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What Is Wrong With Falcons Backup Quarterbacks?

August 20th, 2014 No comments
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Koetter

It looked like the Atlanta Falcons had finally decided to address their lack of experience at the quarterback position behind starter Matt Ryan this past June when they acquired T.J. Yates via trade from the Houston Texans.

However that decision has yet to pay dividends.

Yates is coming off a very poor performance in the team’s second preseason action against his former team, where he threw two interceptions and had a couple more passes that could have easily been turnovers.

In June, I outlined reasons why the team’s acquisition of Yates was a good move. Those reasons were centered on the fact that Yates had experience as a starter, something the team lacked at the time in reserves Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree and Jeff Mathews, all of whom hardly had any NFL experience.

While by no means did I want to suggest that Yates was a particularly good backup option, he certainly was better than what the team had. And for a Falcons organization that has a tendency to twiddle its thumbs even when there are fairly obvious roster issues, striving for better was at least a step in the right direction if not ultimately the solution.

However, 2014 is a critical year for this team and its coaching staff. At this point for Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who faces scrutiny coming off a 4-12 season, every win that he can get in 2014 matters.

And thus, if having a competent backup quarterback can mean the difference of winning one more game if the team finds itself in the absence of Ryan, then that one decision could ultimately decide Smith’s fate.

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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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FalcFans Podcast – Live Falcons-Texans Conversation

August 17th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.com

FalcFans Podcast – Episode 73

Allen and I are back in a very special episode of the FalcFans podcast in which we chat while watching the Atlanta Falcons take on the Houston Texans in their second preseason game. Allen and I bring you into our virtual living rooms, where you can experience the first half of the Falcons game as we did live on Saturday night. Our conversation meanders on various Falcons topics, including a discussion of Sam Baker’s injury, re-signing Eric Weems, Joe Hawley bullying 200-pound defensive backs, the Falcons running back committee system, game-day snacks and whether or not the Falcons poor performance against the Texans will affect the regular season. This is our uncut audio so as a warning, there is a fair amount of NSFW language.

Live Falcons-Texans Conversatio [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 41 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! 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

Five Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Texans

August 16th, 2014 No comments

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Baker

Unlike last week where the focus was on several young players trying to carve out roles with the team, this week’s Atlanta Falcons players to keep eyes on are mostly established veterans. That is because the Falcons starters will likely play at least the entire first quarter tonight against the Houston Texans. It will be their most extensive action thus far and should be more informative about whether or not certain roster positions and players are ready to assume significant roles this season.

Sam Baker

Baker was arguably the team’s best blocker among their starting five against the Miami Dolphins last week, but will face a significant test against rookie edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney on Saturday.

While Clowney is far from a proven playmaker in only his second NFL game, he does present a significant challenge for a player like Baker, who throughout his career has struggled against players with top-level speed and quickness off the line. That certainly can be said of Clowney even at this point in his career, and it will be notable if Baker can perform well against him in this game. He had a good two days of practice against Clowney this past week, and we’ll have to see if that carries over into the game tonight.

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2014 Falcons Preseason Stock Report – Week 1

August 12th, 2014 No comments
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Kemal Ishmael

This is my second instance of trying to access which Atlanta Falcons players have raised their stock or lowered their stock through the early part of the summer. Unlike before which was based off the first week of training camp practices, we now have a preseason game to incorporate.

STOCK UP

RB Antone Smith

Smith’s performance against the Miami Dolphins was a standout one where he was able to flash big-play potential on a run and a pass, if not for the fact that both were nullified by penalties. His first, a 34-yard catch on a simple checkdown was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Harry Douglas. On that play, Smith made a simple catch over the middle, but was able to use his speed to outrun angles by Dolphins linebackers for the big gain. His next big play came in the second quarter, where he burst off the right side of the line, juked a defender and then outran the Dolphins defense on a 76-yard sprint to the endzone. That was held up due to a holding call on right tackle Jake Matthews. But despite the penalties, the plays have the Falcons exploring ways in which they can have Smith be a regular part of the Falcons offense this season.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 73 “Harry Douglas Wears Women’s Deodorant”

August 11th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.com

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 73

Allen and I are joined once again by The Falcoholic’s training camp correspondent, Jeanna Thomas, to discuss the past week of Atlanta Falcons practice and their preseason win over the Miami Dolphins. We give our thoughts on what things stood out to them in the first game and how certain rookies looked in their debut including Jake Matthews and Devonta Freeman, as well as various position battles throughout the roster. We then give praise for the first episode of Hard Knocks before jumping into a brief preview of the Falcons second preseason contest against the Houston Texans. Allen and I finish up with their usual around the league segment, reviewing the past week’s preseason games and previewing this week’s.

Episode 73 – Harry Douglas Wears Women’s Deodorant [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 29 minutes

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

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas.

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 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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Five Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Dolphins

August 8th, 2014 No comments

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

All five of these Atlanta Falcons players are in a position to have some standout performances on Friday night in the team’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Devonta Freeman

With Steven Jackson out of the lineup, Freeman is likely to get most of the work tonight against the Dolphins. While he may not wind up being the starter, we should see him get work early with the first-team offense. The two areas where Freeman will need to show the most tonight is running the football and pass protection. Toting the rock isn’t a huge challenge for Freeman, but he’ll have to show a few extra things such as the ability to get reliable yards after contact if he doesn’t want to be simply a change-of-pace runner this season. Freeman was a capable pass protector during his collegiate days, but that was then, this is now. He’ll have to show that he can handle the size and strength of NFL defensive linemen, linebackers and other blitzers if he’s going to be trusted to garner serious reps on third down this year. It’s overall, a big potential debut for Freeman. There’s no doubt that Freeman will have some role with the Falcons runners this year, but how big a role that is will be partially determined by how he fares tonight.

Bernard Reedy

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Reedy since his first arrival in Atlanta as an undrafted free agent in May. He’s not the first undrafted rookie wide receiver to receive a great deal of hype as a playmaker in the lead-up to actual games being played. Martel Moore was the superstar of last summer. But Moore did not distinguish himself at all in any of the preseason games despite receiving rave reviews almost every day in practice. Reedy cannot go down that same path.

Reedy has explosive speed and needs to display that tonight after the catch. He should also get a few opportunities as a return man, which should also help his cause. He’s a front-runner as a possible sixth wide receiver on this year’s roster and his preseason debut could help him a long way to earning that.

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