Falcons Preseason: Game 1 Preview

Calvin Ridley (AL.com)

 

Falcons Travel To New York To Face The Jets In First Preseason Game

That’s right football fans, Falcons football is officially back tonight at 7:30!! The New York Jets will host the Atlanta Falcons as both teams look to prove their worth.

The two players that all eyes will be on tonight will be Jets 3rd overall pick, Sam Darnold, and Falcons 26th overall pick, Calvin Ridley. Both these guys are NFL ready, star caliber players and they will look to show it tonight.

For the Jets, Darnold is looking to beat out Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for the starting QB spot. He will want to show why he was picked #1 out of USC and what he can do. But on the other side of the ball, he will have Vic Beasley and Takk McKinnley coming at him, two players who have even more gas in their tank.

Some thought Calvin Ridley was drafted as Julio Jone’s replacement….but they would be wrong. Ridley was selected to add more fuel to the fire for this already explosive Atlanta offense. Ridley has had an excellent training camp, receiving praises from Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and even Chad Ochocinco. Along with Ridley and Julio, the Falcons shouldn’t have a problem scoring with Sanu, Freeman, Coleman, and Hooper.

Many eyes will be on the Falcon’s offensive plays too. After a historic 2016 offensive season, the team saw a huge dip in numbers when first-year offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, took over. The fans will want to see all of his new creative plays for the 2018 season and see if he has learned from his personal first year mistakes.

Players To Watch For Atlanta:

  • Calvin Ridley WR
  • Vic Beasley DE
  • Takk McKinnley DE
  • Ito Smith RB
  • Isaiah Oliver CB
  • Deadrin Senat DT
  • Brian Fusco RG

Ryan Andrews | @Ry_And1

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NFL Draft Talk with LT. Dan on Unintentional Grounding

 

Yesterday afternoon I was featured on Unintentional Grounding to talk about the 2018 NFL Draft. How do you feel about the draft and who do you think the Atlanta Falcons should select? The Falcons have 6 selections starting with the 26th overall selection in the 1st round.

Trade Down?

Trade Up?

There are many different routes the Falcons could choose to take but one thing is clear. The Atlanta Falcons will be a better NFL team after the NFL draft concludes.

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Also be sure to subscribe to Unintentional Grounding on YouTube for film breakdowns and interesting Falcons takes.

Link to Unintentional Grounding 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClCIW6b6I6MOfGGVEcc8f6g

 

Pay That Man!

It’s going to happen.

At this point it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” Matt Ryan will get his contract extension this offseason. It’s also a guarantee that when he does get his extension, he’ll probably be the highest paid quarterback in the NFL.

That’s right, a quarterback that’s 32 and not getting any older with 0 Super Bowl rings is about to be the highest paid player in the league. To me, it’s not a problem.

Drew Brees just signed a 2 yr, $50 million contract extension. He’s 39. I know, Drew Brees has an amazing¬†resume. But you’d be surprised to see what the other quarterbacks¬†paid higher than Brees have accomplished in their career.

Derek Carr is owed $25 million in 2018. He’s had some decent regular seasons but has yet to win a playoff game, Matt Stafford is owed $27 million. Another quarterback¬†with decent regular season stats, but no playoff wins. But wait, it gets better!

Jimmy Garoppolo is getting paid $27 million a year. He’s only played 6 games for the San Francisco 49ers, not even an entire season. And to add on to that, he has no playoff wins. To top it off, the highest paid player in the NFL currently is Kirk Cousins. Cousins has been trying to get paid for 2 years now, and he finally got what he wanted this offseason with the Vikings. All he has to show for is his regular season stats because he doesn’t have any playoff wins as well.

matt 2
myajc.com

As you can see, Matt Ryan doesn’t have a lot¬†in common with those players. Ryan is 4-6 in the playoffs. His 6 losses have all come against teams that went on to win the Super Bowl.

Matt Ryan has also had some decent regular season stats, but do those other quarterbacks have an MVP award? Have they thrown touchdowns to 11 different receivers¬†in a season? Do they have a top 3 passing rating in the Super Bowl?¬† And it’s not like Matt Ryan is “old”, he’ll just be 33 when the season starts.

