Atlanta Falcons Shock Super Bowl Favorites

Falcons Shock Super Bowl Favorites

Soliai and Co. Got it Done when it Counted

By Cage Writer Anthony Scott Cooper (Coop)

Huge Play by Willy Mo!

It’s true!  Just ask Mike Greenberg of Mickey’s Mike & Mike in the Morning.  He like several in the media (those know-it-alls) picked the Saints to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl.  Your Atlanta Falcons were not given a chance to do much of anything this year.  Some optimistically predicted 10-6; others were more realistic at 8-8.  However, very few thought the birds had a chance against Drew Brees and Sean Payton… even in our house.  In fact, one gentleman predicted they would lose the game on a missed last second field goal attempt (what was his name??? Hmm??? I don’t remember… handsome fella as I recall…).  So, in case you missed it, the Atlanta Falcons did indeed SHOCK the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday.  What was more shocking? They started off down 13-0.  Thanks to a record setting day by Matt Ryan (arguably the single greatest performance by an Atlanta QB in franchise history – 448 yards, 72.1% completion, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) and two long field goals by Matt Bryant, the birds completed the shocking upset in come-from-behind (twice actually) fashion.

Matt Ryan’s Career Day:

I listed his stats above, but there’s more to be told.  He passed Steve Bartkowski as the all-time leader in TD tosses when he threw his second on the day (a 1-yard pass to the TE eclipse Levine Toilolo).  Matt now sits atop the heap with 156 career TD passes.  He also leads in all time yards and all time attempts at the QB position.  Debate elite or not all day long if you want, but let’s close the book finally on greatest QB in the history of the franchise.  It’s not even close and the debate is no longer worthy of our time.

Bryant to the Rescue…..Twice

More stats, Ryan completed passes to a total of 9 teammates (4 WRs, 4 RBs, 1 TE).  5 of these targets hauled in over 50 yards.  Stop for a minute… Ryan found 5 receivers all for a minimum of 50 yards.  Friends, I have never heard of a stat line like that in my life.  THAT is spreading the ball around.  He also ran for 15 yards on 3 carries.  No records to break here, though he did have a better average than Steven Jackson…

Best Receiving Corps in the NFL?

Many of us think that Julio Jones and Roddy White are the best combination in the NFL.  There are certainly those that would disagree and make valid arguments.  But I challenge anyone to find a team with more depth than the Falcons.  I was not a Devin Hester fan, but I am now.  He adds a very scary dimension that I had always though Harry Douglas could provide.  But seeing them on the field at the same time, I know get it.  Hester is ridiculously quick and shifty.  Harry looks more like a short Brian Finneran now (and frankly, that’s ok).  Add to the WRs the speed of Antoine Davis and Devonta Freeman, the size of Toilolo, and the grit and experience of Jackson and Quiz and you have a very special group of targets for Matt Ryan to throw to.  I think OC Dirk Koetter will have his hands full keeping them all fed, but there is plenty in the cupboard for the Master Chef to work with.

Running Back by Committee:

Tru Balled Out!

Many have stated that Jackson shouldn’t start.  I must say, I find myself in that camp.  It seems that every time Antoine Smith touches the ball, electricity strikes.  He is elusive and quick to be certain, but mainly he is blazing fast.  The second he broke the first tackle on the pass into the flat, I jumped from my seat yelling, “He’s gone! He’s gone!”  You can just feel it with this guy, get him in space and watch out.

Devonta Freeman was equally impressive in his determination.  I love the way this kid runs.  We need a back who will not be denied.  His 13 yard run where he broke a tackle and bulled through the final tackle for the yards needed to keep the drive alive would have made Vince Lombardi proud.  When I was a kid, I used to hear that running is an attitude.  It is where you exert your will on your opponent.  He runs with an attitude.  Don’t underestimate the psychological impact that has on the defense.

I’m not suggesting we dump Jackson or Quiz… but they don’t have to start just because they’re older.

In the Trenches:

Roddy Key on Big Win

The O Line was a major upgrade over the play from last year.  Even after the loss of Matthews at LT, the line played well giving Ryan the time many pleaded for in the off season.  And look at the results.  With a second or two more, Ryan is lethal.  Specifically, this fan wants to highlight the center of the line.  Hawley, Blalock, and Asamoah were stout in pass blocking and grew in success opening holes for the run game.  The tackles get all the pub, but I still say you build the lines from the inside out.  Perhaps these 3 can finally lock down this line.

