Atlanta Falcons News: Regular Season and Preseason Updates
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4/24/14: Falcons fans are very anxious to know what the team is going to do with their first round draft pick. Obviously, defense is a priority and the best defensive player (according to the 'experts') is lineman Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has expressed interest in going to Atlanta. The problem, of course, is that he most likely will not be available when the Falcons have the sixth pick. That leads to a lot of speculation that Atlanta will trade up (perhaps with St. Louis at number 2). Of course, this is all a moot point if the Texans, with the first overall pick, want Clowney.
4/17/14: Falcons' starting QB Matt Ryan recently said, during a radio interview, that he is glad that owner Arthur Blank has passion for the team and that he is thankful for Blank's outburst that the team did not stick up for Ryan after he took a cheap shot from Saints' safety Kenny Vaccaro last season. Ryan also said he did not recall being upset with his teammates after the hit. Of course, Blank has a lot of money and expectations tied up in Ryan, so of course he is going to be upset when his team leader takes a licking. So while the support is appreciated, Ryan, himself, has no ill will toward his teammates.
4/10/14: It is always fun when one team presents an offer sheet to a restricted free agent or a transition tagged player. It is even more fun when the two are long time rivals in the same division. Such is the case with Atlanta and New Orleans. The Falcons presented an offer sheet to restricted free agent safety Rafael Bush. The Saints have the right to match that offer or will lose him to the Falcons. While the RFA market is usually pretty stagnant, often times, the team holding the original rights will try to retaliate by doing the same to the offering team. And, many times, the players that the teams are fighting over are not in teams' plans. It is just another form of gamesmanship between rivals. And that is always fun.
4/3/14: Aside from the astonishing level of injuries the Falcons suffered last season, the defense was a prime reason that the team could never get anything going. Addressing the talent level on the defensive side of the ball has been a prime focus of the team this offseason, and may conclude with the Falcons taking defensive tackle Jadaveon Clowney in the draft (if they can trade up because he probably will not be available with the sixth pick). In a related story, the Falcons re-signed cornerback Robert McClain, who was the team's only restricted free agent. McClain started six games last season and had 66 tackles.
3/27/14: The Falcons are an interesting team in that they seem to be able to find great talent and value in the draft, yet cannot make good free agency decisions. As for the draft, just look at some of the great players around such as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Free agency seems to confuse the team. Guys like Pat Williams and Osi Umenyiora were busts, and the jury is still out on Steven Jackson (Tony Gonzalez did work out well, though). Atlanta just signed kick returner Devin Hester, and they hope they got it right. Hester is probably the best kick returner of all time, and that would be a nice weapon next season.
3/20/14: The Falcons' front office is among the savvier in the NFL. One of the things that makes them so effective is they understand when they have made a mistake and go about correcting it rather than sticking to a bad decision. They realized that their defense was terrible last season and have purged the ranks. In free agency, they signed defensive tackles Paul Soliai (formerly with the Dolphins) and Tyson Jackson (formerly of the Chiefs). They still may have their eyes on Jadeveon Clowney in the draft, but might have to trade up to get him.
3/13/14: Atlanta is in an interesting spot this offseason. They are the type of team that could go from worst to first. They still have a highly potent offense when healthy, and they should return everyone except Tony Gonzalez to the skill positions. The defense is suspect at best, though Matt Ryan showed that he covers up a lot of mistakes with his offense. Atlanta also has a high draft pick, and that could become immediate defensive help. They do need to do some work with the salary cap, but to date, they have not asked Osi Umenyiora to take a pay cut, though that may be required soon.
3/6/14: This all seems too perfect. The Falcons can quickly become an elite team in the NFL with a little help on defense - particularly the defensive line. They know this and want to improve that area. Highly touted prospect Jadeveon Clowney would fill that need immediately. He also seems to want to go to Atlanta. There is a good chance that he will not be available when Atlanta picks, but St. Louis is willing to trade down. The Falcons and Rams have a good relationship as well. Nothing has happened yet, but it would not be surprising to see the teams swap picks and Clowney to end up in Atlanta.
2/27/14: There has been a lot of posturing this past week at the Combine between four young men that are considered to be at the top of the draft charts. Each of them - QBs Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater, as well as defensive end Jadeveon Clowney - is making his case to be the number one overall pick. Clowney now says that he wants the Atlanta Falcons to trade up for him. Atlanta holds the sixth pick and is open to moving up. They could find a trade partner in St. Louis with the second pick. The Rams already have a great front four and may well not be interested in adding Clowney.
2/20/14: First round picks often get second, third, and even fourth chances. So is the story with offensive lineman Gabe Carimi. Carimi was a first rounder in 2011 with the Bears. He did not play particularly well in his time in Chicago, and Jay Cutler was constantly sacked and eventually injured. That is not all on him, that entire offensive line was bad. That helped get Lovie Smith fired . Carimi ended up in Tampa last season. When Lovie Smith was hired, he did not want to keep Carimi and cut him a few weeks ago. Now Atlanta is taking a shot with him, and maybe he can help protect Matt Ryan.
