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http://sports.yahoo.com/news/team-report-atlanta-falcons-194317990--nfl.html

Team Report - ATLANTA FALCONS

13 hours agoThe SportsXchange



INSIDE SLANT

With three games to play this season, the Atlanta Falconsare trying to find out if their 2013 draft class will be part of the solution moving into the offseason.

Against Green Bay, the Falcons played 10 rookies for a total of 416 snaps and all will likely get more action when they face the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

That could grow to 12 rookies if safety Kemal Ishamel, a seventh-round pick, or Terren Jones, an undrafted rookie offensive tackle, can get some action. Both were inactive for the game in Green Bay.

When a team decides to go "youth movement" route, it must be prepared to live with the mistakes.

On offense, rookies right tackle Ryan Schraeder (42 snaps, 71 percent), tight end Levine Toilolo (11, 19 percent) and wide receiver Darius Johnson (31, 53 percent) all played key roles against the Packers. Schraeder gave up the key strip-sack that led to the go-ahead touchdown.

On defense, linebackers Paul Worrilow (71 snaps, 100 percent) and Joplo Bartu (25, 35 percent), defensive ends Malliciah Goodman (25, 35 percent) and Stansly Maponga (15, 21 percent), cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (71, 100 percent) and Robert Alford (71, 100 percent) and safety Zeke Motta (53, 75 percent) were rookies who all played major snaps.

The Falcons, since being eliminated from the playoffs, have ramped up the play of the younger players on their roster. A combination of improved play from their younger players along with the returning veterans from injury should help them in 2014.

"I think the guys have worked hard and they deserve the opportunity to go out there and play," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "They need to play in games where there is something on the line. You want to see how they respond to it."

The Falcons contend that they are not tanking games to improve their draft position.

"Our mission is to win the football games, no doubt about that," Smith said. "But we felt that those young guys had the opportunity to go out and participate in a game for an entire game or most of the game. That's what we were looking at (in Green Bay)."

Smith appears ready to live with plays by the rookies, like Schrader giving up the sack-strip to Green Bay linebacker Mike Neal.

"I believe that Ryan went out and had an opportunity to play his most significant snaps," Smith said. "He did not start the ball game, but he had his most significant snaps. I'm sure you guys have seen replays on the strip/fumble. That was a big play."

The rookies started out strong against the Packers in the frigid conditions of Lambeau Field and should be ready to go when they face Washington indoors.

"I felt like we started out fairly effectively running the ball efficiently early in the ball game," Smith said. "In the second half, we did not. I don't think we got a first down in the third quarter of the ball game. Three three-and-outs and a turnover, I believe. We did not move the football in the second half of the game."

The other two rookies on offense, Johnson and Toilolo, didn't make any significant contributions.

"I felt like in the first 30 minutes of the ball game we played well enough to win and in the second 30 minutes, we played poor football," Smith said. "We didn't play well enough to get the job done."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Falcons did a decent job against Green Bay rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who was held to 65 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown.

"He is good," Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. "I like Eddie Lacy. He is definitely a big guy and he runs tough behind his pads. I am not sure what the numbers were (Sunday), but I felt like we kept the run game down."

Lacy's backup, James Starks, had seven rushed for just 19 yards.

But the Packers, because of six scrambles by quarterback Matt Flynn for 28 yards, became the 10th straight team to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons. The Pack finished with 112 yards on 33 carries.

--Weatherspoon made an alert play that led to a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Packers.

Flynn attempted a pass to fullback John Kuhn, but Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry tipped the ball.

The ball then dropped down to hit linebacker Paul Worrilow's right foot. It bounced back up into Weatherspoon's hands and he took off down the side lines.

At the 22-yard line, he cut back inside on Green Bay lineman T.J. Lang on his way to the end zone.

Weatherspoon wasn't sure if the ball had hit the ground or not.

"You always want to sell it," Weatherspoon said. "Even if it hits the ground you still have to take that chance."

The touchdown put the Falcons up 21-10 with 23 seconds left in the second quarter.

