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Moneyball 2011 – Week 14 Review

December 13th, 2011 Comments off

A strong second half performance for the Falcons in this one, which has been a rarity for this team this year.

Matt Ryan had a good game, managing it well and putting his receivers in position to make plays. But the receivers really stepped up this week after a very poor game against the Texans last week. White, Jones, and Gonzalez all made some really good plays and catches. Jones only had -$1 going into the fourth quarter, and his two touchdowns earned him good money. But besides those two big plays, he was pretty quiet. Both White and Gonzalez really made some nice catches in this game, bailing out Ryan on some less than impressive throws. But the main thing with Ryan was that he looked more comfortable in this game, unlike last week, which seemed to be because of that boost in confidence in his receivers.

The blocking was improved this week, although Sam Baker looked lost for the most part at right guard. Baker just doesn’t have the ability to win in a short area to be an effective pass protector inside. Hawley wasn’t much better but he definitely can win a short area. McClure had a solid game, and Blalock had his moments preying on the weak Panthers interior. Svitek had his hands full against Charles Johnson, and it showed in his earnings. Clabo was solid was solid all game long. The ground game was solid with Turner having several nice runs.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$17$0$0$0$0-$1$16.00
Michael Turner$0$9$0$0$0$0$9.00
Roddy White$0$0$7$0$0-$1$6.00
Julio Jones$0$0$6$0$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$5-$1$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$2$0$2.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50
Michael Palmer$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1.5$0$0-$1.50
Sam Baker$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

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Grimes out ‘a couple’ of weeks

November 30th, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Brent Grimes

Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that cornerback Brent Grimes will miss ‘a couple of weeks’ due to minor surgery on his injured right knee that is scheduled to occur tomorrow. Grimes is expected to miss at least two weeks according to Charles Odum of the Associated Press. He left last Sunday’s game early in the first quarter due to the injury, that he suffered reportedly aginst the Lions in late October and has been sore since.

The Falcons are already thin at cornerback with Kelvin Hayden missing today’s practice due to a toe injury and likely to miss this Sunday’s upcoming game against the Houston Texans. Hayden missed last week’s game. In his absence, Chris Owens filled in at the nickel. But due to Grimes injury, Owens is expected to replace him at left cornerback, and Dominique Franks will likely slide into the nickel role.

Also held out of Wednesday’s practice were linebacker Stephen Nicholas (quad), wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), running back Michael Turner (groin), and defensive tackle Vance Walker (groin). The team also sat defensive end John Abraham, center Todd McClure, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, but not for injury-related reasons. McClure had what was deemed a minor procedure on his knee in late August, and missed a total of three games and was limited in two others due to the injury.

Offensive tackle Sam Baker (back) was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Baker returned for last week’s game, after missing four games. Cornerback Dunta Robinson (neck) was able to fully participate in practice, after suffering a stinger early against the Vikings.

Falcons Highlight of the Week

November 25th, 2011 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Michael Turner

This was a tough choice, because part of me wanted to give it Ryan and Roddy for their deep connection, because it’s been so rare to see those plays made by the offense this year. But I had to give this week’s highlight to Turner for his bruising run.

Turner rumbles for 35 yards

Honorable Mentions:

Michael Turner’s 27-yard sprint

John Abraham’s sack

Roddy White’s 32-yard screen

Ryan to Roddy for 43 yards

Ryan’s 17-yard strike to Gonzo

Dunta’s interception

Moneyball 2011 – Week 11 Review

November 21st, 2011 Comments off

A solid performance for the offense, although there wasn’t anything great about. Matt Ryan had a solid game managing the offense, with only 1 poor throw on the day. Michael Turner had several nice runs and was his old powerful self, breaking tackles on some of them.

The Falcons were able to spread the ball around to different receivers with Julio Jones out of the lineup, with Michael Palmer and Eric Weems getting some action in the passing game. Roddy White had a nice bounce-back game from last week, although he still wasn’t perfect. But he made some nice grabs on the day. Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas also were solid.

