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Posts Tagged ‘Turner’

Falcons smash Chargers

September 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Weatherspoon and Moore tackle Mathews

The Falcons pushed their record to 3-0 by taking down the undefeated San Diego Chargers with a 27-3 victory on the road. The Falcons got off to a strong start and never looked back, as the Chargers were scoreless through the first half of the game.

Matt Ryan had another strong performance, completing 30 of 40 passes for 275 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. On the ground, Michael Turner bounced back from a slow start this season by leading the team with 80 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers also added 10 rushes for 32 yards. In the air, Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 9 grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Rodgers each had 5 catches for 67, 55, and 35 yards respectively. Jones and Rodgers both caught Ryan’s other two touchdown passes. Matt Bryant did not attempt a field goal on the day. Matt Bosher punted 5 times for an average of 44.6 yards, with 2 placed inside the 20-yard line. Dominique Franks returned a pair of punts for an average of 17 yards. The Falcons offense had little issue moving the ball against the Chargers. They dominated time of possession, holding onto the ball for over 36 minutes compared to the Chargers’ 24. In the first half, the Falcons held the ball for over twice as long as the Chargers with nearly 20.5 minutes of possession. The offense finished 8 of 13 on third down conversions and put up 384 total yards.

Defensively, the Falcons were too much for the Chargers offense. The Chargers struggled to convert third downs, particularly in the first half where they were 0 for 3. They wound up finishing the game 5 of 11 on their third down conversion attempts. They were limited to 280 total yards and had four turnovers. Dunta Robinson led defenders with 7 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery);Dominique Franks (3 tackles); William Moore (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery); Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles); Asante Samuel (6 tackles); Vance Walker (4 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble) all had noteworthy performances.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 2 Review

September 19th, 2012 Comments off

This game was won in the first quarter by the Falcons with their ability to generate 4 turnovers, and score 13 points off those turnovers. Because otherwise, the offense was fairly mediocre for the Falcons on most of the night. The offense did generate 14 points of their own volition, but other than those two drives, they really looked lackluster.

First off the Broncos defense should get a ton of credit for that. They are a tough unit and kept their team in the game despite those numerous turnovers early in the game that got them behind. Von Miller is a beast and he showed it several times throughout this game. They had Reynolds help Clabo a ton in this game to keep Miller in check. Any time Gonzalez was put on an island against him as a run blocker, Miller made him look fairly foolish.

The offensive line did a fairly good job against the formidable Broncos pass rush. Miller and Dumervil were held in check. They were able at times to get pressure on Ryan, but it wasn’t an amount that swung the game in the Broncos’ favor. The Falcons gave up 8 pressures, with 3 of them coming from backs and receivers. The run blocking was non-existent and the Falcons ground attack was paltry at best. The Falcons had 15 first down runs in the game, and were successful on only 1 of them, which happened to be the 14th one on the final drive of the game. The Falcons averaged 1.6 yards per carry on first down. That’s the polar opposite of what I was talking about last week about how the running game could be an X-Factor. That’s a success rate of 7% on first down. A poor success rate would be 25%, so 7% is downright pathetic.

Most of the blame for that poor ground attack has to put on the line. But Turner missed holes and did not run with great burst or explosion. Quizz did little with his limited opportunities, but the Falcons have to start giving him and Snelling more opportunities, because Turner is not getting the job done. And in light of his off-field issues, this week against San Diego will be a perfect opportunity to shift towards an offense spear-headed by Quizz/Snelling. I also can’t help but think some of it is missing Ovie Mughelli. Not that Lousaka Polite has played poorly, but he’s an average fullback.

Ryan played well, making some very good throws in this game. Roddy White was excellent, and Tony Gonzalez played very well as well. Julio Jones was a non-entity and that is worrisome given that the whole point of trading for Jones was so that our No. 2 WR (formerly Michael Jenkins) would no longer be a non-entity in games.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$14$1$0$0$0$0$15.00
Roddy White$0$0$9$0$0$0$9.00
Michael Turner$0$5$0$0$0$0$5.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6-$2$0$0$4.00
D.J. Davis$0$0$0$0$1.5$0$1.50
Harry Douglas$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Lousaka Polite$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Kevin Cone$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Julio Jones$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00

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Turner arrested, charged with DUI

September 18th, 2012 Comments off

Per a report by the AJC, Falcons running back Michael Turner was arrested and charged with DUI early this morning following the team’s Monday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos. Turner was pulled over for going 97 mph in a 65 mph zone on I-85 north of Atlanta just after 4 am. The arresting officer smelled alcohol on Turner, and was arrested and jailed. He was released around 7 am this morning on $2,179 bond.

In the Falcons win over the Broncos, Turner rushed for 42 yards on 17 carries and the Falcons first touchdown on the night.

The team released a statement this morning in regards to Turner’s arrest:

“We are aware of the situation involving Michael and are in the process of gathering more information. Because this is now a legal matter, the club will have no further comment at this time.”

Categories: News Tags: ,

Turner Could be X-Factor vs. Broncos

September 12th, 2012 Comments off

Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Turner

Part of my preliminary scouting report against the Broncos suggests that the Broncos pass rush is going to be a formidable matchup for the Falcons. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are the exact type of defensive ends that typically have given Sam Baker and Tyson Clabo fits in the past.

And because of this strength of the Bronco defense, it has the potential to cancel out the greatest strength of the Falcons offense: their passing attack. While Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez certainly have the capacity to do to the Broncos secondary what they did to the Chiefs this past Sunday, they will not be able to if Ryan is lying on his back. And if the Broncos are able to get pressure with just four guys (and how can they not when Von Miller is one of the four?), it means more guys can drop into coverage to deal with the Falcons’ potent weapons.

Similar to the playoff game against the Giants, the biggest obstacle offensively for Atlanta is going to be slowing down the Broncos pass rush. And how the Falcons plan on handling this as well as their execution of it, will be a very good litmus test in determining just how much further this team has come since last year’s playoff loss.

My best guess for how the Falcons will try to handle the Broncos front is three-fold:

1) Establishing the Run
2) Screens
3) No-Huddle

Establishing the run was the Falcons primary solution to the Giants pass rush, but in that game it failed because of the offensive line’s inability to open holes. It’s not the exact same starting five since Will Svitek and Joe Hawley started against the Giants. But remember that last year Svitek and Hawley outperformed Sam Baker and Garrett Reynolds, respectively. So if they couldn’t get the job done, then why should we expect Baker and Reynolds to?

The Falcons didn’t need Turner or the ground game to be effective against Kansas City. Without Brandon Flowers and little pass rush sans Tamba Hali, Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing attack had no obstacles to moving the ball at will against the Chiefs.

But that will not be the case this week, and the Falcons will need Turner and the offensive line to come up big.

The Broncos run defense was a question mark going into the season, but they passed their first test against the Steelers, bottling up starter Isaac Redman (11 carries, 20 yards) and that ground attack to 75 yards total for the game. Rookie Derek Wolfe made some nice plays in that opener, and how the Falcons handle him could be a deciding factor in the game.

The Falcons won’t need Turner to have a 150-yard game for him to accomplish the goal of establishing the run. But the Falcons need to be effective with their runs early in the game, showing that they can put themselves into 3rd & manageable situations to make it easier on the passing attack to execute. The more 3rd & shorts the Falcons can muster, the easier it should be on the line because Ryan will be able to get rid of the ball quicker to move the chains. It’s more about being able to 4 and 5 yard gains every time Turner touches the ball. One positive for Turner is that the Broncos don’t have great linebackers, who had some issues with missed tackles against the bigger, bruising Steeler tailbacks. If the line can open the holes for Turner, then he has the capacity to do some things on the second level that can turn those 4 and 5 yard gains into 15 and 20 yard gains.

Will Turner and the line be better prepared to answer the challenge this week that they could not answer a season ago? Who knows, but it certainly will make this Monday Night contest that much more exciting to watch for Falcon fans.

