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Smitty gets to scheming, and the Falcons’ D gets good


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Smitty gets to scheming, and the Falcons’ D gets good

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Flowery Branch – In preseason the Falcons yielded 281 yards to San Diego in a half. In Week 1 of the regular season they allowed 259 yards in two halves. And here, for all those hand-wringers — hey, I was among y’all — is a reaffirmation: The preseason doesn’t count.

“In preseason you’re pretty much working on your craft,” Mike Peterson said. “And I was getting used to playing outside linebacker again … A lot of older guys, we don’t care too much for preseason.”

Peterson stands as a case study: In August he looked like an older Keith Brooking; against the Dolphins he resembled the young Lawrence Taylor. Yeah, it was only one game. But this one game counted.

Peterson again: “I wasn’t worried. I know you media guys get tired of hearing it, but it’s a process. We don’t game-plan in preseason; I didn’t watch tape of the tight end or the running back I was playing against. You just go out there and roll.”

One more truth we need to reaffirm: Mike Smith wasn’t going to let this defense stink when the real games began. He’s too good at his job.

He’s a head coach now, but there’s enough of his system in place and enough of his influence being exerted — Brian VanGorder is the defensive coordinator, but Smitty drops the occasional hint — that the Falcons were always going to cobble together something. (Let’s note that the 2008 Falcons, with half a unit’s worth of disposable parts, ranked 24th in total defense but a respectable 11th in points against.)

“I know the system works,” said Peterson, who played under Smith in Jacksonville. “I’ve been in it six years. It’s the same system that won a Super Bowl back in Baltimore.”

Some will recall that Smitty wasn’t thrilled that night against San Diego — he even dressed down his D in full view of the Georgia Dome audience — but not being thrilled isn’t the same as being scared to death. The man’s a pro, and pros know full well exhibitions are different.

“It depends on what the installations are,” Smith said. “Say the other team decides one night to run a bunch of screens, and we’re working on a different phase. We’ve got a set pattern [in preseason games]. We’re not going to game-plan. We’re more interested in how guys handle certain techniques.”

So: Just because the Chargers were converting every third-and-long, the Falcons weren’t going to draw up a new alignment in the (figurative) dirt. Just because a guy like Peterson wasn’t making every play back then didn’t mean he wouldn’t make plays come the real thing.

Smith: “It’s really hard to put stock in preseason, and even more so with older guys.”

And now it’s Week 2 of the regular season and the Falcons are 1-0. There will still be moments when this reconstituted defense gets wrong-footed — “We’ve got a young group of guys; it’s not always going to be pretty,” Smith said — but the Miami game offered the strongest indication yet that this D won’t stay fooled.

“Coming in here, looking at it on paper, I wondered [about the youth],” Peterson said. “But I’ve seen they’re eager to learn, and they want to win … My job is to help get all the guys together, and when you get 53 guys on one page, you’re hard to beat.”

A week ago we weren’t sure the Falcon defenders had gotten beyond Page 1. (”Gentlemen, this is a football.”) Against Miami they seemed to have absorbed every footnote. Professor Smith has donned his teaching hat, and class is fully in session.

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Ugh that's Smitty's scheme.

Didn't you here him say "we gotta change the scheme" after the 3rd and 16 play? It was a classic BVG bend but don't break set.

Smitty and Van Gorder have always been about running aggressive defenses, look at their history. They don't however, throw their scheme on a group that can't handle it. You think we got burned bad last year, imagine if we had been playing more aggressive with man to man schemes instead of the BBDB force a FG defense. Milloy, Brooking, Boley, Grady, lack of good DE depth? We'd be bottom of the league in yards AND points allowed. Trust me. :)

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Smitty and Van Gorder have always been about running aggressive defenses, look at their history. They don't however, throw their scheme on a group that can't handle it. You think we got burned bad last year, imagine if we had been playing more aggressive with man to man schemes instead of the BBDB force a FG defense. Milloy, Brooking, Boley, Grady, lack of good DE depth? We'd be bottom of the league in yards AND points allowed. Trust me. :)

True, i think that we are actually using some of the same scheme from last year but some twists, better players, and more pressure from our front 4.

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Smitty and Van Gorder have always been about running aggressive defenses, look at their history. They don't however, throw their scheme on a group that can't handle it. You think we got burned bad last year, imagine if we had been playing more aggressive with man to man schemes instead of the BBDB force a FG defense. Milloy, Brooking, Boley, Grady, lack of good DE depth? We'd be bottom of the league in yards AND points allowed. Trust me. :)

Good post! I couldn't agree more.

People need to understand that there are two ways that quality football organizations look at this, and that it depends on the time of year.

During the offseason, a good organization is all about "fitting the players to the scheme". What I mean by this is that the offseason is the time to let go of players who don't fit and bring in players that do fit the coaches' desired scheme. It's the time to put the scheme first and try to find the perfect pieces to the puzzle.

During the season, a good organization switches the way they go about this and now expect the coaches to "fit the scheme to the players". In other words, huge personnel changes really can't be done effectively during the season. Therefore, the organization expects the coaches to tweak their schemes to fit the players' strengths, and as often is the case, hide the players' weaknesses. It's time to put the players first and the scheme second.

Last year, our organization clearly focused on the offensive side of the ball during the offseason. Therefore, our scheme last year on defense had to be adjusted much more to fit the players we had on staff. I had no delusions that last year's scheme was the one that Smitty or BVG wanted to run. It was their attempts to adjust their scheme to fit the players that were here, even though those players were not good fits for our systems. That's just good coaching. That's what quality organizations do.

And this past offseason, you saw our FO go out and put the scheme first by releasing the multitude of players that didn't fit our scheme. Now that we've had a full offseason to concentrate on the defense, we'll get to see our coaches implement more of their intended scheme. Not every player may be perfect still since oftentimes it takes more than one offseason to get the perfect pieces to the puzzle. However, this season we should be much closer to the scheme that Smitty and BVG want to idealy run.

Therefore, any attempts to evaluate our coaches' defensive schemes based on last year is futile. This will be the first year we get to see what TD, Smitty, and BVG have in mind for our defense.

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Good post! I couldn't agree more.

People need to understand that there are two ways that quality football organizations look at this, and that it depends on the time of year.

During the offseason, a good organization is all about "fitting the players to the scheme". What I mean by this is that the offseason is the time to let go of players who don't fit and bring in players that do fit the coaches' desired scheme. It's the time to put the scheme first and try to find the perfect pieces to the puzzle.

During the season, a good organization switches the way they go about this and now expect the coaches to "fit the scheme to the players". In other words, huge personnel changes really can't be done effectively during the season. Therefore, the organization expects the coaches to tweak their schemes to fit the players' strengths, and as often is the case, hide the players' weaknesses. It's time to put the players first and the scheme second.

Last year, our organization clearly focused on the offensive side of the ball during the offseason. Therefore, our scheme last year on defense had to be adjusted much more to fit the players we had on staff. I had no delusions that last year's scheme was the one that Smitty or BVG wanted to run. It was their attempts to adjust their scheme to fit the players that were here, even though those players were not good fits for our systems. That's just good coaching. That's what quality organizations do.

And this past offseason, you saw our FO go out and put the scheme first by releasing the multitude of players that didn't fit our scheme. Now that we've had a full offseason to concentrate on the defense, we'll get to see our coached implement more of their intended scheme. Not every player may be perfect still since oftentimes it takes more than one offseason to get the perfect pieces to the puzzle. However, this we should be much closer to the scheme that Smitty and BVG want to idealy run.

Therefore, any attempts to evaluate our coaches' defensive schemes based on last year is futile. This will be the first year we get to see what TD, Smitty, and BVG have in mind for our defense.

Yeah are we are seeing fruits of the labor already = Pressure on the QB.

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I absolutely trusted this front office and staff to be able to put a good defense on the field, perhpas not b game one though .Its all come together much as I thought it would even after the board was in preseason meltdown, although I was not expecting Beirmann to play that well, or us to be getting 3 turnovers or it to come together this fast.

This defense is deep and talented on the DL and it all starts there. Lofton is a stud, and Nicholas and Pete are playing lights out.

I honestly feel this team will get better as the year goes on and by time the playoffs come around we may be a very dangerous team to anyone on front of us.

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. We're still a year or two away

I don't know Duff_Man, I see a very talented team that is well coached and has all the essentials. If Miaimi's offense just plain sucks that's one thing that could be skewing what we all saw Sunday, but their OTs were supposed to be really top end and we obliterated them. Their running game and short passing game were supposed to be good and they looked horrible.

If our pass rush and run defense keep playing this well we may not be a year away.

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I know it's week 1 and 2, but it's tough to not get excited for the defense. Williams and Hill will only solidify what we want to do. We're still a year or two away, but if we stay healthy, we're going to RULE.

Next year is the 3rd year. Next year, we should go into the season with the kind of team that Mike Smith and TD want to have in place. I think that we have more young talent on this team right now than we've ever had before. We're lined up to have a big draft next year. We should have lots of extra picks in the early to mid rounds. We're going to be talent rich for the prime of Ryan's career.

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Good post! I couldn't agree more.

People need to understand that there are two ways that quality football organizations look at this, and that it depends on the time of year.

During the offseason, a good organization is all about "fitting the players to the scheme". What I mean by this is that the offseason is the time to let go of players who don't fit and bring in players that do fit the coaches' desired scheme. It's the time to put the scheme first and try to find the perfect pieces to the puzzle.

During the season, a good organization switches the way they go about this and now expect the coaches to "fit the scheme to the players". In other words, huge personnel changes really can't be done effectively during the season. Therefore, the organization expects the coaches to tweak their schemes to fit the players' strengths, and as often is the case, hide the players' weaknesses. It's time to put the players first and the scheme second.

Last year, our organization clearly focused on the offensive side of the ball during the offseason. Therefore, our scheme last year on defense had to be adjusted much more to fit the players we had on staff. I had no delusions that last year's scheme was the one that Smitty or BVG wanted to run. It was their attempts to adjust their scheme to fit the players that were here, even though those players were not good fits for our systems. That's just good coaching. That's what quality organizations do.

And this past offseason, you saw our FO go out and put the scheme first by releasing the multitude of players that didn't fit our scheme. Now that we've had a full offseason to concentrate on the defense, we'll get to see our coaches implement more of their intended scheme. Not every player may be perfect still since oftentimes it takes more than one offseason to get the perfect pieces to the puzzle. However, this season we should be much closer to the scheme that Smitty and BVG want to idealy run.

Therefore, any attempts to evaluate our coaches' defensive schemes based on last year is futile. This will be the first year we get to see what TD, Smitty, and BVG have in mind for our defense.

They are not done, either. But, you have captured my sentiments exactly.

I'm a Fan and I Approve of this message!

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Pressure from the front 4 does a lot.

Unlike last year, I don't think this team will have a problem doing that. We have Vets at every level of defense to help the younger guys. This team might not be built to win now but it's becoming more and more clear that it's getting closer.

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