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Moneyball 2013 – Week 15 Review

December 17th, 2013 Comments off

After reviewing the All-22, no doubt this was an ugly win for the Atlanta Falcons over the Washington Redskins.

As I noted yesterday, the offense was fairly conservative in terms of taking deep shots down the field. It appeared that the Falcons only drew up three plays in which Matt Ryan was looking to throw the ball beyond 15 yards. I noticed how often the Falcons run plays that require the receivers to run to the sticks or a yard shy, and that’s it. There was a play-call on a 3rd-and-21 in the second quarter where it was supposed to be a clear-out for Darius Johnson. I get that with the Falcons backed up inside their 10-yard line, that Dirk Koetter didn’t want to risk Ryan taking a deep drop and increase the potential for a safety. But Johnson got no separation from David Amerson on that play and it was just a three-yard gain. That play sort of epitomizes the sort of conservative approach of the offense.

I thought Ryan did some good things, particularly in terms of his movement within the pocket to avoid pressure. There were about three times where he was able to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure and deliver a completion down the field. So much of this season I’ve watched Ryan check it down in the face of pressure, and it was nice to see him using his legs to create space and extend plays.

The only real complaint I have with Ryan in this game was his overthrow on his interception, on one of his few shots downfield at the end of the first half. I like that he was being aggressive, he just needed to make a better throw. This week will go down as one of his lower earnings of the season, but I think that had more to do with play-calling than him playing poorly.

There were problems (as usual) with the pass protection with too many breakdowns. Lamar Holmes struggled to handle Brian Orakpo, with both of his sacks allowed coming against him. Ryan Kerrigan also did good work against Ryan Schraeder on the other side with a sack and a hurry, but also was very effective when matched against our tight ends when they were blocking. I was surprised to see such a big game from defensive end Chris Baker, who got credited with a hurry (against Justin Blalock), hit (against Holmes), and pressure (against Peter Konz). He also mauled Holmes on one of the goal line runs in the second quarter where Steven Jackson got stuffed in the backfield (that was Holmes’ credited missed block). He’s a free agent after this season, so I definitely made a mental note for March.

On the bright side up front, I thought Joe Hawley had another solid game at center, and I was very impressed with Harland Gunn in his limited action on two or three series. He looked much better than Konz did at right guard. I’d say Konz probably had one of his best games of the season, but still struggled too many times. He spent a lot of time on the ground on the opening drive, and for those that don’t know, that’s not a good sign for an offensive linemen. But I’ll give Konz some credit, I think Sunday’s game was the first time he ever hit an assignment on the second level with a nice cut block on a screen pass that Jacquizz Rodgers gained 15 yards on in the third quarter.

But Gunn looked much more violent and physical, playing with better balance and footwork, and doing a better job using his hands. I really liked how quick Gunn was coming off the snap and getting to the second level. He and Hawley are two peas in the same pod, in that what they lack in power and pure strength they make up for with aggressiveness and knowing how to get position against bigger defenders. Despite not having ideal size or strength, Gunn seemed to be the only blocker that was effective at times one-on-one against Baker. That includes Blalock, who probably had his worst game of the season. He wasn’t bad by any means, but got pushed around too much in pass protection, more so than he has to date in 2013.

There isn’t much else that needs to be said about the offense. I thought Steven Jackson ran hard, and his trucking of Josh Wilson will certainly be one of the highlights of the year.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Steven Jackson$0$9-$1$0$0-$2$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$5$1$0$0$6.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$2$0$1$0$5.00
Matt Ryan$6$0$0$0$0-$2$4.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$1$0-$1$2.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Darius Johnson$0$0$1$0$1$0$2.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Harland Gunn$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50
Levine Toilolo$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Ryan Schraeder$0$0$0-$0.5$0-$1-$1.50
Lamar Holmes$0$0$0-$2$0-$3-$5.00

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 52 “Post-Turner Stress Disorder”

December 17th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by Dave Choate of the Falcoholic to recap the Atlanta Falcons’ Week 15 win over the Washington Redskins as well as preview their primetime Week 16 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. We all agree that it was an ugly win for the Falcons and search for positives that can be taken away. We discuss Mike Shanahan’s decision to go for two, lineup changes to the offensive line, Steven Jackson trucking Josh Wilson, and which San Antonio Spur that Tony Gonzalez compares most to. A lot of this episode centers on the cornerback position with Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Asante Samuel occupying a large chunk of the discussion. I give my thoughts on the evolution of defense and what it could mean for the value of the cornerback position in the future. And of course Allen and I close with discussing the playoff races, the epic collapse of the Dallas Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals becoming our new favorite team among other NFL topics in their ‘Around the League’ segment.

Episode 52: Post-Turner Stress Disorder [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Dave writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @TheFalcoholic.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Redskins Turnovers Lead to 27-26 Falcons Win

December 15th, 2013 Comments off

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Trufant breaks up a two-point conversion to seal Falcons win

The Atlanta Falcons pulled out a 27-26 win over the Washington Redskins to get their fourth win of the 2013 season in a game that saw the Redskins turn the ball over seven times. The Falcons got off to an early lead, but the Redskins were able to come back and take a lead at the end of the first half. But the Falcons responded and retook the lead. But the Redskins were able to mount of a potentially game-tying drive in the final minutes of the game. But they opted to go for the go-ahead two-point conversion rather than settling for an extra point to force overtime, and the attempt failed, allowing the Falcons to stave them off.

Matt Ryan led, completing 29 of 38 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and interception. Steven Jackson led rushers with 38 yards on 15 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White and Harry Douglas each had five catches for 53 and 37 yards, respectively. Matt Bryant hit on both of his field goal tries from 20 and 51 yards out. Matt Bosher had a good day punting, booming six punts for an average of 49.3 yards with three placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned three punts for an average of 8.3 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers had three kickoff returns for an average of 26 yards. The Falcons struggled to convert third downs for much the game, finishing with five conversions on 14 tries (36 percent). They were able to score touchdowns on three of their five red zone trips, with one of their failures coming on a failed fourth-down attempt from the one-yard line. On that play, Jackson was stuffed at the goal line. The Falcons turned the ball over two times, but that paled in comparison to the Redskins issues with retaining the football. The Falcons were able to capitalize on those Redskins mistakes, generating 20 of their points off the favorable field position presented by those miscues.

The Redskins turned the ball over seven times on the day, including five lost fumbles. The Falcons were able to pick off the Redskins twice as well. Otherwise, they didn’t have much success slowing down the Redskins offense, who put up 476 total yards. That marked the second-highest yardage total allowed by the Falcons defense this season. That included 103 yards on the ground, marking the eleventh-consecutive game in which the Falcons have allowed over 100 yards rushing to the opposing team. The Falcons defense got stops on four of the five red zone trips by the Redskins, forcing a pair of field goals and a pair of turnovers. Robert Alford and Paul Worrilow shared in the team lead in terms of tackles, each tallying nine stops. Jonathan Babineaux (one tackle, two fumble recoveries); Joplo Bartu (six tackles); Malliciah Goodman (one fumble recovery); Jonathan Massaquoi (five tackles); Robert McClain (five tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries); William Moore (five tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery); Zeke Motta (five tackles); Stephen Nicholas (five tackles, one forced fumble); Corey Peters (four tackles, one pass deflection); Desmond Trufant (seven tackles, one interception, two pass deflections); and Osi Umenyiora (two tackles, one sack, one forced fumble) had notable games.

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Moneyball 2013 – Week 12 Review

November 25th, 2013 1 comment

This was a better performance by the Falcons offense as they looked much more comfortable and were more effective moving the ball.

