The Falcons’ defense is terrible; their offense is not

Julio Jones catches a touchdown pass. (Tom Lynn/AP photo)

Julio Jones catches a touchdown pass. (Tom Lynn/AP photo)

Julio Jones catches a touchdown pass. (Tom Lynn/AP)

Green Bay, Wis. — These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Packers game column, which can be found on myajc. The Packers won 43-37 on Monday night.

1. The Falcons’ defense isn’t the league’s lowest-ranked for nothing. The Packers scored on all five first-half possessions to take a 31-7 lead. They outgained the Falcons 296 yards to 161 in that half and held the ball for 21:06 of the 30 minutes. In the first half, Green Bay made as many first downs (22) as the Falcons ran plays. And even when the Atlanta offense started scoring like crazy in the second half, the defense yielded two huge plays — Aaron Rodgers’ 60-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson to make it 40-24 and James Starks’ 41-yard burst to the 7 that clinched the game. How does this keep happening?

2. Given the quality of opposition, the Falcons’ offense had its best game of the season. Matt Ryan, who’d thrown a horrid early interception, completed 24 of 39 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. Eleven of those passes were caught by Julio Jones, who set a franchise record with 259 yards receiving and was stopped only when he left with an injured hip on the Falcons’ next-to-last possession. This wasn’t one of those games where you could fault general manager Thomas Dimitroff for trading five picks to move up and draft Jones; this was one of those games when such a move more than rewarded the risk.

3. The Falcons probably are the best team in the NFC South. This falls under the heading of faint praise, but contrast this narrow loss to maybe the NFL’s best team with the Saints’ 41-10  drubbing — their fourth consecutive home loss — by Carolina on Sunday. The Falcons are 5-8, which means they cannot have a winning regular season, but with better clock management and a slightly better first half here, they could well have won their past six games. They’re not the same team that was getting pummeled by Cincinnati and Chicago earlier in the seasons. They’ve improved since then.

Reader Comments 0

90 comments
WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Brad it is amazing how you pick and choose your criticism.

Let's see, every team is fair game, except for the Univ of Ga.

Funny .....

Is saying something negative about Ga and Brother a death sentence?

The problem is, you never know now when you are being honest. 

You play the AJC game. 

As far as the Falcons, you are a master of the obvious. 

If you were smart, you would pick out specific areas of needs, and discuss.

Hell, we know the offense is capable and the defense sucks.

Talk about long term needs. Gruden tells you everything you need to know. 

SeanLB
SeanLB

Did anyone notice that the defense improved when William Moore left the game?  Look, he's decent, but he isn't worth his contract.  I've seen enough of Ishmael and Southward to know that if this team is going to improve, the young guys need to be on the field.  William Moore has the catchy nickname (Willy Mo), which endears him to gullible Atlanta fans, but in truth, he's nothing more than an average-at-best NFL safety.  Nobody cares about the "D Block", and if the Falcons were smart, they'd tell Willy that they're allocating his salary elsewhere in the off-season.  


I would never wish anyone to get hurt, but in truth, his absence would probably benefit the Falcons long-term.  

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@SeanLB Right , pick out one player and decide we would be a good team with out him.

You don't have a clue. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Brat Lee, these dudes are snarkin all over you, buddy! You well deserve it.


I love you, but you are a freagin terrible sportswriter, and a real newspaper wouldn't hire you to do a forgy dorgyin thing but sweep up.


And seriously like somebody said below, it's all the little small town attitude fruitcakes in the Atlanta media excusing every failure, glorifying the meaningless successes that make the absolutely deplorable state of Atlanta pro sports palatable to the general population. 


I despise the numbskulls that write and talk about Atlanta sports. I really do. Nobody anywhere in the ATL, not the fans not the players not the coaches not the media not the sponsors NOBODY demands excellence, so we get the same ol' mediocrity (or worse) that defines Atlanta sports.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@Wilbo The media doesn't excuse, they kiss up to everybody and bash the out of state teams. 

In Alabama, they demand excellence and will not tolerate losing. 

Trash Alabama if you will, but they don't have suck up, kiss up, media people. 

