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  1. I’m no draft expert. I’m like most of you who are avid fans. I can’t tell you if player x should be drafted 19th instead of 14th, so this doesn’t focus on that. What’s done is done. We drafted and so did all the other teams. So what does it mean now to falcon fans like you and I? The Good 1. An Offensive Draft - Like it or not, while we have talked about the Falcons becoming a defensive team; we are now 100% officially an offensive team. Our identity is offense. We will live or die on offense over the next 3-5 years which is what many consider our (window) for a SB victory. 2. No unicorns - From various post and pre draft reports, the falcons wanted to and did make efforts to trade up and grab a defensive player, but were not willing to give away too much to move up to those spots. I wanted an O-lineman, but like many of you would love, love, love to see a monster DE or DT that can crush or opponents QB on every 3rd down of the game....heck, even 50% of the third downs would be nice. However, I think these guys are Unicorns. They don’t really exist. Ya, Kalil Mack and a few others are elite pass rushers, but even they get stonewalled against good teams who scheme to add protection or throw the ball quickly. If opponents can execute these and other tactics, they negate your best player. With that said, how many teams have an elite pass rusher? Maybe 3 or 4 teams? That’s why I say these guys are Unicorns. They can’t be found, but everyone keeps trying to find them by drafting what they hope will be the next elite pass rusher. Consider this as well; with the new rules and the yet to be seen replay anything rule will likely further give advantage to offense. If your elite Pass rusher does get to the QB, there is a likely chance he will draw a 15 yard penalty because he hit to hard, or his hand brushed the side of the QB’s helmet or any number of other infractions. So, how helpful is that pass rusher you gave up 3 picks to move up 5 spots to get? Yes, if you can build that elite D, you win, but eyeball the Pats D. How many elite pass rushers so they have? But they play situational football and have a great scheme to always take high value players out of the game. So we didn’t chase a unicorn and instead we got two giants who may or may not have been the “best” value at the spot we got them, but we got them and I’m confident they will help our O- Line. We will get value from them on every offensive down this team plays for the next several years. A pass rusher may stop a TD from happening, but an O lineman helps deliver every TD your teams scores. 3. No Half Measures - when we picked a guard, I was puzzled. But then when we move up to get the 31st pick and got another tackle, things started to make sense. Add these two picks to the FA signings and this is a clear and obvious message to the NFL. The message is “we plan to be Offensive in 2019.” We will have 5 bona-fide starters in 2019 on the O-Line. We will dominate the time of possession, we will run the ball, and we will make big plays down field. We will be offensive. 4. Best D is an offensive offense. By chewing the clock, ground and pound and ultimately putting 7 on the board, our defense will get better and more opportunistic. They will also be fresher in the 4th QTR. DQ will dial these guys into a solid D. The Bad: Big & Nasty - I read an article that I guess was supposed to denigrate our 31st pick by telling a story about him getting po’d and cutting the speaker wire on the sound in the weight room. Lol. I love this story and it makes me love this guy even more. Ya. F-Ya! Get some! This is a guy that will take it personal. This is a guy who will make a defensive player stop, drop and roll if they take a cheap shot on MR2. This is a guy that by the 4th qtr will have worn down the guy playing across from him both physically and mentally, then spend the last 4 minutes telling him how he banged his mom. Love it. Rumbler - Again, I cant watch college highlight tapes and see how that converts to the NFL, but I can see that our new RB is big and fast. Can he produce in the NFL? I don’t know, but I do know we should have an OLine that will at least give the guy a chance to be a factor in the game. The ugly: Fast and furious - The late rounds reminded me of my old girlfriend. DQ said, if I can’t get top talent, I’ll settle for speed and coach em up. I think the first CB from Ohio State CB and the last guy we drafted as a potential kick returner both ran in the 4.3 range. That’s fast. It would be nice to see our return game finally develop now that Armstrong is gone, If you question the OLine moves this offseason, just go see what a diff it made for Indy last year. If these guys are half as good as DQ thinks they are we will improve out O line 100% If they are any better, we will,be back to dropping 40 burgers on teams next year. I expect to go to a game this year and carry the letter O and a piece of fence. It’s all about the O.
  2. The lead up to training camp, preseason and the regular season opener is always a great time of year. The ever present repressive summer heat in the dirty south. The excitement of football on the horizon and for Falcon fans; it's always a pleasure and sadly a rarity to be returning a solid team to the field. The past few years have been remarkable. We've gone from a team who had never had back-to-back winning season and a team who has only made 13 playoff appearances and 1 SB appearance from 1960 - 2008 (48 years); to a team who has been in 9 playoff games and 1 superbowl in the past 10 years. Finally, we are a perennial contender.....and we host the SuperBowl this year. We've been through it all. From cardiac come-backs by MR2 when Smitty was the HC, to the shock and awe of the 2016 offense, we've won in a lot of different ways to get to the playoffs. This year will also be different. This year, we will win by Defense. Finally, we will get the sacks the city of Atlanta's football fans have craved and secretly prayed for at church this time of year. By week 5, people will be scrambling to come up with a nickname to top the gritz-blitz which was simply the most perfect name for a defense in the city of Atlanta. The DB's will feed off of the pressure from the front 4-5 in the form of interceptions. Turnovers from our Defense will be the fuel that drives the Atlanta offense into the playoffs and all the way to the SuperBowl. Go Falcons
  3. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Trendy by: RichardCNile Improvement at any rate is always prefered to regression at any rate. Trend analysis takes historical data and projects forward a line chart of where you are headed based on past performance. So even if you are only increasing a small amount each week, over 18 weeks, you hope to be getting to a good place. The opposite is true for regressing. If you are regressing or doing worse; even a little bit worse, the trend is that you will likely be terrible as you project out into the future. I knew things were bad for the Falcons, but I wanted to see what the number said so I dropped the scoring by quarters into an excel sheet and did a trend analysis. AFter the second game against the Packers we were trending toward where we were last year in points at 45. Even after the Detroit game we were still trending toward 34 points. But you can see our trend had changed from up, to down and we are regressing. This trend continues down to 20.5 after the Bills game, then to 15.5 after the Dolphins game and finally we hit rock bottom after the Patriots game with a trend of -1.4 (lol). After one somewhat decent game where we scored at least one time in each quarter against the Jets, we are back on the increase. While trends do NOT predict the future if you wanted to use it to predict it would suggest we will score around 6.5 - 7 points a quarter against the Panthers for a total of around 26-28 points. Not where we were last year, but well above the 17 and 7 points we scored against the Bills, Dolphins and Patriots. There is a lot more that goes into a game than the offensive points. I didn't do the same for defensive points yet, but other things recently seem to also be trending up for our Falcons. RB E. Elliot is now suspended (again) and not having him in the game against the Falcons can only be seen as a positive for next week. The trade deadline also brought a surprise trade of the Panthers #1 WR to the Bills. Again, this can only be seen as good news for the Falcons this week. I'm positive the Panther's players are having a WTF moment right now. Could you imagine if Julio had been traded? Julio is much better than Benjamin, but it's still your #1 WR. Lots of things are starting to trend up for us. If we can get on a roll and get past through the next two weeks with continued improvement, we will be trending toward a strong finish. Here is the good/bad/ugly trends I saw in the Jets game The Good: Matt was getting the ball to the receivers and seemed to have some rhythm to the offense. There were several dropped balls that stalled drives along with fumbled snaps, but if you remove those, the passing game 'looked' better. A win is a win and while it was ugly i'm happy to have it Defensive tackling - I saw guys coming up from their zones and making good tackles with good form. Defensive run stopping - Not sure if it was a bad showing by the Jets or a good showing by our front 7, but we were able to stuff the run. Punts and Field goals - Neither are my favorite thing, but I was glad both kickers delivered strong performances The Bad: Field Position - Kick return game overall must get much better. Penalties and bad decisions were pinning our offense inside the 10 repeatedly and giving our defense a short field to defend. This has to improve. Same thing happened last year. In the words of F. Armstrong himself... "Hey Frank! you aren't good enough to be an azzhole" Get it fixed or you will be out the door. DQ cannot allow this sloppy Special Teams play OC - When I see MR2 calling a time-out and coming to the sidelines screaming repeated profanities about either the play or the wrong personnel group in frustration it's a bad thing. That said, I think maybe MR2 is a little too nice or too good of a team player sometimes. Sometimes you gotta take charge! When in doubt, you lead and sometimes you gotta embarrass people by pointing out the obvious to get things moving in the right direction. I hope MR2 is starting to take charge and lay it down as 'this is how it's gotta be" because he has way more experience in the NFL than Sark does and at this point in his career... WTF are they gonna do? cut him? Heck no. Let it rip MR2, lay down the law and fire that rookie coach up. The Ugly: Right side of OL - I didn't do my typical coaches film review, but I didn't have to, someone on the right side is missing a heck of a lot of blocks. I don't know who it is and I don't really care, but they gotta get that crap dialed in. If you don't know who to block, just do what my HS Line coach would tell us, "When in doubt, put someone out." Point margin - Ya I know a win is a win, but if their kicker had not missed those 2 FG attempts for a total of 6 points, we don't win by 5 points.
