Live from the Dome: First-place Falcons versus Johnny Football

This was the play where Johnny Football bounced, ran and threw. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)

This was the play where Johnny Football bounced, ran and threw. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)

The play where Johnny Manziel bounced, ran and threw. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)

OK, so Johnny Manziel mightn’t play today, and if he does, the Cleveland Browns will be in a spot of trouble. The famous Johnny Football has thrown exactly one NFL pass. (It was incomplete.) The much-less-famous Brian Hoyer has led the Browns to a winning record, although last week’s emphatic home loss to Houston suggests they’re not as good as 6-4 would suggest.

Still, it’s worth noting that the last/only time Johnny Football set foot in the Georgia Dome, he lit the place up. It was New Year’s Eve 2013, and he Johnny-Football’ed Texas A&M past Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Blue Devils led by 21 points at the half and by 10 with six minutes remaining, and still they lost. Manziel passed for 382 yards and ran for 73 more. Even if you’d grown weary of the ESPN hype, you couldn’t come away from that game and think anything but, “This guy is one great college player.”

But this is the NFL, and the NFL is different. The Browns made him the 22nd pick in Round 1 of the NFL draft — there was thought for a time that he could go No. 1 overall — and had a chance to anoint him their starter in preseason. They declined. They chose Hoyer, much to the chagrin of the Worldwide Leader, which saw its New Tebow reduced to bench-sitting. (Come to think of it, wasn’t the Old Tebow similarly shelved by the Jets?)

But enough about a second-stringer. How ’bout those division-leading Falcons? They’ve won two in a row and, at 4-6, are within sight of .500. Many column inches/megabytes have been filled this week bemoaning the wretchedness of the NFC South — and it’s bad, no question — but still: Wouldn’t you rather be leading a terrible division than sitting in last place?

Should the Falcons win today, it would mark their first victory over a team not based in the NFC South. (That tells us much, does it not?) Given the way the rest of the division is playing, it might also clinch a playoff berth. (Kidding about that, but only slightly.) The Falcons haven’t played in the Dome in 42 days, which has to be some sort of NFL scheduling record, and when last seen here they stunk out the joint against Chicago.

But it’s a different day — a different month, actually — and maybe they’ve figured things out. I’ll be here until somebody wins, and I’d appreciate the company. And, as ever, I thank you in advance.

Reader Comments 0

1170 comments
Bluto
Bluto

If the Saints lose tomorrow night we're still in 1st place. Smitty says they're going to get back to work and fix the things that need fixing. Uh huh. That's right, he's going to coach em up so that that they can run the table from here on out. Funny that's the exact same thing he said after the first loss of the season and each subsequent loss. Do ya think this could be football rhetoric? Ya think? The next words out of Mike Smith's mouth should be, "What would it take to get you in a new Buick today?" 

Bluto
Bluto

Why did they quit running that "RISE UP" commercial? That's what we need. "What do Falcons do? What do Falcons do?" OMG what's that smell? I think they're showing you what Falcon do. Anyone have any room deodorizer?

Mike
Mike

David O'Brien would you please start covering the Falcons. At least we know you will put the time in.

AugustaAuthor
AugustaAuthor

Something was terribly wrong with Matt Ryan today. He's been off before, but he was way off this afternoon. 


A friend speculated that he's just tired of being sandwiched between two Mac trucks every time he drops back. That could be part of it, of course.


He just looked scared. I've seen that look before-and who can blame him?


Another friend said he's lost interest--doesn't want to get clobbered anymore. I've seen Matt slammed hard so many times, always jump back up ready to go. He didn't have that edginess today. Nor the desire. And, sadly, it showed...

JEK2670
JEK2670

The AJC is just as bad as the falcons. The falcons probably send all of the bias article to the falcons PR department to edit before they print them.  The AJC is only good for wrapping fish.

RONMC
RONMC

FIRE MIKE SMITH AND RELEASE MATT RYAN. THAT WOULD BE A GREAT START.

whodat70816
whodat70816

#SaveSmitty


And they want to charge people to read articles on this crappy site?



