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Posts Tagged ‘Samuel’

Falcons Super Bowl Window is Small

June 7th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

White hopes his next big celebration includes a Lombardi Trophy

Falcons receiver Roddy White made recent headlines with comments that the time is now for the Falcons to win a Super Bowl. I for one am not a person that typically agrees with many of the public utterings made by White, but in this case he’s 100% correct.

The Falcons do have a small window of opportunity to “get over the hump” and try and win a Super Bowl. While the powers that be in Flowery Branch probably won’t say as much publicly, the truth is in their actions.

And by actions, just look at the team they’ve constructued. While it wouldn’t be accurate to say the Falcons are “all in” for a Super Bowl in 2013, they certainly are for the next two seasons.

Don’t agree? Well, here’s a thinking exercise… Name the Falcons current ten best players. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.

Okay done? Here’s probably the list you came up with, or very close to it…

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Player on the Rise: Robert McClain

June 5th, 2013 Comments off
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Discipline and tackling are one of McClain’s strongest traits

The nickel cornerback position has been a problem area for the Falcons for a number of years. That is until Robert McClain stepped in last year.

McClain gave the Falcons their most consistent and reliable nickel corner since early part of 2009. Then, Brent Grimes served in the nickel role, coming in at left corner to move Brian Williams into the slot. But Williams got hurt in the fifth game of that year, and the Falcons had to try and make due with the likes of Chris Owens, Tye Hill, and Chevis Jackson the rest of the year. It resulted in one of the NFL’s weakest secondaries in 2009.

McClain emerged from virtually nowhere a year ago. He joined the Falcons as a street free agent following the season, being signed to a future contract. Typically those players are previous season’s practice squad players, and the occasional street free agent. Typically those street free agents are long shots to make the roster. In fact, the last two times the Falcons signed a street free agent to a future contract that really made a difference came in 2002 when they added cornerback Juran Bolden and 2000 with linebacker Chris Draft. The majority of the time, even if the player does wind up making the teams’ roster, they don’t really impact.

But McClain certainly did impact in 2012. He earned the distinction of being named “Secret Superstar” by Pro Football Focus.com. In large part due to his production in coverage. Among slot corners that played 200 or more snaps, McClain had the second best yards allowed per attempt, only allowing 5.1 yards per throw against him per that site’s metrics.

If that seems like an ambiguous statistic, one should note that in 2009 when Charles Woodson won Defensive Player of the Year, thanks in large part to his ability to shut down opposing slot receivers, he allowed 5.3 yards per pass attempt when lined up in the slot.

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Falcons Needs: Cornerback

February 11th, 2013 Comments off
Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Dunta Robinson

The Falcons got improved play from Dunta Robinson, while Asante Samuel seemed to make the loss of Brent Grimes much smoother. The Falcons even discovered a diamond in the rough with Robert McClain at the nickel cornerback position. All of those things make it seem like the cornerback position is a strength for the team, but it may not be.

Both starters Robinson and Samuel are on the wrong side of the age thirty. Samuel still is going strong and throughout the second half of the season was able to show his trademark ball skills. He’s still a liability when it comes to run support, but when you make as many game-changing plays as he does in coverage, it is forgivable. Robinson appears to be the opposite player. His first year in Mike Nolan’s scheme really brought out of his run support and blitzing abilities. But Robinson rarely makes plays in coverage, and is increasingly becoming a liability there with added age. He’s never been a player that has played with great technique or discipline, relying instead on his superior athleticism to match up with receivers. But as one gets older, that athleticism is one of the first things to go and Robinson appears to be in the midst of that. Robinson has a base salary of $8 million in 2013, and $3 million of that becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of the league year (March 16).

So the Falcons have a decision to make at right cornerback. They can keep Robinson, and hope that Father Time can be staved off for one more year. Another option might be to try and draft a young corner to become his replacement. Another option could be to sign a player to push or replace him as the starter.

Other things factor into that decision, mainly Brent Grimes. Grimes is a free agent coming off an Achilles tear, one of the more devastating injuries in football. It’s certainly possible Grimes could return for the start of next year, but it would be a question of how effective he would be at that point. But given the questions surrounding Grimes’ health status, it would be a major gamble to try and replace Robinson with him in 2013. If Grimes returns to Atlanta, it will likely have to come down to his price tag. A year ago, the Ne York Giants re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas, who was coming off an ACL tear. The Giants gave Thomas a four-year deal that had only a small portion paid in the first year, with a big option bonus in the second year, essentially giving Thomas a year to prove whether he was worth retaining long-term. The best possible scenario for the Falcons is if they can get Grimes signed to a similar deal which would lower their risk factor.