  4. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly What's Going On By: RichardCNile Sing along songs are freaking great. Who doesn't have at least one or two songs you like to sing along to? Whether it's Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, Luda's Stand Up or like this guy's version of 4 Non-Blond's What's Up, which is most commonly known as "What's going on?" Why is it we love to sing along? In the car. In the shower. In a bar; a song comes on and if it's 'that one song' we just can't help but bellow it out; even if we don't know the words. I don't have any scientific facts like MRI's on people's brains or 100,000 people surveyed, but I think it's because it takes us back in time and puts us in some moment other than where we currently are. It takes us back in time, back to a better place, a better time, a better situation. But alas, the song ends and you realize it wasn't quite the same. You realize you can't really go back to how it was, to that place or that situation. That's kinda how I feel watching the Falcons this season. The notes are roughly the same, the tune follows a similar beat, the lyrics kinda sound similar.... but it just ain't the same. We can't go back to that situation or to that time. That is gone, lost in the universe of all things past and can only be revisited via a digital facsimile from your DVR. So what's going on? In the first game we excused it as 'rust' or Chicago's stout defense. Then the Packers game where we saw an HD replay of last seasons team... not quite the same, but the closest and best reproduction yet. Now, after five games; it's apparent and obvious. You can never go back. Our hopes of getting back to what we were last year are futile. Like DQ's famed clock, it's about 'now' not last year. So what's going on now? Who is this team? I kind feel like I'm watching that old movie Pet Cemetery where the pets would come back to life and look the same, but not quite the same personality. What is our personality now? What is the team identity? Like all personalities, there's some good, some bad and some ugly. The 2017 Atlanta Falcon's personality The Good: Talented - Sure there are some blemishes, but overall, very talented. Fast - Speed is abundant as proven by the guy we brought up from the practice squad Hall #17. Persistent - I say this because we seem to have a disciplined persistence to run the ball this year. Albeit some creativity may be required going forward. The Bad: Undisciplined - Penalties, Fumbles, missed catches, bad snaps to a punter? or was the snap good and the formation wrong? Regardless, these are all signs of what we called in the Marine Corps as "Slimy Stinkin Civilians. A bunch of undisciplined Fuhcks" Un-confident - There are too many times where our offense just looks unconfident. Matt seems anxious, frazzled, uncertain. Receivers are unsure; like when Matt went deep Sunday for Julio and Julio stopped at 20 yards looking for the ball. On Defense, I don't see confidence in attacking the offense. It looks like they are waiting to see what happens then reacting instead of attacking. The Ugly: No Flow - I've been saying this for a few weeks and I don't have a better explanation for it, but it's just one of those things you notice. I'm not a NFL coach, college coach or even HS coach. I'm also not an artist, designer or architect, but if I see a good design, i immediately know it and if I see a bad one, I immediately know it's not a good one. I can't tell you what's wrong with it, but I can tell you something aint right. Same for music, I'm not musically inclined, but I can tell you if the song flows. This song doesn't flow. With all this said, it's still early in the season. Teams can come together and get things going. Look at our defensive improvement last year from week 1 to the NFCCG Night and day. What starts out as awkward and disjointed and elementary can eventually pick up and get going into something that just gets everyone involved and moving to the same beat. What do you think the personality of this team is THIS YEAR?
  5. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Close but no cigar by: RichardCNile If you've ever been in sales or studied sales one of the common idioms is that 'while spelled the same, there is a big difference between close and close" I was 'close' to closing the deal versus; I was able to 'close' the deal. We were close to wining Sunday, but we didn't close the deal. So what happened? Similar to several of our other games this year... if you look at most of the stats, you would expect a win. Time of possession - Falcons +1:30 Rushing yards - Falcons 147 to Bills 117 Passing Yards - Falcons 242 to Bills 182 Return Yards - Falcons 87 to Bills 8 Average rushing gain - Falcons 5.1 to Bills 3.2 While I have been critical of our new OC, when you look at the offensive stats, you have to admit that while our stats are not what they were last year, 242 yrds passing and 147 rushing yards is usually a winning performance. So, while we might not be thrilled with the new OC's creativity or use of all his weapons, the numbers suggest he had a winning game plan and executed that game plan despite the challenges he encountered. For example; Buffalo has been playing solid and disciplined defense. Yet, we attacked their strength (run game) and rolled up 147 yards. We have a new right guard who has struggled and a backup right tackle that got pushed into the starting lineup 2 weeks after arriving in the ATL. I am assuming Sark made a decision to establish the run game to help the right side of the o-line when they did call a pass play. So if our offensive game plan was legit and we could have won the game with that plan, why didn't we? Was defense a problem? Special Teams? Defense had some challenges with tackling and covering some deep balls, but they only allowed 1 TD and 3 Field Goals, 2 of which were 55 and 56 yards. The third field goal was when we stopped them on the goal line and they settled for 3 points. So yes, there was room for improvement on Defense, but you can't say we lost because our Defense got owned. Let's go back to 'close' and 'close.' What's the difference between being 'close' to closing the deal and closing the deal. It comes down to fundamentals. Oddly, one of my favorite clips from NFL Films is when they did one on sports superstitions. They interviewed fans and players about superstitions which included everything from what they wore to what they ate. At the end of the film, they had asked the famed Bills coach Marv Leavy "Do you have any football superstitions?" and he replied "Of course I do, I tell my team every week, if you don't block and tackle today, you're gonna lose." We had some blocking problems due to our o-line. We had some tackling problems on defense and ultimately we lost. We all know the Ref's make bad calls and they made some horrible ones in this game. I could have written an entire manifesto on how two of the turnovers were terrible calls and probably found video of similar plays where the ruling was the opposite of what we experienced. The forward pass determined a fumble was clearly a forward pass. The ball that went off of Hardy's hands and the defender scooped as it hit the ground, then the ball moved from vertical to horizontal after the nose hit the ground were atrocious calls by the refs. However, despite those bad calls we were close. We could have won that game. Should we have handled 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 differently? obviously, but still we were in position to win that game and close the deal... we didn't. Closing the deal is good, being close is bad and the difference is ugly. The Good: Run Game - We continue to focus on the run game which I like to see. We started with about 56 yards against the Bears, to 126 against the Packers, 152 against Detriot and 147 against the Bills. I like the trend here and despite the 'close' games and recent loss, I know the focus on the run game will pay off as we get deeper into the season and post season. Special Teams - This was the second week in a row we had a good return. We had some returns with penalties and need to continue to clean that up, but kick return yardage is always a bonus for our offense. Kick coverage continues to be solid most punts being nonreturnable. Sacks - We had another 3 sacks against the Bills giving the Falcons 12 for the season. I'm not sure how many we had this time last year, but I'm pretty sure it was less than 12. Projecting that forward for the season would put us at 48 for the year. Last year we totaled 34 all year. Grady Jarrett - This dude is the leader of the defense. He makes plays and comes up big. On the Bills last possession he took over the game stuffing two run plays and running the Taylor to the sideline on 3rd down. Brooks Reed - All he does is deliver. Is he a superstar? no. Is he the most amazing athlete on defense? no. Is he going to take over a game from his Defensive End position? no. But he consistently delivers sacks and pressure. Freeman & Coleman - Against a stout defense and behind a struggling right side of an offensive line and with two of our primary receiving threats on the bench, these guys delivered ripping off big runs, taking the pressure off of Ryan and the o-line in pass protection. I feel like if we hadn't had the 3 turnovers again this game, they would have hit a combined 200 yards rushing and another 100+ passing. They are both a shoestring tackle from ripping a 40+ yard TD. The Bad: Turnover battle - Obviously 3 turnovers are bad, but not getting any turnovers by our Defense is also bad. Our D put McCoy on the sideline for a bit after a big hit that did jar the ball loose on the sideline on their long drive after the deep INT, then KONeal put a big hit on Tolbert which also jarred the ball loose, but we didn't get the recovery. I won't even discuss the bad calls on 2 of the turnovers here. Stadium MC - Not sure if this is what he/she is called, but after the 2nd or 3rd turnover, they had a tv timeout and the stadium MC decides to do the 'happy song' and pan the crowd wanting people to do the happy dance. Really? c'mon man. Think about it. I realize this is their second NFL game, but WTF are you thinking. Injuries - It's part of the NFL, but it really has an effect. By the end of the game I think we had 8 or 9 guys on the sideline (Julio, Sanu, Shraeder, Upshaw, Crawford, Beasley, Allen, Ward). Despite all of this... we were still in a position to win the game. My one primary criticism of Sark in this game is with your #1 and #2 WR's on the bench, why didn't he bring both Free and Coleman in the game and his TE's. With Hooper & Toilolo, Free and Coleman, I think we could have created some matchup problems when you split them out. The Ugly: Refs - I'm not blaming the loss on the Refs. I firmly believe you cannot leave the game in the hands of the Ref's. However there were many calls that were just completely contrary to everything we've been told about sack/fumbles, catches, etc. I really hope there was some type of acknowledgment or at least extensive discussion at the NFL level about that 'fumble' that Matt threw 10 yards down field. I guarantee you if the WR had tried to catch the ball and it fell out of his hands, hit the ground and he fell on it; they would have ruled it an incomplete pass, not a recovered fumble. Intensity - I just didn't see the intensity this game I would have expected. Have we fallen into the old ways of playing down to our opponents? As I mentioned the Defense seemed flat and the offense didn't really seem like they were in sync, despite the production in the run game. The Bomb - Few things in football are more spectacular than the bomb. Seeing the QB wind up and spin the ball 50 or 60 yards downfield with a WR running at full speed looking over his shoulder to match his speed and position to the approaching ball, it's just a beautiful thing. Matt and his receivers had a ridiculously high completion and QBR on these bombs last year. So far this year they are just close and close is just ugly. We're 1/4 way through the season and we're 3-1, if we repeat that we'll end up 12-4 and be in good shape. Let me know your Good, Bad & Ugly. I love feedback; be it good or bad. I watched the Tampa and Pats game last night and I saw two very beatable teams. Hated to see the Pats win, but was also glad to see the Buc's lose. They could have won if they had kept feeding Doug Martin, but the good news is Winston still can't consistently deliver the ball to his WR's, so good news for Falcon's fans. It's the bye week, go enjoy yourselves.