Bigfattone
Bigfattone

Falcons suck!!!The defense couldn't stop a toddler.....yech!...I...Guess we'll have a new coach next year...fingers crossed

TruthSpeaketh
TruthSpeaketh

Agree with all..This website format sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

The falcons got boat-raced by Isaiah Crowell out of Alabama S&M.......Good Grief!!

Mike
Mike

Matt Ryan today became the first NFL quarterback to sack himself. His street cred is gone.

Wardo
Wardo

Please fire the Head Coach, the defensive coordinator and the offensive coordinator.  Make Tice the interim H.C. Hire Dennis Allen as interim D.C.  Let Matt Ryan be the O.C. (like Peyton Manning) with help from an assistant(s) and run the hurry up with more runs from the spread formation.  No more stupid nine offensive linemen packages.


Fire this website

Trainer2013
Trainer2013

Fire Smith & Dimitrioff now, but let them work until the end of the year. 


AJC should fire those responsible for this web design wreck NOW. 

AldenS
AldenS

We need to contact Ford and let them know that they are wasting their money thinking that the Smitty commercials are going to sell cars for them.

AldenS
AldenS

Smitty is in over his head. He should avoid further humiliation and resign before Artie finally gets around to firing him.

Wardo
Wardo

Falcons Head Coach, D.C., O.C. or AJC website...Which is more pathetic?  Too close to call.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Dimitroff is the fraud here.  They started sucking when they began replacing veterans with his "Canadian Football League" talent draft picks.  NFL pundits keep saying the Falcons have no talent.  Well, who assembled the talent?

JSSN
JSSN

@ThebigWally

You don't watch any CFL games. That's an insult to the CFL!

Trainer2013
Trainer2013

@Mike Lol. You have to go out of town to get coverage of the home town team. Smfh.

Mike
Mike

@Trainer2013 


Exactly, seems like Orlando and Mark have bigger fish to fry.

BladeMDP
BladeMDP

I love Matt Ryan to death, but if I just see Peyton Manning overthrow Emmanuel Sanders on a deep ball, why can't Matty Ice do that?  Tired of see our WRs have a step on the DB on a deep route and he underthrows it. 


I'm fighting all this pessimism hard believe it or not. 

PantherDawg
PantherDawg

The new AJC web design is the worst. Please go back to the old one.

Tvshooter
Tvshooter

Please. My eyes hurt every time I see it, which is less and less each day.

EJJ65
EJJ65

I love the falcons but until changes are made games like this will continue to happen. We knew for sometime now our Dome mojo is gone. We have to beat a team into submission which our "soft " team created by TD and Smith has been handicapped from doing so. The timeout issue is a constant one with Smith he lacks the ingenuity and coaches to assist him in situations like theses. I knew they would lose this game somehow

Kathmandu
Kathmandu

This website is really pathetic. Really pathetic. this is 2014, almost 2015 and the functioning of this site is primitive. Please have some high school kids clean it up for you.

TheMonger
TheMonger

@Kathmandu  Thank you. Couldn't agree more.  It's like they enjoy thinking of all the people banging their keyboards in anger on this site, and get off on it.... Very sick people, these AJC sadists.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Rank in order of crappiness.   A) Mike Smith,  B) Thomas Dimitroff,  C) This AJC website, or D)  all are equally worthless.

TheMonger
TheMonger

@ThebigWally  I choose D, Great Question bigwally.  Although, Thomas Dimitroff gets a special star in my book for putting together the most talentless defense in NFL history.  I honestly think Vanderbilt could put up 30 points on these clowns.  I pray every day that Blank will finally axe Dimitroff so I don't have to watch anymore draft picks out of Western Montana State and North Dakota Central University from Thomas the Loser.  Seriously though, why does he refuse to draft good defensive players from the SEC?

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TheMonger @ThebigWally Exactly.  Even if Blank snaps out of his football coma and hires a decent GM, it will take at least 3 drafts to remake the defense.  Worrilow and Barto would be lucky to be on the roster for the other teams, yet in Atlanta, they are starters.

Big Wally
Big Wally

send emails to feedback@ajc.com.   Let them know how you feel about this POS website.

BlawgDawg
BlawgDawg

@ThebigWally  Don't waste your time.  I asked over a week ago why they haven't updated the Sports Vent in over two weeks, and I have yet to receive a response.  Any one know what's up with the Sports Vent?

nightpanther1969
nightpanther1969

Speaking as a fan for 35 years, it's finally time to clean house with the Atlanta Falcons, starting with both GM Thomas Dimitroff & head coach Mike Smith. Smith's poor time clock management, along with one of the sorriest defenses in NFL history, cost the Falcons a victory against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon. How many times have we seen this before with them?? Mike Smith has been "coaching scared", ever since the Falcons lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship a couple of years ago. He has gotten way too conservative & doesn't know how to "keep his foot on an opponent's throat", whenever the Falcons have a huge lead at times. Sadly, while he is one of the best coaches that the Falcons ever had, his inexperience in handling the game clock has seriously come into question. Losing in London a few weeks to the Detroit Lions was bad enough; this was even worse. Also, you can trust & believe that Falcons owner, Mr. Arthur Blank, is so pissed off with this team right now that he's chewing nails. There will be major changes coming to this team after this season, & they do need to happen. Mr. Blank is already catching hell about the Falcons stadium from a huge portion of the fans, & he will make the changes needed to turn the tide in his favor. People should have known that, despite the recent two game winning streak against two very weak teams in both Tampa Bay & Carolina, the Falcons are still the same team who lost to Detroit. Mind you, they could've also blown those two games against Tampa Bay & Carolina because of the sorry defense & the offense not showing up when they need to. Changes are coming so that the fans can hopefully feel much better about this team.

RupertFike
RupertFike

I thought that London mental meltdown w the Lions was the worst way to lose ever, but somehow they did it again!

hiramsaint
hiramsaint

F ans

A lways

L eft

C ounting

O n

N ext

S eason

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

Let the Falcons crow about the Julio Jones trade now.

50Concept
50Concept

julio's getting old----thomas will be looking to trade 5 picks for another wide receiver in the draft!!! he knows his stuff.

Pianoman63
Pianoman63

OK

Last offer.

Need 6 tickets to the Steelers game. between the 40's, lower level.

Willing to offer $10/ each.
Don't want to have to wait until game time and pick them up for $5, but i will.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

The "New" AJC.... it might take us until Tuesday to get a after game article up, but WE GOT PICTURES... LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES!  

Mike
Mike

I think their needs to be a Wonderlic test for aspiring NFL coaches. Just basic stuff like... "If the other team is going to call a timeout should you go ahead and do it for them?"

BladeMDP
BladeMDP

To hear Mike Smith's logic about "well the Browns were gonna call time-out anyway."  He does not even deserve to wear an NFL logo and/or Falcons logo on any of his attire going forward.  


SMH for about the fiftieth time. 

Mike
Mike

PSLs! PSLs!, don't talk about PSLs. I just hope we can sell a ticket.

BladeMDP
BladeMDP

I'm sure Blank will wait until the end of the season, however, what scares me is that no change will be made.  


On a side note, I heard probably the funniest line by one of the commentators during the first half of the game:


"Koetter is an aggressive Offensive Coordinator...."  WTH???? He's only aggressive at being OVERLY CONSERVATIVE.   SMH. 

Jmonty
Jmonty

I agree...  However; Blank won't react until after the season.  Just my guess..

JEK2670
JEK2670

How do AB expects fans to renew season tickets and buy into a new dome?  The coaching and lack of talent is pitiful.  I am going to try and sell my remaining tickets and buy tickets to the Hawks.  At least they have talented players and a excellent coach.