On the D Line… eh… about the same right?  Listen, it is early, but that looked an awful lot like last year… and the year before… No pass rush.  This is where we transition to coaching.  What the hell is the 4-2-5 and why are we running it anyway?  Further, I hear the calls for Massaquoi and Maponga over Osi and Biermann.  I can’t object.  It certainly couldn’t get any worse in terms of pressure.  Right?  Can you be worse than nothing?

Ol’ Smitty:

Ryan’s Career Day

The debate has been on in the Cage.  Did Smitty show signs of releasing the reigns?  Has he learned to change?  Can he be aggressive?  I submit we saw a mixed bag.  I certainly can’t remember coming out and having a 14-0 3rd quarter.  That suggests halftime adjustments.  Then again, once we finally took the lead, we played a softer D and let the Saints come all the way down the field to take it back.  And what of the drive to end regulation and the Overtime offensive regression to dark ages of football (seriously, did we have 1 WR play a single snap in OT)?

Smitty gets credit for the win.  I praise him for calling time outs at the end of regulation to give Matt Ryan 1:20 to move into FG range.  But there is no way you will convince me he didn’t take over in OT with an ultra-conservative approach that could have led to a missed 52 yard FG and a VERY short field for the Saints.  SO I will give him his due for improving, but I still see too much control in crucial moments.  Matt Ryan just threw for 448 yards to some of the most talented receivers in the world.  Surely they could muster 5 to 7 yards… right?

Your Thoughts:

Favorite Moment of the Game?

Did you Throw in the Towel or Keep the Faith?

What About the Secondary?  Still Worried About Safety?

How Loud Was the Dome?

Was This an Aberration or the Norm for 2014?


342 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons Shock Super Bowl Favorites

  1. Arno

    Yes, I’m miffed. We fans will support our team with its growing pains. We want to support the leadership as the team grows and adjusts. But it’s frustrating when there’s an obvious leadership gap. Leadership or showboatship?
    What we do not need to see after a 4-12 season:
    1) Mugging for HBO Hard Knocks
    2) Flashing a trip to London (Giving up a home game, no less!)
    3) Hyping a new stadium
    What we do need to see after a 4-12 season:
    1) Low profile
    2) Blocking
    3) Tackling

  2. JB Falcon

    Okay, what happened to “We’re going to use the best players that will allow us to win, regardless of where you were drafted or how much money you make”???? We’re are being downright lied to!
    I guess running Jackson up the middle from our one yard line doesn’t matter. Anyone stupid enough to call that play does not belong in the football profession in any fashion.

  3. falcon21

    We have a 4-3 minded HC and a 3-4 minded DC. Who do you think will win? Nolan is wasting his time here as long as Mike “I’m stupid Smith” is HC.

  4. Seminole Warrior

    Oh well, the hell with the CFA and the pathetic effort today.

    The Tee Pee remembers the great Joe Sample whom we lost to complications from liver cancer on Friday. RIP, Joe. I was so honored to hear your perform on several occasions. You never failed to deliver a quality show or piece of music. God bless and see you on the other side my brother.

  5. JJ

    Were not as good as last week or bad as this week…biggest diff is time that OL gave MR last week and this week…Matthews is the diff!!!

  6. Dewey

    I agree, on the surface, if you bring in a DC, he must be allowed to coordinate his defense, i.e., Nolan and the 3-4. Here’s the problem, WE DONT HAVE 3-4 PERSONNEL!!!!!
    Now, this 4-2-5 nonsense. I understand learning a new system takes time. And I’ve seen offenses/defenses come around as the season progresses. But there’s usually bits and pieces, through the learning process, where you can see if it all comes together, what it could look like. I have seen nothing, NOTHING, from our defense that tells me it’s going to be any better than it is right now, which is AWFUL!!! After the upcoming Tampa game, there needs to be a complete tear down and rebuild of the defense.

  7. Seminole Warrior


    I absolutely agree with you. And as I have said before, I could see if we had a rookie coordinator or we were dealing with let say a college coach transitioning to the NFL. But we have skilled, veteran coordinators on this staff. One is a the current head coach, one a former head coach, and Tim Lewis was a DC for perennial playoff appearing teams in Pittsburgh and NY Giants. So you tell me what the hell is going on here?

    Each of them supposedly have been “masters” of defense at various other stops along the way so again, what the hell has happened here?

  8. JB Falcon

    Okay, no new comments, so I will let ya’ll go to bed with this thought. You can’t rebuild an engine with used parts. Bus or no bus, we need to accept the facts, as 21 has repeatedly said, we ain’t going anywhere with an idiot coach.
    I started out with my usual 16-0 prediction but, in reality, we’ll be lucky to finish with 8-8. After 47 F’ing years I’m getting really, really tired of hoping that my donkey will win the derby. It’s like hoping Dale Jr. will win the NASCAR Championship.
    Today’s game showed that we are a loooooong way from winning anything. Solia, Jackson, Asomiah? Used parts.

