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Falcons Season Report 2010

Well, I really wish I was writing this in February but that was just not the case this time as the year ended on a bad note following the terrible loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round game. With a final of 48 to 21, I’d say the Falcons nation’s eyes were quite wide. We were not just defeated. We were destroyed by a team that was better in almost every facet of the game (giving props to Eric Weems and special teams here). The Packers deserved the win and Aaron Rodgers played one of the most perfect games I’ve seen in playoff history in recent memory.

What Went Wrong?
The typical fan of the Atlanta birds might just say we suck or the Atlanta curse continues. I don’t see it that way. As I stated earlier in the season, we were/are a good team, not a great team. Throughout the season, we found ways to win games that past Falcons’ teams would not have. We played our ball: Penalties low, Turnovers low, Balanced attack. What happened on Saturday evening’s game? Penalties high, Turnovers high (and costly), Departure of Balanced Attack (due to score). Besides those issues, the defense was unable to dirty Aaron Rodger’s uniform. We had opportunities to do so, but were still unable to capitalize. When you don’t capitalize, someone like Rodgers will pick you apart. Again, props go to the Packers though I still don’t agree with the final field goal that much (there was only 1:56 left on the clock). Here’s hoping the Packers pull it out on the road to the Superbowl win as I do believe they are one of the more complete teams remaining.

What’s Next?
Well, after that final game, many will believe a complete overhaul is needed. Glaring holes were present but I believe in what Coach Smith and GM TD are doing. They’ve put together 3 back-to-back winning seasons and no one else has ever done that in Atlanta before with the Falcons. The team is still young and has plenty of potential for the next several years. However, changes will need to be made and I’d start of course on the defensive side. The year started with questions at defensive end, but Abraham showed that he still has something left in him as he recorded 13 sacks, but the remainder of the front line couldn’t put up anything as impressive. Abraham is aging poorly (injuries) and some new blood might be right around the corner.

Speaking of corner, the addition of Dunta Robinson was to improve the secondary and front line by giving the front line more time to get in the backfield and pick up coverage sacks. However, when you can’t get to the quarterback, then the coverage will break down because you can’t cover forever. On the other side of the field, I’ve heard the complaints about Brent Grimes. “He’s too small.” “Why is he even out there?” Really? Yeah, one of the touchdown’s Saturday night was over the top of him, but you could not have asked for any better coverage as he was in the perfect position to make the play. The receiver just made one heck of a grab.

My real pain in the secondary was due to a late season injury to Brian Williams, the nickelback. With him going out for the remainder of the season, Christopher Owens was asked to fill the role. The Packers knew this and they picked on him for a majority of the first half. He was unable to cover his man and either gave up big plays or blatant penalties.

The Draft and Free Agency
With that being said, the next steps are preparing for the draft and free agency. The front office of the Falcons believes in at least one major free agent signing a year and the remainder of the holes being filled in the draft. I’ll need to do more research on available free agents but possibilities could be DE, CB (less likely due to last year’s signing), or WR (stretch the field).

As far as the draft goes, I’ll write up a full preview as we get closer (possible selections, position breakdown), but here’s my quick thoughts as we sit with the 27th overall pick in the 2011 draft:

  • Defensive End – It was an area of interest last year and is still an area of interest
  • Center – How much longer can Todd McClure last? Let’s plan for the future now.
  • RB – Yes, I know we have Turner and, my favorite, Jason Snelling, but we are still missing a speed back. Norwood will more than likely not be returning.
  • LT – Sam Baker is just not becoming the franchise left tackle we thought he could be to protect Matt Ryan’s blind side.

Even with my disappointment in the final act of the season, I still say a very big congratulations to the 2010 Atlanta Falcons. You gave me some of the most thrilling games (see Saints Week 3, Ravens Week 9, and Green Bay Week 11) over the past five years and I look forward to many more. As a season ticket holder, I will gladly place my order for another year of cheering on my Falcons. Let’s Rise Up again but this time bigger and better than ever before!

Thanks again for everything.

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Falcons Midseason Report

Falcons Throwbacks

There’s no hiding my love for the Atlanta Falcons. With a team that sits at the top of its division and currently ranks 3rd in ESPN’s Power Rankings (yes, they are meaningless), I have no reason but to smile. However, the season is long from over and a night before the third biggest game of the season (New Orleans, Tampa, and now Baltimore), I thought it might be nice to give my thoughts on the season thus far.