  6. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Week 3 "R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me." By: richardcNile Just a little respect is what Aretha says she wants. She goes on to tell you"I ain't gonna do you wrong while you're gone" and she "aint gonna do you wrong 'cause she don't wanna;" but she is asking... for just a little respect. She wants you to believe in her. Have some faith man. She continues on to even beg you saying: What you want, Baby I got it. What you need Do you know I got it? She's challenging you when she sings "Don't you know I got it?" C'mon man, give her just a little respect. Believe. We are in uncharted territory. Our Falcons have NEVER been in this situation, so it makes sense that our fans are not comfortable with giving 'her' or in this case our Falcons some respect. We've struggled through hard times, horrible seasons, rebuilding, failed coaches, the loss of superstar players and the list goes on and on and on. I don't need to tell you; you know that the struggle is real. So it makes sense that we don't know how to handle being 3-0 after the season we had last year. We've been 3-0 before, but we've never been in THIS situation. Not in THIS scenario. Not after the season we had last year AND the season we are having this year. This is a first. Virgin territory is what they call it because no matter how smooth you think you are or were, we all know that the first time you found yourself with a girl ready to get busy; no matter how much porn you've seen or how many times you had thought about it, you were at least a little unsure or nervous about how this is going to go down. We're 3-0 and heavily favored at home against the Bills. We're all a bit nervous. We're all a bit unsure and so some of us go to what's normal and comfortable. What's normal and comfortable for Falcons fans is to not believe it. Falcon fans are not used to getting respect, so we are not accepting that respect. If feels odd. It feels uncomfortable. We remember those times before where we thought 'it' was gonna happen and it didn't happen so now... now we don't think it will happen. We've been let down too many times in so many different ways, so we don't believe it. We say stuff like "we're lucky to be 3-0" or "We should have lost those games" or "We didn't win big enough." Have some respect. Allow yourself to believe. Enjoy it. If you still don't completely believe the respect we are getting, read on to find out the good, the bad and the ugly of our win over the Lions that put us atop the NFC at 3-0. The Good: Run Game - Free is playing out of his mind right now. From ripping off 8-10 yard runs and catching bullets from Matt in heavy traffic. He's always been the lightning, but he's also bringing some thunder choosing to run over defenders and knock a 6'1 220 LB Safety 2 yards through the air and out of bounds. Coleman seems to be seeing the blocking much better and they better respect him because he's close to getting completely loose on a run-away TD. The offensive line is crushing defenders at the LOS and the WR's are doing a job few wide receiver corps in the NFL would do consistently. #inbrotherhood The pattern here seems to be a focused, deliberate and consistent effort by the HC, OC and Offense to not only put up points, but to be able to run the ball and control the game. We did that in the first half to perfection having a 2:1 time of possession and score lead. Future opponents now know they must respect the run. Effort - In a game on the road where things started going really against us, it would have been easy to let up, they didn't. The effort on offense, defense and special teams in the 4th quarter was commendable. The team believed in themselves and made the Lions respect them by calling 3 consecutive time-outs in the 4th quarter for fear we would run the clock out on them. This ultimately lead to their demise as the clock was expired on the 10 second rule. Special Teams - Finally we didn't have penalties on kick returns. This allowed us to return a kick off for 38 yards. Our kick coverage was good as well allowing only 1 KO returned and 1 punt returned for 10 and 11 yards respectively. Play calling - I like where Sark is headed. He seems to be using the offensive weapons more and using one or two plays to setup three or four other plays. After the second interception and the Lions tied the game at 23 in the 3rd quarter, the Falcons offense needed to make a statement as the clock ticked into the 4th quarter. Freeman wide left for 8 yards, Freeman left tackle for 11 yards, Freeman right tackle for 16 yards (wait for it, wait for it). Play action fake right to Freeman and Matt throws the bubble screen to Gabriel who burns to the goal line with his signature stretch dive for a TD. When we make them respect the run, it opens up the rest of the field and players. End Game - The team is playing for the end game. The end game is not just the game they are playing but the game at the end of the season. The Superbowl. They are setting things up now. They know they can pass the ball, they know our RB's can catch out of the backfield and make plays. They know our TE can take it to the house, but what we need is control of the game. We need to be able to win in a multitude of ways. On special teams, by controlling the game through our run game and a controlled passing game and solid defense. The Falcons are training for the post season right now. They are practicing all the skills they know they will need come January and February. We may lose a game here and there, but remember, they are preparing for the end game. they are working to get that ultimate respect. Confidence - Our defense is getting more confident each week. They were put in some horrible situations this week and they came up big. Campbell is still balling out and Jones had a huge game with some brutal, punishing hits on the Lions that paid dividends in the 4th quarter. Alford is finally playing the football instead of panicking and he should have had an INT at the end of the game to ice it and almost had one on a deep pass he defended perfectly in the first half. Confidence is contagious. Time of possession - At the end of the first half it was a 2:1 Time of Possession advantage for the Falcons and our Defense had only given up 3 points. Obviously the pick 6 wasn't part of the plan and if it hadn't happened we would have been at least 20-3 and possibly 24-3. We finished the game with about a two minute advantage, but those turnovers really made us work to keep that TOP lead. The Bad: Pass Blocking - This was mostly from the right side of the line, but it was still bad. We have a new guard growing into the position and a tackle that just joined the team a few weeks ago so it's not surprising. Penalties - I realize you are on the road and it's noisy, but we had like 3 offsides penalties that put us in difficult situations and likely stalled a few drives. I have respect for what DQ coaches and believe this will get dialed in. Refs - I noticed it, the game announcers noticed it and you likely noticed it. Lots of ticky-tack calls against the Falcons all game long. A holding on Justin hardy to nullfy a long run by Coleman, an unnecessary roughness for a shoulder hit to a 'defenseless receiver' who is coming over the middle. NoCalls on several plays were our D-Lineman were about to sack the QB. On one play the right tackle literally had Tak in a bear hug and no flag. The ultimate bad call of the game for me was the 'defensive holding' on Tru in the 4th qtr on 2nd and 30 where Alford got the interception that would have iced the game. Thanks to the league doing all reviews remotely, the last bad call (the go ahead TD) was reversed. The Ugly: Lion's Tears - I love Lion's tears. They are so darn tasty. You gotta respect a fan base like that. A fan base who can look at the replay over and over and see he was clearly down and yet still proclaim with a straight face that the game was handed to Atlanta by the refs. Lions never held a lead and were only in that position due to the ref's bad calls. I tell ya, I get no respect MR2 - Ya, I'm putting him in the Ugly group. Hey, he threw 3 interceptions and a pick 6. I rewatched the game with the coaches clicker and there were several plays where he had guys open, but either didn't see them or in some cases looked right at them and decided not to throw it. Clearly this was an 'off' game for him. After the 2nd INT, I think he was a bit shaken and that somewhat lead to the 3rd INT. I respect his work ethic and am confident he will brush it off and get things in sync.
  7. Just take it. I'm not gonna sugar coat this, so just take it. Man-up and take it. Take it like a man. there are oodles of idioms that fit here and the reason is... well, sometimes you just gotta STFU and take it and in the NFL, a Win is way better than an Loss. Let's take it into perspective with the rest of the NFL. The average points scored by all the offenses that played (30) was 20.2 with the Rams of all teams raising that average with 46 points. Additionally, 46% of the teams playing had less than 300 yards of offense in week one. To put that further into perspective, Only one team last year in week 1 was held to under 300 yards and only 22% of teams were held to under 300 yards the previous 3 years in week 1. We had 372 yards and a win. If we had made a few more plays, a better block here, a catch there or not had a few of those penalties, we would have had 400 yards of offense and likely another 6 or 7 points making the last possession by the Bears meaningless. This is the NFL. It's hard to get a win. I expected more on opening day. I expected a beat down of the Bears. At halftime I was worried, but not panicking. I thought we'd take the field and take the lead. You know, make adjustments and that kind of thing to pull away in the second half. It didn't happen, but it could have happened on a number of plays, specifically the TE throw back to Toilolo. Here's my take on the good, the bad and the ugly of week 1. Good: No Turnovers - Great way to start the season. I heard someone say of other games that they were serving sloppy joe's in the cafeteria. We had some penalties, but I wouldn't say we were sloppy and keeping the ball secure was a good thing. Pressure - I really expected to see more sacks, but the pressure was there and that was a good sign. I saw someone post something saying we had like 23 QB pressures. Glennon had 40 passing attempts and we had 4 sacks, so that means almost 2 out of 3 times he dropped back to pass, he had pressure. Run D - You may not agree, but that's ok. They had 126 yards rushing. they had one rush for 46 yards. Except for that 1 play were he reversed the entire field and just made a great athletic play, we held them to around 80 yards rushing. Again, they had 40 pass attempts and only 19 rush attempts. That's more than double the pass attempts than rush attempts. Chicago clearly didn't feel llke they were getting a lot from their rushing game. Sacks - 4 sacks. Last regular season we had 34 or 2.125 per game. That's a positive. I remember last year just watching QB's stand there looking, looking and still looking for someone to get open. This game wasn't like that and that's a good thing. Passing D - The longest pass was for 22 yards. Glennon finished with an 86.2 QBR. He averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 86.2. MR2 on the other hand had an average of 10.7 yards per attempt and a QBR of 116.1 HOOOOOOOOper! - Love this dude. 2 huge plays. First the 88yarder where he stiff armed that safety right into the bowels of Soldier field and the other where he again pulled out the Stiff arm, then ran over another defender for a big play. Everyone was laughing when I drafted him in Fantasy... lol Smack Down - There were several big hits. KO Neil on Cohen over the middle was a memorable one and there were a few others throughout the game. Even the announcers were commenting on the hard hits and speed of the defense. MR2 - Efficient would be my word. 321 yards passing by completing 21 of 30 attempts for an average 10.7 yard gain per attempt, 1 TD and no INT's. He got sacked 2x and had at least 2 passes batted down at the LOS. Bad: Penalties - Opening kick off a block in the back on a return that would have been a great way to start the game. C'mon man. We gotta get these under control. The flag on D. Jones for hit out of bounds was BS. Dude was engaged with the runner in bounds and didn't see he stepped on the line and took him down. Overall 8 penalties for 73 yards. That's way too much. Adjustments - I didn't see our team really 'adjust' to what the Bears were doing. Maybe they did and I just didn't see it, but It seemed we were set on following our script, which was lackluster after the first drive. Flow - Our offense never seemed to get into a flow. Be it, too many 3 and outs or penalties or whatever, it never seemed to get into a flow we are used to seeing. MR2 tried to go hurry-up or no huddle a few times, but it seemed to always get held up due to a penalty or something. Also, on our run game, I didn't see the classic image of everyone stepping left or right on a stretch play. It seemed disjointed and awkward, kinda like Elaine dancing in Seinfeld rather than the North Koreans marching to Staying Alive Ugly: Run Game - Not sure what to say here. It was just ugly. Mostly I think due to lack of blocking. Free made some great moves to get some yardage, but for the most part, they were owning our O-Line. Full Back - #40 Sorry but that dude was horrible. We really miss Demarco. On one play, the TE was blocking the End and engaged in the block. The FB went to block him, ran into him with a full head of steam and literally hit him and fell backwards. Again, this DE (or Lb) was fully engaged with the TE at the time, so it wasn't like he saw him coming and delivered a hit to him. On one other play, he ran right by the unblocked man (whom I imagine he was supposed to block), then stopped and turned around to try to block him and another defender came in and ran over him on the way to wrapping up Freeman who was trying to do the escape the phonebooth trick. UGLY! Maybe we can bring that TE we tried to run into a Tackle back and turn him into a FB. This was horribly ugly. 'troffed This guy was not only lost out there, but was completely ineffective. Somebody upstairs in the booth has to see this in the game and tell DQ and Sark "ummm... so about that FB.. ya um, we are gonna need to adjust our script for this game." Red Zone - We gotta get TD's instead of FG's. We seemed to have gotten over this hump last year and now here we are again. Just one more TD would have made a big difference in how this game looked. Sark - Sorry, I know it's only one game, but this is about this game. Sark seemed lost and unsure of what he was doing IMHO. I would have expected him to adjust at some point. If the run game ain't working because our O-Line and FB are getting owned, then try some short passes, screens, wheel route to Coleman, flea flicker, reverse... something. But to just keep having drive stalls with this offensive talent is unacceptable. I know it's mean, but every time they zoomed in on him on the sideline, i was thinking "dude looks like he could use a double." Right Guard- Wow. I thought this guys name was Wes Schweitzer not Wet SwissCheese. If it took all summer and preseason to figure out he was our starter, I would have hated to see Garland in there. Is the Mexican Hat ready to play? what about Luis Pasture? OMG. They panned the camera over to Blank at one point and I saw him sent a txt to TD saying "I want 3 starting O-Lineman from next years draft." If MR2 gets broken this year because of our o-line... we gonna be getting the pitchforks and tiki lamps. I can't take that. What was your Good, Bad & Ugly from week 1? .
