Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons Pre-Season Game 1 Was Rough

August 10, 2018

Falcons 0 at Jets 17

 When you get back to back offensive penalties with your first team, then it takes until 10 seconds remaining in the first HALF to get the 1st first down of the game….you can tell how this night is going to go. 

Granted this is a scouting game and the first team didn’t play much on offense or defense, but neither squad looked great in their short time.  Ty Sambrillo and Matt Bryant were the only inactives.  Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman never stepped on the field, but both are 100%, just did not play. 

The issue with Friday’s game was that we basically have no backups.  There were a few guys that did their job and will come in as good substitutions, but overall, anything past first team is a mess.  At least, no one was injured and these guys will not be on the field in mass together. 

Overall, the defense did not to a good job tackling.  Also, penalties.  The starting offense had 2 penalties in the first 3 plays and the team ended with 10 overall.  Head Coach Dan Quinn was not pleased with this number after the game.

The highlight player of the game, was Damontae Kazee.  He has definitely made that sophomore year jump.  Kazee was all over the field.  Running down a receiver, then on the next play, in the backfield.  He ended the game with 11 tackles (10 in the first half) and was definitely circling on many others.

Dave Archer spoke with Kazee after the game, “I was very comfortable,” clearly fully prepared for his opportunity.  And in true Brotherhood spirit, when asked about his versatility, Kazee responded, “Just trying to fit in where ever they need me.”  And while all Falcons fans thought he was the star of the game, Kazee commented “I need to work on my game, especially keeping my head up.”  He did accumulate one of the new “lower the head” penalties.

Other defensive standouts were rookie Jon Cunningham with 2 tackles and a forced fumble, and the expected, Deadrin Senat who was getting good pressure on the o-line.  He and Terrell McClain spent a good bit of time as the defensive tackles together.  Deadrin was maybe over running or out of position some, but did tally 2 solo tackles and was definitely moving people back.  Isaiah Oliver was not afraid to tackle Friday night.  Sometimes Oliver was caught on his heels and chasing receivers, but he managed 2 solo tackles, and was a good start for the second-round rookie.

While Wes Schweitzer got the brief start, Brandon Fusco played with 2nd team 0-line, so hard to judge what he could do as the entire line was getting pushed around/back. 

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Devin Gray rips the ball from the defender – photo credit: Atlanta Falcons

There was some highlight for the 3rd team offense.  Kurt Benkert was 9 for 17 for 125 yards, 4 of those passes went for 83 yards to Devin Gray.  Granted they were playing against the 3rd team defense, but they were definitely on the same page, likely because they spend much of their practice time together, but may be making spots for themselves on the team…or at least practice squad.  Benkurt looked good and very comfortable, while Gray, literally, ripped a ball out of the air…..away from the defender. 

Matt Ryan was 1-1 to Calvin Ridley for a 2-yard loss.  First team went a quick “three and out” and were backed onto their own end zone before Matt Bosher came out to kick.  Matt Schaub, who played most of the first half, was 9-9 for 54 yards. 

No running back touched the ball more than 6 times, Malik Williams lead with those 6 carries for 19 yards.  Tevin Coleman started and had 3 rushes for 8 yards.  Austin Hooper struggled in blocking, had 1 catch, but was choppy getting there, but he did make the 5-yard catch. 

In the Oddity Column, after being shown on the depth chart as the first returner, Justin Hardy did not line up to return all night.  Marvin Hall and Ito Smith made kickoff returns, while Isiah Oliver and Hall split the 3 punt returns.  Ito had 1 return for 35 yards, while Hall had one long return of 21.  No word on what happened to Hardy, although he did have a lead block for Ito.

So, as hard as this game was to watch, there were a few highlights and again, no injuries.  And as a note, DQ has gone 3-6 all-time in the pre-season, and we all know what he has done in the real season!

After the game, Archer caught up with DQ who called out penalties, missed tackles, and lack of execution.  DQ noted that the team has shown in training camp who they can be, just did not show that on the field Friday night.  “We have allot of work to do.” DQ says it all.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

 Photos courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons 

Posted in FalconAlley Squawk

First Round Draft Pick Calvin Ridley on Dukes and Bell

July 30, 2018

Calvin Ridley spoke to Dukes and Bell of 92.9 The Game on Monday afternoon (Carl Dukes and Mike Bell).  First round draft pick from Alabama, Ridley said that he was feeling real good so far, having a great time, and loves this team.  He confirmed that he was NOT on Saturday, as others went to sign for fans, he just went directly in to get some fluids.  Ridley is excited to be battling against Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole, he realizes that going against them will really prepare him for games, as they are some of the best corners in the league.

Ridley comment on Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones saying that Sanu has been a great big brother, either correcting him or praising him, but always giving feedback.  While Julio is like a coach on the field, he teaches everything.  Ridley said that he is in a great situation with the greatest football players and the greatest coaching staff.  Sounds like he has fully bought in to the Brotherhood and is very happy in Atlanta. He noted that Matt Ryan is a big coach as well, providing good and constructive feedback.  Ryan wants Ridley out there on the field and is ensuring that he does everything right, he obviously cares.

