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Posts Tagged ‘Svitek’

Falcons-Giants Preview

January 6th, 2012 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Giants Top WR Victor Cruz

There are a few questions that the Falcons must be able to answer on Sunday if they want to win their first playoff game under Mike Smith and beat the New York Giants.

1. Can the Falcons stop Victor Cruz?

The biggest potential mismatch for the Falcons in their secondary is their nickel corner on Victor Cruz. Cruz is the Giants top receiver, leading the team in catches (82), yards (1536), and touchdowns (9). The Falcons will be putting Dominique Franks in the nickel. Franks has had his moments in recent weeks, but has also had his issues working at the nickel. A notable issue was last week against the Bucs, where Franks was beat by Preston Parker for a 48-yard completion while working out of the slot. Plays like that cannot happen this week. The Falcons don’t need Franks to shut down Cruz, but just contain him similar to the Redskins did in Week 15 where he only caught 5 passes for 44 yards, which was one of the weaker performances of Cruz all year long.

2. Can the Falcons slow the Giants pass rush?

The other matchup that could cause potential problems for the Falcons is trying to slow down the Giants pass rushers: Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora. Tuck hasn’t had quite the season he is used to having with 5 sacks, but he’s still a tough matchup for any right tackle, and Tyson Clabo will have his hands full. Last time the Falcons played the Giants, Clabo gave up two pressures to Tuck. But the biggest question probably comes from the Falcons left tackle Will Svitek and whether he can face Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora. Pierre-Paul led the Gaints with 16.5. Umenyiora managed 9 sacks in 9 games, and came back in Week 17 after missing several games with an ankle injury to get a pair of sacks in a key game against the Cowboys. Svitek started strong when he first subbed in for Sam Baker at midseason, but down the stretch his play tailed off.

The Falcons are probably going to have give each of these guys a bit more help, by playing a few more times in max protection, where tight ends and backs stay in to chip and help slow those guys. Which will put more emphasis on the Falcons receivers to separate and get open.

3. Can the Falcons pound Michael Turner?

One the ways the Falcons can help slow down the Giants pass rush will be if they can effectively run the ball. Turner had a strong performance against the Bucs in Week 17, but the Bucs were one of the league’s worst run defenses. The Giants are better, but not exactly a strong in run defense. So the potential is there for the Falcons to be able to control the clock and tempo with a running game. The issue the Falcons face is that prior to the Bucs game, Turner had five pretty mundane performances, including two road games against Houston and New Orleans, where he was virtually a non-factor. That cannot be the case against the Giants, where the Falcons are going to need Turner to have success early, and be able to carry that through the rest of the game.
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Year-End Superlatives: Most Improved Player

January 5th, 2012 Comments off

This might be the hardest pick to make. At the mid-point, I chose Corey Peters as my pick. At that point in the year, he was playing his best football and looking like an impact pass rusher and playmaker. But unfortunately for Peters, the second half of the season was relatively quiet and it allowed for other people to be considered.

One obvious choice would be Sean Weatherspoon, who was picked as the defensive MVP. Weatherspoon had his moments as a rookie, but injuries and inexperience curtailed his success last year. The fact that he moved from role player last year to MVP this year, probably be default should make him this pick. But since I want to honor as many people as people, we’ll just leave him out of the running.

That could leave Harry Douglas, who went from afterthought last year to a guy that made some plays this year, particularly in the games in the middle of the year where Jones was out with injury. But unfortunately, Douglas sort of returned to being an afterthought once Jones came back from injury and was hitting his stride late in the year. So he too gets passed over.

Will Svitek would be another good pick, having stepped in and filled in for Sam Baker competently and being one of the major reasons why the Falcons were able to stabilize their ground attack and blocking up front. But as the season wore on, Svitek started to fall back to Earth a bit, so he too is out of the running.

