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The Falcons dropped their third straight game. They're at 1-4, and it's going to be an uphill battle to get back to a winning record, much less the playoffs. As always, though, we're in the business of learning from Atlanta's mistakes, a...
The Falcons dropped their third straight game. They're at 1-4, and it's going to be an uphill battle to get back to a winning record, much less the playoffs. As always, though, we're in the business of learning from Atlanta's mistakes, as the Falcons should be. Here's five things we learned from that hideous, hideously close game. I would have posted this yesterday, but you know...Julio Jones and all that. Close games just aren't going their way. The Falcons a year ago went 7-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. This year, they've gone 1-4. Some of that is just the inevitable turning of the tides of luck, but much of it is just the Falcons playing some lousy football for entire quarters or halves of games, which puts them in holes they can't fully dig back out of.The fact that all these games are close despite the way the Falcons are playing remains encouraging. At the same time, it's troubling that the Falcons aren't being more aggressive knowing how these close games go, particularly in the first half. The right side of the line needs help. Justin Blalock has quietly put together a very solid season. Lamar Holmes has quietly improved at left tackle. Neither is a world beater, but the pressure on Ryan off the left side is fading a little bit.The right side, though? Woof, Buzz, your linemen. Peter Konz has struggled all season, Garrett Reynolds was lousy in this one and Jeremy Trueblood is every bit as good in pass protection as advertised, which is to say he's not at all. The Jets were doing the most damage on the right side and up the middle, particularly on the Ryan fumble that proved to be so costly. What's the answer? I don't think it's "continue to trot the same three guys out there," so expect to see some kind of change. I think the team will be inclined to stick with Konz at center and let him grow, but certainly Joe Hawley and Harland Gunn are considerations at right guard and the Falcons will mull how they're going to use Sam Baker and Holmes going forward at tackle. The status quo is a killer. Time to turn to Levine Toilolo. I don't think Toilolo is the answer in the passing game, per se. He's still learning the NFL game, particularly as a blocker. He's made his mistakes. After watching that impressive touchdown catch, though, you can see the raw potential here.The Falcons aren't getting Harry Douglas very involved. Roddy White is limited. Julio Jones is gone for stretches as he battles his leg maladies. The Falcons need to start using other weapons to take pressure off Jones and Tony Gonzalez, and Toilolo fits the bills in a lot of ways. He runs well for a big guy, his size makes him a matchup problem and teams must account for him in the red zone. He's going to have his growing pains, but he should be seeing more than one or two targets a game for this offense until Roddy's back at 100%. Someone has to step up. The pass rush exists! Sort of. The frustrating thing about this game was seeing how easily the Falcons got after Geno Smith when they decided to really blitz. When they set up a nice little gap blitz, Osi came around the corner untouched and threw Smith to the ground. He, Corey Peters and Joplo Bartu combined for four sacks in this one, and when the Falcons were sending four or more guys they were generally at least putting a little pressure on Smith.I know that This season is probably over. If the loss didn't do it, the injury to Julio Jones will. At 1-4, missing key starters all over the place, these Falcons will have to go on a miracle run just to make the playoffs. They've played some tough, close games, but they haven't won them. Time to come to terms with this new reality and hope 2014 brings brighter days. What did you learn from this game? More from The Falcoholic: The Falcons Should Trade Tony Gonzalez Report: Julio Jones Has A Foot Injury, Could Miss Rest Of 2013 Season Jets vs. Falcons: Well, That Was Awkward Falcons Drop Three In A Row For First Time Under Mike Smi
about 3 hours ago
Josh Gordon The Falcons are in a dire predicament in light of the news that Julio Jones is likely out for the season. Their offense is now without a No. 1 receiver, at least until Roddy White and his ankle and hamstring are fully healed....