As you can see, Matt Ryan has a lot¬†on his resume to guarantee¬†him one of the biggest contracts¬†in the NFL. The Falcons have a serious amount of talent on their team now, and Ryan has the ability to lead them to another Super Bowl appearance. If the organization realizes their Super Bowl window, they’ll give Matt the contract he deserves now to compete for the years to come.

So everybody waiting for Matt Ryan to get traded, or the Falcons to invest in a quarterback early in the draft, slow your roll. They have to pay this man.

Malik Brown (@_MalikATL)

The Falcons are Losing the Mental Game

Eight games into the 2017 season, the Atlanta Falcons have put their fans through an entire roller coaster of emotions.

They’ve had convincing wins and ugly losses. They’ve sat atop most Power Rankings at times and they’ve also resided in the lower half of Power Rankings¬† at other times. The one thing that has been a constant throughout this whirlwind of a half-season is the Falcons’ clear lack of confidence on the field.

Well, lack of confidence may be too harsh a term. Inconsistency with confidence is more accurate. There have been times where every facet of the game has been clicking on all cylinders. However, there have also been times when everything appeared discombobulated and forced. Times where they clearly didn’t believe in themselves. Now, the Falcons will begin the second half of the season in need of a spark.

Hangover?

Most Falcons fans feel like throwing up whenever they hear the word. The players spent an entire off season downplaying the impact that their crushing Super Bowl loss would have on this season. And for a time this season they looked like all that downplaying was for good reason. After the Green Bay win in Week 2, the Falcons were riding high and were widely thought to be among the NFC’s elite. The play calls were crisp and decisive and the defense was playing fast and furious. For a game, the Falcons looked like they had the mental advantage over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

After a narrow win in Detroit, things started to go sideways for the Falcons. They battled through numerous injuries and questionable calls only to lose on the final drive at home to the Bills.¬†OK, well the fact that they were even in the game with all that adversity shows how great of a team they are.¬†Fair enough. Fast forward to the next game. It’s halftime, the Falcons are up 17, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a comfortable home win over the Jay Cutler-led Dolphins. In the third quarter, things started to unravel. Ill-advised mistakes gave Miami momentum, and suddenly the Falcons found themselves down by 3 points, having one last drive to try to make things right. For the second straight week, they were unable to convert in the opposing team’s territory with the game on the line.¬†Well, surely the game against New England will motivate them.¬†

Matt Ryan searches for answers against the Patriots. (Charles Krupa – AP)

It didn’t. The game in New England was like a bad dream. Instead of coming out with the fire and passion necessary to try to avenge their Super Bowl loss, the Falcons looked passive from the start and were never truly in the game. Infuriating play-calling and penalties that even fourth graders aren’t stupid enough to make cost the Falcons dearly and they were suddenly staring at their third straight loss. There were no more excuses or positive takeaways from this game. People were beginning to realize that questions about Super Bowl Hangover may have been well-founded.

The Falcons would go onto split their next two, leaving the fans and the team sitting at 4-4, wondering what went wrong since that promising start.

Is it possible that this is all due to Super Bowl hangover? Well, I doubt that when Adrian Clayborne was roughing the passer and taking away an interception, he had Super Bowl flashbacks running through his mind. However, there is no denying that the Super Bowl loss itself and the manner in which they lost it have certainly cast a sense of tightness and expectation over this season, and it shows in the way the Falcons are playing now. What they need to do is relax themselves and realize that the only way they can make it back to the big game this year is by taking the weight of last year off their shoulders and playing to conquer this season.

Play-Calling

The play-calling from new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been shaky at best. While in earlier weeks Sarkisian seemed to pick up right where Kyle Shanahan left off at the end of the third quarter of the Super Bowl, he has since been so poor that many Falcons fans have decided to change their Twitter names to #FireSark.

Steve Sarkisian hasn’t exactly been a “fan favorite” during his time in Atlanta. (John Bazemore, AP)

For instance, there was a fourth down and long situation in the Patriots game that occurred near mid-field. The Patriots’ defense was playing well at that point and there was a good chance that the Falcons would not convert. They went for it anyway and didn’t get it. The Patriots promptly drove right down the field and scored.

Play-calls like that demonstrated a clear lack of confidence in the Falcons’ defense to make a stop. This lack of confidence clearly got into the defense’s head as they allowed the Patriots to score easily.

