Short takes on Falcons’ win (and, yes, first place)

Roddy White scored the Falcons’ only touchdown and went over 10,000 yards in his career. (Scott Cunningham, Getty Images)

Roddy White scored the Falcons' only touchdown and went over 10,000 yards in his career. (Scott Cunningham, Getty Images)

Roddy White scored the Falcons’ only touchdown and went over 10,000 yards in his career. (Scott Cunningham, Getty Images)

For my full column on the Falcons’ 19-17 win over the Carolina Panthers, which moved them into first place in the NFC South, click here.

Or, for short-attention span theater, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game:

1. Welcome to the South: It doesn’t matter that the Falcons have only proven that they can defeat NFC South teams because, at least to this point, that’s all they have needed to do. They’re 4-0 vs. South and 0-6 vs. other teams. But a 4-6 overall record is good enough for first place in the division (factoring in a tiebreaker edge over the Saints). Does it make sense? No. But they’re here. Seattle won a division title with a 7-9 record. At some point, the Falcons probably will have to win at least one or two games outside the division to hold on. It also seems safe to assume that this division race, and the playoff berth that goes with it, will come down to the final two regular season games against New Orleans and Carolina.

2. A word about the defense: The Falcons’ offense rarely tested Carolina’s chaotic secondary deep, struggled to get into the end zone (one touchdown, four field goals) and scored only three points following Panthers’ turnovers. This against one of the worst defenses in the league. But the Falcons’ defense has improved the last two weeks. Yes, the opponents (Tampa Bay and Carolina) probably have something to do with that. But there’s something to be said for consecutive road wins, and the defense has been the biggest reason. The Falcons forced three turnovers and had four sacks last week at Tampa Bay and Sunday had two interceptions and two sacks.  After an early field goal, Carolina was held scoreless on the next seven possessions until allowing touchdown passes of 22 and 47 yards in the fourth quarter. Given injuries, a young secondary and the team’s lack of a pass rush, that’s a more than acceptable day,

3. A hat-tip to Roddy White: OK, sometimes he says (or Tweets) things he shouldn’t. But the Falcons’ receiver remains one of the toughest players on the roster, plays through injuries and makes tough catches. He came through Sunday with a team-high eight receptions for 75 yards, including a two-yard touchdown catch that made it 16-3. White also became only the 42nd receiver in NFL history to surpass 10,000 yards in his career (he now has 10,002). At the age of 33 and in his 10th season, the guy can still play.

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Dogs have a statement win, now hope for best with Gurley
— AJC: Three short takes on Georgia’s win and Gurley
— MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets cross bridge, Falcons back to normal
— MyAJC: Ladies and gentlemen Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (in basketball, yes now)
— AJC: If Georgia wins out, would it sway playoff committee?
— MyAJC: All eyes are on Gurley (even if you can’t find him)
— AJC: Hart should deal both Uptons and Gattis
— MyAJC: Falcons’ division hopes hinge on beating teams other than Bucs
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Tampa Bay
— MyAJC: If Georgia Tech has come together, we’ll find out against Clemson, UGA
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over N.C. State
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons’ find their penicillin — the Bucs
— MyAJC: Amid Atlanta misery, can Hawks really be shining light?
— AJC: Election Day: Vote to keep or fire coaches (polls)
— MyAJC: Georgia blows it all with inexcusable performance
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s stunning loss to Florida
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley (oooh, scary); but Dogs over Gators
— AJC: Rules are dumb but that’s no excuse for Todd Gurley
— MyAJC: Mark Richt deserves credit for holding Georgia together
— AJC: NCAA mum but Muschamp expects Gurley to play vs. Florida
— AJC: Will Arthur Blank make move with Mike Smith (and reader poll)?
 

Reader Comments 0

53 comments
BigAlHeBDMan
BigAlHeBDMan

Logically speaking, I would rather be at 4-6 in first place than to be at 7-3 in 3rd place. All the Falcons have to do is win the South and it's playoffs baby. Good job, Mike Smith and Tommy Dimitroffff!

Dman
Dman

Matt Bryant is an amazing kicker. Dude seems to make all the tough ones and easy ones. Very clutch and glad he kicks for us...

KENCOWART
KENCOWART

STUPID ARTICLE SCHULTZ. CAROLINA  AND NEWTON COULDN'T HIT THE BROAD SIDE OF A BARN FOR 3 QUARTERS. HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DEFENSE. HOWIE LONG AND CREW WERE SO DISGUSTED THAT A 6-10 TEAM COULD WIN A DIVISION, THEY REVISITED THE POSSIBILITY OF A CHANGE IN PLAYOFF FORMULA. IT'S NOT EXCITING, IT'S NOT DESERVING , ITS LUDICROUS THIS TEAM WOULD PLAY IN A PLAY OFF GAME. ONLY A MORON WOULD CELEBRATE IT AS SUCH.

