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Thoughts on the Titans Game


direwolf
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Once again, a few thoughts. Forgive me if I miss something; I watched the game after I got home from a party and so wasn't entirely "myself".

-- I don't think that there's much question about Ryan starting week 1. He did not look like a rookie out there. In fact, I think he clearly out-played Vince Young in the passing department. Other than a few hiccups (at bad moments; got to hit those guys wide open in the end zone, Matt), he looked like a guy who'd been there before and it was terrific to see. The touchdown play to Douglas was beautiful. Ryan did very well handling the blitzes he saw and was pretty accurate with his throws (71% completion rate). My favorite play was actually a four yard scramble, though. The Titans sent pressure, Ryan felt it, slid away from it, saw nothing immediately open (his eyes were downfield, though) and then took what he could get and got down. That was a heads-up play by a quarterback who knows instinctively how much time he has and how to get what he can and then live to play another day. Most rookies just don't have that kind of awareness and I was THRILLED to see it out of our rookie. Once again, I didn't see any balls that were obvious bad reads.

Obviously the preseason isn't going to show him what real NFL life is like. The defenses are less complex and there's less intensity. However, he's handled what he's seen so far very well (and he HAS seen quite a few blitzes and disguised coverages already) and I'm confident that he's the guy for us. I could not be happier to eat a large dish of crow about picking him; he may be the guy to turn this team around finally!

-- Sam Baker has exceeded all my expectations as well. He looked like a pro out there and handled Vanden Bosch as well as anyone does. There were good plays both in the passing and running games and Baker seems to have a good handle on how to slide around and direct his assignment where he needs him to go. If he's got "short arms", it doesn't seem to be affecting his play in the slightest!

-- Overall, the pass protection was pretty solid. A few breakdowns here and there in pass protection, but that happens to every team and our line is still learning to play together. I am a bit concerned about our run blocking; I didn't like it that Turner and Norwood were getting hit so quickly. Need work in that regard. That said, we're not running very much in these games (my guess is to give Ryan as many reps in meaningless games as possible before the real games begin) and so it may be a function of not getting into any kind of rhythm in that phase of the offense. Still, I want to see better if we're going to be a power running team.

It'll be interesting to see where Weiner fits in. He's obviously still getting back into things and I wonder what the coaches will decide to do with our right tackle position.

-- Not sure what to make of our third running back battle. I'd really like to keep both and list Snelling as the backup fullback. He's just a straight-ahead bruiser. I wish they'd given him a shot to play a little fullback so that they could see how he handled it. I think that Brown's return ability will give him the edge if it comes down to one or the other, but I hate to see Snelling cut. Maybe we can sneak him back onto the PS.

-- Nice to see Michael Jenkins playing football. I got the feeling that Ryan was looking for him and is getting comfortable with him out there. He may yet pan out for us if he can continue to build on his improvements.

-- Somebody please tell me that Finneran makes the team. How can a guy do as much as he's done this pre-season (and throughout his career) and NOT make the team? He's certainly more valuable than Adam Jennings.

-- Speaking of Jennings, at least he was productive last night. That said, I wasn't thrilled to see him running laterally so much on his returns; if the coverage men had taken better angles, he'd have been hit for a loss on one of his big returns.

-- I was VERY pleased with our kick coverage last night. Tennessee couldn't get anything going in the return game. Some very heads up tackling by Finneran (seeing a trend here?), Mughelli, and a few others. We've come a long way from the miscues in the first game against Jacksonville.

-- Where the **** did Brent Grimes come from??? The guy was all over the place last night! He had three or four pass breakups on ONE DRIVE! If this kid keeps developing like this, he'll be a Pro Bowl candidate and we'll have forgotten all about a loud-mouthed former first round pick who gave up as many big plays as he made in his final year here.

-- Curtis Lofton made his presence felt. I can't be sure, but was it he who flew past Young on the first play of the game? Maybe that giant rear of his made changing direction too hard to secure the sack. heheh... Otherwise, he played pretty well and was thumping away in there. Nice to see.

-- Kroy Biermann REALLY wants to make this team and there is no reason he shouldn't. He's a gamer, plain and simple. If he keeps this up, I bet we'll see a lot of him in pass-rush situations and he could build up some stats.

-- Nice pick by Chevis Jackson. It was a bit of a gift since Young threw a bit behind his receiver, but Jackson was right there on coverage and was able to make a big play for us. Nice to see the rookie make a move!