  8. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Expectations & Devistations By RichardCNile Expectations can be devastating. We all do it. We do it to ourselves, we do it to others. We do it at work and we do it with our friends in our personal life. We build up expectations. But why not? We all like to get excited about stuff, right? Here's how it goes down... Maybe you are meeting a friend's girlfriend's friend. Your friend and his girlfriend have built her up as <insert hot celeb name here> and you're expecting at least 'really good looking.' You meet her and you find yourself struggling to smile. If you'd known she had a butterface, you could have been prepared. Your Friend: "Bob, this is Sharron's friend, Suzie Rottencrotch I told you about" YOU: "yup, she does have a bangin body, but-her-face... Ok, let's go." But, they didn't. Now your are trying to reset your expectations, but you can't so instead you say you just got a text message that your mom is in the hospital and you have to go. I've spent several off seasons still buzzing from a successful previous season. Looking to 'build' off the previous years success and get to the proverbial 'next level.' Thinking to myself as I drive through the ATL traffic; this is the year we become a perennial playoff team. This is the year we show the league the ATL is here to stay. This is the year we start building that tradition of winning. This is the year! I read every article I can find on my Dirty Birdz. I stand around on the weekends talking to fellow Falcon fans, convincing ourselves how great we are going to be this year. I build expectations up to a level that often is unrealistic and the next season brings devastation. My Fan-dom is crushed. I'm angrier than a 10 yr old who's waited for the release of a new xbox game only to get to the GameStop and find they didn't get a shipment of the game. Why do I always do it? Because I'm a fan. Fanatical. I live for the fantastic. We American's are warriors by nature. Our forefathers, regardless of how you got here; had to fight to survive. Then over last 200+ years of the US of A, we've really only had a few years where we are not at war with someone in the world. The survivors of those wars are our forefathers. We come from DNA that not only survives but thrives on winner take all situations. Football is a small, but enjoyable way for us to break out of the daily monotony and exercise that warrior inside each of us. As American's we do expect more, we do expect to win. we do build up expectations and we do get excited. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly of expectations and devastations so that you are prepared for the 2017 season. The Good: I expect our offense to not miss a beat, stumble or falter & to pick up exactly where they left off last year and show up week 1 in polished, late season form. The Bad: The reality is, we have a new OC and offenses typically take a few games to get up to being in sync at game speed. The Good: I expect everyone to be in sync. Executing all blocks and running all routes to perfection. The Bad: The reality is we lost our FB who was a very big part of our running game success and our starting guard who was a veteran. The FB and the RB's need to in sync. The FB has to run like a RB and read the play, make the cut, then block while the RB follows the FB and cuts off of the FB's block. This is all happening in real-time and takes many reps to perfect. Same is true for the Guard. He's gotta know what the Center and Tackle are doing and how they will handle stunts, blitzes and odd alignments from the defense. The Good: I expect us to be putting up 38 to 45 points a game. The Bad: The reality is the NFL average last year was 22.8 and 22.7 in 2015 and we again face some of the top defenses from 2016. Patriots (1), Seattle (3), Dallas (4), Vikings (5) The Good: I expect Freeman to be breaking defenders ankles and get 5-7 yards a carry. The Bad: The reality is, Freeman only averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 2016, but I do feel confident in the ankle breaking part of my expectation The Good: I expect to see Julio repeat his crossing pattern route from left to right, stiff arm the DB and outrun the safety to the endzone for a 70+ yard TD The Bad: The reality is, Julio only did that 2x least year. Once against the Panthers and once against the Packers in the NFCCG. The Good: I expect out defense to be a top 5 defense this year. The Bad: The reality is we were 27th in Points per game last year. That's a jump of 22 positions. The Good: I expect our front 4 to be relentless in getting to the QB, applying pressures on a regular basis and giving us plenty of sacks to celebrate and put the opposing offenses on unfavorable down and distance situations. The Bad: The reality is, we were 16th last season with 34 sacks while the top team (Cardinals) had 48 and Panthers had 47 and the Vikings were the number 5 team with 41. So we would need 7 or 8 more sacks to break into the top 5 in sacks and 14 more to get to number 1. That's a lot of sacks. What can Tak do? I don't know, but here is what the top rookies did last year. 1. Joey Bosa OLB, San Diego Chargers – 9.5 2. Yannick Ngakoue DE, Jacksonville Jags – 8 3. Leonard Floyd OLB, Chicago Bears – 7 4. DeForest Buckner DE, San Francisco 49ers – 6 5. Emmanuel Ogbah DE, Cleveland Browns – 5.5 6. Noah Spence OLB, Tampa Bay Bucs – 5.5 7. Maliek Collins DT, Dallas Cowboys – 5 8. Sheldon Rankins DT, New Orleans Saints – 4 9. Jatavis Brown LB, San Diego Chargers – 3 10. Adolphus Washington DT, Buffalo Bills – 2.5 Remember, Beasley his rookie year? We were all calling him bust'ly. If Tak does the average of the top 10 rookies from 2016, he will produce 5. Beasley who had 15.5 last season only had 4 his rookie season. & The Ugly: It's 3 more months until opening day in September. All the stats, articles, sports talk and friends talk won't change what happens between September and February. I can't help it, I am building my expectations way higher than I should... even though history says I shouldn't. Why am I doing it? Because I'm a red-blooded American Male with warrior DNA. I love football. I expect more and despite the history of this franchise called the Atlanta Falcons, I do believe this year is different. I can still hear the chants of "A-T-L" from the NFCCG and I can't wait to hear them in the new MB Stadium. It feels different, it smells different and dam-it, it will be different! Go Falcons!