2/13/14: Former Falcons and Chiefs tight end legend Tony Gonzalez took to the airwaves last week and he had a lot to say. He publicly stated that Falcons QB Matt Ryan is not 'elite'. That was enough to get the media wheels churning. Of course he did say that Ryan is very good and basically on the cusp of being 'elite'. He just needs some more experience. Gonzalez also said that while he was open to a trade last season, he never asked for one. The last interesting item is that TG left the door open to coming back next season with a contender, perhaps midway through the season.
2/6/14: The Falcons may be up against the salary cap going into this next season, so it only makes sense to restructure some contracts so they can get some other players. Atlanta still has a very strong offense that is among the best in the league when they are healthy, so defensive talent is at a premium this offseason. Sometimes it is hard to get veterans to restructure their contracts, but it looks like they have a taker in WR Roddy White. White says he wants to be only with the Falcons and the two sides are working on a restructured deal that would benefit both sides.
1/30/14: Brian Cox was a quarterback's worst nightmare for years when he was with the Dolphins and Jets. He has made the transition to coaching and his new gig is as the defensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons. He wants to make quarterbacks afraid when they face the Falcons defensive line. Cox believes that getting into a QB's head is a big part of being successful - to the point where QBs make bad decisions so they will not get hit. That kind of aggressiveness has been missing from Atlanta for several years. If Cox can deliver, then the Falcons can get back to the top of the NFC South.
1/23/14: No one expected the Falcons to fall to 4-12 this season, and no one expects that to happen again. The offense getting healthy probably gets them four more wins on its own. But to get over the top, the Falcons will need to improve their defense significantly. Atlanta owns the sixth pick in the draft and will be able to find a quality player at that position. But the speculation now is on the Falcons wanting Jadaveon Clowney - the star defensive tackle from South Carolina. To land him, they would likely need to trade up. The St. Louis Rams have the number two pick (via Washington), so there may be a deal to be made.
1/16/14: The Falcons, of course, had a season to forget. They were plagued with big injuries to key players all season, and that had a lot to do with their 4-12 record. Of course, offensive and defensive line play was weak, and the Falcons seem to recognize the need to toughen up. Enter former NFL star Bryan Cox. Atlanta has hired Cox as their defensive line coach in order to improve the area. The Falcons may also be interested in drafting Jadaveon Clowny out of South Carolina to give them a better pass rush. They may have to trade up to the second spot (owned by St. Louis, via Washington) to get him - and that may be expensive.
1/9/14: For all the Falcons fans out there that are shocked and disappointed in the 2013 season, here is the good news. Yes, the Falcons had/have a roster that can contend for a Super Bowl (though they need some help on defense). They also have good leadership and coaching. The season was derailed by major injuries, and the Falcons still played tough. If they were going to have a lost season, then it is best that it was very, very bad. They are in prime position to pick up key pieces to the defense through the draft now.
1/2/14: The NFL and the Atlanta Falcons are saying goodbye to the greatest tight end who ever played, Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez came back for one more season with the Falcons. The situation seemed perfect as the Falcons seemed geared for a deep playoff run back in August. However, major injuries devastated the team and they could never rebound. Atlanta finished the season at 4-12, losing the last game 21-20 at home to Carolina. The good news is that the Falcons will be back and healthy next season. They still have a tremendous offense and a high draft selection to help bolster the defense.
12/26/13: When the schedule makers slated the Falcons at San Francisco in Week 16 they probably imagined that it would be a contest between two NFC powerhouses in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game. The 49ers are a top tier team, of course, but the Falcons have struggled all year due to injury. In short, it was not the match up that was expected. San Francisco won the final game in Candlestick Park 34-24, though the Falcons did make it interesting. It was not over until a very late pick six sealed the game. Atlanta finishes up their season this Sunday against Carolina.
12/19/13: The Falcons earned their fourth win of the season by coming back against Washington to win 27-26 last Sunday. Washington is in complete disarray at this moment with what appears to be a lame duck coach and sitting their starting quarterback. The Falcons defense forced seven turnovers in the game which resulted in 20 points. The Falcons' offense was not too potent - Matt Ryan only threw for 210 yards and one TD, but they were effective enough to get the points they needed. Atlanta plays on Monday Night when they visit the 10-4 San Francisco 49ers.
12/12/13: The Falcons fell to 3-10 last Sunday with a 22-21 loss in Green Bay. Atlanta seemed to have everything going well for themselves early on. The Falcons led the Packers by 11 points at halftime. However, the Packers rallied. The key play was when the Packers' defense forced a Matt Ryan fumble and then scored the go-ahead touchdown just four plays later, early in the fourth quarter. While the record is terrible, most believe that head coach Mike Smith will get a pass for this season considering the incredibly high amount of injuries on the team. Atlanta has a good chance for the win this Sunday when they host Washington (3-10).
