Saturday, January 7, 2012


At 10-6, the Atlanta Falcons have secured their trip to the playoffs with the top Wildcard spot. On Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Falcons will take on the New York Giants in the "Meadowlands." Atlanta is taking their 3rd trip to the playoffs out of four years under the Mike Smith/Thomas Dimitroff administration.

The keys to this game are simple. Very similar to what most critics have been saying all year about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. Turner the "Burner"- Run the Ball. With Michael Turner being the third top rusher in the league this season, he needs to have a big game. In a cold weather, outdoor stadium, one of the key ways to win ball games is to stay on the ground and pound the ball through the defensive front four. Pure "smashmouth" football. Mike Mularkey has to keep feeding Michael Turner the ball to tire out the defense early and keep Eli Manning off the field. With Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, that also gives options so Turner can sit out a few plays. I expect them to get plenty touches on the ball as well.

2. Offensive Weapons- Much can be said about the Falcons explosive offensive weapons,. Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas. These players provide many options for Atlanta as they create long drives down the field that end in points. With the 'NO HUDDLE' offense that Mularkey likes to use with his offense, these targets will all be key in each possession to spread the ball around. With many options to touch the ball it's going to force the Giants defense to not only to rush the passer with their great front four, stop the run with their front seven, but force the secondary into double coverage on either White or Jones, Gonzalez or Douglas open to create big plays.

3. Cruz Control- Victor Cruz. With nine touchdowns this season with over 1500 yards receiving, Eli Manning is going to be looking to his "go-to" guy this year. Cruz is having an outstanding year. With his speed and ability to get open down the field, our defensive backs are going to have to step up and get him in double coverage. The Giants have struggled this year with their running game, so Manning is going to come in throwing the ball. With Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the other side, the Falcons defense should expect the Giants to come out throwing the ball to put points on the board early.

4. Both Front Fours- Both our offensive front four and our defensive front four have been off and on all year. Our offensive line was called "dirty" this week by Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. To me that's a compliment. Would I rather have my offensive line be called soft? I don't think so. Either way, They're going to have to play their best game yet against the Giants strong defensive line and pass rush. Our defensive line has been pretty average thus far. John Abraham had a very great game last week against Tampa. I expect our defensive front to utilize the blitz in this game to get to Eli Manning, because he is going to throw the ball. Knock him around early to get him out of rhythm.

The fact that the Falcons are playing outdoors is not the main factor against us. We maybe a dome playing team, but we are not a dome built team. We are built to run first and pass second. That is how a outdoor team plays in cold weather situations. This is not the game or time to get cute with play calling. This is not the game where we should be throwing the ball every down to get the ball to Julio or Roddy. We have a winning percentage and record when Turner runs for over 100 yards in a game. That is the key. Run the ball to increase the time of possession to create long drives. That wins games. GO FALCONS!

Monday, December 19, 2011

4th Straight Winning Season!

9-5 with two games to go in the season. For the fourth straight year, after a dominating home victory against the transitioning Jacksonville Jaguars, the Atlanta Falcons secured another winning season under the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith administration. For those who may be unaware, the Falcons had never had back to back winning season before 2008.

I won't bore you with statistics about the game during this post, but I will give kudos to both the offense and defense for playing an outstanding game. Matt Ryan was able to spread the ball around to many of our targets. We also established the running game with Michael Turner early. It was good to see a dominating win from the Falcons last night against the Jags. I've already heard people say to me that the Jags were no competition to compare how good or bad the Falcons are.

In my opinion, it is not about how good or bad a team is, but how you play them. The Falcons tend to let teams with worse records hang around and score points. The game becomes a battle to the end. Games with teams that are not as good as the us, we should just beat them. That is what we did Thursday against the Jags. We ran the ball, complete passes, created turnovers and scored points.