Ridley told Dukes and Bell that the learning curve was not overly difficult.  Falcons OC, Steve Sarkisian was in Alabama for a short time, and clearly they are running a near pro offense already.  Ridley said that the Falcons game plan is harder, but if you pay attention and study and you will get it.  He feels better than when he first hit Atlanta for mini-camp and is in a good place. 

Asked about the Together We Rise Fan Day, Ridley commented that it was “so good, so many people in there on Sunday.”  It felt almost like a game, realizing, of course, that Ridley was on the National Championship team that played in The Benz Nest in January.  The good news is, Ridley is confident without being cocky, feels he has something to prove, and is willing to listen and learn from the veterans.  Also, he’s played semi-pro ball at Alabama, in 3 years having 2 National Championships. 

Ryan thinks that Ridley is fitting right in to this system and obviously DQ is quite impressed as well.

#RiseUp

 FalconAlley Owt

 

Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons

 

 

Posted in News You Can Use

Back at The Branch

July 31, 2018

Monday was back in Flowery Branch where the team was in full pads and played 11 on 11.  One of the offensive teams scored twice while the other, did not score at all.  Monday was a definite treat for fans in attendance.

Takk McKinley and Ito Smith were on the sidelines working with trainers, just not involved in the full, regular practice.

OC Steve Sarkisian seems more comfortable with the offense (so far) in year 2.  Remember, although their year ones held different issues, the leap that Kyle Shanahan made from year 1 to 2 was huge and there are expectations for the same success for Sark.

Despite some offensive trickery, the always studying and football smart, Ricardo Allen had an interception.  Matt Ryan pitched over to Justin Hardy, who threw up a bomb, but was very contested by 3 defenders and Rico came up with the ball.  Rico was quoted, “True champions do the ordinary things right all of the time.”

Calvin Ridley and Justin Hardy were the returners for each team during the game like scrimmage.  Devin Gray hauled in the first touchdown of the day.  Damontae Kazee picked off Garrett Grayson.

Devonta Freeman commented that “We are getting better every day, striving for greatness.”

Grady Jarrett was getting individual work with assistant d line coach.

Overall, Mohamed Sanu, Sr. is in midseason form.  He continues to make awesome catches, whether high or one-handed, contested or on the sideline, Sanu is catching everything.  Mic’d up, he was heard “All I know how to do is take reps and get better.”  Deadrin Senat is impressing as well.  He is willing and happy to listen to all advice and feedback from the veterans, especially Jarrett, who has been telling him about hip movement and how that varies by different plays.  He is honored to be learning from Bryant Young.  It was noted that Jarrett has come to camp even bigger, but in the good muscular way (as I have reported in the off season).

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Cover Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons

Posted in News You Can Use

Together We Rise Fan Day

July 29, 2018

On Sunday, we saw the first padded practice of Training Camp.  The first open practice in Mercedes Benz stadium.  AND, the first official, public opening of the roof. 

Videos and pictures can be found on our Facebook page, or just videos from the day on our YouTube channel (Falcon Alley24).  Both links can be found on our home page.

Together We Rise Fan Day was held inside the Benz Nest.  Gates opened at 10 and the roof was set to open at noon, and official practice at 12:30.  First, what a great event!  60,000 fans streamed in to The Benz Nest on a sunny Sunday in July for FOOTBALL!!!  The highlight was, of course, the first official opening of the roof. 

Sunday literally felt almost like a game day.  Most fans had on gear, likely toned down, but shirts, hats, jerseys.  The Porch was open and full before practice started.  Once you entered The Benz Nest, all the music and video boards and concession stands were running as normal. 92.9 The Game was in attendance to cover the pre-game and many of the drills and events of the day.  Harry Douglas was on hand to participate in those discussions, as well as to meet fans.  Wes Durham, typically on the airwaves, was on the field providing commentary for some of the practices.  Wes was announcing what many of the drills were going to be or explaining the mini scrimmages and teams.

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Fully Opened Roof

During the 12ish minute opening of the roof process, the video boards told a history of Atlanta and of the Falcons.  It was a great presentation of information while you watched the sun beam in and onto the field.  Freddie Falcon was on the field, basking and moving around in the sun stream.  It was interesting to see what would be covered in sun around 1:00, a normal kickoff time.  Especially since it was hitting the opposite side of the field as my regular seat.  As the opening continued, most of the team came out and started their personal warm-ups as well as some drills.  Eventually, most of the field was under the sun as well as part of one quarter of the stadium. As the team began quick runs and ball handling drills between the goal line and the 20, the roof was closed, with no pomp and circumstance.  Many of us just happened to see it closed and tried to see if anyone noticed as it was closing.  It is a very quiet process and worked to perfection on the opening and closing on Sunday.  It actually opens, only directly exposing the field, sidelines, and lower rows, so if it was raining, straight down, most of the stadium/seats would still be covered.  But to see that blue sky, it was really awesome.

 Takk McKinley and Ito Smith did not practice.   

Sunday’s Together We Rise training camp day was filled with the usual drills, individual team workouts, and 7 on 7 game day situations at both ends of the field.  I have many videos on my YouTube page (link at the bottom of our Homepage) of the practices with my commentary. 