ATL89
ATL89

So we are supposed to be happy with having a loosing record, and being at the top of the Division with a loosing record. Would the Patriots be happy with a loosing record, or would Green Bay be happy with a loosing record, No they wouldn't be happy.  We should refuse to adopt a looser mentality, that's not the way we should be going about business, and having a "Happy to be on top of the Division mentality with a loosing record"  will not help us achieve Superbowl rings. Period!

Brent22
Brent22

Of course Roddy is the toughest guy on the team, he was a two time State wrestling champ in South Carolina. Football is easy compared to going six minutes.

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

TD will have success drafting linemen this spring.  Even a blind squirrel gets an acorn occasionally.

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

WOO HOO! First Place!....Bubble screens and all......

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The Falcons defense has improved the last two weeks? Really? I need a new TV.

DforDawgs
DforDawgs

We have to fix the O-line first. MR is a very good QB given the time to do his job. Steven Jackson is still a good RB but needs a line to open some holes..our younger backs a pretty good too. Next we need a pass rush. But, I think TD needs to go first, I want to see how good a coach MS is without TD hovering over him.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Those four field goals by Matt Bryant is unacceptable, the Falcons got to find a way to get into the end zone. Dirk bubble screen Koetter has to be more creative. How does the lineman Carimi get called for holding on special teams? There were way too many penalties, you have to be poised when the other team is frustrated. Also Mike Smith needs to do a better job when it comes to his team being more disciplined. The offensive line need to get in better shape, the fourth quarter presents a challenge in terms of blocking. Next-up a very physical Cleveland Brown team.

OH-IO
OH-IO

1-0 on Sunday


Goal: 1-0 Next Sunday

tyger
tyger

Are Falcons good now?...NO!


4-6 is not good...

Doesn't stink as bad...

But definitely not good...


Realists had ATL 9-7, 8-8, 7-9...

Seems more likely now...

Schedule helps some...


Knew Chi, Bal, NYG tough...

TB, Car, Cle provide some relief...

AZ, GB, Pitt...yikes!


Kudos for righting ship!

Injury excuse didn't hold water...

Knew guys hurt, signed anyway...

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Ive been cheering for a 4-12 record so we could have a top 6 pick again and get a bigtime talent on Defense.  But... now i hope 7-9 can win the division so that we can still have a top 15 pick.  Maybe we can get streaky in the playoffs?

fcanaday
fcanaday

In the past (two years ago) the O-line was able to protect our QB and give him just a little time and space and we saw what would happen.  Last year, what 44 sacks I think...and this year more of the same:  sacks, hurries, deflections, etc. and the "ever shrinking pocket" (the toilet on an MD88 is bigger for God's sake!!) and absolutely no "operating space" for our QB and he can't run around like Drew "Breezy".  It's so obvious that this is the problem!  A couple of years ago we complained about our defense that lacked a pass rush, gave up rushing yardage in games measured in miles but at least we knew that if we got the ball back last and with just a little time, we believed (as did our team members) that our offense and QB could (would) get us in position to win...now...well...we seem to have neither (offense or defense) and it is really, really obvious...all you have to do is watch Matt Ryan and tell me he doesn't remind you of the young, and then thin,

All-Pro "pocket dancer" (he of the "happy feet"), Steve Bartkowski on the lookout to save his own life!...oh and apparently MR can play golf as well as Steve too!  :-)  Is this great or what??  American Centruy Celebrity Golf...here we come!!

candlin14
candlin14

The Texans threw a fade to JJ Watt today. He is two TD's behind Julio. What a joke!!! Yes JJ Watt caught a fade and we can't even throw the ball towards the end zone except on a two yard pass to Roddy. It's laughabke that this game was so close. Mike Smith better get to work!!!

chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

my late father also said anyone with a mustache is an a-hole.  i tend to agree.  any comments?

Zapp
Zapp

I love you guys who have to pin your hatred on Ryan.  Do you think he's calling these horrible plays?  They have no running attack, so they must pass to move the ball.  Most defenses are good enough to stop or slow you down when they know what you will be doing.  The one who signed that over the hill running back for whatever ridiculous money they paid should be fired.  The coach looks like he will go into the fetal position at any time.  He's afraid to lose, so he hampers the offensive coordinator, and if he gets a lead, he sits on it.  They should have lost this game for that reason, just like they lost to Detroit.  You have a dork owner who feels he should be roaming the sidelines instead of staying in his box.  To say this group is like the three stooges, is demeaning to the three stooges.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

This is like rewarding the "D" student for beating all the "F" students. We also got more proof that our $20M/yr QB is far from elite and can factor into winning 4th qtr games when just a FG is required. In the end, the NFC South teams (including ATL) are really bad and their coaches are all campaigning to save their jobs. Please Mr. Blank don't get snowed by these meaningless wins against the few teams worse than yours. Major change is needed this offseason if your goal is still winning a SB.

candlin14
candlin14

What's sad is Drew Stanton with the Cardinls can throw 40-50 yard bombs and Matt Ryan can't throw a pass longer then 15yards. Our offensive play calling needs a makeover. I hated Mike Nolan at the beginning of the year but at least he has made adjustments. At least he is blitzing more and giving us some chances.

