Falcons Go Shopping

Morten AndersenByron LeftwichThe Falcons have heeded my call (yeah, I’m sure they did it because of this blog) and hired a new kicker.  It’s one they’ve had before, the timeless Morten Andersen.  He is 47, or as ESPN put it, he was born in the Cretaceous Period (I think they actually said Crestacean, confusing the period with Crustaceans, but who’s counting; point is dude’s old).  Despite his age, I’m still quite certain he can kick straighter than Prater.  Besides, I’ve always been a fan of Morten.  So I’m pretty happy about this news.

Also being reported by ESPN is that the Falcons are bringing in Byron Leftwich after all for a physical.  I’m not sure how I feel about this one.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Leftwich (though I loved that game at Marshall where the rest of the team carried him up the field with a broken leg on the winning drive), and I don’t think it’s fair to blame Sunday on Harrington.  Also, it felt like Harrington was beginning to get his groove. 

On the other hand, I don’t really see Harrington as the QB of the future, so I’m open to trying anything at this point. 

Jacksonville 13, Atlanta 7

Jaguars score TDThe Falcons dropped their second of the season against the Jaguars.  A glance at the score might lead one to the conclusion that it was more of the same from Week 1

But that really wasn’t the case.  Harrington played much better.  At times, the offense looked beautiful.  We scored our first TD of the year.  Harrington had 200 yards and no interceptions.

But then there’s Matt Prater.  He missed two field goals.  The six points alone would have led to a tie game and perhaps the ability to squeak out a victory.  But it’s more than the points.  Both misses came after long, impressive drives from deep in the Falcons’ own territory.  We ate up huge chunks of the clock.  Scores in each case would have been demoralizing for the Jaguars.  Instead the missed field goals were demoralizing for the Falcons.  Momentum clearly shifted to the Jaguars after each miss.  I credit Prater with single-handedly losing this game for the Falcons.

Why? Why is Prater our kicker?  I realize Billy Cundiff is old, and maybe the Falcons didn’t want to do the short kicker/long kicker thing again this year with Koenen.  But I just can’t see what they saw in Prater.  He is 1 for 4, and I mean he has really missed those 3 misses.  They weren’t close.  It looked like my golf swing.

I’m calling shenanigans if Prater isn’t cut this week.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Box Score [Source: Yahoo!]

Week 2: Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Falcons HelmetJacksonville JaguarsSunday NFL Countdown (not sure why they haven’t updated this page from last year, but hey, I can’t do everything) has unanimously picked the Jaguars over the Falcons.  Wonder if it will be one of Berman’s not-so-fasts?

Great start to the first drive with a long completion to Crumpler with some YAC, but then they followed that up with two more sacks of Harrington.  Bleah.

Second Quarter Update: Jacksonville drives it down the field and takes the lead with a field goal, 3-0.  Harrington has been sporadically effective, but the drives keep ending because of sacks.  At least we haven’t turned it over yet this week.

Prater misses again.  Remind me why we didn’t keep Billy Cundiff?

The Falcons enter the red zone for the first time this year.  That’s both good news and bad.

The Falcons’ offense exists!  Dunn caps off an impressive drive with a short TD run, giving Atlanta it’s first touchdown and first lead of the year.  Atlanta 7, Jacksonville 3.

Third Quarter Update: Cut Prater.  Seriously.  He’s terrible.

Fourth Quarter Update: Jacksonville 10, Atlanta 7.  Man, if we lose this game because of those missed field goals….

And we did.  Final: Jacksonville 13, Atlanta 7

I’ll have a breakdown of the game tomorrow, which will probably just be a screed about what a terrible choice of kicker Matt Prater was.

Week 2 Preview: Atlanta Falcons v. Jacksonville Jaguars

Falcons HelmetJacksonville JaguarsIn Week 2, the Falcons face the 0-1 Jacksonville Jaguars.  The game will be blacked out in Jacksonville, Savannah, etc. due to the Jags’ inability to sell out the game.  It is the first blackout for the Jags since they covered up seats to lower the blackout threshold in 2004.  I guess there aren’t too many people excited about watching their Jags pound the hapless Falcons.

Some pretty dire predictions are being thrown around about the Falcons’ season, and for good reason if the performance so far is any indication.  The predictions are much loftier for the Jaguars, but they’re 0-1 too.  What does that mean for tomorrow?  Who knows.  I would expect the Falcons to get thrashed again unless Petrino did some serious work on Harrington this week in practice. 

If there’s any consolation, it’s that the Jaguars defense gave up 350 yards to the Titans last week, which puts them 22nd in the league in yards/game.  If Harrington will stop providing all of the offense for the opponent, he might be able to move the ball against the Jags and produce our offense instead.

Brohm To Lead Falcons Next Year?

brohm.jpgIt doesn’t say much for the Falcons Week 1 performance that rumors are getting around about what we might do with the No. 1 pick, but it is what is is I guess; check this one out about the Falcons potentially getting Brian Brohm from Louisville:

We won’t know for sure until the 2008 NFL Draft gets closer, but does anyone doubt that Louisville QB Brian Brohm is the leader in the clubhouse to be the No. 1 pick by the Atlanta Falcons? They’ll battle the Browns for the top pick overall but Cleveland has its QB of the future in Brady Quinn. Atlanta’s Bobby Petrino coached Brohm until jumping to the Falcons. It makes just too much sense as the start of post-Michael Vick healing.

Source: Star-Ledger via Yahoo! (quote from Yahoo!)

I gotta say, this does sound fascinating.  I was kinda hoping for a season slightly better than a #1-draft-pick-kind-of-season though.  Maybe he’ll fall even if we’re at say 3 or 4 anyway. 