  9. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Wherever you go, there you are. The Atlanta Falcons 2017 Preview There's a book by this name. Here's a link if you're interested It's about meditation, self improvement and training your brain to not focus on crap that is annoying the heck out of you and of course being Zen and one with the universe. If you're a perceptive Falcon Fan, you can clearly see where I'm going here (SBLI). After all the years of hope and hype followed by seasons of despair and desolation. From ups and downs of the Steve Barkoski, through the no-names and shouldn't-have-been's to the MV7 era and now the Matt Ryan era; we've seen the sea rise and fall so much that most of us are bona-fide seasick from the undulation of our sports emotions. It seems our franchise is destined to suffer as the higher we rise, the lower we fall, over and over like sailors in a rubber dingy, sunburned and thirsty; hoping, praying and crying out to be saved, to find land, to quench our championship thirst with cool fresh spring water.. with a championship win. I don't know this for a fact, but I've heard that Mr. Rankin Smith (former owners of the falcons) made his money in Life Insurance and the company did 'payday life insurance.' I've often wondered if the fate of this franchise is linked to anguish of some poor widow who's insurance policy wasn't paid and her dead Falcon Fan husband is still haunting this franchise. Lucky for me, I've read silly books like the one mentioned above and I don't think the fate of an NFL franchise is linked for eternity to an owners business practices. As for the concept of "wherever you go, there you are;" It's more about making good decisions to get a good result than hoping and praying. With that in mind; let's look at th Zen-ness of the Falcons 2017 off season. The Good: The Offense 2016 showed how close we were to having an offense that would put me in a zen state every time I watched them. With just a few moves to bring in the likes of Sanu and Gabriel and Mack; we went from an offense that looked fidgety and uncomfortable to a zen master who could sit in any position and make it look serene. Scoring up and down the field... these games will make you one with the universe. Just look at Bosher's stats for 2016. He only punted 44 times last year. Many of those games in 2016, he only punted 1 or 2 times. The previous 5 years he averaged 64.6 per season or 20 more than he did last year. Other than our 4th wr and our FB and Guard, we are returning everyone. My biggest concern is the O-Line. I have to trust that we will get someone plugged in there and that our Tackles will continue to develop. We played the best defenses in the league last year and they could not stop our offense. I don't see someone suddenly figuring out how to stop us in 2017. The Defense The defense grew-up last year. By the time we played our last two regular season games and into the Playoffs, they were catching fire by creating turn-overs and making impressive offenses look awkward. The off season moves will only add fuel to the fire that started last year. Media types are suggesting we may have the best front seven in the NFL. I will be the first to say we need to see them actually play a game before we can start making bold statements, but on paper; yes, we are looking very good. We finally have depth in the DB's and depth in the Dline. We need some depth at LB, but our LB's will be flying around the field this year. If we are not a top 10 and possibly top 5 defense in 2017, I will be very surprised. Special Teams: We got better with the upgrade to Weems. The additional speed we've drafted will bring added results on special teams coverage units and the return game. Bosher and Bryant are returning and that's a good situation. The Bad: The entire team, which is pretty young; has to be professional. They have to realize it will take even more this year to get back to the SB than in took to get there last year. Every team we play will look at this as "their test" to see where they stack up in the NFL. We are the defending NFC Champions. We must defend it every week. For some teams, beating the Atlanta Falcons this year may be the highlight of their season. The Ugly: The brotherhood. It's hard to build a team. It's hard to get that vibe of unity and brotherhood. It's like starting a fire in the damp jungle with sticks. We had it last year and it catapulted us to the SB. Can we re-create it? Can the new additions to the team meld into this mindset? Will the team think "we don't need this brotherhood anymore?" Will the message get old? These are all considerations. They do happen. See the start of this article and remind yourself how you felt going into the 99 season after the SB, or how you felt after we lost the NFCCG to San Fran a few years back or any other season following a winning season as we've only recently under Smitty had back to back winning seasons. One thing I have learned from trying to be Zen is the simple phrase that "Life is hard.' In the Marines we used the phrase, which has now been adopted by the Falcons of "Embrace the suck." It's going to be hard, it's gonna be a lot of work, but in the end... wherever you go, there you are. I'm expecting that to be SBLII ~richardCNile
  10. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Week 3 - Radar Contact Established By: Richard C. Nile In pilot lingo, after you takeoff and you contact Air Traffic Control (ATC), they may ask for an Ident or "flash." You push a button on your transponder and it makes your aircraft "flash" on their screen so they can identify you from the other aircraft on their screens. ATC then respond with something like "2 niner 74Tango, radar contact established 5 miles northeast of the airport, climb to assigned altitude and proceed on course." Thursday night the Falcons pushed the "Ident" button and everybody saw their "flash" on the screen. We are officially "On the radar" of every NFL team. Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a Marine Aviator during WWII who also was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH), once described flying as "hours of boredom followed by seconds of sheer terror." As we climb to altitude and proceed "on course" for the rest of the season, let's remember; just because it's beautiful weather when you take off, doesn't mean it will be smooth the whole way. I've been flying for only about 3 years now and sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad and sometimes it can get ugly quickly. The Good Preparation - After a tough loss on the road to a Cincy team that may turn out to be one of the better teams in the league, the Falcons got their minds right and showed up ready to play (something I think they failed to do with Cincy). Game Plan - We are typically pretty good on our first drive. The Falcons went out and executed the first drive and put 7 up early to set the tone. The defense did their job and we were on our way again driving down the field when Toilolo fumbled. Opportunities are made. Tampa made an opportunity by making Toilolo fumble, then Hester did the same and got it right back. It wasn't luck. It was focus and hustle. Hester knew exactly what he was trying to do and did it. He made the opportunity and if he hadn't, the Bucs likely put at least 3 on the board and now it's 7-3 instead of 14-0. Big Big Difference, both in reality and in mentality. Red Zone - For the past few years we have all cringed when we got to the red zone because we were more likely to score from 30 yards out than from 15 or 10 yards out. So far this year, our red zone has been productive from both the run and the pass. Matt has thrown 6 passes in the red zone and 5 have been for TD's. The only thing we haven't seen yet this year is the inside shuttle pass that Snelling used to run. D-Line - Our D-Line has shown consistent improvement. I think having Corey Peters back in the rotation is a big part of that, combined with everyone learning their role and getting comfortable in game situations. Against the Saints and Cincy, we gave up some yards, but we also adjusted and got it tightened up. Again, Peters gets a solid push to the other side of the LOS helping to disrupt plays and blow-up blocking schemes. Tampa put up 102 yards rushing against Carolina week 1 and 157 against the Rams in week 2. Against the Falcons, they had 64 yards. Unfortunately we gave up 139 and 170 in weeks 1 and 2, so improvement was needed. Radar Contact - We are on the radar. Every team we play will be taking us very seriously. Every defense will want to show they can shut us down like Cincy did. Against Cincy we had to keep 6 and sometimes 7 in for projection, which limited our options in the passing game. Expect teams to work hard to get to Matt. The Bucs blitzed a lot, but we were able to protect and Matt made them pay for the blitz. Hester the Jester - Ya, the joke is on th rest of the NFL and especially Chicago. Hester is more than most people thought he would or could be. Let's hope he continues to shine. I know he's looking forward to the return to the Dome against his old team in 3 weeks. Jake - What a difference he made. I was concerned about him playing on a sore ankle and creating a bigger problem, but he seemed to do well and showed no signs of more problems. The extra time off will help everyone with recovery. The Bad: Fumbles - We had 3 fumbles lost and 1 INT. The INT was junk since it was our backup, but the 3 fumbles were a problem. We were very lucky to get the first one right back, but the other two killed great drives that during a tight game could have made the difference. In most games, if you turn the ball over 3 times, you will lose the game. The Ref's - Ok, so I understand they want to protect the players and all that, but they gotta blow the whistle if they want to do that. On the punt where we stood up the returner, who was obviously trying to get loose or at least fall forward, we gang up on him and the ball comes out while he is still standing. The refs call it "down." I didn't hear the whistle blow until after the ball came out. Same thing on the Saints/Vikings game when they suplexed Drew. He wasn't down and the ref hadn't blow the whistle, so they took him down and get a 15 yrd penalty giving the saints a first down and the drive that won the game for them. If they want to blow a play dead early to protect players... fine, then blow the darn whistle. Don't let it play out, then say "just kidding, I meant to blow the whistle earlier." There were several plays that should have been called our way, but were not. Just makes me wonder what's up. I saw a lot of bad officiating this week that changed the outcome of games. Disappointing. The Ugly: Respect - It's funny how Tampa wasn't a great team, but also not a terrible team at 8:29pm on Thursday, but by 8:59 pm on Thursday they were a terrible team. The punch line is of course... The Falcon's aren't THAT good, rather the Buc's are just THAT bad. Let me just point out a few details: 1. Against the Panthers, yes the division champs from last year, they had 17 first downs, ran for 102 yards and passed for 162 yards and lost 14-20 having 3 turnovers. 2. Against the Rams, they lost 17-19, had 18 first downs and ran for 157 yards. The turnovers were even at 1 each. The Buc's didn't give us the game. In fact, they only threw one INT, which we TOOK to the house. We took or forced 4 fumbles. We took the ball on long sustained drives and punched it into the endzone for 7 points instead of 0 or 3 points. Our defense stuffed the run and we got pressure on the QB causing them to be 3-13 on 3rd down, most of those being when our 2nd and 3rd stringers were playing. 2nd half let down - How many of you were thinking when we got up 21-0 that we would let them get back into the game in the 2nd half and end up having to have a 4th quarter drive to secure the win. I know I was thinking that because that's what we've done for several years. We get a lead, then we let up off the gas. There was no second half let down. We came out in the 3rd quarter like we were down 21 points. When the Buc's lifted off for their yearly trip to the ATL, the outlook was good, but when they got to Atlanta airspace, things got ugly really quick for Tampa. On to the Vikings this Sunday. Will we see another prolific offense like we saw in weeks 1 & 3? Or will we see a let down? Will our Defensive front 7 make the next step in improvement and stuff the run AND start getting pressure on the QB? Will we see more of Holmes or Carimi at Right Tackle? Will we see more Maponga and Goodman rushing the passer and less Biermann and Osi?
