2012 NFCDG – Falcons beat Seahawks?

Finally… the monkey is off the collective backs of Matt Ryan and Mike Smith with a strong win over arguably the hottest team in the NFC in the Seattle Seahawks.

As the Falcons prepare for the upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers though, I have more questions about this win than answers. More on that later.

For now, enjoy a montage of gif action, compiled by AF.com and TheScore.

Love this play… The Real Beast was Jacquizz Rodgers on this play running over Earl Thomas

The win was uncharacteristically sloppy in regards to penalties, expect Mike Smith to clean that up before the NFCCG.

One of my favorite sequences was this one, featuring Richard Sherman and Roddy.

This guy has talent, but he’s also got a huge mouth and zero class.

Sherman made a few key plays during the game, especially on the deflection on an early game Roddy White target in the endzone. Matt Ryan delivered the ball late, allowing Sherman to catch up to the play and deflect a sure touchdown.

Sherman let Roddy have it, talking trash the entire way until this play.

notice Sherman “falling down” as ball arrives…

Of course… Roddy being Roddy, made sure to tell Sherman that yes, indeed he had caught the ball.

Love it.. you are down 20-0 just gave up a huge touchdown and you do the golf clap. #dontgetit

Sherman didn’t impress me much, he was abused several times by Roddy White.

The 5 yard touchdown to Snelling. Notice the Julio Jones decoy.

A look at the 5 yard misdirection shovel pass by Ryan… I really do love the fact that DK uses Julio so effectively as a decoy, but maybe it’s time to use him a little more than that?

Gonzalez with the huge touchdown in the 1st quarter. So happy for TG.

Unfortunately, Abraham re-injured his ankle early in the second quarter and did not return. He’ll need to get healthy quick to help a subpar pass rush, although with Colin Kaepernick coming to town, pass rush may not be as important as it is with traditional pocket passers.

containing Kaepernick is crucial

I’ll be back later with more preview of Falcons – Niners, and hopefully the Falcons heading to NO for the Super Bowl.

Rise Up.

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NFL 2012 Week 8 Recap – Falcons Trample Eagles

I previewed this game and thought the Falcons would lose a close and physical battle to suffer their first setback of the NFL season.

After all, an impending hurricane, a dome team on the road with a leaky run defense and facing an coach that was undefeated coming off the bye week, all pointed to an ugly game.

So imagine my surprise when the Falcons rolled up the Eagles and beat them like they stole something in Week 8

Falcons Offense vs Eagles Defense Video Review

While some may laud the Falcons for coming right out and shooting out of the gate, to me this game was an indication as to how far the Falcons have come with new coordinators in place.

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter had said in the week leading up to the Eagles game, that they were well prepared for the “wide-9” technique that the Eagles employed.

He wasn’t lying.

The Falcons looked as prepared as I have seen from ANY team on ANY Sunday, and the coaching staff clearly outcoached Andy Reid and company. The Eagles defense looked LOST, and didn’t force a punt until the end of the fourth quarter.

All the adjustments Todd Bowles the new defensive coordinator had planned? Didn’t see much in the way of that at all as the Falcons almost looked like they KNEW what was coming next.

The Snelling screen in the video above that made it 14-0 is a perfect playcall against the Wide 9, by the time the Eagles end had taken 3 steps, the touchdown was all but guaranteed.

What a world of difference that Koetter has made for the Falcons, who according to ESPN, set a new record in screens attempted in one NFL game.

Even when the Falcons weren’t running a screen, the mere threat of one created the first score, as four Eagle defenders rushed to attack Julio Jones, leaving rookie Davis wide open in the end zone.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/auto/0ap2000000086148/Matt-Ryan-s-15-yard-touchdown-pass

And when Julio wasn’t burning them on the screen, he was busy running past Nnamdi Asomugha for a crucial TD.

Free releasing a receiver that runs the 40 in 4.3 is bad for your career… mmmkay?

The Falcons run defense came out and did the job against LeSean McCoy but to be honest, after the Julio bomb, Reid didn’t exactly stick with the run. The Falcons held the Eagles to 5 total yards in the first quarter, and did just enough to keep the Eagles at bay.