Later in the game, the Falcons called a jet-sweep on fourth down and goal from less than a foot away from the end zone. It was a doomed play from the start, as they lost yards and turned the ball over on downs. Because of the ill-advised play calls from earlier in the game, the Falcons painted themselves into a corner and began to force themselves to make poor decisions later on, perpetuating the mental body blow cycle.

Penalties have also been a huge problem for this team. They have had two interceptions wiped out by roughing the passer penalties this season. Last Sunday against Carolina they gifted the Panthers fifteen yards after an illegal block on a failed fourth down attempt. The Panthers took advantage and scored. Mental mistakes like this are not seen on championship caliber teams, which the Falcons claim that they’re striving to be this season.

Instead of putting mistakes behind them, this Atlanta team lets mistakes linger over the rest of the game and they are usually unable to recover from them. If they want to make the playoffs this year, they will have to learn how to bounce back and respond to adversity. All great teams do.

What Must Change

There’s a scene in¬†Rocky III (yes, the Sylvester Stallone movie) that is reminiscent of the Falcons’ current situation. Rocky has recently been defeated in a devastating loss to Clubber Lang, and it’s been nagging at him ever since, severely impacting his confidence. Enter Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old arch nemesis. Apollo reminds Rocky that the only way he’s going to regain his confidence is by going back to the beginning and revamping his style. He motivates Rocky to rediscover the “eye of the tiger,” or the edge that allowed him to be so successful earlier in his career.

The Falcons need to watch that scene now. They had their devastating loss (the Super Bowl) and they’ve lost the mental edge that they had all last season, up until you know what. Somehow, someway, they must rediscover the eye of the tiger and start playing with confidence. This doesn’t mean looking for a new offensive coordinator or anything drastic necessarily. It just means viewing these next 8 games as a fresh start and choosing to learn from their mistakes instead of being haunted by them.

Julio Jones and his teammates will need to rediscover their edge from 2016 in order to turn things around this season. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When the Falcons are on their A Game, they play with a swagger and style that is unmatched by most teams in the league. However, when they’re not on top of their game, things get ugly. Really ugly, as the last few weeks have proven. Their fate this season could very well be decided in these next few games. If they want to turn things around, they’ll have to start winning the mental game.

Jackson Stone | @tdjs_network

Falcons Take On Struggling Dolphins

MB Stadium Forbes
MB Stadium 

 

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off their bye week where they will meet up with the Miami Dolphins.

Miami has been struggling all season on the offensive side of the ball but sit at 2-2. The last time we saw the Falcons they lost to the Bills by the score of 23-17. In that Bills game we had both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu injured on offense.

 

The Miami Dolphins are coming into this match up a little banged up. With Wide Receiver DeVante Parker and Jay Ajayi both being limited or not practicing this week. Last week the Dolphins struggled to get anything going for them on offense against the Titans but thats where the defense stepped up and made the plays to secure a 16-10 win. Jay Cutler has looked like what we all thought he’d look like when he got signed.

 

The Falcons are coming in off their bye week, and having lost the week prior, they are looking forward at getting back and playing a very fast and physical game. Sanu and Upshaw were ruled out for this weeks game but we will have Jones and Beasley returning for this game. It wouldn’t surprise me to see these guys be limited throughout the game so the injuries don’t resurface for the future.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons come out the gates on fire on both the offense and the defense. This game could get out of hand early with the Dolphins struggling to score at all this season (averaging 10.25 points per game). I would expect the Falcons to drop 30+ points for the 3rd time this season and go to 4-1 and have a full game lead over the Panthers in the division.

 

The game will be televised at 1:00pm on Sunday on CBS

 

Ryan Miller

@Jefteague

 

Falcons Pull Off Nail Biter During Revenge Tour

m mullholland
Falcons celebrate after pulling off the shocking victory (M. Mullholland).

After such a dominating performance versus the Packers in a NFCCG rematch, the Falcons looked to stay undefeated in Detroit. The Detroit Lions hosted the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field Sunday afternoon in a intense match up. The Falcons explosive offense versus a revamped and rebuilt Detroit lions defense.

Some may argue that the Falcons offense should overpower the lions defense but others argue that a revamped lions defense should dominate the Falcons offense. As seen, the Detroit defense stood tall but the Atlanta defense prevailed in the end to close out the game.

