Tag Archives: Atlanta Falcons

Patriots Play Lucy to Falcons Charlie Brown, Win 34 – 28

I hate Tom Brady.

I hate Bill Belichick.

I hate the New England Patriots.

I hate the fact that Tom Brady is so freaking good and comes up huge in big games.  I am not looking forward to all of the GOAT talk that will invariably surround him from this day forward until he mercifully retires from the game.  But the way he has been playing, that may not be for another five years or so.

I hate the fact that Bill Belichick is always so calm during the face of adversity.  Granted, he came close to being unglued a few times in the first quarter but by the end of the first half, down 21-3, you could just see that he was going to come up with something to get back into the game.

His quarterback was getting hit, a pick-six interception was forced as well as a fumble.  Just how good was it going for the Atlanta Falcons?  Better than head coach Dan Quinn could have imagined.

In the third quarter, Atlanta thought they had put a strong nail in the coffin by going up 28-3.  But New England came back and put six on the board.  Normally reliable Steve Gostkowski went wide with the extra point.  Personally, I thought that would have taken the wind out of the Patriots sails and lift Atlanta a bit.  But that wasn’t the case.

The crucial turn in the game, for me was at 3:56 left to go in the fourth quarter.  Atlanta was up 28-20 and driving from New England 23 yard line, second down and 11 yards for a first down.  They were in good shape for a field goal, about a 33-35 yards away, well within the range for Falcon’s kicker Matt Bryant.  One would think with the success Atlanta had running the ball, they would have kept it on the ground.

And for some damn reason, the Falcons choose to pass the ball.  New England’s Trey Flowers dropped Falcons QB Matt Ryan for a 12-yard loss.  Now it’s third down and 23 yards needed for a first down.  Still within range for Matt Bryant from 47 yards out.

Again, they dropped back to pass and completed a nine yarder to Mohamed Sanu to give Bryant just a little more insurance.  But a flag was thrown on the play for offensive holding on lineman Jake Matthews.

In two plays, the Atlanta Falcons went from 2nd down from the 23 yard line to 3rd down and 33 yards.  From New England’s 23 yard line to New England’s 45 yard line, making a field goal attempt of 55-58 yards.  Even indoors, I don’t think Matt Bryant has that kind of leg.

On third down, Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass and the Falcons were forced to punt.  And that was the ball game.  From there, New England marched down the field to score and then made the 2 point conversion to tie the game at 28.

New England won the toss and in 3 minutes and 58 seconds in overtime, became the winners of Super Bowl LI.

There are two questions I have for the Atlanta Falcons:

  1. Why change the defensive strategy of going after Brady?  Atlanta was getting to Brady often, getting him out of rhythm and making him throw when he didn’t want to.  Later in the second half, Brady was barely touched as the Falcons chose to drop back in coverage and play a prevent defense.  All that did was prevent them from winning the Super Bowl.
  2. Why didn’t you run the ball at 3:56 to stay within Matt Bryant’s range to make it a two score game?  Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had run the ball effectively and had in fact, gotten into the Patriots secondary a few times.

If the Falcons would have stayed with the game plan of going after Brady, I’m convinced they would be the champs instead of New England.  Yes, it is a tiring effect on the defense to chase the QB all the time.  But when you have one of the best passers in the game on the ropes, you don’t let him get up.  I would have even been OK if the Falcons had taken a couple of roughing the passer penalties if it would have caused Brady to be looking out of his ear hole of his helmet.

And giving up points is perhaps the worst thing a team can do.  Those three points the Atlanta Falcons didn’t score when they were up 28-20 were the biggest three points they could have ever scored.  It would have made it a 2 score game and even as hot as the Patriots were, I just don’t think they would have had the time to win it.

The Atlanta Falcons are a young team with an experienced QB who did fairly well on the big stage.  And in the end, there were only two outcomes that could happen for them:  Win or Lose,  This time they lost but I believe there will be a next time for the Atlanta Falcons.

Dan Quinn has  good scheme in place.  And even though he will be losing Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shananhan, who will become head coach for San Francisco, he is getting another offensive wizard in Chip Kelly.

And yes, those gosh-darn New England Patriots (did I mention I hate these guys?) will also be in the mix yet again.

Remember, only 214 more days until the 2017 season begins!

Super Bowl LI Prediction – Going With The Atlanta Falcons

super-bowl-li

I just know everyone has been waiting for the Beer Thinker’s prediction on the Super Bowl.  And to be quite honest, I needed to really do a deep search on what my prediction would be.

Everyone knows that Bill Belicheck’s philosophy in winning games is to take away the opponent’s strength.  It’s been a great strategy for them over the past 14 years.  One can hardly argue with a team that has gone 176-48 over that span, winning 78% of the time.

There are a lot of teams in the NFL that would love to say a 10-6 season was an “off” one.  Just ask the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns.

Back to Belicheck’s philosophy regarding taking away a teams strength.  In the case of the Atlanta Falcons, I believe they just have too many weapons, starting with quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ryan passed for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.  He has been cool and calm under pressure and with the myriad of targets he has available, he has also come adept at finding the open man.

Let’s start with Julio Jones who is the most potent offensive weapons that Ryan has available to him.  While Jones has missed some playing time this year with various injuries, he still put together a stellar season…1,409 yards receiving along with 6 touchdowns.  And let’s not forget the monster game he had against the Carolina Panthers when he torched them for 300 yards and a TD.

Going to take away Jones?  Now you need to worry about Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel.  Combined they have caught 131 passes for 1,232 yards and 10 touchdowns.  And let’s not forget running back Devontae Freeman coming out of the backfield with 54 catches for 462 yards and 2 scores.

Take away the passing game?  No worries, Freeman put up solid numbers there as well with 1,079 yards rushing and 11 TD’s.  And his partner in crime, Tevin Coleman, rushed for 520 yards with 8 scores.  Both Freeman and Coleman average 4 plus yards a carry and both have breakaway speed once they get in the secondary.

New England just won’t have enough defense to focus on just one area of the game.

That’s not to say that they are just going to roll over.  Admittedly, I am not a Patriots fan, I have to admire there consistency and game planning.

Tom Brady, despite missing 4 games because of the Deflategate fiasco, still passed for 3,554 yards with 28 TD’s and just 2 interceptions, completing 67% of his passes.

With Rob Gronkowski out with a back injury, the remaining Patriots receivers have stepped up.  One of Brady’s favorite targets has been Julian Edelman who led the Pats wit 1,106 yards receiving but only 3 scores.  Edelman’s job has been to be Brady’s go to guy on third down and he has excelled at it.

TE Martellus Bennett has done a serviceable job.  He comes in with 55 catches for 701 yards and 7 touchdowns and has a knack for making a big play when the Patriots need it.  Chris Hogan has come on strong in the playoffs, especially against the Steelers when he lit them up with 9 catches for 180 yards and 2 TD’s.

Patriots rushing attack, while not as strong as Atlanta’s two headed monster of Freeman and Coleman, isn’t anything to sneeze at.  LaGarrette Blount had a fine season with 1,168 yards and 18 scores.  Not much of a receiving threat as he only had 7 catches for 38 yards in 2016.  For a receiving threat out of the backfield, Brady will rely on RB James White who had 60 catches for 551 yards and 5 TD’s.

It could be said offensively that who is better is a toss-up.  I give a slight edge to the Falcons…they just have too many weapons and they can hang with the Patriots offense just fine.

Defensively is ultimately where this game will be decided and I believe that Atlanta will have the edge.  Atlanta has great team speed defensively and I can see them getting some hits on Brady.

Atlanta tallied 34 sacks in 2016 with linebacker Vic Beasley racking up 15.5 of them.  The defensive line collectively sacked opposing QB’s 12 times.  The ageless wonder of Dwight Freeney recorded 3 sacks used in situational schemes.

As for the secondary, the Falcons intercepted opposing teams 12 times running back 3 of them for scores.  Linebacker Deion Jones led the way with 3 interceptions, 2 of them the pick-six variety.

Atlanta defended 90 passes and many of those were clutch 3rd down situations to force three and outs, getting the ball back to their offense.

New England also racked up 34 sacks in 2016 with D-Lineman Trey Flowers leading the way with seven.  Jabaal Sheard recorded five sacks and former Ram Chris Long chipped in with four.  The have a pretty good defensive line scheme that will attack QB’s from different directions.  Matt Ryan will need to rely on his offensive line to give him the time he needs.

New England also intercepted opposing teams 13 times but none resulting in a score.  New England defended 68 passes but also gave up a lot of ground while doing so.

What I see is Atlanta being able to control the clock better than New England to keep Brady on the sidelines.  They will take there shots and once they start scoring, head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will step on the gas and stay on it until the game clock reaches 0:00 and Lombardi Trophy for Super Bowl LI will be theirs.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Against Atlanta, They Got Lucky & They Know It

luck-seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks beat the Atlanta Falcons 26-24 yesterday…and they were darn lucky to walk away with that win.

Tried as they did to give it away, it was the will of Richard Sherman who appeared very angry at one point in the second half.  And there was good reason for him to be so ticked off after the Legion of Boom allowed Julio Jones to break free for a 36-yard touchdown.

It was a lack of communication.  Those happen a lot in the NFL and in this case, safety Kelcie McCray, subbing for injured Kam Chancellor, blew the assignment and allowed Jones to break free for the score.

This proves how much of a leader that Richard Sherman is.  He expects a lot of himself and expects a lot of his teammates.  I don’t blame him one bit for getting as upset as he did.  The Legion of Boom is way better than they played yesterday.

But not all of the fault can be placed on the defense.  The offense has issues they need to correct.

First and foremost, Russell Wilson needs to go back to doing what he does best…when the situation calls for it.  I agree, from a health standpoint, that being more of a pocket-passer will mitigate injury issues.  But there were at least five instances where his running abilities would have put pressure on the Atlanta defense to stop him.

One instance that stands out was in the 4th quarter.  Seahawks were on the Atlanta 10 yard line with a 3rd and goal.  Wilson stepped up in the pocket when he felt pressure behind him no one was in front of him.  He had a clear path to the end zone.  Instead, a stopped and attempted a pass to Jerome Kearse that was incomplete.

To put more salt on the wound, the normally reliable Steven Hauschka missed a 29 -yard field goal that went left.

I get the fact they want to protect Wilson but he is a weapon that needs to be utilized.

Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell needs to start becoming more imaginative with his play calling.  He doesn’t have the luxury of calling Marshawn Lynch plays anymore and needs to trust Wilson and the Seahawk receiving corps and take more shots downfield.  The 15-20 yard throws work when you have Beast Mode but he’s gone now.  And Christine Michael, while doing an admirable job, is no Marshawn Lynch.

Defenses have figured out Bevell’s offense and see that Wilson is reluctant to run.  So they stack the box because they have no fear of Wilson going deep and they throw more bodies at the running game.

The use of Jimmy Graham is ludicrous.  Yes, he had six catches for 89 yards.  But during crunch time, they went away from Graham.  For crying out loud, the man is 6-7, has an 82″ wingspan and can run the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

The Seahawks need to look at all the tape when Graham was with the New Orleans Saints and see how Drew Brees used Graham…up high, triple-covered and as an outside receiver.  C’mon man, line up a 6-7, 265 lbs. receiver against a 5-11, 193 lbs. cornerback (the average height and weight of an NFL cornerback.)  I’ll take that match-up all day!

Am I being too critical?  Darn right I am.  The Seahawks had no business winning this game.  And the last pass attempt by Matt Ryan, the officials gave the game to the Seahawks because that was pass interference.  I’ve seen a lot less contact and the flag was thrown.