When the started season with a loss to the 3rd QB led Steelers, I was left shocked and wondering how the remainder of the season was going to turn out. I mean, if you can’t beat an NFL team who is playing their backup to a backup QB then what’s the point of moving on. But, myself and the team gathered our collective selves together and moved forward game by game. Now on the steps of Week 10 of the schedule, the Falcons stand at 6-2.

The Falcons defense has played well. The offense has played well. The special teams have played well. They just really haven’t played well collectively on the same day. Each facet to the game has showed up when needed in order to take up any slack that the former might have left out in the open for another team to take hold of. Many analysts and football lovers will say my team is boring. That they are only good. Not great. I’d actually have to agree with them, but that’s the actual plus instead of the negative. We are boring to watch if you are not a real Falcons fan (except for the New Orleans game which was the greatest game of the year), but its our style that works and it is a style that is very familiar to many Steelers fans. We run the ball, then we throw. Not the other way around. Our offense is built on Turner first, and White / Gonzalez / Jenkins / Ryan second.

With that football philosophy, I feel that we can beat any other team in the league. My best example of this is the New Orleans game where those Dirty Birds crafted a 20 play drive that took 10:39 off the clock. That’s 10 minutes of play that Drew Brees was unable to step onto the field to bring his team back. If you can keep the opponent’s offense off the field, then 9 times out of 10 you’ll win the game. The Falcons lead the league in drives of five minutes or longer. Currently they sit at a Time of Possession per game of 33:05. If a game is 60 minutes, well you do the math.

So what am I saying here? I’m saying the Falcons are better than most might give them credit for but they are not great. They do have the talent, drive, and coaching to go the distance though. Yes, I mean THE DISTANCE. The Superbowl for those not following along at home. The first real step in that direction is locking up the remainder of the season in order to score home field advantage. I don’t want it because of my season tickets (yes, I live in SF and still have season tickets). I want it because Matt Ryan is 17-1 in the Georgia Dome when starting. That’s a REAL home field advantage. If you still think I’m full of it in my expectations, see what John Clayton, respected NFL journalist / analyst thinks.

Now that I have the attention of all Dirty Bird hopefuls, I want to look at you, Mr. Bandwagon Jumper. I’m ok if you hop on now and I’m even going to help you not seem so much like a bandwagon jumper. Here’s your quick guide to looking like you’ve always belonged with the Falcons.

  • When asked about last years’s season, don’t state it was failure. The Falcons finished the season at 9-6 and missed the playoffs. Why is this not a failure? Because they broke the 42 year curse of never having back to back winning seasons. Think about that for a second. In 42 years, nothing. Even with a year of going to the Superbowl and another going to the NFC Championship game, no back to back winning seasons. Therefore, I say to you it was a success for the entire organization to bring what this franchise has been lacking, consistency.
  • Roddy White was perfect up until late in the Tampa Bay game in terms of catches thrown his way. He had not dropped a single pass all season. This was the same WR that only a few years back I stated was overpaid with his new contract and would not be the person I want the ball thrown to when the game is on the line. Well now that’s a different story now isn’t it.
  • Name Dropper – Brent Grimes. Brent Grimes would be the number one cornerback in the league if he was at least 3-4 inches taller. He’s listed at 5’10 but he is not 5’10. Led the team last year with 6 INTS and this (greatest play I’ve ever seen). He’s a little guy from a little college with little expectations of him.
  • Name Dropper – Coy Wire. Coy Wire? Well he’s a veteran LB that you only see in certain packages. Mainly goal line stands and special teams. He’s a ball hawk. If he’s on the field, he’ll find the ball and soon the ball will find itself in his hands. New Orleans game last year, onside kick recovery. Chicago Bears last year (or year before) late game strip.
  • Name Dropper – Kroy Bierman. Kroy Bierman, defensive end. Only other thing is that he is athletic and well who doesn’t love yelling out BIERMAN (pronounced BEERMAN).
  • Name Dropper – Ovie Mughelli. This man is pure beast. I’m always high on a fullback and Ovie is no exception. If opposing defenses lose sight of him, well then that just means that Michael Turner is going to go on a nice little 70 yard stroll along the open field.
  • Final and best stat of all is that under Mike Smith, I am undefeated in games attended. That’s 10+ home games and one road game.

Now that the positives are out of the way, I’ll end with the only negative that I have. The team has an “official”, “unofficial” song this season. Atlanta’s own Sevendust recorded “Falcons On Top”.

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