12/5/13: Atlanta got a big win to make them feel happy for a week by beating the Buffalo Bills in overtime 34-31. The Falcons are a very talented and well-coached football team when healthy. The problem is that they have been injured all year and have put in a lot of second, third and fourth string players to fill out the roster. This was the game that the Bills play in Toronto once a year, which may have been an advantage for the Falcons. The game was sparsely attended and many of those fans were Falcons supporters. Also, they played in a dome rather than in the Buffalo cold, which all favor Atlanta. But no matter, a win is a win.
11/28/13: Very few people thought the Falcons would only have two wins after twelve weeks of the NFL season, but that is exactly what has happened. The Saints swept the season series against the Falcons with a 17-13 win last Thursday. QB Matt Ryan actually had a decent night except for no touchdowns. He was 30-39 passing for just under 300 yards. But the Falcons simply could not score against the Saints and are now in the cellar of the NFC South. Atlanta is on the road and in cold weather this weekend. They play the Bills (4-7) in Buffalo on Sunday.
11/21/13: The good news is that the Falcons scored four touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. The bad news is that they gave up 41 points in another loss that dropped them to 2-8 on the season. Atlanta trailed 24-6 at halftime and 38-13 after the third quarter. The Falcons had no answer for third string running back Bobby Rainey who ran for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns. Atlanta has had a miserable year and is completely decimated with injuries. The only real good news is that the season is close to over and Atlanta will have a good draft pick. It will be a short week for the Falcons as they host New Orleans on Thursday.
11/14/13: The season just cannot end soon enough for the Atlanta Falcons. The team had high hopes for the season after making it to the NFC Conference Championship Game last season. This year is completely lost due to injuries everywhere. The Falcons suffered yet another defeat last Sunday, this time to the Seattle Seahawks, 33-10. Atlanta had no answer for Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. They also have almost no offense with most of their skill players out injured. The Falcons do have a chance to get a win this weekend as they head south to play Tampa this Sunday.
11/7/13: This is turning out to be a lost season for the Atlanta Falcons with most of their star position players injured. The Falcons suffered their sixth loss of the year last Sunday at the hands of division rival Carolina 34-10. Atlanta's offense had no answer for Carolina's defense. Matt Ryan was limited to 219 yards and a touchdown. He also had three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Steven Jackson was back on the field but only managed 57 yards as the Falcons fell to 2-6 on the season. It does not get any easier this weekend as the Falcons host the 8-1 Seattle Seahawks.
10/31/13: The nightmare that is the 2013 season continues for Atlanta. The only good news is that at this pace they will have a good draft pick and should have their selection of top tight ends to replace the retiring Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons defense allowed three touchdowns in the second quarter to Arizona, including an 80 yard run to rookie Andre Ellington. Matt Ryan came into the game with three interceptions in the first six games, but threw four against the Cardinals. The Cardinals picked him off five times last year too. Atlanta is 2-5 on the season and stays on the road with a visit to the rejuvenated Carolina Panthers this Sunday.
10/24/13: The Falcons have been decimated by injuries, making Tony Gonzalez' farewell season a complete nightmare. However, it always feels good to beat a division rival, and that is what the Falcons did by rolling over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 at home. It was only the second win of the season for Atlanta, but that is two more than Tampa. QB Matt Ryan was 20-26 for 273 yards and three touchdowns, despite being without Julio Jones and Roddy White, ending his impressive consecutive games played streak. Atlanta (2-4) heads west to face the Arizona Cardinals (3-4) on Sunday.
10/17/13: The Atlanta Falcons are not the team that everyone expected them to be this year. They are 1-4, with the lone win coming at home over the St. Louis Rams. The Falcons are very injured at this point. Steven Jackson has not played since Week 2. Roddy White has battled a high ankle sprain all season rendering him mostly as a decoy. The worst news is that wide receiver Julio Jones is out for the year with a foot injury. Reports indicate that he broke a screw in his surgically repaired foot and will not be able to return. The team needs this bye week to get some semblance of health.
10/10/13: The Falcons lost a heartbreaker as time expired on the Monday Night Game this past week. Atlanta scored a touchdown with about two minutes left, giving them a one point lead. However, Geno Smith marched the Jets down for the winning field goal. The Falcons are on a bye this week, but may be in trouble when they return to action. Star WR Julio Jones may be finished for the year with a foot injury. Steven Jackson remains sidelined. Roddy White needs some rest for his high ankle sprain. The team is now 1-4, which would have been unthinkable a month ago.