  9. Seminole Warrior


    Officially, we have had two (BVG and Nolan) but unofficially, under this regime, there have been FIVE men that have been DCs, including the CFA, on staff at some time or another.

    Smith, BVG, Nolan, Tim Lewis, and Emmitt Thomas.

    Back to Dewey for a moment..

    We heard during the offseason that the acquisitions and the draft picks had the “Nolan” seal of approval all over them….or did I just hear that in one of the many “defensive nightmares” I have been having for several years now?

  10. KT28

    Falcon fan forever!!
    I will never ever leave beloved Falcons win, lose or tie!
    My beloved FALCONS, My FAMILY, never ever give up!!
    We must have trust in our team!!

  11. Dewey

    Right now, we can’t stop the run or the pass. We need to tear down our defense, then rebuild it so we can at least stop one or the other on a consistent basis. If it were up to me, we would go back to the 4-3(I believe SW suggested this before the season ever started). I would line up Soliai and Hageman at DT, Babineaux and Jackson at DE. This would be a very difficult D-line to push around and make holes in, and it would allow or LB’s some freedom. There’s no way 5 o-linemen successfully block those 4 on every running play. Then my OLB’s would be Shembo and Bartu with Worrilow in the middle. I believe this would make us very stout against the run. No, we wouldn’t have a pass rush, but we don’t have one now, and I honestly don’t see any alignment or configuration of players that would generate any kind of consistent pass rush. If we can shut down the running game, make every team one dimensional and have to rely on the pass, I believe gives us our best chance on defense.

  12. Seminole Warrior


    I did scream loudly for the 4-3 after the draft class and the FA moves. Why in the hell do you waste millions in FA on a DT then draft one in the second round to have them “rotate” in a flawed scheme.

    Totally with you and great LB corps that you propose there. This player grouping is absolutely suited for the 4-3 defensive alignment.


    We all love the Falcons. And we all will follow this team to the ends of the earth. But RISE UP be damned!! Show me something other than mediocre performances too damned often.

  13. Dewey

    SW, I also heard that about our offseason acquisitions. And they are all good acquisitions for a 3-4 DL. But we’re not running a 3-4, and we are missing the most important parts of the 3-4 alignments, and that’s OLB’s that can get after the QB, but who are also big, strong enough to set the edge against the run. We didn’t have anyone on the roster like that, we didn’t draft anyone, or sign anyone who could come in and do it. My pre-draft fantasy was Khalil Mack in the first, Jeremiah Attoachu in the 2nd. Never had a shot at Mack unless we traded, but the guy from GT was there in the 2nd. We were all happy with Hageman, I wanted the guy with the motor. Don’t know how he’s doing out in San Diego, but at least that would have been another piece we didn’t have.

  14. Seminole Warrior

    Which goes back to the very point I made in the offseason when so many were saying that things had changed.

    The man with the REAL power at Flowery Branch remains the CFA. Both coordinators STILL answer to his control. There are no audibles being called here.

  15. Gman

    Guys, I have 3 “ish” questions: If anyone can shed some light on these I would greatly appreciate it.
    1. Who do you think decided that it was a good idea to go back to last years game plan? And what happened to last weeks play calling?
    2. Why are we the only team that can not get to the opposing QB?
    3. Why does it seem that all our opponents have the ability to game plan for what WE do but we insist on running up the middle on first down and then throw on 2 and 3 to ad nauseum. Very predictable.

  16. Paddy O

    well, as excited as I was after the saints game, i am no equally disappointed. What exactly were we trying to accomplish? Our run D still stinks, and we get no pass pressure. Another game where we tried Smitty ball in the 1st half, but could do nothing in the 2nd half. A truly garbage game.

  17. Nkosi DHunt

    I have supported a lot of things because I assume I am not in the best n position to second guess the people who make these decisions. But I cannot for the life of me understand how or why you need 5 defensive backs against a Bengals team without AJ. I cannot understand how you allow Bengals aging sec ok nary to sit on underneath routes all night long and almost never challenge them over the top. Don’t give me that pressure excuse, I saw Ryan repeatedly scrambling around because all three or four underneath routes were covered and he just had no where to throw the ball. He used to throw those away, now he is trying to make something happen, which is admirable, but results in taking more hits.

    This was not a particularly inspiring effort by the players. It was a very dismal job of coaching from the head coach, all the way down to the lowest position coach.

    Honestly, this game is either a wake up call, or a death knell, and we will know which one after Thursday.