-- Chris Houston is still getting himself together, I think. He'll get back to form. That late hit penalty on him was pretty weak, but I guess I can see why they called it. Still thought it was lame, though. They're football players! No one was in danger on that play and I'd have let it ride.

-- I think we may actually have a free safety for a change. Coleman looks very solid out there and makes a good partner for Milloy in the deep secondary. Milloy, too, looks solid and I'd be fine with giving him an extension. He's earned it with his leadership in the most trying of circumstances and I feel confident that he'll earn it on the field as well.

-- Pleased with Coach Van Gorder's play calling last night. Everything from stacked boxes to safety blitzes out there. We were a bit sloppy in the first drive and let them get away with a few on missed tackles, but then I saw Coach Smith bawling out his defense on the sideline and they clamped down like crazy after that. Very nice to see and I think we'll be more creative in our defensive playcalling this year than we've seen in awhile.

-- The penalties have GOT to stop. Ryan was getting the job done only to have completions erased by foolish, undisciplined penalties. It's fine to be aggressive and hot-headed. It's fine to fight like a demon up until the whistle. But there is NO excuse for a fifteen-yarder that wipes out a nice gain. Our coaches have done a great job of making our team tough. Now they need to make them smart. Once again, I'm confident that they will.

-- Overall, I'm excited to see the Falcons looking like a TEAM. They look more like a team on the same page after three pre-season games than Petrino's Falcons ever did. Speaks to the quality of our coaching staff.

-- I've mentioned this before, but once more won't hurt. Thomas Dimitroff did a great job with our draft. Everyone out there from Ryan to Fontenot is playing as hard as can be and looks like real team guys with good attitudes and work ethics. Great to see.

I'm sure I missed stuff, but one of you good folks will bring it up. Hoping for some good discussion!

Direwolf

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Good analysis.

Agreed on Finn making the team, he's got his moxey back.

I thought Houston and Weiner both looked a little rusty, nothing to worry about.

I cannot express how impressed I am with Erik Coleman, the only time we hear his name called is when he blitzes and stops the run in the backfield.

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Good analysis...

Just to add:

I love how when Matt snaps the ball, it seems to be out of his hands in two seconds max.

On the sack for a 10 yard loss, I actually think he was looking to go downfield on that play, but the line fail to hold the block. No way he can go down field if he can't get his feet set after the 7 step drop.

I know people were complaining about the dink and dunks but it seemed as though he was taking what the defenses was giving him. I can bet they had 2 deep sitting in some the the zone.

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Another great assessment, Direwolf.

I failed to mention the play of Special Teams last night, but I did notice their play. They look to be our best unit overall, thus far. From Koenen's punts to KO coverage, it has been stellar. The return game seemed to come together last night, so ST gets my game ball for their performance. Great tackling, and tons of passion and excitement. They are anxious to hit and relish their roles on the team.

Penalties bascially wiped out our first drive. That was disappointing to see. Our guys have got to learn to keep that fire and fiestiness within the rules.

Ryan impressed again, as well as the usual suspects (Baker, Lofton, C. Jackson, H. Douglas and Dahl among others), but nice to see Jenks finally show up on tape. He may have made a strong case to be starter.

Cuts will be interesting and tough. I'd love to keep everyone b/c the entire 80-man team seems to have gelled together in finding their own niches throughout camp and preseason, and I love to see the comradarie and competition.

Who stays and who goes on? I wish we could keep Joey and DJ; Brown and Snelling; Jennings and Finn.

Also, Willie Evans looked good again last night. I'm sure he will be active in the DL rotations when the season starts. Heavy pressure and holding up at the points of attack against the run...nice.

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Just to throw this out there about Finn. He has an airtran commercial. Did he have one last year? I never heard it if he did. That alone lets me know he's going to be on the team.

Yeah, I noticed he's on the AirTran billboards with Matt Ryan on I-85, near Turner Field...interesting choice since he isn't/wasn't exactly guaranteed a spot on the roster... :mellow:

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Yeah direwolf, a very good review of this surprisingly good football team.

I think a large part of the success is due to Mike Smith and the staff he assembled around him. They have this team ready to play with sound schemes, and clever play calling.

It's amazing how well a team can play when a professional staff handles them well. Now they have to clear up the penalties, but I am sure they will.