10/3/13: Atlanta just does not look the same without their wide receivers at full health. They lost 30-23 to New England in the Sunday Night Game, but this was more of a defensive failing. QB Matt Ryan threw for 421 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 pick. The running game continues to struggle without Steven Jackson, and it is hoped that he will return soon. The Falcons' defense allowed both Julian Edleman and Kenbrell Thompkins to tally over 100 yards on the day as they were picked apart by Tom Brady. The loss drops the Falcons to 2-2 on the season, and they are staring up at the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons have another prime time game hosting the Jets (2-2) on Monday Night.
9/26/13: The Falcons did not expect to be 1-2 at this point, but losses to the Saints and Dolphins have put them in a bit of a hole. The Falcons have been short-handed. Roddy White has a high ankle sprain, Julio Jones is a bit banged up, and Steven Jackson has been out for a couple of weeks. Still, they had a chance against the host Dolphins last Sunday, but QB Ryan Tannehill threw a one-yard TD pass to rookie tight end Sims for the game winning score with just 38 seconds to play. The Falcons will try to get back on the winning track in Week 4 when they host the 3-0 Patriots on the Sunday Night Game.
9/19/13: Atlanta rarely loses two in a row in the Matt Ryan era, and this past Sunday was no exception. After dropping their opener in New Orleans, the Falcons opened up their home schedule with a visit from the up and coming St. Louis Rams. Atlanta built up a big 21-3 lead early, though let the Rams back into the game late when St. Louis went to a no-huddle offense. Ultimately, Atlanta hung on to the win to even their record at 1-1. Atlanta now heads south to visit the 2-0 Miami Dolphins on Sunday, in a classic trap game.
9/12/13: This was not the start that the Falcons had envisioned. Atlanta played their first game as a conference tilt, on the road, against the resurgent New Orleans Saints. The Saints defense was historically bad last season, giving up 900 more yards than the next closest defense - so this should have been easy. However, WR Roddy White was hobbled with an ankle sprain and used mostly as a decoy. The Falcons were only able to manage 17 points against the revamped New Orleans defense. Atlanta gets a chance to rebound on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams.
9/4/13: Week One is upon us, and many are looking forward to watching the high flying offense from the Atlanta Falcons. The offseason addition of former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson will give them a better ground game, better pass protection, and a nice swing pass outlet. The only concern right now is wide receiver Roddy White's ankle sprain. His status for Sunday against the New Orleans Saints is unclear, but the sprain is apparently not of the 'high' variety, so White should not miss significant time. The Falcons are the defending NFC South champs, and have all the talent to keep that title and advance in the playoffs.
8/29/13: The Falcons' offense is highly regarded this season, many consider it to be the best in the league. It may well be as there are no shortage of talented weapons around QB Matt Ryan. So the question is really how will the defense be this season? If the defense can be average, the offense can win games. That is why it is particularly concerning that starting cornerback Asanti Samuel left a preseason game against Tennessee with a thigh injury. Samuel had five interceptions last season and will be asked to do more this time around. Losing him for any significant time could be brutal for the Falcons.
8/22/13: Atlanta is hoping a that an injury to wide receiver Roddy White is not serious. White left a preseason game with a knee injury and did not return. He is part of a dynamic Atlanta offense that features Matt Ryan at QB, Steven Jackson at running back, Tony Gonzalez at tight end, and White and Julio Jones as the primary wide receivers. This is a potent attack that will lose some punch if White is out for any extended amount of time. Defenses can double up on Jones without the threat of the complementary receiver. That being said, Atlanta's offense will still be among the best in the NFL.
8/15/13: The Falcons have to be in Super Bowl or Bust mode at this point. The team has all the offensive weapons that anyone could want - starting with QB Matt Ryan, WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones, tight end Tony Gonzalez, and newcomer RB Steven Jackson. That is not quite the "Greatest Show on Turf", but it is the closest the NFL has seen since 2001. The offense is a given. The real question is if the defense can be better than average and keep the team alive in the playoffs - or will they let the team down again.
8/8/13: If it were 2008 then this may be a pretty interesting proposition for the Falcons: Shawn Merriman said that the Falcons should sign him as a linebacker and that he promises double digit sacks - and that would allow the team to use Osi Umeniyora in his natural position on the defensive line. Again, intriguing five or six years ago, but Merriman has not been relevant since then. The Falcons, for their part, have not responded to the suggestion and seem happy with what they have on the roster or can pick up later on after training camp cuts are made.
8/1/13: The Falcons are experimenting with new signee Osi Umenyiora as a stand up linebacker in practice. Osi played nine years with the Giants (winning two Super Bowls) and is renowned as one of the better straight- ahead pass rushers in the league - coming out of a three point stance. The Falcons are not saying if they will use him as a line backer in games, but Osi seems to like trying it out in practice. If nothing else, it gives them flexibility on the roster and allows Osi to get the feel for another position - which can only help him at his regular job as a defensive lineman.
