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Physical, Mental Flubs Foil Falcons' Defense


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Physical, mental flubs foil Falcons' defense

Sep 14 9:02PM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

CINCINNATI -- For a moment, Robert Alford seemed content to dip out of the locker room without uttering a word.

Instead, the Atlanta Falcons' second-year cornerback showed his maturity and addressed the big play he surrendered in Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan sent safeties William Moore and Dwight Lowery on the blitz at Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on a third-and-6 from the Bengals' 26-yard line. It left Alford one-on-one against receiver Mohamed Sanu, who became a primary target with A.J. Green out of the game due to a foot injury.

Alford gambled on the play by diving to knock the ball away. His attempt failed with no safety help behind. The end result was Sanu's 76-yard catch-and-run touchdown that was the beginning of the end for the Falcons.

"It was just a mistake by me," Alford said. "I was all over it. I went to hit the ball. I tipped it. I didn't get all my hand over it like coach and them say. ... I've got to make that play. I've got to bat that one down instead of tipping it. I've got to block that junk down."

Alford's gaffe was critical, but he was far from the lone culprit on defense. The Falcons got pushed around way too much up front, leading to the Bengals' running back tandem of Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill combining for 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 42 attempts. Bernard had no problem leaping over defenders when he wasn't running through them.

Bernard also gained 46 yards on a quick dump pass right before Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters was able to corral Dalton. At least three missed tackles followed after Bernard broke into the open field.

Throw in another day without much pressure on the quarterback and you're talking a recipe for disaster.

"They won the line of scrimmage, and we did not tackle well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "They were running downhill. We had a very difficult time tackling No. 25 [bernard] early in the ballgame. And we have go to improve our rush defense. And we have to improve our total defense."

The Falcons allowed 472 total yards to the Bengals a week after giving up the same total in a 37-34 overtime win over New Orleans. The difference this time was, the Falcons' offense couldn't keep pace, finishing with just 309 total yards.

"You can't give up [472] yards week in and week out and expect to win," Smith said. "You've got to get stops, force punts. You've got to be able to change the field position. You've got to get some three-and-outs, and we did not accomplish that today."

Once again, the Falcons' defense was below standard on third down, allowing the Bengals to convert on 6 of 14 attempts. But no weakness was more glaring than how the Falcons were dominated at the line of scrimmage.

Dalton had success early by spreading the Falcons out, but some of that changed when Green exited with his foot injury. After that, it was just the Falcons not being physical enough. Such was not expected against the run with the additions of two run-stuffers in Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson this offseason.

"They're a good team," Soliai said of the Bengals. "Give credit to them. They came out and did their game plan well. We've just got to do better. We've got to wrap up. We've got to tackle.

"We just have to keep working. Right now, we've just got to focus on Tampa [on Thursday night]. It was a tough one today, but we just have to go out there and keep working."

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Rapid Reaction: Atlanta Falcons

September, 14, 2014

Sep 14

4:22

PM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

CINCINNATI -- A few thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium:

What it means: The 1-1 Falcons still have plenty of work to do on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense, after getting dominated. The final score would have been worse had Bengals kicker Mike Nugent not missed three field goals, although one was a 55-yarder. The whole offseason theme of getting tougher and stronger up front seemed missing as the offensive line allowed too much pressure on Matt Ryan and the defense allowed too many strong runs up the middle, among other issues. The quick turnaround with Thursday night's NFC South game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't give the Falcons much time to make adjustments.

Stock Watch: Cornerback Robert Alford recovered to make a few nice plays against the Saints in the opener. This time, Alford found himself one-on-one against Mohamed Sanu in the third quarter as defensive coordinator Mike Nolan called a blitz. Alford trailed on the play across the middle and tried to gamble, but it proved to be costly as Sanu got by him and, with no safety help, trotted all the way to the end zone for a 76-yard score. You expected the Falcons to do much better with their one-on-one battles considering top receiver A.J. Green exited the game early with a right toe injury. But that wasn't the case on this play.

Line woes: Going back to the offensive line, there were obvious concerns for the Falcons with rookie left tackle Jake Matthews sidelined by an ankle injury and veteran tackle Sam Baker already on injured reserve after preseason knee surgery. The starting tackles were Lamar Holmes and Gabe Carimi. Holmes struggled miserably at times, which contributed to Ryan being unable to go down the field like he did in the season opener. The Falcons started the game 1-for-7 on third down, and the pressure on Ryan had a lot to do with it. Ryan ended up throwing three interceptions while completing 24 of 44 passes for 231 yards. The Falcons need Matthews to heal very fast to help protect Ryan.

Game ball: It's hard to give anyone too much credit during a game like this, but at least Julio Jones scored a 14-yard touchdown. It wasn't his fault he wasn't more involved, and at least his touchdown helped some of the fantasy team owners.

