Don’t fret over the Falcons’ O; worry about the D

"Young man, have you given any thought to playing safety?" (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

“Young man, have you given any thought to playing safety?” (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

"Young man, have you given any thought to playing safety?" (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

“Young man, have you given any thought to playing safety?” (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

I wouldn’t give up on the Atlanta Falcons’ offense. The line is in disarray, but it’s not as if the line has ever been in array. Joe Hawley, lost for the duration, was starting at center only because Peter Konz wasn’t ready. Lamar Holmes, also gone for the season, was starting at right tackle only because Sam Baker was hurt in preseason and Jake Matthews had to switch sides.

My point being: No matter how that starter happened to get his assignment, you never want to lose one — but it’s not as if the Next Men Up are replacing All-Pros. The difference between Holmes and Gabe Carimi or Hawley and Konz isn’t a great expanse. Will the Falcons’ O-line be as good now? Nope. Will it be so much worse that the offense can’t function? Nope.

(Let’s also not ignore the persuasive powers of Mike Tice, the new line coach. I expect some Coaching Up will get done.)

The offense is so good that it can plan around most things. More worrisome is the defense, a source of much hand-wringing all along. The defense was bad to begin with, and now it’s without William Moore, one of the better men on an awful unit. We often overrate NFL injuries as to impact — Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders told me in preseason that Sean Weatherspoon’s absence might cost the Falcons a quarter of a win, which isn’t a lot — and I don’t know that Moore, who’s a good player, was what you’d call a difference-maker.

Alas, nobody on this defensive roster is a difference-maker. Mike Nolan hasn’t exactly drenched himself in coordinating glory, but it would take a heap of scheming to make this bunch respectable. In my view, the only man working in Flowery Branch capable of such defensive scheming is the head coach. Which is why I believe Mike Smith needs to take this D and see if he can save it and maybe his job.

From myajc.com: Mike Smith needs to coach the Falcons’ D — or else.

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
CrimsonTideNationalChamp
CrimsonTideNationalChamp

TD should have been FIRED also. This Guy has put together "The Worst FB Roster In The NFL". If I had the money, I would purchase a close  Billboard near the Falcons Facility @Flower Branch warning prospective coaches candidates, that as long as TD is GM, You will not win here. PLease do not take this JOB with That guy as GM. He has not idea what NFL Caliber Talent Is! The same thing that happen to Mike Smith, will happen to you. TD never gave him the players to compete against teams in the NFL. Jacksonville has better players on there roster. There is no guality players in the trenches on both side of the ball. Tell Arthur unless TD is FIRED, you will not take this JOB! Somebody please put this Billboard in Flowery Branch so the coaches coming in to be interviewed, will know that this is a NO WIN Situation HERE with TD still in-charge of the draft and free agents.

candlin14
candlin14

Falcons are garbage just like UGA, and the Braves. I swear out if these three teams we have to have the worst coaching staffs in America. Mike Smith, Fredi Gonzalez, and Mark Richt. What a bunch of flat out choke artists. A pathetic group of coaches. As for the Braves and Falcons office management is in the same category. We suck and will always suck until changes are made.

Wilbo
Wilbo

"The offense is so good that it can plan around most things."


Pal, you are crazy. You really are.


Hot_Harley_guy
Hot_Harley_guy

U no why the Flacons defence suxs so much? Tommy Dummytroff that wy.. He gave a way 2 many darft pix 4  injruy prone Juliet Jones and then spent the rest of the teim pixin more injruy prone palyers. 


Nuff siad!

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

@Flacons_go_2-14 You are not funny.  You are not entertaining. 


You are like that annoying kid who thinks he is funny but is not and is  just annoying.


Go away. 

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

In my opinion, it will be a few years, about 2017, before the Falcons are a legitimate playoff team.

Their defense is a mess.....need two pass rushers and a playmaking linebacker. And a physical cover safety would be helpful as well.


On offense, they need to continue to rebuild the offensive line, as well as getting a big physical young workhorse running back. Oh and other than Julio Jones, the wide receiver corps are getting old. Hester #17, Douglass #83, and White #84 are 30 + years of age.


This team needs to be in complete rebuild mode. Last year (2013) was not an aberration. I like Mike Smith but he may be reaching his expiration time as HC of the Atlanta Falcons. And probably the same for the GM, Thomas Dimitroff.

wjh52
wjh52

Prediction - O line preforms on Sunday - Giants score at will and game is a blow out - Tice replaces Smith as interim manager on Monday

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

I didn't know the Falcons had a defense!?!

