Tag Archives: Blogs about NFL

#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

Is #Washington WR #JohnRoss fastest ever at #NFLCombine ?

4 Mar

Step aside, Chris Johnson. Possibly. Washington receiver John Ross unofficially ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. If that number stands, it becomes the fastest 40 time in the history of the Indianapolis gathering of incoming prospects. Nine years ago, Johnson (who has played running back for the Titans, Jets, and Cardinals) cranked…

Check out this #NFLCombine update from @ProFootballTalk via John Ross sets Combine speed record, unofficially — ProFootballTalk

#Freebird approach needed for #AtlantaFalcons ‘D’ to improve

1 Dec

The #AtlantaFalcons defense needs to be cut loose to flourish. The #Falcons statistically have gone backwards from 2015 when they were 16th overall to 27th. In 2016, Atlanta allows opponents on average almost 400 yards and 28 points per game. The numbers in 2015 were 348 yards and 22 points per game.

The irony is as a fan this years Falcons ‘D’ is much more fun to watch. Sacks are up. They already have 24 vs 19 all of last year. 12 forced fumbles equaling what they had in all of 2015. This team plays best when it is in attack mode. That fits the skills of the players you have.

The Falcons are team that features speed at linebacker, big hitting at defensive back and youth, starting 4 rookies. Those attributes in the primary scheme they run also is the reason why they have problems stopping anybody. Players are at times out of position and seem confused as plays develop.

Coach Dan Quinn and his defensive coaches need to adjust their game plan to take better advantage of the personnel they put in place. Get the DBs up a little closer to line of scrimmage to eliminate some of the short to mid range passes. The defensive backs have enough closing speed if a receiver gets a step on them.  Beasley, Campbell, and Jones are one of the fastest group of linebackers in the NFL. Use more blitzes and stunts to utilize that speed.

During this year’s summer camp the Falcons invited the press to take part in film sessions and hear a little from the coaches regarding the thought concept behind of the defensive scheme. It seemed simple limit explosive plays, decrease yards after contact through sure initial tackling, and force plays to middle of the field. A ‘strike zone’ where hard hits and strip techniques could create turnovers. Seems as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Find the ball and who has it
  2. Attack the area where it is
  3. Deliver a clean blow with greatest force possible

‘Freebird’ was a hit song in the 70’s by Southern Rock band Lynard Skynard.  The song starts as mournful ballad but midway ramps up and turns loose one of the best rock guitar jams ever.

If the Falcons can do a bit better job of putting their players in a position to succeed, the Falcons ‘D’ may be more like the dominant Seahawks defense he led in Seattle. And that would make the Dirty Birds a Super Bowl contender. Turn ’em loose and let them be Freebirds of prey on the NFL.

By Jonathan Simmons

 

 

In battle of the ‘Birds #Falcons resilience shows in win over #Cardinals

28 Nov

In #ARIvsATL #Falcons  RiseUp for 38-19 win over the visiting Arizona Cardinals.  They looked rested and relaxed in front of a late arriving crowd at the Georgia Dome.

This game between Dirty Birds and Desert Birds, pitted Arizona’s top ranked defense vs Atlanta’s top ranked offense. Falcons were good on both.  The defense limited star Cardinals star running back David Johnson to 58 yards rushing. They turned their attention to QB Carson Palmer who was sacked and intercepted as Arizona only scored 6 points in the 2nd half.

Offensively it was more outstanding play. Once again the Falcons used their ‘Pick your Poison’ approach as Matt Ryan spread the ball around to 8 different receivers. Ryan was 26-34, 269 yards 2 TDs 1 INT, and WR Taylor Gabriel racked up 102 total yards and 2 TDs. The biggest key to the win for the Falcons was the resiliency they showed in responding when the momentum started to shift to the Cardinals.

Arizona cut the Falcon lead to 17-13 right before the half getting a last second FG after set up by an interception when Julio Jones bobbled into air a Matt Ryan pass. They then sacked Matt Ryan 3 times in 6 Atlanta plays to force a punt. However Atlanta forced a 3 and out, then had a 13 play 77 yard TD drive to make the score 24-13. They never looked back after that. That kind of toughness was lacking in last years team. The growing confidence in the Quinn/Shanahan scheme and themselves make this team a playoff contender, and a treat to beat any team they face.

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Ryan silences critics with record 500 yard passing performance

3 Oct

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Matt Ryan has heard the grumbling from fans and the press after last seasons 2nd half collapse. The red zone interceptions. Clear discomfort in Kyle Shanahan’s new offense. The clutch QB play that earned him the nickname ‘Matty Ice’ had been replaced by a hesitant error prone imitation of himself. During his limited work in the 2016 preseason he didn’t look much better.

Ryan stoically handled the criticism as the professional he is and waited to the regular season to unleash the new Matt  Ryan aka  ‘Matticulous’. Ryan has been unstoppable for the 1st quarter of the new season putting up numbers that lead the NFL. He won player of the month for Sept. That was followed up by throwing for a Falcon record 503 yard, 4 TD performance vs the Panthers. He easily won the duel with reigning league MVP Cam Newton who was actually knocked out of the game with a big hit by Deion Jones.

He has been utilizing the many weapons he has at his disposal connecting with 8 or more players in each of the last 2 games. But in yesterday’s game the main thrust of the aerial assault came by ‘Jet’. Julio ‘Jet’ Jones had a career best 300 yards receiving on just 12 receptions. A stunning 25 yards per catch. His last one was a breathtaking  grasp and dash 75 yard TD which sent the Dome into a frenzy. It marked the 1st time in NFL history that a QB threw for 500 or more yards, and a receiver had 300 yards receiving in the same game.