The blocking was solid, with Ryan having good protection. Justin Blalock didn’t have a great day, missing 3 blocks, although it is worth noting most of them came when he was pulling or supposed to hit an assignment on the second level. Neither of those two things have ever really been his strength.

Overall, it was a solid performance for the offense. But nothing special. This is the type of game that is giong to be quickly forgotten because there really wasn’t anything notable to happen in it. The struggles the team had converting in the redzone are a chief concern, and it’s hopefully something that can be nipped in the bud.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$13$2$0$0$0$0$15.00
Michael Turner$0$14-$1$0$0-$3$10.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6$1.5$0$0$7.50
Roddy White$0$0$5$0$0-$1$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$4$0$0-$0.5$3.50
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$2.5$0-$1$1.50
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Michael Palmer$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0-$1$1$0$0$0$0.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$1-$1.5$0.50
Justin Blalock$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 10 Review

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

A really tough outing for the Falcons as they had multiple opportunities to win this game, but could not take advantage. This is traditionally how the Falcons have played the Saints over recent years, and why they have lost most of those games. A dropped ball here, a penalty there, a blown assignment there, and it all adds up to the Falcons coming up short at the end of the day.

Personally, I think the decision to go for it on fourth down in overtime was the right call. If you can’t get 8 inches, then you probably don’t deserve to win. I didn’t agree with the play call on that play though, with less than a foot to go I think you just sneak it up the middle rather than handing it off to Turner.

For the most part, Matt Ryan had a really good game. He continues to struggle with throwing the ball downfield, as 6 of his 8 poor throws were deep (20+ yard) passes. He does a good job on the majority of his throws from 15-20 yards, but once you start pushing his throws to 25 yards or more, he tends to struggle. I’m still not in love with the Falcons overall play-calling and design of their passing plays, although there were several calls during this game that I think are good ones from Mularkey. I just want to see the Falcons use those plays more. Getting 4 or 5 options on the field at the same time, and running more vertical routes with clear outs worked very well for this team in the fourth quarter. We should be doing more of those plays earlier in the game, and particularly on first downs rather than running the ball into the pile for 1 or 2 yards.

Michael Turner had a strong start to this game, earning $7 of his $13 on the first series. But after that, he was pretty non-descript. Had a few more nice runs, but he didn’t do much. Part of that was because of the blocking. The blocking was solid early on, but as the game wore on the Falcons could not get any push.

Cameron Jordan was punking Tyson Clabo throughout this game. Will Svitek doesn’t really seem to be an improvement over Sam Baker in pass protection, although his run blocking is much better. But Ryan’s interception is probably just as much on him giving up the pressure to Will Smith as it is on Roddy White for dropping the ball. Joe Hawley is probably our meanest offensive linemen, but he’s miscast as a guard because of his inability to get consistent push. McClure is clearly starting to slow down, and Blalock is solid, but that doesn’t bode well for your offensive line when he’s your best blocker. He’s the type of player that should be your third best blocker.

Roddy White really struggled in this game, and without even checking I’m sure this is by far his worst earning since I started doing Moneyball in 2009, and probably is one of his worst games since his rookie year. One of his penalties was a ticky tack call (the offensive P.I.), but his blocking was bad in this game, and he just didn’t really seem to have his head in the game. Speaking of officiating, this game was pretty sloppy in that realm. The Falcons got some calls, the Saints got some calls, but I feel like the refs missed some calls. There was a hold on Jonathan Babineaux late in the game, that I felt they missed. There was a block in the back on Martez Wilson that I thought they missed on Sproles one good punt return. And the pass to Roddy in the endzone at the end of the game that could have won it, I thought it was certainly debatable if Greer got there too early for a pass interference. But I tend to cut the refs some slack, but I’m not sure this is going to get a lot of positive grades for Terry McAulay & Co. when it comes time to picking who officiates in the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Tony Gonzalez was money in this game, but the Falcons just didn’t get him the ball enough. Harry Douglas had an outstanding game, and when the Falcons spread the field, that’s where most of his plays were made. It was also nice to see the Falcons get Eric Weems involved as well. And this is another knock on Mularkey, but why can’t either of these two players get involved in the offense unless Julio Jones is out of the game. They combined for 11 catches, and I would say probably on 9 or 10 those plays, they were good play calls and designs. Yet, they never seem to run those same plays when Jones is on the field, and thus both players essentially disappear whenever Jones is in the lineup.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Michael Turner$0$13$1$0$0-$1$13.00
Matt Ryan$12$0$0$0$0$0$12.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$8$0$0$0$8.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$1$0$0$5.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$4$0$0$0$5.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4-$1$0$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Julio Jones$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$1$0$0-$4-$3.00
Roddy White$0$0$3-$3$0-$4-$4.00

