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Falcons: Birds Edge Past Redskins To 5-0


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Atlanta Falcons: Birds Edge Past Redskins to 5-0

9:53 pm October 8, 2012, by Dawson Devitt (D3)

5-0 for First Time in Franchise History

The Atlanta Falcons weren’t pretty, but they got the job done yet again on the road, coming from behind, and finding a way to win. The offense looked out of sync for almost the entire game, the defense had major problems with the run and even gave up a first career touchdown pass to a brand new rookie in Kirk Cousins, but nonetheless, the Falcons found a way to win the game and got it done when it really counted. And by the way, the Atlanta Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and they have plenty areas for improvement. They may have “sucked” as Roddy White jokingly said after the game, but they’re also undefeated. A look at the Birds road win in DC………

An Ugly Win Always Beats a Pretty Loss

It marks the second week the Falcons have looked less than stellar and had to make a comeback in the 4th quarter to win the game, but an ugly win beats a pretty loss, or as some call them “moral victories,” every day of the week. The offense slogged around the first half, throwing a pick-six in the process, and the defense got gashed by the run and torched by a brand new rookie QB, but the Falcons buckled down when they had to. Matt Ryan led the offense to score 17 points in the 4th quarter and the defense came back from their awful blown coverage TD to Cousins to steal two interceptions in a row to close out the game. If they Falcons continue their overall subpar performances, than it’ll be a cause for concern, but for now their finding ways to win, and they’re only one of two teams that are undefeated, by the way.

Run Defense a Concern

Cam Newton almost racks up 100 yards himself and 6th round draft pick rookie steams to 114 rushing on Sunday. The Birds are doing a great job in the pass game and takeways, but are showing some weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the run game. The Falcons are currently ranked 27th against the run and will face plenty of strong running teams as the season goes along. In particular, the defensive tackles and middle linebacker play seem to be giving up large amounts of yards. Jerry, Babineaux, and Walker are excellent getting penetration against the pass, but seem to be wearing some vs. the run. Akeem Dent is having major issues at middle linebacker (more below) and that’s putting more and more pressure on the outside linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks. It should be said that the Falcons are 7th against the pass, but they need to stiffen up against the run a little bit.

Gonzo the Great

Did someone say Tony Gonzalez is supposedly retiring this year? It appears that the 36 year old is on track for one of his best seasons yet. Gonzo hauled in 123 yards with a touchdown and is tied for 3rd overall with 4 touchdowns (among all wide receivers) and 15th in yards including all wide receivers (1st among tight ends). He is surely benefitting from teams trying their best to keep both Julio Jones and Roddy White in check and Koetter is happy to oblige him with the targets. Many teams have talented receiving corps, but few have the additional talent at tight end to occupy the middle with authority the way Gonzalez does. No one is surprised at what he does anymore and he’s playing like he just came into the league. Looking forward, the Falcons and their fans are starting to realize how big the hole will be at TE when he leaves.

Enough with the “Offensive Linemen as Tight End” Mess

Fans and the Bird Cage faithful were ready to toss anything they could get their hands on at the TV seeing Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, and Garrett Reynolds go out for passes, line up as a 3rd tight end, or doing anything other than blocking on the line (Reynolds illegal man downfield was an accident, but still). What in the Hades is going on here? Some thought the first pass to Joe Hawley (he’s a center remember?) was just an accident, but when it happened again, it bordered somewhere in between being nauseous and bewilderment. Seeing Hawley trying to catch the ball was akin to seeing him in a tutu on a highwire.

The Falcons are struggling at fullback in losing Bradie Ewing in the first preseason game and not having Lousaka Polite active this week, but having Hawley or others go out for passes with all the talent available is just criminal. Mike Johnson has been playing a lot of 3rd tight end roles lately which brings up another point: if Tyson Clabo is needing that much extra help in blocking, why is he still in there? Every time Johnson or Hawley are in as an extra lineman, that’s taking out guys like Harry Douglas, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, or even Kevin Cone and Drew Davis. Very, very puzzling and strange.

Julio Back in the Groove

Another game, another big drop early in the game. The Falcons had a huge play drawn up where Ryan hit Julio Jones on a nice deep ball right at the end zone only to see him drop another big one. Fans were starting to get anxious after seeing Jones struggle the last few games, mainly with drops. Could so much talent not explode as everyone thought? The good news is that Ryan and Koetter kept feeding Jones the ball and he looked like the stud we’ve all come to know in the very short time he’s been in red and black. He helped the offense drive down the field with excellent routes, good catches, and his signature extra effort to get more yards. He capped it off with a dazzling touchdown catch where he adjusted to a sidline pass, snagged it, and kept his feet in for the score. Great to have you back JJ!

Issues at MLB

Akeem Dent is struggling mightily at middle linebacker. There’s really no other way to spin it. He looked lost, had weak instincts, overran plays, missed tackles, and was blocked with ease. Even though some are bringing up the B word already after many thought he was a big reach for the 3rd round, it may be a little premature for that. To be fair, Dent hasn’t had a ton of snaps since Nolan is a fan of the big nickel and he’s only a few games into his first starting year. Sean Weatherspoon didn’t look that great as a rookie himself. Dent also has undergone some serious changes the last 4 years, going from a 4-3 defense under Willie Martinez as a junior at UGA to the 3-4 as a senior under Todd Grantham back to a 4-3 under Brian Van Gorder and finally to a new scheme, more of a hybrid, under Mike Nolan. He is, after all, from a Mark Richt led Georgia team well-known for under-developing their players (see that Justin Houston is top 5 in sacks and Blair Walsh is on fire in Minnesota). Also, Dimitroff did sign Lofa Tatupu in a great low-risk, potentially high-reward move before he was injured.

However, defending Dent can only go so far and he can only get so much time to improve. At what point will Mike Peterson get brought back in or Kroy Biermann get a permanent move to LB (a very popular idea here in the Cage). This much is a lock: linebacker moves to the top of the 2013 draft board.

These Falcons Have Some Mettle

On one hand, the Falcons have had two performances that are easy to forget, playing an opponent that is decent-to-good, but surely not great or elite. However, the Falcons have proven the last two weeks that they can find ways to win even if they’re not playing their best. At some point, this will start being an issue instead of a strength, but for now, they’ve won two games in a row down at various points in the game.

What’s Up with the Drops?

The drops are starting to add up and it’s not that big of deal just yet, but something to be looking out for moving forward. Julio dropped a potential long touchdown catch, Quizz dropped an easy screen/dump-off, and then there was Joe Hawley dropping two catches….oh wait, he’s a center running passing routes like a receiver, but surely that can’t be right? In all seriousness, the Falcons need to start locking up the easy catches when they get a chance and eliminate as many drops as possible.

Defense Had RG3 Hemmed Up Anyway

Even though it wasn’t as much as expected, there are surely some who think that the game may have been different if RG3 hadn’t got injured and left the game, but just like forcing Peyton Manning into his interceptions, the Falcons defense brought the wood to him when he pulled the ball down and started to run. Also, the Birds did an excellent job keeping him hemmed up even before the injury. The Falcons defense held him to 91yards passing and only 7 yards rushing in the 3rd quarter. Overall, the Falcons defense pretty much shut down the rookie QB.

5-0 Feels for First Time

Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, and Arthur Blank just keep on knocking down those walls. The newest one is getting to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, which doesn’t mean too awful much to being so early in the season, but it’s been a great start to the campaign and bodes well for the Falcons and their fans going forward.

Your Turn

1) Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

2) How concerned over rush defense?

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

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Your Turn

1) Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

2) How concerned over rush defense?

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

http://blogs.ajc.com...ta_falcons_fans

1) Good showing. Save for two flukes, it would have been a blowout.

2) It could be a problem down the stretch, but I think we'll adjust as necessary. I trust Nolan in that regard.

3) Never really know. If we draft a TE, I'd like for him to stick around to kinda show him the ropes. Unless he's already doing that with Gallarda.

4) None. Hawley is Da Future.

5) See above.

6) Julio will, statistically, be up and down as long as Roddy & TG are lined up. It's the ebb and flow of the Pick Your Poison Offense. Defenses still die, so there's no cause for concern.

7) Ehh. Still remains to be seen. Hopefully if he doesn't develop, Peterson & the others will be suitable enough to not be a liability.

8) Probably mettle. The only comeback that was worrisome was the Panthers game.

9) Julio has to be a little more sure-handed, but overall, not really concerned. It was raining last game.

10) Adjustments & Aggressiveness.

11) The most glaring deficiency is the run defense. Our offensive running is improving to be just enough of what we need, which was the plan. We improve the run D and we should be good to go.

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Your Turn

1) Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

2) How concerned over rush defense?

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

http://blogs.ajc.com...ta_falcons_fans

1. If I could sum up this win in one word, it would be "Maturation". In years past, Ryan throws that Int, and gets the fumble, and I'm like "Oh God, about to get blown out". Not this year. I was telling my Roomate during the game: "If we hold them to a Field goal, and score to make it 10-7 at Half-Time, we win this game." Sure enough, Cundiff misses the kick, and the rest is history.

2. Eh, I'm not as concerned as others are. As a fan, you'd like to be great at everything, but if our defense had one weakness, I'd rather it be Run Defense. I'd rather a team put up 140 rush yards and a rushing TD, than 400 pass yards and 3 passing TD's. Plus, our interception rate has been awesome this year, lets keep the turnovers going.

3. If I'm TD, I go up to Gonzo after the year is over and say: "No pressure, but heres 13 MIl to come back and play again." Totally worth every penny.