A big win like Thursdays game sets the tone for how we should continue to play for the last two games of the season. Our next game is against our biggest rival, the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. As always this is going to be a battle to the end. Atlanta Falcons vs. the New Orleans is always a great game to watch because both teams know each other well and always come to play. This is a must win for Atlanta being that we loss to New Orleans earlier this season at home. The way New Orleans is playing, we may not win the division. However as the top Wild Card spot, winning on the road in New Orleans will secure that spot and put us one game behind them. It also proves critics that we can beat a good team on the road and a good boost for the team. Any game against the Saints is always great. Obviously it won't be as easy as the win against the Jaguars, it will be a challenge. But this week we looked great. We had the "play to win," "killer instinct" attitude the entire game. We have a long week to rest up and prepare for next week's national game. Time to shut the "Who Dats" down!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Complete Team? Almost.

It's always funny to observe Falcon fans as I leave the Georgia Dome each home game. Some fans are hype chanting and clapping "LET'S GO Falcons." Then there are some fans that are smiling but shaking their heads at the same time. I find myself often doing the latter. It is always exciting when the hometeam gets a win, especially against a team we are supposed to beat. However, most ATL fans can't seem to figure out the reason why their team has to make every game a difficult one. This game should have been a blowout. Leading at the half 17-0, I was almost positive this game would have been a 31-0 easy win. An ugly win is still a win. At the end of the day, that is the most important. However, Atlanta tends to start game strong offensively and defensively, then come out the second half and fall apart. Its almost like they test their opponent to see if they can come back, so we can have a nail biting 4th quarter comeback.What type of football is that? Where is the Atlanta Falcon's "killer instinct" that dominates the entire game? That is a key component lacking.

The 24-14 win over the now 2-9 Minnesota Vikings was fun to watch. It's a good feeling watching a bad team get beat. Matt Ryan had an excellent game completing 27 out of 34 passes for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roddy White had a great game for the second straight week. Also, our 3rd wide receiver Harry Douglas is becoming a main target scoring his 1st touchdown of the season. Operating in and out of the No Huddle offense kept the Minnesota defense in question, which allowed Ryan to spread the ball around on the offense including Tony Gonzalez (TE) Michael Turner, (TE) Jason Snelling, (RB) Jacquizz Rodgers, (RB) and backup TE Michael Palmer who scored the last Falcon touchdown to seal the deal.

The defense managed to shut out Minnesota in the 1st half. They slowed down the Minnesota offense sacking Christian Ponder four times in the game. Although there were no interceptions or forced fumbles, the ATL defense came very close to picking three Ponders bad throws. Almost doesn't count. Which leads me to my next point.

Atlanta Falcons, offense, defense, and special teams must learn to finish the plays and finish games. Dropping key passes and game changing interceptions could be costly when trying to secure a spot in the playoffs. Roddy White dropped two passes and Julio Jones dropped a deep ball that could have easily been a score or put the offense in a position to score. This cannot happen against playoffs teams like the Packers and Saints that you have to score points against to beat. When the defense has an opportunity to create an interception, they have to catch the ball. Also blown coverages, like Ponder's 26 yard TD to WR Percy Harvin cannot happen. NO WAY, linebacker Curtis Lofton should have been that deep covering. Where were the safetys? The Falcons will not survive the playoffs with blown coverage and missed opportunities.
If the season ended today, Atlanta would have the 6th spot in the NFC playoffs. With the next five games to go, we would need to be at least 4-1 to secure our spot in the playoffs. Hopefully with a one more Saints loss, ATL could be the division winner. It will be tough, but anything is possible. For now, we are in the wildcard spot, let's not beat ourselves out of it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on "Tebow Mania"

Let me be clear, this is not a bashing Tim Tebow post. It is my personal thoughts as a football fan regarding him as an NFL quarterback and his dominating affect on sports media.

"Tebow Mania" is on an all-time high this second half of the season. Since becoming the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos in game 6, there is not a day that sports media does not discuss Tim Tebow. America's football sweetheart has managed to lead his team to a 6-5 record after a 1-4 start of the season. Many fans, analysts, and reporters question how he continues to win. After each win, sports media outlets erupt and give all praises to Tebow for his 4th quarter comebacks. Whether or not you praise the Broncos solid defense for setting up Tebow's winning drives each game or complain that he is a suspect quarterback throwing under 20 passes a game, the Broncos are 6-5 and in the hunt for an AFC playoff spot.