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Overall a very positve game for the Falcons in almost every aspect except for the unneccessay penalties. You forgot to mention the most talented player on the Falcons who totally dominated the Titians: John Abraham. What a monster. He was flying around the edges at Young all night. If he keeps this up a Pro Bowler for sure. Also the coaching changes on the defensive line were very welcome after seeing Jamal Anderson not getting it done for two games.

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Great analysis. I was a little concerned about the number of 2nd and short situations. I think we are giving up too much ground of 1st down.

They have to find a way to keep both Snelling and Brown.

Adam Jennings is the Arron Brooks of kick returners. He is either very good or awful. Last night he was good, but I still do not trust him on a ween in and week out basis.

Is anyone else wondering where Robinson has been this preseason? Jenkins may have won himself a starting spot - he was good last night.

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Great analysis. I was a little concerned about the number of 2nd and short situations. I think we are giving up too much ground of 1st down.

They have to find a way to keep both Snelling and Brown.

Adam Jennings is the Arron Brooks of kick returners. He is either very good or awful. Last night he was good, but I still do not trust him on a ween in and week out basis.

Is anyone else wondering where Robinson has been this preseason? Jenkins may have won himself a starting spot - he was good last night.

Don't trust Jennings game in and game out, but trust Jenkins after one good game. Why?

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-- Sam Baker has exceeded all my expectations as well. He looked like a pro out there and handled Vanden Bosch as well as anyone does. There were good plays both in the passing and running games and Baker seems to have a good handle on how to slide around and direct his assignment where he needs him to go. If he's got "short arms", it doesn't seem to be affecting his play in the slightest!

-- I've mentioned this before, but once more won't hurt. Thomas Dimitroff did a great job with our draft. Everyone out there from Ryan to Fontenot is playing as hard as can be and looks like real team guys with good attitudes and work ethics. Great to see.

Direwolf

Direwolf another very good post and analysis. I wasn't a big fan of the Falcons trade-up into the first round to get Baker, but I am rapidly changing my opinion of that move. Baker has looked extremely good thus far, much better than I ever expected. I will gladly eat crow on this matter, and hop on the Baker bandwagon also. Vanden Bosch was a real good test to see what we actually have at our LT position, and Baker passed with flying colors. Kudos to the Falcons new starting LT!

I also wasn't the greatest fan of Dimi's first draft. I think that I'll be eating a lot of crow over that initial opinion also. This could go down as one of Atlanta's best drafts ever. I've been very impressed with Ryan, Baker, Lofton, Bierman, Jackson, Douglas, and Brown thus far. I've been a little disappointed in that DeCoud hasn't shown off his talents yet, but I think he will very soon. If these rookies can continue playing this well into the regular season and improving, then my hat is off to Dimi and his first Falcons draft. I'll be very reluctant to second guess him again.

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Ryan did look like a season vet out there. The scramble play made me jump off the couch. He is maturing alot in little time. Him on the sidelines talking to the OL showed me that. I am very pleased with the level of play that he has been playing. Redman looked good last night also.

It was good to see Turner fighting for yards so hard in the pre-season. Norwood looked good last night especially when he broke outside to set up the Ryan/Douglas TD. Snelling and Brown, all I can say is I hope we can find a way to keep both of these guys on the team.

Michael Jenkins was looking like White last night. Made some great catches. White had an off night. Robinson had some drops, and some pretty nice catches. I like to watch Douglas block, he is so little but he will still throw a shoulder at people. He also made some great catches last night. Finnerran, I was very impressed with his play all around, made some nice catches and also has made some key tackles on special teams.

Sam Baker looked awesome against Vanden Bosch last night, He is going to be an anchor at left tackle for a long time. I think the right side should be Dahl and Clabo, they make a good team. I think this OL we have could be one of the best with good coaching and as long as they stay healthy and play with each other for a while.

It looked as if we were getting a little more prssure on the QB this game. I think putting JA at tackle will improve his game. John Abraham looked as always "great". I'm glad to see him back. Bierman is a fighter and has made many key plays in this pre-season, I believe he may be the future at our DE position.

The linebackers core was spectacular, Boley was great as always. Lofton will be the future sledge hammer for us at MLB. Brooking made some plays. Nicholas even though on 2nd string looked impressive and also on special teams.

Brent Grimes is going to make alot of people feel better about the Hall trade, I know he has had some chances to hang on to the ball but that will come with time. He has a great chance to be a pro bowl bound corner as long as he continues to play like he has been. Houston looked a little rusty but he should shake a little of that off. Jackson had an easy pick, and got some return on it to.