Falcon Lover
Falcon Lover

@bigdoggie1 Yes i agree you, cause of the way the Falcons D has been playing the last 2 games!  They need to go to a 5-2, using Osi, Peters, Big Paul, Babs and Massa, and stay with it! Peters and Babs will win their battles on the D line and help open up more lanes for sacks and pressure on the QBs! Also this helps to get the D off the field and give the ball back to the Offense so they can put more points on the board!

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

OK, I get the new guys on the Oline aren't worth shooting, but the starters they are replacing weren't worth shooting either, and no one on defense is worth shooting and the coordinator isn't much. And then all eyes turn to Smith for salvation?


The guy that does need shooting never steps on the field. Shoot him, he assembled this receiver first at all costs team.The QB and 2 starting WOs are above average. The others are either average at best or below.


Shoot TD now, hire a new GM, let him see them practice and play with his own eyes and then, and only then can this franchise begin to move back.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@WhopperDawg The pass first,'theyve got to stop us' thing is just plain stupid. If it takes another disaster season to purge this team of this kind of flawed thinking,then maybe thats what needs to happen...

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

@zuzu331.....I could not agree more with you. This team needs to accept the fact that last year was not an aberration. This team needs to be in rebuild mode.

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@ syrupmaker

4 hours ago

Fire Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith.  Hire someone out of Cincy, Seattle, or San Francisco's front office as general manager to run the show.


Yeah, that will fix everything.  Until  Seattle and San Fran have to pay their QB's.  Then things will change.  Cincy?  They have been at the bottom so long, they have about 4-5 top players taken in the draft. 


Is dummy your twitter name?

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@kraci


1. The biggest issue we have is our linebacker play.  We have two UFA's anchoring the defense,


This is not true.  In a 3/4 scheme, the NT is supposed to occupy 2 men, while each DT occupies the OT.  This leaves 1 OL to block LB,  Which frees 3 LB's to run and make plays.  Our DL is so bad, they can all be handled easily by 1 OL player which frees up 2 OL which means not enough guys are left to plug holes.  



kraci
kraci

@midtowncowboy Actually I agree with the thought.  Problem is we don't run 3/4 much at all since Sean W went down.  Maybe 45% of the time, and then mostly on third downs.  The 2 UFA's look like pillows when they try and fill the hole.  I counted 14 plays that tackles were made where they either rode them like a horse to get them down, or hit them in the secondary chasing them.  We need a Ray Lewis hammer and then 3 more.

dirtybirdrises
dirtybirdrises

Bradley, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? we've been worried about the defense for 6 years.. check the stats, the defense has always ranked in the bottom 3 or 4 in the league on 3rd downs, pass yrds, and total defense.. including dead last twice!!!! Its not a new issue

kraci
kraci

Mark, see if you can get someone to validate this statistically, but my observations in watching each defensive snap this season is as follows:


1. The biggest issue we have is our linebacker play.  We have two UFA's anchoring the defense, and although they lead in tackles almost every game- its almost always tackles down field 3-7 yards and being half dragged by the back.  (Is there a key metric for backers that weights the value of total tackles by how far from the line of scrimmage average- a kind of Quality Tackle stat?  I know we count missed tackles, but "where" tackled against the expectation of either filling a hole or not getting there is telling and these Linebackers do not fill holes.

2. The DLinemen must not be good swimmers because on almost every snap, even in known passing situations, they pretty much never stunt and run straight into the blockers and get stood up.  Even marginal OL's can block someone who is coming straight at them and stands up (or falls down).  I get we are not blitzing, but do we stunt?  Can we stunt?  

3. The same issue Georgia and Falcons share:  lack of great front play creates these schemes that try to 'keep the play in front of you' and give up these mega rich 8-10 (and if poor at open space tackling) yard gains that have only the hope that the offense shoots itself in the foot on 1st or 2nd in order to risk a 3rd down blitz and hope they miss that too.  Your secondary is secondary for a reason and we have ample talent to defend on the back, given we actually can do it up front.


This is a year in and year out problem, so until we commit to building the '87 Bears, we will always have a semblance of the '14 Falcons.


Bogey
Bogey

I'd prefer the '85 Bears...

syrupmaker
syrupmaker

Fire Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith.  Hire someone out of Cincy, Seattle, or San Francisco's front office as general manager to run the show.  Those teams are the most talented in the league. Hire David Shaw away from Stanford. Cut Osi, Biermann, Baker, and Blalock. Draft some real linebackers from the south, preferably the SEC.  I don't want to see another defensive player drafted from "Big Sky Country".  They can't play. Spend some money on a tackle opposite Matthews and find a real center.  Should have gone after Alex Mack last year. 

BSNBC
BSNBC

Going to be a long......season!

