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Posts tagged with "Matt Ryan"

The Falcons dealt with this the whole offseason, and you saw it, because it was impossible to miss it—28–3, 28–3, 28–3. And riding shotgun to all the taunting was the idea that the mother of all Super Bowl hangovers was coming as a result of the mother of all Super Bowl collapses.

Two weeks in, not so much. And the Falcons have handled all of this so well, because they haven’t run from it. As recently as last week, players—all the way up the chain to Matt Ryan—were speaking freely about overcoming the past. There wasn’t a ceremonial burial of a football, or an embargo on talking about 2016. Instead, the players and coaches have hit what they had coming right between the eyes.

And the reason why is simple. They did what few NFL teams have the stomach to when things go sideways—behind the GM they’ve stuck with for a decade and a head coach they’ve invested in, they believed in their course and stuck to it.

You can start, too, with one thing that actually changed. Atlanta handled its biggest offseason defection—Kyle Shanahan leaving to coach the Niners—by asking every candidate they interviewed, “can you run his offense?” In essence, screaming to the players, stay the course. The man Quinn found, Steve Sarkisian, has background with Pete Carroll, another sign of how Atlanta was building on the program, not tearing it down. So while the pilot was different, the script wasn’t and, at least on Sunday, neither was the result. Matt Ryan and company rolled up 257 yards and 24 points in the first half alone against Green Bay.

If they looked unaffected by all the noise, that makes sense too, because it had been impressed on the players that they’d been through a smaller version of this before. During Dan Quinn’s first season with the Falcons, the team saw a 6–1 start evaporate into an 8–8 finish—and that loomed over the 2016 offseason. The same way 28–3 will come up this year every time Atlanta has a lead, the 2–7 meltdown served as a caveat to every early-season win they had last year. And the Falcons were able to plow through all of that on their way to the Super Bowl.

And then, finally, there’s Quinn himself, a coach who was the king of the 2015 coaching carousel in large part because of his ability to reach players and lead, qualities that equipped him for the aftermath of the letdowns of both the ’15 season, and Super Bowl LI.

We don’t know yet whether or not the Falcons are going to be where they were last year, with a shot to win the franchise’s first world title. But what we should’ve known all along was simple—they most certainly were equipped to handle all that was coming their way.

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Friday’s Early Bird Report includes the Falcons’ hangover cure and the Lions’ plan for Julio Jones

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Falcons (2-0) are busy putting the final touches on their preparations for the Detroit Lions (2-0), a matchup that will kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. With the weekend nearly upon us, here are the final pieces of news for this inter-divisional showdown.

Today’s Early Bird Report includes the Falcons’ hangover cure; the Lions’ plan for Julio Jones and the two teams’ different approaches to injury reports.

Enjoy!

 

FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY

 

Sports Illustrated: Falcons not suffering from a Super Bowl hangover

Remember that hangover everyone expected to have after last year’s Super Bowl? Turns out the Falcons didn’t get the memo. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote a piece about Atlanta avoiding any type of let-down over the first two weeks of the season.

Breer believes there’s one key reason why the Falcons have continued to roll right along:

“They did what few NFL teams have the stomach to when things go sideways — behind the GM they’ve stuck with for a decade and a head coach they’ve invested in, they believed in their course and stuck to it.”

ESPN.com: Lions’ plan for Julio? Know where he is every play

Containing Julio Jones is a nearly impossible task for NFL teams, and the Lions are the next team who will attempt to do so. Former Atlanta linebacker Paul Worrilow is now in Detroit, and he spoke with ESPN’s Michael Rothstein about some of the things Jones can do.

“The way he’ll go after a long ball, you think it’s out of reach, you know,” Worrilow told Rothstein. “You wouldn’t just think much if he didn’t go after it, because it might be too far away.

“But he’s taking off. He’s going for it. He might lay out in practice, just athletic stuff like that.”

Sports Illustrated: Julio named one of the top 50 fittest male athletesFalcons fans have known for a long time just how incredibly athletic Jones is. Everyone else has caught on. In a recent feature, Sports Illustrated ranked the top 50 fittest male and female athletes in sports and the Falcons’ star receiver came in at No. 18 on the list.

Said SI, “Who can’t Julio Jones outrun? The man is a Speed Machine, making him even more of a nightmare for opponents who are already dreading his incredible ball control and vertical abilities that contributed to his 1,409-yard season in 2016. (Mohamed Sanureferred to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver as an ‘alien,’ which would honestly explain a lot.) If there’s some kind of physical talent that Matt Ryan‘s most lethal weapon does not possess, then, well, you could’ve fooled us.”