Weatherspoon became the second defender to return an interception for a touchdown this season. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora had a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown against the St. Louis Ramson Sept. 15.

Weatherspoon's touchdown was the longest since cornerback Asante Samuel returned an interception 79 yards for a touchdown against Oakland last season.

"That was a unique play," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "The ball was tipped and kicked up in the air. Sean made a great run after the catch. We had some guys doing a nice job blocking down field."

--Wide receiver Drew Davis pulled double-duty on his 36-yard yard touchdown catch.

Before getting out into his route, he stayed in to put a chip block on a Green Bay defender.

"I saw Matt (Ryan) looking for me and once I got the ball, their guys missed a tackle and I looked around for the safety and I just walked into the end zone," Davis said. "I was just supposed to protect a little bit and then leak out late. Once, I got my job down I was able to get into my route and get the touchdown."

--Right guard Peter Konz, a native of nearby Neehan, Wis., had plenty of family and friends on hand for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

"It was a hard-fought game," Konz said. "The weather was a factor. It was just a battle for field position and at the end we came up short. It was just a hard one, but it's one that we have to learn from."

Rushing attack: The Falcons rushed for 83 yards on 23 carries. Steven Jackson had 15 carries for 71 yards.

"You have to give people confidence in you," Konz said. "You really want to get four yards on that first one to give them confidence that you can run the ball again. We need to get better at starting faster. That's going to be an emphasis point for us."

--The Falcons tied a season-high with five sacks against the Packers. They also had five sacks earlier this season against Miami.

Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (1.5), Worrilow (1.5), safety William Moore (1) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (1) had the sacks. The Falcons also had five quarterback hits on Flynn.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

INJURY IMPACT

--FS Thomas DeCoud left the Packers game at the end of the first quarter with what was likely a concussion, but was announced as a "head" injury.

--RB Antone Smith left the game with a knee injury, but was walking fine after the game in the locker room.

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Paul Worrilow had a game-high 12 tackles against the Packers.

--WR Roddy White caught eight passes for 74 yards. In his last two games, White has 18 catches for 217 yards.

--P Matt Bosher averaged 44.5 yards on four punts and placed two punts inside the Packers' 20-yard line.

--SS William Moore notched his second strip-sack of the season, dropping Green Bay QB Matt Flynn for an eight-yard loss and jarring the ball loose at the Packers 15-yard line.

--DE Malliciah Goodman recovered a fumble at Green Bay's 13 to set up a short field for Atlanta's offense.

--TE Tony Gonzalez caught a two-yard touchdown pass, the 108th touchdown reception of his career. Gonzalez leads all active players and owns the NFL record for tight ends with 108 touchdown receptions. He has a team-leading six touchdown receptions in 2013, including one touchdown catch in each of the last two games. Gonzalez has caught touchdowns in consecutive games 26 times in his career. Additionally, Gonzalez has caught at least six touchdowns in each of the last six seasons.

--QB Matt Ryan's 146 career touchdown passes are the second most in franchise history, trailing Steve Bartkowski's mark of 154 touchdown passes. Ryan finished the game completing 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and an 81.4 passer rating.

REPORT CARD VS. PACKERS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Matt Ryan was outplayed by Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who was cut by Oakland and Buffalo this season. Ryan completed 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He had a passer rating of 81.4. Flynn finished with a passer rating of 95.6. Ryan was victimized by several drops. Before film review we had Tony Gonzalez with two, Steven Jackson with two,Jacquizz Rodgers with one and Harry Douglas with two. That's seven. Gonzalez and Drew Davis caught touchdown passes. Roddy White turned in a strong game with eight catches for 74 yards. But there were too many drops by the wide receivers, including Douglas' key late drop that would have put the Falcons on the fringe of Matt Bryant's field-goal range. White now has 18 catches for 217 yards over the past two games.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C - Steven Jackson rushed for 71 yards on 15 carries and Jacquizz Rodgers had 14 yards on seven carries. Antone Smith did not touch the ball from scrimmage and should be getting Rodgers' carries at this point. The running game started strong, but stalled during key drives in the fourth quarter. On second-and-10 from Green Bay's 32 with 7:28 left, Jason Snelling was stuffed by Johnny Jolly for a 2-yard loss. Two plays later Bryant missed a 52-yard field goal by about two yards. In the next drive, on first-and-10 from Green Bay's 38 with 2:57 to play, Rodgers was stuffed for a 1-yard gain with the Falcons trying to get into field goal range.