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 5 Review

October 11th, 2011 Comments off

My vitriol for the play-calling on both sides of the ball in this game has subsided somewhat after reviewing the game. But I’m going to use this entry for Moneyball to vent a little about what I think are some of the problems that have plagued the Falcons this year, which are reasons why I think they have yet to reach their full potential on either side of the ball.

What disappoints me the most is that the Falcons did an excellent job with misdirection plays on their first two series, but pretty much stopped doing that as the game wore on and went back to a more traditional gameplan of just trying to “out-execute” the Packers defense, and it did not work. Ryan missed on a couple of throws, and the offensive line essentially could not handle that gameplan. Tyson Clabo had two drive-killing penalties on 3rd downs, Roddy White had another, Harry Douglas had a catch overturned.

Mularkey did a better job using guys like Douglas, Weems, and White to manufacture yards and stay on schedule in early downs, replacing rushing yards. The Falcons need to continue to do this. While Turner and the ground attack was effective early in the game, in the second half it stopped because just like the Seahawks, the Packers began to stack the box and the Falcons offensive line was unable to get enough push to spring a slow back like Turner. But Mularkey needs to do more of this with screens and quick throws to receivers in the flat. Doing this 2 or 3 times a game is not going to be enough given the Falcons blocking issues.

The offensive line had a nice game, giving Ryan much more time than he’s seen most of this year, but when push came to shove there were too many instances where Ryan was pressured which led to incompletions. Sam Baker’s missed block on Desmond Bishop on 1st down in the fourth quarter was the lone sack the team allowed. But it put the Falcons in a 2nd & 21, and Ryan got too greedy on the next play trying to get it all back and his throw to Gonzo was a few inches overthrown and led to the interception that pretty much ended the game.

I don’t even know why guys like Michael Palmer and Reggie Kelly are on the team. They have contributed next to nothing to this offense. The Falcons just need to go out and sign someone like Alge Crumpler, Ben Patrick, Chris Baker to try and add something to this offense as a second tight end.

The Falcons need to get Jacquizz Rodgers more involved. His quickness can potentially be an asset because he might be able to squeeze through those smaller creases that the offensive line can create that Turner cannot.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Michael Turner$0$10$0$0$0$0$10.00
Matt Ryan$6$0$0$0$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Julius Jones$0$2$1$0$0-$1$2.00
Roddy White$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3$0-$2$1.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$0$0$0-$1$1.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Matchup Breakdowns: Week 5

October 7th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons will host the undefeated Green Bay Packers for the third time in the past 316 days this weekend on Sunday Night football. The Falcons did beat the Packers in their first matchup last November thanks to a strong rushing attack, and some redzone miscues by the Packers. But they were thrashed in their playoff matchup last January, 48-21, with the Falcons defense forcing no punts in the game, and the game being practically over by halftime.

The Falcons are hoping to get some revenge this week, and need something to kick-start their sluggish start to the 2011 season. Their offense has been out of sync most games, and the defense has been hit and miss at times. A win over the Packers could galvanize this team to a very strong finish.

But a win won’t be easy. Many consider that the Packers are the league’s best team. Their offense has been unstoppable this year, ranking 1st in scoring offense and 5th in total offense this year. That is thanks in large part to the MVP-caliber season that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been having, sporting a passer rating of 125 through 4 games. The Falcons are going to have to find a way to slow down Rodgers if they want to have any chance to win this game.

Controlling the clock and limiting the Packers opportunities on offense might be the best method. Which requires the Falcons offense to be firing on all cylinders, something the team has yet to see for a full four quarters this year.

But anyway, here are some of the notable matchups I see this week.

Matchups I Like

Falcons WRs vs. Packers secondary

There aren’t a ton of matchups that favor the Falcons in this game. But in last year’s playoff game, the Packers put Charles Woodson in the slot often against Tony Gonzalez, effectively taking Gonzo out of the game. If they do the same thing this year, then the Falcons will get an opportunity to match up the emerging Julio Jones or Roddy White against the Packers third best corner: Sam Shields. Particularly Jones, with his size could be a tough out for a smaller corner like Shields, particularly after the catch.

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Forbes calls Robinson overpaid

September 21st, 2011 Comments off

Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com lists Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson as the second most overpaid player in the league, behind New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Atlanta Falcons’ cornerback Dunta Robinson, whose $5.5 million salary places him in the top ten at his position despite the fact that he’s never made All Pro and who is ranked by ESPN as the NFL’s 19th best corner.

I wonder if Van Riper factored in the $40,000 hit that Robinson’s salary took this week?

Is Robinson overpaid? Yes. The Falcons paid him to be a premiere No. 1 corner, and he is not, nor is he ever going to be. That ship sailed a long time ago. But Robinson does contribute to this team despite a less than stellar performance last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Part of the problem is that Robinson probably won’t ever reach his full potential in the Falcons defensive scheme. Robinson shined as a press man corner with the Houston Texans, but the Falcons seem to like to put him in a lot more zone and off coverage.

But even if the Falcons did play a lot more press man, that still wouldn’t change the fact that Robinson is making more money than he’s worth. But the truth is the Falcons weren’t paying Robinson based on his ability, they were paying him based on stability. While Robinson certainly isn’t a Top 10 No. 1 corner like he’s being paid like, he is one of the better No. 2 corners around the league. And with Brent Grimes on the other side, who definitely has performed like a Top 10 No. 1 corner at various points during the past year or so, it gives the Falcons a very good pair of starting corners.

Now if only the Falcons can stabilize their nickel cornerback situation, things will be looking very good for them in the secondary. Kelvin Hayden definitely gave them reason for optimism last week.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Robinson hit with $40K fine

September 19th, 2011 Comments off
AP/Yahoo! Sports

Robinson strikes Maclin

The NFL fined Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson $40,000 for his illegal hit on Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on Sunday night, according to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora. Robinson was flagged for a 15-yard penalty in the third quarter when he met Maclin over the middle, leading with his helmet and striking Maclin with his shoulder.

Robinson had a similar hit against Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson a year ago. That hit however knocked both players out of the game with concussions. Maclin on Sunday night was able to return to the game. Initially Robinson received a $50,000 on the league’s then infamous crackdown on such hits during the season, although that fine was eventually reduced to only $25,000.

Because Robinson is labeled a repeat offender, there was potential he could face a suspension.

Categories: News Tags:

Robinson will sit out against Ravens

August 30th, 2011 Comments off

Knox Bardeen of CBS Sports reports that cornerback Dunta Robinson (hamstring) will not appear in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens. Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicates that the teams starters will get a reduced a role in that contest, but Robinson will not be among them. Chris Owens has started in Robinson’s stead the past two preseason contests as he’s been nursing that injured hamstring.

Also out will be Todd McClure (knee), Corey Peters (knee), and Lawrence Sidbury (ankle). Earlier today, it was announced that McClure would be out at least through the first game of the regular season. Peters was injured in the Falcons first preseason contest and has been ruled out indefinitely. Sidbury’s injury will make his ability to retain a roster spot difficult since it appears that rookie defensive end Cliff Matthews is emerging as the team’s potential fifth defensive end.