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"I Think It's An Aberration." - Coach Smith


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Falcons get their reality check, and it’s not what they expected

11:52 pm December 26, 2011, by Jeff Schultz


Falcons could do nothing to stop Drew Brees and the Saints. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 1:03 a.m.)

NEW ORLEANS — So much for the mystery.

There’s no need to wonder how heavily to weigh six consecutive dominating quarters against Carolina and Jacksonville.

As it turns out, it means only that the Falcons are better than Carolina and Jacksonville — neither of whom they’ll be facing in the playoffs.

They’re not as good as New Orleans. They’re certainly not as good as Green Bay. It remains to be seen if they’re as good as anybody in the playoff field (although they did beat Detroit. But the Falcons won’t be playing them, either.)

Pecking order was firmly established Monday night.

The Falcons got boat-raced by New Orleans 45-16 at the Superdome. At least, that was the score the last time anybody looked up.

“I think it’s an aberration,” coach Mike Smith said when asked what this says about the state of his team.

He had better hope so. The Falcons just suffered their worst loss ever under Smith. The 29-point deficit was even bigger than last season’s playoff loss to Green Bay (48-21).

Some might have been upset that the Saints poured it on at the end. (Drew Brees threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game with 2:51 left, prompting Saints coach Sean Payton to later alibi that he was just trying to get Brees the single-season passing yardage record on that drive.)

But when a team gets body-slammed like this, it has nothing to whine about.

The Falcons didn’t merely get beat by a seemingly faster and more talented team. They got punched in the mouth. They lost both lines of scrimmage. They had receivers laid out in the New Orleans secondary, and their own defense didn’t reciprocate. They got out-coached.

They didn’t have an answer for a New Orleans offense that went over 300 yards by halftime or for quarterback Drew Brees, who just made them look silly most of the night.

They gave up a 92-yard kickoff return and allowed a touchdown on a 30-yard fumble return after Julio Jones found himself with an excess of thumbs. So they spread the agony around.

This all happened with quite a bit on the line, not the least of which was a slim chance to rally and win the NFC South.

“It’s pretty embarrassing the way we played,” linebacker Curtis Lofton said.

“I don’t even know what this means — I don’t have a clue,” wide receiver Roddy White said.

This doesn’t mean the Falcons are incapable of winning a first-round playoff game over Dallas, New York or San Francisco. But they have beaten only two teams all season that currently have winning records (Detroit and Tennessee), and this performance by players and coaches leaves nobody with any sense of comfort.

There’s also this: If things fall just right (or wrong), the Falcons will be coming back to New Orleans in two weeks for the playoffs. Sleep well, Brian VanGorder.

After consecutive wins over Carolina and Jacksonville, the Falcons had started to believe they could go on an improbable playoff run from a wild-card position this season, just like the Green Bay Packers did last season. But this game provided no reassurance of that.

Smith again: “I felt like we had a good week of preparation. I didn’t see this coming. We didn’t play Atlanta Falcons football and the scoreboard indicates that.”

What the scoreboard indicated was that this defense still can’t handle offenses with an elite quarterback. The only thing the first half gave the Falcons were bad flashbacks of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense, ripping them apart in January.

The Saints led 21-10 at halftime. They would’ve had four touchdowns in four possessions, but one would-be score went off Jimmy Graham’s hands in the end zone, was volleyballed by William Moore and fell like manna from heaven into the hands of Falcons defensive back Dominique Franks for an interception. So much for the Falcons’ first-half defensive highlights.

When Brees stepped back to pass, the Falcons’ secondary looked like somebody had kicked an ant hill. The Falcons rarely pressured Brees, rarely blitzed and, when they did, they got burned. Brees threw for 230 yards on only four possessions and New Orleans totaled 306 yards in offense.

There is your reality check about the Falcons’ defense in game No. 15.

Moving the ball wasn’t an issue early. The Falcons’ drove to a field goal and a touchdown on their first two possessions. But when they stalled, New Orleans kept going. As much as the Falcons fashion themselves as an explosive offense, they’re not nearly at the level of New Orleans or Green Bay.

