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Why this team isn't ready to take the next step


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I'm somewhat happy with the season thus far but there's a lot of room for improvement if we want to make some noise in the playoffs. The team has really been hit with injuries and has had some very questionable calls during crucial times which make things look a little worse than they really are. That being said, they probably deserve to be exactly where they are. Here's where the team must improve if they want to get to the next level (in no particular order, unless stated).

1. Philosophy: It's clear to me that the coaching staff doesn't truly trust the personnel on the field on either side of the ball. There's a fine line between playing smart and playing scared and the Falcons are on the wrong side of that line. In the Patriots game and Dallas game, the decisions to punt were inexcusable. The ONLY reason you make those calls is because you don't want to ruin the confidence of a young defense. In ONE game this year they left everything on the field and that was against the Saints. I believe that last year they were playing with no fear because there was nothing to lose. This year, they're playing like some teenager afraid of losing his girlfriend to the new kid. The difference in playcalling from last year is very noticable.

2. The playcalling/decision making on offense which ties directly into point 1. Like it not, the offense has become a running play, sideline out throw, sack, or throwaway. There is no vertical game at all. Tony G is great but no great offense has ever relied on their TE as much as we have. You have to keep the defense honest by throwing downfield. TG may get you first downs, but he's not going to break the 50 yarder like White can. Carolina dominated the Saints yesterday other than two big plays by the Saints receivers and they lost the game. That's what we're missing and it isn't the receivers fault. People always say you have to run the ball to keep the defense honest. That's true, but the same holds true for the passing game. You can't dink and dunk all day unless you have 4 Devin Hesters on the field to get the YAC.

3. The receivers aren't creating any separation and I believe it's because the defense has no reason to respect the deep ball.

4. Pass Blocking and Rushing the passer: Until we protect Ryan better we're going to continue to see the Dink and Dunk show. Moving JA98 to DT has been great but they have to find a way to get more pressure on the QB.

5. Turner has to keep it going - right now, he IS the offense. There needs to be a balance. The offense has yet to play a complete game. They should've scored atleast 40 against Washington. The Saints would have.

6. The kicking game: Kickoff coverage and returns have been above average but the punt coverage team and Elam have dropped off a lot from last season. Koenen has been pretty good but I'd like to see more touchbacks. The difference between kickers in the Dallas game was huge in terms of field position.

7. No more injuries: The losses of Norwood, Johnson, and Williams have been huge. We're already treadin' on this ice.

Bottom line: The Falcons likely make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round unless things get MUCH better. They are very close to reaching the next level and if ANY one of these weaknesses becomes a strength then they'll be very dangerous.

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The short answer to your post is...IT TAKES TIME TO BUILD AN ELITE TEAM.

For crying out loud, would anyone had imagined the Falcons to be where there are at today in the beginning of last season? Rookie GM, Rookie HC, Rookie QB coming off a 4 win season. How can you be so lame to expect a team to become a Super bowl contender over night? Do you think building a team should only take 6 months? Is it suppose to be that easy?????

Be glad they have the foundation to be one of the elite teams in the NFC, and enjoy the next decade plus of good football in Atlanta. They may even win a Super Bowl during that time frame.

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For me, the next step is to break the back-to-back curse. We have a young group of players, and a coaching staff and system barely a year and a half old. We have taken some big steps since Petrino slithered away in the middle of the night. Next year we will take another step on the road to domination.

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Not trying to be negative here guys, just stating where I think we need to improve to get to the level of the Steelers, Pats, etc...

I agree with most of your points. Interestingly, points 1 through 5 can mostly be taken care of by throwing 4 to 5 deep balls per game. It gives us a chance at big plays, shows an aggressive philosophy, penalizes teams for blitzing (right now, there's no downside, because we're unwilling to beat them deep when they blitz)...so making them think twice about blitzing gives Ryan more time, makes the short game passing open back up (because corners have to be mindful of the deep route and play more off), and opens up the run game for Turner (as there can't be 8 in the box.)

I agree we need several improvements. However, it's interesting just how much would improve with just a "pretty good" deep passing attack.

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Mularky doesn't seem to know how to use a TE in his system. He is great at playcalling with Gonzo in the red zone, but it seems like he calls those same plays on the 45 and 50 yard lines and those 5 yard gains to the outside aren't getting us much of anything.

You are blaming the wrong person. Ryan has options. It isn't like the plays that are called don't have the WR running deep. Ryan makes the decision who to throw the ball too. But even then, it is up to the line to protect long enough for a deep route to develop. It is also up the WR to get open. Attributing the lack of our deep passing game to Malarkey isn't really acknowledging the role everyone plays in our offense.

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Not trying to be negative here guys, just stating where I think we need to improve to get to the level of the Steelers, Pats, etc...

We haven't been building as long as they have. They have a core group they keep together. They have a "way" of doing things that leads to them being successful over and over.

We have found our "way" - now we just have to get the core completed and build some depth. It can't be done over one or two years - and we have just been extremely fortunate to have a coaching group that can get the best out of an unfinished team so far.

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Some of these 'realist' threads tick me off. I understand the points, but I think we should just be happy with the direction this team is going. Just 2 years ago, we were NOTHING. Now look at us; I rememeber then praying to be at least HALF as better as we were. We got that and more.

I understand this team has problems and we are not in the 'elite' status, but for a young team and a 2nd year QB calling the shots, we are doing pretty **** good. There is no reason to rain on the parade, lets be happy for everything we have.

Edited by ConnFalcon
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Dude has a point. After all, the Falcons are only 16-8 under a 2nd-year HC and a 2nd-year QB. We should at least be 23-1 by now. :rolleyes:

That you Banker. All of the "realist" have yet to "realize" that we are WAY ahead of where we should be right now. Everyone predicted we would win between 1-4 games last year. Now people not only want us to win more than 5 games in the first half of this season, they expect us to be top 10 in every stat category.

You can't have your cake and eat it to. We've played some really good teams, and at time we've had to win ugly, but that's what good teams do. So who cares about our stats? We are 5-3 and the hardest part of our schedule is over. We could very easily win 11 or 12 games this year, which is the same or more than last year with a much tougher schedule and a ton of injuries, which we were fortunate enough to avoid last year.

I'm very happy with where we are, and I'm very happy to sit back and let the best GM, Coach and QB we've ever had go through their growing pains together and turn into something special for a long time. Patience is a virtue.

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We haven't been building as long as they have. They have a core group they keep together. They have a "way" of doing things that leads to them being successful over and over.

We have found our "way" - now we just have to get the core completed and build some depth. It can't be done over one or two years - and we have just been extremely fortunate to have a coaching group that can get the best out of an unfinished team so far.

I agree with this. To point out we're not elite yet is fine. We're playing well while still forming the team, and while letting many young players grow into the game. I do think a few minor tweaks could make the team noticeably better, but mainly, they're doing what you want them to...being competitive while the team is built.

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Dude has a point. After all, the Falcons are only 16-8 under a 2nd-year HC and a 2nd-year QB. We should at least be 23-1 by now. :rolleyes:

Don't get me wrong. The Falcons are definitely on the right track. It's just that so many people here expect them to be the Steelers and that's not realistic. I'm just trying to get people to see that it's going to be a long road.

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It's a little bit of a head-scratcher why the O hasn't really got going this year, they've shown some sparks but nothing truly dominant, I've been saying with the way Turner is rolling we should be even more dangerous than we were in the first half of the season, I'd like to see a little more of Booker in on the offense IMO. If we had more three WR sets we'd have Jenkins, White, Gonzo, and Booker in on most plays, whenever he's in, most of the time Ryan likes to throw his way, while we have him we might as well use him. Just stating my opinion.

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Don't get me wrong. The Falcons are definitely on the right track. It's just that so many people here expect them to be the Steelers and that's not realistic. I'm just trying to get people to see that it's going to be a long road.

This is why the Steelers are good. Look at these first round picks in the last 9 years. Its all about time, and the draft...

2000 8 Burress, PlaxicoPlaxico Burress WR Michigan State

2001 19 Hampton, CaseyCasey Hampton DT Texas [l]

2002 30 Simmons, KendallKendall Simmons G Auburn

2003 16 Polamalu, TroyTroy Polamalu DB USC [m]

2004 11 Roethlisberger, BenBen Roethlisberger QB Miami (OH)

2005 30 Miller, HeathHeath Miller TE Virginia

2006 25 Holmes, SantonioSantonio Holmes WR Ohio State [n]

2007 15 Timmons, LawrenceLawrence Timmons LB Florida State

2008 23 Mendenhall, RashardRashard Mendenhall RB Illinois

2009 32 Hood, EvanderEvander Hood DT Missouri

(Plax is obv in jail, but a good receiver)

They hit a home on every pick. We have the draft genius now. Give us a few years and I can post this list full of Falcons.

Edited by ConnFalcon
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Tony G is great but no great offense has ever relied on their TE as much as we have.

Dallas Clark(Ind), Jason Witten(Dal),Heath Miller(Pitt), Antonio Gates (SD), Brent Celek(Phi) all have more catches than Gonzales this year and all of those teams are in the playoff race. Tony G. is a weapon. It would be stupid not to use him to his utmost.

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Dallas Clark(Ind), Jason Witten(Dal),Heath Miller(Pitt), Antonio Gates (SD), Brent Celek(Phi) all have more catches than Gonzales this year and all of those teams are in the playoff race. Tony G. is a weapon. It would be stupid not to use him to his utmost.

Yup, especially Clark. He has alot of receptions.

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Some of these 'realist' threads tick me off. I understand the points, but I think we should just be happy with the direction this team is going. Just 2 years ago, we were NOTHING. Now look at us; I rememeber then praying to be at least HALF as better as we were. We got that and more.

I understand this team has problems and we are not in the 'elite' status, but for a young team and a 2nd year QB calling the shots, we are doing pretty **** good. There is no reason to rain on the parade, lets be happy for everything we have.

I'm with you!!

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This post has some good points but remember when you build something you want to come along slowly so it's strong. Look at all the good teams at some point they had to build their team up to the status they are at today. So my point is that patience is a virtue because I have been a fan of this team since 1980 and I like what I'm seeing now!! ;)

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