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Posts tagged with "Super Bowl"

Falcons fans sound off about the offense, empty seats and wonder what’s causing the injuries

Editor’s note: Today’s edition will be updated later on this afternoon with more questions, so please check back.

Good morning and welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! We’re into the Falcons’ bye week and you’ve got questions. Just remember that all opinions you see in this space are mine, unless otherwise noted.

And we’re off.

Larry from Hampton, GA

If you had success running the football and it’s fourth-and-1, isn’t it a no-brainer to run the football and get the first down? You say that you have to rely or trust the coach’s decision. As you see it didn’t work out in the Super Bowl as well as this game. Still trusting the coach’s decision?

Matt: Yes, I am, Larry. You can’t judge a coach on one play.

Julian from Los Angeles, CA

Hey Matt, love your column and your insights. Thanks for doing this. I do have a question, but first I have a comment. I knew someone was going to come on here on Monday and talk about Julio Jones always being hurt. My Steelers fan friends tell me that’s why Antonio Brown is better than Julio Jones, but he’s not. No. 11 is the best WR in the NFL. Injuries, especially to wide receivers, happen. The Falcons didn’t lose that game because 11 got hurt. Which leads me to my question. Besides turnovers, what else do you think the Falcons need to do better when they come back after their bye to get better? A 3-1 record is good but they could easily be 1-3 or 2-2 right now. They have to start playing better.

Matt: Julian, they have to get healthy. By the end of Sunday’s game, a total of eight players were out because of various injuries. Aside from turning the ball over and creating more turnovers, the Falcons need to start tackling better, too. There were a lot of missed tackles. You might as well throw in catching the ball, too. For whatever reasons, there have been a lot of tipped and deflected balls by the receivers – and some of those have led to turnovers. The good news is that everything I just mentioned is correctable. And the bye week could not be coming at a better time.

Jerry from Cuthbert, GA

Did you notice that Duke Riley is looking confused and missing a lot of tackles? Looks like he’s in over his head. Thanks for the ear.

Matt: Hey, Jerry. You’ve got to remember Duke Riley is a first-year player and every game is on-the-job training for him. The good news is that he has lots of speed, plays fast and puts himself in position to make plays more times than not. Yes, he’s missed some tackles, but like I noted above, that’s correctable – and he’ll only get better in time.

Hayse from Nashville, TN

Hey Beek, I’ve been a fan all my life and a season ticket holder since Vick’s rookie year. I drive down from Nashville for the games and, for years, I flew in from Utah. I say this to establish some fan credibility before I ask this question. So, my question is, what do we have to do to A) Get our fans to the games? B) Get to their seats on time? I’ve never consistently seen so many empty seats over the years and it seems like it takes an NFC championship to get the house packed. It’s just frustrating to me to see the support that Atlanta United is getting and the Falcons (and Braves) games barely seem half full. It’s embarrassing and needs to stop!

Matt: Thanks for the question and the Falcons are lucky to have to loyal fans like you. I’ll be very honest here – I have no idea what’s going on with the fans – and I find it surprising, especially coming into Sunday’s game with a 3-0 mark. But one reader (below) offers at least one reason why, Hayse.

Rob from Canton, GA

I have been following the Falcons for many years, watching players such as Jeff Van Note, Steve Bartkowski, etc., In watching the Falcons I have never noticed a killer instinct with them, like other teams. For example, the Super Bowl last year, it looked like the team and coaches thought to themselves that we had it wrapped up. New England wanted it worse than us. What is it going to take to get this Falcons team with a never-let-down attitude? Also, I can give you one reason why the seats are empty. People like me who had season tickets for over 50 years never saw our Falcons win a Super Bowl, and I will not get season tickets again until they really want to play and never quit, for both the team and coaches. They all need to look at themselves and ask the simple question, am I really playing or coaching to the best of my ability? Just an old man venting!

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The 2014 Patriots won the Super Bowl, so why can’t this version?

The New England Patriots are 2-2, they’ve lost an embarrassing game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and there are problems on the roster that seem unfixable in the middle of the season. Many are wondering if this era of Patriots football might be over.

Sound familiar?

