NFC South Leading Falcons Demolish Panthers

By Rick Woolbright

~The Time is Now~

With apologies to Paul Simon, I can imagine Matty Ice singing “Me and Julio, down by the schoolyard”. Ryan and Julio played a pretty game of pitch and catch, with just enough rushing mixed in to leave the highly touted Carolina D with no answer for the Atlanta Offense. Oh, and Mr. Newton – we’d like to introduce you to our rookie LB, Mr. Deion Jones (since you may have missed the number on the freight train that knocked you loopy at the goal line on your 2 point conversion). He’ll be seeing you again, so we thought we ought to be neighborly and pass along the name. Don’t whine, it was a clean hit. …Me and Julio down by the schoolyard. Sure am glad he’s a Falcon.

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 Before I proceed, allow me to chew on this serving of crow after witnessing Julio’s 300 yard game. Mustard please. I was wrong when I posted that the Falcons should force Julio to sit until he healed, so he could be explosive later in the season. THAT was explosive – fully healthy or not. Now that we have established that I am an idiot, I can continue with my analysis…

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Unlike teams from the Mike Smith era, these Falcons waited until they had scored 31 points (and held a three score lead) to go into clock burning mode. These Falcons even managed to get into position to add a FG while in clock burning mode, to extend the lead to 24 points. Alas, for a moment it looked like the Falcons had again found a lead too small to sit on. Me and Julio down by the schoolyard…. Despite the late defensive collapse, the defense did hold Carolina to one offensive TD in the first three and a half quarters. Robert Alford hauled in a couple of picks late, to restore some sense of pride in the defense (after a dangerous, near collapse while facing a journeyman backup QB with a big lead). All in all, a pleasant autumn Sunday afternoon.

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With one quarter of the 2016 season under their belts, our Falcons find themselves leading the NFC South with a 3–1 record (2–1 in the South). The Falcons have the NFL’s highest scoring offense thus far in the young season; and they just put up over 500 yards passing on the NFL’s number three defense (coming into the game). The Falcons defense has made some stops, got some sacks from Freeney, and collected a few of picks. Nonetheless, the defense has given up a ton of points. The special teams have been productive thus far, with Weems seeming to have younger legs than in recent seasons. Hardy had a nice return late in today’s game.

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Me and Julio down by the schoolyard.

 

Questions for the Cage:

 

  • What are your thoughts about the make-up of the 2016 Falcons after four games?
  • How do you think the Falcons will fare with the rest of their tough schedule?
  • Kyle Shanahan has been a pariah to many in the Cage. Cage family member Arno has been a prominent voice promoting a wait and see approach concerning Shanahan’s ability to adjust his offense to fit Matt Ryan’s strengths. After the big offensive game against a stout defense, has your opinion regarding Shanahan changed?
  • Speaking of Arno’s contributions to the Cage: since the Cage is a fan run blog, when are you going to go to the “Post Writers” tab at the top of this page and claim a date to write the lead post for a future Cage thread?
  • Can the Falcons continue to count on one-year rental Dwight Freeney to be their pass rush?
  • Is Alford finally becoming a threat as a ball hawk?
  • We all remember that the Falcons started out the 2015 season with a 5–0 record, largely on the back of the offense. The 2015 offense then went into a long funk (and accompanying losing streak). Is the first quarter of the 2016 season a similar mirage?
  • The much maligned offensive line has played well through the first quarter of the season. Has the performance of the OL, as a unit, changed your perception of this position group?
  • Could 2016 possibly be one of those unexpected magical seasons?
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852 thoughts on “NFC South Leading Falcons Demolish Panthers

  1. waynesworldreview

    All the whining from Bennett about a so-called “cut block” from Matthews is ridiculous– the replay clearly shows Matthews going into his Hip/Thigh area—not his knees. If he gets fined for it then I have NO IDEA how they’re calling these games anymore…this was a solo block–no High/Low–am I incorrect? Is this now an illegal move?