Our offense was supposed to be "the greatest show on turf" and we are so far from that. Our offense is absolutely awful!!! For us to give the ball back to Carolina after they missed the field goal is just pathetic. Even the Cardinals had enough balls to complete a third and 10 with Drew Stanton with 1:50 left on the clock to get a first and end the game.

The worst thing that could happen to this team is they win the division. We get a middle of the pack draft pick and we keep all of our coaches and office management.

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

Smitty needs to schedule a trip to the Wizard for those players w/o a brain.

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

Our offense has been MIA most of the season. That was to be our strength.  Our play calling is too predictable.  Defense actually played pretty well.  Special Teams and Offense did not. I have no idea how we won this game.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

What a deal - you lose 2 out of every 3 games and somehow stumble into 1st place nonetheless past the midway point in the season. It's sort of like winning the award for being the prettiest of the fat girls!

EbertsGhost
EbertsGhost

Cardinals just beat the Lions with a backup QB. Held Detroit to 6 points. Compare that to the Falcons game and its all the proof you need to see the folly in the Falcons personnel decisions. A top heavy team with no foundation. That and paying top dollar for mediocre performances at the skill positions. 

UGA76
UGA76

I hope we lose out because the new GM needs higher draft picks a lot more than fans like myself need to see us get clobbered in a first round playoff game. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The fieldgoalcons know how to and are good at kicking field goals.   If we could change/eliminate those silly rules about actually pushing the ball over the goal line, we could go to the Super Bowl.


Moses99
Moses99

DON'T TAKE U SCRUBS MUCH TO GET WORKED UP!

JSSN
JSSN

Get your ice cold Jonestown Kool-Aid!!!!

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

@Dman  I agree, he is the mvp on the team. I wish he could punt also as Bosher is not consistent.

tyger
tyger

@chalkdawg4 Conversely, anyone with a booty-lip cant be trusted....

JSSN
JSSN

@Zapp

He has the permission to get them out of plays, this isn't Gregg Knapp's playbook.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@GeorgeJetsen Our QB is continuously throwing off his back foot for a reason.  I don't get the MR2 hate.  He is the least of our problems.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@candlin14

Draft position means less than NOTHING as long as TD is doing the drafting.

Been getting high draft picks by losing for nearly half a century. How many championships has that earned us?

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Even with an OL giving better protection and a cadre of offensive weapons, Matt still struggles to move the chains consistently and put the ball in the end zone more than once or twice a game. Problem is the entire team marketing plan is built around him which means he'll be around for many more years. We can only hope for a new GM and new coach in the offseason that can figure out how to build a shut down defense on a shoestring budget. That's the only way a Matt Ryan led offense sniffs a SB in this town.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Flacons_go_3-14

You posting again after promising you wouldn't if the Falcons didn't draft Manziel? Disgusting!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Please wake me up when this nightmare is over. We know exactly who this team is: 0-6 against decent teams and 4-0 against horrible teams. Assuming a Lombardi trophy is still the goal, it's due time for across the board change.

Okeetee
Okeetee

@UGA76 Hey, if we win the division....we get to HOST the first playoff game...and against the weakest of the wildcard teams!  Who would that be?  Some team that will score about 50 points on our defense!  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@UGA76

"New" GM???

We can only hope.

I'll believe it when I see it.

candlin14
candlin14

I think Tom Brady or Manning would call out Dirk Kotter if they had to throw 10 bubble screens a game. I think they would call out Koetter if they were in such a predictable offense. Matt Ryan is being led to water and is being forced to drink it as well. Ryan needs to grab some nuts and speak up instead of always trying to please everyone and say the right thing. Even tho our line blows, we need to throw vertical not dump passes and screens. We did not throw a pass over 20 yards all game!!!!

candlin14
candlin14

He is bound to mix in a good overall draft if we keep TD which I hope we don't. I'm still pissed he passed on Tyran Mathieu as he dropped to the seventh round and was picked up by Arizona. Look at there defense, it's just amazing. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to TD decision making. High draft picks are always good!!!