What the Patriots are going through right now is eerily similar to what happened in 2014. The Patriots were also 2-2 after four games then, with the Chiefs loss coming on Monday Night Football during Week 4 and the fan base spinning into a frenzy.

Things worked out pretty well that season. The team went on to win the Super Bowl, and it all started when the team went “on to Cincinnati” a week later. That is the situation that this current team is in now, and some players see it as motivating. According to Jim McBride of The Boston GlobeJames White sees plenty of similarities between that team and this one.

“Guys took it as a challenge. We came out the next week against the Bengals and guys were just flying around, making plays, and just trying to improve off the Kansas City game,’’ White said Monday afternoon. “That’s all it really is. That’s the approach we really take every week whether you’re coming off a loss or a win. You try to find things you can improve on and come out flying around that next week.”

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In that sense, these early losses could prove to be beneficial to the Patriots this season. It’d be easy for a team that has had as much success as New England to get complacent.

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Sometimes 2-2 is a reason to celebrate (see: Jets, New York), other times it’s a potential disaster.

The Patriots fell to .500 on Sunday, falling 33-30 on a last-second field goal against a Panthers team that had scored 45 points combined in their first three games.

“Disappointed, 2-2 is just a record, but just in terms of how we played and what we need to do in order to play better and win,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on WEEI on Monday morning.

“Hopefully, we can figure out a way to play consistently over an entire game.”

The Patriots just as easily could be 1-3, with Texans safety Corey Moore dropping an interception that would have sealed a Houston Week 3 victory, instead turning into a 36-33 Pats win thanks to some Brady magic.

We’ve been here before. We’ve buried the Patriots before.

In 2014, after getting pummeled 41-14 by the Chiefs on Monday night with Brady playing dreadful, the New England dynasty was declared dead. Brady was washed up. Bill Belichick had lost his magic touch.

That season ended with a Super Bowl.

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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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The anticipated Week 1 of the NFL season finally has arrived. Here are the High five things to watch on this week’s schedule:

Hangover to watch

How the Falcons, who open the season Sunday in Chicago, react to their Super Bowl runner-up, having blown that 25-point lead to the Patriots, will be a compelling topic all season.

Will they rebound with a vengeance, determined to take what they believed was theirs a year ago? Or will they suffer from a hangover affect lingering from that loss?

The Falcons should take a hard look at their division opponents, the Panthers — who went 6-10 last season after going 15-1 in 2015, advancing to Super Bowl 50 only to lose to the Broncos.

Atlanta remains one of the most talented teams in the league, particularly on offense, where they’re led by quarterback Matt Ryan and a stable of terrific receivers, including Julio Jones. But, as many teams have learned the hard way, talent alone is not nearly enough to prosper in the NFL.

And, Ryan will play on now without his offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, who was hired as the 49ers head coach, replaced in Atlanta by Steve Sarkisian.

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Duke Riley earned a starting job at weakside linebacker as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons.
Duke Riley earned a starting job at weakside linebacker as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons.( | The Times-Picayune archive)

Former LSU linebacker Duke Riley earned a starting job for Atlanta in his first NFL game, Falcons coach Dan Quinn announced Friday.

Riley, the LSU team MVP last year, was a third round pick by the Falcons and will start at weakside linebacker in the Falcons’ base package. He will line up alongside former Tiger teammate and middle linebacker Deion Jones when the Falcons play at Chicago Sunday at noon.

In a sense, he outdid his close friend Jones, who didn’t earn the starting job with the Falcons until later in the 2016 season. Jones led all rookies with 108 tackles and helped the Falcons to the Super Bowl.

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warming up before a preseason game against the Giants in August.CreditWinslow Townson/Associated Press

N.F.L. football begins on Thursday night. And as usual, it’s a big game, with the Super Bowl champions against an elite contender. Here’s what there is to know about Game No. 1 of 256:

Who’s playing? Kansas City is visiting New England.

Where can I watch? On NBC at 8:30 Eastern or with N.F.L. Game Pass. (Amazon’s Thursday night streaming does not begin until Week 4.)

Follow our live coverage of N.F.L. Week 1 here.