You are pretty well right, but it has always been like that. 

gmaye
gmaye

Did Mark Bradley say this is a better team now?  He is the worst sports writer in the country for telling the truth about lousy teams in Atlanta.  Hey Mark did you point out the two terrible off side kicks that were not needed?

This team is 5-8 and Bradley gives compliments, and you wonder why, UGA, GT, Falcons are losers because we have sports writer  like Bradley who has a love affair with losers. 



WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@gmaye The only people dumber than the writers are the fans. Just shut up. 

AABraves
AABraves

It was painful to watch that group of players lined up on the opposite side of Green Bay's offense (not calling it a Defense). Granted it is short handed rag tag group at best but not sure that excuses coaching for how ill prepared they are.

PJ25
PJ25

It just warms my heart that the Falcons are the best team in the NFC South. 

GaLife
GaLife

The headline for this article speaks volume. The defense has gotten worst year after year. The secondary could not cover a bed with a blanket if they were standing next to it. Bring out the players from the practice squad. Give them a shot. If this is not a contract evaluation for the defense and coaches after these last two season. Hey sign me up. 

monty1
monty1

Every year we talk about needing a pass rush, looks like nothing will be new this off season. How can you give Aaron Rogers 7 seconds to throw the ball. Just how long can DB's chase receivers around?

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Who wants to get in on a class action lawsuit against the false advertisement of the Atlanta Falcons and the "Play 60" campaign.  Since when did the Falcons ever play 60 minutes in a game?

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

The Packers looked excellent in the 1st half but I personally felt they kinda toyed around with the Falcons until it almost cost them the game and if Julio hadnt got hurt they might have actually lost a game they had no business of allowing to be close. I hope they dont fall into the arrogant trap they suffered in 2011. As for my Falcons they need to lose every game and try to get the best draft spot available because they will be one and done if they somehow win that division and unfortunately Dimitroff and Smith will keep their jobs if that scenario happens.

JoeBobJoe
JoeBobJoe

Easy game to call.   Packers, got complacent/relaxed.   Matt (ice cube) throws interception that leads to TD.  Packers rule.   Gee, I hope the Falcons have to come back to Green Bay. It's amazing how the Atl. sports writers try to sugar coat the losses.

DawgNole
DawgNole

MB: "This wasn’t one of those games where you could fault general manager Thomas Dimitroff for trading five picks to move up and draft Jones; this was one of those games when such a move more than rewarded the risk."

_______________________

We did lost the game, didn't we--despite JJ's significant contributions.

That's always been the problem with EVERYTHING surrounding ATL pro teams: satisfaction--even pride--in performance(s) that results in less than victory. 

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser. 

JAS0N
JAS0N

"This wasn’t one of those games where you could fault general manager Thomas Dimitroff for trading five picks to move up and draft Jones; this was one of those games when such a move more than rewarded the risk."


You're right.  Investing $50,000,000 into a receiver, then trading five high draft picks 21 months later for a second receiver is an absolutely brilliant move...from both a business and a common sense perspective.


The idiocy of drafting Jones isn't because of the risk or who he is...duh.  The idiocy is in how you are developing your team, or in this case, not developing your team as a whole.  By the way, brilliant headline for this article, how long did it take you to think that one up?

K_Horizons
K_Horizons

Two positions are making the larger defense look bad.  DE and ILB.  At the DE position, we have not mastered the art of pass rushing on 3rd down.  Look more like a talent issue.  AT ILB, we have an instinct and football IQ issue.  I actually think the deficiencies at ILB are more glaring.  Many of the 3rd downs come from pass plays and missed tackles in the middle of the field.  Gives QB easy safety net when in a pinch. 

warfalcon
warfalcon

Every game M. Ryan throws a mindless interception that changes the game for the other team and no one talks about that.


Is Matt Ryan off limits to criticize ? 

khd713
khd713

@warfalcon Yes, it might have been a different game if he doesn't throw that stupid pass. Seems like every time we play Green Bay he has one of those. He played a heck of a second half, but by then the game was already lost, and a lot of it had to do with that dumb pick.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

I like the way Eric Weems has been playing..........at least he hustle's.

he_of_stinky_wind
he_of_stinky_wind

The offensive line is actually starting to play like a professional team.  I think the Falcons have found their center of the future.  


