Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after opening win

091415 ATLANTA: Falcons head coach Dan Quinn celebrates winning his first NFL game as a head coach with General Manager Thomas Dimitroff after beating the Eagles 26-24 during their Monday Night Football game on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

091415 ATLANTA: Falcons head coach Dan Quinn celebrates winning his first NFL game as a head coach with General Manager Thomas Dimitroff after beating the Eagles 26-24 during their Monday Night Football game on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn celebrates winning his first NFL game as a head coach with general manager Thomas Dimitroff after beating the Eagles 26-24 during their Monday night football game at the Georgia Dome. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

For my full column on the Falcons’ 26-24 win over Philadelphia, click here. Following are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. DEFENSE: I rode down the Georgia Dome elevator with former coach and broadcaster Jon Gruden. Me: “What’d you think?” Him: “That’s a big win for Atlanta. A really big win. That was impressive. We didn’t see that pass rush last year.” No kidding. I’m so tired hearing about the Chip Kelly offense. How is it so many people have fallen in love with a coach who: 1) never won a national championship at Oregon; 2) went 2-2 in bowl games; 3) failed to win a playoff game in his first two NFL seasons? Kelly’s offense was punched in the face in the first half by the Falcons, who aren’t accustomed to punching teams in the face. In the first half, the Falcons’ improved defense allowed the Eagles only three points and forced five punts, including three three-and-outs. The Eagles’ found a rhythm in the second half and drove to three straight touchdowns. But the defense, which mustered an effective better pass rush, then held Philly to a field goal miss and Ricardo Allen’s interception after the ball went off Jordan Matthews’ hands ended the game. Sam Bradford threw for 336 yards, but all in all it was an impressive first defensive game by the Falcons under Dan Quinn, who made his bones in defense at Seattle.

2. OFFENSIVE LINE: Surprise! It wasn’t a complete disaster. The new group — including late pickups Andy Levitre (guard), Mike Person (center) and Chris Chester (guard) — pass-blocked effectively for Matt Ryan most of the night, although Philly started to get to him in the second half. Run blocking was an issue much of the game but credit rookie Tevin Coleman (80 yards) with sometimes making something out of nothing. Consider the center position an open competition as Person struggled often. But there’s no viable option right now.

3. GOOD RYAN, BAD RYAN: He threw two touchdown passes and connected with wide receivers Julio Jones (nine for 141 yards) and Roddy White (four for 84) for 225 yards. But he also had some misfires: an interception on a great effort by Philly’s Kiko Alonso in the endzone, but an underthrow nonetheless with White open; an interception early in the second half that ignited the Eagles’ three-touchdown comeback; two other passes that could have/should have been intercepted; he had the fortune of having a fumble nullified by a Philadelphia penalty; he had an underthrow down the right sideline intended for Devonta Freeman that hit the Eagles’ Connor Barwin on the back of his shoulder pad near the Eagles’ 15. If Ryan had led Freeman, it would’ve been a touchdown. The Falcons aren’t always going to be fortunate enough to overcome those mistakes. But credit to Ryan for driving the offense twice in the fourth quarter, 62 and 51 yards, to set up Matt Bryant field goals that ultimately won the game. And on that subject: The 40-year-old Bryant is money.

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Reader Comments 0

67 comments
GWJ0525
GWJ0525

I keep expecting Bryant to miss a kick that matters, but he never does. The guy is like a robot making kicks. The bottom line is we got a win. Close games like this can always go either way on one or two big plays. The team played hard and with intensity so who could ask for more.

Ah Man, wow.


The Falcons did not win the game?


I do not know where you went to school brother, but the last time I looked at the score they ended up with more points.


I am scratching a scab on my head trying to figure that one out.


Typical Eagles fan. 

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

For the last time, the Falcons did NOT "win" the game - the Eagles LOST it. 

They missed a chip shot field goal, then the Birds go three and out on the same play the same guy blew up on third and one in the first half (looked like Mike Smith coaching again), and predictable since all they needed was a yard, and lost three, and then the Eagles' receiver tipped the pass that was too easy to miss, and poof, Eagles lose!

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Surelyyoujest Yes, the Falcons suck, and yes, there was a lot of luck in winning this game, but give credit where credit is due, they played a helluva lot better 1st half than I thought they could. And like the Seahawks playoff game, they tried to blow it in the second half then came back w a drive and took the lead back.


Don't worry, they'll look dog shirt a gracious plenty as the season goes by. Let them have their little celebration now, they earned it.