  11. The Good, The Bad & the Ugly - Week 3 Heisenberg For those of you who haven't tuned into AMC's popular show Breaking Bad, it's a story of an average man who is given a terminal death sentence by his doctor due to cancer. His wife is pregnant and his high school son has cerebral palsy. He is a high school chemistry teacher and lives paycheck to paycheck. His name is Walter and Walter decides to change things. You might say he took a page straight out of Sun Tzu's Art of War where he tells his reader to "put your men in a position where they can not lose." He goes on to clarify his meaning by saying "put them with their backs against the high tide or a cliff where they either fight and win or die. This is a position where you cannot lose." Walter found himself in a position where he could not lose. He was already dying so breaking the law and spending time in jail meant little to him. He risked everything and he fought and he won. During this story, Walter White the teacher, father and husband develops an alter ego, a persona that he calls "Heisenberg." Heisenberg does what is necessary. Heisenberg goes toe-to-toe with some very bad people and wins out using the skills he has available to him... chemistry. NOTE: this is another principle of Sun Tzu; knowing and using your strengths to your advantage. Heisenberg doesn't let up. After Heisenberg blows up the room of a psycho drug lord that had just beat up his meth partner and put him in the hospital, he not only gets the money that is due to him, but he demands future business be conducted on his terms, cash up front and a minimum buy of 2 pounds instead of the previous 1 pound. Heisenberg doesn't put his foot on your throat, Heisenberg makes a bomb and blows you up when you least expect it. Heisenberg never looks back. Heisenberg only looks forward. Heisenberg makes poisons and bombs, all with the stealth of a ninja as he famously tells his wife... "I am the one who knocks." There is no relaxing, there is no questioning, there is only an inner desire. Walter White is Mr. Good, but Heisenberg is all about the Bad and the Ugly. The Falcons need to find their inner Heisenberg. Here is my Good, Bad and Ugly from week 3 and long live Heisenberg! The Good: Trueblood - He could be our Heisenberg. On the 2nd play of the game, I see him on top of the defensive lineman with his knee on his chest and giving him a punch. Love it! Run Blocking - if you rewatched the game you saw us run a lot to the right side of the line. Trueblood and Reynolds would crush the DT down inside clearing room for the pulling guard and FB to kick out and clear out the LB's. Best run blocking I've seen this year from the Falcons. Anytime you crank out 140+ yards in the NFL on the ground, you are making progress. I was extremely happy with the run blocking and the running by both Quiz and Snelling. Pass Blocking - several times I saw 4, 5 and 6 man rushes and I saw a nice pocket with our tackles manned up 1-1 and holding their ground. MUCH better. There were still some breakdowns, but the improvement was so significant that I won't mention the few busts. The Bad: Field goal: This is almost a crutch for us. Bryant is/was so automatic. I could almost see the thought balloons over the Falcons bench and huddle reading..."We'll take the easy 3 points." or "well, if we don't get a first down, we'll get 3 points here." This is what Sun Tzu wrote about 2500 years ago. Don't give you men an option to surrender. It's fight and win or die! A few years ago when Jim Mora was our Coach we played Kansas City and lost like 44 - 7 because he told the team "We are not going to get back in this kicking field goals and punting. I'm not gonna punt 1 time in the second half" and he didn't and the score reflected it. However, I respected the decision because he was right and he taught his team we are playing to win, not playing "not to lose badly." Forget the darn field goal. Tell you team we are going to score Touchdowns or we are going to lose this game. Heisenberg wouldn't kick a field goal, I promise you that. Personnel: Is a wounded Roddy White really better on the field than one of our other WR's? I don't know the answer to this, but I gotta think you at least give the other guys a shot and let Roddy rest. He catches maybe 1 ball a game for the last 3 games... really we can't do better than that with our backup? DeCoud - Seriously, this guy has to learn to tackle. I love the guy. He's a funny dude and he can be a ball hawk, but for the love of god.... TACKLE! run through him, wrap up and lock up and take him down. The Ugly: Screen blocking - We had several plays that could have and should have been TD's but one block was missed and it caused us to have to kick a field goal. Trueblood whiffed big time on at lest 3 screens. Reynolds whiffed another time in the red zone... they have to execute. Harry Douglass - He dropped a critical 2nd down pass that hit him in the hands. Julio was blocking the CB for him. If he catches it, he's likely a TD for him. He drops it. Punt return. You gotta know you're gonna get hit, but you gotta hold onto the ball or get away from the ball. Harry didn't step up. Harry is no Heisenberg. Red Zone - After re-watching the game I am convinced it wasn't the play calling or the coach being timid or any of that... It was the players not executing. One missed block prevents a TD. One TD instead of a Field Goal and we win that game. When it counts - I learned to fly about 2 years ago. People ask me what I like most about flying and I tell them "It counts." When I get in the plane and leave the ground... everything I did to make sure the plane was safe and would work and every time I checked the weather, it counts. Every time I come in for a landing, it counts. Everything I do, counts. No do-overs, no re-spawns... it counts. Over the last few years the Falcons have been able to pull it out "When it counts." This year... not so much. Heisenberg understands when it counts. Will we be the one who knocks this week? Someone will be knocking on Sunday night.. it's either gonna be us or them.
  12. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Week 3 Is there a doctor in the house? By Richard C Nile Technology has caught up with a lot of science fiction. The "Communicator" and the 'Stun Gun" from Star Trek come to mind. but medicine is still pretty primitive. I remember "Bones" from Star Trek waiving his mobile MRI device over Captain Kirk, then hitting him in the neck with the air syringe and 2 seconds later he was fine. Every time I go to the Doctors office I have to remind myself that less than 100 years ago, this is the same profession that would cut you open to drain the bad blood out, or were giving people electro-shock therapy and frontal lobotomies. My favorite show was Bewitched. I remember Samantha, the mother closing her eyes and concentrating and saying "Calling Doctor Bombay, emergency, Come Right Away." The good Doctor was always off in the alps skiing with a few hotties and would have to leave to brew up some weird soup to fix the latest witch ailment. While watching the game in the Georgia Dome on Sunday I was sure I saw Coach Smith with his eyes closed mumbling "Doctor Bombay, emergency. Come Right Away! Doctor Bombay, EMERGENCY, Come Right Away!!!" Unfortunately, I didn't see any witches brew on the sideline and despite any "modern" advances in medicine, it still takes weeks to heal a sprained ankle and months to years to heal bones and tendons fully. We don't have any of Doctor Bombay's witch brew, nor none of Bones' air syringe. We just have some second and 3rd string guys who hopefully will play good, but we should expect some bad plays and maybe even some ugly plays first. Here is my Good, Bad & Ugly for week 2 in the Georgia Dome: Good: Defense - It's easy to say the Rams offense isn't that good, but they were good enough to win last week in the NFL. Our defense locked down the Rams Offense most of the game. They were able to put together some dink and dunk plays that got them down the field for a field goal, but if you saw the bad Pass Interference call in the 4th quarter, you'd know the score shouldn't have been as close as it was. Matt Ryan - Matt in my opinion had an amazing game. He was getting knocked around, hurried and had to have eyes in the back of his head. He had no running game to speak of and had to complete find and fire the ball at his receivers in about 2 seconds or get sacked and had no interceptions. Jullllllllioooooo - He stepped up and had a great game. He did have one drop or maybe the DB got a hand on it in front of the Rams bench, but it was a 3rd down and he's got to get those. The 81 yard TD was a classic. Hopefully this is something we'll see more of this year. Bartu - I'm sure he had some plays he didn't do that well on, but on the open field tackle on the 3 yard line, he showed amazing closing speed and the ability to complete the play with a good open field tackle. Snelling - Some guys just produce. No fan fare, no twitter feeds, no contract issues. He just shows up, competes and produces. Classic metal lunch box and thermos kinda guy. Kicking and kick coverage - Despite we almost had one punt blocked (see blocking issues below), our punts were high, deep and well angled. Our coverage beat the blockers and took the runners out. The Bad - Injuries - To lose your FB and RB, then your star LB and a DE/OLB... toss in your veteran CB. Don't forget your number 1 WR is playing, but mostly as a decoy. If you're not familiar with the term "Decimated," it comes from the latin or Romans and it means literally to lose 1 of every 10 soldiers. We were beyond decimated. The 3rd Quarter let down - starting with the field goal before half time and through and into the 4th quarter, I felt there was a significant let down. I assumed this was due to the play calling and coaching. I re-watched the game and realized this was not the case. At half time it looked like we were killing them 24 - 3. However, if you review the scoring and the drives it tells a different story. On the first drive, we got stuffed on the first play (Run) for 2 yard loss, then an incomplete pass to SJax (replay of 3rd and goal from New Orleans) then on 3rd and 12, we got VERY lucky on an offsides call against the defense. My seats were on the 30 yard line so it was basically right in front of me and I was sure it was offsides on Holmes who moved. The ref's called it on the defense who moved at the same time. I watched the film last nite on slow motion and Holmes started to lean back, then the cadence came and he and the DE move at the same time. This should have been on Holmes and we should have punted there. Instead, we get a break, which I'm happy to take; and we go on to put a drive together and score. So on that drive we only had 1 3rd and long (3rd and 8) that we converted successfully. Our second series, we went 5 plays and ended up 2nd and 6 then 3rd and 6 and punted on 4th down. Drive stalled On our third series, we end up 3rd and long, but we run max protection and hit a home run 81 yard TD to Juliooooo. On the next Defensive series, Rams start putting together a drive, they get a very favorable call on 2nd down then again on 3rd down and they end up 4th and inches and convert. The next play results in a tipped ball that we return for a pick six. So after only putting together one successful drive that we had a favorable offsides call on to help us, we are up 21 - 0 and we look like world beaters. The Rams then put together a 10 play drive, but are stopped on our 11 yard line and they settle for a field goal. After that our offense goes 3 and out, then the Rams go 5 and out before we finally put together a good 11 play drive. However, Ryan gets hammered and Smitty decides to not risk losing our QB and/or the football and settle for 3 points and get his QB some smelling salts. At the time I hated the call, but in hindsight and without all the Jack and Cokes, I love the call. Again, consider the fact you had seen Ryan get hit and knocked around for 2 quarters and had already lost your starting FB, RB and CB. When the 3rd quarter arrives, the Rams made some obvious adjustments. They looked at their numbers and said "We've stuffed the run (Falcons had 1 yard rushing at halftime), they have to pass, let's get some sacks and get our offense on the field. The 3rd quarter saw us go 3 and out, 5 and out, 3 and out and 3 and out with 2 sacks and multiple hurries and hits. In the 4th quarter we made more adjustments and were able to get a drive going that gave us the breathing room we needed to close out the game. Anyone watching the game knows the last TD was garbage and a non-factor. There was not a 3rd quarter let down, there was a 3rd quarter Rams surge that stonewalled our offense, left our QB with a hurting behind and our Offensive Tackles with some hurt feelings. Screen Blocking - Oddly the screen blocking was fairly good. It's hard for a 300+ pound man to run 15 -20 yards, line up a defender that is 10 times quicker and effectively block them in