Matt Ryan was masterful in the performance, torching the Eagles and making them pay for their mental and at times tenative play. But to me, the game ball has to go to the coordinators, who coached circles around the Eagles.

Eagles fans boo their team plenty, but the “fire Andy chants” can’t be a good sign for Philly.

A good sign was the increase in touches for Jacquizz Rodgers, who looks like he is getting comfortable running the ball. He ripped off a huge run late in the game to help put the nails in the coffin for Philadelphia.

Another game, another win, but this team is beginning to look like it’s absolutely for real and their next test is against the Dallas Cowboys.

More film breakdown and analysis coming, stay tuned.

Go Falcons

2012 NFL Film Review – Atlanta Falcons Run Defense Breakdown

I love NFL Game Rewind and the new feature “All-22” which lets fans like me dissect and look at the film that coaches use.

In this writeup, we’ll be looking at the Atlanta Falcons base defense versus the run, in Week 5 and Week 6 of the 2012 NFL Season. The Falcons gave up several big plays on the ground against the Raiders and Redskins, especially in their base defense and with Akeem Dent on the field.

The first play we’ll be looking at is from week 6, a 1ST & 10 @ the Oakland 20 – D.McFadden runs left end to OAK 34 for 14 yards tackled by T.DeCoud.

Akeem Dent the mike linebacker is highlighted here.

The running play is a counter with the guard and fullback ( in motion ) pulling to the weakside of the formation.

You’ll see that Sean Weatherspoon the WILL linebacker overruns the play, losing contain. Akeem Dent the MIKE attempts to attack the gap, but finds himself on the wrong shoulder of the pulling guard, only to be destroyed.

You can see here that Dent is simply overmatched, while DT Peria Jerry nearly gets a hand on the shifty Darren McFadden.

Dent – MIKE ( RED ) Jerry – DT ( BLUE ) Weatherspoon – WILL – (YELLOW )

The second play we’ll be looking at is from the Washington game in week 5. This play is another 1ST & 10 @ Washington 31 – A.Morris runs left end to WAS 47 for 16 yards tackled by T.DeCoud.

A simple stretch pitch play, with Akeem Dent (ILB) highlighted in white. While this may look like a 3-4, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is well known for his expertise in multiple fronts and comfortable in 4-3 or 3-4 looks. John Abraham is simply standing, giving a 3-4 feel to an otherwise offset 4-3 front.

While Stephen Nicholas tries to maintain gap integrity while following the play laterally, Dent shoots the wrong gap and is snuffed out in the wash, providing rookie Alfred Morris with a clear lane.

Annnnnnnnddd…. he’s off.

I’ve written in the Week 8 preview against the Philadelphia Eagles that the run defense must be prepared against LeSean McCoy, or they’ll be giving up huge plays like this all day.

The problem is, after losing Curtis Lofton to free agency the “Akeem Dent in the middle experiment” doesn’t look like it’s quite ready for the big stage. While the Falcons have been getting by with the extra defensive back, the Eagles may come out heavy and force the Falcons into a less desirable formation.

One thing is for sure, the Falcons will have their work cut out for them if they want to stay perfect in the 2012 season.

Go Falcons.

Bobby Petrino Fired as Arkansas Coach – Why is anyone surprised????

Bobby Petrino was fired today as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the only thing I must wonder is…. Why the hell did it take so long?

It took nine days to dismiss this piece of work, after wrecking his motorcycle and being whisked to the hospital during a Sunday morning cruise. Apparently, during all the ruckus, Petrino conveniently forgot to inform his bosses and the authorities that he had a passenger with him on the back of his Harley.

A passenger that he was having an affair with, Jessica Dorrell, 26 years his junior and hired by Petrino as an “athletics department employee” was also given a $20,000 dollar gift from Petrino.

Did I mention that Bobby Petrino is married with four children, and HAD JUST LEFT HIS WIFE that Sunday to take a cruise with his mistress??

 

Scoring in the offseason indeed.....

Is anyone really shocked at what transpired?

After all, this is the same douchebag who took Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s money and split with three games to play in the disasterous 2007 campaign. Not only did he quit on the team, his owner and the city of Atlanta, but he informed the players of his departure in a typed 78 word letter taped to their lockers.