    Reply
    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      WWR – A “cut” block is LEGAL in the NFL under certain circumstances. It’s described as one blocker going low (at the knees). For 2016 further restrictions were placed on what is legal while cut blocking. For one they have to be within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Georgia Tech utilized this technique all the time. Maybe it should be illegal but it isn’t.

      What is illegal is a “chop” block – described as two blockers double teaming a guy – one going low while another blocker has the player “engaged” high. That causes serious knee injuries.

      Matthews’ block was described as a “cut” block – which is legal if within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. I did not see the play in question.

      Did Bennett say anything about the illegal late hit he put on Matt Ryan? He hit Ryan at the knees well after the pass and it was not called. One of many penalties not called by Mr. Magoo Ref. If you late hit a QB low and late you can expect retaliation. Bennett brought it on himself.

      Reply
  2. Mr B

    Bennett took two steps and planted Ryan with no call. 70 was doing what 70 needed to do in order to send a message to Bennett and the rest of the NFL that you cannot take cheap shots on our QB.

    Reply
  3. Mr B

    I also cannot get upset over either turnover, if Toilolo dropped the pass, I would be pissed, but its JJ, and he certainly needs to remind us that he is human every how and then. But for the life of me, I don’t know why the Ryan turnover was not reviewed. Don’t all turnovers have to be reviewed?

    Reply
      1. Mr B

        Agreed, who no review? I thought all turnovers are automatically reviewed. After the fumble, I was like, ok, this will be overturned, but they never even look at it. It was a very poorly called game, was just glad to see #70 protect his QB if the refs weren’t.

        Reply
    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Mr. B The ball was slightly off – high and outside which led JJ right into the defensive player coming at him. Lucky we did not get a serious injury there. Not blaming Ryan as he was under duress at the time.

      Reply
  4. Grits Blitz

    A Few “Aftershocks”…
    1. First half jailbreak by Seahawks’ defense and coverage of receivers was superb so hat’s off to them. I wonder what it is ever going to take to sign and pay for 2 quality OGs? Just think if we had them now to compliment Big Mack & our OTs! Until we do and Kyle insists on somebody (whoever) in the backfield to pick-up blitzes and effective pass rushers, Ice will continue to take a beating game after game until ultimately getting injured. (Sad & tragically obvious, if not inevitable.)
    2. DQ/Kyle/TD got rid of a dependable player, Nick Williams, in favor of Gabriel. Big mistake. Gabriel hasn’t shown me crap. Justin Hardy showed some genuine heart and skills keeping those drives alive with his catches and hope we see more of him in the future.
    3. Grady Jarrett had one of his best games so far, but he needs some more help…from somewhere, anywhere. Too bad he and Hageman could not become a reg. force to be reckoned with every game. We have just GOT to find some players next year who can actually sack/tackle the QB. Period.
    4. Of course, we got “jobbed” by the refs in this one. No question. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a game – in years – when there was so few (if any) calls for pass interference. Anything goes! Now that we know the rules, we should be ready “if” making the playoffs and Seattle is on the menu! (Just got to figure how to neutralize TE, Jimmy Graham. (He just has a knack, like many TEs do, of feasting on our defenses, after years w/ Saints!)
    5. Flo was right. We best begin focusing clearly on the Chargers. Then, wouldn’t taking 2 out of 3 from 3 straight west coast teams be so bad?
    6. Kyle S. is doing a much better job of mixing his play-calling this year and/or the players “understand” the schemes better. Something is pleasantly different! Can it last?

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      Grady is the HULK. The use of FB in the 3rd quarter worked very well – if DiMarco does not need to block, he is your outlet receiver. We did not use the FB that effectively in the 4th quarter.

      Reply
    2. falcon21

      Grits, I have no problem with Gabriel, he has made some nice catches. I did want to keep Williams, I think he and Williams are on the same level as far as talent goes as a WR I think Gabriel may have a little better hands though. If it was up to me I would have sent Weems walking.