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

5 Keys if the Falcons Want to Improve in 2012

September 7th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan

Often when people look to see if a team has improved, they will measure it with wins and losses. And while that is not a bad way to do so, it is not a true measure of a team’s ability. Because you’re not playing the same schedule year to year, and even the teams that you do play annually aren’t always the same quality as they were in previous years. Every NFL season brings a new and different set of challenges, and to simply measure them by how many games you’ve won or lost doesn’t accurately gauge whether you rose to meet those challenges.

Here are five areas that I think the Falcons need to improve in if they want to be able to say they have improved as a team from 2011 and previous years. These are five areas that you could set apart as mini-goals for this team. And if they were to accomplish all five by the end of the year, I believe this will result in more regular season wins for the Falcons as well as a greater chance of winning in the postseason. And not just winning one game in January, but potentially many multiple so that they could possibly be winning come February.

1. Matt Ryan Needs to Take the Next Step as a Passer

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 20 “2012 Preview”

September 5th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I discuss and preview the Falcons Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in this week’s episode. You’ll also hear our opinions on the Falcon’s additions to the practice squad, as well as whether an interview of Mike Nolan divulges some question marks within the Falcons front office. During our preview of the Chiefs game, you’ll hear our thoughts on how certain aspects of the Falcons offense and defense match up with the Chiefs. Later in the episode, we are joined by a FalcFans.com forum member in Allen Strk, who helps us reminisce on past Falcon players and games. You’ll also hear some thoughts on current Falcons, as well as predictions for the upcoming 2012 season including how good we think the Falcons will be and whether or not they are good enough to make the Super Bowl.

Ep. 20: 2012 Preview [Download]

Duration: 54 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 or myself at: pudge@falcfans.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: ustream.tv/channel/falcfans-show

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

Which Falcons could become trade bait?

August 30th, 2012 Comments off

This is the port in the summer where people are talking about trading players, and I just wanted to quickly go over some Falcon players that probably have the most trade value. Obviously, a player like Roddy White would have huge trade value, but the Falcons won’t trade him. I’m looking more at guys that appear to be somewhat expendable and have an outside shot that it could happen if a phone call was made.

Most trades at this point in time involve late round picks and roster bubble players. The Vontae Davis trade withstanding, it’s rare a team will part ways with their top corner who is only in his third year in the league. The normal trade at this point in time is what the Colts did earlier when they acquired Josh Gordy from St. Louis. Most of these trades are for conditional picks, meaning that if said player makes the new team’s roster or plays a certain amount of games in the upcoming season, compensation will be exchanged. If not, then nothing is lost.

I’ll start with Michael Turner, not because I think he’ll be traded or should be traded, but just because in the dark reaches of an alley, there are a few Falcon fans conspiring about it. Turner does not have a ton of trade value. I think it would be possible for the Falcons to get a conditional fifth or sixth round pick at this point in time for Turner, potentially based off how many rushing yards he has this season. But that’s probably about it. That really is not worth it.

Jason Snelling is another player that could be shopped most years, but his injury as well as the question marks that the Falcons have at fullback probably placed in the non-expendable category. Teams don’t normally trade for injured players, and when they do it rarely turns in their favor. (see Otah, Jeff)

Also on offense, players that could be parted ways with include some of their backup offensive linemen. Namely Andrew Jackson, Joe Hawley, and Mike Johnson. Hawley and Johnson probably have better value on the market namely because Hawley has gotten extensive reps last year and Johnson was a higher round pick that many people liked coming out of Alabama. A team like Dallas, who has been hurting at a position like center could probably be interested in a player like Hawley for a possible sixth or seventh rounder. Johnson probably could fetch the same price, if a team was looking for a guy that can add depth at guard or tackle.

On the defensive line, the two players that are probably the easiest to trade would be Kroy Biermann and Vance Walker. I would be shocked if the Falcons would trade Biermann because he seems to be nestled atop their depth chart as the team’s nickel pass rusher, replacing Ray Edwards. But given the fact that they still would have Edwards and Lawrence Sidbury to fill that role, and could still develop Jonathan Massaquoi and/or Cliff Matthews as depth, it would not be crazy if the Falcons did shop Biermann for a late round pick. Walker’s experience means that a team hurting for a run-stopping one-gap tackle could be enticed to give up a seventh rounder.