7/25/13: Right tackle in Atlanta is an important position - you have the responsibility of keeping franchise QB Matt Ryan upright, which keeps the offense moving. The Falcons released veteran Tyson Clabo in a financial move, and must depend on either Lamar Holmes or Mike Johnson for the job. Johnson may have the edge here. He has been a reserve for a few years since he came out of the University of Alabama, but chances are that he has the skills needed to be a starting offensive lineman in the NFL. Here is hoping the Falcons made the right decision.
7/18/13: The Falcons are depending on second year defensive end Johnathan Massaquoi this season. The defensive line is considered one of the Falcons' question marks going into the season. While the team was adequate in this area last season, they were far from dominating. Everyone knows that the offense carried the team, and that should be the same formula for 2013. That being said, the Falcons released veteran defensive lineman John Abraham in the offseason. However, if Massaquoi can continue his development, then there should be very little drop off this season, and improvement in the futue.
7/11/13: The Falcons are learning something the St. Louis Rams learned a long time ago. Steven Jackson does not need much time to prepare for the season, and does not need a lot of work in preseason games. Jackson has played enough that his football IQ is through the roof. He will get the system pretty quickly. He also has thousands of carries under his belt, so additional grind is not something he needs. Finally, Jackson keeps himself in outstanding shape in the offseason, so conditioning is not an issue. This also allows his backups to get their share of reps in case they are called up on later in the season.
7/4/13: The Falcons had the best record in the regular season last year and made it to the NFC Championship Game. That would be a successful season by most accounts, but the team wanted more. The offense was terrific all year. How could it not be with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. However, the two weak points were the running game and the defense. The running game is sound now with Steven Jackson. The defense remains a question mark. Atlanta will have to prove that they have a good enough defense to win, otherwise it may be time for a big change in the roster.
6/27/13: The Falcons may be scary good this year. The addition of running back Steven Jackson give them the ground credibility that they lacked last year. And he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is returning for his swan song. While he was excused from earlier workouts, that is good news for tight end Chase Coffman out of Mizzou. Coffman has stepped up his game and is likely to be the number two TE. Even head coach Mike Smith has been impressed, calling him out individually for his great work thus far.
6/20/13: Falcons' tight end Tony Gonzalez convinced everyone, including himself, that last season was his final go-round in the NFL. The Falcons took their time in convincing Gonzalez to return for one lat season, and they also agreed to make accommodations so he could spend more time with his family. Such is the case next week. Gonzalez will be excused from mini-camp, presumably to be with his family. To be fair, it is probably best for the team too. What more is the 17 year veteran going to learn in a mini-camp? Also, it gives the young backup guys a chance to develop their skills and relationships with the QB, which could help down the line.
6/13/13: Atlanta signed free agent Osi Umenyoura in the offseason to bolster the defensive line, but the common thought is that the team needs a bit more help to replace the released John Abraham. Veteran Richard Seymore and the team have been in talks, but the hold up is apparently money. Seymore is 33 and is reportedly open to retirement if he cannot get a contract that he wants. The Falcons released Tyson Clabo this week, freeing up about $6 million in salary cap space. That may be the money they need to sign Seymore and open the season with a respectable defensive front seven.
6/6/13: The St. Louis Rams did very few things right draft-wise between 2002 and 2012, but one they did nail was Steven Jackson. Jackson left the Rams after nine seasons, totaling over 1,000 yards in the last eight. He also averaged over 4 yards per carry and was one of the best receiving backs in the league. Now in Atlanta, he will certainly bolster an offense that ranked 21st in rushing last year. As a five star combo with QB Matt Ryan, WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White, and TE Tony Gonzalez, this may be the most explosive offense in the NFL this season, and that includes the Packers and Saints.
5/30/13: It is hard to handicap the NFC South as each team has shown flashes of brilliance in the recent past. Atlanta won the division last season, and in fact had the best record in the NFL. They are led by a powerful offense featuring franchise QB Matt Ryan, two outstanding WRs in Julio Jones and Roddy While, the best tight end to ever play in Tony Gonzalez, and now have a top end running back in Steven Jackson. Jackson has quietly put together an impressive career playing on terrible Rams teams. But his presence alone will keep defenses honest and open up the passing game. His best years may be behind him, but he is still good for 1,500 total yards and a few touchdowns.
5/23/13: It looks like the Falcons are going to bring Brian Banks onto the roster as a linebacker. The Falcons are particularly thin at linebacker, which is fortunate for Banks. Banks made headlines several years ago and went to prison for sexual assault. After five years in prison, he was exonerated and freed. However, he had lost several years of freedom and football development. Before his arrest, he recruited to play at USC under Pete Carroll as a high school junior. That he was able to get a tryout with an NFL club is impressive, but making the team is even more special. Hopefully his second chance will work out and he can have a long and successful career in the NFL.
