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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

Moneyball 2013 – Week 7 Review

October 22nd, 2013 Comments off

It was a solid win for the Atlanta Falcons over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons really needed to come out strong after their bye week to get their season back on track.

But after watching the tape, I’m not as impressed with this win as I was initially on Sunday. It’s clear that the Bucs are simply a bad team, and while the Falcons are better, I certainly won’t say that they are a good team. The Bucs really hurt themselves with a bunch of penalties and missed opportunities. While it didn’t reach as bad as their infamous performance in Week 17 of 2011 under Radio Raheem, it’s inching closer to that point. While the Falcons controlled this game from start to finish, the Bucs never took advantage of the numerous opportunities they had to get back into this game. In the end, the Falcons won a game that they should have won, but it doesn’t inspire me with a ton of confidence going forward that the team is going to play significantly better in the coming weeks as they did before the bye.

Despite excellent numbers, Matt Ryan was more solid than spectacular. He made several very good throws, but it seemed like the Falcons had a fairly conservative gameplan in the early going. The Bucs had a couple of breakdowns in the secondary that led to some big plays early such as the two to Harry Douglas in the second quarter. While Douglas gets credit for making the plays, it really was a terrible play on the ball by Leonard Johnson on the 54-yard pass and a blown assignment on Mark Barron on the 37-yard touchdown that are more responsible for those plays more than anything Douglas did in particular.

The key for Ryan was that he got good pass protection throughout the game. While the Falcons weren’t spotless up front, the fact that they allowed no sacks, one pressure, and only four hurries the entire game made all the difference. Lamar Holmes looked his best thus far this year, but then again any decent NFL starter should look fairly good going up against Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Trevor Scott, and Adrian Clayborn. The Falcons did a solid job keeping Gerald McCoy in relative check, as he only had one pressure (vs. Holmes), one hit (vs. Blalock), and one hurry (vs. Reynolds). The Bucs tried to dial up some blitzes, and the Falcons did a fairly solid job picking it up. With time to throw, Ryan was able to locate receivers, particularly Douglas. But so much of the Falcons offense seemed to be devoted to underneath throws to Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers, with five screens to the latter including the one for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The running game was very ineffectual, although that was because the blocking was poor up front as nobody really got any push against the Bucs front. Lavonte David was a force against the run, and accounted for both of Peter Konz’s missed blocks in the first quarter.

I noticed the Falcons barely used Levine Toilolo throughout the game, and he got no snaps in the red zone. That was very disappointing given how effective he’s been there the past three games. I’m not sure there’s a good reason why Brian Robiskie and Drew Davis are getting snaps in the red zone, and Toilolo is not.

I know I sound negative, but truthfully the Falcons did what they needed to do, nothing more. The backup receivers in Darius Johnson and Davis, each made nice plays, but considering how many snaps they got, the fact that they really only had 2 catches isn’t very promising. Considering the low expectations however, I can’t complain too much. I’ll just say that I’m very much looking forward to the day that Roddy White is back in the lineup.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
ST
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$13$0$0$0$0-$1$12.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$9$1$0$0$12.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$9$0$0-$1$8.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Jason Snelling$0$3$0$0$0$0$3.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Jeremy Trueblood$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Drew Davis$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Darius Johnson$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Lamar Holmes$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00

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Douglas Shines in Falcons Win over Buccaneers

October 20th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Harry Douglas explodes for a 149-yard game against Tampa Bay

The Atlanta Falcons got their second win of the season with a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons avoided falling into last place in the NFC South with a win over the winless Bucs. The team held the lead from start to finish, getting a big boost with an early defensive touchdown by Thomas DeCoud.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with a strong performance despite missing several key receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Ryan completed 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing with a mere 16 yards on 8 carries. Jason Snelling fared no better with 14 yards on 7 carries. Rodgers also led the team’s receivers with 8 catches for 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Harry Douglas also had a brilliant day, catching 7 passes for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez added a pair of catches for 30 yards in a relatively quiet performance. Matt Bryant hit on his lone field goal attempt of 23 yards. Matt Bosher had 4 punts for an average of 48 yards, with 1 being placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert Alford fumbled his lone punt return of the day, while Rodgers returned his lone kickoff return for 21 yards. Offensively, the Falcons weren’t great, generating only 291 total yards and converted just 3 of 9 third downs. But they were effective in the red zone, converting on 2 of 3 trips and were able to score when necessary with a couple of big pass plays to compensate for a lackluster rushing attack. Ryan connected on five passes of 20 or more yards.

Defensively, the Falcons were pretty solid. While they gave up 337 total yards, much of that was due to the Bucs playing catch-up. They did allow 111 yards rushing on the day, but were able to get off the field on third downs, allowing the Bucs to convert just 5 of 17 attempts there. They also got stops in the red zone, allowing a touchdown only once on the Tampa’s four trips there. The Falcons did generate an early turnover, with a sack-strip by William Moore, leading to a 30-yard touchdown run off the fumble recovery by DeCoud. Joplo Bartu led defenders with 10 tackles, and also added 2.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. Robert Alford (1 tackle, 2 passes defended); DeCoud (7 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Akeem Dent (4 tackles); Peria Jerry (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss); Jonathan Massaquoi (2 tackles, 0.5 sacks); Robert McClain (2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Moore (7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble); Asante Samuel (5 tackles, 1 pass defended); Desmond Trufant (7 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble); Osi Umenyiora (4 tackles); and Paul Worrilow (4 tackles) had noteworthy games.

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How the Falcons Defense Matches Up Against the Bucs Offense

October 19th, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons must slow down Doug Martin

The Atlanta Falcons offense isn’t in a favorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense on this weekend’s Week 7 NFC South divisional matchup. Thus the Falcons may need their defense to step up and tip the scales in their favor.

The Falcons defense has struggled throughout this year, largely because their pass defense has given up a bunch of yards, big plays, and created very little turnovers. That will need to change this week, as the Falcons may need some turnovers to give their limited offense extra opportunities to score.

The Bucs top wideout is Vincent Jackson, and they will line him up all over their offense to create mismaches. He’s been effective in the slot, where he will draw the assignment of Robert McClain, who has struggled this year. If McClain is going to turn around his season and retain his spot in the lineup, he will need to bounce back this week.

The Falcons will also need Desmond Trufant and Asante Samuel to play well on the outside, and potentially create a couple of turnovers as well. Mike Williams is expected to work his way back into the lineup this week, and will likely get a lot of looks against Trufant, testing the rookie cornerback.

But the Bucs offense is heavily reliant on their rushing attack. The focus of the Falcons defense this week will be on stopping Doug Martin. They will get help in the form of guard Carl Nicks’ absence due to an infection in his foot. That will likely put Gabe Carimi or Ted Larsen as the starting left guard. Carimi is a good run blocker, but a questionable pass protector. Larsen is a more natural center, and lacks the strength to get push in the ground attack. The Falcons defensive tackles in Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux will try to exploit that weakness, regardless of who gets the start. Right guard Davin Joseph also hasn’t had the best season either, and thus the Falcons will need to control the line of scrimmage.

That will take pressure off the Falcons linebackers to have to make plays. The defense should get a boost from the return of middle linebacker Akeem Dent. While Dent has struggled in coverage this year, he’s been effective agains the run. That could make a difference, giving the Falcons the front necessary to slow down Martin.

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Categories: Features Tags: , , , , ,