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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 26 “IHateDuntaRobinson.com”

March 30th, 2013 Comments off

On this week’s episode, I am joined by Allen Strk and Tom Melton to recap the Falcons free agent moves as well as look forward to what the team could do in April’s draft. You’ll hear our thoughts on the acquisitions of Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson, as well as the team re-signing players like Sam Baker and William Moore. You’ll also hear our opinions on what are the chances that Brent Grimes and John Abraham suit up for the team in 2013. As we venture into the draft, you’ll hear opinions on whether the Falcons should prioritize improving the pass rush or their coverage on the back-end. You’re hear opinions on a couple of first round targets such as Datone Jones, Desmond Trufant, and Johnthan Banks. The conversation then returns back to the Falcons, and whether players like Tyson Clabo, Jonathan Babineaux, and Stephen Nicholas’s days as Falcons might be numbered. We debate whether Peria Jerry or Jamaal Anderson proved to be a better pick. Thoughts about what options the Falcons may have at improving their linebacker and wide receiver play will also be discussed. We pine over the memories of Eric Weems, and shed no tears for the departed Dunta Robinson.

Ep. 26: IHateDuntaRobinson.com [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Tom Melton writes for his own blog at Tom Melton Scouting, as well as NFL Draft Monsters and the newly formed DraftFalcons.com. You can find him on twitter: @TMeltonScouting

 

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

Weems signs with Bears

March 14th, 2012 Comments off
Getty Images

Eric Weems

Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Bears. Weems has served primarily as the team’s return specialist over the past three seasons, becoming one of the league’s more productive dual threats on kickoffs and punts. He earned a bid to the Pro Bowl in 2010 due to his prowess on special teams.

Weems first joined the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2007, was cut and then made the practice squad in 2008. In four years with the team, Weems started 6 of 55 games catching 24 passes for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had 11 catches for 90 yards this past season. He has also recorded 41 stops on special teams in that span.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Year-End Superlatives: Special Teams MVP

January 4th, 2012 Comments off

Very little attention is paid to special teams generally speaking. The only time this unit gets much pub is when your fat Polish kicker booms a 60-yard field goal, or some team is foolish enough to kick/punt the ball to your game-breaking returner. The Falcons did not have any of those moments this year.

At the midpoint, Matt Bryant was the pick. Bryant had been solid up to that point, but really he stood out because the other best options: Matt Bosher and Eric Weems had really have undistinguished years.

But that changed in the second half, particularly with Bosher. In the first half of the season, you had to go out of your way to make a case that Bosher was not the worst punter in the league. But in the latter half of the season, he was consistently kicking at a high level. Almost all of his kickoffs went into the endzone, and he was consistently making big 50 yard punts every game and pinning teams deep in their own territory. Early in the year, he was struggling just to kick the ball 40 yards.

Weems had high expectations going into this year because of his Pro Bowl status last year. And while he was solid this year, without the big plays, he just didn’t really have a good enough year to deserve much credit here. Bryant’s second half of the season wasn’t particularly stand-out. He was still his usual solid self, but there weren’t the clutch last minute kicks that we had been so accustomed to seeing earlier this year and in 2010.

So in the end the award goes to Bosher, who went from zero to hero.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

Moneyball 2011 – Week 14 Review

December 13th, 2011 Comments off

A strong second half performance for the Falcons in this one, which has been a rarity for this team this year.

Matt Ryan had a good game, managing it well and putting his receivers in position to make plays. But the receivers really stepped up this week after a very poor game against the Texans last week. White, Jones, and Gonzalez all made some really good plays and catches. Jones only had -$1 going into the fourth quarter, and his two touchdowns earned him good money. But besides those two big plays, he was pretty quiet. Both White and Gonzalez really made some nice catches in this game, bailing out Ryan on some less than impressive throws. But the main thing with Ryan was that he looked more comfortable in this game, unlike last week, which seemed to be because of that boost in confidence in his receivers.

The blocking was improved this week, although Sam Baker looked lost for the most part at right guard. Baker just doesn’t have the ability to win in a short area to be an effective pass protector inside. Hawley wasn’t much better but he definitely can win a short area. McClure had a solid game, and Blalock had his moments preying on the weak Panthers interior. Svitek had his hands full against Charles Johnson, and it showed in his earnings. Clabo was solid was solid all game long. The ground game was solid with Turner having several nice runs.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLOCK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$17$0$0$0$0-$1$16.00
Michael Turner$0$9$0$0$0$0$9.00
Roddy White$0$0$7$0$0-$1$6.00
Julio Jones$0$0$6$0$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$5-$1$0$0$4.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$3$0$0-$1$2.00
Eric Weems$0$0$0$0$2$0$2.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$2$0-$1$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Reggie Kelly$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$0-$0.5$0$0-$0.50
Michael Palmer$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Will Svitek$0$0$0-$1.5$0$0-$1.50
Sam Baker$0$0$0-$2$0$0-$2.00

Read more…

Falcons Need Periphery More Involved on Offense

October 12th, 2011 Comments off

On Sunday night, Falcon fans were treated to two things. The first was what a dynamic offense looks like in the form of the Green Bay Packers, and the other was glimpses of the same from the Falcons.

Aaron Rodgers connected with 12 different receivers over the course of Sunday Night’s game. Matt Ryan and the Falcons with 7. That’s not a low number, as 6 or 7 targets in the passing game is fairly typical at this level of competition.

The glimpses of this dynamic Falcon offense came on their first two series where they got five different receivers involved. They ran the ball as well, getting Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers opportunities there along with their usual handoffs to Michael Turner. The Falcons ran the rub route for Harry Douglas to success on 3rd down, something that should be used more often. Later in the game, Eric Weems even got a reception, his first of the year. The Falcons used misdirection very effectively and it caught the Packers defense off-balance early on. After those two drives, the Falcons did very little misdirection plays and I would say non-coincidentally the offense stagnated.

The Falcons have to try and get more weapons involved on offense to make it harder for opposing defenses to defend. One of the issues that teams have to deal with when they play the Packers is that you have to defend the entire field. If you focus on Jermichael Finley or Greg Jennings, then Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, or James Jones are bound to hurt you. Players like John Kuhn, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, and Alex Green have gotten a few touches on offense and also can become reliable outlets for Rodgers when those other more dynamic players are unavailable.

The Falcons should treat some of their lesser players similarly. Everyone knows about Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Julio Jones. The Falcons made some strides Sunday night with plays designed to Jason Snelling and Harry Douglas. Jacquizz Rodgers should be more involved than he was last week because he seems to be successful nearly every time he touches the ball. But what about players like Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli, Michael Palmer, and Eric Weems? They aren’t dynamic options, but in the same mold as Kuhn, Crabtree, Williams, and Green they can add something to the offense when those other more dynamic threats like Gonzo and Jones are covered.

One of the things that hurt the Falcons on Sunday was their inability to stay on schedule and be successful on first down. They started too many drives 2nd & 10, 2nd & 8, and 2nd & 12, which tends to force you to go to your more tried and true options to try and get into a 3rd and manageable situation. Thankfully for the Falcons, they were very successful on those 2nd & Long situations getting the ball in the hands of many of those tried and true playmakers. But it is worth noting that on a 2nd & 13, Jason Snelling got 17 on a screen pass, and Rodgers got 11 on a pitch on 2nd & 12 early on. That suggests that going to White or Gonzo is not always necessary as the Falcons did on half of their 12 second downs where they had 6 or more yards to go to the sticks. On those 6 plays to either Gonzo or White, they were successful on 50% of them. On the 6 plays that did not go to that pair, they were successful on 83%. Those 6 other plays included two runs by Turner, his two best of the night for 8 and 15 yards, a 3-yard catch by Douglas, a 16-yard slant by Jones, and the previously mentioned plays by Snelling and Rodgers.

So it does seem that looking away from Gonzalez and White on occasion has been beneficial to the offense. Pretty much every game the Falcons have played this year, half of Ryan’s pass attempts go to those two players. Which is understandable because Ryan’s rapport is strongest with them and they are the two most reliable options in any given situation. But is that making the Falcons too easy to defend is the question that needs to be asked. Mularkey and Ryan need to put in more effort to throw the ball to other players. Whether that is Jones, Rodgers, Snelling, Palmer, Weems, or Reggie Kelly really does not matter. But I’m betting that regardless of which Falcon player is on the receiving end of those passes and designed plays, it will be beneficial to the offense like it was at various times this past weekend.

Camp Battles 2011: Special Teams

July 18th, 2011 Comments off

It will be important for the Falcons to settle their issues here in free agency. Both incumbents are impending free agents, although it’s likely only one will be retained.

The likelier of the pair appears to be Matt Bryant who is coming off a resurgent year, hitting three game-winners and being perfect in the Georgia Dome. That likely will leave Michael Koenen out in the cold as the team is ready to move on after an inconsistent season.

The team made plans for this it would seem with the sixth round selection of Matt Bosher. Bosher was a dual threat at the University of Miami, but spent most of his time as a punter. He also served as that team’s kickoff specialist, making him an ideal candidate to replace Koenen in both capacities.

He’ll be pushed by journeyman Ken Parrish, who has a better than average chance due to the lockout and having a bit more professional experience having been with the Eagles the past two off-seasons and working in the United Football League last fall.

It’s Bosher’s job to lose, but it’s definitely a position that the team will keep the best player since field position is very important. This is a position that could be closely scrutinized throughout the summer, as if neither Bosher nor Parrish seem to be pulling their weight, the Falcons could opt to go in a brand new direction.

Long snapper Joe Zelenka is probably safe. The Falcons have brought in undrafted long snappers in recent summers to push him, but it’s probably not necessary this summer since Zelenka has been very consistent for the 21 games he’s served as the team’s snapper.

Eric Weems is unlikely to lose his return job coming off a Pro Bowl year. Although the team may give some opportunities to some of their younger players to see if they can add some value. Jacquizz Rodgers, Andy Strickland, and Dominique Franks could get opportunities. The Falcons may also give top rookie Julio Jones a chance as well. However, the Falcons won’t be looking for someone to replace Weems, instead looking at options in case he goes down with an injury.

Bosher’s Impact in Atlanta

May 22nd, 2011 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

P Matt Bosher

The Falcons special teams was a major strength throughout most of last season. Kicker Matt Bryant was a pleasant surprise with his clutch shots throughout theyear, hitting three game-winners and going a perfect 13 of 13 at home for the Falcons. Return specialist Eric Weems went to the Pro Bowl, thanks in large part to a pair of touchdowns each on a punt and kickoff, ranking in the Top 5 in both categories in average yards per return (the only player in the league to accomplish that), and his team-leading 16 stops on special teams.

The one player that was not so great was punter Michael Koenen, who had his struggles early in the season. He managed to finish the year strong, but it was probably enough inconsistency to cause the Falcons to pass on re-signing him long-term.

That seems to be the impetus to why the Falcons used a sixth round pick on Matt Bosher in last month’s draft. Bosher both kicked and punted at the University of Miami, but was a better punter there. He also kicked off, something he did with some efficiency during his senior season. That latter ability is likely what attracted the Falcons to him and caused them to draft him over a more highly-rated punter in Florida’s Chas Henry. Henry, although had a big leg, he was much less proven as a kickoff specialist.

Both Koenen and Bryant are going to be free agents, and won’t be affected by the labor issues since both have more than six years of experience. Based off their 2010 play, it makes sense that the team is more willing to keep Bryant despite him turning 36 next week and Koenen still being a very spry 28.

But if Bosher takes over as the team’s punter and kickoff specialist, how good can he be right off the bat?

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White and Weems make All-NFL team

January 17th, 2011 Comments off

Pro Football Weekly.com in conjunction with the Pro Football Writers of America announced their All-NFL team, not to be confused with the All-Pro teams announced by the Associated Press. Two Falcon players made it: wide receiver Roddy White and specialist Eric Weems. No Falcons made the PFWA team a year ago, although Michael Turner and John Abraham did earn honors in 2008.

White led the league in receptions (115) and was second in receiving yards (1,389). Weems led the Falcons with 16 tackles on special teams, as well as being one of only two players in the league that returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns during the regular season.

Both White and Weems also earned Pro Bowl bids, along with five other Falcon players. They will be familiar with the coaches of the NFC squad, as it will be helmed by Mike Smith and the rest of the Falcons staff. The Pro Bowl will be played in two weeks in Hawaii.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Seven Falcons named to Pro Bowl

December 28th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons had a league-leading seven players named to the Pro Bowl squad, announced tonight. That total eclipsed New England (6), Baltimore (5), Dallas (5), Green Bay (5), and Philadelphia (5). The bulk of the Falcons players came on offense with 5 of their Pro Bowlers being named to the NFC squad on that side of the ball. This is the most Pro Bowlers for the Falcons in a single season, eclipsing their 6 players that made it in 1998.

