Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Ryan and Quinn need to find their A game for #Falcons to reach #NFLPlayoffs

12 Dec

 

In the roller coaster season for the Atlanta Falcons the only constant has been questionable play of QB Matt Ryan and on field strategy of Head Coach Dan Quinn. These two, with Ryan being the bigger culprit have either cost the Falcons games outright, or made the wins much closer than they should have been. Matt Ryan the MVP of the NFL last year, has regressed. Gone is the maestro orchestrating one of the best offenses in league history. In 2016 -17 he seemed to always make the right throw, at the right time. Ball security was excellent having a 5-1 TD to INT ratio while still throwing enough to have almost 5000 Yards passing.

Dan Quinn was the captain of ship of players after his own heart . Rookies he helped select were making huge contributions on defense.  His hand picked OC Kyle Shanahan went from Atlanta’s most wanted out, to the hottest head coaching prospects and landing the 49er job.

This year there are multiple new coaches including new offensive and defensive coordinators, and QB coach. The defense has improved statistically moving into the top 10 in fewest yards allowed. However the dominant, record setting offense has taken a big step backwards. Quinn also continues to make strange, risky decisions in crucial times, especially clock management.

As for Matt Ryan, all of his key measurables up to this point in 2017 are down in comparison to last year. TD to INT 17/11 vs 38/7. QB rating 92.4 vs 117/1 . 252 yards per game passing vs 309 per in 2016. One of the greatest offenses in NFL history last year has become average and predictable. Scoring per game is down 33% averaging 22 points per game down from 33 per game.

Quinn has been given a pass by most of us in the media due to his upbeat nature and energy. Ryan has been criticized more often, sometimes unfairly especially by fans many who point to him as why the team can’t reach its potential.

The team still has the ability to reach the playoffs in their own hands. Win out, they are definitely in. Take 2 of 3 probably still will make it. The task isn’t easy. All 3 games are against division opponents. New Orleans and Carolina are ahead of them in the standings.

One other thing this years Atlanta Falcons have also been is resilient. If Matt Ryan can play more like the reigning league MVP, and Dan Quinn can make sound Late game decisions this team has the personnel to make some noise in postseason.

But if they don’t at least get there, Ryan and Quinn will face some hard questions this offseason. Explaning why this became such a ‘year of living dangerously ‘m

Advertisements

#Falcons miss opportunity to solidify playoff spot in loss to #Vikings

4 Dec
4530.jpg

Photo- Greg C

It was there for the taking The Atlanta had things working in their favor. Star RB Devonta Freeman was back and running with the same violence as always. The offensive line had kept QB Matt Ryan from being sacked. The defense was avoiding big plays in the passing game and held Minnesota to 1 TD in each half.  But Falcons wasn’t able to score a touchdown, and Matt Bryant missed a 45 yard in the 4th quarter as they lost to the Vikings 14-9. The key problem was the Falcons offense was unable to convert on third down. Atlanta was only 1 of 10. Most of the problems came from the fact that the offensive line had negating gains and putting them in third and long situations. That down and distance are difficult for any team to convert. Meanwhile QB Case Keenum was almost perfect connecting on 25 of 30 for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Vikings unlike the Falcons had most of their 3rd down conversions with less than 5 yards needed.

The Birds don’t have long to regroup. They host their arch rivals the NFC South leading  N.O. Saints in just 3 days for a huge Thursday night clash. The Falcon still have their playoff hopes in their own hands. Hope they don’t drop the ball.

#Falcons vs #Seahawks – No room for error in #NFLPlayoff chase

21 Nov

The 2017 Atlanta Falcons have played their way into a precarious position in their quest to return to the postseason.

Winnable games vs the Bills, Dolphins at home, and Panthers on the road have left them in 3rd place in the NFC South. Even after a big home win against a depleted Cowboys team, Atlanta needs to win 5 or 6 of their last 7 games to get back in the playoffs. The good news is all but 2 of those games are against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. The bad news is those teams are playing well.

The Falcons offense looked the best it has since the opening game vs Green Bay. 6 different players caught at least 2 passes from Matt Ryan who looked loose and confident even when forced out of the pocket. Atlanta even ran some hurry up offense a few times (finally)

Once again the Falcons opponent will be missing key players from their roster. All Pro defenders Cam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Cliff Averil are all out due to injury.  The Falcons offense should be able to move the ball against Seattle IF they have the cohesiveness and execution of last Sunday.