Josh Gordon The Falcons are in a dire predicament in light of the news that Julio Jones is likely out for the season. Their offense is now without a No. 1 receiver, at least until Roddy White and his ankle and hamstring are fully healed. In the meantime the Falcons will have to be reliant on Tony Gonzalez to carry the offense from the tight end position. Not too dissimilar from the days under Michael Vick when Alge Crumpler was the de facto top option in the Falcons passing offense. Can the team win that way? Perhaps, but it will be extremely difficult. In those days, the Falcons were able to get away with that style of play because it was buoyed by having one of the league’s premier rushing attack. Currently, the Falcons rank 25th in rushing yards per game and 17th in yards per carry. Much closer to average than back in 2004-06 where they led the league in both categories in each of those seasons. Crumpler was also a much more effective vertical threat than Gonzalez currently is. In 69 games played with the Falcons thus far, Gonzalez has 23 receptions of 20 or more yards. In his final 62 games in a Falcon uniform, Crumpler had 50. That ability to provide big plays makes a dramatic difference in whether or not a receiver can carry an offense. Even with the healthy returns of Roddy White and Steven Jackson, the best-case scenario for the Falcons offense over the remainder of the 2013 season will be reminiscent of the 2010 Falcons offense. It’s certainly possible, but given the state of the Falcons offensive line, that is more wishful thinking than anything. That 2010 rushing attack was dominant against some opposing fronts (4 games of 150+ rushing yards that season), but effective against most (12 games of 85+ yards). The Falcons have eclipsed 85 yards only twice this year: in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, thanks largely to a 50-yard run by ackson, and against the Miami Dolphins. A healthier Jackson isn’t going to suddenly morph Garrett Reynolds and Jeremy Trueblood into Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo in their primes. If the Falcons have any chance of turning their season around and making a late push towards a wild card slot, they need to rely on the arm of Matt Ryan. But that arm will be limited if the Falcons do not have a vertical threat in the offense that can affect how opponents play the Falcons. Julio Jones’ mere presence of the field makes defenses play the Falcons differently. They have to respect the deep ball on all plays because of Jones. Jones forced defenses to bracket him with safety help over the top, because he is capable of running past every corner in the NFL. In recent weeks, NFL teams have devised a new way of playing the Falcons which is by doubling Gonzalez as well. Coupled with the bracketing of Jones, defenses are forcing a beat up White, Harry Douglas, and the rest of the Falcons unproven receivers to beat them. And it clearly has worked against the Falcons. Without Jones to help keep defenses honest, it will only get worse. Douglas and the rest of the receivers not named Sharod are simply not capable of stepping up. If they were, we would have seen it at some point in the past two or three games. Sure, they can make the occasional play like Douglas did on the 40-yard catch against the Patriots, or Toilolo’s touchdown against the Jets. But can you build your offense around plays that happen once or twice a game? The Falcons desperately need another threat that can at least scare defenses with the vertical pass to take pressure of Gonzalez and White when he returns. They need a player that can be a threat on the play-action if/when the Falcons can get their ground game going under Jackson in the coming weeks. This is where Josh Gordon comes in. Gordon is primarily a vertical threat for the Cleveland Browns. With his size (6’3″ 225), long strides, and speed (sub-4.4) he is a very good option to help take the top off the defense. The Browns alrea
about 5 hours ago
The Falcons head into the bye week in dire need of some healing time. A quick look at who is injured Vaughn McClure at ESPN has a few quick, helpful updates. Long roads ahead for a few guys, for certain. LB Akeem Dent (ankle) limped ...
The Falcons head into the bye week in dire need of some healing time. A quick look at who is injured Vaughn McClure at ESPN has a few quick, helpful updates. Long roads ahead for a few guys, for certain. LB Akeem Dent (ankle) limped to the practice field but obviously not ready to return to practice. No sign of Sam Baker (knee, leg).— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 9, 2013 Roddy White and Jason Snelling not on practice field for viewing period— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 9, 2013 Steven Jackson still no helmet for practice— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 9, 2013 Julio Jones, of course, out to see a specialist in Charlotte today.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 9, 2013 Your reactions?
about 6 hours ago
The injury report isn't even close to coming, but reporters sniffing around the battered body of Atlanta football are finding that Roddy White's hamstring issue is not as minor as we had hoped. Rain it pours: Falcons concerned WR Rodd...