MVP Matt Ryan had him an ugly showing in the win throwing three interceptions and a pick for a touchdown. Matt was 24-35 for 294 yards and three interceptions, even though two were off the hands of receivers. Devanta Freeman had 21 carries for 106 yards rushing and a touchdown. Julio led the receivers with 7 receptions for 91 yards but injured his back in 4th quarter on a hit. This wasn’t Matt Ryan’s worst game but it definitely wasn’t his best, throwing his first interceptions in nine games dating back to last season.

The Atlanta Falcons defense stood stout the whole first half but got tired toward the end. For the 3rd week in a row the defensed clinched the game with a game winning tackle to preserve a win. Brian Poole led the defense with seven solo tackles, a tackle for loss, and couple major pass break ups in win. Deion Jones led all linebackers with six solo tackles. Robert Alford had a game clinching interception but was called back due to questionable holding call on Trufant.

This by far has been the ugliest game of the season for the Falcons due to the turnovers and penalties. The hard fought battle between the two came down to a last second replay review on a catch by Golden Tate. Stafford who went 25-45 with 264 yards and a touchdown threw a slant pass to Tate on the goal line and it was called a touchdown. The referee went to the review booth to over look call and reversed the call due to Tate’s knee being on the ground before crossing the goal line.

Since the Lions had no timeouts left and there were eight seconds left, the review triggered an automatic 10 second run off and the Falcons prevailed.
After a tough win by the Falcons they become 3-0 and remain Atop in the NFL. They look forward to a home game in front of their fans against the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Falcons look to go into film session next week and fix a number broken coverage’s and penalties to get ahead for next game.

Once again, the fans come to see an explosive offense put up big numbers but today offense sold the tickets but the defense fought like it was a championship.

M Mulholland
(M Mullholland).

Antonio Smith

@__Tonio1k

Falcons Win NFC Championship Rematch vs Packers

Julio
Julio Jones shakes off a Green Bay defender against the Packers on Sunday, September 17, 2017. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Packers in a rematch of the NFC title game that provided plenty of entertainment and ultimately a victory for the home team.

The showdown was the first regular season game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Falcons came out on top 34-23 over the Packers after leading at one point in the game by 24. The defense never skipped a beat from the playoffs last year and it looks like the offense didn’t either. Everything including special teams was all clicking in the win for the Falcons.

Matt Ryan had a vintage Matty Ice performance and made the kinds of plays throughout the night that won him the MVP award last year. Ryan went 19 for 28 with 252 yards and 1 touchdown. Ryan is also holding the longest active streak in the NFL right now with a touchdown pass in 21 straight games. The offensive line and the rest of offense were major factors in this win as well, especially from Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Mohamed Sanu. In the first home regular season game under Steve Sarkisian, the offense picked up right where it left off in the NFC title game.

Newly paid running back Devonta Freeman rushed for 84 yards off 19 carries and had 2 touchdowns. Julio Jones had 5 receptions for 108 yards. Mohamed Sanu had 5 receptions for 85 yards with some tough 3rd down catches helping to extend numerous drives. Tevin Coleman had 6 rushes for 42 yards and a receiving touchdown. After a less than encouraging showing against the Bears, the offense appeared to get back on track against the Packers.

Although the score did not look as dominant as the win truly was because of late touchdowns by the Packers, the defense lived in the backfield in the first three quarters. Aaron Rodgers was sacked by the Falcons’ defense 3 times and the Falcons had 5 total tackles for losses. Robert Alford led the defense with 7 total solo tackles, with De’Vondre Campbell right behind him with 6 solo tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss. Rookies Takk McKinley and Duke Riley were big contributors in the defensive scheme causing all kinds of commotion in the backfield and showing great potential throughout the night.

Neither side was healthy by the end of this game. For the Falcons, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder went out of the game with a concussion and did not return. Vic Beasley exited with a slight tear in his hamstring and is expected to be out for a month. Courtney Upshaw left the game with a ankle injury and never returned. Randall Cobb went down with a shoulder injury for the Packers. Jordy Nelson sustained a quadriceps injury.

The Falcons will look to improve to 3-0 on the season in Detroit on Sunday, September 24th against the Lions.

Antonio Smith