On defense for the 3rd week in a row Atlanta has the challenge of stopping a dual threat QB. Against the Panthers the D had huge problems stopping Cam Newton. They fared much better against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys sacking him 8 times.  With Russell Wilson they face their stiffest challenge yet. Not only is he elusive but his ability to make big plays of a scramble is amazing

If the Falcons can contain Wilson and maintain their offensive efficiency from last week. Atlanta will have the same record they had after 10 games last year, 6-4.  They also will find themselves right back in the middle of the playoff hunt.

#YellowJackets QB play and speed key for a #CFAKickoff win

4 Sep

DSCF3119

Georgia Tech finds themselves on their biggest stage since the 2014 Orange Bowl. In that game they also were up against a ranked SEC opponent. The Jackets were led by mercurial quarterback Justin Thomas. Thomas had one his best games a Tech uniform. He garnered MVP as he accounted for 4 TDs en route to a 49-34 Tech win.

This year there was no clear starter at QB even though Matthew Jordan was Thomas backup last year.  But after Jordan was injured the best option is last years 3rd stringer TaQuan Marshall, at 5’10 185 he is built and runs more like the elusive Thomas. Jordan at 6’2 and over 200 lbs was the better straight ahead runner, but look for Marshall to get some explosive plays before the night is done.

The other spot where Jackets have speed lurking is at running back.  As noted in the GT Football website local product  B-Back KirVonte Benson has outstanding speed. Qua Searcy at the A-back spot is always a threat on the jet sweep and dangerous as a receiver as well.

The Vols defense gave up over 200 yards per game rushing in 2016. Tech has averaged almost 260 yards and 5.5 per carry. If the Jackets can do that tonight thet ay have their 4th straight win over an SEC opponent. And we know how much Coach Paul Johnson would like that.

#Falcons final 2 practices at Flowery Branch before 1st game at MB Stadium

23 Aug

Dan Quinn Falcons Head Coach

The Falcons are back to the norm except for one change. Their Friday walk through will be at their brand new home – Mercedes Benz Stadium.

This season is unique as the Falcons are defending NFC for only the 2nd time AND heading into a brand new stadium that is a technological marvel.

How important is it to have this walk through on Saturday and 2 home games at the new stadium before playing regular season game there?

It will also give coaches the opportunity to evaluate players under pressure of not only making the team, but the excitement of a new stadium and a real regular season feel

Coach Dan Quinn in his daily press conference gave the media some key points to consider:

  • Linebackers look good. Rookie Due Riley’s initial impact may be biggest on special teams. Quinn loves the way he flies around.
  • De’Vondre Campbell has looked good at the Sam LB spot
  • DE Jack Crawford has quickness unusual for a man that size.
  • Coach Bryant Young has the ability to coach the D-Line with a hands on approach befitting a recently retired player

Running back, lineman, and defensive backs are areas that still have the most competition remaining in terms of the 53 man roster. Coach Quinn still deciding whether to have coordinators and ass’t coaches calling plays form on the field or in the press box.

Click Here for the VIDEO of the press conference.

#DwightHoward trade signals beginning of #Hawks2020

21 Jun

 

Atlanta has traded C Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets just 2 days before the 2017 NBA Draft. Click HERE for the ESPN story.  This means the Hawks are going to launch #Hawks2020 The goal – build a team that can realistically compete for an NBA title by 2020. The Hawks are looking to create a sustainable winner that creates real fan allegiance. They want to develop this a way like ATLUTD soccer and the Falcons.

Have a style of play that is both easy to watch and players easy to root for. The Hawks plan to control their brand from top to bottom.

They are using cutting edge fan engagement to keep fans connected and excited about the team. Great social media, in-game promotions and personalized VIP experience via the Hardwood Club draws upscale millennials and a diverse group of fans to buy in as they move into the future.    Atlanta also looks maximize control of all aspects of player training, development, and health. There is a  90,000 sq ft combined practice and sports science facility in partnership with Emory Healthcare. Soon there will be a brand new D league facility built in College Park less than 20 miles south of Atlanta.