BobsUrUncle
BobsUrUncle

Mike Smith has had his run here in Atlanta,so Mr. Blank needs to start searching for a new coach,we are spending way too much money on the offensive side of the ball when the defense needs the most improvement(linebackers & pass rusher/D-Line),Coach Smith and the Falcons don't play to win they play not to lose & we all know you can't win in the NFL with that type of coaching.The Vikings beat us w/o Peterson & a rookie QB,so what does that say about the new tough/physical Falcons lol lol.....the best thing Mr Blank can do is Hire Jon Gruden!!!!! 

Trainer2013
Trainer2013

A. Blank is a business man. He doesn't want to open a new, expensive, not needed stadium with a losing team. This is Atlanta. Other than a few thousand die hards, the stadium would be mostly empty.


Maybe in the modern NFL, you don't really need actual people in the stands to make a team work financially. But in person or on TV, a losing team is a bad image, and that image will eventually impact A. Blank's bottom line. Blank is a successful man. He wants a successful team.


Coach Smitty? Nice guy. Good coach. He has proven he is NOT a great coach. He DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO MAKE GAME DAY ADJUSTMENTS. Making the right adjustments during a game is what separates good coaches from great ones.


He gone.


Dimitrioff? He's been here long enough doing what he does to show his abilities. He hasn't put together a good team on both sides of the ball during his tenure.


He gone.


I suspect A. Blank will make some BIG changes by the middle of this season. He'll do it so he can get the jump on next season and start rebuilding this franchise for its transition to the new stadium.


Last point: Coach Smitty only looks like a great coach when you put his record up against the horrible record of this franchise. The Falcons are arguably one of the 2 or 3 worse franchises in NFL history. Compare his record to that of coaches in other franchises and Smitty is just a average or below average coach.


Mark, get your pen ready. Big changes ahead.



zuzu331
zuzu331

@Trainer2013 He cannot make simple common sense adjustments,its true. If he keeps Jackson in with those damn lumbering 3 yard runs,all game,every game,Im gonna have to just stop watching,its like torture.

warfalcon
warfalcon

Next up the new york little men.


Atlanta Falcon DEFENSE GET SOME BALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

The only way to turn this thing around is to win this Sunday, on the road, when everything is stacked against them.

Ruffski
Ruffski

I can't wait to see which team shows up... Another flop and heads better role

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@Trainer2013


What an idiotic statement.  If they lose this game and then win 10 in a row.  


FIRE EVERYBODY.


You idiot.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I think even to date, they get to enamored with the greatness on the offensive side of the ball. Hence the defense has suffered. Dimitroff with hubris-- has selected players on defense that aren't that good. Mike Nolan has to take responsibility, for not getting this defense to play as a unit. I believe if you play collectively, be where you're supposed to be---gap sound. The defense can improve....

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@DarlaLewis


"Mike Nolan has to take responsibility, for not getting this defense to play as a unit. I believe if you play collectively, be where you're supposed to be---gap sound"


Good god I would hate to have you as someone evaluating my performance.  Have you seen how sad the pass rush is?  

Wink77
Wink77

@midtowncowboy @DarlaLewis 

What pass rush, it is dropping in coverage, that would be Biermann & Osi in the secondary...funny pass rush ... gap sound!!!

VanguardETFs
VanguardETFs

Seems like any coach is going to coach well if he has good players.  Why should Smith get fired.  He's not the one who drafted the players.  I presume.

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@VanguardETFs


Seems like any coach is going to coach well if he has good players.


Funny stuff.  It is so obvious.  But the experts on this blog can't see it.  

slydawg
slydawg

No need to fret over the defense. The Falcons are what we thought they were. In the past, I criticized this regime for responding to a blowout by trading three picks for a receiver. I believe this to be all on Dimitroff, not Smitty. Now for the next three drafts, the team has draft primarily defensive front 7 personnel. I love me some Roddy, but he should have been traded for draft picks back in 2013 while his value was still high. Heck, trade him or Douglas to New England now. Now, this team is in the he'll hole of having to completely rebuild the offensive line and the entire defense except CB with a $100 million dollar QB. It is what it is, so let's ride the wave, relax, and entertain yourself for years to come.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

They'll be change if we don't have a winning season. But in the mean time , GO FALCONS!!!

JChikara
JChikara

You should have heard Steve Phillips on Sirius XM this morning, he kept peddling Jon Gruden as head coach in Atlanta to fix their defensive woes. Do you think that would work? 

syrupmaker
syrupmaker

@JChikara How can an offensive coach in Gruden fix the the Falcon's defense.  Steve Phillips needs to stick with baseball. 

TheTruthHurttz
TheTruthHurttz

@JChikara


There is a reason Jon Gruden hasn't coach in a long time.  But idiots don't understand that.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@midtowncowboy @JChikara It is because people have a Superhero Media Hype mentality. Ray Lewis,Jon Gruden,big hyped up names,perception is all,reality be damned.