Mewslim
Mewslim

@Surelyyoujest


hahaha.  Funny stuff.  Ryan had several underthrows that SHOULD have been TD's.  Oh, almost forgot, you stupid monkey.

patriotdog
patriotdog

I know this has no bearing on his job performance, but the picture accompanying this article cracks me up. Dimitroff continually has the appearance of a circus clown. Again, his idiotic look has no bearing on his job performance. The makeshift Offensive line does that.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Well, nobody cares about he Falcons. Pisson 'em.


It's the Braves that matter around here, and they blew a HUGE opportunity tonight! Yesterday, they were tied w the Phillies for Cellar Queens of the NL East. The Braves finally ready to assume their rightful position as the worst team in the NL East and in all of baseball, but what the hell happened?! The stupid Phillies lost 2 games and the Braves blew a loss they could easily gotten by scoring in the 9th. Just DAMN! 


Now the Braves have further to go to get where they belong - the bottom of MLB standings...... Sad, really sad.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Wilbo


I thought all that matters around here is dogs and the SEC! SEC!


They're a Nation and a Country after all.

John Ellis
John Ellis

So lets get this straight. Bradford almost pulled that win off, he threw for almost 350 yards, this so called good defense almost let them do it Soooo wheres the improvement and why the hell would anyone listen to gruden? A monkey could have won that super bowl so whats his input have to do with anything? Teams a joke and Quinn is not the answer and at the end when we only have 4 or maybe 5 wins, ill be back to remind you of that. Cant believe you want me to pay to read anymore of what you have to say. 


patriotdog
patriotdog

I absolutely think they'll exceed 4 or 5 wins. They may even get as many as 6. Don't see this bunch getting to .500, though. Any improvement over last year will be because Q has something Smitty didn't : Dimitroff far away from personnel decisions.

WDE
WDE

@John Ellis John you sound really really butt hurt and just don't pay to read or comment you won't be missed ...we clear? 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

You and patriotdog are two sad little people...why come here and show your displeasure if you hate this team so much? Go Troll the blog where you actually like a team and give your pias ant two cents worth on that blog!

freezboy
freezboy

That picture looks like love to me...not the distorted rumor of dissatisfied with each other

Kelvin
Kelvin

When are Super Bowl tickets going on sale? 

TideDawg
TideDawg

On 680 The Fan Buck Belue and his sidekick commented that they could not understand how the Falcons could play such outstanding defense in the first half and lousy in the second half. Well Buck, I'm surprised that you are not aware of what happens when a team is on an adrenalin high and playing at a peak level in the first half. When they go in at halftime and rest for 15 minutes that adrenalin wears off it's difficult to get back to that level of play. The body just doesn't perform as well. This is where good coaching comes into play. A coach can't let his team get too high or low especially in the pros. Watch any football team play and you will see it happen with some team every week.


I love watching the Falcons(win or lose) but you could predict what was going to happen in the second half. At least they had enough fight left to hang on for the win(credit the coach). A lesson that should be well learned. That's why it's good to have seasoned pros that have been through it mixed in with the rookies. Play hard....maintain a calm...be consistent.


You golfers have had it happen.....great first 9 and lousy back nine....or vice versa. It's the mental transition that changes everything.


I'm happy for the Falcons and happy for the fan base.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Screw the Falcons, anyway.


Here's what should be important to AJC bloggers! The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies are going to be battling it out in Turner Field for last place in the NL East - actually for the title of lousiest team in Major League Baseball - Sept 18~20.


I am absolutely certain the Phillies cannot stop the Braves from claiming their rightful spot as Worst of the Worst!


That's what these pisspoor bloggers need to be writing about!!!!!!

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

I thought the Falcons would be wise to draft Shaq Mason from GT in the later rounds. Of course Demetrioff didn't. . Mason is already a key O lineman for the Patriots.. The best team in the league.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

We kicking you off the island, go back to the Braves blog.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Couple of thoughts on this article.


1) Just because Chip Kelly has not one the biggest game in his tier does not mean his offense isn't tough to defend.  Given it was the first game for Bradford, Murray and a couple of others they shook off the newbie look quickly.  Atlanta d played well, but we obviously are still at a deficit on true talent.  We are a step late everywhere and as the season goes along this will be exposed.  Also of note, when all four down lineman are going full blast to the QB every down, it leaves major gaps in front of the LB's.  In the second half the Eagles started to expose Atlanta's aggressiveness with screens and quick hitting routes in front of the LB's.  I saw ZERO adjustment by Atlanta coaching.  They could have done an LB blitz and dropped Beasley into coverage or something (Philly did it with Barwin many times).  Anything to shake it up and confuse Philly.  I saw nothing.  This is being outcoached, which seems to be the norm in Atlanta sports.