5/16/13: Unlike the AFC East, which the Patriots win just about every year, it is very difficult to handicap the NFC South. Tampa has been the most visible mover, especially since they acquired Darrelle Revis to shore up their secondary. Carolina finished strong last season, and the Saints are back to full strength. Many forget that the Falcons won the NFC South as well as had the best record in the regular season last year - and even went to the NFC Championship Game. They may be better on offense now that former St. Louis Ram Steven Jackson is in the fold.
5/9/13: Atlanta was not considered to have a particularly strong defense last year, so it may be surprising to hear that they team ranked fifth in the league in defensive scoring. This will be year two under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, and they should be improved. With their offseason moves and draft, they should be even faster and more opportunistic. The Falcons surrendered 299 points last year, and that has to improve. They need to replace John Abraham's backfield pressure and find a way to stop the run at the goalline. Should they be able to, this overlooked unit may get the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
5/2/13: Atlanta had a big need at cornerback with the free agent departure of Brent Grimes to the Miami Dolphins. More than that, though, they need help all around on defense, and that was where all four of their picks went to. They selected cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (Washington, No. 22) and Robert Alford (SE Louisiana, round 2, pick 28) with their first two picks. They added Malliciah Goodman (defensive end, Clemson, 4th round, 30th pick) and safety Zeke Motta from Notre Dame with one of the last picks in the draft. The Falcons lacked picks because they traded so much away a couple years ago to draft Julio Jones at 6.
4/25/13: It seems like much of the league has forgotten about Atlanta. They did have the best record in the NFC last year and made it to the NFC Championship Game. The ditched an aging Michael Turner with Steven Jackson and even convinced Tony Gonzalez to return for another year. They will have more competition this season since the Saints are restored and the Bucs have added Darrelle Revis. However, they are still the class of the NFC South, and should repeat as division champs in 2013 regardless of the changes and upgrades of their division rivals.
4/18/13: Atlanta continues to roll. It is more of the same on any number of the streets named Peachtree. The Braves won their 10th straight game, as Justin Upton continues his assault on National League pitching. The Braves swept the Cubs and Marlins and Nationals. Now comes word that there are at least five firms bidding on a new stadium for the Falcons. The Georgia Dome is old and dark, and the team should have a better venue to play in. It will take a few years to build, but considering the advancements in stadium design, expect that the new building should be a great location for many years to come.
4/11/13: With the Saints coming back in full force and the Panthers on the rise and the Bucs maybe getting Darrelle Revis, people may forget about the Atlanta Falcons. That would be a mistake. Atlanta had the best record in the league last year and made it to the NFC Championship game. This year, they have a hungry Steven Jackson. SJ39 may not be the runner from five years ago, but he is big, strong, and runs violently. He will get the extra yard or two that Michael Turner could not. Expect a strong year out of the Falcons, they do not have many holes.
4/4/13: The Falcons and Osi Umenyiora made it official late last week, with the two sides agreeing to two year, $8.5 million deal. Umenyiora has been one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL for a number of years and won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. He never felt that he got the contract respect he deserved there, and has a contentious relationship with management. As a free agent, he said he chose the Falcons because they were the most talented team. They were also the team that wanted him the most after releasing John Abraham earlier in the off season.
3/28/13: Reports out of Atlanta are that the Falcons and pass rush specialist Osi Umenyiora will come to terms on an agreement. Osi lives in Atlanta, and the chance to play at home for a contender must have been appealing. Osi has had contract issues with the Giants for several years. He restructured his contract prior to last season, which gave him the opportunity to be a free agent. At 31 years old, he has spent his entire career with the New York Giants and won two Super Bowls. He is a fearsome pass rusher who should easily replace or surpass the released John Abraham.
3/21/13: Atlanta is not giving up on winning the Super Bowl next February by any means. The Falcons managed to coax the greatest tight end ever, Tony Gonzalez, out of his retirement for one last run. Apparently Gonzalez got used to winning in the playoffs (well, one game, which was the first in his 17 year career), and the team made arrangements so he can go back to California to fulfill some fatherly obligations. Also, the Falcons signed superstar running back Steven Jackson, the best player all time on bad teams, to a three year deal. SJ39 is expected to be the feature back, and he is hungry for some post season success.
3/14/13: Atlanta's major releases have been well documented, including John Abraham and Michael Turner. But it looks like they are bringing someone back for once. Tony Gonzalez, the all time greatest tight end in NFL history, had previously announced his retirement, though he never submitted papers to the league. The Falcons, apparently, were able to coax him back into one more season. The team will be flexible on some family commitments that Gonzalez has made, and TG sounds like he wants to play one more year and get that elusive Super Bowl, after earning his first playoff victory last season.
3/7/13: Change is coming in Atlanta. Fast. The Falcons released three high profile veterans this past week in Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson, and John Abraham. The team needs to clear out salary cap space and these moves save nearly $16 million. Turner and Robinson were expected to be released and will likely sign on somewhere else that needs some veteran help. Abraham wasa bit of a surprise considering he was the main pass rushing threat on the Falcons defense. The team will have to fill his shoes somehow, and may try to bring him back at a reduced salary.