space. Sam Baker did really well both this and last week. Holmes seemed to do well also. The Ugly: Pass rush - While our defense overall was good, sill our pass rush isn't getting there. We had pressure at some points, but in the stretch when they put together a long drive our D Line was gassed and had nothing. Pass Blocking - What you saw on the stat's sheet is not reflective of what happened in the game. Ryan got his butt kicked. Almost every pass play Ryan was picking himself up off the turf. Credit our Offensive Scheme for a lot of quick routes that allowed Ryan to release the ball to his primary target in 2 seconds. Sam Baker had a rough game. He got abused and used. Quinn would run past him to the outside or bull rush and just knock Baker right back into Ryan's lap. Baker looked slow and ineffective. There were some plays where he didn't even slow Quinn down. Sad. Very Sad. The other side was better, but not by much. I saw Holmes get compacted back into the pocket, I saw Long run around him to the outside and run through him when he wanted. The only saving grace for Holmes was he was actually a human speed bump for Long on his way to hitting Ryan whereas Baker wasn't even a speed bump. There were times were we had 6 and 7 blockers (double tights and/or 2 backs) and still we couldn't stop 4 and 5 rushers. Something has to change or Ryan won't make it through the season. Run Blocking - As bad as pass blocking was... Run blocking was even worse. At the snap of the ball you see a surge into our backfield of D-Linemen and our lineman getting pushed back and in some cases pushed to the ground. Our new TE Tuliolo is a terrible blocker. I think he came from playing soccer because I was sure I heard him yell "oh-ley" as he let the Defender run past him. On another play he did a look-out block where he turned around at the snap of the ball and yelled "Look-out." On the one play that Snelling ran for 9 yards in the 4th quarter, it was like a circus because it was a off tackle play where the TE and RT do an X block and the offside guard pulls to seal the LB and the FB leads through the hole. As soon as the ball snapped there were 4 D-Lineman 3 yards deep in our backfield. Holmes takes a 1/2 step back to let Gonzo block the DE down and he steps to kick the LB out and trips over Gonzo's legs and falls to his knees. He is officially a human road block on our designated hole. The FB and pulling guard are not well timed so they both slam into the hole and they maybe block one person, but mostly just get confused by who to block as the D-Line shoots upfield. Snelling gets the ball and seeing this cluster of a play, just points his nose north and south and is through the line before anybody can figure out who has the ball. The result is a 9 yard run and the best run of the game for the Falcons until he scores with the same play 8 plays later from the 11 yard line. I did see one play where Holmes did drive his man back and into the turf, but there were still 3 other D-Lineman in the backfield. One one play I saw Sam Baker 5 yards deep in the backfield rolling on the turf on a run play. Doctor Bombay, Emergency Come right away... Doctor Bombay. GM - to start the season with such a deficit at offensive line is unacceptable. O-Line Coach - Obviously the GM and HC are saying here are our guys, "Coach-em up." I don't see them getting coached up much. I think we can go into Miami and pull out a win. I think we may see Youngblood in the game this week. I also think we will figure out a way to get a sack. My one questions is when will Gonzo get in the game?
  13. New Team, New Dream. Week 1 - Away in New Orleans By Richard C Nile. Last year we had a team. Because of that team, we had a dream. We had dreams of a long undefeated streak. We had dreams of hosting Playoff games. We had dreams of winning playoff games. We had dreams of going to the Super bowl. Most of those dreams came true. Those dreams died with that team. This is a new team. All of us who extended last years dream forward to this years team, were very disappointed when the Falcons lost to the Saints on Sunday. I was one of those people. I still had the same dream from the 2012 team dancing in my head like it was Christmas eve, only to find out my holidays were mixed up and instead of Christmas it was April fools day. This is not the 2012 team. Of the 15 or 16 starters on offense (Yes, there are only 11 on the field, but if you list starters by package you end up with about 15 or 16 people who are expected to play on offense and the same for Defense) we have about 1/2 of those as new people and/or new positions now. When you make this many changes, things will hopefully turn out good, but first they are often bad and sometimes things just turn ugly. This is my Good Bad and Ugly from Week 1 at New Orleans The Good: Harry Douglas - I have not been a big fan of Harry Douglas' play making ability, but he showed improvement in pre-season and he had one big play and another clutch first down catch that was nullified due to a holding call against Sam Baker. Babaneaux - Wow! I've rewatched the game 3 times and he blew up whomever was trying to block him on almost every play. I heard he got dedicated in the off-season and it is paying off for him and the Falcons. I think he had 2 holding calls against him and should have had another 3 added to that. The Rookies - Trufant and Alford. I was blown away by the coverage skills by these guys. Passes defended and an interception that was equivalent to taking someones sandwich at lunch. Run Defense - Run Defense was pretty solid as the Saints only had 78 yards on 28 attempts with the longest of 11 yards yielding a 2.7 yard per rush average. That includes 3 attempts for 2 yards by Drew Brees, but still we held them in check. See Ugly below for a comparison to our 14 attempts. William Moore - He was the only one I saw coming up and laying people out. We need more of that. Penalties - 2 penalties for 19 yards in week 1 on the road with basically an entirely new o-line was impressive. Unfortunately one of those was on a 3rd down completion and killed a drive. The Bad: Offensive Play Calling - We had a chance to win. if Steven Jackson or Tony Gonzales catch the ball, we win. However, I believe our offense is better than only producing 24 points against a defense with 2 of their starters out for the game and another 2 defensive linemen who left the game with injuries. With only 13 called runs against 38 called passes, The play calling was predictable with an almost 3:1 ratio of pass to run. Some may say that if we remove the 50 yard run by Steven Jackson, we end up with a 2.25 yard average and that justifies abandoning the run, but you can't start playing that game. In the 3rd quarter we were only down by 3 points yet we abandoned the run and our O-line was on ice skates. On 3rd and goal from the 3, with no D Line, I have to think Ryan should have changed the play at the line to a run. With all the pass rush we were getting, why did we not try to move the pocket with some roll outs or boot legs. It seemed our playbook was very limited. Pass Rush - We got some pressure at different times from Bab's and Peters straight up the middle, but most of the time Brees had plenty of time to look, re-look and then check down if necessary. I wasn't that impressed with our Free Agent Acquisition Osi Umenyiora. He wasn't a factor in the pass rush and didn't look very stout against the run. The Ugly: O-line - Nothing new here. We learned what we already knew. Smitty and TD can read from their talking points all they want, but the fact is we know, every DC in the league knows and out team knows... our O-Line is currently unable to compete in the NFL. If you have the game recorded. get to a run play and watch it in slow motion. The first second after the ball is snapped just notice the surge of jerseys. The surge is the D-Line impacting our O-Line. The second second shows some of the O-Line getting pushed into the backfield or the D-Lineman pushing past the O-Line into the backfield. The 3rd second typically shows them tackling or otherwise disrupting the play. On pass plays, if you do the same you will see the pocket just collapse from one or more directions. Ryan was rushed on most of his passes and our RB's were running into Defensive players at the LOS or in the backfield. Losing a game we could have won. I am not a band wagon jumper, but i am also not a homer. We have problems Falcon fans and I don't believe these problems are going to get resolved quickly. Smitty says we will fix problems this week.... if they could be fixed this week, why didn't they fix them in the last 6 weeks? I'm not saying the season is over, but I am adjusting my expectations because my expectations were based on the 2012 Falcons and not the 2013 Falcons. I'll be at the home opener, looking forward to seeing the entire field and cheering on the Falcons. Anyone else headed to the game? Rise Up Falcons! Richard C. Nile
  14. Shark Week When I lived at the beach as a young buck Marine in the early 1990's, I remember watching "shark week" on the discovery channel. I learned 2 things watching Shark Week: 1. I shouldn't be watching it since I swam in the Atlantic ocean near where the legendary Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hatchcock http://en.wikipedia....Carlos_Hathcock caught more than one record sized shark in knee high water. 2. If there is blood in the water, sharks are gonna attack. With the Falcons bleeding at the O-Line; I'm pretty confident New Orleans will have some good blitz packages ready and if we don't do better, things could go from bad to ugly really quickly. Here's my Good, Bad and Ugly for preseason week 3. The Good: Salud or Health - Essentially we have made it through the preseason and training camp with only a few injuries. None of us gasped when one of our linemen who was competing for the Right Tackle spot went down with a terrible injury, but maybe we should have. Seems we haven't been able to stop the bleeding since that injury. Run Game - Stephen Jackson seems to be exactly who we thought he was (picture Dennis Green saying that). I'm still looking for the O-Line to start knocking guys backwards on the run blocking, but hopefully that will come as the season progresses. I also think a revived run game could help with the pass rush (see o-Line below). Rookie CB's - With Samuel on the sideline due to a bruised thigh, we got to see both Rookies in action against a starting defense. While neither of them were great, I would rate them as "good." Yes, Alford got burned at least twice, one of them for a Touch Down, but I was thinking on both plays "where is the safety?" Regardless every CB in the league has been scored on at some point. Biermann - He had a monster game according to the stats with 5 solo tackles, 7 total, 2 sacks, 3 Tackles for a loss and 2 QB hits. However, what doesn't show up on the stats is that while playing what looked like OLB, he got sealed inside twice which resulted in big runs by CJ2K. And then there was one... Yes, from the start of training camp, we eagerly awaited this moment, when there would be one last and meaningless preseason game. The rosters are set, everybody is looking at week 1 against the saints and ready to start the season and play some real football. The Bad: Preseason - Watching preseason is just bad for fans. They treat it like a game, they flip a coin, they have an officiating staff and they play 4 quarters, but it's not a game, it's not real, so it's hard to put too take much away from it since you are not seeing the full compliment of plays, game planning, adjustments, etc. The O-Line - I watched and rewatched the game focusing on the o-line. Oddly I came away thinking Holmes did a better job week 3 than week 2. But then I don't get paid big bucks to do this, so wtf do I know. He did get burned on a few plays, but I saw those as "fixable" via coaching and him understanding and identifying what the Defense is gonna do/not do on any given play. What I did like was that he seemed more comfortable blocking. His form looked better and I didn't see him getting pushed around like he was on week 2. With that said, our O-Line just couldn't handle the blitz the right side like sharks to blood. Harry Douglass - Look, I know people love them some HD, but I gotta call it like I see it and I just don't see him as a playmaker. I hate it because I want him to be a playmaker, but when opportunity knocks, he seems to have his headphones on. The Ugly: Waiting - Can't stand the waiting. I am ready for some football. da-da da-da da-da da-da <scream> Punt Return - Still no punt returners. I guess TD and Smitty just are not that concerned about this. Blasphemous Rumors - Rumor via the Chic at ESPN who did the Falcon chat yesterday is that we may get some O and D line help after cuts are made or via a trade. Red Zone - I sure hope the Falcon's were just eager to get off the field and spend some time at Tootsies http://www.tootsies.net/ Otherwise, not happy about the stalled drives.