The Falcons could reach out to other potential free agents that are younger and cheaper than Robinson on the open market, but given that the price tag of corners is often driven up, that doesn’t seem to be ideal.

The Falcons could draft a corner early in the draft, but given their needs at a number of other positions it probably wouldn’t be a priority and thus would have to wait until the third day of the draft. And at that point, you’re only getting a backup candidate rather than a potential starter.

The Falcons could tinker with inserting McClain into the starting lineup. McClain had a breakout year as the team’s nickel cornerback, but when he was asked to supplant either Robinson or Samuel, both of whom dealt with injuries this past year, he was far less effective. Given the long time it’s been since the Falcons have had a good nickel cornerback, the team probably doesn’t want to put too much on McClain’s plate next year. And given the age of Samuel, the smarter strategy may be to groom McClain to replace him in two years as opposed to replacing Robinson now. That way the team can allow McClain to develop some more. The Falcons have been burned multiple times in the past with putting too much trust in young, green corners after flashing a bit of promise. Chevis Jackson, Chris Owens, and Dominique Franks were at one point in time considered to be promising starters after good starts in Atlanta. But all three ultimately petered out to become average at best players.

Franks will be back next year and the team tinkered with him playing the role of a dime safety late. Franks struggled as a punt returner and being able to carve out of a bigger role on defense might be his only salvation when it comes to making the team next year.

Like Grimes, Chris Owens is also an unrestricted free agent this year. He’ll be considerably less expensive than other potential options. Owens is an effective stopgap option as an outside corner, has experience playing in the slot, and is one of the team’s better special teams players. That should all mean that he should be back in a Falcon uniform due to his depth value. But if not, then the odds increase dramatically that the team uses one of its picks this April at the position.

All this means that Robinson probably does return to the Falcons in 2013, just at a reduced price tag. But given the ages of Robinson and Samuel, the Falcons need to have long-term plans for replacing both sooner rather than later. McClain might fit the bill for one of those spots, but in the very near future the Falcons need to find someone that can do the same at the other. Owens and Franks are less than ideal options at this point, and Grimes’ status is up in the air.

Takeaways from Championship Weekend

January 23rd, 2013 2 comments

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan deserves a new deal.

I was late in posting the recap of the Falcons-49er game partially because of my attendance at the game didn’t really give me access to a computer afterwards. That was followed up by my car breaking down Monday on my return trip to North Carolina, which consumed all my energy then and the following day. All in all, it was not a great weekend for me.

But I really needed some time and energy to digest the loss. I was never distraught over it, but it was highly disappointing. While some may label the Falcons as chokers, I don’t see it that way. Did they blow the game? Yes. They had a lead, didn’t hold it, but they had an opportunity at the end of the game to win it. They just didn’t. I’m not going to sit here like many have done over the past 72 hours and try and find a scapegoat. The 49ers were widely considered to be a better team than the Falcons, and thus their win over the Falcons is not a surprise. The Broncos were 10-point favorites over the Ravens. Their loss was a chokejob especially given the outright impossibility of the now infamous Rahim Moore blown coverage. The Broncos played uncharacteristic in that game. Peyton Manning looked a little gun shy, Champ Bailey looked old, and they even got a pair of special teams touchdowns, which had never happened in a playoff game. Teams with a pair of special teams touchdowns since 1970 are 31-7 in games. That was a chokejob.

With the Falcons being the underdogs in the game, I don’t think they choked. They had ample opportunities to win the game, they did not.

It’s more disappointing because of what I wrote about in mid-November. This was likely the Falcons best chance to be in the Super Bowl in the foreseeable future. I still believe that. Matt Ryan played the best football we’ve seen him play. What’s interesting to me is that after posting that piece, I think we started to see a significant decline in Ryan’s game, and he sort of “reverted” back to his older self as opposed to playing at the MVP level he was for the first half of 2012. I think that reversion began with his 5-interception performance against the Cardinals. Now don’t get me wrong, a “reverted” Matt Ryan is still a Top 10 quarterback, so if you hear or see any Falcon fans complaining about Matt Ryan, then my suggestion is to punch them in the face. Matt Ryan may not be as good as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady, but anybody that is unsatisfied with his performance over the past five years or this past season is a lunatic. Anybody that is still questioning Ryan’s ability to win in January, should only look at those four quarterbacks and their recent playoff success (or lack thereof). Even the great ones play poorly in January, and Ryan certainly outperformed those elite guys this past January.

Ryan certainly deserves to get a big-time extension this off-season. And my expectation is that it will make him one of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. That likely will exceed $16 million per year, and possibly approach $18 or $19 million per year, which would put him just behind Drew Brees ($20M/yr.) and Peyton Manning ($19.2M/yr.) (per Spotrac) as the highest paid QBs in the league. His guaranteed money will probably be in the $40 to $50 million range. It’s a very high premium, but when you think about the stability it potentially provides the Falcons for the next 5-7 years it is well worth it in my opinion. And it actually should help alleviate cap space for the Falcons as Ryan’s cap hit of $10 million in 2013 could potentially be cut in half if the Falcons structure the new deal appropriately.

The downside of such a deal means that the Falcons cap space will be limited in future years, and thus they will have to recommit to the draft which they have not done in recent years. They have traded a first or second round pick in each of the past three drafts. That can’t happen, as the Falcons won’t be able to spend as much on the open market in future years due to the high price that will be annually paid to Ryan. But that is not too much of a downside, because I think that’s exactly how Thomas Dimitroff likes it. It just means that the margin for error grows even smaller, and the Falcons can’t have any more Peria Jerry picks.

As for what the Falcons do in the off-season, nothing really has changed in terms of assessing how the year ended. We’ve known all year long that the Falcons need to become a more balanced offense by improving the ground attack. Michael Turner is likely gone. The Falcons should look to replace him with some fresh legs in the draft. The offensive line held up better down the stretch than I certainly expected after a fairly lackluster regular season. So the Falcons don’t need to make sweeping changes there. They should look to get a new right guard, as I still think Peter Konz is better suited to playing center. Maybe they can find someone in free agency, such as Buffalo’s Andy Levitre. They need to find a young replacement for Tony Gonzalez, which we’ve known for several years was a move that was inevitable.

Defensively, the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush. Their inability to cover tight ends probably also means they need to look into getting a good coverage linebacker. Stephen Nicholas did an admirable job, but similar to Curtis Lofton he’s just not cut out to be an everydown player. But ever since Darren Sproles made Sean Weatherspoon look silly, we’ve known we needed upgrades there. And the Falcons will need to make a decision about the relative futures of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes. Grimes is a free agent and Robinson is due a high $8 million salary, $3 million of which becomes guaranteed if he’s on the team as of the fifth day of the new league year (approximiately March 16). Do the Falcons want to keep either one or go in a new direction with another young corner? I think Robert McClain had a good season, but I don’t think the Falcons should turn over a starting position to him just yet. Considering that Asante Samuel is also up there in age, I think McClain instead should be groomed as his long-term replacement. McClain is a restricted free agent following 2013, and dependent on his performance this upcoming season will determine if he’s in the long-term plans of the team. Again, given Samuel’s age, probably the smart strategy is try to get younger. The free agent market isn’t overly strong, so it probably behooves the Falcons to look for a corner on either the first or second day of the draft come April.

Of their own free agents, William Moore and Sam Baker are the two guys that they probably cannot afford to let walk. Alongside Spoon, Moore is the only impact player on the defensive side of the ball that is in the prime of his career. Baker has played well enough to earn a new contract. I’m not 100% sold that he won’t revert back to his subpar pre-2012 form, but I think his play certainly merits a new deal. And the Falcons can still develop Lamar Holmes as an insurance policy, and give him the much-needed time I believe he needs before he’s ready to be a starter.

Those are basically the needs the Falcons need to address this off-season. Will they be able to solve all of those problems this off-season? Probably not. I personally would prioritize upgrading the offensive line at right guard, but it would not surprise me if the Falcons instead opt to make additions at running back and tight end bigger priorities offensively given they could probably live with a combination of Konz, Hawley, and/or Mike Johnson at center and right guard next year. Defensively, their priority is going to be upgrading the pass rush which could be either by adding a young edge rusher as the heir apparent to John Abraham, or an interior presence to succeed Jonathan Babineaux. Babineaux and Corey Peters are both entering the final years of their contracts, while both Abraham and Biermann have two years left. So don’t be surprised if the Falcons are more interested in defensive tackles this spring in the pre-draft process than edge rushers.

Moneyball 2012 – Week 17 Review

January 6th, 2013 Comments off

I must apologize for getting this review up so late. I don’t know what it is about the bye week that makes me very lazy. But I think part of it was the fact that I didn’t really want to watch this game. It was was a throwaway game, and ultimately a throwaway loss.

But I did see some things in this game that give me pause. The Falcons continue to struggle with pressure, and when teams can get pressure on Ryan, the Falcons offense becomes very mediocre. Ryan was hit three times on the opening series. Then on the second series, the drive started out brilliantly, but then Lavonte David hit Ryan on a blitz, and the Falcons wound up settling for a field goal instead of a drive that a few plays earlier seemed like a guaranteed touchdown. This has been a problem throughout the latter half of the regular season. Agains the Lions, the offense stalled in the third quarter when pressure was dialed up. They looked very good against the Giants because there was hardly any pressure.

The Falcons seemed to be going through the motions in this one. Mike Smith made the right decision to play the starters, but unfortunately those starters just seemed disinterested in this game, looking as if they were hoping to get through this game with just perfunctory and minimal effort as possible. This is the same thing we saw a few weeks ago against the Panthers. The team just lacked an edge. So clearly despite Smitty’s best intentions, his plan did not work. Where I will criticize Smitty is when he opted not to pull the starters at the outset of the fourth quarter. The Falcons were down 12 points at that point, and while it was still a winnable game, there was no need for the Falcons to make the effort to overcome that deficit at this point in the year. It’s tough conceding defeat, and you know a guy like Smitty is a competitor, but that was one of the few times where you just got to know when it’s over, and to count your blessings that no one suffered a major injury. But then of course, Abraham did then suffer an injury. And we’re still waiting to know if he’s going to play next week in the playoff game.

I thought the running game was largely a non-factor, except a few nice runs on the second series. Matt Ryan did not play well. Part of that was because of the pressure and hits he saw early in this game. But he seemed to be staring down reads and just didn’t look comfortable in the pocket all game long. Ryan has not dealt well with pressure throughout the second half of the season, as I’ve noted several times. It’s a glaring weakness of this team, and if this team falls short in the next week or so, I’m absolutely certain it will be because of erratic pass protection.

There isn’t a lot to say about this game. If the Falcons go on to win in the playoffs, this game will be long forgotten. If the Falcons however should lose, then this game is going to stick out as a sore thumb. I really hope that the Falcons make me forget this game. I feel slightly dumber from having watched it.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4$4$0$0$0$8.00
Matt Ryan$3$2$0$0$0$0$5.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Roddy White$0$0$3$1$0$0$4.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2.5$0$0$2.50
Peter Konz$0$0$0$2.5$0$0$2.50
Julio Jones$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2-$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$1-$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
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Robinson cleared to return to practice

January 4th, 2013 Comments off

John Manasso of FOX Sports South first tweeted this morning that Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson was cleared to return to practice today. Later, Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com confirmed that Robinson did indeed participate in Friday’s practice. Robinson suffered a head injury early in the Falcons loss last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missing the rest of the game. But he was cleared to return to practice as part of the league’s concussion protocol (meaning he must be cleared by team doctors through a series of tests) less than a week later. Previously, Robinson had suffered a concussion in 2010, and returned to practice after 15 days.

Alongside defensive John Abraham (ankle) and safety William Moore (hamstring), Robinson had sat out this week of practice. The team will also be without cornerback Asante Samuel, who has returned home to Florida to deal with the death of his mother. His mother passed away earlier this week after a long battle with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Falcons expect all three players to return to practice next Wednesday.

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Falcons lose in finale against Bucs

December 30th, 2012 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Samuel walks dejectedly off the field.