The NFC squad will feature 3 starters from the Falcons, including running back Michael Turner, fullback Ovie Mughelli, and wide receiver Roddy White. Turner leads the NFC in rushing with 1,304 yards and ranks 5th overall in the league. His 11 rushing touchdowns also tie for the conference lead with Adrian Peterson and a tied for third overall in the NFL. It marks Turner’s second stint as a Pro Bowler, as he earned his first bid in 2008, his first year with the Falcons. Much of Turner’s success can be attributed to Mughelli’s fierce lead blocking, which is likely why he was named to the team as the conference’s top fullback. It is Mughelli’s first career Pro Bowl. For the season, Mughelli has 28 rushing yards, 11 receptions, and 1 receiving touchdown. Roddy White leads the league in receptions (109) and is in second place with 1,327 receiving yards behind Denver’s Brandon Lloyd (1,375). White is so far ahead of the curve in the NFC, that the conference’s second leading receiver only has 84 receptions. White also has 9 receiving touchdowns, which is tied for 6th in the conference. White needs only 3 more receptions to eclipse Terance Mathis’s franchise-record 111 receptions in a single season. He only needs 56 more yards to break his own record he set in 2008 for single season receiving yards. It marks White’s third consecutive Pro Bowl bid.

Also making the NFC’s offensive roster is quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez, neither of whom were named starters. Ryan has completed 62.2% of his 539 pass attempts for 3,469 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. That gives Ryan a passer rating of 89.8, which only ranks 7th in the conference, but due to the success of the Falcons who sport the conference’s best overall record at 12-3, and because of several come from behind wins and drives led by Ryan gave him the not over some more highly rated passers.

Gonzalez currently has 64 receptions for 603 yards and 5 touchdowns. He ranks 4th in receptions, 6th in yardage, and is tied for 3rd in touchdowns among NFC tight ends. It happens to be the lowest reception and yardage totals for Gonzalez since the 1998 season. This marks the 11th time Gonzalez has been named to the Pro Bowl, but the first time since joining the team a year ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end John Abraham has been named a starter. Abraham’s 13 sacks ranks him tied for second in the entire league, but first alongside Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware in the conference. But it also makes him tied with Jason Babin for the top marks among defensive ends. It’s been a resurgent year for Abraham, after many raised concerns about his ability to produce after a 5.5 sack season a year ago.

Rounding out the Falcons Pro Bowlers is special teams maven Eric Weems. Weems sits atop the NFC with a 27.7 kickoff return average and also ranks highly with his 10.3 punt return average. He also has been one of the Falcons top performers on special teams coverage.

The Pro Bowl will be played on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu.

Categories: News Tags: , , , , , ,

Matching Up With the Steelers

September 9th, 2010 Comments off

I’m not sure how regular this will be as the season unfolds, but I’ll try to do one each week if I can. Since this is the first game of the season, I really don’t have any excuses not to do it. But I’m going to be looking at the different matchups that I like and don’t like as the Falcons prepare for the Steelers.

Matchups I Like

Dennis Dixon vs. the Falcons defense

I know many Falcon fans were worried about the possibility of Dixon starting this week instead of Byron Leftwich. They’d rather face the statue of Leftwich rather than the mobile Dixon.

I’m not too worried. Dixon will likely be able to make some plays with his legs, but his accuracy and decision making are the biggest areas of concerns for the Steelers offense. He has only had limited work with the first team offense, so he isn’t likely to be on the same page with most of his receivers. He is only making his second NFL start, so he will also be prone to making a lot of rookie mistakes. How he recognizes defense, how he sees the field, and whether he can make good decisions and put the ball on the money with accuracy to his receivers must be a major concern for the Steelers brass, otherwise they would not have been so reluctant to start him.

The Falcons will likely look to confine him to the pocket where he is going to be less dangerous. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and Erik Coleman will likely be a big reason why if the Falcons are able to take advantage, sitting back and reading Dixon’s eyes and breaking plays on the ball. The hallmark of young quarterbacks is a tendency to stare down his targets, which allows defensive backs, especially safeties a greater opportunity to jump routes and break up plays.

Steelers Right OL vs. Falcons Left DL

This matchup features rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard Trai Essex, and right tackle Flozell Adams versus the Falcons left side of their line which will feature mainly Kroy Biermann at left end, Peria Jerry at left tackle, and Jamaal Anderson splitting time at both spots.

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