Another good candidate would be Lawrence Sidbury, who hardly played a snap last year to finishing tied for second on the team with four sacks. Another good pick would be Dominique Franks, who also was a player that had a very limited role last year, playing on special teams. But late in the year with injuries mounting in the secondary, he was able to step in and solidify the nickel spot and seemingly improved with every single performance. But unfortunately for Sidbury and Franks both, it’s hard to pick them since while they were key contributors, their contributions were smaller due to the fact that they were role players and/or only played a smaller portion of the year.

So that brings us back to where we started with Peters as the best choice for the player that improved the most. Peters was a liability last year vs. the run, but was solid in that area this year. And his ability to make big plays and provide some pressure on the QB up the middle, coupled with the fact that he was a starter throughout the entire year makes him the best choice.

Moneyball 2011 – Week 13 Review

December 6th, 2011 Comments off

This was potentially one of the most frustrating watches of the year. It was not that shocking to me that the Falcons lost this game. A great deal of people got caught up in the notion that T.J. Yates was the Texans starting quarterback, which was the same mistake that they made when Dennis Dixon was the starting quarterback of the Steelers last season. But in both cases, those people forgot to realize that the strength of both of those teams rested on thei rushing attack and their defense. The Texans defense is not as good as the Steelers defense from a year ago, but still more than good enough to slow the Falcons offense. And slow it, they did.

Matt Ryan got off to a very rocky start. His inability to throw the deep ball effectively has inhibited the Falcons offense all year long, and it was no more apparent than the opening series of this game, where two poor throws to an open White and Jones really did change the face of this game. If the Falcons hit one of those, it’s extremely likely they are touchdowns. And instead of the Falcons being down 10 points midway through the second quarter, they would be up 7 points a minute into the game. Then Ryan’s two interceptions on the ensuing drives kill their momentum, although granted neither of those throws were completely his fault as Turner threw off his timing on the flea-flicker and Jones zigged when he should have zagged on the second one.

But truthfully, besides those initial series, the rest of the game Ryan played fairly well. The Falcons had a ridiculous amount of drops in this game (8). Three consecutive ones occur on the final series of the first half which killed any chance that the Falcons move down the field and at least get three points. Really the only other mistakes Ryan makes are on the pair of delay of game penalties. The second of which was a critical mistake because it comes on a 4th & 1 with 2:35 left in the game that the Falcons actually convert and would have put them in prime scoring position to tie the game. But of course the penalty nullifies the play.

He also saw quite a bit of pressure, as the Texans pass rush was basically able to pin their ears back in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter and the Falcons blockers did not do a great job holding up. Svitek struggled in this game, as did pretty much all of the other blockers in this game. He gave up 2.5 pressures, but had another and a sack-strip negated by defensive penalties. It’s become apparent to me that while Svitek is better than Sam Baker is today, he’s not better than Baker was a year ago, which was considerably less than where Baker was in 2009. It’s fascinating to look at the Falcons left tackle position has gotten considerably worse since 2008. Svitek has done his best to maintain the status quo from a year ago. And it makes you start to realize that since the decline of Bob Whitfield, the Falcons have been fairly middling at that position. But that’s probably a topic worth broaching in the off-season. Joe Hawley also did not have a great game, and it’s clear that if the Falcons actually want to get some serious production from the right guard position they should move on in another direction. Presumably, they are playing Hawley there to get him reps for his eventual move to center. I think Hawley still has a future as the starting center, but the Falcons need to give Kirk Chambers a try at some point. Either as a replacement for Svitek at left tackle or as a right guard. Otherwise, Chambers presence on the roster is a complete and under waste.

The Falcons ground attack was pretty useless. Turner had basically two nice runs, and 9 wasted runs. And one wonders that against the fast Texans defense, that giving Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers more reps would have been smart.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$7$1$0$0$0-$2$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Jason Snelling$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Michael Turner$0$4$0$0$0$0$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$2$2.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Julio Jones$0$0$2$0$0-$1$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$0.5$0$0.50
Will Svitek$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Moneyball 2011 – Week 12 Review

November 29th, 2011 Comments off

A solid performance by the offense in the first half. I think Mularkey called a good game there, and the Falcons executed that game plan very well. I think things got a little too conservative at the outset of the third quarter and you could see a hint of the Falcons playing to protect a lead as opposed to a team that wanted to keep attacking and being aggressive.

