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Falcons done had me in a little bit of sour mood lately, but it's Thursday. The haze is starting to clear and I'm ready to talk about something positive. The final touchdown from Sunday's game was a thing of beauty from a design perspective. As a lot of you know, the Colts run a ton of Cover-2, and just about every variety there is from the cover-2 with the hard flats, the cover-2 soft squat, cover-2 sink where it plays almost like quarters, etc. They really are about that life. One of my favorite ways to attack Cover-2 is with the smash concept. SMASH - now what is the smash concept? It's basically some variation of this right here. The outside receiver will run a hitch, or a quick out, the inside #2 receiver will run a 7 route. He'll stress the deep half safety with a vertical route, then flag it to the pylon away from him, right into the void between the safety and corner. The great thing about this is there are alway positive yards to be had, even if you don't get to the 7 route, and if it's read properly, the defense is always wrong. Doesn't matter if they know it's coming or not. 2nd and Goal - I thought we would see this Sunday, and boom, right when we needed it in the 4th quarter, here it came. The Colts are in their Red 2, which is a redzone variation of their standard Cover-2. Instead of getting a jam on the receivers and then letting them have all that space to the safety, the corners are in a soft squat which means they're gonna fade a bit at the snap, get some depth and try to constrict that window between them and the safety. Another difference here between this and standard Cover-2 is the middle linebacker isn't going to look to drop to his landmark at the snap. Instead he's going to read #3, and the inside #2 to not let them get anything too easy underneath at the goalline, like a little hook. In normal cover-2 or Tampa, he's going to open his hips and match the vertical route by the #2 receiver. If there is no vertical route, he'll drop to a depth or about 15 yards or so, turning it into essentially a 3 deep coverage. Here, in this variation, the Red 2, actually plays a lot like quarters. This is what Dirk answers with. We're gonna run hooks to the bottom of the screen into the holes of the Red 2 at different depths with Hooper and Ridley. To the top of the screen we've got Julio inside playing #2, and Sanu outside playing #1. The tight formation is the brilliance of it because as the routes deploy they're going to create extra space for the 7 route. Also, it makes a jam by the corners (if there is one coming) almost impossible. Julio is on the 7 to the end zone, and Sanu is running a little 3 route. QB READS - the read here is as simple as it gets. You can teach this to a middle-schooler. Matt is going to read the outside cornerback on the smash side. If the corner sits and takes Sanu on the 3 route, Matt will throw the 7 to Julio in the end zone. If the corner sinks to try to take away the 7, Matt will throw the 3 to Sanu. Not much more complicated than that. At that snap, this is what we get. Matt's eyes don't even go to the hook side. Against any type of Cover-2, that smash is where you wanna go. Here, he's locked in on the corner. Julio does a brilliant job of selling the vertical route into the seam to stress the safety. The corner has his eyes on Matt, but he's in a bind. He has to make a choice to take Julio or Sanu. Looking at the play in real time, the corner never does commit to one route or the other. He tries to split the difference. I think he just got caught in an "oh s***" no man's land and couldn't make a decision. Don't blame him there. Either way, his feet stopped and that's all Matt needs. Julio is already breaking to the void -- or the honey hole as that space is called (I have no idea why), but Julio is breaking to all that blue turf and you see the safety on his horse doesn't have a chance. And here, you can see, it's just wide open. Now the corner showed great hustle to get back into the play to contest, I mean if you're teaching it, it's pretty impressive he makes any kind of play on that ball. Against a lesser receiver that's a pass breakup. Alas, we don't have a lesser receiver. We got Julio. Great read my Matt, but if I'm nitpicking, it's not the best throw. He put it up nice and high so Julio could go get it, but I'd like to see it a bit deeper into the back of the end zone if you're gonna put that much touch on it. But great play call. Great execution.
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.