  15. Through the looking glass Have you ever looked into the future? Many of us spend most of our day trying to predict the future. How will someone respond to this or that. What will happen next. Will that car stop in time? While driving up I-85 one afternoon stuck in the middle of a Carolina roadblock, I saw a good ol' boy speed past me in the right lane, then push his way between me and the 18 wheeler in front of me that was driving 67 MPH. The car was kinda ratty and something didn't seem right when suddenly the ratty car in front of me had a blow out and twisted and skidded almost flipping over as he struggled to maintain control. I didn't foresee a blowout, but I did know something was going to happen because I had already lifted the gas and had my foot on the brake when it happened. It is said that most people can actually see ia few seconds into the future. The Falcon's Preseason game 2 was more than a few second look into the future; it told us a lot about what we will see this season and like all Looking Glasses it showed the good, the bad and the ugly. The Good: Run Defense - the TV crew listed Babineaux at Defensive End, not sure if that was a mistake or a fact. I also heard earlier in the week that Kroy Biermann, would be playing some Outside Linebacker. If these things are true, it would suggest moving some players around to solidify the run defense by moving our DT Babineaux to DE and DE Kroy Biermann to outside Linebacker. The result of this move was that Baltimore's starting RB Ray Rice only got 10 yards on 8 carries or a 1.3 yard average, when his career average is 4.5 yards per carry. Passing Game - Ryan was on target. Our second string QB Davis seemed to have calmed down and was able to make some plays. Julio is picking up right where he left off a few months ago. Roddy looks focused. We seem to have some serious depth at WR with Davis, Cone and others. Running Game - It was great to see Steven Jackson find some seams and get some yards, but what I really loved seeing was his pass catching and YAC. Rodgers was solid and some of his cutbacks were impressive. Vaughn looked excellent finding a seam or bouncing to the outside and turning on the speed to get 44 yards on 8 carries. Worrilow showed up again leading the defense with 6 solo tackles, 1 for a loss, a QB sack and QB pressure. I'd love to see him get some time next week with the 1st string Defense. If you haven't read the article Ignored Hen about Worrilow, I recommend reading it. This guy could become a playmaker for the Falcons going forward, but he still has to prove he can be impressive with the big boys of the NFL. The Bad: Right Tackle - Holmes just looked bad I watched and rewatched him on each play. It looked like he was in the midst of a 24 hour stomach virus, the kind where you end up dehydrated with zero energy and your hair hurts. He was slow off the snap cadence, he didn't move his feet, he would stand straight up and chicken fight with DE on most plays. On other plays he was getting pushed back into the backfield or lunging to get a hand on the DE as he ran past him to the QB, on run plays I saw him get pushed to the ground. We need some help here or Matt may not make it through the season. My looking glass showed things Breaking Bad at Right Tackle. Once some DE's get some film on him... it will be all over. The Ref's - Not sure how after starting on the 20 we ran 3 plays and had 3 penalties 2 against us and 1 against the Ravens and we were 1st and 10 on the 20 again.... WTF? On the play that Roddy twisted his ankle on in the endzone the DB had ahold of his chest plate of his shoulder pads pulling him down. How is that NOT a Pass Interference call? Seeing the Baltimore Defense take late cheap shots on Ryan in the Preseason with no penalty is unbelievable. I wanted our O-line to go all out and bend some knees into pretzels... but then I remembered we had Holmes over there and that wouldn't happen. There was a play where they called Alford for PI when it was just some arm jockeying as the ran down the sideline. There were another 4 or so plays that I won't mention. Cloherty (#81) - Two drops that could have changed the game and should have been catches. Hate to be him when cut time comes around. The Ugly: kick Coverage - Wow, two Touch Down's returned on us in two weeks. Who is our Special Teams Coach again? Nobody in there lanes, nobody breaking down to make a tackle. I see this as something that could change our season... and by change i mean bad things. Kick Returns - How do we not have someone who can return a kick worth a crap. Last week we signaled fair catch with no opponents within 10 yards. This week we got one decent return in the forth quarter, but overall, our returns seem to have no real designed play. Can we get Dan Reeves son-in-law in here? What Good, Bad and Ugly did you see in your looking glass? Also, since the next game is Saturday night, I'm planing to do some entertaining and wanted to know what your favorite (besides beer) thing to make/serve for football games. Thanks for reading, Richard C. Nile
  16. Anticipation... Waiting on Christmas Day when you just knew you were getting that Rock'em Sock'em Robot you asked for. Sitting in 4th period Middle School watching the clock and listening to the teacher drone on and on, when all you want is the bell to ring because that girl you like will walk past you in the hall and smile at you. On the couch, your stomach in knots, waiting for that phone call confirming you had gotten that job you had applied for and really needed. That drive to see someone you really want to see, every light seems extra long and everyone in front of you seems to drive super slow. As Falcon fans, we don't relate anticipatory moments with the start of a new season. We may get excited after they win several games or as the playoffs approach and we are not yet mathematically eliminated, but otherwise, we don't get too excited. Even last year, the storyline was "Will the Falcons be One and Done AGAIN." Heck I remember in '98 going to the dome and getting lower level 35 yrd line tickets and club level tickets for below face value half way through the season when we had only lost 2 games. I cannot recall a season that has brought as much anticipation as this season. For the Atlanta Falcon Franchise... This is a turning moment. This is when they will either be cast down into the bowels of the NFL as "also ran" or they will seize this moment in history and take the first step to being a contender year in and year out. As with all anticipatory moments, we have an expectation of a result. We EXPECT to get the Rock'em Sock'em Robot set, and we will be crushed if it is given to our brother. We EXPECT Suzie Q to walk past us and smile after 4th period, we would curse her if she were walking with another boy. We EXPECT that person to be waiting for us after we drive to see them, we would be road rage ready if we got there and found out they had forgot you were coming and went someplace else. Anticipation can lead to good, bad and ugly situations, so here is my Good, Bad and Ugly from week 1 preseason: The Good: Ryan looked sharp as EXPECTED! Harry Douglass shows flashes of good, but the slant drop wasn't good. Especially with the vision of him tripping over the white line in the NFC championship game so fresh in my mind. He needs either a Zen Buddhist Monk to teach him how to be one with the football... or the Golf coach from Happy Gilmore telling him "The ball wants to be in your hands, let the ball be in your hands Harry." Pass Blocking - O-Line collectively looked good when pass blocking. Alford - I saw him on day 2 in camp and I watched him in the game and he seems like our starting DB not Trufant. Not hatin, just saying. DE - Goodman, Massaquoi and Osi all looked good on the pass rush. DT - Peters and Bab looked solid IMHO LB - Worrilow was impressive. I know he's been discussed much here, so I will just say... The difference between good and great teams is depth. Everyone should hit on a first and second round pick, but it's the UDFA that you pick up and they turn into bona-fide starters, if even in an injury situation, that makes the difference. Hopefully he is one of those. The Bad: Run Defense - OSI did not look good to me on Run Defense and our LB's without Spoon were non existent (1st team included) with the exception of the aforementioned Worrilow. Run Blocking - I watched the line closely and on run blocking, the balls moves, the o-line moves up, not forward and the d-line moves forward across the line of scrimmage and engages our o-line then in some cases drives them into the backfield. Put in twitter talk... O-Line not firing off the ball. Additionally, they do not remain on their blocks long enough for the play to develop. They engage a DT or DE then release him after 1 or 2 seconds to go after a LB and the DT/DE makes the tackle at the LOS. The o-Line did not seem to be functioning as a unit in run blocking and I would estimate the same will be true when they start seeing blitzes. RB - Steven Jackson didn't get many yards. I think it's because of the line, but our OC needs to figure out how he will make him productive. The Ugly: Kick Coverage - Even before the TD run, I was yelling at the screen because they were not in lanes and they were not breaking down to tackle. They were running full speed past the runner who was running full speed past them. Our kick coverage and our kick return were not that good last year and they appear to be worse this year. Pinning people inside the 20 is huge for our defense, getting an extra 15 years (starting on the 35 instead of the 20) is also huge for our offense. Watching Trufant get his "Welcome to the NFL" moment when he bounced off that TE from Cinncy. But hey, at least he tried. Luckily for me I expected the preseason to be bad. If I were a coach I would be substituting like crazy so I could see my 2nd string guys perform with the first string guys and my 3rd with my second. I expect that UDFA Worrilow to compete in the 3rd or 4th quarter, but I want to know if he can compete in the 1st and second quarter. I am anticipating this season because I EXPECT great things. I am in great anticipation of week 1 in the Big Easy and the rest of the season. Are you anticipating the season? What do you EXPECT? ~Richard C. Nile
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