Personally I’m still a fan of D.J. Shockley for the future.  His injury taking him out of the picture for this season is unfortunate, though it didn’t look like he was anywhere near there yet anyway.  But if we’re going to be terrible all year anyway, I’d rather have the QB of the future getting experience, instead of a mercenary playing in a very mediocre fashion only to be discarded at the end of the season (which is what it feels like is going to happen).  At any rate, I’d like to see D.J. fighting for the job come next year’s training camp.

NFC South Update

NFC South standings after Week 1:

Carolina                       1 – 0
Atlanta                         0 – 1
Tampa Bay                   0 – 1
New Orleans                 0 – 1

The good news is that most of the division struggled.

Carolina – The Panthers managed the only victory in the division, with a strong one over the Rams. They managed to bottle up Steven Jackson, much to my chagrin since he starts on my fantasy team (it’s ok, I still won). Next up for the Panthers is the Texans, who themselves had a surprisingly easy victory over the Chiefs.

Atlanta – The Falcons of course got stomped by the Vikings.  Next up for the birds is the Jacksonville Jaguars; a preview of that matchup comes later in the week.

Tampa Bay – The Bucs got blasted by the Seahawks.  They and the Saints are matched up in the first intra-NFC South game of the year next week.

New Orleans – The Saints looked rather average against the above-average-looking Colts.  As just mentioned, they’ve got the Bucs next.

Minnesota 24, Atlanta 3

week1.jpg“Falcons still working out ‘kinks’ on offense” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Falcons in a rush to improve pass protection” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Well, those headlines pretty much tell the story.  The Falcons offense was abysmal yesterday. 

Although not really.  I mean they actually had several very long drives, which either ended in field goals (only 1 did, obviously) or missed field goals.  The problem on these drives was in large part bad field position, which plagued the Falcons all day.  The drives fell apart at the end, however, for the same reasons that the other drives never started. 

More breakdown of the game and the box score after the jump.  Continue Reading

Week 1: Atlanta Falcons v. Minnesota Vikings

vikingsm.gifFalcons HelmetOne quarter in the books, and things look ok, except that one mistake by Harrington has the Vikings up 7-0 on a pick-six.  Adrian Peterson looks strong for the Vikings, but so does the Falcons defense. 

Halftime: The interception score is still the difference; Minnesota 7, Atlanta 0.  Atlanta played it safe with bad field position on the final possession of the half and just ran the clock out.  Earlier, the Falcons wasted a great drive from their own 3-yard line into field goal range when Prater, who for some reason was kicking instead of Cundiff, pushed one to the right.

Third Quarter Update: Longwell hits it long and well to put the Vikings up 10-0 late in the third.  Nothing good to say about the quarter for the Falcons.  We’re not going to beat very many people playing this way.

Fourth Quarter Update:  Prater proves that he can in fact kick, hitting a 45-yarder to make it 10-3 Vikings.  Not as encouraging as it might be, though, because what looked like a touchdown drive fizzled into the field goal attempt.  Nonetheless, one gets the sense that, with a little over 9 minutes left, all we need is one big play to turn this thing around.

Cheese and crackers.

On a ridiculous pass that initially looked like it might get picked, Adrian Peterson takes it after a bobble all the way to the house.  Devastating.  Just when it looked like the Falcons were getting back into it.  Minnesota 17, Atlanta 3.

This is a very disappointing way to start the season.  Barring a miraculous comeback, we’ll return tomorrow to break down exactly what went wrong.

Sidebar Re: T.O., Vick, Dogfighting, the South and Such

terrell-owens-c.jpgIn an interview with ESPN, Terrell Owens defended Michael Vick and compared dogfighting to deer hunting.  He claimed that it’s “just a part of our culture”, referring to Southern culture.  Really, it’s just a Southern thang?

That’s funny to me; I have spent 99.9% of my existence on this earth in the Deep South.  I was born and raised in Athens, Georgia (and still live there), and I have lived in Atlanta and near Richmond, Virginia.  In all of this time in the South, I have never once watched a dogfight, heard about a dogfight, or had friends or family involved in dogfighting.

But that’s just because I live in the city, right?  It’s a rural Southern thing, that’s why I haven’t seen it.  Not so fast.  Most of my family lives in rural north Georgia.  They all hunt, which is supposedly like dogfighting.  Yet none of them are involved in dogfighting. 

There is, apparently, a substantial subculture of dogfighting in this country, but I have no evidence that it is any way confined to or dominated by the South.  Pardon me, but I think this is just another example and way of everybody else calling us stupid and ignorant.  Well, no thank you.  I’m not gonna own that.

Dogfighting is terrible and wrong and downright animal torture, and being Southern is no excuse.  Michael Vick, I hope you do redeem yourself.  Everybody else, stop making excuses for him and insulting the rest of us down here (I’m looking at you, Whoopi Goldberg). 

Ok, I’m done.  Back to pure football this afternoon.

Week 1 Preview: Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings

Falcons Helmetvikingsm.gifMy counterpart over at the CQ Vikings blog has put together a season preview for his team.  In it, he predicts only five victories for the Vikings.  Week 1 against our Falcons is not one of those five.

I’m not sure if I’m as pessimistic overall about the Vikings as him (although, by the same token, I’m not sure about the Bears being one of those five victories, either), but I feel pretty good about his prediction insofar as it pertains to Week 1.  I haven’t had the opportunity to see the Vikings in preseason, but my perception is that they’re not very good.  If Harrington looks as good as he has in preseason, and the defense is anywhere near as solid as it should be given the athletes we’ve got back there, the Falcons should walk away from Week 1 with a victory and at least a share of the division lead. 

Stay tuned for coverage of the game tomorrow and postgame dissection afterwards.