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Key players for this week will be those taking on more responsibility while the Packers heal.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

We at Acme Packing Company know that last week was rough. We’ve discussed it ad nauseum and injuries seem to just be as continuous as ever. Let’s find some bright side here and talk about the potential impact that some key players can have to help secure the Packers a win against Cincinnati.

Quinton Dial

Dial is listed behind Mike Daniels on the depth chart and could be looking at some extra reps during the game Sunday. Daniels is listed as doubtful so Dial or Kenny Clark will have a spotlight on them to take over the defensive line. The Bengals haven’t been able to score a touchdown in the first 2 weeks and I anticipate that they will be desperate to find the endzone.

The Bengals have allowed 8 sacks so far on the season and their line play isn’t getting any stronger. Dial is a strong run defender and can help eat up blockers inside so the pass rushers can do some damage.

Kevin King

Sticking on defense, Kevin King could be in for a bigger role in this game and in the future. King was able to put in pretty good reps against Atlanta’s Julio Jones last week. Matt Ryan was 0-4 when targeting Jones with King covering him. The Packers may need Kevin King to use his large 6’3” frame to help put the clamp on the Bengals’ A.J. Green.

Like Jones, Green is another big wide receiver that commands a lot of targets and attention. New offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, may target A.J. in the offense early and often with redzone target, Tyler Eifert, and speedster, John Ross out.

Ahmad Brooks

Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, I’m looking at Ahmad Brooks. It’s unknown how long linebacker Nick Perry will be recovering from his recent hand surgery. Brooks, who missed the game against Atlanta with a concussion, is technically listed as Clay Matthews’ back up, but I don’t anticipate that keeping from Dom Capers sliding him over to the opposite side.

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Can the Falcons deliver a better offensive performance than Week 1? We’re bullish.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back! Another week, another chance to put your randomly useful ability to project the statistical output of a football team to use.

Here we simply look at the projected team total for points and yardage (and points and yardage allowed) and break out the yardage and scoring outputs on offense, and the big plays on defense. Since we have the Falcons winning again this week, I hope we’re at least somewhatright here.

How’d I do last week? I was off by 8 points and 58 yards on offense, and 3 points and 14 yards on defense. My closest projects were Matt Ryan (who did not have 3 TDs, but did have 321 yards, just one above where I thought he’d be) and Vic Beasley (who did indeed have one sack), but I wasn’t close otherwise because I severely underrated the Bears.

Here’s my projections against the Packers. Share yours in the comments, if you would.

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The first-time NFL coordinators will be tested by a tough Packers teamBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have one win in the books, and the team’s two new coordinators acquitted themselves reasonably well in their first action. Nobody was thrilled with the way Atlanta won in Chicago, mind you, but it was a win, and those remain important.

As D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote yesterday, the Green Bay game provides a stiffer challenge for Marquand Manuel on the defensive side, but it’s not going to be a peachy keen walk in the park or whatever for Steve Sarkisian either.

For Manuel and the defense, the challenge will be stopping Aaron Rodgers, dynamic running back/converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery, and a cast of solid receiving options that includes Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb, and tight end Martellus Bennett.

For Sark and the offense, the challenge is working against the Packers’ so-called Nitro package, which features a lot of defensive backs, and a quietly stout run defense. It’s not likely to hold this potent attack entirely in check, but with questions swirling in the fanbase about Sark’s aggressiveness and creativity after just one week, it could still create some disquieting setbacks.

As it turns out, the Bears did challenge both coordinators, but not in the same way you’d expect the Packers to. Chicago was only able to put up 17 points and got by chiefly on the strength of a strong ground game, while defensively Chicago did an impressive job of shutting down the run but couldn’t quite hold Matt Ryan and company in check. Atlanta’s extremely likely to score more than they did in Chicago against the Packers, but there’s a more opportunistic secondary here and a much better offense to contend with. It doesn’t figure to be easy.

If the Falcons impress here, I expect we’ll all feel better about Sark in particular. May they do so.

