Posted in The Game Day Goods

In The Wind and The Rain, The Falcons Deliver a Win

October 29, 2017

Atlanta 25 / New York 20

By:  Allison Smith

A much needed win at that, as they head into NFC South play next week, heading up to Carolina, but still remain in 3rd place, behind Carolina and New Orleans.

I’ve seen prettier games, but a W is a W and I will take any win after 3 straight bad losses.  Once again, the offense was not efficient in either the red zone or third down conversions, but they did enough to get the win.  The playing time was nearly even this week, the Falcons offense being on the field 28 minutes, so the defense could get finally get some rest between outings.  Of the 6 trips into the red zone, the Falcons had 2 touchdowns and 4 field goals.  They were 4 of 15 on 3rd down conversions.

The offense did at least take some shots downfield and were more creative in play calling than previous weeks.  They had 32 runs and 29 passes, so pretty even, finally, on play calling and could actually set up the play action.  Of course, after the 4th fumbled exchange from Alex Mack to Matt Ryan, they did move to the shotgun.  Their opening possession consisted of the first 5 passes to the tight ends, who had 9 of the 29 targets on the game.  Much of the rest of the game, they started with a run on first down, and Freeman or Coleman got good yardage to set up manageable 2nd and 3rd downs.

The Falcons offense’s only turn overs this week were on 2 of the 4 mishandled snaps from Mack to Ryan.  Which was, obviously, caused by the weather.  Every time, Mack and Ryan would be over on the sideline trying to work out their issues.  Finally, they determined they needed to go to the shotgun and not worry about additional turnovers.  A few dropped balls, mostly caused by the weather as well, but the passing overall was better and not overly affected by the rain or wind.

Head Coach Dan Quinn said last week there would be extra time spent on 3rd downs – on both sides, as well as the red zone efficiency.  The defense must have paid attention.  They held the Jets to only 5 of 15 successful third down conversions.  The Jets had 2 yards per carry and 5 negative plays and finished with only 43 rushing yards.  The Falcons defense really controlled the line of scrimmage and forced the Jets to throw the ball in the bad weather.  Of course, Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe were getting some great pressure up the middle.  It was noted that Grady is taking it personally that teams want to run against him.

With Duke Riley out, Kemal Ishmael has really stepped up and shown his versatility.  Ish has been playing on special teams and making an impact, including recovering a fumble today.  Now, Ish is in for Riley at linebacker and definitely making his presence known there as well, with 8 solo tackles and 5 assists.  Only one significant penalty today, a PI on Ricardo Allen that provided a big first down that led to a touchdown, but at least it didn’t reverse a turnover.  Glass half full?!?  Of the FOUR fumbled snaps, two were recovered by the Jets and the Falcons defense only gave up 3 points on short yardage.  The average starting position of the Jets’ offense was the 48….always short yardage for the D to defend.

Vic Beasley, Jr was giving the Jets left tackle trouble, Jarrett caused at least one offensive hold, and Adrian Clayborn was destroying the line all day.  Takk McKinley got his first strip sack of his rookie career.  The addition of Ahtyba Rubin (in replacement of IR Jack Crawford) has been a big help as he is very active and brings a similar demeanor to the defensive line and had 2 tackles against the Jets.

You know if DQ was talking to the O and D about “mishaps,” that Special Teams coach, Keith Armstrong, lit up his group.  Likely to the Matt’s and Josh Harris (long snapper) he just gave them a nasty look, a quick “WTF” and moved on.  Their mistakes were so random and rare, they don’t need to be talked up.  They know better.  Clearly, he got to the rest of his team and the only real issue with the special teams today was one punt return that Andre Roberts let go by and ended up settling inside the 1-yard line.

The game changing moment of the game was a Bosher punt.  The returner, standing at the 25, with the rain and swirling wind, fumbles the ball and Ishmael is quickly there to recover.  Bosher was consistent with an average of 42.8 and a long of 55 yards.  Of course, Money was back on track, even in the rain and wind, with 4 successful field goals, a long of 45.  DQ said of Bryant, that Bryant is someone you “Want to trust in these situations and he nailed it in a big way tonight.”  Derrick Coleman, the full back, had several drilling stops on returns, as well as Ishmael being involved with many punt and kickoff stops.

Interesting note, while Julio was grabbing his 8000th+ yards last week, Ryan now has 200+ passing yards in 62 straight games, which is the longest streak in NFL history.

Overall, a win is a win, especially a road win, in the wind and rain.  Defense was much improved.  Special teams was fixed.  Offense, better and more evenly distributing the ball.  No injuries sustained.  As Grady noted, we were 4 – 3 this time last year, and we all know how that ended.  Now, the real fun begins.

Cover Photo Courtesy of NFL Films

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Posted in The Game Day Goods

And Then There Was One

Atlanta 30 at Detroit 26

September 24, 2017

By: Allison Smith

Alone at the top, as the only NFC team to be undefeated.  After only 3 weeks into the NFL season, the other 2 undefeated teams lost today.  The Carolina Panthers to the New Orleans Saints, and the Detroit Lions to our beloved Atlanta Falcons…..I think.

As Matt Bryant said, we don’t usually have to ask at the end of the game, “Did we win?” But, in likely one of the strangest endings in history – or at least a long time, the Falcons did move to 3-0 in Detroit.  Once again, using the full 60 minutes to determine the result.  I was at a local sports bar in Charlotte, and several of us Falcons were gathered and determined that this drama was not necessary.  But, we will take a win, by hook or crook.