A strong performance for Matt Ryan, the type of game that he had with regularity a season ago. But those games have come with far less frequency this year, but he seems over recent weeks to be getting back into that 2010 stride.

Roddy White had an excellent game, and both Douglas and Gonzalez had solid contributions. Jones was an afterthought for the most part, and it’s a shame because he was wide open on the TD pass to Michael Palmer, and it would have been a much easier throw for Ryan to make if he had spotted him. And he was also open deep on a play late in the game, that Ryan threw to Roddy instead for a 26-yard gain, but if he had taken the deep shot perhaps the Falcons score then rather than six plays later on the pass to Palmer. But I guess you could argue that the additional 3 minutes they were able to milk off the clock on those six plays helped them just as much.

The ground game was solid when the holes were there. A lot of missed blocks on the part of the Falcons. Svitek had a good game, shutting down Jared Allen in pass protection, but struggled at various times as a run blocker, missing 3 blocks. Everyone except Clabo missed a block or two, and everytime Turner was stopped for a minimal gain was due to the blocking. We saw a bit more of the Falcons mixing in Snelling and Rodgers into the rushing rotation, although there are still some instances where the Falcons call plays and I’m wondering why Turner is in the game rather than Quizz.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$16$0$0$0$0-$1$15.00
Michael Turner$0$10$0$0$0$0$10.00
Roddy White$0$0$10$0$0$0$10.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$1$0$0$5.00
Harry Douglas$0$1$3$0$0$0$4.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$2$0$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3.5$0-$1$2.50
Michael Palmer$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1.5$0$0$1.50
Mike Cox$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$1$0$0$0$0$1.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1-$1$0.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50
Julio Jones$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0-$0.5$0-$1-$1.50

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Baker could return this week, Jones might not

November 18th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons released their injury report this week, and Sam Baker was listed as questionable after limited participation in all three days of practice. Baker missed the past three games with a back injury. Two weeks ago he was reportedly expected to miss 3-4 weeks. He has been replaced by Will Svitek in the team’s past three outings.

Wide receiver Julio Jones was also listed as questionable, despite not practicing all week due to re-aggravating a hamstring injury in last week’s loss to the Saints. Jones suffered the original injury in a Week 5 loss against the Packers, missed two games, but then returned two weeks ago to have a big game against the Colts. If Jones is unable to go on Sunday, he will be replaced by Harry Douglas who is coming off a career high performance against New Orleans.

Expected to miss a second consecutive game is William Moore (quadricep), as he also did not practice this week. James Sanders will start in place of him at strong safety.

Several other players were listed as probable for this weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans. Harry Douglas (thigh), Ray Edwards (knee), and Antone Smith (knee) all were able to participate fully in the past two days of practice and were probable. Brent Grimes (knee) and Jason Snelling (hamstring) were both limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but participated fully in Friday’s practice. Curtis Lofton (ankle) was added to the injury report after Thursday, but also went full bore on Friday. John Abraham and Todd McClure were also included on the injury report, but only because both were held out of Wednesday’s practice for non-injury related rest. They had full participation in both Thursday and Friday’s practices.

The Titans linebacker corps is shaken up with starters Gerald McRath (hamstring) and Barrett Ruud (groin) both listed as questionable on their injury report. Both were able to practice fully on Friday. Backup linebacker Colin McCarthy (knee) is also questionable after missing the last two days of practice. Defensive end Dave Ball will miss the game with a concussion.

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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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 10 “Dead Duck”

November 4th, 2011 Comments off

Coming off the Falcons bye week, Ryan and I are back to discuss the team’s upcoming matchup against the Indianapolis Colts and whether or not the Falcons victory is a foregone conclusion. We also get into a heated debate over whether the Falcons are the best team in the NFC South, and whether or not this team is headed in the right direction. Later, after both of us calm down, Ryan wants a recap of my activities during the Halloween weekend. Eventually our conversation veers into some entertainment news surrounding the headlines made by Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber over this past week. I should note that this is the first of our episodes that will receive an explicit rating on iTunes that goes a bit beyond our usual PG-13 standards.