The Falcons looked sluggish in a season finale loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 22-17. The Falcons opted to play the majority of their starters, but the offense stagnated early. While the Falcons were able to score some points late to make the game interesting, they could not overcome the early lead the Bucs built up. The Falcons finish the 2012 regular season with a 13-3 record, an NFC South title, and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Matt Ryan played the entire game, completing 28 of 44 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons running game did not do much, with Jacquizz Rodgers leading the team with 28 yards on 5 carries. Michael Turner added 18 yards on 6 carries and a touchdown. Rodgers also led receivers with 8 catches for 50 yards. Julio Jones (3 catches, 56 yards), Roddy White (5 catches, 42 yards), and Tony Gonzalez (5 catches, 41 yards). The lone passing touchdown was caught by Harry Douglas, who finished the game with 4 catches for 21 yards. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try from 28 yards out. Matt Bosher punted 6 times for an average of 50.8 yards, with 3 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Bosher had a punt blocked. Rodgers returned 3 kickoffs for 59 yards, while Douglas took over punt return duties from Dominique Franks and had 4 returns for 42 yards.

Defensively, the Falcons gave a decent effort, keeping the Bucs offense in check for most of the day. They allowed 366 total yards, including 144 yards on the ground which made the difference in the second half. The Falcons had held the Bucs to only 37 rushing yards in the first half on 12 carries, but thanks in large part to a 40-yard scoring run by Doug Martin, they could not slow down the Bucs ground attack in the second half. Sean Weatherspoon led defenders with 8 tackles. Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles); Corey Peters (3 tackles); Asante Samuel (2 tackles, 1 interception); and Vance Walker (5 tackles) had notable games.

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Falcons squash Giants in shut-out victory

December 16th, 2012 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

John Abraham bottles up David Wilson

The Falcons laid a beatdown on the defending Super Bowl champions, routing the New York Giants by a score of 34-0. It marks the first regular season shutout of the Giants since 1996. It is also the first time the Falcons have shut out their opponent since a 24-0 win over the Oakland Raiders in 2008, and their first time doing so in the Georgia Dome since a 30-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers in 2002.

After a couple of lackluster performances, Matt Ryan bounced back with a strong effort completing 23 of 28 passes for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. He started the game completing his first 8 passes. His efforts today give him 4,202 passing yards on the season, breaking the Falcons all-time season high of 4,177 he set a year ago. On the ground, Michael Turner led the Falcons with 52 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers added 11 carries for 25 yards, while Jason Snelling closed out the game with 6 carries for 39 yards. Julio Jones had a pair of touchdown grabs, leading the team with 6 receptions for 74 yards. He passed the 1000-yard receiver mark for the first time in his burgeoning Falcon career. Tony Gonzalez also had 6 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Harry Douglas (3 catches, 83 yards), Jason Snelling (3 catches, 16 yards), and Roddy White (2 catches, 16 yards) also contributed on the day. Matt Bryant hit on a pair of field goals, from 38 and 19 yards. Matt Bosher punted a pair of times for an average of 40 yards. Dominique Franks returned a pair of punts for 10 yards, and the Falcons had no kickoff returns on the day. The Falcons offense was efficient, converting 9 of 13 third downs. They also dominated on time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 39 minutes, compared to the Giants’ 21-minutes of possession.

Defensively the Falcons clamped down on a Giants offense that put up 52 points last week against the New Orleans Saints. They were held to only 256 total yards, their second-lowest output of the season. They only converted 4 of 10 third downs, and were 0 for 3 on fourth down attempts. The Falcons picked of Eli Manning twice, and also forced a late fumble. Sean Weatherspoon led the defense with 9 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Kroy Biermann (1 tackle, 1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles, 1 interception); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (4 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); and Asante Samuel (1 tackle, 1 interception) all had notable games.

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White to be a game-time decision vs. Giants

December 13th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons practice report issued earlier today listed wide receiver Roddy White as out for the second consecutive day of practice with a knee injury. Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that while White made progress since Wednesday’s practice, White likely won’t practice on Friday.

Roddy felt much better today than he did yesterday. We are going to be very cautious with Roddy in terms of getting ready for the ball game. He probably will not do a whole lot on Friday or Saturday and then we will get him out there on Sunday and see where he’s at. But it’s hard to keep Roddy White out of a football game.

Also missing today’s practice was safety William Moore (hamstring). It was Moore’s second consecutive day of missed practice. Moore missed last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. If he is out this week, it’s likely Chris Hope will start in place for him, as he did vs. Carolina.

Upgraded today was defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs). Babineaux participated on a limited basis in today’s practice, after missing Wednesday practice. Also limited were wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder). After being limited yesterday, tackle Sam Baker (hand) and guard Justin Blalock (elbow) fully participated in today’s practice.

Moneyball 2012 – Week 12 Review

November 29th, 2012 Comments off

A solid game for the offense particularly when it came to producing some explosive plays at key moments. Most of those plays came via the legs and speed of Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers had a career high in earnings, collecting as a runner, receiver, blocker, and on special teams. It’s probably about as good a game from him that you might be able to expect from him. The disparity in burst and elusiveness between Quizz and Turner has been noticeable in recent weeks, and it really doesn’t get more apparent than it was this week. The Falcons offense now is predicated on generating big plays and the coaches will be doing themselves a favor by continuing to give Rodgers more snaps, and more carries on the ground.

But I did notice in this game that many of the Turner runs were poorly blocked. It’s almost as if the team’s effort goes down when he’s running the ball. It’s a ridiculous statement to make, yes I know. Or maybe the Bucs effort goes up because they are keying on the run harder. That sounds more plausible, but it’s not any more provable just from watching tape.

Ryan had another solid game, although there were a couple of missed throws he had this week that I’m not sure he would have missed a month or so ago. It’s a very, very minor concern at this point, but it’s something I want to keep my eye on going forward. The last player I want to see getting into a bit of a lull is Ryan.

Julio Jones had another big game. He also had a pair of dropped touchdowns (one of which was negated by his OPI penalty). The actual drop was a bad throw on Ryan’s part, but Jones did an excellent job adjusting to the ball behind him and had a chance to catch it as it sort of bounced off his chest. I’m going to say it right now, I think drops are going to be a regular thing with Julio going forward. His range and ability to get his hands on balls that many, rather most other receivers cannot is going to lead to a lot of drops. Especially when you use the litmus test where if he can get both hands on the ball (which generally I do), then it should be caught. It just might be similar to Terrell Owens (a comparison someone made in the forums), although towards the end of his career it seemed like T.O. dropped a lot of easy passes due to poor concentration. Jones has certainly had his share of lapses in concentration during his short Falcon career, but it wasn’t a problem this week and hasn’t been the past few games from what I can recall. Brandon Marshall is that same way, and all three guys are/were physical specimens which occasionally seems to be a disadvantage (although I welcome that trade-off for all the times when it’s a major advantage).

A quiet game for Roddy White, but he made some nice plays when it counted. I think his low production had more to do with Ryan attacking matchups he liked with the weaker Buc corners. And that often was Julio on whomever. Gonzo was money on third downs, as usual. I did like the flat pass to Douglas working out of trips. I’ve seen the team use that a bit more often in recent weeks, and I think it’s a nice way to manufacture yards on first down via the pass, instead of relying on the ground attack. I hope to see more of that the rest of the season. If you’ve been wondering where Douglas can make an impact on this offense down the stretch it’s potentially there.

This also was one of the better games for the pass protection, who had a nice long run of not doing a great job. A couple of hurries where the Bucs were able to move Ryan off his spot, but nothing grievous outside a pressure given up by Baker, and a hit/hurry given up by Cox on a completion to Jones.

The run blocking still needs work however. The Falcons just really struggle to create any push at the line of scrimmage. Both of those late runs by Turner that went for negative yardage were poorly blocked. Turner made a mistake on the last one, and had he not fought for extra yards, it could have been “just” a loss of two. But I’m not sure I can really blame Turner too much because it’s silly to tell him that he should let Adam Hayward tackle him. The mistake was going deeper in the backfield however, not breaking Hayward’s tackle. But nonetheless, the run was doomed from the start. Again, even if Turner had not backtracked on that play, the best you could have hoped for was a loss of 2 yards, which is a failure on the O-line.

Clabo had both of his key blocks on early Rodgers runs where he pulled and was able to cut a defender. The first was on Quizz’s opening carry for 20 yards, the second on the 5-yard TD run. But Clabo also was credited for missing the block on that -8 yard run by Turner at the end. Other Falcon blockers missed their assignments as well (Konz and Johnson) but it was Gerald McCoy beating Clabo that really blew up that play.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$14$2$0$0$0-$2$14.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$9$2$1$1$0$13.00
Julio Jones$0$1$8$1$0-$1$9.00
Roddy White$0$0$4$2$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Michael Palmer$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00

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