2) Person's effort will likely rank him near the bottom of the league this week when grades come out.  It wasn't just a bad night run blocking, but his snaps were all over the place.  He continually had Ryan lunging one direction or another to catch those snaps.  It saddens me that the position that many deem is the easiest to fill in the starting twenty-two has been a problem for the Falcons.


3) Ryan played well.  He does still have the tendency to not step into his throws(a direct result of our horrible pass blocking over the years).  This leads him to try to beat NFL defenses with twenty yard passes that are less than bullets .. and no QB in the NFL can do that. Ryan actually has a good arm, but he needs to be coached into plant and step. 


4) As for the pass that hit Barwin, I doubt it would not have been a TD if properly led.  A safety was cruising over about 6 yards down the field and about 8 yards to the inside.  Given his closing speed he would have lit Freeman up if not flat out intercepted the pass.  Yes, it looked like it could have been led more for a TD, but whether or not he intended to do it or it was a weak throw, the back shoulder pass was the correct placement judging on where the safety was.  Had that been a well coached receiver, he sees the pass coming, stops running and lets Barwin run over him for an easy interference call.  You see it a couple of times a game.  Sadly, most RB's do not have the 'draw interference' card in their deck.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@KeepinItSimple Who are you? Somebody who knows something about football posting on a Schultz blog? Unheard of!

GTBob
GTBob

Wow, if you were so unimpressed by Chip Kelly's record in college then I hope we never see positive article from you about Mark Richt.

As for the defense. It was ok overall. Lots of energy in the first half. Guys flying around and it was fun to watch. In the 2nd half, we were completely lost. They were moving the ball at will against us and we needed a missed field goal to hold on to the game. It was nice to see the defense come through on the last drive though after getting abused for the entire 2nd half.

TnDawg
TnDawg

First and foremost, a great win by the Falcons.  No one, including me was expecting a Falcons' victory tonight.  Congrats to the team and all the fans.

The Defense was a very pleasant surprise.  Much, much improved from last year. The O-line did fairly well, better than anyone expected.  If Jackson had been running, the running game would have been non-existent.

My feelings on Matty Ice has always been the same.  He's a good QB.  Arm is weak but he's great at game management. He has never and will never be an elite QB.  He needs max protection and is fairly immobile.  He;s an above average QB.

traderjoe9
traderjoe9

Good column for a hard fought and lucky 1st win.

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

They sure as hell didn't show up with they gave up, what, 21 points in the 3rd.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Hell Horsey 14 points in the 3rd.........we had 17 in the 2nd?..........kind of the way it goes sometimes?

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

@TOJacket Offense falling asleep in the 2nd half is the way it always goes with this team, which isn't a great way to win games, much less Superbowls.

Kennyd_va
Kennyd_va

there's a Lot of coaches and Scouts in this conversation...... 

coj
coj

Matt Ryan is not a super bowl winning type of quarterback. Almost just doesn't cut it.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

@coj  And yet he took us to within one game despite an utterly horrible team around him that year.  Put him in Green Bay and he dominates.  Put him in New Orleans and he dominates. 


I get so tired of hearing about how great some of these other QB's are when they have missed seasons and their backups have played almost as well due to the system.  They are flat out overrated.  Meanwhile, Ryan is stuck with makeshift or horrible lines due to poor drafting and injuries (four OL expected to play big minutes hurt last year before week two).  Not to mention the running game has been non-existent in six of his eight years.



ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

I said it, so here it is - start carving Quinn's bust for Canton - he actually built a defense in Atlanta.


I can still scarcely believe it.

Dman
Dman

The defense played well against a team that is supposed to be the best offense in the NFL. The Falcons made them look below average like they are. EAGLES are OVER RATED...

shamymax
shamymax

Speaking of the offensive line, David Andrews is sitting 45 miles away from Suwanee undrafted and they let New England scoop him up for next to nothing. I'm not sure if he ever got a tryout but obviously Bellechick saw something. He interviewed Andrews when he was here for the Ga Kentucky basketball game last winter and now he's the starter for NE while the Falcons are on their fifth center.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

@shamymax  Come on.  You know that the SEC never produces quality lineman.  Why would the Falcons want to risk a season on SEC caliber talent when they can get talent from elite schools like Montana State?


On a serious note, this is season one under Quinn.  He wanted to bring in guys he had seen before and was comfortable with, which includes Person.  I get it, but this is a problem with letting a coach make all personnel decisions.  Some of them have a little too much 'buddy' or 'trust' bias in them. 


On a side note, I would love to see Andrews here as I think he was underrated at UGA. However, for his benefit I am glad he latched on where he will have a better chance to succeed. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

Jim Tressel and Ohio State stomped Chip Kelly in the Rose Bowl.