Eventually there will be development of The Gulch area near Philips Arena into a work, live, play development similar to the area around the Battery adjacent to the Braves SunTrust Park.

The Hawks even offer special ticket packages to new Moms with Grady hospital. Pretty soon it might be engineering Hawks fans from birth, and players from High School to the NBA in the Hawks mold.

A kind of Sports genetic engineering. Hmm Atlanta Hawks the first GMO NBA franchise..

Keeping Your Eyes On The Ball (@Lavarbigballer) – Egomaniac or good parenting?

29 May

LAVAR-BALL-20170527-USA-DJM-054-91257832

Is Lavar Ball following in the footsteps of Earl Woods and Richard Williams? Or is he an over the top version of a parent’s ego gone wild trying to grab glory through their child?

The Williams and Woods kids were good, really good. Child prodigies.  Each man had no problem letting you know it.  What we really didn’t understand is how these men were grooming their children to dominate their sports of tennis and golf. Places were African Americans had few champions

Richard Williams was ridiculed when he told the world that his two daughters who he raised in Compton playing on rough public courts nearby, would become the best female tennis players in the world. He was one of the few not surprised when BOTH of his daughters took the tough lessons they learned on those rough city courts and used them to help them become queens of the tennis world. Each taking turns being the dominate player I the sport before Serena’s physical and mental strength would launch her assault on the record books and conversation of being the GOAT.

Earl Woods introduced to his son Tiger to the world at just 3 years old on the Merv Griffin show. Even at that age we saw his ability to take command of the moment with the help of his dad.

Later while he was still an amateur there were bold prediction of PGA Tour greatness was there before he had won a PGA tournament. The marketing hype was there too. Remember the ‘Hello World” press conference?  He already had multiple endorsement deals in his pocket at time of arrival on the Tour much to the irritation of those who had labored for years already. We forget the bold statements of pride by Earl Woods because of his well-spoken demeanor and military background. Plus Tiger’s giant smile, and a confidence that grabbed you and made you a believer.

So is Lavar Ball really that much different than Williams and Woods? Maybe this whole way of acting is part of the plan. Ball knows like Richard Williams and Earl Woods that being great requires more mental toughness than physical talent. The ability to excel while under enormous pressure on the field/court, extreme scrutiny off it.  The huge amount of money and power giving to those that excel in sports is mind boggling. Maybe Lavar Ball is showing his son how to deal with some of these things.  In some ways he lso is acting as a shield for him. Much of the attention has been shifted to his father. No matter what happens now he wins in the public discourse. He doesn’t live up to hype? It’s because of his overbearing father. If he meets or exceeds expectations? Then he is applauded for being able to achieve this in spite of his crazy dad.

Lavar Ball may turn out to be crazy…like a fox

There must be something about Cali that produces these strong African American fathers who are brimming with confidence, and the ability teach their progeny to have it as well.  All this while helping them to understand the additional challenges of doing this while being Black in America.

By Minister Jonathan Simmons

 

#Falcons pick of #TakkaristMcKinley – hubris or just following their hunches?

28 Apr

Takkaist McKinley usa_today_10033656.1493351431
Photo from USA Today on BruinsNation.com

The  2017 NFL draft ‘needs list’ for the Falcons wasn’t too much different from 2015 or 2016. Get a good edge rusher, and shore up the offensive line with players who could play right away. In 2015 the pick was fairly obvious. Pundits and fans alike thought Vic Beasley the standout DE from Clemson had shown the speed and quickness to be a good NFL pass rusher.  Even though he was a bit undersized at only 235 pounds, Atlanta drafted him 6th overall.  He has become one of the NFL’s  best pass rushers , leading the league last year in sacks.

In 2016 however the Falcons started with picks that did not seem to address their needs at all.  1st round pick Keanu Neal was a SAFETY, not an edge rusher. 2nd round pick Deion Jones was fast but was a middle linebacker, and like Vic Beasley a little undersized.  Reaves turned out to be a ‘thumper’ who patrolled the Falcons back-end. and dished out punishment to opposing players at will. Deion was a tackling machine and rookie of the year finalist. Another slam dunk for the Falcons.

So here we are in 2017 and again Atlanta surprises us by picking outside linebacker Takkarist McKinley from UCLA.  McKinley appears to be another ‘DQ’ (Dan Quinn) guy. The All Pac 12 DE/OLB is described by NFL.com as “Relentless worker bee on the field” “…and is always charging towards the ball” However on the other side he is considered to be “raw” and a “little stiff in the lower body” He also is coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.  He was slotted by some to be a 2nd round pick. Why did the Falcons traded a 3rd round and 7th rounder to move from 25th to 31st pick to get him. In a draft which is supposed to be one of the deepest in history it seems they could have stayed put and still got him. 1st round picks should be impact players on your team right away. The fact the Falcons selected a raw, injured, player with big potential, means  Falcons leadership is convinced they have the coaching system and team culture that allows them to get the most from the players they bring on board.

The rest of the Falcons draft has yet to unfold. But if McKinley plays the way last year’s draft group did, the Falcons could back in the Super Bowl again and got another rising star in Takkarist McKinley press conference bad language notwithstanding.

By Jonathan Simmons

#Hawks must choose style to define team, and win consistently

8 Mar

IHawks Cavs THJ MG_5105

The 2016-17 season started out with great promise  for the #Hawks as they jumped out to a 9-2 start. This opening stretch included back to wins vs the Rockets at home, and the Cavs on the road. Coach Bud seemed to have the perfect  setup. The first team liked to get the ball inside with alley oops to Dwight Howard or sometimes pick and rolls with Paul Millsap. The 2nd unit led by the explosive scoring of Tim Hardaway Jr. and efficiency of Mike Muscala, or Ersan Ilasova  would give Atlanta to change the tempo of the game when needed, and keep the starters fresh.

Since then Atlanta lineups have at time seemed to be tossed together at random. Players seem at times to be ill at ease with one another on the court. The good ball movement which had been a Hawks trademark under Coach Bud, now constantly deteriorates in dribble fests ending in bad passes and missed shots.

They must choose whether they are a primarily a half court team using more pick an drolls  with Millsap and inside out game with Howard. Or play more small ball with Millsap, Ilyasova, and Hardaway running more of an up tempo game.  You can include Dwight Howard in this style too by having him operate as a ‘trigger man’ with outlet passes to ignite fast breaks like Bill Russell did with Celtics, Kareem with the Lakers, and even Tim Duncan late in his career at San Antonio

This team needs an identity if they want to be consistent winners. The question is do they have the will and patience to do it.

#AtlHawks blow last minute lead, lose to #Pacers at home

6 Mar

The #AtlHawks looked like they were on their way to a hard fought victory over the Indiana Pacers. They had a 96-90 lead with less the 2 minutes to go, a 96-94 lead AND the ball with about 30 seconds. But it was all for nought as the Pacers Glenn Robinson III hit a 3 pointer with 0.6 seconds left to give them a stunning 97-96 victory over the Hawks.

This game marked the return of former Hawks PG Jeff Teaugue  for the first time since he had been traded to the Pacers for a second round pick after the 2016 season.

Atlanta took an early 30-19 lead, then Indiana’s All Star G Paul George took over. George scored 24 of his game high 34 in the 1st half to help the Pacers take the lead before Atlanta came back to tie the game at 50 to end the 1st half.

The Hawks continued to have problems with George until they placed Paul Millsap on him in 3rd quarter. He did not score after that. By that time however they had forged a 7 point lead going to the 4th quarter.

The Hawks defense, and the offensive punch by Tim Hardaway, Jr (THJ) finally allowed Atlanta to overtake the Pacers and take a 6 point lead in the clising minutes. That’s when things went horribly wrong.

Paul Millsap has been the Hawks best offensive player all year and over the last 2 months Tim Hardaway Jr has been right behind him. Last night was no different. Millsap had 24 to lead all Hawks, and THJ scored 10 of his 23 in the final period. But when the Hawks looked to seal the win late, both men came up short. AMillsap missed shot, then turnover on consecutive possesion allowed the Pacers to cut the lead to 96-94. Then an ill advised 3 pt attempt by Hardaway set the stage for Robinson’s game winner. (Click here to see video)

This has been a recurring theme for this team. An inability to get consistent clutch baskets/plays from their best players. Until this changes the Atlanta Hawks and their fans will continue to deal with more frustrating losses.

 

%d bloggers like this: