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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I'm starting to think that Brett Farve likes to hear his name all over national television. For those who haven't heard, in a radio interview on Atlanta's 790 "The Zone," Brett Farve made a comment that could be interpreted as a "downplay" to his former teammate Aaron Rodgers success as the starter of the World Champions. You be the judge.

"the biggest surprise to me would be that he didn't do it sooner" and that Rodgers "just kind of fell into a good situation."

And of course he followed with a "backhanded" complement. He would not get away with just saying that previous remark.

"He's got tremendous talent, he's very bright and he got a chance to kind of sit and watch and he saw successful teams do it right, and so he just kind of fell into a good situation. And on top of that, he's a good player. I don't think anyone would question now the talent around him is even better than when I was there. So I really was surprised it took him so long. Really, the early part of last year season, it hadn't quite clicked yet and I didn't know if it would. I just figured at some point, when they hit their stride, they're going to be hard to beat. And that's what happened."

This is probably not a big of deal to many, some may even say that it was a complement. However, media is loving this, because Americas favorite quarterback has some way found his name back in the limelight. Including my favorite ESPN show ESPN First Take who debated the subject. Farve saying "he fell into a good situation" and "that he didn't do it sooner," is not a complement but a slick remark that subtly minimizes Rodger's achievements as a starter. So what are you saying Farve, that the team would have won the SuperBowl if you were there too? At 41, I do not think so. Seriously, he won ONE Superbowl in 1997. Some may even say he is highly overrated.....maybe? According to the LA Times, Rodgers is "shrugging" the comment off. Seems like everybody is shrugging these days. Word to Kanye West.

Many forget that Rodgers was a back-up to Farve for three years until he became a starter. This comment slightly reveals that Rodgers and Farve have a respect for each other, but didn't neccessarily get along. Plus, Farve has previously said that it wasn't his "job" to mentor his understudies. I give credit to Rodgers not even addressing the comment or responding directly to Farve. He simply complemented his team and their success. Not only does that show a true leader but it indirectly says that Farve is not a Green Bay Packer anymore. At least that is what I took from it. If it was me, I probably would have made a more direct comment to my former teammate. I guess that is why no one has given me a microphone...... yet. (lol) Farve is the type of guy that you either love him or hate him. I don't hate him, but I would prefer not to hear his name in the media anymore.

Monday, October 3, 2011

back to the basics

Back to the basics is how we will win. I do not understand why teams are trying to throw for 2000 yards a game. Ok, maybe not 2000, but I will say 350-400 yards a game. Including my favorite team the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, I am a die hard Atlanta Falcons fan since I've been able to talk. Enough about that. Atlanta Falcons are now 2-2, after a nail-biting and blood pressure rising 30-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. For starters, the score was much closer than the actual game. There is no way that game should have come down to the last eight seconds, where I was literally crossing my fingers hoping Steven Hauschka would miss a 61-yard field goal. Most kickers would miss that field goal, which he did, but giving the fact he made a 62 yarder the week before, it could have gone either way. But, one thing I do not talk about when it comes to sports is the "shoulda, coulda, wouldas," because at the end of the game, the "ifs" do not matter, it's all about the score when the clock says 0:00. Luckily, that game was in our favor.

One of the reasons the Falcons were mildly successful in this game is that they returned to basics, the running game. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons are a run first team. Call it boring if you want too, but they are a physical, strong team and can run the ball. Running the football allows the offense to spread the ball around to the different weapons on the team as well as slow the pace and tire out the defense. No, Matt Ryan is not a Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or even an Aaron Rodgers, yet. Yes I said yet, in his fourth season, Ryan is very talented, poised, and a leader on this Atlanta team. With an overall 35-19 record as a starter that is pretty good and he is only getting better. In the game Sunday, Ryan threw for 291 yards, one TD, and no INTS. Not bad, and in the backfield Michael Turner touched the ball 28 times this game. That is more than he has all year. Also, Roddy White had 78 yards, my favorite target Tony Gonzalez caught a TD, and the so impressive rookie WR Julio Jones caught 100 yards for the second week in a row. Let's not forget the rookie, standing at 5 "6" Jacquizz Rodgers aka "Lil Man" (well what I call him) ran for 49 yards. That is how Atlanta Falcons football is supposed to be. The ball was evenly spread around the offense to mix it up. Exactly how we did against Seattle. The past 3 games, before Sunday, the play calling was terrible. No way, we should be throwing the ball every down. Not to mention Ryan actually had TIME to throw the ball this game. The offensive line actually blocked and allowed Matty Ice, to not get killed. We played a great game offensively. I would like to see Harry Douglas in the rotation more, especially against the Packers, he catches most balls thrown at him. He is a great 3rd receiver.

Now for the negatives and the reason the game was entirely too close. Our defense. I wont say much about it, because before this game, our defense hasn't played too bad. Sunday, our defense fell apart in the second half. Gave up WAY too many big plays. One of the issues for me, ATL plays way to much soft zone coverage. We play too far off the receivers/ball for my liking. I need to see more man to man defense to actually make some plays. I will give credit that we forced two turnovers during that game. Random Fact: Falcons have forced a turnover in 23 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. However, that does not change the fact that we did not sack Tavaris Jackson at all during the game, who is one of the most sacked QB's this year after Jay Cutler. We kept rushing three guys, did not blitz enough, and too many missed tackles. And the secondary? Burnt and wide open. Where is Brent Grimes when you need him. I need him to step up. This cannot work against the Packers this Sunday night. The defense is going too have to step up big time if we have a chance at winning this game on national TV. We all know what happened last time these two teams met on national TV, although I try not to relive that day.

Overall a 2-2 start is not bad. We play the Packers at home this week. Ryan is 20-2 at home as a starter. The Dome will be on fire this weekend. Another plus, is that we have already played three road games, so 7 out of the next 12 games are at home. Not bad. A while back I tweeted I would like to see us at least 3-2 by game 5 after the Packers game. So far, I'm on my way to being accurate. We will see how Sunday night plays out, but our team has to learn how to play to win. I feel like we play to try not to lose. Let that sink in.......its a big difference. If you haven't noticed throughout this piece, I have written in first person a few times. Don't worry, all my post will not be about the Falcons. However, as corny as it sounds, I feel apart of the team and I always will. It's like that.