The next three games are going to be critical for the Hawks.  The travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals.  Carson Palmer has been cleared to play and will tune-up against the New York Jets tonight.  Cardinals with Palmer have played the Seahawks very tough.

Next-up is the resurgent New Orleans Saints.  Drew Brees lit up the Carolina Panthers for 465 yards and 4 touchdowns and built a 31-17 lead in the third quarter.  They won the game 41-38 despite allowing the Panthers to score 21 points in the 4th quarter.

After that comes the surprising Buffalo Bills.  This isn’t going to be the team the Seahawks played in 2012 when they lit them up in Buffalo for 50 points.  This version of the Bills have a very strong running game with LeSean McCoy who lit up the San Francisco 49rs with 140 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.  This team also shut out the New England Patriots.  Yes, I know, they didn’t have Tom Brady but the Pats are still a formidable team without him and weren’t able to score against the Bills defense.

Speaking of New England, that is the Seahawks opponent after the Bills.  And they have Brady back who in the last two games has thrown for 782 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions.

So the road back to the Super Bowl is going to be a tough one.  And if they played like they did against the Atlanta Falcons, they aren’t going to make it.

Teams will score.  It’s what the NFL wants to keep fans interested.  But the Seahawks need to become more imaginative on offense and corral the other teams big-name players and limit the amount of scoring.

Let’s hope the Falcon game serves as a wake-up call and gets these Hawks back on the right track.

Today, I Am A Patroits & Falcons Fan!

Yep, I admit it.  Today I am a New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons fan…but for all the right reasons.

First, lets start with the reason why I am an Atlanta Falcons fan:

Falcons Helmet

The Arizona Cardinals visit Atlanta to take on the Falcons.  Most people would see a 9-2 coming to play a 4-7 team as pretty much game not worth watching.

However, with no team in the NFC South having a winning record (Falcons and New Orleans Saints lead the division with 4-7 records), the Falcons desperately need a win to take control of the division.

Which would do a huge favor to the 8-4 Seattle Seahawks who are peaking just at the right moment to make a run at taking the NFC West crown for the second year in a row.

The Cardinals are exposed.  Carson Palmer is out for the season and MSU alum Drew Stanton, performing admirably in his place, doesn’t have quite the accuracy and game experience that Palmer brings.

Also questionable is Larry Fitzgerald who will be a game-time decision.  And while Fitzgerald may no longer be the number one receiver for the Cards, there is no question that he indeed is the heart and soul of the team.

I need to mention that this game is going to be a tough one for my wife Nancy.  She is a huge New Orleans fan but is also very supportive of the Seahawks.  But she has such a great disposition about life, regardless of the outcome, she’ll see it as a win.

Now on to why I am a New  England Patriots fan:

Patriots Helmet

Let me point out right now that I have never like Tom Brady ever since he played for those arrogant assholes, the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Being a Michigan State fan, about the only time I root for the Wolverines is when they play those clowns from Ohio State University…so I was sad to see OSU spank U of M 41-28 yesterday.

But today, I will root for Brady and the Patriots as they visit (think of ESPN’s Chris Berman when you read this) the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

Our Detroit Lions have an opportunity to go 3-0 over the next 3 games with 2 home games against the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Minnesota Vikings and a road game against the hapless Chicago Bears, heading to Lambeau at 11-4.

Green Bay has a tougher schedule, starting with today’s game against New England…but not as tough as one would have hoped.

I can see the Packers going 2-2 over the next 4 games with losses against the Patriots (a rare home loss indeed) and a loss against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, depending on which Bills team shows up.

That would give the Packers a 10-5 record with the Lions coming to town…with the Lions in the drivers seat.

But it starts today with the Patriots putting together a great defensive and offensive game plan to beat the Packers in Lambeau.

Go Falcons and Go Patriots!