In my opinion, those who know and study the game of football are aware Tebow is not an elite quarteback. Sure he is winning right now, but if the Broncos continue to run this offense, teams are going to find a way to beat them, especially next season. The type of "spread option" offense that many college teams use, which is what Tebow used when he played for the Florida Gators, is not going to work longterm  in the NFL. The NFL has transitioned to a "pass first" offense, the Broncos option offense can only carry them so far. Once defenses stop Denver's running game, Tebow is going to be forced to throw the ball which is a skill he has yet to perfect. Teams with explosive offenses that score a lot of points (Patriots, Packers, Saints) will beat Denver. One positive is that their defense has found a way to keep the scores low. Tebow running all over the field is a gift and a curse. QBs are not supposed to take a lot of hits. He will not survive being a bad passer and taking many hits as a running QB. Michael Vick is a great example of this. Think back, Mike Vick received his share of criticism for taking off running with the ball instead of dropping back and passing. Eventually, as Mike Vick did, Tebow will have to pass the ball more and accurately. Broncos may make the playoffs because of their division, which is one of the worst in the league, but they will not make it far.

Check out this Video------ Doing the "Tebow"  (leads into the next part of the post)

I am not a Tebow hater, I actually think he is a swell person and a great inspiration for young athletes. One frustration that I do have is the media creating the idea of "Tebow Mania." I am not a marketing strategist, but I am starting to believe that Tebow openly expressing his Christianity and his love for Jesus Christ is being used as a way to build his brand. As a Christian, I appreciate Tebow letting the world know how great Jesus Christ is to him. I don't like the "down on one knee," which many assume to be an act of prayer, is now being labeled as "Tebowing." I've been a football fan for many years and I cannot recall the media ever bringing this much focus on athletes expressing their show of religion. Is there a reason why Tebow has become "the" Christian athlete? For example, I don't recall the media recognizing any other player who points to the sky (one can assume is giving thanks to their God) or when a player gets down on one knee to pray after scoring a touchdown. Athletes have been praying in sports for decades and I do not support the media calling this a "new phenomenon." I support players giving credit and praise to whom they choose to believe in. I have a problem when the "objective" media gets involved. Lately, it has seemed as if the media is creating this inspirational image of Tim Tebow, as the originator of athlete's praying.  There are pictures and videos all over the Internet of people down on one knee doing the "Tebow." If it wasn't for the media bringing attention to his faith, Tebow would be just another Christian athlete on the field. C'mon media, let's focus on his skills as a quarterback. Tebow was not the originator of an athlete's open expression of their faith.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NFL Midterms....NFC Edition

One of my favorite sports broadcasters and ESPN legend Chris Berman often says, "And that is why they play the game."

Such an appropriate saying to describe the 2011 season thus far. So many failures but so many surprises. We are halfway through the season, which means one week closer to the day two teams will battle for the Lombardi Trophy. Superbowl XLVI will be held in Indianaplis, IN this year. So who will be there from the NFC?

Coming into the season, my division leader picks were simple. NFC North- Packers, NFC South- Falcons, NFC East- Eagles, and NFC West- yeah as the weakest division in football, that could have been a toss up. But, records have shown that anything can happen on any given Sunday in the game of professional football. So that leaves us with a diverse group of front runners for the 2012 playoff picture. Packers, Lions, SanFran, Saints, Tampa, Falcons, Bears, Giants, Eagles, and the Cowboys. There are six playoff spots. Four division leader spots, two wildcard spots. If the season ended today, it would be in order: Packers, SanFran, Giants, Saints (Division Leaders) with Detroit and the Bears in the two wildcard spots.

Let's start with the NFC North.

North: Surprise Surprise, the Detroit Lions are sitting pretty at 6-2. In the beginning of the season, everyone predicted the Lions would have a decent season due to their offseason trades, their superstar young QB Matthew Stafford and the "Megatron" himself Calvin Johnson. Many Detroit fans are hype and the media is in uproar about the potential playoff hopes for the Lions. Not so fast.  The Lions have a tough schedule this second half of this season. They still have to play the undefeated divisional rival in the Packers twice and  two road games against the physical teams in the Bears, the Saints and the Raiders. They will not win all those games. Should be an interesting battle in the NFC North. As of now, the Packers are the only team front runner. But Detroit and the Bears will have to fight for the second spot.

South: Arguably they strongest division in the NFC, the Falcons, Saints, and the Bucs are in a race for the post season. After an embarrassing loss to the Rams last week, the Saints could not have slipped up at a better time for Atlanta and Tampa. Atlanta plays the winless Colts this weekend, then three straight home games after and the Saints and Tampa play each other this week. I'm 99 percent sure that the game will not end in a tie, so one of those teams will lose. There is a positive chance that Atlanta will win against the Colts. As a Falcon fan, if we lose against the Colts, we don't deserve to be in the playoffs anyway. Just saying. Saints 5-3, Tampa 4-3, Atlanta 4-3. As an Atlanta native, I will give props to Cam Newton, he is having a great rookie season and has revived veteran Steve Smith's career but sorry Panthers, not this year. This division is one to watch, it will come down to the last few games of the season. I won't pick who, but it will not Tampa be in the playoffs.

EAST- Another NFC division that will be a fight to the finish. As of now, the 5-2 Giants would be the only team to make it in the postseason. The Eagles, Redskins, and the Cowboys are all 3-4. Let's be honest, they all have to play each other in the second half of the season, but these three teams won't make it past the Saints, Falcons, Lions, Bears and Tampa. Giants win this one.

WEST: There is nothing to say about this division except for the 49ners will be in the playoffs, point blank period. Alex Smith, has finally shown thyself approved to be in this league after so long of being an NFL Flop for seven years. FRANK GORE. He is having a great year. There is no need to discuss the other teams in this division. Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams, start thinking about your draft picks. However, as a Falcons fan, I must thank the Rams for last week.

Should be an interesting second half. I'm excited. Are you?

Post Your comments, let me know your picks!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Victory in Motown!

There is no other way to describe the win against the Detroit Lions except a HUGE WIN!. To win ON THE ROAD and against a 5-1 strong team, I have majority positive things to say today.

Lets discuss how every week when there is a key issue regarding Atlanta, immediately  it is turned around the next week. Last week against Carolina, Atlanta could not stop their divisional opponent on 3rd Downs. In yesterday's game the Detroit Lions converted 1 for 12 3rd Downs! Not to mention, that the 3rd Downs were sacks and broken up passes by the DBs. Major shout out to the Atlanta Defense this week holding Detroit to their lowest scoring game of 16 points compared to their average 30 points a game. Definitely the best defensive game of the season so far. 3 Sacks, the four man rush, and blitzing were solid efforts by the defense. What more can you ask for?

Offensively, solid game. Matty Ice and the offensive side of the ball have been playing consistently well and all four quarters in the past two games. I'm impressed. Running the ball well, completing passes, and the play calling was great and creative. Although Matt threw two interceptions, I must credit his athleticism and his toughness after limping off the field, jogging back out a few plays later, and  laser throw for 49 yards on a 3rd Down play. Listening to reports this morning, some Falcons are upset about some trash talking on the field by Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril, while Ryan was on the ground after his ankle was stepped on by his own man. If the comments were out of line or not, I'm not sure when it became okay to highlight trash talking on the field to the media. As a fan, I'm not concerned about the trash talking on the field. Get mad and talk dirty if that is what it takes for a defense to step up and make some plays. Retaliate by shutting them down with a play, as did Ryan to Harry Douglas on that 3rd Down. I appreciate a team where actions and plays speak louder than words or "trash talking" in this case. It was a definitely a dirty game.

Which leads into my next comment regarding the penalties in this game. 21 penalties total. That is ridiculous. After the pushing and shoving before the game started, it was clear this would be a "chippy" and physical game. However, there should never be this many penalties in a game. Coming off last season, Atlanta was known for their discipline as being one of the least penalized teams in the league. From false starts, jumping offsides, including the illegal block in the back on the kick off return that would have been a touchdown by Eric Weems. Atlanta has to cut down on the mistakes that cost big field position.

I like the way Atlanta has played in the past two games. As a Falcon fan, getting back to back wins against a good rookie in Cam Newton and a strong defensive team in Detroit, the rest of the season is something to get excited about. Going into this bye week with the struggling 0-6 Colts and then three straight home games, this win against Detroit will be the game that turns this season around. I'm excited. Special shout out to Tony Gonazalez for breaking the record over Cris Carter and Michael Irvin in All-Time receptions with 1,103 career receptions. He already has admitted he won't pass Jerry Rice with 1,549, but for a tight end? That is amazing. Nice to have a future Hall of Famer on our team.

Are the Lions in trouble? At 5-2, not running the ball well, Stafford being carried out at the end of the game? I'm no expert, but I know enough about football to say that the Lions are a better team then past years, but they are not there yet.  Their weaknesses are being exposed. You're not going to win games not running the ball and 10 penalties. Before the season started, I said they would finish 8-8. I was surprised at their 5-0 start, but Detroit is not used to being in this winning situation. They have a tough schedule ahead, with the Packers twice, Chargers, and the Saints. They won't win all those games, if any. They are a strong team, but this is not the season. They will get there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are the Falcons Done?

Well according to Michael Irvin, "The Falcons are done." As I sit here and reflect on Sunday's night game, I realize how frustrating being an Atlanta Falcons fan can be. It's like having a frustrating significant other,  wondering why some days he or she will have it all together, then all of a sudden they hit a complete 180. Where is the consistency? Going into this game I honestly did not think we would win due to how well the Packers have been playing and how well we aren't playing. No doubt the better team won this game, but that does not negate how the Falcons made it so easy in the second half.

I guess I'll start off by addressing the STRONG 14-0 start, eating over 20 minutes off the clock in the first half,  and our ability to sack Aaron Rodgers which we have not done since the loss to Chicago in Week 1. Our game plan of sticking to the running game, spreading the ball around works very well. Kudos for allowing the Packers to be held to three field goals for majority of the game.  But does all this matter if we can't follow this strategy for 60 minutes of football? Whose to blame? Mike Mularkey? Matt Ryan? Defense? Coach Smith? What is the problem?

FINISH THE GAME! Probably the biggest issue I have seen thus far this season. We have not played four quarters of football this entire season. Last time I checked, that is what being a football player is all about. We only scored on our first two drives in the game. It's like our offense disappeared in the second half. Since we aren't a deep threat type of team, which is essentially why we brought in rookie Julio Jones; defensive coordinators can find ways to stop Michael Turner early, thus we are forced to throw. We have to get more creative with our play calling. I love Matty Ice as a Falcon fan, but his arm is just not as strong and accurate enough for these 60-70 yard plays. With time I hope to see a growth in that area, he is still in his fourth season in the league. Therefore our offense has to get a little more creative with our play calling when the running game is being stopped. The strategy we had during the first half was great, keeping Rodgers off the field with long drives, but there has to be THAT and MORE for the second half. All the weapons we have on our offense, we are not explosive as we should be.

Again credit to the defense for forcing two turnovers this game, the occasional pass rush to sack Rodgers and holding the Packers too one of their lowest scoring game this season. However, where is the SECONDARY? That is our biggest issue of our defense thus far. The Secondary gives up too many big plays for like 50-60 yards. Whats good if you can tackle if you tackling the receiver 60 yards down the field. Grimes??? Mr. Pro-Bowler where are you? He didn't have a bad game. Had some good tackles, including the one that caused the fumble. Grant it, the starter William Moore was out, but Thomas DeCoud, Daunte Robinson, Cristopher Owens, none of these fine young gentlemen are the answer right now. 

Often times the special teams are over looked. I understand the new kickoff rule where the the ball is now on the 35 yard line instead of the 30, but Eric Weems needs to get some better field position. Everytime he touches the ball, all I see is that "fair catch signal." Thankfully the punter Matt Boshner is getting better and better each game, because that Eagles game, that 20 yard punt was unacceptable.

Leaving a season where we were 13-3, the top seed in the NFC to sitting 3rd place in the NFC South, its a hard pill to swallow. Everyone had high expectations for Atlanta. It is disappointing. I think everyone knows the issues of the Atlanta Falcons because the games are starting to get real redundant. In my opinion, this falls back on coaching. There needs to be another strategy to win games because the current game plan is not working.  No surprises: start off strong, fall apart 3rd quarter and a nail biting 4th quarter. I don't think my heart rate is cut out for this kind of football.