The Falcons offense after 4 games lead the league in scoring, passing yards, and total yards. Ryan also leads QBs in passing, is on a pace to throw for over 5,500 yards and 44 TDs. Of course the season is young, and the NFL unpredictable. But for now Matt Ryan and Falcons can sing to the naysayers – “Turn down for what”

By Minister Jonathan Simmons

Stats from NFL.com

Are the #Falcons too fragile?

18 Sep

 

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It is tough to write articles that are critical or seem negative.The Real Talk Sports show tries to ‘accentuate the positive’. But life and truth often are harsh and tough to deal with. When we look at this Atlanta Falcons team it seems to always be dealing with injuries to the body and psyche.

Let’s look that physical side. It’s only game 2 and you have several key players already banged up. 2 rookie starters LB DeVondre Campbell and S Keanu Neal out.LB/DE Brooks may be out too.  WRs Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, and RB Devonta Frreman have leg injuries. Recently acquired Dwight Freeney only can practice twice per week.And Vic Beasley still doesn’t appear to be 100% either Hopefully a combination of rest and treatment will get all of them back to full speed.

The mental side of things is questionable too. Game 1 had costly procedure penalties, missed assignments, and poor tackling. There still is a disconnect between QB Matt Ryan and OC Kyle Shanahan. Matt had good stats, but timing was off on several throws causing him to throw behind receivers in critical moments. 1st round pick Vic Beasley had NO tackles or sacks. The mild mannered young also seems out of sorts at times and is rumored not to take tough coaching critique well.

Atlanta’s pro sports teams are filled with nice guys. As a licensed minister I believe that’s a good thing in life to be. However, sports especially at the professional level requires passion, intensity and toughness.

At some point the Falcons are going to have to find some guys with “a little dog in ’em” to give this team the confidence and winning edge they need to get them back to playoffs. Just saying.

By-Minister Jonathan Simmons

 

#CardonPalmer and #LarryFitzgerald join #Manning in #SuperBowl of Old Men #AZvsCAR

25 Jan

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Cam Newton has been the best in the NFL this year. But Cardinal vets QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald know this could be their last opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. This may be just enough steam to get Arizona past the Panthers and into SB 50.

If they are able to join Denver Broncos Petyon Manning and Demarcus Ware, Super Bowl 50 will certainly be a place for old men.

Does color or star power determine how the media covers athletes?

23 Jan

After watching an #ESPN E:60 story on the Patriots Rob Gronkowski the question again came to my mind. Is their a difference in how athletes actions are portrayed in the media and viewed by the public based on their race?

Rob Gronkowski is one of the best TE in the NFL right now. If he continues to produce at this rate for a few more years, he will be considered one of the greatest ever. He also is a bit wild off the field with a penchant for partying.

In the E:60 story his antics were often talked about by family and friends as simply those of big goofy kid. One who likes to push the limits placed on him as his dad said. Even his mom talked about him doing the things that any single 20-23 year old would want to do.

Just a guy from a blue collar family that is celebrating his success and enjoying life with those around him.

When I hear stories like this involving a black athlete the terms seem different. Family members and friends are often described  with terms like ‘posse’, ‘entourage’, etc.  Imagine what would be said about that mom if she made similar comments? Many people would talk about her not raising her son right.

What would be the commentary have been about Marshawn Lynch if he had been spotted in the club throwing back a few shots after Seattle lost to New England in the Super Bowl last year? Or if there was video of him playing around with a porn star? How about dancing naked in a video? Based on the heat he got just for not talking to the media one can only imagine.

Why are players Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane who had repeated problems with drinking and partying in his career, or former Atlanta Brave star Chipper Jones who cheated on his 1st wife, and may have on his 2nd seemingly not chastised with the same vehemence?

It is star power? Is it being the face of the franchise? Is it skin color? Or may a combination of them all. Whatever the answer is the debate remains. Do you think there is color or cultural bias in news reporting?

By Minister Jonathan Simmons (@MinisterJSimm)

#Falcons beat #Panthers 20-13 to end their bid for an undefeated season #CARvsATL

28 Dec

It was another great game by WR Julio Jones, a gutsy performance by QB Matt Ryan and steady play by RB Devonta Freman that fueled Atlanta’s win over the Panthers. Freeman scored the ‘Birds first TD with a nice burst off tackle to tie the score at 7. Jones and Ryan later hooked up on a spectacular 70 yard leaping catch and run to give the Falcons a lead they would never relinquish. The ‘Big 3’played well when it counted, converting key 3rd downs to keep drives alive.

Check out Julio Jones crazy game highlights from NFL.com

The ‘D’ was sharp as well/ They harassed  MVP Cam Newton and kept him from the making the big plays that burned them in the past. They also got  a sack, and forced a fumble to seal the game with about a minute to go.

The Falcons at time of this story still had a mathematical chance to make the playoffs. But even if they don’t make it, their season can be salvaged by beating the Saints next week to finish 9-7. Let’s see if they can finish strong

 

Pastor Cecil Newton talks about son #CamNewton playing in Atlanta vs Falcons #CARvsATL

27 Dec

REAL AJ FOUNDATION GAME 123

While covering The Real AJ Foundation All Star we caught with Pastor Cecil Newton father of Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton. Cam is the favorite to win this year’s NFL MVP.

Pastor Newton was there to watch his youngest son Caylin play in the game. The game feature top players and teams from all ages playing in support of the foundation. This is a portion of our interview with him. For more info about founder A.J.Starr and the foundation click HERE Stay tuned for the full interview with Pastor Newton and more on the scene coverage of great events. 

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