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Boley focused on improving his play


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Boley focused on improving his play


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flowery Branch — Michael Boley took a low-key approach to the Falcons’ bye week.

After players left the team facilities last Thursday, the linebacker wasn’t off to someplace like Aruba.

Michael Boley has 37 tackles and a fourth-quarter interception that helped the Falcons pull off a victory at Green Bay.

“I just hung around the house and watched the Carolina and New Orleans games,” Boley said. “I was just flip-flopping, back and forth, seeing what was going on around the league.”

The Falcons spent their bye week focusing on the first six games. Boley also took time to focus on his play.

“We were just taking this bye week to evaluate our mistakes and work on them,” Boley said.

Last year, Boley had his best season since being selected in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft. He set several career highs, including 125 tackles, 88 solo tackles and three forced fumbles.

He’s started 47 of 56 games and continues to hold down the strongside linebacker position.

“I don’t think I’ve played to where I want to be,” Boley said. “As the season goes on, I hope to get better and play better than what I’ve been doing in the earlier games.”

Boley appears to be doing just fine. He has 37 tackles, four passes defense and a very huge fourth-quarter interception that helped the Falcons pull off a victory at Green Bay.

One area that Boley and the rest of the defense had to play close attention was their inability to get off the field on third downs.

Opponents have converted on 35 of 82 (43 percent) third-down opportunities. Only Jacksonville (49 percent), Kansas City (48) and Cincinnati (47) have higher third-down conversion percentages.

Before the long weekend, the coaching staff did statistical and film analysis of their third-down issues. They worked on third-down situations last week and again upon returning to practice Monday.

“Just not staying with our techniques is one of those things that has hurt us on third downs,” Boley said.

The Falcons have not blitzed teams heavily on third down. But blitzing may not be the answer to their woes.

“We’ll run whatever the coaches call,” Boley said. “But I think that definitely the front seven can help out the pass defense. Each group has a job to do. It’s helping each other and keeping the big plays down to a minimum.”

Weakside linebacker Keith Brooking has warned Boley and the younger players not to be satisfied with their 4-2 start.

“We’ve been 5-2, 6-2 a couple of times around here,” Brooking said. “In this league it’s about what have you done lately. We’re 4-2 and we earned that as a team.

“But I think the bye week came at the right time although some people will say it hurt our momentum because we’d won two in a row. But we have guys with a lot of bumps and bruises so they got a chance to heal.”

Brooking also did some scouting from his couch.

“There is a lot of football to be played,” Brooking said. “New Orleans has had a couple of tough ones, but they are right there. Tampa and Carolina are playing extremely well.”

Boley has a plan for how he wants to step things up over the final 10 games of the regular season.

“Basically we just have to keep playing the scheme and the big plays will come to you,” Boley said.

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