PASS DEFENSE: C - The Falcons had five sacks and five quarterback hits on Flynn. The five sacks tied a season-high that was also achieved against Miami during the Week 3 of the season. The Falcons lined up in their nickel package for 53 of the 71 defensive snaps (77 percent). Free safety Thomas DeCoud left the game against the Packers with a concussion that was announced as a "head" injury. He did not return to the action. DeCoud was replaced in the lineup by rookie Zeke Motta, who would later give up the go-ahead touchdown catch to Andrew Quarless. The Falcons played mostly nickel coverage against the Packers. Robert Alford started at left cornerback for veteran Asante Samuel, who has seemed disconnected all season. Alford had five tackles, but got beat by Jordy Nelson for a 46-yard gain.

RUSH DEFENSE: D - The line was stout against the run as it held the Packers running backs to 84 yards on 27 carries for a respectable 3.1 yards per attempt. Green Bay rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who battled through an ankle injury, rushed for 65 yards on 20 carries. John Starks was held to 19 yards on seven carries. Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi continued his strong play, making five tackles to go with 1.5 sacks and one tackle for a loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus -- Kicker Matt Bryant missed a potential game-winning 52-yard field goal. Punter Matt Bosher averaged 44.5 yards on four punts and placed two punts inside the Packers' 20-yard line. Rodgers had his busiest day of the season with six returns for 126 yards. The coverage units were strong.

COACHING: C-minus -- On a day when the defense registered five sacks, scored a touchdown and set up the offense for another short drive, the Falcons needed a little production from the offense. The defense got after the shaky Matt Flynn and came up with a big day. The offense went in the tank in the second half. The troublesome third quarter was a factor again. They went scoreless and have scored just 42 points in the third quarter all season, which supports those critics who contend that the coaching staff makes poor halftime adjustments.

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I just can't wrap my head around what happens to our team in the 3rd quarter.

I honestly can't put it into words... but it's so frustrating. You wouldn't think it would be a repeating issue but it hasn't stopped yet and it's been going on for a ridiculous amount of games (I don't know the exact number)

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I just can't wrap my head around what happens to our team in the 3rd quarter.

Is Smittyball that difficult to understand? Our pass:run ratio and number of total plays are totally ****** in the 3rd quarter and that has been the case for 6 years now. Pass less, run more, don't take chances with the ball, kill clock, and protect the lead. Its the take what the D gives you mindset in full effect.

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Guest fibonacci

What will really happen.......

Antone Smith gets two touches.

Thomas decoud starts.

Cousins has the gane of his life.

Mike Smith blames injuries.

But i go home happy saying we have the #2 pick.

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sooooooo wait Ryan was victimized by drops but he was outplayed???

giving the rush D a D... despite the fact the mention how string it was??

Man they are ********.

What will really happen.......

Antone Smith gets two touches.

Thomas decoud starts.

Cousins has the gane of his life.

Mike Smith blames injuries.

But i go home happy saying we have the #2 pick.

please show me ONE time Smitty blamed injuries.

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Guest fibonacci

sooooooo wait Ryan was victimized by drops but he was outplayed???

giving the rush D a D... despite the fact the mention how string it was??

Man they are ********.

please show me ONE time Smitty blamed injuries.

I'm not your track record for storing information. Butt it's in his press conference near the start of the season.

And it's not like he goes. "f white. F Jackson". It's more so, "we need to get white back to being healthy and back on the field.....we need to let Jackson rest 6 weeks and then back on the field and hopefully we can do it without him, while he is recovering".

Excuses can be said a lot of different ways.

And also you hear what you want to hear.

Side note:i see you must agree with the other points. :D

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