Classy eh?

Petrino lied to Long and everyone else about the details of his motorcycle crash and his affair, and I don’t think it takes a forensic team to see that this behaviour is categorically systematic. He’s a liar and a boldfaced one at that… How any parent could condone sending their son to learn from this guy is beyond me.

Jeff Long should have known this was going to happen, because Petrino’s trail of slime and deceit is long and distinguished. He lied to Louisville when he was in talks with Auburn to replace Tommy Tuberville, and he lied to Blank when he quit on the Falcons, is Long really surprised he lied again?

I think it’s a fair estimation in how far our society has fallen, when you consider there were students rallying for Petrino to keep his job!

Win at any cost. Damn the consequences. Sounds a lot like Sean Payton.

Did Petrino really think that the details of the accident would not come to light? Or did he think that Arkansas had some sort of magic wand to make it all magically disappear?

Petrino is either incredibly stupid, or arrogant beyond all belief. Either way, I am glad he is unemployed.

I had zero respect for this man before, and the fact he is now limping with broken ribs, broken vertebrae in his neck, 3.8 million a year poorer, and his family probably destroyed does not lessen my hatred for him.

Best part of it all? AD Jeff Long fired Bobby Petrino with just cause for “manipulating and deceiving” behavior by a faxed letter!

Stephen King couldn’t make up that kind of ending!

Unfortunately, the man does win in the college ranks so I suppose it’s only a matter of time before some college puts aside such things as decency and common sense to hire this dirtbag.

Me? I will bask in radiance that is Petrino’s firing and say just one thing for the departed college coach.

Woo Pig Sooie!!!!

Falcons Hire Mike Nolan as New Defensive Coordinator

Well, that didn’t take too long now did it?

A few days after hiring their new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, the braintrust at Flowery Branch have hired Mike Nolan to direct the Falcons defense in 2012.

Nolan had been Miami’s coordinator for the past two seasons, with a brief stopover in Denver after his failed head coaching tenure in San Francisco.

The Dolphins allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL (19.6 per game), ranked third in rushing yards (95.6) and tied for 10th with 41 sacks.

Now the real question, what will Nolan bring to the Falcons? Most likely the 4-3 hybrid defense he ran in his last 2 years in San Francisco, as the Falcons lack the proper personnel to run the 3-4. Without draft picks or any substantial trade bait, the conversion to the 3-4 may take longer than many anticipate.

Before joining the Broncos’ staff, Nolan ran a hybrid defense as the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach from 2005 to 2008. While the run defense was excellent during that time, giving up just 3.9 yards per rush, Nolan failed to manage the many different tasks a head coach is expected to handle.

Mike Nolan enjoyed the most success in a 3-4 with the Baltimore Ravens, from 2001 to 2004 where his defense tied for the NFL lead in takeaways ( 106 ) while ranking fifth in the league in points allowed.

Earlier today, the Falcons also dismissed Paul Boudreau as the offensive line coach.

I’ll be posting more on Nolan’s defense and the 3-4 transition that may come to the Atlanta Falcons later.

This post can also be found at Bleacher Report : Falcons Hire Nolan

UP NEXT : Taking a look at the 3-4 and how it fits the Atlanta Falcons

2011 Atlanta Falcons – One and Done… again

It’s been 4 days since my Falcons were pulverized by the New York Giants, and it’s taken that long for me to collect my thoughts in a coherent fashion. It’s one thing for me to go off half-cocked but I like my ability to be subjective about the subject matter so it’s taken me a week to stand back and calm down.

Looking back at the season and the disappointing outcome, it’s easy to lose yourself in exactly what the Falcons have accomplished over the last 4 years.

After the Bobby Petrino – Michael Vick debacle of 2007, if someone walked up to me and said “would you take a 43-21 regular season record but a 0-3 in the playoffs for the next 4 years” you’d be hard pressed to find any Falcon fan that wouldn’t leap at that. But that’s not the way the NFL works in it’s “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” and constantly increasing expectations.