Other than Trufant and Moore, cut the entire defense.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@midtowncowboy The defense appears to improve when Moore is OFF the field.  Ishmael actually makes plays and catches the ball when it's thrown to him.  He's a little rough around the edges and needs to develop, but we've seen "Willy Mo's" peak, and it's average at best.  

BirdBeak
BirdBeak

30 + year fan. It thought based on history they would get blown out. They didn't. I though they wouldn't  make the forth and goal, they did. I thought Ryan would be sacked every other snap, he didn't. Losses are never anything to celebrate, but offensively they did look respectable. They were not an embarrassment. The O line did look like there has been improvement. Does it even matter if they win the division? Will they return to themselves and lose their last game in New Orleans? Is Smith still a dead man walking? Time will tell.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@BirdBeak

I give them very little chance in New Orleans--especially after having beaten the Saints in ATL.

Meanwhile, nice not having to endure the insufferable NO fans on the blogs.

miked706
miked706

all you dummies talking about the lost draft picks shut up.  Are you forgetting that TD is still the GM and would have messed those picks up any way.  This is the man that drafted Peria Jerry and Jamal Anderson  signed Ray Edwards and Donta Roberson resigned William (always hurt) Moore and Sam (Always hurt) Baker  Cut one old back Michael Turner and signed another old back Steven Jackson.  He cut the best defensive player we had in Abe and signed Osi who hasn't lived up to his signing and Soli and Jackson are straight trash and stealing money  He is a dumb GM.  The defense is plain garbage.  The couldn't stop a little league football team. But yet is still I think they will win the last 3 games because the offense will carry them.

saviorfaire
saviorfaire

The Falcon's coaching is horrible. Down by 17 points with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Falcons go into their grind it out offense and use up almost 6 minutes to score a touchdown. Green Bay comes right back and scores in 1:55 to negate the TD that just took almost 6 minutes. If the roles were reversed, The Falcons would have tried to run out the clock with a 17 point lead. That's the difference between a winning coaching philosophy and someone that just can't keep up. The team by design is built and run to eek out a win by a field goal with the clock running out on an opponent to save the Falcons. It's just not in them to beat up an opponent by out scoring another team.    

tyger
tyger

@saviorfaire Exactly, game was never close. Falcons tried to run clock out, keep Rodgers off field...

khd713
khd713

@saviorfaire There are so many teams that do that, but that's the difference between champions and also-rans. The champions never take their foot off the throttle, or off the other team's throat.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Once Thom made the call to give up picks for Julio then he had to go to the free agents and get a player at the position he needed to fix asap. The new draft guys are cheap compared to the contracts prior to 2010. You just swap the money from the rookie to the free agent but you must fix the dayum problem when spending.

Fansince66
Fansince66

Something no one is mentioning, that I see, is the poor clock management and decision making at the end of the game. Why, after seemingly having GB on the run, do we onside kick? At best, it's a low percentage play which gives the opponent the ball near midfield. We had been stopping them fairly well in the 2nd half, so why not kick it into the endzone and try to stop them for a punt? We had all 3 timeouts left, plus the 2 minute warning. If we stop them, get the ball back and are able to score, it's a one possession game. Then we stop them again and we still have time to score again and really put the pressure on them. I just don't get it...Granted our D usually acts like a screen door in a submarine, but dang it, they were actually stopping AR and his offense. Just my 2 cents.

One thing is for sure, Pittsburg will be on alert that we aren't the team we were a month ago.

IngleMark
IngleMark

@Fansince66  As bad as our D is, I agree with you.  It is a very low percentage play.  We should have played for the stop and field position.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Fansince66

Guess Smith wanted to emulate Richt's brain-dead kickoff decision in the GT game.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Julio is some football player.

B_D
B_D

My gripe is not about the Julio draft picks.   Some times it looks good and other times it doesn't.   What I have a problem with beside our defense being deservedly rated so low is for the same defensive lapse over the last 4 games or so.  A wide receiver starts their route, the corner thinks he hands the person off to the safety who is, in fact following another receiver across the middle.  That leaves the original receiver all by himself and that receiver then either has a long run or long run and score.  I could see that happening once, or maybe even twice.  This has happened at least 4 times, probably more, and it has not been corrected.  The Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Coaches should be all over this and they are not.  You know who is all over this, the other teams.