one pass deflection, one fumble recovery) had noteworthy performances.

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Redskins Turnovers Lead to 27-26 Falcons Win

December 15th, 2013 Comments off

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Trufant breaks up a two-point conversion to seal Falcons win

The Atlanta Falcons pulled out a 27-26 win over the Washington Redskins to get their fourth win of the 2013 season in a game that saw the Redskins turn the ball over seven times. The Falcons got off to an early lead, but the Redskins were able to come back and take a lead at the end of the first half. But the Falcons responded and retook the lead. But the Redskins were able to mount of a potentially game-tying drive in the final minutes of the game. But they opted to go for the go-ahead two-point conversion rather than settling for an extra point to force overtime, and the attempt failed, allowing the Falcons to stave them off.

Matt Ryan led, completing 29 of 38 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and interception. Steven Jackson led rushers with 38 yards on 15 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White and Harry Douglas each had five catches for 53 and 37 yards, respectively. Matt Bryant hit on both of his field goal tries from 20 and 51 yards out. Matt Bosher had a good day punting, booming six punts for an average of 49.3 yards with three placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned three punts for an average of 8.3 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers had three kickoff returns for an average of 26 yards. The Falcons struggled to convert third downs for much the game, finishing with five conversions on 14 tries (36 percent). They were able to score touchdowns on three of their five red zone trips, with one of their failures coming on a failed fourth-down attempt from the one-yard line. On that play, Jackson was stuffed at the goal line. The Falcons turned the ball over two times, but that paled in comparison to the Redskins issues with retaining the football. The Falcons were able to capitalize on those Redskins mistakes, generating 20 of their points off the favorable field position presented by those miscues.

The Redskins turned the ball over seven times on the day, including five lost fumbles. The Falcons were able to pick off the Redskins twice as well. Otherwise, they didn’t have much success slowing down the Redskins offense, who put up 476 total yards. That marked the second-highest yardage total allowed by the Falcons defense this season. That included 103 yards on the ground, marking the eleventh-consecutive game in which the Falcons have allowed over 100 yards rushing to the opposing team. The Falcons defense got stops on four of the five red zone trips by the Redskins, forcing a pair of field goals and a pair of turnovers. Robert Alford and Paul Worrilow shared in the team lead in terms of tackles, each tallying nine stops. Jonathan Babineaux (one tackle, two fumble recoveries); Joplo Bartu (six tackles); Malliciah Goodman (one fumble recovery); Jonathan Massaquoi (five tackles); Robert McClain (five tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries); William Moore (five tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery); Zeke Motta (five tackles); Stephen Nicholas (five tackles, one forced fumble); Corey Peters (four tackles, one pass deflection); Desmond Trufant (seven tackles, one interception, two pass deflections); and Osi Umenyiora (two tackles, one sack, one forced fumble) had notable games.

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Matt Bryant Hits Kick in Overtime to Beat Bills

December 1st, 2013 Comments off

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Bryant kicks the game-winning 36-yard field goal in overtime

The Atlanta Falcons won their third game of the 2013 season with a 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. The Falcons were able to stall a pair of potential game-winning drives by the Bills at the end with timely fumble recoveries, the latter of which led to a 36-yard game-winning field by Matt Bryant in overtime.

Matt Ryan led the way with 311 yards passing and a touchdown, completing 28 of 47 passes. The Falcons found success on the ground, as Steven Jackson led the team with 84 yards on 23 carries (3.7 avg) and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Antone Smith added a 38-yard touchdown on his lone carry of the day. Roddy White had a resurgent game with a team-leading 10 catches for 143 yards, exceeding his highs of the year. Harry Douglas (6 catches, 73 yards) and Tony Gonzalez (4 catches, 42 yards, 1 touchdown) also made contributions to the passing game. The Falcons 423 total yards is their second-most of the season and were solid on third downs, converting 10 of 18 attempts (56-percent). They also scored touchdowns on 2 of their 3 red-zone trips.

Defensively, the Falcons got gashed for 405 total yards, including 195 on the ground. But did a decent job getting off the field on third downs (6 of 15 for the Bills) and were able to force a pair of turnovers off fumbles. Paul Worrilow led the team in tackling with 9 stops, including a tackle for loss. Robert Alford (2 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery); Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Thomas DeCoud (4 tackles); Peria Jerry (4 tackles); Jonathan Massaquoi (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Robert McClain (5 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 forced fumble); William Moore (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery); Desmond Trufant (1 tackle, 1 pass deflection); Osi Umenyiora (6 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (7 tackles, 1 pass deflection) had noteworthy games.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 49 “Harry Douglas, the Perfect Trade Bait”

November 27th, 2013 Comments off

On this week’s episode, Allen and I discuss the Atlanta Falcons Week 12 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. This week’s recap topics include: 1-Struggles of William Moore and Sean Weatherspoon; 2-Possible replacements for Asante Samuel; 3-Offensive line and whether it’s stepping up or down; 4-Darius Johnson; 5-Lost confidence in management of the team and Dirk Koetter; 6-Mike Smith’s questionable fourth down call; 7-Concerns about Roddy White; 8-Harry Douglas and his value to the team going forward; Then we look ahead to the Falcons Week 13 contest against the Buffalo Bills and which matchups we don’t like, particularly with a focus on the fearsome Bills pass rush; Later we discuss Osi Umenyiora, Mario Williams, and give our score predictions on the Falcons-Bills game; As usual it’s followed by a detailed “Around the League” discussion in which division battles in the NFC East and NFC North are focused upon. This episode does contain some minor NSFW language!

Episode Ep. 49 Harry Douglas, the Perfect Trade Bait [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

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

Falcons Midseason Superlatives 2013: Most Valuable Players

November 6th, 2013 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Bosher

It’s time to look at some of the performances of the first half of the 2013 Atlanta Falcons season now that we’ve reached the midpoint. Here are my picks for which players stood out to earn some of these superlative awards.

For this first part, we’ll just focus on the most valuable players in the three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.

Offensive MVP: Matt Ryan

Given the dropoff in production from the Falcons offense since the bye week, one could make an argument that Julio Jones is the most valuable player. But I figured picking him would be far too cynical a choice.

While Ryan’s performance has dropped off the past two weeks, overall he’s played at a high level. The hope is that his performance will bounce back in the second half once he gets a healthy Roddy White back to throw to.

Outside Ryan, Jones, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, there haven’t been many standout performances on the offensive side of the ball. The reality is that without Ryan, this Falcon team would be where Tampa Bay sits: winless and in utter disarray. Relative to most years, the Falcons wouldn’t be called stable this year, but what stability they do have is propped on Ryan’s shoulders.

Defensive MVP: William Moore

In past years, it always seemed like this was John Abraham or Sean Weatherspoon’s award. Well, neither player is still in contention since Abraham was released in the off-season and Weatherspoon has been injured for the majority of the first half of the year.

That means the mantle has passed to Moore for this top defensive honor. Moore hasn’t always been great, but he’s been the player on defense that has been the most consistently good.

The reality is that given how poorly the defense has played this year, there isn’t one player that has really played well. There have just been a mix of solid and mediocre performances. Moore has created a few turnovers, been a force against the run, and been effective in coverage through this season. Overall, the balance tips in his favor more than others.

Special Teams MVP: Matt Bosher

Perhaps it is because the standards have changed in regards to punter Matt Bosher that I’m tentative to give him this award. The “new normal” for Bosher is being a good punter, and thus his play has not really stood out to me this year as compared to a year ago.

I thought about going with gunners Antone Smith or Robert Alford due to their solid play in coverage. But in the end, I still have to give the honors to Bosher, while Smith and Alford deserve honorable mentions.

Bosher’s big leg has helped the Falcons special teams be effective nearly every game in the first half of the season by helping flip field position. While the team has struggled in the other phases of the game, the special teams has become a strength, thanks in large part to Bosher’s consistent play.

And the swagger also helps.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

White Questionable in Week 9 vs. Panthers

November 2nd, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons announced their injury report yesterday, and wide receiver Roddy White was listed as questionable after participating on a limited basis in Friday’s practice. White has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If White is unable to go, the Falcons will continue to start Drew Davis opposite Harry Douglas at wide receiver as they have done the past two weeks.

Also listed as questionable were offensive tackle Sam Baker (knee), safety William Moore (hip), and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee). All three players were limited on all three days of practice this week. Out this week will once again be Stephen Nicholas (thigh), who was held completely out of practice. If Baker is unable to go, he will be replaced by Lamar Holmes, who has started the past three games at left tackle in Baker’s absence. Moore’s backup is rookie Zeke Motta, who has had minimal reps on defense thus far this year, mostly appearing on special teams. Umenyiora’s potential absence could see the Falcons shuffle their defensive end rotation, moving Jonathan Massaquoi to right end and potentially starting Malliciah Goodman at left end.

Jason Snelling (ankle) is probable after missing Wednesday’s practice, but fully participated on Friday. Linebacker Akeem Dent (ankle), center Joe Hawley (elbow), defensive tackle Peria Jerry (toe), and guard Garrett Reynolds (knee) were all probable as well. Dent and Reynolds were both limited on Wednesday, but fully participated in Thursday and Friday’s practices. Hawley and Jerry were limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but fully participated on Friday.

For Carolina, notable players on their injury report are: linebacker Chase Blackburn (foot), who is questionable this week, along with linebacker Thomas Davis (shoulder), defensive end Charles Johnson (groin), and running back DeAngelo Williams (quad), who are all probable. Johnson and Williams were held out of practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but returned on a limited basis on Friday.