Atlanta Falcons Win with Mixed Reviews

Falcons Edge Dolphins


 Hey, a win’s a win, especially when the Falcons had so few of them last year. It was nice to get a W, even if it was just preseason. In fact this was the first time they’d won a preseason game in the last 5 attempts in preseason, going 0-4 last year and losing the last game of 2012 to the Jaguars. Mike Smith says that he doesn’t care about winning in preseason, but that 0-4 mark last year led straight into the plane crash of 2013. As usual in preseason, the Falcons had some good signs and definitely looked bad in others. To the game that was…………………

Ryan, Roddy, Offense on Point sans Julio

The offense looked great. Roddy was back in his groove and it was cool hearing him talking about being a “Falcons for Life.” Matt Ryan looked particularly sharp in his debut and all this is without stud Julio. The Falcons really do have a lot of weapons to use in 2014, and the hope is that OC Dirk Koetter uses them to the best of their ability. Frankly, that’s the only way the Falcons have a chance judging from the perennially terrible defense.

What is this 4-2-5 Crap?

The Man!!!!

This is where Falcons fans become outright infuriated with head coach Mike Smith. Mike Nolan has run a 3-4 defense for his entire career before Atlanta with very good results, they go out and sign a true 1 technique nose tackle in Paul Soliai, sign a 5 technique in Tyson Jackson, and seemingly have a few stand up edge rushers in Jonathan Massaquoi, Biermann, Osi Umenyiora, and Stansly Maponga. So………..Mike Smith and Mike Nolan decide to go with a: 4-2-5 defense? This is just standard Mike Smith. Almost a feeling of cutting your nose off to spite your face. To be frank: what the hell? Josh Wilson is going to be a starter? It just reeks of old Smittyball and doing things that make no sense. Many fans believe that Smith is trying to fool people and his opponents. Dawg, you’ve had one of the worst defenses in the NFL over 6 years. It might be time to give up that strategy.

Zero Pass Rush………..Surprising, Right?

Matthews Getting it Done

This has taken a life all on it’s own and maybe it will be better and it’s only one game, but anyone hoping to see a pass rush from a Mike Smith defense should go talk to George Strait about some ocean front property in Arizona. Massaquoi showed some promise, as did rookie Prince Shembo, but having Biermann put his hand in the dirt is a joke. It’s obvious that this team will win with Ryan, Roddy, and the offense. But the defense at least has to make life uncomfortable for the opposing quarterbacks. Brees x 2, sCam x 2, Stafford, Cutler, Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer will be more deadly than Tannehill. Mike Smith has a pass rush defect.

Start Antone Smith or Stop Coaching

Give this man the ball!!!!!

Anyone following the Falcons knows it. He continues to prove it almost every time he touches the ball. 5 carries, 145 yards, 2 touchdowns. That was last year. Game one, Smith had a 76 yard TD called back and another huge reception as well. This kid should absolutely be the Atlanta Falcons starting running back………period. Antone Smith has done a magnificent job of pushing the critical mass over the edge with his head coach. No longer can Coach Smith give bullshit reasons on why he doesn’t get the ball. Devonta Freeman looked good too, but Antone Smith should be the Day 1 starter vs. the Saints, regardless of whether or not Steven Jackson is healthy or not. If not, Coach Smith should tell Arthur Blank that he’d prefer to switch to the Atlanta MLS soccer team in 2017.

Should SJax Take Away Carries Upon Return?

No. This is where Smitty’s beloved fetish for veterans will be put to the test. Both Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman have shown that they should be in good hands at running back. And that’s not to mention that Jacquizz Rodgers and Josh Vaughn showed plenty of excellent depth at that position. Smith loves his veterans and that has been an issue with fans going forward. Everyone loves SJax the person and team leader, but it’s time to give these younger guys the bulk of the carries.

Free Safety an Alarming Concern

FS a major issue

It’s only one preseason game, but as every fan knew ahead of time, free safety has been one of the few positions that have been poorly addressed. Dimitroff and Co. did a good job of addressing most positions, but the one that really bugged fans was the failure to add in a free safety. They decided to cut Thomas DeCoud (who was mostly awful), but he had made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2012. The saying goes that you shouldn’t make a rash decision unless you have a readymade backup plan in place. They cut DeCoud and…………. didn’t do anything. Dez Southward seems to be a reach, Dwight Lowery was an injury risk (which has reared it’s ugly head already), Zeke Motta looks to be out for the year, and Kemal Ishmael very much underwhelmed in his debut. There were a plethora of safeties on the market in free agency and they didn’t seem interested at all. This reeks of the right boat-sink mess that ravaged right guard after Harvey Dahl left. Hey, we’ll see, but right now

Was Devin Hester Worth It?

