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!