      Reply
        1. Paddy O

          what is the point of a fair catch under the 5 yard line? Your field position is horrible, so just let it go – it might bounce into the endzone – that kind of error is unexcusable for a vet. Weems may be like Harry Douglas – chokes in big moments.

          Reply
    3. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Grits – #1) agree – we need to strengthen the guard position but only one will be replaced in 2017. Expect Levitre returns – playing much better than 2015 season.
      #2) disagree on Gabriel – he’s made some key 1st downs and has speed and good hands. He’s also a good special teams player which a backup WR has to be. Nick Williams had two years but didn’t show enough.
      #3) I’m agreeing with you on the interior DL. We need a big dominating presence on the inside that can shut down the run in short yardage situation AND get some pressure in the QB’s face up the middle. Both runs for TD’s by Seahawks Sunday were right up the middle – with little resistance.
      #4) MAYBE Campbell (OLB) will get there but he’s having trouble changing direction due to his ankle injury. If he’s not the answer Falcons should draft the kid from Vandy that killed UGA all by himself – 19 tackles. All-American OLB Zach Cunningham, 6’4″ 245 lb, 4.65 40. He’s the real deal. Falcons won’t get a pass rusher in the mid-1st round but Cunningham may be there.
      #5) Past is the past – Falcons need to focus like a laser on the Chargers. It’s going to be a difficult game after a tough loss this past week. At least we’re back home.
      #6) Shan’s play calling is different because he has better talent to work with. Alex Mack, Sanu, etc. Find a top line guard, a downfield threat WR opposite JJ and re-sign Schraeder and we’re set on offense.

      Reply
      1. Grits Blitz

        Flo – Again, amigo, we will agree to disagree.
        Just like JJ was jobbed on the non-call, I am convinced N. Williams was jobbed in favor of Weems. Gabriel has yet to show me (watching every preseason & reg. season game) anything near the talent of Williams either as a receiver or sp. teams player. To site Levitre as something superior over Chester is mystifying as, to me, they are both depth players at besty on a respected, quality O-line who can make 1-2 yds. anytime and blow holes for RBs on a majority, dependable/consistent basis.
        Z. Cunningham sounds like “THE answer” so please get him aboard first-thing! YES!!!
        Lastly, Kyle’s play-calling I submit is not different just based on a change of basically 2 new players on offense. It’s appears to be a positive change of direction in utilizing more multiple options in schemes based on his already known skill levels of players he’s worked with for a year to better utilize what they have shown they can and can not do in keeping the defenses off-balance with less predictable plays, imo.

        Reply
    1. Grits Blitz

      Wings – How long have we identified this need? Everyone in the Cage, at least, recognizes this need but DQ. Have to conclude he’s satisfied with Cox and the DL’s performance after 1.25 years. Sad.

      Reply
    1. Mr B

      JJ schooled Sherman all day, that is exactly why he grabbed his arm, JJ was gone. Even on the Toilolo TD, Sherman went chasing JJ and vacated his assignment. I suspect Sherman would be just fine if he does not have to face JJ again in January.

      Reply
  5. Flo-Ri-Duh

    OK – That’s all I’m saying about the past. We need to move on to the Chargers’ game… which, by the way, is just as important as the Seahawks’ game was. To regain big “Mo” we need to get a “W”. The next two games are at home and the Falcons need them both to be “W’s”.

    Reply
  6. Wabe

    Been reading a lot of Hawks fans yapping about the game and a bunch of different coverage on the national news about the non-call at the end of the game.

    In all of the chatter, I think it’s important to just remember, they were playing in the toughest venue in the NFL, against a legitimate Superbowl contender, who were coming off their bye week, and the Falcons were coming off an already tough game on the road vs last year’s Superbowl champion. The game itself? The Falcons played nowhere near close to their best ball. The Falcons lost the turnover battle 2-0. They lost at least 2 of the 4 quarters, and some could argue 3 of the 4 quarters of the game. And despite all of the things working against them, they lose by two on a controversial no call at the end of the game?

    This loss should really point to the potential this team has. We just scored 23-24 points in back to back weeks against the NFL’s two toughest defenses. If that’s the floor for what this offense can do, I think they’re in great shape. The defense is finally fully healthy. If we can continue to grow, take our lumps, and just get better, this will be a scary team that nobody would really wanna see in January.

    This team is legit. Barring injuries, this is shaping up to be a good season for Falcon fans. Enjoy the ride.

    Reply
    1. Chop Buster

      Agreed Wabe. Personally it was the way they lost that left a bad taste in my mouth. The Falcons had many opportunities to stop the Seahawks and didn’t (Alford giving them the ball at the two yard line didn’t help matters either). Offense scored three points the entire first half; with adjustments not coming until the second half. So yeah, we had to play a stellar game to beat them.

      Reply
      1. Paddy O

        they can’t keep doing the same dumb crap for a whole half; one quarter should be enough evidence to change things up. the FB based offense was most effective.

        Reply
    2. Grits Blitz

      Wabe – Agree, it did serve as an “indicator” on the team’s “potential” in a very positive light if they can build on it from here. (Answer is coming Sunday with the Chargers.)

      Reply
    3. Paddy O

      I agree. We weathered a bad o scheme in the first half; had a great 3rd quarter, inexplicably went away from what went right in the 3rd quarter. Excellent adjustments in the 3rd quarter.

      Reply
  7. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Michael Bennett (DL) was fined $20,000 for his personal foul late hit on Matt Cassell in 2015. Bennett was ruled to have hit the quarterback low. (www.seattletimes.com) – What a hypocrite….. and he did the same to Matt Ryan (QB) with no penalty called (again). MICHAEL BENNETT JUST SHUT UP!

    Reply
  8. waynesworldreview

    The team has to get over it and put it behind them—we don’t…we probably should, but hey, I’m still irate. Like Wabe (and I suspect most of us) I’ve been reading the asinine comments of the SeaChicken fans making excuses for Sherman. Very few of them are arguing that there was no PI –instead, they are arguing that JJ should have been penalized or that we got away with one earlier or that it was a hail mary and no ref calls PI in that situation or the old standard “just let them play”. Every sportscaster, every former coach, and every player (minus the DBs) ALL recognized it as blatant interference–because IT WAS. I agree with coach Quinn that it shouldn’t have come down to one play but in the NFL it almost always does. The officials totally blew this one and the League needs to make them admit it. THEN this fan can move on even if the team already has–to a victory over SD and a continued march to a SB win…..

    Reply
  9. Wings

    The type of interference by grabbing one of the arms of the receiver has become really big problem throughout the NFL. I see it all the time in the games I watch. It is usually the inside arm, and seems to be easy to conceal from the officials. . I have seen our players do it.

    It is a more flagrant foul than the often called “can’t touch the receiver beyond 5 yards”. The occurrence Sunday just hurts more because the price was the game.

    The NFL needs to put an emphasis on calling it.

    Reply
    1. Grits Blitz

      Wings – How right you are! I’d be in favor (w/ Rich McKay on the rules committee?) of allowing 1 add. red flag for HCs to throw in the 2nd half of EVERY game…

      Reply
      1. Paddy O

        considering how lousy refs are, they should be given 1 per quarter, if successful – they get a 2nd – that would be 4 potential plays each quarter that the refs may screw up.

        Reply
  10. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Alright it’s TUESDAY – Let’s get our minds on the Chargers.
    * Opinion: I would not be for replay reviews of all pass interference calls – or non calls. It would take to long. I would be for reviews in the final 5 minutes of the game. That would take some of the so called “pressure” off of these blind refs. While I don’t think the players are getting paid to throw a game (for the most part) what about the refs? They don’t get near the paycheck of the players and one bad call can make someone rich in Vegas.

    Reply
  11. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Biggest head scratcher call of the game last week to me was Pete Carroll kicking on 4th and 1″ instead of going for it – knowing the Falcons weak run defense up the middle on short yardage plays.

    Reply
  12. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Falcons DE Dwight Freeney leads all 4-3 DE’s in pass rushing productivity at 13.5, 4 sacks, 4 hits and 16 hurries on 141 rushes (Nathan Jahnke)

    http://www.espn.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/17972/slowing-down-julio-jones-a-tough-task-for-depleted-chargers-secondary

    Matt Ryan in the third quarter this year: 36/47, 615 passing yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 144.6 QBR, 25 of those receptions resulted in first downs. (Andrew Hirsh)

    http://www.todayspigskin.com/nfc/atlanta-falcons/justin-hardy-quietly-making-an-impact-for-falcons/

    Reply
    1. JB Falcon

      I made it through to half way reading that. The present is much more exciting than the past, especially after reading some of that. Like you said, “we all remember this.”

      Reply
      1. Mr B

        LOL, I do understand choosing to not look back on our depressing history, but this really lends itself to the importance of having a process of developing players, and the relationship between the HC and the GM….and to think, it was one of the brighter spots of our history, we actually did get to the playoffs that year. It is also a warning to any franchise want to hire a circus coach like Rex Ryan.

        Reply
  13. John Waynesworld

    NFL rankings are fun to read when your team is near the top. Comments from NFL’s Elliot Harrison….

    “Keeping the Falcons in the top five. They showed more in this loss at Seattle than in the Week 5 win at Denver. Why? Because things didn’t go well early, but Dan Quinn’s group didn’t fold its tent. Instead, Atlanta clawed back from a 17-3 deficit to forge a lead late in the fourth quarter in the toughest place to play in pro football.

    Regarding the non-call on Julio Jones: Thought the refs missed that one. But it was Jones who let the ball carom off his hands — and into Earl Thomas’ mitts — on the previous possession. The Falcons also lucked out on Seattle’s bad snap on the Steven Hauschka field-goal miss. And Matt Ryan should have scrambled on the third down prior to the Jones “PI or not PI?” play. Point is, there were many pendulum swings in Falcons- Seahawks, and Atlanta hung tough.”

    Reply
    1. JB Falcon

      The league can make an incremental and productive change or acknowledge that it’s not going to officiate games as well as it could. What would you prefer?

      Reply
    1. icndark

      I would certainly think that is worthy of a letter from the Commish…for all that’s worth. The fact that he missed should not be considered and his actions should carry a suspension. Not that I expect it to. That was as dirty as any play I’ve seen thus far this season and should be treated as such. Just my two cents.

      Reply
    2. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Funny that Seahawks gameplan was to come out physical (late hits on MR, etc.) but they ended up whining about the Falcons’ “dirty play” when it was all over. BO HOO HOO…. hope we see them again in the playoffs.

      Reply
  14. waynesworldreview

    Matt Ryan has thrown for an entire GAME’S WORTH more yards than the #2 Dak Prescott(which in itself is amazing)
    247 yards MORE.
    We’ve got to keep him healthy…C’MON Schraeder (my VSU Alum brother) You know ya’ll have to keep #2’s Uni CLEAN!!!!

    Reply
  15. JB Falcon

    Even if we get home grown refs in the next game I don’t think our players would stoop to the dirty rotten level that the “Hawks played. Their dirty techniques are bad for the reputation of professional football and if they keep it up word will get around the league and someone will end up on IR. I would like nothing better than to see Sherman and/or Thomas layed up in a hospital bed. Of course I would smile and wish them well.

    Reply
    1. JJ

      As a Nascar fan, you know better than wishing injuries my friend…that karma biotch and all…but I understand. Would love to throw some voodoo vibes at Killary but will refrain.

      Reply
      1. JJ

        #88 is back at Tallahdega this weekend. While it’s my fav track (been there 5x) may not be the best track back for head injuries.

        Reply
      2. JB Falcon

        Yeah, I know better than to wish injuries but I would settle for a good azz kicking the next time we play them.

        Reply

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