The defense’s only hope against opponents at this level is to punch them in the mouth. But the Falcons were throwing hooks at air Monday night. In the first half, Brees moved the Saints 84 yards in 3 minutes and 28 seconds, 81 yards in 3:59 and 80 yards in 1:55.

You could almost hear defenders yell in unison, “Which way did he go?”

When New Orleans took a 28-10 lead in the third quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Robert Meachem, chants of “MVP, MVP,” went up in the Superdome crowd.

Nobody in white jerseys would cast a dissenting vote.

The Falcons were looking for a sign that they could do something special in the postseason. Instead, they got smacked with a reality check.

Barring an unexpected mutation, they’re nowhere nearly good enough for that.

By Jeff Schultz


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I dont know man. With that many days to prepare for this game. There is absoulety no excuse to play like that.

It Hurts like crazy. I was so amped up for this game. To lay an egg on MNF in front of the whole world was sad.

The D could not get off the freaking field on 10-13 3rd downs.

The pass protection was horrid.

Matt actually looked pretty good but dumb holding penaltys at the worst moments killed us.

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He pretty much hit the nail on the head with that article. Hoping for the same thing to happen to the Lions later this week so we face Dallas or Giants. We've suddenly become a very bad road team. Ok maybe it hasn't been so sudden. We played better on the road when we were the doormat of the NFL. I guess at least then there was pride in spoiling another teams goals.

I have a man crush on Smitty, but I really hope he doesn't think that was an aberration. I really hope to, for the sake of his own career as our head coach, that he isn't afraid to part with his OC and/or DC if not after this season then after a couple more aberrations next season. Don't be too loyal Smitty. Think of it as a business decision.


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a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome: they described the outbreak of violence in the area as an aberration.

It sounds like in addition to a couple of new coordinators and beefed up lines Smitty might need a dictionary. rolleyes.gif

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In all fairness, a 29 point loss IS an aberration. Especially to the Saints, to whom I don't believe this regime had ever lost by more than 8 points.

That being said, Smith's comments are needling at me. Before the game: "You can't stop them. Just hope to slow them down." And now: "I didn't see this coming."

Well, Smitty, we didn't stop them. And you saw it. You now have less than two weeks to figure out how to fix it.

I'm eternally hopeful as a fan, but I'm also realistic. Hard to see how we avoid one and done.

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Try this MS: unacceptable, embarrassing, and inexcusable.

Looking that unprepared after having ample time-off to be ready...smh.

This team doesn't know what to do with extra time. They sit at home and rest (McClure: "You'll see that rest show up on Monday night" wacko.png) and then look like they don't know how to play football.

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This team doesn't know what to do with extra time. They sit at home and rest (McClure: "You'll see that rest show up on Monday night" wacko.png) and then look like they don't know how to play football.

Exactly, do you think the Saints would be sitting at home with extra time to prepare?

Unfortunately we DID see that rest show up on Monday night Todd.

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This dude crazy, I guess greebay not as good as anybody in the playoffs because they were beat by the Cheifs or how about the Giants when they went on there super bowl run both teams which were 6 seeds. The game was much more competive that the score indecated the Falcons were a drive away from making it a 1 score game about half way threw the 3rd Quart and we were seeing vintage Matt Ryan then Julio got the ball rolling with the fumble and then it was down hill from there.

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No Smitty, the real aberration would be if this current edition of the Falcons came out and played balls-to-the wall, no excuses, physically dominating, high-risk football.....instead of the sleep-inducing, nursing home-inspired Chicken Little brand you trot out every week.


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I'm not trying to make much out of this comment from Smith, but historically speaking, Mr Blank listens and it seems every few years when the ho hum begins to set in our HC makes a media blunder and finds himself out the door. I hope this or the comment about not stopping Brees aren't sitting in Blank's head right now otherwise we might have another coach heading for Seattle or some similar location.


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I am sorry to say with the comments that keep coming from coach Smith after they keep getting tore a new one tell me one thing. This current coaching staff is only good enough to beat average teams. They do not have what it takes to play against upper level teams.

Heck even I know not to feed the players a Turkey dinner the day of the game.

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