The short answer is NO. Huge contract of a player that is only a special team player for a lot of money. It’s only one preseason game so we really shouldn’t make rash judgements, but if Hester doesn’t produce in the return game and he doesn’t factor in to the receiving game, than that’s a whole lot of money for a niche type of player. And especially when tight end and free safety have seemingly gaping holes. With the money they spent Hester, they could have easily shored up free safety with a grizzled veteran.

Field Goal Falcons

Mass has to Get it Done

If Mike Smith “doesn’t care about preseason wins” then why not go for wins and show your toughness in getting into the endzone Yes, we won the game, but for Falcons fans this smacks of the Smittyball BS on never trying to put the foot on the opponents neck and finish the game; How many times have the Falcons allowed the opposition to come back in the last minute? Expect a lot of close fought games in 2014, as is Smitty’s fetish of hyper-conservatism.

Hang your Hat on Mass

With all due respect to Biermann, the Falcons will most likely get a pass rush from the Troy product Jonathan Massaquoi. He’s entering his 3rd year and it’s time for him to assume the role of pass rusher. He looked really good on Friday night both rushing the passer and shedding blocks. The Falcons are starved for pass rushers and Mass looks to be the main Falcon to be able to get after the QB.

Put Reedy Over Hester as WR

Hester = Big Contract

The beauty of training camp is the drama of of guys just trying to either make the roster or even get a place on the practice squad, but Bernard Reedy is really making a case to get meaningful snaps at this point. This guy has come in and done everything possible to be a legitimate option for the Falcons outside of just making the team. He’s impressed in camp, at Friday Night Lights, and done well in his first preseason game. In fact, he’s done more to show he’s worthy of more snaps than specialty player Devin Hester. It’s hard to believe Reedy not only makes the team, but may see some real action in 2014. The idea of Julio, Roddy, HD, and now Reedy is mouth-watering to fans.

Great Defensive Depth

This may be the best defensive depth that the Falcons have fielded in the Coach Smith era. Prince Shembo, Ricardo Allen, Ra’Shede Hageman and even newly signed Tyrell Johnson showed that they have what it takes to not just make the roster, but maybe vie for actual snaps in the real season. Smith, Nolan, and Dimitroff deserve some major credit for getting this defensive depth in order after the boatsink of 2013.


432 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons Win with Mixed Reviews

  1. JJ


    SW, We are targeting the same guys, esp in later rds. There will be a lot of cussing from both of us next sunday I fear!
    Just landed that player in rd. 12, some of these mockers are clueless and wish espn had a IDP option. Read a good article about not drafting a kicker and wait until 1st week to get one…just load up on sleepers.

    Another advice article that I will use is to write down every pic of the guy after you to know what he needs on the snake coming back.. Works great for me at the 9th position. Reading allot of articles on RB-RB vs WR-WR strategy…its going to be fun!!!

  2. JJ

    One thing thats a given, either Coop or LRD will take Ryan in the first rd and I thank them and will buy them a beer!

  3. Seminole Warrior


    I feel you brother. As I stated, I have learned well from you and Sensei over the last two years. And if we can stay healthy in 2014, the proof is about to emerge. As far as the philosophy, the Mouse Davis approach is a very interesting one; one that I am really looking forward to trying this season. As you stated, it is about the knowledge of the rules and how the points accumulate. Running backs are where everyone will attempt to focus first but there are not enough to go around. If you land TWO that can help you, you will have done well. And with the advent of the committee approach by so many teams this year, it is going to be tough to find the “big fish”.

    Like you, I am very surprised at most of these mockers. First, the conference bias is driving a lot of selections in the mocks that I have seen. That is a mistake and could be a costly one. There is more than ONE conference in college football but you would never know it from the mindset of most of these mocks. Their loss – our gain. There are three players that will certain reward you in a considerable way that I have been able to selection any where from rounds 8 to 17. And most of it, I am sure, has to due with conference affiliation.