On the positive note, even with 3 turnovers, the Falcons still won.  Two of Matt Ryan’s passes were tipped by his intended targets (Tevin Coleman and Mohamed Sanu, Sr.), for interceptions.  The Lions were only able to come away with 3 points from those two.  The third, was a pick 6, by Glover Quin, who read Ryan’s eyes perfectly and stepped in front of Julio Jones for the pick.  The defense did their job as brothers to help the offense out.

The game started off well enough, Owner Arthur Blank on the field, linking arms with the team, between Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones.  We received the opening kickoff and marched down the field in 12 plays and just under 7 minutes to take the opening lead on a Sanu touchdown.  Unfortunately, it was questionable and while being reviewed, we were unable to get a Bean Dance.

After an 8 play drive, the Lions punted it back to the Falcons and Andre Roberts made an 11-yard return.  The next drive included 2 false starts and a sack and ended in a Bryant field goal.  The Lions answered with a field goal of their own, to get on the board at 10/3 with 10 minutes left in the half.  Then, it became the Free Show.  Two of the next 6 plays were to Freeman, then 4 straight handoffs to Freeman, concluding with his 1-yard touchdown run.  And this was not even Free running angry as he did later in the game.

The next Lions drive stalled and they were only able to manage another field goal.  But their D stepped up and on the Falcons next drive, next play, Quin had his pick 6.

Overall, short of turnovers, the offense looked good.  Free was just Free.  Julio had 7 receptions for 91 yards on the day.  Taylor Gabriel and Sanu finally had touchdown catches, 40 and 4 yards respectively.  Ryan disturbed the ball to 7 receivers, Roberts and Austin Hooper catching one a piece, for 12 and 9 yards.  Ryan threw for almost 300 yards on the day.

Courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons
Mohamed Sanu, Sr’s 40-Yard Touchdown Reception – Photo by Atlanta Falcons

The defense had a pretty successful day, realizing one touchdown was not on them and when their backs were against the wall, they stood up and held the line.  The Lions were 4 for 4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone…until they weren’t.  There were a number of missed tackles again and playing more zone than man to man.  Takk McKinley had his first sack of his young NFL career and celebrated by pointing and dedicated it to his grandmother then had 2 more tackles on the day.  After the game, Takk said that he just did whatever the coaches wanted him to do.  He wants more sacks, but it way more about the Brotherhood.

Adrian Clayborn had another good game, one sack, but putting lots of pressure on the line and Matt StaffordGrady Jarrett got in on the official stats this week with 4 tackles and caused at least 2 offensive holding penalties.  To prove his persistence, at one point, Jarrett had a leg tackle to slow the runner down, another Falcon came in for help, Jarrett got back to his feet and made the crushing tackle.

Deion Jones had an early personal foul penalty, then followed it up with back to back tackles, ending the game with 7 in total.  Brian Poole lead the team with 9 tackles, making his hits known too.  De’Vondre Campbell was disruptive again and garnered 3 tackles, while Robert Alford had 6 tackles this week and good coverage most of the day.

Special teams…wow…much improved.  Matt Bosher was perfect, of course.  All except 1 kickoff was a touchback, while he had a 43 and 48-yard punt with one 10-yard return.  Bryant had successful field goals of 36, 48, and 40 yards.  Roberts had returns of 11, 38, 27, and 16 yards and called for a quick fair catch, was hit and got the team moved up 15 yards.

Overall, there were too many penalties, especially in the final drive of the game, giving up too many free yards.  Two sacks were allowed by the new right side combo of Wes Schweitzer and Ty Sambrailo.  Both had false starts and Schweitzer added a holding penalty.  Ben Garland anyone???  While Desmond Trufant had 2 tackles on the day, those were early, but he also committed 2 late penalties.  On the final drive of the game, Tru had an unnecessary hold that overturned a Rocky interception at the goal line, then a pass interference penalty on a 3rd and 10 that gave the Lions a 1st and 10 on the 1-yard line.

Special note, for my loyal readers from my previous seasons, you know Paul Worrilow has been my favorite Falcon for the last 4 years, so I was watching Paul this week as well.  He had 4 tackles, the first tackle of the game, on Freeman, and not long afterwards tackled Julio.  He was also one of the guys in pursuit of Turbo on his touchdown, which we all know would be impossible for anyone to cover.  Congrats and good game.

Injury Update:  Ricardo Allen is undergoing concussion protocol due to a tackle late in the fourth quarter.  Rico did leave the field with assistance, but walked to the locker room on his own.  Julio Jones jammed his back on the final offensive play of the game, gaining 11 of the 12 needed yards.  Julio will flipped, but afterwards he and Dan Quinn reported the injury not to be serious.  Julio said he would have gone back in if that was not the final offensive possession.

Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons
Devonta Freeman’s First Run of the Day – Former Falcon Paul Worrilow on the Tackle.  Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons

Iron Falcon Award:  Brian Poole – leading tackler for the game, on a Stafford run, Poole seemed to let up slightly, waiting for Stafford to slide, which he did not, so Poole laid him out.  Poole also ended the game with the touchdown saving tackle.  Devonta Freeman – time and time again, Free had 3 back to back runs, ran angry, ran fast, blocked for teammates, ended with 21 rushes for 103 yards and a long 18-yard run, and 3 receptions for 32 yards.  Free even tried to fight when Julio was hurt.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Photos Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons