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Jeff Schultz columns

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Throwback performance: Falcons blow 27-10 lead and lose
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws an interception to San Diego inside linebacker Denzel Perryman in the fourth quarter, eventually leading to a game-tying field goal by the Chargers. The Falcons blew a 27-10 lead and lost in overtime 30-27. (AP photo)

Updated: 9:19 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016

They had to have one of these games just to remind everybody: Don’t get comfortable. Silly penalties. Dreadful defense, especially on third down. A late-game turnover. A debatable fourth-down decision by the head coach backfires. A 27-10 lead … blown to bits. “This stinks for our team,” Dan Quinn said. ...
If Howard can help Hawks, he’ll change how his story is written
(Dwight Howard illustration by Phill Flanders for the AJC)

2:00 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

In so many ways, Dwight Howard checks every box.Hometown kid returns to Atlanta with a smile as wide as 285. Rebounding and defensive force fills long-time franchise void. Perennial All-Star vows to help repair a wounded franchise that’s rapidly losing our attention.In so many ways, Dwight Howard stomps on every ...
Criticism warranted, but conclusions about Smart premature
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has a lot to prove as a head coach, but he will be given the time to prove it. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

3:07 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016

There is a tendency in sports, as in life and mutant political races, to have every sudden development morph into a misguided absolute or a knee-jerk social-media narrative. Look no further than Georgia football as a microcosm of this universe: Kirby Smart is struggling, so it’s clear Georgia made a ...
Georgia’s makeover looks more like a decline
Georgia coach Kirby Smart walks off the field after falling to Vanderbilt 17-16 at Sanford Stadium, dropping his team to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

6:14 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016

Kirby Smart has said several times that changing a football program’s mindset and implementing his blueprint can take time — it’s like turning a battleship. But seven games into the season, it’s clear there are two problem with that soundbite:This battleship won 10 games last season.This battleship looks like it’s ...
Brian Snitker, a 40-year temp, finally gets his shot
Braves interim manager Brian Snitker talks with reporters in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in May after taking over for the fired Fredi Gonzalez. (AP photo)

3:10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016

The interim manager is now the permanent manager. Or at least as permanent as a one-year guaranteed contract suggests. The Braves love Brian Snitker. They love the fact he put his arms around a wounded team and rescued their season. They love that he won almost as many games as ...
Braves wrong to blame McDowell for pitching issues
Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell confers with prospect Sean Newcomb during spring training at the team’s Disney sports complex. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

12:42 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, 2016

Roger McDowell is out as Braves pitching coach. Big mistake. One possible theory for Friday’s decision to not pick up the option on McDowell’s contract for next season — effectively firing him — is that this means the Braves will hire Bud Black as their new manager. Black is a ...
After massive rebuild, Braves still need starting pitching
Braves president of baseball operations John Hart (center) and general manager John Coppolella (right) have three major decisions this offseason, including whether to retain interim manager Brian Snitker. (Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com)

Updated: 4:31 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016

It’s much easier to tear down a team than it is to build it up. That is certainly true in baseball. Front office executives sell the public on hopes for the future while slashing current and future payroll commitments, dumping veterans and and stockpiling prospects, draft picks and international signing ...
It’s early but Falcons are looking legit
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan celebrates after connecting with wide receiver Julio Jones for a 75-yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in the Georgia Dome Sunday. The Falcons won behind Ryan’s 503 passing yards and Jones’ 300 receiving yards, both franchise records. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Updated: 7:36 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016

If history, both recent and ancient, prevents the average Atlanta resident from screaming, “Super Bowl, baby!” and then running and doing a cannonball into the sports fan’s dangerous Pool of Full Commitment, it’s understandable.It’s four games into the season. The Falcons’ 3-1 record doesn’t guarantee anything other than those who ...
Mark Richt returns and looks right at home again
Mark Richt walks the sideline during Miami’s game at Georgia Tech Saturday. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

Updated: 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016

There was Mark Richt again, walking off the field at Georgia Tech with a win. So clearly some things never change. With apologies to the late Mr. Grant and his heirs, they really need to rename this place Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Mark Richt Field because Richt is now ...
Falcons create a new memory for themselves in New Orleans
Tevin Coleman of the Falcons celebrates a 2-yard touchdown run in the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Monday night. (Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)

Updated: 1:53 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016

The homecoming didn’t belong to the New Orleans Saints this time. The Falcons provided no moment that would be commemorated in bronze, no joy to a division rival that has owned them for the better part of a decade, no fodder for more lampooning by a Monday night television audience.There ...
Falcons can’t create more happy memories for Saints
The memory of New Orleans’ Steve Gleason blocking a punt from the Falcons’ Michael Koenen in 2006 lives in in a sculpture titled, “Rebirth.”

6:23 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016

Ten years ago, the Falcons traveled to New Orleans for the third game of the season, having been summoned by the NFL to play the role of homecoming patsy. It was on that Monday night in 2006 when the Superdome reopened, just as the city was emerging from its post-Katrina ...
New Georgia looks like the old Georgia in ugly loss
Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason looks for an escape route before being sacked by Ole Miss Rebels defensive tackle D.J. Jones during the first quarter in Oxford Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Updated: 6:27 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016

This is the kind of game that got a head coach fired.This is the kind of game that would cause everybody — boosters, fans, administrators, media, a series of Ugas — to look around and wonder: Shouldn’t Georgia be better?Shouldn’t Georgia be at a level where the offense doesn’t go ...
This week will say a lot about where Dogs, Jackets headed
Kirby Smart’s Georgia team has more upside than Georgia Tech because of overall talent, including quarterback Jacob Eason, but will that potential be reached this season? (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

2:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016

It’s building in Athens because, well, it always builds in Athens after a win. Jacob Eason makes a big throw to win an SEC game on the road and suddenly, the overwhelming thought among Georgia fans is, “If he can do that at Missouri, he can do it at Ole ...
Falcons put on an offensive show — and win
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, here calling out signals in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win. (AP photo)

9:06 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016

This might just be one of those seasons when the Falcons keep us guessing … not merely from game to game but series to series … touchdown drive to too-many-knuckleheads on the field during a punt return … blown lead to, wait-whose-hands-did-that-pass-bounce-off-of? … red zone ineptitude to, um, red zone ...
Falcons try to avoid going from 0-1 to off the rails
Falcons second-year linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., who failed to make a tackle in the season-opening loss against Tampa Bay last week, is among those who need to make significant improvement. (Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com)

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016

Hear that? It sounds like a series of splashes. Fans jumping ship. Media dumping on coaches and players. Odds mutating to unexpected forms.Panic … 6.25 percent into the season.The Falcons lost their season opener and now enter a series of games (at Oakland, at New Orleans, home against Carolina, at ...
Sports has a hammer: Get used to it
The NCAA and president Mark Emmert have been criticized for several issues but moving seven championship events out of North Carolina, including men’s basketball tournament games, because of the so-called “bathroom law” was the correct decision. AP photo)

Updated: 5:51 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016

When will it dawn on people that this is reality? When will some understand that many athletes don’t just run fast and jump high but have thoughts on significant issues facing society and choose to use their platform to further their causes? When will local governments understand that when legislation ...
As season opens, it’s Mike Smith 1, Falcons 0
Former Falcons head coach Mike Smith gets a hug from owner Arthur Blank after speaking with general manager Thomas Dimitroff before Sunday’s game. Smith, now Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator, was victorious in his return to Atlanta. (Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com)

6:40 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016

Allow Mike Smith this departure from his norm. The man was known to speak in shades of beige when he was the Falcons’ head coach, by design. But if there was any day when he might pop just a little bit, it would be Sunday. First game of the season. ...
Georgia exposed by team it should’ve handled easily
Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs narrowly escaped with a victory against Nicholls 26-24 at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 10, 2016. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Updated: 6:41 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016

They’re still Georgia.They’re still sooooo Georgia.Their ranking said ninth. Their performance said Liberty Bowl.You want to obsess over some dazzling freshman quarterback and cling to fantasy that it will easy to turn this program into something greater than what it has been? Have at it. But when a team like ...
Predicting the Falcons’ season
Falcons coach Dan Quinn went 8-8 in his first season in part because the team went only 1-5 against NFC South opponents. That has to improve. (Curtis Compton / jschultz@ajc.com)

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016

Sept. 11, Tampa Bay: The Falcons went 1-5 in the NFC South last season, which included getting swept in two games by the Buccaneers for the first time since 2007. Had they gone 3-3, they would’ve finished 10-6 and possibly made the playoffs. And now look: The Falcons will be ...
Film doesn’t lie, but Matt Ryan learning from mistakes
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spends hours watching game film in the quarterback room at the Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Updated: 10:51 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016

Editor's note: This article was first published on June 11, 2016. Flowery Branch -- The lights are off, the door is cracked open and inside a small meeting room at the Falcons’ practice facility, Matt Ryan is sitting in a chair, holding a remote, his eyes shifting from the two ...
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