  18. Dewey

    Heard ABlank stopped at one of his stores on the way home and picked up a couple of nails…
    I figure if he has to make this trip 7 more times this season, we will be in the market for a new HC and GM.

  19. Dewey

    Last thought before turning in…
    Everyone can see what an atrocious defense we have, but I bet TD is all over MS telling him our offense needs to be more explosive.

  20. Paddy O

    one other comment – i did NOT realize RG3 was such a profound idiot. It appears he has some sort of joint inferiority. Redskins need to move on.

  21. Hamad Meander

    Dewey – 3-4 or 4-3, there is MAJOR disconnect between Mike Smith and the front office. The front office is stacking this roster to run the 3-4, but we haven’t run it yet. I agree with Dhunt that it didn’t make sense to run 4-2-5 against a team that isn’t a dynamic passing team without their star WR. Stop the run, make Dalton beat you with his arm. Instead we allowed 170 yards rushing while having Soliai, Jackson, and Hageman on the roster? WTF?

  22. Wings

    JB Falcon _ Okay, what happened to “We’re going to use the best players that will allow us to win, regardless of where you were drafted or how much money you make”???? We’re are being downright lied to!

    falcon21 _ Mike Smith has total control of this team. The blame game begins with the HC. Enough said!!!

    Amen!!!! My biggest fears that I mentioned before the season started were (1) Smitty would exert more control to cause things to be more conservative, and (2) the high number of games it would take Smitty to remove SJackson from the “main” running back spot.

    The offensive play calling chart in his hands is a bad omen. If we look down in the corner of it, we will see his approval signature for the overalll strategy, each category of plays, the scripted plays at the beginning of the game, and the demarcation rules as Smitty calls them. SJackson was used just like MTurner was used, but I don’t think SJackson performs as well as MTurner. Smitty is back to using primarily one running back and he is using the wrong one. There may be some very good plays in the Falcons Playbook, but does anyone think that those plays are on the chart on Sunday’s? If Smitty is interfering and controlling the offensive strategy, he is certainly doing the same for the defense which is his bally-wig.

    Arthur Blank needs to read the “riot act” to Head Coach Mike Smith and soon. It would take something like a defeat by Tampa Bay to change things quickly. A loss Thursday night is not out of the realm of things unless the players take it upon themselves to “Rise UP”. I don’t like that “Rise UP” but maybe it fits the players as relates to Smitty.

  23. Grits Blitz

    Liberating. Believed the Bengals game would be our real test. Now have the answer I was seeking and 8 & 8 would be a very good ride! Until we remake our O-line w/ 3 more quality NFL linemen (at LG, C, ROT – provided Jake proves reliable at LOT), acquire 2 stud DEs, 2 more stud DBs, and a monster LB, it will continue to be confusing if there’s a dearth related to a gene pool or a talent pool. (A talent evaluating pool lacking may be more like it!)
    Of course, w/o replacing the MAIN obstacle to success in Atlanta – HC & GM – who gives a dookie about moving Titanic deck chairs around?
    Is Arthur planning to give HC & GM another pass at this season’s end so he can clean house just before the opening of the new shiny Nest? Surely is looking that way to me. Sly, Arthur, very sly. What say you, Cagers?

  24. John Waynesworld

    After watching a number of highly touted teams lose yesterday, I am healing better from our loss to the obviously better team (in their house).

    It’s also good to know, from a standings perspective, that most of the (1-0) teams lost this weekend.

    A total of nine (1-0) teams lost, where six (1-0) teams made it to (2-0).

    If Indy (0-1) wins at home tonight against the Eagles (1-0), there will be twenty (1-1) teams out of 32 teams. Parity baby!

    Thankfully a quick turnaround for the Falcons against a team that has twice as many troubles than the Falcons have. No time for hand wringing in the NFL!

  25. Wings

    From the opening play call Roddy White knows the problem;
    Wide receiver Roddy White second-guessed the approach: “I think we slowed down the tempo too much. We didn’t speed things up like we usually do and put the pressure on the defense. We kind of played into their hands and let them get into a rhythm and do their thing instead of just doing our thing.

  26. Paddy O

    well, all the praise that Welcome Back got after our 4 WR set sprint against the Saints has evaporated. But, you do see distinct Smitty Ball in this game. 4 WR worked so well, we would not want to win again with it.

  27. Paddy O

    RW84 tells it like it is. He noticed we slowed down the tempo – WHY?? WHY? You might want to consider that the Saints are not that good.

  28. Paddy O

    this was a classic smitty ball establish the run game plan. with steven Jackson. Carimi did OK – the big problem was Holmes – at what point did we start giving holmes some help?


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