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Team Warm Ups

From my training camp experience, this was a typical practice, the variety of drills all over the field.  Most of the day, the offensive line was to the side working on their own stances, drills, and blocking schemes, while the rest of the guys moved in and out of a variety of drills or mini scrimmages.  There were passing drills with all four quarterbacks passing to four different receivers, each being covered.  Some were short passes, others high, others to the edge of the end zone.  Keanu Neal was able to tip a ball and create an interception under Austin HooperDuke Riley in tight coverage was beat by Terrance MageeDesmond Trufant got a big roar by not allowing Julio Jones to haul in a pass.  Tru has looked much better already this year.  He was injured for the second half of the SuperBowl season, but seem either not confident or fully healed last season, but in the off season this year, he has already looked more impressive, from early workouts, to mini-camp, to Sunday

 

Keith Armstrong was working his special teams hard as well.  Not the kickers, but the coverage.  They practiced with Matt Bother or Georgia boy David Marvin running up to kick, and then the coverage team practicing blocking and returning with the new kickoff rules.  Naturally, Matt Bryant came out and kicked a few field goals – most of which went through, he did have one from the 50+ that hit the goal post and popped back in to the field of play, but we all know how rare that is.

In drill mode, the defense went against itself in passing drills, so basically 2 defenders were competing for passes lobbed up by coaches.  The defensive line worked on barrel drills.

During 7 on 7 play, the offensive line started off slow.  While there was a big pass to Julio, in real time, the new 99, Terrell McClain would have sacked Ryan before the ball was released.  The defense definitely came out aggressively.  Brooks Reed caught RB Justin Crawford in the backfield.  Ryan faked the handoff to Devonta Freeman, then passed up to Freeman, who was immediately stopped.  De’Vondre Campbell made a stop in the backfield.  Finally, rookie WR Christian Blake had a good catch and run.  FS Marcelis Branch had a good pass breakup.  The offensive line stepped up for a number of plays after they got into a rhythm. 

Check out the Falcons’ twitter for Ricardo Allen’s mic’d up practice, upbeat and entertaining.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

 

 

 

Posted in News You Can Use, Uncategorized

FalconAlley at The Draft

 

Article & Photos by Allison Smith

I was not at the actual draft in Dallas, but I was at the Atlanta Falcons’ official Draft party at Mercedes Benz Stadium, “The Benz Nest.”

This was another great event hosted by Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank.  This was a free event for Season Ticket owners, you merely had to register.  Much of the stadium and many food vendors were open, mostly the main level and parts of the 200 level.  Yet another event where you almost didn’t realize there was not a game to be played by the attendance and activity.

Fans were allowed on the field, where the RISEUP sign was displayed, corn hole was set up, along with many football skill games and local radio and other booths were on the field.  Many people stayed on the field the entire time. Several Falcon players were also on the field, signing and taking pictures with fans.

Meanwhile, we were also allowed in the locker room, where my feature photo here was taken.  We followed the tunnel along a short path into the locker room where you could see several jerseys displayed.  Then you could head back out to the field to hang out or back up to the main level to see the sites or grab some food.

I toured the locker room, chatted with several Benz Nest employees and headed back up.  The radio ship of the Falcons, 92.9 The Game was broadcasting the draft and the local commentary leading up to the draft.  Randy McMichael, Carl Dukes, Mike Bell, and Chuck Smith provided insight into the Falcons as well as the other teams ahead of the Falcons.  I was able to chat with Chuck briefly, but had great time with Carl and Mike, speculating, chatting about FalconAlley Football, and about the event overall.  Harry Douglas was on hand for a radio interview, then taking pictures with fans as well.  Many current players were on hand to chat with 92.9 The Game as well.

The players that were on hand, spoke to 92.9 The Game, then signed autographs and took pictures as well. There were some on the field, some in the upper level, and at two stations on the main level of The Benz Nest.  I worked my way back and forth on the main level, so missed some other great guys, but did get some of my favorites.  Unfortunately, the elusive Ben Garland was already in Dallas preparing to announce the 3rd pick, so he was not available, however, there were some big stars at the Falcons Draft event.

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When they say you can have a pic OR autograph….but Grady knows his biggest fan….

Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley, Deion Jones were all on the main level, along with numerous cheerleaders.  I know that De’Vondre Campbell was at one of the special areas upstairs, as I saw his interview, but he was whisked away.  While I missed a picture with Takk, I did see him close up and he seemed like a great guy.  Did get pictures with Grady, Kiki, and Debo.  Got to chat with them for a few minutes, but of course there was a huge line of us fans running around after all of them.

 

Overall, it was a great event.  I did not stay until our pick as it was so late, but did see many of the early picks as they were displayed on the million tv’s throughout the stadium.

Check out my YouTube channel for my announcement and thoughts on the 2nd day picks.  Our FalconAlley Football Facebook page has pictures from the Draft Day event.

Now, we wait and see how the entire draft turns out for our beloved Falcons.

@FalconAlley Owt

#RISEUP