2//28/13: Atlanta still has running back Michael Turner on the roster, but chances are that is only temporary. The Falcons are expected to waive Turner and the $6 .9 million he is owned for next season. Cutting Turner will put Atlanta $8 million to $9 million under the cap - enough room to bring in an established back, or work on beefing up the defense. Turner split carries with Jaquizz Rodgers and only finished with 800 yards. His age, now he his 31 years old, is starting to catch up with him and he will likely sign on as a back up for a limited term contract - similar to the way his mentor Ladanian Tomlinson finished his career with the Jets.
2/14/13: Some important news surfaced this week that Falcons' QB Matt Ryan suffered a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder late in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. Atlanta came up just 10 yards short in the big game, which was a great battle between a terrific offense and stout defense. No surgery is needed, at least at this time, but the recovery period is about four weeks. Had Ryan pulled off the comeback (and he has earned a reputation as a clutch quarterback), then he would have been playing in the Super Bowl injured.
2/7/13: Atlanta finished with the best record in the NFC this season and earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That lasted until the NFC Championship Game when San Francisco earned the right to play in the Super Bowl. Even with a 13-3 record, the Falcons were lightly regarded by many fans and experts. They did not play the tough defense that wins in the playoffs. They also had a deceivingly easy schedule since the the NFC South was in a down year. They even got Denver early in the season before that team had gelled. Strengthening the defense and finding a new runnning back seem to be the priorities this offseason.
1/31/13: Backup running back Jaquizz Rodgers may get the starting tailback job in Atlanta next season. Michael Turner has held that title for the past five years, and had some pretty good seasons. But 2012 was tough on Turner - acquired from San Diego where he was LaDanian Tomlinson's backup - and he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry totaling 800 yards on the season. Quizz is a more elusive runner, and is expected to get the bulk of the carries next season if the Falcons decide to cut Turner, as is widely expected. Quizz is much smaller, but the Falcons do not seem concerned at this time.
1/24/13: Atlanta entered the NFC championship game as 4 point underdogs to the visiting 49ers, and that was the final spread. The 49ers battled back from 17 points down to win 28-24. Atlanta was on fire in the first half, putting together one of the best 30 minutes in conference championship game. They led by 10 at the half, but could not add anything to the final score in the third and fourth quarter. The game was probably the last for Tony Gonzalez, who finally won his first playoff game in a 17 year career the week before.
1/17/13: Head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan finally got the playoff monkey off their backs by defeating the upstart Seahawks 30-28 in the Divisional Round. This was the fourth trip to the postseason for the duo, but they had zero victories. Most notably, they lost at home to Green Bay two years ago and the Giants last year. Both went on to win the Super Bowl. Seattle was this year's darling pick, and held 28-27 lead with 34 seconds left. Ryan, however, led the Falcons downfield and Matt Bryant kicked a 49 yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining put Atlanta into the NFC Championship game, at home, against the 49ers.
1/10/13: Mike Smith led the Falcons to another fine season, finishing the regular campaign at 13-3. Atlanta did not lose until Week 10 at New Orleans, and by that time had cemented their dominance in the NFC South. The other two losses were also against division rivals; at Carolina and at home against the Bucs. The weekend, they host the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round, with a trip to the NFC Championship Game awarded to the winner. While the Falcons have struggled in the playoffs in recent years, they will be playing a Seattle team that has to travel cross-country twice in a row.
1/3/13: In a seemingly meaningless game for the Falcons, Head Coach Mike Smith decided to play his starters throughout rather than rest them to not risk injury. The Falcons lost the game to Tampa 22-17, and saw both cornerback Dunta Robinson and defensive end John Abraham get injured. There is no word yet on whether either will be ready for the playoffs, but it is a good thing that Atlanta has two weeks to heal. The Falcons need that time to prepare. They have made the playoffs a few times in recent years, but have failed to advance past the first round.
12/27/12: Atlanta clinched first place in the NFC for the regular season, earning the team a first round bye and homefield advantage throghout the playoffs, by defeating the Detroit Lions 31-18 in Detroit on Saturday. QB Matt Ryan tied a career high with 4 TD passes, including two to Roddy White, while tossing for almost 300 yards with no turnovers. Atlanta's 13-2 record gives them a chance to match the franchise record of 14 wins from the 1998 season, which was the same year the Falcons made the Super Bowl. Atlanta finishes the season against Tampa on Sunday.
12/20/12: The Atlanta Falcons answered a lot of questions and silenced many critics in their 34-0 humiliation of the New York Giants on Sunday. Many believed that the Falcons were a "weak" 11-2 going into the game, but the team galvanized on Sunday afternoon and the defense played their best game of the year. Matt Ryan threw for 270 yards and 3 TD's, including two to Julio Jones. With the division already secured, the Falcons are battling for homefield advantage and a bye for the playoffs. Atlanta heads to Detroit in search of their 13th win of the season on a rare regular season Saturday night game.