So for those fickle fans screaming for Mularkey, Brian Van Gorder, TD or Mike Smith’s head, I think a little bit of proper perspective is needed. The Falcons over the past 4 years have been very successful, it’s transformation into a consistent winner is something that you can’t just discount.

But still, the 24-2 dismantling of the Dirty Birds showed that last year’s whipping to the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers was no “aberration” as Mike Smith likes to put it. Simply put, the Falcons have a long way to go before they are ready to compete with the Packers and Saints of the NFC.

As I did with the losses against Green Bay and Arizona, the team once again failed to rise to the occasion and seize the moment. For all the talk of being “explosive” and the aggressive moves to draft Julio Jones, the Falcons were anything but last Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

3 things I took away from Sunday’s loss

1. Michael Turner has fulfilled the Curse of the 360. pretty simple right? The NFL is a meat grinder and running backs have a short shelf life, especially when taking on such huge workloads as Turner has (335+ carries every season). see Shaun Alexander.

  • From 2008-2010, the Falcons converted 33 of 51 4th down conversions for a disgusting 65% success rate.
  • In 2011 this conversion rate fell to 31 % with numerous key 4th down failed conversions against the Giants as well as the Saints (Mike Smith’s infamous overtime failed conversion)
2. The Falcons over-extended their expectations of the offense and Mularkey mismanaged key situations in games
  • 1. They got an offense that scored zero points against a team that surrendered 400 points during the regular season, the most by any playoff team.
  • Caught up in the hype of the passing league and believing the offense was a Julio Jones away from becoming a Saints or Packers like offense led TD to neglect the offensive line.
  • They got zero movement from their offensive line in two key short-yardage situations and lacked the ability to consistently give Matt Ryan time.
  • You are on the road in a hostile environment and your 1300-yard wrecking ball of a running back is standing on the sidelines while your franchise QB attempts not ONE failed 4th and 1, but TWO.
3. The Falcons lost their identity this year.
  • The Falcons pride themselves on playing smart, tough football and being a run first physical team. And the first half of the season was lost as the offense awkwardly bumbled trying to become this high flying passing attack.
  • When Matt Ryan throws the ball more than 40 times, the Falcons are 1-7.
  • Instead of addressing clear issues on defense and the offensive line, the Falcons gambled on draft day moving up to take Julio Jones.
What has that move gotten them in 2011? Take a look :

2010 Record 13-3 – Playoff seed No. 1 – Points scored 414 – Points allowed 288

2011 Record 10-6 – Playoff seed No. 5 – Points scored 402 – Points allowed 350

Winning less games, scored fewer points, gave up more points and fell from the first seed to the fifth. Yes the Falcons underachieved horribly, and the front office knows it.

To be fair, the Falcons have acted quickly and as Dimitroff said in Wednesday’s press conference, that there was not “going to be a minor tweak, like changing the color of socks.” When a team sweeps both coordinators out of the door, it’s clear that there will be change.

But who will replace Mularkey and Brian Van Gorder? Who can make this offense click and operate without targeting Roddy White 200 times in a season? And the real kicker, who can take Matt Ryan to the next level?

Because with the meek showing in NY, Ryan now faces a crossroads for the first time in his career. No longer is he the boy wonder that broke the record for winning as a QB in his first four years, bucking the trend of struggling rookie quarterbacks.

Now the focus and whispers are that Matt Ryan comes up small in big situations, hey it may sting to hear, but that’s the reality of it. If he wants to change this perception, it’s up to him.

And perhaps more importantly who will help transform the defense from a soft zone pudding to an “aggressive, attacking” defense as Dimitroff spoke about on Wednesday. A defense that can get off the field in a 3rd and long situation for once. A defense that doesn’t play the docile bend but don’t break philosophy.

A scheme change is definitely something the Falcons should discuss, but do they have the personnel? I’ll get into that later.

These are all questions that need to be seriously contemplated this off-season, not to mention issues regarding free agents, RB, OL and FS.

But for the meantime, I can still say I am proud to be a Falcons fan, and I’m proud of the way the team fought through the season. I’m not happy with how the season ended, but I’m excited for the future and what moves will bring Atlanta their first Super Bowl Championship.