The injury report isn't even close to coming, but reporters sniffing around the battered body of Atlanta football are finding that Roddy White's hamstring issue is not as minor as we had hoped. Rain it pours: Falcons concerned WR Roddy White could miss at least one game, possibly more, due to left hamstring he pulled Monday night. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 9, 2013 Again, nothing official, but with Roddy already dealing with a significant sprain, it's not impossible to think he might miss the Buccaneers game. If he and Julio are out, look for the Falcons to start Harry Douglas and Drew Davis, with Kevin Cone in the slot. Ouch. It would be in both Roddy and the Falcons' best interest to sit him for a game if that's what it takes to finally get him healthy and effective. If the Falcons want to win games this season, they need the old Roddy White back. Thoughts? More from The Falcoholic: Falcons-Jets: Defensive Line Makes Geno Smith Look Good Julio Jones Injury: Receiver May Have Broken Screw In Foot, Second Opinion Coming Julio Jones Injury: How Will The Falcons Replace #11 If They Have To? The Falcons Should Trade Tony Gonzalez Report: Julio Jones Has A Foot Injury, Could Miss Rest Of 2013 Season
about 7 hours ago
Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) runs the ball past Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (23) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (93) during the first NFL half of the ga...
Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) runs the ball past Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (23) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (93) during the first NFL half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports Just a few weeks until the NFL trade deadline and the biggest names available have come into clarity.  With several teams teetering between contention and preparing for next year, will any of them make a move? Josh Gordon to the Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford has proven he’s not an elite quarterback when he doesn’t have a big receiver to throw to.  That was proven when he managed just nine points in Green Bay without Calvin Johnson.  The Detroit Lions are hurting at wide receiver with Johnson and Nate Burleson out.  They sit in a tight race for the NFC North lead and can’t afford a drop off in production on offense at such a critical juncture.  If Johnson’s knee continues to cause him problem then the Lions need to find help.  That include going deep on the trade market.  Considering where they sit on the salary cap, price shouldn’t be their biggest issue, which is why Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns is a top target.  He is big, athletic and can make the tough catches for his quarterback.  The trouble is it will cost a second round pick to get him.  It’s steep price, but worthwhile if Detroit can pair him with Megatron down the stretch. Kenny Britt to the Atlanta Falcons Another team that could be favored in the Gordon race, the Atlanta Falcons normally don’t take aggressive routes to getting a receiver unless they’re certain he can help them win games.  They already did that once with Cleveland when they traded up in the draft to get Julio Jones.  Unfortunately the second-year star is likely out for the rest of the season with a foot injury.  With Roddy White also ailing they need help at receiver, but a second round pick may be too steep considering how many high draft picks they’ve given up over the past couple years.  On the other hand, they could find a much cheaper deal waiting for them with the Tennessee Titans.  They are at their wits end with wide receiver Kenny Britt, a talented but trouble 25-year old.  His off-the-field history and rumored laziness has gotten him benched.  His best hope to see the field now is with another team.  Atlanta would probably not have to surrender more than a fourth round pick for him, which is a bargain considering his potential in their offense. Justin Tuck to the Chicago Bears Julius Peppers got old in a hurry.  Such things happen to football players once they reach their mid-30s.  As a result the Chicago Bears pass rush, further hampered by injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins, ranks 30th in the league through five games.  This issue has led to some uncharacteristic breakdowns in their defense.  GM Phil Emery has said he’s always exploring trade possibilities but hasn’t seen anything worthwhile thus far.  One player that might become available soon is New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.  The Giants are 0-5 and could be 0-6 soon as they visit Chicago in week six.  Tuck is a free agent next year and at 30-years old is unlikely to stay.  He’s not the same player he was a few years ago but he’s a veteran with good leadership qualities who can bring depth to a defensive front that sorely needs it. Maurice Jones-Drew to the St. Louis Rams Everybody mildly conscious can tell the Jacksonville Jaguars are done for the 2013 NFL season.  It’s approaching that time where they will start to consider unloading established veterans on the roster in order to collect as many draft picks as possible for 2014.  One valuable chip they haven’t made available yet is running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  At 28-years old he is set to become a free agent next year.  Having
about 8 hours ago
It has been revealed that the Falcons will be one of three teams playing a "home" game at Wembley Stadium in London during the 2014 season. This is part of an agreement that will see each NFL team play at least one home game abroad in th...
It has been revealed that the Falcons will be one of three teams playing a "home" game at Wembley Stadium in London during the 2014 season. This is part of an agreement that will see each NFL team play at least one home game abroad in the coming seasons. It has not been announced who the Falcons will play or on what date. The NFL International Series has seen regular season NFL games played in London since 2007, with two games being played this season which is increased to three next year. The week 4 Steelers-Vikings game was roundly described as the most successful yet, with a fantastic atmosphere and a real home-away, us-versus-them dynamic. The NFL would seem to agree, despite persistent criticism from parts of the American media. As a British Falcons fan of over a decade I am absolutely ecstatic to be able to see them compete in the flesh after so long following from afar. Being an overseas NFL fan is an odd experience; you cannot share your passion with the vast majority of people, the timings can be a pain (imagine watching the ends of the Patriots and Jets games at 5am during the work week) and as such the Wembley games have a real community feel to them, as we all share these experiences. The NFL is still a fairly niche sport in the UK, although it's popularity has grown exponentially since I have been following it. I hope to see it grow further. But what does this have to do with injuries? Gloriously, nothing.
about 9 hours ago
When your team is 1-4, it's tough to engage in any analysis. No matter the positives, if the wins aren't there, nothing else matters. With that said, we Falcoholics, we unhappy few, we merry band of brothers, we must carry on. Last nigh...
When your team is 1-4, it's tough to engage in any analysis. No matter the positives, if the wins aren't there, nothing else matters. With that said, we Falcoholics, we unhappy few, we merry band of brothers, we must carry on. Last night's game really came down to Geno Smith. It came down to what the defense allowed him to do. He was efficient, and he didn't miss a beat. He looked like the franchise quarterback the Jets are hoping him to be. But he's still Geno Smith; he's still that immature rookie with poor mechanics who doesn't have the football intelligence to play quarterback in the NFL. Or not. Look, I'm not about assigning blame to any one unit, but the defensive line deserves its fair share. You can't blame the corner backs, especially Desmond Trufant, who for the fifth consecutive game had a pass defensed. He's playing his tail off in a rookie campaign that most of us didn't imagine was possible. But he's getting mediocre-at-best pass rush from a defensive line that just isn't built to consistently generate meaningful pressure. It wasn't all bad for the pass rush. As Dave mentioned in the recap, Corey Peters and Osi Umenyiora turned it on in the second half. The defensive line logged 3 sacks, but as you (should) know, sacks aren't everything, and if they're intermittent, winning the trench battle won't be easy. Letting Geno Smith complete over 75 percent of his passes en route to a 3 touchdown day is just unacceptable. Osi Umenyiora can't play both right and left defensive end. If this were a high school team, I'd make them duck walk until their quads exploded. But alas, it isn't. These are professionals. We think. As for the run defense, it was again adequate. If this were 1999, I'd be singing the rush defense's praises. But it isn't. The NFL is now a passing league, and if you're willing to let Geno Smith run all over you, then Vishnu help ya. Your thoughts?
about 10 hours ago
Could miss Week 7 with hamstring injury The injury-ravaged Atlanta Falcons are concerned that wide receiver Roddy White could miss at least one game because of a left hamstring injury, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Sch...
Could miss Week 7 with hamstring injury The injury-ravaged Atlanta Falcons are concerned that wide receiver Roddy White could miss at least one game because of a left hamstring injury, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. White, who also is nursing a sprained right ankle, pulled his hamstring during Monday night's loss to the New York Jets. (ESPN) FF Today's Take: The Falcons have a bye this week so it's concerning that White's hamstring injury is serious enough that there's already talk of him sitting in Week 7. With Julio Jones likely out for an extended period of time, Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone could be the top three receivers on the field for Atlanta in Week 7.
about 10 hours ago
After a poorly played game of football, I found myself consistently asking questions. The offensive line looks worse; the defense looks awful; the play-calling is questionable. The Falcons have to take a long, hard look at their team dur...
After a poorly played game of football, I found myself consistently asking questions. The offensive line looks worse; the defense looks awful; the play-calling is questionable. The Falcons have to take a long, hard look at their team during this bye week. In addition, Injury Armageddon, as it's being called, has hit hard, and the FO/Coaching Staff need to find an answer beneath the rubble. With so many areas in need, where do they focus? I wanted to spend some time first updating the statistics that I had previously posted in the last two fanposts. Later in the week, however, I will also dive a little deeper into the defensive performance this year, more heavily targeted on the LBs and secondary. I believe the defense need some major life support, even more than our offensive line or receiving corps. OFFENSE Offensive Line Enough with the chat, I'll jump right in to the game-by-game performance of our Offensive Line: Pass Protection Player Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4 Week5 Overall Peter Konz (0.4) 0.2 - (1.4) 0.4 (1.2) Justin Blalock 1.2 (0.1) 0.6 2.4 1.6 5.7 Garrett Reynolds 0.7 0.9 0.6 (0.6) 0.6 2.2 Lamar Holmes (4.0) (0.3) (6.3) 0.5 (0.4) (10.5) Jeremy Trueblood - (0.3) (1.9) (2.4) (4.6) Sam Baker (3.0) (7.8) 0.1 (10.7) Overall PBE 59.5 71.1 72.4 73.7 79.8 71.3 Rank 31 25 22 19 10 26 While the PBE rating has been increasing, I think we can all agree that last night proved their performance isn't following suit. Matt Ryan and the play-calling have really bailed out the line. In reality, I think the pass blocking should be graded much worse, and many around the NFL argue that Atlanta has one of the worst offensive lines in the League. Regardless of how you look at it, Trueblood got destroyed last night on the pass rush. Our newly acquired RT has grown into his "turnstile" reputation by grading worse each week. Also, I stand by my original post that Holmes deserved a little more time at LT. He seemed like the best lineman of the night, whatever that means, and has delivered two weeks of average level play in pass protection. We also have noticed, for better or worse, that Holmes acknowledged his need to get in better shape. I think he's driven to perform better, and I'm interested to see where he ends up this year. On to the oh-so-poor run blocking: Run Blocking Player Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4 Week5 Peter Konz (1.8) (0.7) (2.9) 0.3 (2.1) Justin Blalock 0.1 (0.4) (0.4) 0.6 0.6 Garrett Reynolds 1.1 1.1 (0.4) 0.1 (2.4) Lamar Holmes (1.5) 1.6 (0.4) (1.0) (0.9) Jeremy Trueblood (0.5) 2.1 (0.4) 0.1 Sam Baker (1.5) (1.0) (1.0) Total (3.6) 0.1 (2.0) (1.4) (4.7) I don't really think this needs much explaining. Our offensive line posted its worst run-blocking grade so far this season. Although, the Jets do have a stout run defense, holding the Falcons to 64 rushing yards on 22 carries (New York's defense averages 76.2 per game on 3 per carry). A note here is that 27 of the yards came during MR2's no huddle offense on 2 running plays, one for 19 and one for 8. Before this game, both Blalock and Reynolds played consistent football, recording some decent overall rankings among NFL guards. I don't know what happened, but the Jets' line got to Reynolds this game and consistently put him on the ground. One decent lineman out of five just won't cut it, though we can hope Lamar Holmes continues to show improvement and comfort on that left side. QB Pressure QB Pressured as % of Dropbacks Week Rank Pressure % 1 31 52% 2 15 36% 3 28 45% 4 17 39% 5 15 36% Overall 25 42% Outside of week 1, before we knew how bad the line was going to be, the pressure percentage has been fairly stable. What does this mean? The offensive line has been bailed out. I think last night, a
about 19 hours ago
It was bad enough the Braves season abruptly ended out west. And then the Hawks preseason opener, as with so many regular season games, a couple of baskets from a win, but with the Falcons loss on Monday night to the Jets it made Oct 8th...