The offense was still fairly vanilla, but there were instances where it did some things that they haven’t done a lot of in over the past four games. There were a couple of deeper pass attempts early in the game with two downfield throws in the second quarter, which isn’t much, but is two more than we’ve seen in recent weeks. But the Falcons game plan still centered largely on short and intermediate throws and trying to stem together longer drives, rather than seeking big plays down the field. This gameplan was helped by a more productive rushing attack headed by Steven Jackson.

Matt Ryan was better in this game, but still had a couple of missed opportunities. The most glaring one was at the end of the game with 2:34 left, where he took a sack with a congested pocket rather than trying to throw a deep pass to Drew Davis. Due to the muddied pocket, it was likely going to be an incomplete pass. But it would have been better than the sack, given that backed up the Falcons to 3rd-and-15 and forced Mike Smith to opt for the field goal two plays later, instead of possibly going for it on 4th-and-10.

The Saints were able to dial up the pressure in the second half of the game. In the first half, the Falcons gave up a sack, a pressure, and 3 hurries on 20 drop backs. Then in the second half on 24 drop backs, they gave up 3 sacks, 3 pressures, and 3 hurries. The right side of the line had the most troubles with Garrett Reynolds and Jeremy Trueblood looking overmatched. And it’s going to be interesting to see if the team makes changes there over the final month of the season. Peter Konz was better than Reynolds, but still struggled somewhat in his half of playing time.

Cameron Jordan hit the pass-rushing “cycle,” tallying a sack, pressure, hit, 1.5 hurries, and a pass deflection. Akiem Hicks also gave the group a lot of trouble. But there were also plenty of instances where John Jenkins, Junior Galette, and Tom Johnson were able to get pressure on Ryan. And that second-half pressure was one of the primary causes why the Falcons were shut out in the second half. Joe Hawley got some key blocks early in the game blocking downfield, an area where is a clear upgrade over Konz.

Roddy White was non-existent in this game, and he seems less effective than he was a decoy earlier in the season with a high-ankle sprain. Harry Douglas and Darius Johnson had good starts, making plays on those shorter throws. But Johnson obviously had two huge mistakes with a wide open drop on third down and his fumble at the end of the game.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$12$1$0$0$0$0$13.00
Steven Jackson$0$8$1$0$0$0$9.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$5$0$0-$1$4.00
Antone Smith$0$3$0$0$1$0$4.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Darius Johnson$0$0$3$1$0-$2$2.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$2-$0.5$0$0$1.50
Roddy White$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Lamar Holmes$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50
Peter Konz$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Jeremy Trueblood$0$0$0$0$0-$2-$2.00

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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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Falcons Midseason Superlatives 2013: Fresh Faces

November 6th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Osi Umenyiora

After looking at the most valuable players on offense, defense, and specail teams, now I want to look at which players that are new to the team have stood out in the first half of the year.

Rookie of the Year: Desmond Trufant

Unlike last year, this is a much harder choice to make now. The Falcons are getting more solid play from multiple rookies. Trufant has been logging starters’ reps at cornerback and has been playing well. Robert Alford has seen an increase in snaps in recent weeks, but has also been helping on special teams. Malliciah Goodman and Levine Toilolo have had their moments. Undrafted rookies like Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu have also made major contributions as well.

But in the end, it has to go to Trufant. He’s had his ups and downs as all rookie corners are prone to have, but he’s been able to break up or intercept a pass in every game this year. That’s something that Brent Grimes didn’t even do when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level here in Atlanta.

With the play of the other rookies and potential for more playing time, this award might be even more contentious by year’s end.

Top Newcomer: Osi Umenyiora

This goes to the best non-rookie that is new to the team. There are a couple of choices to consider, but Osi Umenyiora is hands down the winner.

Steven Jackson has had his moments but spent too much of the first half of the year injured to be a consideration. Jeremy Trueblood proctored in the slight improvement the offensive line has seen since the first two games, but individually he has been more mediocre than good.