    Kickers: I beg to differ on that kicker rule. Old school minds continue to devalue the significance of the kicker in today’s game. If a guy is going to get you an average of 8 to 10 points per game, you can not and should not wait on free agency. I am not saying make him a first rounder (Al Davis) but in those latter middle rounds or early late, those 8-10 points could be very important week in and week out.

    As far as IDP goes, scheme, scheme, scheme.

  4. Greg Mendel

    I barely watched the game, but what I saw was disappointing. However, I’m not going to let preseason games spoil my enthusiasm for the regular season. I assume the coaches are using these games for evaluation, experiments and corrections. If so, they should be learning a lot. I hope they can make the corrections.

    If we win the next game 42 – 0, what would it mean? Probably nothing. I wouldn’t take it as a reliable indicator of regular season success, so I’m not taking last night’s game too seriously. (If we LOSE the next game 42 – 0, that could be serious.)

    I used to take preseason seriously, but based on the advice of people who know football better than I, I’ve learned to ignore it. The one thing about preseason that IS serious and can’t be ignored is injury. We just can’t afford another loss of key players. The loss of Sam Baker was expected. The loss of Mike Smith and Devin Hester can only be wished for, I guess. (In fairness, I’m not going to prejudge.)

  5. Ken Strickland

    If Smitty or anyone else in the Falcons brain trust gives even the slightest thought to starting RB SJackson ahead of DFreeman after the way he’s played during the 2 exhibition gms, they need to be fired on the spot. During the final 2 exhibition gms we’ll do some scheming & the starting lineups will receive far more snaps, which will give our starters a chance to make adjustments.

  6. JJ

    Ken, Great link and agree, prob is smittys wpp for rookies! It will be one of the many nails in his coffin when he gets axed this yr!

  7. Dewey

    Ken S,

    Glad you agree wholeheartedly with link you posted. I made the exact same assessment earlier today regarding Shembo, Bartu, and Biermann, and posted the same about Reedy during the game last night when it seemed he was not given any offensive chances with any unit, let alone the first unit. The point being, are the ghost writer for the falcoholic and myself so clueless towards how a football team should be constructed, or are the problems/solutions that painfully obvious that everyone except our brain trust can see it.


  8. Seminole Warrior

    K Strick, BRAVO!! Brilliant find! Totally on the wagon with this and the Tee Pee even added its own touches (POINTS).

    1.Replace Joplo Bartu with Prince Shembo as our starting ILB. Jop is a solid young player with potential, but he simply isn’t doing anything noticeable on the field. Shembo on the other hand is simply impressive every time he steps on he field. Not only has he proved that he has solid coverage skills, he also adds an element of pass rush with his sack in his first game against the dolphins. And honestly the Falcons can use all the pass rush help they can get.

    POINT: I want to see Shembo gain about 5 to 10 pounds (a few visits to Po Folks should do it) and put his hand in the dirt and do what he does best; rush the damned passer!! We have absolutely NOTHING at the defensive end position and the best potential is wasting away as these idiots attempt to make him an OLB. This guy could become a “AA version” of John Abraham. And that would be a blessing for Atlanta for sure.

    2.Move Joplo Bartu outside as our starting OLB. Like I said in my first point Jop is still young with potential. While he does not posses ideal size to play OLB in 3-4 looks, he has the speed to provide a potential pass rush for our team. In my opinion Kroy the Beer-man is a solid player, but in no should he be starting for any defense, especially not at OLB.

    POINT: STRONG SIDE!! The strong side linebacker should have the ability to cover tight ends, running backs, and slot receivers. Both Bartu and Starr has that ability. And as we have seen over the past four years, no other Falcons linebacker has shown a consistency to do such. Stephen Nicholas was cut last year and by default, Bartu moved in at SLB. The differences were immediately noticeable!! Tyler Starr is a capable of the same.

    I love Paul Worrilow but he is the second coming of Curtis Lofton. He is a beast of a tackler and solid against the run. He is a presence in the middle but do not ask him to be a force against the pass. YIKES!!

    The Falcons have blown the last three years when they could have found a WLB and MLB of the future.

    3.Insert Ra’shede Hageman into the starting lineup. Simply put we need to find a way to get this kid on the field. He has continued to impress and make plays against the second units, enough that he deserves a chance to prve what he can do against starters in the NFL. Shede shows hustle on every play and as we’ve seen from hard knocks he is his biggest critic and is hungry to improve. We need more players like that starting for the defense.