Episode 10 – Dead Duck [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 16 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by on gameday to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

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

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Baker to miss 3-4 weeks

November 2nd, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons announced on Wednesday that tackle Sam Baker will miss the next three to four weeks with a back injury. The same injury that held him out of the team’s win over the Detroit Lions in Week 7. In his absence, Will Svitek got the start at left tackle. The team signed Svitek’s former Stanford teammate Kirk Chambers last week to bolster depth at the position. Chambers started three combined games as a replacement for Jason Peters at left tackle in 2007 and 2008 with the Buffalo Bills. Svitek started a pair of games for an injured Baker in 2009. Baker has had back problems before, missing 8 games due to a back injury as a rookie in 2008.

Also missing Wednesday’s practice along with Baker was defensive end John Abraham, tight end Tony Gonzalez (back), and center Todd McClure. Both Abraham and McClure were non-injury related and were held out to rest. Both players have dealt with injuries already this year. Wide receiver Julio Jones had limited participation as he’s trying to come back from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 5. Cornerback Chris Owens (concussion) was a full participant in practice. Like Jones, Owens was injured in the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Green Bay Packers and has missed their past two games.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 9 “I Am Legend”

October 21st, 2011 Comments off

Ryan and I are back for another episode discussing last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers, and debate how big a win it was for the Falcons going forward.  We disagree about how big a road test that the Falcons will have this week against the Detroit Lions, as Ryan is prepped to serve up a big plate of crow to me this weekend if the Falcons pull out the victory. I don’t have a lot of confidence in some of the matchups, notably Megatron and Suh going against the Falcons. Later, Ryan makes his playoff picks. We also discuss plans for the bye week, Halloween costumes, Ryan’s non-Texas leanings, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, and whether Smitty is a better coach when he’s happy or angry.

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Jones Doubtful against Lions

October 21st, 2011 Comments off

Falcons wideout Julio Jones was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report for the team’s Week 7 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Jones missed last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, after suffering a hamstring injury during the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week. Jones did not practice at all this week and looks like he will miss a second straight game.

If Jones misses the game, he will be joined by cornerback Chris Owens, who was listed as out as he still recovers from a concussion he suffered against the Packers. Owens missed last week’s Panther game as well due to the same injury.

Four Falcon players were listed as questionable on their injury report: defensive end John Abraham (groin), offensive tackle Sam Baker (back), center Todd McClure (knee), and guard Garrett Reynolds (ankle). Abraham sat out the Packer game due to the injury, but returned last week against the Panthers. He was able to have limited participation in Thursday and Friday’s practices. If he misses the game, he’ll likely be replaced by Kroy Biermann at right defensive end. Baker missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices, but was back in limited duty on Friday. Baker suffered from durability concerns his first two years in Atlanta, but has managed to start 26 straight games without injury. If he sits out this weekend’s game, he’ll be replaced by offensive tackle Will Svitek in the starting lineup at left tackle. Svitek started twice in place of Baker during 2009. McClure has been in and out of the lineup throughout this year due to a knee injury. His backup Joe Hawley has already started three games thus far this year, pulling his last start against the Packers. Reynolds suffered his ankle injury against the Packers, but has managed to finish that game as well as start last week. Like Abraham, he sat out Wednesday’s practice, but was able to return on a limited basis each of the past two days.

Also listed on the injury repot are defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (Knee), tight end Tony Gonzalez (elbow), safety James Sanders (hamstring), and wide receiver Roddy White (knee). Babineaux, Gonzalez, and White all participated fully in the three days of practice this week, but have been limited by their respective injuries somewhat in past weeks. Sanders missed last week’s game against the Panthers but was able to go fully in Friday’s practice.

For the Lions, running back Jahvid Best has been declared out with a concussion. Wide receiver Rashied Davis (foot) and safety Vincent Fuller (elbow) both were listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report. Cornerback Aaron Berry (groin) and defensive end Willie Young (calf) were also listed as questionable.