While I’ve criticized Osi throughout this year as being a disappointment and too often a non-factor, he still remains an effective pass rusher at times. He’s made several game-changing plays through the first half of the year, with sack-strips and a defensive touchdown. And while his ability to put heat on the quarterback probably hasn’t been as great as I would prefer, ultimately he still shows up every game and is consistent, even if underwhelming at times.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 46 “It’s Just a Numbers Game”

November 5th, 2013 Comments off

This week, Allen and I are joined by the Falcoholic himself, Dave Choate, to discuss the current state of the Atlanta Falcons. Now at the midpoint of the 2013 season, we discuss in-depth the issues facing this team for the remainder of this season and the following years. We discuss the things they liked and disliked in the Falcons Week 9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, and also preview the upcoming matchup in Week 10 versus the Seattle Seahawks. We talk about Matt Ryan’s struggles and whether he is as good as advertised; Roddy White’s beef with Richard Sherman; the play of young linebackers like Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow and the bright futures ahead of them; the young cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and how their progress is a sign that the team’s drafting may not be as bad as previously thought; and what sort of changes Arthur Blank may wind up instituting at the end of this season in both the front office, coaching staff, and roster; We look ahead some of the potential veterans that could find themselves playing in other uniforms in 2014; and Allen and I finish by looking at several of the issues around the league including Richie Incognito, Andrew Luck, and the overrated Kansas City Chiefs.

Ep. 46: It’s Just a Numbers Game [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Dave writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @TheFalcoholic.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons Offense Struggles in 34-10 Loss to Panthers

November 3rd, 2013 Comments off
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Smith expresses his frustration

Halfway through the 2013 season, the Atlanta Falcons record stands at 2-6 with a 34-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers today. The Falcons kept it close through the first three quarters, but mistakes led to the Panthers scoring three times in the final nine minutes to stretch their lead.

Matt Ryan had another up and down game. He threw three interceptions on his way to completing 20 of 27 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons finally showed some life on the ground, as Steven Jackson led the team with 57 yards on 13 carries (4.4 avg). Jacquizz Rodgers added another 19 yards on five carries (3.8 avg). Tony Gonzalez and Rodgers led the team with six catches each, for 81 and 25 yards, respectively. Gonzalez caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass. Harry Douglas caught three passes for 82 yards with Steven Jackson also having three catches for 19 yards. Matt Bryant hit on his lone 28-yard field goal try. Matt Bosher punted five times, averaging 45.0 yards and placing one punt inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned a single punt for 16 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers averaged 29.5 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. The Falcons generated 289 of total net yards of offense, their third consecutive game with under 300 yards. The team converted on four of 10 third downs, and managed to convert on one of two red zone trips.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up 373 total yards to the Panthers and allowed eight of 14 third down conversions. They did force a pair of turnovers on Cam Newton interceptions. Paul Worrilow led the team with 19 tackles, a season high for him and the team. Robert Alford (2 tackles, 1 interception); Joplo Bartu (8 tackles); Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles); Akeem Dent (4 tackles); Jonathan Massaquoi (3 tackles, 0.5 sacks); William Moore (6 tackles); Corey Peters (2 tackles, 2 QB hits); Asante Samuel (8 tackles); Desmond Trufant (5 tackles, 1 interception); and Osi Umenyiora (4 tackles, 0.5 sacks) had noteworthy 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

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 44 “Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire”

October 25th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined once again by Rashad James, making his second consecutive appearance on the podcast to discuss the Atlanta Falcons win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. We discuss some of the standout players from the game including William Moore, Malliciah Goodman, Harry Douglas, and Desmond Trufant. We also take a look at the play of the Falcons young linebackers and whether or not they have what it takes to turn into good NFL linebackers. In their preview of Week 8, we discuss how much impact a healthy Steven Jackson can bring, whether or not there needs to be changes made at punt returner, how the Falcons left tackle matches up with John Abraham, and whether the Falcons defense can take advantage of Arizona’s lackluster offensive attack.

Ep. 44: Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Rashad can be found on twitter: @SaucedUp_Boss

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