    POINT: This is a no-brainer. Soliai and this dude scream 4-3 defense. Recall I spoke of the Buffalo defensive line. If you look at the size of Darius and Williams inside, you see it is a tall order to establish anything inside on them. The same is the case with the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons are missing the boat here BIG time.

    4.Start Devonte Freeman. I know now it’s starting to sound as if I’m suggesting we start our entire draft class, but we seem to have hit on multiple picks as this class shows more and more potential everyday. Yes I know pass protection is still a little bit of a concern for the rookie, but he has shown that he is our most balanced and best option at RB. Freeman has made plays every chance he gets and when you get approval from a seasoned vet like Roddy White you’re obviously doing something right.

    POINT: I keep telling you time and time again. I watched this young man for THREE damned years. And when I tell you that I feel he is the second coming of Warrick Dunn, I am not blowing smoke up anyone’s rear. I watched the evolution of both. And I am well versed in the ethic and the tenacity of both.

    This guy is going to be a playmaker in short order. Sleep on him if you desire. Folks slept on William Andrews too but those of us from the Rose City knew that the deal was there.

    5.Give Speedy Reedy a chance. Now I’m not saying hand Reedy the fourth receiver spot, but give the kid a chance to show what he can do with the first team offense. We already know what type of production to expect from Devin Hester and to be honest it is minimal outside of screen plays. As we saw from last night’s game against Houston, Hester still has the same suspect hands that never made him a true receiving threat in Chicago. Reedy on the other hand offers the same big play potential except he actually is a wide receiver, not a returner trying to be a WR.

    POINT: The Hester signing was absolute silly. This past draft was loaded, LOADED, with speedy, small return specialists. And we overpaid for a guy that is simply looking to make history. He sucks, SUCKS, as a WR and is on the wind-down as a premier KR specialist. He will not surprise anyone but the front office will be “giddy” when he takes that first one back to the house. Actually, we could have had that in Quizz or ASmith if only we have given them the chance (and had a lot of cash in AB’s accounts too).

  9. JJ

    SW, Great points in addition to the falcoholic article, too bad smitty will be smitty.
    Denver vs SanFran at 4pm, NFL network!

  10. Dewey

    NFL Stats,

    I’m not 100% sure, but I believe there is a policy in place that if a player retires, and signs the required retirement papers(thanks for nothing TG88), then the payment made to said player for any amount of guaranteed money still on the books does NOT count against the cap. So if today, Baker decided to call it quits and signed the required papers officially retiring, he would only be owed any guaranteed money that has still not been paid to him, but would count $0 towards the cap. That’s my understanding, but I could be wrong. However, it’s all just wishful thinking because Baker would AT LEAST put off retirement til the off season so he could collect his full seasons paycheck this season. The only way we are getting rid of that contract is to cut him, and I think he still has too much “dead money” to even consider cutting him after the season, believe the earliest we could cut him without taking a major salary cap hit would be the 2016 season.

  11. JJ

    We have an opening in our Sa rahB Cage FFL…F21 is thinking it over…we may have 2 openings…Champion wins a trophy and authentic jersey of their choosings. Compete against D3, SW, LRD, Sinsin, JWW and many other Cage regulars. It requires a $20 fee and you only committ the time you have. Draft is next sunday and I will personally help any novice player, as SarahB helped me in my first yr back in ’08.

    Its very easy to learn and expands your NFL experience 100x beyond the falcons. Every sunday your drafted team will play against one of the other Cage member. You click on the league and view how your drafted players are doing against the other. So lets say the falcons put up a stinker one night, you really have no reason to watch any other game. In FFL. ALL the teams that you have drafter or who your playing against, make that game a must see!

  12. The Time is NOW

    If this team is as bad as we looked last night, it’ll be a no-brainer for AB to show both TD and MS the door. (Some have been worried that we would be just barely good enough to save one or both).

  13. Hamad Meander

    Official – Baker out for season with ruptured patella tendon. I knew the falcons needed two tackles in the offseason. Way to waste another year of Matt Ryan, Julio Jpnes, and Roddy White!

  14. ddhunterga

    All these dire pronouncements of doom and despair are quite amusing. Especially when one can check the archives and see much the same pessimism even in the midst of the 13-3 seasons of RECENT Years, But I don’t want you guys to stop; we Pollyanna’s need the balance you provide.