If the Falcons were confident in the return abilities of Harry Douglas on punts, it could potentially mean that Dominique Franks could be shopped. If a team was really hurting for depth at cornerback, they might also look at Chris Owens, assuming he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury. The Falcons could presumably opt to deal one of them because of the other’s presence.

I don’t think any of these players should be traded or will be traded, but it always interesting to see what possibilities are out there. A lot of those players I mentioned, getting just a conditional sixth or seventh round pick doesn’t seem like a fair trade for the Falcons. Ultimately the depth many of those guys provide and the roles they fill are worth me in return than a draft pick that ultimately will just be a career backup and special teamer in all likelihood. Biermann is a prime example of this. He’s a pulled muscle away from starting a bunch of games this year and helping keep the pass rush from evaporating. No offense, but that right there is worth more than drafting another Charles Mitchell or Wilrey Fontenot.

Turner needs a bit more help

August 28th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Turner is stuffed vs. Bengals

Anybody that has been a regular visitor to this site and/or its forums over the past six months probably is aware that I’m one of the biggest doubters of Michael Turner and whether he has a lot left in the tank. I’ve written about him a number of times.

The news that the Detroit Lions are shopping for a running back had my head swimming with scenarios for a few brief moments that could see the Falcons shipping Turner north. Talk that players like Knowshon Moreno, Chris Ivory, and Anthony Dixon are the on the roster bubble also peaks my interest in regards of whether the Falcons should start making some phone calls to discuss trade scenarios. Not to mention last week’s debate about whether should be looking at Maurice Jones-Drew as their starting running back.

I’m not saying the Falcons should be in the market for a replacement for Turner at this point in time, nor am I am saying that the Falcons should not be. But the point I’m inching towards is that even if the Falcons are adamant about keeping Turner, they really seem to be setting him up for disaster.

Okay, disaster might be too strong a word. But they don’t seem to be surrounding Turner with the necessary pieces that he needs to play at the highest level. Last week I thought Turner needed a strong performance against the Dolphins to re-instill outside confidence in his abilities. He did improve, but what became apparent to me as I looked at the tape is that the Falcons don’t have a great supporting cast around Turner.

I’ve mentioned before that I think Turner is a “black hole” in the sense that his skillset requires a certain amount of necessary pieces around him to make him play his best football. When the Falcons had a strong run-blocking offensive line headlined by Harvey Dahl, and the best lead blocker in the biz by the name of Ovie Mughelli, the pieces were there. But by letting Dahl walk last summer and cutting Mughelli this past May, the Falcons appear to purposefully or unknowingly dismantling that necessary supporting cast.

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Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Falcon Players To Watch Tonight vs. Dolphins

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Tonight marks the final dress rehearsal for the regular season, at least as far as the starters go. They will likely play the entire first half and a bit into the third quarter as well. Most of the guys you’ll see on the field during that time period are locks to make the roster. Next week, most of those same players will sit for the preseason finale. The third preseason game is often considered to be the most important because it more closely mirrors the intensity of the regular season. With that in mind, here are some Falcon players that you should be keeping your eyes on against the Miami Dolphins:

Michael Turner – Turner has rushed 8 times for a total of 14 yards this preseason, not a good look for him. He has been successful on two of those runs. He hasn’t had great blocking up front, but he needs to step it up against the Dolphins. Turner wants to silence the doubters and having a solid performance in his final preseason action will be a key aspect in doing so.

Sam Baker – Baker has been really spared this summer, with both Terrell Suggs and Carlos Dunlap, Baltimore and Cincinnati’s top pass rushers, respectively being out of the games. Baker has yet to really be tested. Well this week, he should get tested against Cameron Wake, and it should be a nice indicator whether the Falcons brass was right to have confidence in Baker in 2012.

Lamar Holmes – Holmes will make his preseason debut tonight and should get a ton of reps. He’ll be one to watch to indicate whether the Falcons have good depth at left tackle. Holmes is not in the mix to start given his lack of reps, but he can answer questions about whether the Falcons might need to look at other tackles come cutdown days if he doesn’t have a good performance tonight.