What do I need to know about the Patriots? The Super Bowl champions for the second time in three years, New England remains at the top of the N.F.L. pecking order. That hasn’t stopped the team from making changes. Running back LaGarrette Blount left for the Eagles, leaving Dion Lewis as the main man. Receiver Julian Edelman is out for the season with a torn ACL, but the Pats traded for the Saints’ Brandin Cooks last March so don’t expect much of a drop-off.

What do I need to know about the Chiefs? Kansas City was 12-4 last season, but lost its playoff opener at home to the Steelers. The team has mostly stood pat, but did release the veterans wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back Jamaal Charles.

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Potentially a huge year for Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham

With the NFL kicking off this Thursday night, you can feel the excitement in the air. From this week on there will be football on every Sunday until February. With that being said, the Arizona Cardinals play the Detroit Lions this Sunday in Detroit at 1pm EST.

There’s a lot to be excited about this season. Something that I’m excited for this year is to see how Jermaine Gresham performs. Gresham played in all 16 games last year and played well towards the end of the season. Specifically in a four game stretch last year in weeks 11 through 14.

I feel like there’s potential for him to have a somewhat bigger role this year than the previous two he’s been a Cardinal. Gresham has been in a sense underwhelming since coming to Arizona. It’s easy to just write him off as peaked and in a regression of his career, but Bruce and Kiem resigned him to a new contract for a reason.

Last year the Cardinals were looked at as Super Bowl contenders. We were heavily favored to win the NFC after retaining the same roster from 2015 and added pieces to be better in 2016. As you saw last year, that didn’t end up being the case.

The Cardinals started off slow at the start of the season and took themselves out of playoff contention by mid-season. It was around mid-season when something however did change, the offense began to get going in a more effective manner.

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The Arizona Cardinals look to return to the postseason in 2017

While many expect the New England Patriots to return to the Super Bowl and win in 2017, a lot of people outside of New England are ready for a change.  The NFC though is wide open with the Arizona Cardinals back in some predictions as getting back to the playoffs.

This doesn’t mean all of that will happen. Predictions are just that.  Many are picking the Patriots to play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.  We are hoping that won’t be the case.

ATLANTA, GA – AUGUST 26: Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We’d love to see receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer get their rings.  If that happens, that may signal the end of their careers but what a way for them to go out.


AFC East champion: New England Patriots

AFC North champion: Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South champion: Tennessee Titans

AFC West champion: Oakland Raiders

Wild Card #1: Cincinnati Bengals

Wild Card #2: Los Angeles Chargers

AFC champion: Tennessee Titans


NFC East champion: New York Giants

NFC North champion: Green Bay Packers

NFC South champion: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West champion: Arizona Cardinals

Wild Card #1: Seattle Seahawks

Wild Card #2: Atlanta Falcons

NFC champion: Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl champion: Green Bay Packers

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Landon Collins celebrates with his teammates after running an interception back for a touchdown in the Giants’ preseason game against the Jets.

When you speak to the players and coaches from the great Giants defenses of the past, you quickly sense the unmistakable and unbreakable bond they share.

All these years removed from those championship teams of 1986 and 1990 — the first two of the four Super Bowls the franchise has won — players and coaches from those teams gather for reunions, for charity golf tournaments, for autograph sessions, for whatever.

“There’s a brotherhood that’s there, because you won a championship together,’’ former Giants linebacker and Hall of Fame member Harry Carson said.

“When you win a championship, it’s there forever,’’ former Giants nose tackle Jim Burt said.

“We won championships together, we hung out together,’’ former Giants cornerback Mark Collins said. “When you win championships, you always check on your guys because they’re your guys for life.’’

Bill Parcells, the coach of those two Super Bowl teams, laughed over the phone the other day while speaking about the ongoing relationship the players from those teams continue to have.

“Those are my guys, and they always will be,’’ Parcells said. “It was a very, very close team, and they still are. It’s like nothing’s ever changed. I mean, I hear from them all the time — all of them. They call me more now because they think I’m getting old and something might happen. I like it.’’

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Harry Carson (left) huddles up with the Giants defense during the 1986 Super Bowl.Getty Images

Twenty years from now, will players from this Giants defense, which has the potential to be as special as any of those from the past, still share the bond the groups from the past continue to share?

Conversations The Post had with members of those past great Giants defenses about the current Big Blue defense, which ranked second in the NFL last season in fewest points allowed, revealed three common denominators.

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