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The 2016 Atlanta Falcons were damn near unstoppable offensively. They gained more yards than all but 12 teams in NFL history and scored more points than all but seven. They gained more yards on a per-play basis than all but three teams in the history of football and they actually scored more points per drive than the record-breaking 2013 Broncos (2.90 to 2.83). Along with the 2007 Patriots and the 2011 Saints, they were one of just three teams since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002 to score a touchdown or field goal on more than half of their offensive drives.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in two games against a Green Bay Packersdefense that was largely below average for much of the season, the Falcons lit up the scoreboard but good. Atlanta scored 33 points in a last-minute comeback victory in Week 8, then racked up 44 in the NFC Championship Game on the way to clinching a Super Bowl berth. Considering the Falcons averaged 36 points per game in the Georgia Dome, where both of those games were played, again, it was not all that surprising that they hit 38.5 per game against Green Bay.

What was surprising about the two performances is that the Falcons tore up Green Bay’s defense — specifically, their pass defense — in drastically different ways.

Winning by going short

In Week 8, the Falcons attacked almost entirely via the short pass. Matt Ryan threw 35 passes during the game; 27 of them were intended for receivers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and six of those 27 were screens thrown behind the line, per tracking data from Pro Football Focus.

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Pro Football Focus

Many of those passes were thrown to receivers that ran quick-breaking routes after Ryan motioned a running back out of the backfield, leaving the Falcons in an empty set. Doing so forced the defense to declare its coverage, allowing Ryan to identify the man that would come open before the snap of the ball, and then get it to him quickly afterward. He completed all six of his pass attempts when the Falcons motioned into an empty set, gaining 52 yards.

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Everything had been going so right, and now it has all gone wrong. They finally scored a touchdown 57 minutes into the game.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Lets take this quarter by quarter, as we saw fewer and fewer starters the later this terrible, painful, frustrating game went on. There was a lot to be excited about, but we might be getting a little worried.

First Quarter

The most important part of the game with most of the starters in. The defense looked good, but Matt Ryan came out the gate and tossed a pass a bit behind Levine Toilolo who popped it up. He followed it up with another uneven drive, with a lucky drop saving him from an interception, and another football bouncing off of Mohamed Sanu’s hands.

Tevin Coleman looked electric both up the middle and out on the edges. He could definitely be looking at a monster year.

The defense finally gave up some yards late in the first quarter, and Chris Johnson fumbles twice (!).

Deion Jones looked as impressive as he did last year, but I would have hoped for the defensive line to get more pressure on the statuesque Carson Palmer.

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The Atlanta Falcons lost their first preseason game to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, take a look at three takeaways from the game.

The Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins squared off in their first preseason game of 2017 on Thursday night in Hard Rock Stadium. There wasn’t a ton of star-power in this matchup, as both teams decided to keep their key players on the sideline for most of the evening. Regardless, this game ended up coming down to the very end.

It was Miami who came out with the victory over the Falcons by scoring 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Before you rush to any judgement — no, this isn’t going to be a habit of the 2017 Atlanta Falcons.

The good news for Falcons fans is that Matt Ryan and the first-team offense looks pretty solid in their limited snaps.

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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Matt Ryan recently opened up about the Atlanta Falcons‘ Super Bowl collapse in a wide-ranging interview with CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco and said former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling on a key fourth-quarter series was frustrating.

Leading 28-20 with under six minutes to go, the Falcons appeared to be in prime position to take at least an 11-point lead after Ryan hit Julio Jonesfor a gorgeous 27-yard completion along the right sideline.

That gain put the Falcons at the Patriots 22-yard line ready to make it a two-possession game, but a holding penalty and a series of questionable calls—including a second-down passing play that saw Ryan get sacked for a loss of 12—pushed the Falcons out of field-goal range.

Looking back, Ryan pointed to the cadence of Shanahan’s calls as one of the big reasons for the Falcons’ collapse.

“Kyle’s play calls — he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you’re looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don’t have a lot of time to say, ‘There’s 16 seconds, no, no, no, we’re not going to do that. Hey, guys, we’re going to line up and run this.’ You’re talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

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Gatorade releases a new ad campaign featuring Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

Is this team over the Super Bowl loss?The question has been asked countless times since Feb. 5, 2017.

More times than Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan probably cares to think about, too.

And to Ryan’s credit, he’s answered it every time he’s been asked – never dodging it.

“We’re on to 2017,” Ryan said earlier this month following organized team activities. “You know, you learn from it, like we did. You deal with it, like we did. And then you move forward and you start preparing to try and be the best football team that this group can be. And that’s where we’re at.”

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