It was bad enough the Braves season abruptly ended out west. And then the Hawks preseason opener, as with so many regular season games, a couple of baskets from a win, but with the Falcons loss on Monday night to the Jets it made Oct 8th stamped in Hotlanta more of a Notlanta mark in Georgia sport fans history. A very frail Falcon team now with news of Julio gone, is looking at the bye week not to get just healthy but to make some hard decisions to salvage the season and fight for a wild card shot. Who would have thought it would come to this so quickly with just five weeks of 2013 played out? The loyal faithful have endured crushing last minute losses to very good football teams in the Saints, Pats and Dolphins, with two of those in the tough NFL on the road. The fans know all too well that the injuries have turned small holes to larger craters and it was expected the abundance of rookie injection would bring some youth growing pains to our success. True feathered flock followers were smart enough to know after appearing in the NFC championship that Atlanta would be on the oppositions radar and that the Birds schedule was much more difficult than a year ago. But it was not expected that frail would turn to fail. Never did I, and I can assume many, for a moment think that a large margin over the Jets in total yards, first downs, time of possession and a passer rating for Ryan of 111.0 would equate to a defeat. It is unthinkable that the Smith / Ryan birds would lose two straight games in the dome. How could a rookie quarterback having trouble to date come into the nest and look so polished ? Even when Jackson went to the sideline with injury not many of the flock thought we’d want Turner back. And while on the subject of back, how different would it be now if Abraham was brought back when we had the chance? It’s the little things that are making the Falcons season so frail and it has come to a panic level with the latest news of a team strength, the receiving corps. Supernatural forces have been rumored to now haunt these last years of the Birds Dome. Over reacting or ridiculous nonsense ? Then stop and ponder the reality that the steady and stand tall Smith may have become so hell bent on the red zone issue that he’d pass on a chip shot field goal after having the ball at the Jets nine yard line and failing six different plays to score right before halftime what would have been an important field goal at games end. Then there is the strange but true fact that this weird science has even gone to the depths of Matt Bosher, whose first quarter blocked punt resulted into a field goal for the Jets and whose fourth quarter fifteen yard penalty helped position an eventual touchdown. Crazy as the Mad Hatter I am when I see after five games, with short passes Ryan’s only true weapon, our slot receiver H.D averaging 3 catches a game and with more fumbles than touchdowns. It is also a very dark omen to know that Roddy’s numbers are worse than Harry’s! This is as tough as a Falcon Fever Faithful would ever imagine. I even think at season start their would be many who would have taken the view that even if Matty Ice had been on the injury report for a couple of games, that at this juncture of the season the Falcons would still sustain good play and sit on a perch of more like a 3 – 2 record. The one thing that has gone solid this year is that Ryan has stood tall, played at a high level through the offensive line and rushing attack woes, and still emits some shining hope they can still make the playoffs. Time to test and evaluate the depth chart for there is no other choice. Certain play calling by both coordinators needs a retooling. The bye week could never have come at a better time. Falcon Fever is Frail, so I hope the coaching staff introduces some new schemes, as hard as it is to change the flight path, so the season does not progress into a coma that will sustain damage beyond this unlucky 2013. Falcon Fever Finally Frail - B
about 20 hours ago