    Having said that, I am watching this game even more thoroughly than I reviewed the last one because you do have to thoroughly and critically examine the negative aspects to determine the exact nature of the problem areas. What I have seen thus far(and I am only halfway through the first quarter), is that there maybe far less reason for panic than the initial impression suggested.

    Let’s just say right off the bat that conditioning may be an issue. If so, there is time to work on that, and regular game substitutions, as opposed to how its being handled in the pre-season, will play anole in keeping the big boys fresh, especially on the D-Line. Don’t know if it was intentional, but Texans ran them sideline to sideline on much of their first scoring drive, and there were no substitutions. A couple of missed tackles and a couple that allowed the runner to fall forward were the big difference on that drive. On the other Texans possessions thus far, the D-line is holding the line or getting decent penetration. Worrilow is flashing to the RB like a playmaker, Bartu seems hesitant. Perhaps Bartu is better suited for 0LB.

  15. Dewey

    I’m going to rant a bit here. My thoughts may end up all over the place, but I’m still just so ticked off about last nights game, I need to get it out before I explode, and you guys are all I have to talk with about this (for some unknown reason, my wife is genuinely disinterested in football).
    ABlank needs to make wholesale changes starting now. No, this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to last night. This has been sometime coming. And the person that needs to go now is Dimwittroff. Why does he need to go now? He has proven, not just to me, not just to the CAGE, but to the entire NFL that he is just not a good evaluator of talent, and has no idea how to assemble personnel who can point him in the right direction. Either that, or he gets pointed in the right direction and ignores it thinking he knows best. There have been too many over paid Free agents, too many missed draft picks, too many draft reaches, too many traded picks. If we draft another Wisconsin Badger in my lifetime it will be too soon. Why get rid of him now and not wait til the end of the season? First, there’s not much left for him to do as far as the current roster is concerned. The coaches pretty much decide who makes the team and who doesn’t, though I’m sure Dimwit lets Coach Smith know that certain players(Kontz comes to mind), must remain on the team. The only thing left personnel wise is to scour the waiver wire to try and pick from the carcasses from other teams cast offs. Second, this will allow plenty of time to make sure we have made the correct hire for new GM. Third, if the new GM is found in the next 6-8 weeks, we have a fresh pair of eyes that gets to see our coaches and players first hand rather than video and hearsay. Fourth, this will send a crystal clear message to Coach Smith all the way through the players down to the water boy, that AB was not just serving lip service when he said he wanted to see an attitude change.

    Make no mistake, changes need to be made, and the sooner we get started, the better off we’ll be in the long run.

    Was Dimwitt responsible for the total lack of preparation and effort last night. Not directly. But if AB wanted an improved product, and Dimwitt took him seriously, then Dimwitt would have made damn sure that Smitty understood, which CMS obviously didn’t understand.

    For those who think I’m overreacting to a preseason game, just let me say this, there has always been 1 undeniable truth in football, sports and life in general….

    You only achieve your full potential if you strive for it every day. In the world of sports, you play how you practice. If you half ass it in practice, not giving your full effort, that’s how you’ll play. And that’s what we witnessed in last nights game. Unprepared, lack of effort.

  16. JJ

    Ask your son how to communicate in the 21st century. I text with 90% of my customers, faster info than telephone call…use finger not fat thumb! 🙂

  17. NFL Stats

    ddhunterga — I’m particularly looking at two things hard to see if they have been fixed from last year, OL and run defense. So far, I’m not seeing it on the field. The OL line play so far is underwhelming — certainly not showing tremendous improvement.

    On run defense there are two things. (1) Last year it seemed like we couldn’t set the edge on outside runs to the strong side and our LBs also got overpowered. (2) Runs to the weak-side where the running back cut back for very long gains. I saw this still happening again last night against Houston.

    At the beginning of training camp, I thought that two things were really important. (1) The physical conditioning and play of L. Holmes (strongly believing Baker would go down); (2) our LB play to be physical and react quickly to filling holes.

    Holmes is looking a whole lot better, and maybe just maybe, a combination of Matthews/Holmes is actually better than Matthews/Baker. The play at LB continues to be a big concern.

  18. NFL Stats

    With all the flags on pass defense this pre-season in the NFL, is anyone but me really concerned about the integrity of “the game”? I fully expect to hear in a couple of years an official to say “The defender was thinking about touching the receiver — five yard penalty and automatic first down!”


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