12/13/12: Atlanta has pretty much rolled through the regular season so far, but the upset loss to the Carolina Panthers has the experts doubting the Falcons' chances in the playoffs. Carolina simply dominated and outplayed Atlanta, though the Falcons furiously tried to rally late in the game. Instead, the Panthers stepped on the proverbial throat and scored a late touchdown to pu the game out of reach for good. Atlanta already has the NFC South crown, so now is just working on positioning for the postseason. Atlanta's next test is hosting the defending champion New York Giants.
12/6/12: Many so-called NFL experts have jumped on the Saints bandwagon recently, but the NFC leading Falcons would hear none of that. New Orleans handed Atlanta its only loss of the season a few weeks ago, but the Falcons got their revenge on Sunday, with an efficient 23-13 win that was not as close as the score would indicate. Atlanta's defense forced five Drew Breese turnovers on the nationally broadcast Thursday night game. With Tampa losing to Denver a few days later, the Falcons clinched the NFC South title and are now playing for a bye and home field advantage. Atlanta's next game is Sunday at Carolina.
9/22/12: In a matchup of two unbeaten teams in San Diego, it was the Atlanta Falcons that came out on top 27-3 over the Chargers. Matt Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and Tony Gonzalez caught 9 of those passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons defense was all over Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Atlanta safety Thomas Decoud picked off Rivers twice and recovered a fumble. The Falcons put the game away early having a 20-0 lead by halftime. Former Chargers running back and current Falcons running back Michael Turner ran for a 7-yard TD in the fourth quarter. San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding connected on a field goal early in the third quarter for their only score of the game. The Falcons improve to 3-0 on the year and are one of three teams still undefeated in the league.
4/12/12 The 2012 Atlanta Falcons will be placed under the microscope after a disappointing finish to the 2011 season which saw them exit the playoffs in the first round with a sour 24-2 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. This microscope might come in the form of HBO cameras, as it has been rumored that the Falcons will be the subject of the new season of "Hard Knocks" to air this summer. With the core of their team, including Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and playmakers Julio Jones and Roddy White returning for the 2012 season, the Falcons will look to rejuvenate their high-powered offense for another playoff appearance.
Formed in 1965, the Falcons are building a great new chapter in their history. The Falcons had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history in 2008-2009, and with young quarterback Matt Ryan, they have a bright future and could reach their second Super Bowl in the next few seasons. Get Atlanta Falcons tickets to watch a talented young team on the rise.
Atlanta Falcons Tickets - The Players
Matt Ryan has revived the Atlanta Falcons. He and Roddy White have become an explosive, down field duo as Michael Turner carries the team in the ground attack. Their Defense, lets by John Abraham and Dunta Robinson have also been a force in the NFL. The acquisition of Tony Gonzalez has given Matt Ryan a large target in the red zone as well as an open field threat. Gonzalez's skill set is so versatile and has had people calling him the greatest tight end of all time. This franchise is on its way up while being led by Matt Ryan.
Atlanta Falcons Schedule & Key Dates
Opening Day / Atlanta Falcons First Game 2013
Atlanta Falcons Regular Season Last Game 2013
Atlanta Falcons Preseason Beginning 2013
Dec 15, 2013 Washington Redskins 26 - 27 Atlanta Falcons Dec 8, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 21 - 22 Green Bay Packers Dec 1, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 34 - 31 Buffalo Bills Nov 17, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 28 - 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nov 10, 2013 Seattle Seahawks 33 - 10 Atlanta Falcons Nov 3, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 10 - 34 Carolina Panthers Oct 27, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 13 - 27 Arizona Cardinals Sep 22, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 23 - 27 Miami Dolphins Sep 15, 2013 St. Louis Rams 24 - 31 Atlanta Falcons Sep 8, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 17 - 23 New Orleans Saints Aug 24, 2013 Preseason: Atlanta Falcons 16 - 27 Tennessee Titans Aug 8, 2013 Preseason: Cincinnati Bengals 34 - 10 Atlanta Falcons
Aug 28, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Jacksonville Jaguars Sep 7, 2014 New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons Sep 14, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Cincinnati Bengals Sep 18, 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons Sep 28, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Minnesota Vikings Oct 5, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs New York Giants Oct 12, 2014 Chicago Bears vs Atlanta Falcons Oct 19, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Baltimore Ravens Oct 26, 2014 Detroit Lions vs Atlanta Falcons Nov 9, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nov 16, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers Nov 23, 2014 Cleveland Browns vs Atlanta Falcons Nov 30, 2014 Arizona Cardinals vs Atlanta Falcons Dec 8, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs Green Bay Packers Dec 14, 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Atlanta Falcons Dec 21, 2014 Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints Dec 28, 2014 Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons