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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 63 “That Sort of Weed-Eating Upside”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

I am joined by Tom Melton to go in-depth on the Atlanta Falcons’ options in the 2014 NFL Draft. Tom talks up his affinity for players like safety Dion Bailey and defensive tackles Dominique Easley and Aaron Donald. We also talk in-depth about whether trading up for Jadeveon Clowney is a good move and whether or not the Falcons can motivate him to play well. We discuss whether the crop of prospects on the offensive line and pass rusher is really that deep and whether the Falcons can afford to pass on one group in the early rounds. During that conversation we discuss Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Jake Matthews, and Greg Robinson’s fits with the team. Taylor Lewan, Jeremiah Attaochu and Demarcus Lawrence are other prospects discussed during the show. We close with talking about the Falcons backup running backs including Jason Snelling’s retirement, Antone Smith’s new role with the team, and whether Jacquizz Rodgers fits. Warning: This episode features some borderline PG-13/explicit content.

Episode 63: That Sort of Weed-Eating Upside [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes

Tom Melton can be found on twitter: @TMeltonScouting, and also writes for Draft Falcons. You can find the draft guide he contributed to at: The Draft Narrative.com.

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

Team Needs: Falcons Could Upgrade Special Teams in Return Game

February 9th, 2014 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Bosher (left) and Bryant celebrate a win

The Atlanta Falcons special teams was perhaps the only aspect of their team that consistently played at a high level in 2013. Thus there won’t be any imperative drive to try to make substantial changes this offseason.

Matt Bryant, at age 38, showed he is still kicking strong. He is entering the final year of his contract and thus the only major concern for the Falcons is thinking about his eventual replacement in 2015 and beyond. It’s doubtful that the Falcons will try to replace Bryant this year since he’s been so effective in clutch situations as well as whenever he’s kicking inside the Georgia Dome. He’s made 21 of his last 22 field goal attempts kicking at home.

But the team should at least give a long look to a young kicker in training camp just to plan ahead to 2015 when it’s possible that Bryant could decide to hang it up. The Falcons tried this strategy over a decade ago when they carried Jake Arians on the practice squad in Morten Andersen’s final season in 2000. Arians was eventually beat out by Jay Feely the following summer for the kicking job, but the strategy is still a relatively sound one. The Falcons need to start prepping for the future and that begins this offseason.

The Falcons don’t have to do such preparation at punter as Matt Bosher is blossoming into one of the better young punters in the NFL. Bosher continues to make strides both as the team’s kickoff specialist and as a punter. His big leg proved an asset several times last year when the team struggled to move the ball offensively, to help flip field position and give the Falcons’ struggling defense a fighting chance. The only real issue moving forward with Bosher is when the Falcons plan to start talking contract extension. 2014 also represents the final year on his contract, and there’s little doubt the team at some point in the next 12 months will lock him up for a lucrative long-term deal.

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Team Needs: Fresh Legs Could Improve Falcons at Running Back

January 28th, 2014 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Snelling may be the most expendable back on the roster

Running back, a position that once was a veritable strength for the Atlanta Falcons, has now fallen on hard times and has been one of the more unremarkable groups on the roster.

Over recent seasons the Falcons have relied much too heavily on older, declining running backs due to the greater emphasis the team has had on the passing game. Essentially the team seeks players that complement their passing game, as opposed to a player that can be the centerpiece of an offense much like Michael Turner was when he first arrived in Atlanta in 2008.

Current incumbent starter Steven Jackson embodies that mentality. While Jackson is the rare sort of runner that has managed to avoid the menacing clutches of Father Time, he no longer is a back that can carry an offense. And the value that Jackson brought in the passing game in 2013 wasn’t great given too many breakdowns in pass protection and dropped passes.

The goal of the Falcons when they signed Jackson as a free agent a year ago was to get an upgrade over the version of Turner that played in 2012, a version which was on its last legs. And the Falcons can proudly say that mission was accomplished. Despite missing several games at the start of the season, Jackson showed over the final two months of 2013 that he was a much more adept lead back than Turner. And it gives the team some optimism that Jackson could be poised for an even stronger 2014 if he can remain healthy and get improved blocking along the offensive line.

But in reality, the Falcons goal with adding Jackson was about as low as one gets. The 2012 version of Turner was among the league’s least effective starting running backs and the Falcons were arguably the worst rushing attack in the league that season. One analogy would be to compare it to the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback version, which was arguably the worst in the league in recent years with failed draft pick Blaine Gabbert as the starter. Chad Henne is a better option than Gabbert, but he’s by no means a good option.

Essentially, the Falcons new goal should become to find not just a better option but a good one. Jackson, at this point in his career, is not that.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 “2013 Awards Extravaganza!”

January 14th, 2014 1 comment

Allen and I get together once again to discuss our choices for various awards stemming from the Atlanta Falcons 2013 season. Included are our choices for the team’s most valuable player, offensive and defensive players of the year, most improved player, biggest disappointment, and most underrated and overrated players among several other individual honors. During the course of our discussion, I explain my hatred for Harry Douglas for the umpteenth time, and also where I rank Matt Ryan among the league’s top quarterbacks following his play in 2013. After divvying out our awards, we get into a discussion about the winners and losers from the second round of the playoffs, as well as our expectations for the upcoming conference championship games.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 2013 Awards Extravaganza! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 18 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

Weatherspoon, Rodgers Out vs. Panthers

December 27th, 2013 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced their injury report earlier today with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and running back Jacquizz Rodgers being listed as out with knee and concussion injuries, respectively. Neither player will suit up this weekend to face the Carolina Panthers in the team’s 2013 regular season finale. Weatherspoon missed his second week of practice with the same knee injury, having missed last week’s loss against the San Francisco 49ers despite being listed as questionable then. Rodgers suffered his concussion in the 49ers game, and was also held out of practice this week.

Likely replacing Weatherspoon will be Stephen Nicholas, who got his most extensive playing time of the year last week against the 49ers. Rodgers serves as the team’s primary kickoff returner and top backup at running back. In both duties he is expected to be replaced by fellow running back Jason Snelling. Snelling did return one kick for 23 yards following Rodgers’ exit from the 49ers game.

Also listed on the team’s injury report is wide receiver Darius Johnson (ankle) as questionable.  Johnson was limited all three days of practice this week after missing every practice last week and the 49ers game. He will likely be replaced by Drew Davis if he is unable to go on Sunday.

Like Johnson, tight end Tony Gonzalez was limited all week with a toe injury but he is listed as probable. Gonzalez has been nursing his toe injury since Week 10, the last time he fully participated in one of the team’s practice. But he has yet to miss a game this year, and Sunday will mark his final game after a 17-year NFL career since he is expected to retire this offseason.

Cornerback Robert Alford (ankle) and offensive lineman Peter Konz (neck) were also listed as probable. Alford was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but returned to fully participate in Friday’s practice. Konz was able to go fully in all three days of practice this week.

Notable injuries for the Carolina Panthers include wide receiver Steve Smith (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (knee), and defensive tackle Colin Cole (calf). All three are listed as out this week. Quarterback Cam Newton (ankle) is listed as probable, as he was able to fully participate in practice this week.

Gonzalez Questionable But Expected to Play vs. Saints

November 21st, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez

Yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons announced their injury report for their Thursday Night contest against NFC South Division rival, the New Orleans Saints. On it, tight end Tony Gonzalez was among several players listed as questionable with a toe injury, but according to head coach Mike Smith (via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure), he is expected to play. Gonzalez did not participate in practices on Monday and Tuesday this week, but did participate on a limited basis on Wednesday.

Also listed as questionable are defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (tricep), quarterback Dominique Davis (knee), and safety Zeke Motta (hand). All three players were limited in all three days of practice this week. Davis suffered his injury in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, prompting the team to work out a pair of veteran quarterbacks in Trent Edwards and Mike Kafka this week. Neither passer was signed due to the expectation that Davis will be available against the Saints. Motta has a broken finger and is expected to play with a cast according to an earlier report this week.

Listed as out on the injury report is defensive end Malliciah Goodman, who also missed last week’s game with a calf injury. He was held out of practice again this week.

Defensive tackle Peria Jerry (shoulder), running back Jacquizz Rodgers (ankle), offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood (knee/hip), and linebacker Paul Worrilow (shoulder) were all listed as probable. All three players fully participated on Wednesday, while being limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday due to the shortened week of preparation.

Notable injuries for the Saints include guards Jahri Evans (ankle) and Ben Grubbs (neck), defensive end Akiem Hicks (back), running back Darren Sproles (knee/ankle), safety Kenny Vaccaro (concussion), and tight end Ben Watson (concussion). All six players were listed as questionable on the team’s injury report. Both Evans and Sproles were held out of Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices. Also appearing on the injury report as probable are tight end Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot), defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle), and linebacker Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle). Cornerback Jabari Greer was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a torn ACL. He is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by second-year cornerback Corey White.

Moneyball 2013 – Week 10 Review

November 13th, 2013 Comments off

Another frustrating watch after another weak offensive performance for the Falcons.

Matt Ryan had another lackluster game. Part of that was due to the amount of pressure he faced throughout this game, as the Seahawks had no problem collapsing the pocket and bullying around all five of the Falcons blockers.

For the third week in a row, the Falcons seemed to tentative to take shots down the field. One of the few plays I noticed where it looked like the design was to attack downfield, was a play-action early in the second quarter, but Peter Konz gave up a hurry, and Ryan was forced to check it down. I felt like I was watching an offense that was helmed by a first-year starter at quarterback with how vanilla the offense looked.

I’m trying to figure out what I can say that I noticed on tape that is interesting, compelling, or noteworthy, and I’m drawing a blank. I’m starting to believe that just like a year ago, the Falcons offense is better when Jacquizz Rodgers and/or Jason Snelling is on the field. When the team is throwing to or handing it off to Steven Jackson, much like Michael Turner a year ago, the offense seems to stall. I just don’t see any reason on tape why Jackson is getting the majority of the touches. The past three weeks, Jackson has received a combined 47 touches when you factor in carries and targets. Quizz has received 28 in that span, and Snelling has had a combined 5 the past two weeks. With 80 combined touches for running backs the past three weeks, that breakdown should be more like 30 for Quizz, 25 for Snelling, and 25 for Jackson. I like Jackson, but there is nothing on tape that indicates he’s the best running back on the roster. Which is the exact same observation that you could make about Turner last year. It’s clear that the Falcons made another lateral move this off-season when they cut Turner for Jackson, which was the fear that I think everyone like myself had when Jackson was signed.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$7$4$0$0$0-$1$10.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4$2$0$0$0$6.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$3$0$0$0$4.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Lamar Holmes$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Darius Johnson$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Jeremy Trueblood$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Steven Jackson$0$1$0$0$0$0$1.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Roddy White$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$2$0$0-$2$0.00

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Falcons Dominated by Seahawks in 33-10 Loss

November 10th, 2013 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

William Moore gets stiff-armed by Marshawn Lynch

The Atlanta Falcons record falls to 2-7 with a 33-10 beat down by the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle got their revenge in a rematch of a Divisional Playoff matchup between the two teams last January. Then, the Falcons won to advance to the NFC Championship and end the Seahawks season. Now, the Seahawks got out to a 23-3 halftime lead and pounded the ball down the Falcons throats as the Falcons didn’t look competitive in the final three quarters.

Matt Ryan had another lackluster effort, with a season-low 172 yards passing while completing 23 of 36 attempts with a touchdown. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led the team with 31 yards on 3 carries. Ryan added 15 yards on 3 scrambles, out-rushing starting running back Steven Jackson, who finished with 9 carries and 11 yards. Harry Douglas led Falcon recievers with 7 catches for 49 yards. Darius Johnson caught the team’s lone touchdown on his lone grab of the day for 12 yards. Rodgers (5 catches, 28 yards) and Tony Gonzalez (3 catches, 29 yards) also contributed. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try from 53 yards. Matt Bosher punted 5 times for an average of 53.7 yards, with 1 punt placed inside the 20-yard line. Rodgers had three kickoff returns for an average of 21.3 yards. The Falcons struggled to convert on third downs, with only 4 conversions on 12 attempts. They began the game converting only 1 of 7 third downs in the first half. The Falcons did score on their lone trip to the red zone.

Defensively, the Falcons allowed 490 total yards of offense by the Seahawks, including a season-high 211 rushing yards. Seattle also converted 9 of 15 third downs and scored touchdowns on both of their red zone trips. Paul Worrilow led the defense with 19 tackles, matching his season-high from last week. Jonathan Babineaux (8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss); Joplo Bartu (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss); Thomas DeCoud (4 tackles); Akeem Dent (6 tackles); Jonathan Massaquoi (4 tackles); William Moore (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Asante Samuel (6 tackles); Desmond Trufant (6 tackles, 2 pass deflections); and Osi Umenyiora (4 tackles, 1 pass deflection) had notable games.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 45 “Something’s Gotta Give”

November 1st, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I recap the Falcons disappointing loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, considering it one of the most disheartening losses for the Falcons in years. We also discuss the sense of complacency that seems to surround the Falcons franchise over the years, and this current regime in particular. Other topics: Steven Jackson and the historically bad Falcons running game; Sam Baker vs. Duane Brown; Darius Johnson’s future; Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford headline a stronger 2013 draft class. We then switch focus to the Falcons upcoming matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 9 and look at: the formidable matchup between the Falcons offensive line and the Panthers front seven; break down Cam Newton’s strengths and weaknesses; and whether the Falcons need to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball to get the win.

Ep. 45: Something’s Gotta Give [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 4 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

Three Keys to a Falcons Victory in Week 8

October 26th, 2013 1 comment
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Tony Gonzalez

Here’s a look at three keys to victory in order for the Atlanta Falcons to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 8 road matchup.

Pressure Leads to Turnovers

The Falcons defensive line is coming off its strongest performance of the season, effectively able to control the line of scrimmage last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They got plenty of pressure on Mike Glennon and doing such were able to create an early turnover that led to seven points.

They will have to do much of the same this week against the Cardinals. Carson Palmer has thrown two or more interceptions in each of his last five games, and the Falcons will hope to make it six in a row. The Cardinals defense is one tough nut to crack, and given the Falcons injuries on offense, it will make it even tougher. Creating multiple turnovers can create additional opportunities for the offense to put points on the board.

The best way to create turnovers is to get pressure on the quarterback. That leads to rushed and errant throws, which defenders in the Falcons secondary can capitalize on to make big plays.

The Falcons should see favorable matchups against one of the league’s weakest offensive line. Osi Umenyiora has historically preyed on weak tackles, which the Cardinals sport in left tackle Bradley Sowell. Injury to left guard Daryn Colledge could also lead to backup Nate Potter starting, and the Cardinals also have a weakness at the other guard spot with Paul Fanaika being unexceptional.

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