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Frustrations boil over for Falcons

September, 14, 2014

Sep 14

6:05

PM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

CINCINNATI -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Atlanta Falcons' 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:

  • The Falcons let their emotions get to them late in the game, with right tackle Lamar Holmes picking up a 15-yard personal foul penalty for going after Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap after Dunlap roughed up quarterback Matt Ryan. Then Roddy White got a 15-yard personal foul penalty five plays later for shoving Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. "He speared me," White said in the locker room. "He speared me in the head. And the referee didn't say anything. But I've got to keep my composure, especially during the game. I can't get penalties when we're trying to go down there and score. I learned from it."

  • Speaking of Holmes, the starting right tackle obviously was dejected while standing by his locker as he reflected on his poor performance. "I'm beyond frustrated. Frustrated is not even the word I would use," he said. "I feel like I took steps back instead of steps forward trying to improve as a player."

  • Linebacker Paul Worrilow had his right arm wrapped heavily and walked around with a noticeable limp before exiting the locker room. As far as his arm, Worrilow said it was just a precautionary thing as the Falcons prepare for a short week, with Tampa Bay coming to the Georgia Dome Thursday night. Worrilow was more concerned with missed tackles than he was about his health.

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"They won the line of scrimmage, and we did not tackle well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "They were running downhill. We had a very difficult time tackling No. 25 [bernard] early in the ballgame. And we have go to improve our rush defense. And we have to improve our total defense."

"You can't give up [472] yards week in and week out and expect to win," Smith said. "You've got to get stops, force punts. You've got to be able to change the field position. You've got to get some three-and-outs, and we did not accomplish that today."

"They're a good team," Soliai said of the Bengals. "Give credit to them. They came out and did their game plan well. We've just got to do better. We've got to wrap up. We've got to tackle.

maddmatt2 said "DUH!"

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Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan sent safeties William Moore and Dwight Lowery on the blitz at Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on a third-and-6 from the Bengals' 26-yard line. It left Alford one-on-one against receiver Mohamed Sanu, who became a primary target with A.J. Green out of the game due to a foot injury.

Why in the world would you blitz BOTH Safeties on a play?

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"They won the line of scrimmage, and we did not tackle well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "They were running downhill. We had a very difficult time tackling No. 25 [bernard] early in the ballgame. And we have go to improve our rush defense. And we have to improve our total defense."

"You can't give up [472] yards week in and week out and expect to win," Smith said. "You've got to get stops, force punts. You've got to be able to change the field position. You've got to get some three-and-outs, and we did not accomplish that today."

"They're a good team," Soliai said of the Bengals. "Give credit to them. They came out and did their game plan well. We've just got to do better. We've got to wrap up. We've got to tackle.

maddmatt2 said "DUH!"

Sure getting sick of Smitty and his excuses , other than Mathews ,TD and Smith did NOTHING to improve this team through FA and the draft , NOTHING. Blaming it on players that cant play football is their fault , they are signing players that cant play . This is another EPIC FAIL by management and we got a look at the real Falcons yesterday I'm afraid. Even though TD and Smith know their azzez are on the line they fail to do anything as far as pass rush and believe we can "get by" with a bunch of scrubs, these people are dense , what can you say , they just dont get it.

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Sure getting sick of Smitty and his excuses , other than Mathews ,TD and Smith did NOTHING to improve this team through FA and the draft , NOTHING. Blaming it on players that cant play football is their fault , they are signing players that cant play . This is another EPIC FAIL by management and we got a look at the real Falcons yesterday I'm afraid. Even though TD and Smith know their azzez are on the line they fail to do anything as far as pass rush and believe we can "get by" with a bunch of scrubs, these people are dense , what can you say , they just dont get it.

Asamoah? Carimi? Soliai? Jackson? Wilson? Arenas? Hageman? Hester?

WTF are you talking about? TD and Smith added 5 starters through FA to this team (Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, Jackson, and Hester). Hester starts on Special Teams, not offense, but still. TD and Smith added 5 guys through Free Agency that are all starting. That's out of 25 starters, including ST's. From what I have seen thus far, Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, and Hester have been enormous upgrades over what we had starting in their place last season. Soliai is a big NT that isn't going to get a lot of stats, but I'm seeing him take up 2 blockers and still get penetration into the backfield. I'm not seeing what I want to see out of Jackson or Biermann on the DL.

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Sure getting sick of Smitty and his excuses , other than Mathews ,TD and Smith did NOTHING to improve this team through FA and the draft , NOTHING. Blaming it on players that cant play football is their fault , they are signing players that cant play . This is another EPIC FAIL by management and we got a look at the real Falcons yesterday I'm afraid. Even though TD and Smith know their azzez are on the line they fail to do anything as far as pass rush and believe we can "get by" with a bunch of scrubs, these people are dense , what can you say , they just dont get it.

EXACTLY, Well Said!

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They did nothing? As in signing two of the best run defenders in the nfl?

Let's not exaggerate, neither are pro-bowl caliber players.

TD should have been more aggressive considering all the holes on this team! The roster lacks Talent!

Edited by insight
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Asamoah? Carimi? Soliai? Jackson? Wilson? Arenas? Hageman? Hester?