Lawyer Milloy seems to be like a fine wine, He gets better with age. He had some good hits out there last night. 2 against Crumpler. Coleman may be the guy we have been missing at safety. He had some good stops last night also.

As a whole the D got my respect last night. They kept Tennesee from the end of the 1st quarter till the end of the game from being able to get past the 50. Great job to the players as well the coaches. Our defense may be a great one.

Also return coverage was great, it seemed that as soon as they caught the ball someone was hitting them. Finneran made a great tackle.

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one thing about Chris Houston is he's making sure he's getting that head around everytime. He looked decent for a first game. He lost Gage once when he looked back but no biggie to me right now. He almost got a pick playing the ball.

He played well too. You can tell he was a little rusty coming in but he got a lot better as the game went on.

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Good analysis...

Just to add:

I love how when Matt snaps the ball, it seems to be out of his hands in two seconds max.

On the sack for a 10 yard loss, I actually think he was looking to go downfield on that play, but the line fail to hold the block. No way he can go down field if he can't get his feet set after the 7 step drop.

I know people were complaining about the dink and dunks but it seemed as though he was taking what the defenses was giving him. I can bet they had 2 deep sitting in some the the zone.

The one sack that the line gave up on Ryan was on a bootleg where Kearse came through unblocked. That had to be just a breakdown in assignments for that play. That kind of thing happens. It shouldn't, but it happens. The play ended so quickly that I have no idea what routes the receivers were running.

I'd have liked to see a bit more downfield passing, but he was effective with the dinks and dunks and right now that's really all we need to ask of him. He'll be a game manager before he's a game breaker and if he can manage games as a rookie, good for him and so much the better for us. My one thought would be that he needs to step into his throws a bit more sometimes. Those throws into the end zone floated on him and either of them should have been touchdowns.

Direwolf

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The one sack that the line gave up on Ryan was on a bootleg where Kearse came through unblocked. That had to be just a breakdown in assignments for that play. That kind of thing happens. It shouldn't, but it happens. The play ended so quickly that I have no idea what routes the receivers were running.

I'd have liked to see a bit more downfield passing, but he was effective with the dinks and dunks and right now that's really all we need to ask of him. He'll be a game manager before he's a game breaker and if he can manage games as a rookie, good for him and so much the better for us. My one thought would be that he needs to step into his throws a bit more sometimes. Those throws into the end zone floated on him and either of them should have been touchdowns.

Direwolf

completely agree with you Dire.

great read as always man.

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Good analysis...

Just to add:

I love how when Matt snaps the ball, it seems to be out of his hands in two seconds max.

On the sack for a 10 yard loss, I actually think he was looking to go downfield on that play, but the line fail to hold the block. No way he can go down field if he can't get his feet set after the 7 step drop.

I know people were complaining about the dink and dunks but it seemed as though he was taking what the defenses was giving him. I can bet they had 2 deep sitting in some the the zone.

The play were matt was sacked was on a play action, and kearse didnt bite on it. The 3 to 5 step drops are being called to give ryan some success and to build his confidence. Also to counter the defensive rush. I think he will do fine with the deep ball, they just need to call those types of plays for him on 3rd and longs instead of running it or screen passes..

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dire,

I have to agree on every point you made.

One thing about Matt Ryan, it looks to me that he has brought so much with him to the Falcons.

Instantly, we have a QB that can read the defenses.

We have a QB who can audible.

We have a QB who can go thrugh his progressions and find the right guy, and not panic and throw up a duck for an INT.

We have a QB who is masterful at getting us 5 yards with his snap count, that one has been a long time coming.

If nobody noticed, Redman has a play list on his arm. Not Matt Ryan, the playlist is learned and he knows it, no cheat sheet required.

We have a QB who knows and appreciates his team mates and supports them, even when they screw up, Matt goes to the guy and let's him know it will be ok.

I love all the professionalism that came to our team with Matt Ryan.

He is a very cool customer, even when a mistake is made, he has that very short memory and moves right on.

Ryan is showing why he was so highly rated and is earning every penny so far.

There is no way a Rookie QB should be doing all these things with only 3 pre-season games under his belt.

fwiw, the coaches and players on this team are unbelievable so far.

for all the 7 fans who stopped attending, Thank You, I got two of your seats.

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