4. I just thought it was hilarious, not too pissed.

5. Injuries?

6. Julio never left. He needs to shore up his hands (Will come with time and practice, think Roddy White's first few years), but is still commanding double teams in games he hasn't statistically showed up in. That amazing two handed grab on the sidelines I think is alot bigger for his confidence that some people realize. That was awesome!

7. He's playing like a Rookie, which if you look at Play counts and not years, he is. Let him mature some before you write him off, people are always so quick to write off players that obviously have skill, but are thinking too much.

8. Mettle. It's 5 weeks in, no one is slowing down, even bad teams.

9. No, I don't worry about drops. They happen, and luckily, it hasn't cost us any games like last year. We'll get it fixed. Like Spoon said "Better to have things to work on and win, then have things to work on and lose."

10. The confidence I feel about our team. I can honestly, 100% say, that I believe we can go against ANY team in the NFL, and have atleast a 50% chance to win, if not more. First time I've ever said that about the Birds.

11. What worries me? See Braves. It's a Pro Sports team in Atlanta. I was born and raised here, and I get butterflies come Playoff time. I hope we can get that Monkey off our back this year.

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Right on the money with your analysis. There has been plenty of things the team has done well to get to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, but there are also definitely some areas of concern. The last two games especially were unacceptable in terms of how poorly the team played on both sides of the football before scratching out late wins. Now to your discussion points:

1) Opening Kickoff: what’s your overall thoughts on the Falcons win?

A: It counts as a "W" but it hardly was a performance befitting a top-tier team. Even worse, It was the second stinker game in a row and Ryan handed the Skins one of the all-time dumbest pick-sixes in the annals of the NFL to give the early momentum and the lead to Washington.

2) How concerned over rush defense?

A: It's a serious concern and it's not getting any better. Dent is a joke at MLB, but nobody on the defense or

coaching staff seems to have even the faintest idea how to improve.

3) Do you think Gonzalez is rethinking his retirement after all?

No. If we win a Super Bowl, he's done. If we don't, there's probably a 25% chance he'd come back. I'm sure he'd say to himself, If the Falcons couldn't get it done this year, why would next year be any different? And he'd be right.

4) What object were readying to throw after the Hawley passes?

The coffee table.

5) Please explain the “Extra OL as 3rd TE” mess, if you can.

Totally inscrutable. You might as well have asked me to explain Egyptian hieroglyphics or Sumerian cuneiform script.

6) Is Julio back after a few missteps in games?

JJ has issues gathering the ball in on a lot of the longer passes and I don't see him making any significant strides to eliminating this tendency. Probably would be better to leave the long balls to Roddy.

7) What’s your thoughts on Akeem Dent, MLB overall?

Dent is a bust. He's so below the minimum standard of performance needed that he needs to be sent to the PS or just cut.

8.) Are the comeback wins a sign of mettle or slowing down?

Considering the comeback wins were against bottom-feeder teams, they are clearly a sign the team is no longer playing at the same high level as in their first three games. Had these been comeback wins against top-tier teams, THEN maybe you could look at them as being signs of mettle.

9) Are the drops starting to worry you?

There have been way too many drops, especially on JJ and Turner. As we've learned over and over one drop at the wrong time and a win can turn into a loss. Time for Turner and JJ to cut the clown act and get their shlt together.

10) What do you like about your 5-0 Falcons?

The five wins are the best the team has ever managed to start a season.

11) What worries you most about your 5-0 Falcons?

No pass rush,no pass protection, no run defense, arm-tackling instead of wrapping up, Ryan still not mature enough to avoid throwing the ball directly into the hands of oncoming pass rushers, Ryan firing blanks for most of the first half, the entire team playing down to the level of their opponents, the offensive coaching staff trying to force plays to Joe Hawley as a receiver when he couldn't catch a football with a frigging cargo net.

Edited by PokerSteve
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All these "issues" are predicated on a fast start that included replacement refs. Say what you will about those games, they were definitely effected by the refs. Add to that, there are now multiple weeks of film for the opposition to pour over and adjust. I think that's what we saw the last two games, real refs having a positive effect on the game in general, and the opposition adjusting to what we've done in the first few weeks of the season. The Carolina game doesn't really apply as it was a division game and as we all know, anything can happen in those.

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All these "issues" are predicated on a fast start that included replacement refs. Say what you will about those games, they were definitely effected by the refs. Add to that, there are now multiple weeks of film for the opposition to pour over and adjust. I think that's what we saw the last two games, real refs having a positive effect on the game in general, and the opposition adjusting to what we've done in the first few weeks of the season. The Carolina game doesn't really apply as it was a division game and as we all know, anything can happen in those.

People don't seem to get that bolded part though, for whatever reason. But to your point, I think there are only but so many adjustments you can make against us defensively. I think Sunday was more about our lack of execution than their coaching against us. Also, love the Scrappy quote in the sig.

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