WTF are you talking about? TD and Smith added 5 starters through FA to this team (Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, Jackson, and Hester). Hester starts on Special Teams, not offense, but still. TD and Smith added 5 guys through Free Agency that are all starting. That's out of 25 starters, including ST's. From what I have seen thus far, Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, and Hester have been enormous upgrades over what we had starting in their place last season. Soliai is a big NT that isn't going to get a lot of stats, but I'm seeing him take up 2 blockers and still get penetration into the backfield. I'm not seeing what I want to see out of Jackson or Biermann on the DL.

In back to back games the defense has giving up over 400 yards. The defense is losing the line of scrimmage and can't pressure the QB.

Nolan had to resort to blitzing both safeties to try to get pressure. Can't you admit, TD and Smith have failed to substantially improve the roster.

The offensive line is getting pushed around and bullied. Matt Ryan is scrambling for his life.

Adding Asamoah and Matthews to the Offensive line was not enough. Considering how early we knew Sam Baker was out TD should have brought in another starting caliber player. It did not work out for Tampa bay but I give them credit for pulling off a late trade with the Patriots to improve there line.

Cincinnati was missing several players due to injury but even there back ups outclassed our starters.

Edited by insight
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People seem alarmed about the Falcons defense, but everybody knew this defense was going to be bad. Or at least they should have known.

This Falcons team will no chance to win any game in shich Matt Bosher punts 6 times and Matt Ryan throws 3 INTs. The Falcons had as many INTs as they had third down conversions.

So I'm not worried about the defense. I don't expect this defense to hold anybody down on the road. Not the Vikings, the Giants, the Ravens....nobody.

The only kind of games this team is going to win on the road is shoot outs....if they are going to win some games on the road.

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People seem alarmed about the Falcons defense, but everybody knew this defense was going to be bad. Or at least they should have known.

This Falcons team will no chance to win any game in shich Matt Bosher punts 6 times and Matt Ryan throws 3 INTs. The Falcons had as many INTs as they had third down conversions.

So I'm not worried about the defense. I don't expect this defense to hold anybody down on the road. Not the Vikings, the Giants, the Ravens....nobody.

The only kind of games this team is going to win on the road is shoot outs....if they are going to win some games on the road.

I agree about the defense and partially about the offense but where was the shootout ? I would have gladly taken that, what the h3ll did Koetter throw out there for a game plan ? that was pathetic, dink and dunk all the way and play after play that were going nowhere. This offense is so simplistic and vanilla that any decent team know exactly what we are going to run. Once there is a little tape on us it seems we get exposed, I think Koetter should be on the hot seat. One 3 and out sequence was a bubble screen for a loss of 1, a run play for nothing and right back to another bubble screen for no gain ??? I mean if thats all you have when nothing is working you are in trouble.

We'll win a few at home but we may be looking at 6-10 or 7-9 season at best. No defense and an offence that is inconsistant is not going to do it.

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People seem alarmed about the Falcons defense, but everybody knew this defense was going to be bad. Or at least they should have known.

This Falcons team will no chance to win any game in shich Matt Bosher punts 6 times and Matt Ryan throws 3 INTs. The Falcons had as many INTs as they had third down conversions.

So I'm not worried about the defense. I don't expect this defense to hold anybody down on the road. Not the Vikings, the Giants, the Ravens....nobody.

The only kind of games this team is going to win on the road is shoot outs....if they are going to win some games on the road.

Truth
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People seem alarmed about the Falcons defense, but everybody knew this defense was going to be bad. Or at least they should have known.

This Falcons team will no chance to win any game in shich Matt Bosher punts 6 times and Matt Ryan throws 3 INTs. The Falcons had as many INTs as they had third down conversions.

So I'm not worried about the defense. I don't expect this defense to hold anybody down on the road. Not the Vikings, the Giants, the Ravens....nobody.

The only kind of games this team is going to win on the road is shoot outs....if they are going to win some games on the road.

This,,we have neglected the defense to build our offense, we're not going to win many games when we only score 10 points. Not saying the defense couldn't have played better, but I don't expect them to win games for us. That's what the offense is going to have to do.

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Let's face it, this defense is not good and has had pass rush issues since Smitty and Dimwitroff's arrival. I saw guys getting manhandled by the Bengals OL and not able to fight off blocks. The Bengals showed the Falcons are still the same soft team they beat up last year. Tampa won't be a cakewalk either.

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Asamoah? Carimi? Soliai? Jackson? Wilson? Arenas? Hageman? Hester?

WTF are you talking about? TD and Smith added 5 starters through FA to this team (Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, Jackson, and Hester). Hester starts on Special Teams, not offense, but still. TD and Smith added 5 guys through Free Agency that are all starting. That's out of 25 starters, including ST's. From what I have seen thus far, Asamoah, Carimi, Soliai, and Hester have been enormous upgrades over what we had starting in their place last season. Soliai is a big NT that isn't going to get a lot of stats, but I'm seeing him take up 2 blockers and still get penetration into the backfield. I'm not seeing what I want to see out of Jackson or Biermann on the DL.

I agree that FAs Asamoah, Soliali, Hester, and Carimi are all improvements at starters from what we had last year. I too am not very pleased with FA T-Jax's performance thus far. Although not a FA signing, Biermann has also been a disappointment thus far.

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