Kerry Meier – I’ll keep harping on Meier needing to emerge until he does. Meier needs to show that he is capable of stepping into the lineup in the event of an injury to Jones, White, or Douglas, and has yet to do so. It would be nice to see him go out in the first half or so against the Dolphins starters and make a play. He missed the Bengal game with a leg injury and needs to play and produce against the Dolphins.

Ray EdwardsLast time I mentioned that Edwards stock was down due to the fact that he was being pulled off the field in nickel situations. This week if that remains the case, then Edwards makes the most of his pass rushing situations against the Dolphins.

Akeem Dent – Dent is back after missing last week’s game with a concussion. He had his ups and downs against the Ravens, and needs to come back with a performance against the Dolphins that shows more ups than downs. In particular, he needs to improve in coverage to at least give the team faith that he won’t be totally lost if he has to pull extended reps there during the regular season.

MJD to Falcons doesn’t make a lot of sense

August 22nd, 2012 1 comment
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Maurice Jones-Drew

Yesterday, news broke that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew following some inflammatory comments by Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, was open to a trade. And it caused an uproar, as well it should because MJD as he is affectionately known, is the Jaguars best player and it made a lingering holdout into a major drama.

And as is often the case, dots began to be connected for the possibility that if MJD was traded, he could find his way north from Jacksonville to Atlanta. On one hand, it makes sense. His former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is here, and current head coach Mike Smith along with several other assistants currently in Atlanta were also in Jacksonville in 2006 when he was first drafted.

Much of the off-season talk in Atlanta has centered around whether or not Michael Turner is past his prime. I for one, fall in line as one of those people that believe Turner is well on the downside of his career. Getting a player like MJD, the league’s top rusher from a year ago certainly would be an upgrade at the running back position. MJD is younger than Turner as well as more explosive and versatile.

Even if you can get past the fantasy that the Jaguars would trade MJD, which is an extremely high hurdle to jump. Even as of this morning, the MJD camp is backing off their trade demands simply because they know they’re not going to get them. Jacksonville is not going to trade their best player. But you can never say never, so let’s assume that Jones-Drew is being shopped. It still doesn’t make too much sense for the Falcons.

Firstly, while Jones-Drew is younger than Turner by about 3 years, they have nearly identical career workloads as far as rushing attempts go, with MJD having 67 more than Turner. When counting carries up until the age of 27, Jones is fairly high on the list particularly for modern running backs. Among players drafted in the past decade, he’s only exceeded by Steven Jackson in terms of touches before the age of 28. The point being MJD is not as spry a 27 as most.

He had knee surgery prior to 2011. Clearly, his performance last year showed that he suffered no major ill effects from that. But what is interesting is throughout the 2011 season, MJD was limited in most of the Jaguars’ Wednesday practices. It was likely to keep him well-rested to play down the stretch (where an ankle injury bothered him). It’s a practice that the Falcons do as well, but largely with their 30+ year old veterans like Tony Gonzalez, Todd McClure, and John Abraham. It’s a red flag that indicates that his body may be breaking down sooner rather than later.

The other main issue is the price tag, both when it comes to what the Falcons would need to give up to secure MJD from Jacksonville, as well as any extension he would want. The reason this holdout began is because he wants a raise. And he likely wants to be among the highest paid running backs in the league, after seeing the big extensions signed by Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, etc. over the past year or so. Not only would the Falcons have to part ways with a high round pick, but then also pay a high premium in salary to secure MJD.

The Falcons are moving towards a pass-first offense, as they should. Centering the offense around Matt Ryan in the hopes it elevates his game is the team’s best chance to win a championship in the immediate future. So going out and giving up what they would need to get MJD doesn’t make much sense in that context. Like it has become the case in most NFL cities, the running back is becoming a complementary position in Atlanta. And there’s no need to ship a first or second round pick plus pay $40-50 million to a complementary player, even one as capable as MJD.

The bottom line is that MJD would be a short-term solution that requires long-term commitment. The Falcons have given away far too many premium picks over the past three drafts to merit doing it a fourth year in a row, especially for a player that is on the verge of hitting the same wall that many accuse Turner to be currently parked in front of.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,