Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

COVER 9@9: Give Kyle Shanahan a break

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The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov preview Falcons-Vikings by looking back at the way the Packers beat Minnesota and by getting into Matt Ryan’s struggles.

I see the tweets blaming the offensive coordinator for Matt Ryan’s porous play.

You can’t put the 13 turnovers on Shanahan. Ryan has accepted responsibility for his decision-making on the D’Qwell Jackson interception and his other mishaps this season. Ryan's got to play better or they are doomed to watching the playoffs from the couch again.

As soon as the Falcons start losing, all of the Twitter GMs start chiming in, calling for the offensive coordinator’s head. We saw this with coaches Mike Mularkey and Dirk Koetter.

Mularkey wasn’t creative enough in the end for some of the Twitter GMs after winning with a rookie quarterback and setting records.

Koetter had the Falcons just 10 yards away from the Super Bowl and if the pass interference was called on the final play, the Falcons would have gone to their second Super Bowl.

Now, does Shanahan needs some help? Sure, he does.

We all have some issues with the offense because its averaging just 17.6 points a game over the past five games.

Here’s my list for Shanahan.

--Get the route combinations right. Ryan is not throwing to his right outside the numbers very well right now. He said he’s not hurt, but he’s sailing a lot of passes. Call the routes he’s throwing accurately and stop wasting downs. If he's not hurt, the QB coach needs to start making him step into his throws. (That's where Terry Bradshaw's mechanics stuff comes from.)

--Don’t call another pass play from your 1-yard line with a lead. Count to three, call another play. Like a fullback dive.

--Keep getting Roddy the ball. Loved how the Falcons opened against the Colts' game with three passes, two of them scripted, to White. Do that again this week. He can catch. Hankerson has too many drops.

--Go ahead and let Ryan run the no-huddle. He’s going to make you look very smart. (We already know you're smart, but what's wrong with looking even smarter?)

--Not sure about the tempo stuff. Don’t want the defense back out on the field quicker.

--Make Tevin Coleman run the hill with the football after practice. No more fumbles.

That’s about it, for now. 

 2. PERSON FITTING IN: Our JuliaKate Culpepper caught up with Falcons center Mike Person, who has been with four teams before sticking with the Falcons. Here’s what he had to say:

“It’s a great group of guys, this whole team is,” Person said. “From day one, everyone here makes you feel welcome. It makes it that much easier to get adjusted in and feel comfortable with where you’re at. It didn’t take too long at all (to get adjusted).”

On what made the difference in getting adjusted in Atlanta: “It’s just the group. They’re so accommodating for you. We have something special here because everyone’s so close with each other. All the teams that I’ve been on, if you have that then, you can do some big things.”

On the offensive line and three of the starting five signing with the team in the offseason/preseason: “We’re a fun group. We like to hang out together and not just here but off the field too. That goes a long a long way getting to know one another. It’s just a great group of guys, it really is.”

Biggest adjustment made when he signed with Atlanta: “The heat. No, I don’t know, it wasn’t too big of an adjustment honestly. It was just another opportunity that I had a chance to take advantage of and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

How he’s feeling about how he’s playing so far this season: “I’ve done alright, but obviously there’s always room for improvement every single day. I just got to go out there and keep on working and get better every day.”

 4. TAMME'S REVIVAL: Our JuliaKate Culpepper also caught up with tight end Jacob Tamme, who’s reviving his career this season.

He has 39 catches for 446 yards and a touchdown this season. He had a season-high 10 catches for 103 yards in the loss to Tampa Bay. It was his most receiving yards since week nine of the 2010 season.

Here’s what he had to say:

On the biggest adjustment coming from Denver to Atlanta: “I think the biggest adjustment was probably just getting to know all the guys. Every year, every team goes through that though because whether you stay in the same place, you have a lot of the same guys back but there’s a lot of turnover at every team every year the way the NFL works. So getting in here and getting to know the guys is always the biggest adjustment and that was easy because we have a great group of guys.”

Without disrespecting other teams, what makes the Falcons a good fit for you; “I’ve been really blessed. I’ve been in three really good places and I’ve really enjoyed all three. Being here right now is perfect for me. I love the way our team operates. The way we go about our preparation and it’s been a lot of fun to be here with these guys. That for me, has been a really cool part of it.”

On when he felt adjusted and that he figured everything out: “I’m still working on that as far as figuring everything out. I feel like the getting comfortable part was easy because we have such a good group of guys. But you forge something the more you’re in the fire together, the more you’re on the field in the big situations together, winning ballgames, fighting through tough times, all that stuff. Every time that happens you build a little bit more together so we’re still in that process.”

On what he’s still “figuring out”: “We’re always trying to get better. That side of it’s always a progression. You’re always trying to get better and I think we have a lot of guys trying to do that each week. And if we do, we’ll find ways to win some of these games

On his performance this season: “I always felt like he have a lot of weapons offensively and we’re still (progressing) kind of figuring out each game, what we need to do to win the game. We have a team that can run and throw the ball and we just have to keep improving in both of those areas and we can get a defense on it’s heels when we’re clicking on all cylinders. I think the key for us is to click on all cylinders and I feel like I can definitely help us with whatever my role is in any given game. That’s exciting for me, but we as an offense know we need to get the ball in the end zone more.”

5. TOYS FOR TOTS DRIVE: The Falcons are teaming up with the United States Marine Corps to host the 2015 Toys for Tots Drive at this Sunday’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings on November 29. Fans are encouraged to bring new unwrapped toys and/or make a monetary donation. Marines will be stationed at all Georgia Dome gates from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. to collect donations.

6. KING GETS SOME ACTION: Lost in the mayhem last week was the play of rookie cornerback Akeem King, who's moved ahead of Phillip Adams. King, who had a key pass interference call, played six snaps on defense and 19 on special teams. He had one special teams tackle. Adams, who has made three starts, was inactive for the first time this season.

7. NO. 1 RANKED RUN DEFENSE: The Falcons’ defense has risen to be ranked No. 1 against the run in the league.

The Falcons held the Colts to 74 yards rushing in their last outing and are now giving up just 87.4 yards per game. New England is second at 88.8 yards a game followed by the New York Jets at 91.6 per game. Cleveland, which is giving up 138.8 yards rushing per game, is 32nd in the league.

t’s a dramatic turnaround under first-year coach Dan Quinn, from a unit that couldn’t get off the field last season. The Falcons finished last season ranked 21st against the run (118.4 yards rushing per game).

This season, the Falcons defense has slowed down Philadelphia’s DeMarco Murray (eight carries for 9 yards), Houston’s Arian Foster (8 for 10), Washington’s Alfred Morris (8 for 15), New Orleans’ Mark Ingram (20 for 46) and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin (23 for 71).

Overall, the defense is ranked 10th in the league (335.7 total yards per game). They are 18th against the pass (248.3 yards per game) and 12th in scoring (21.4 points per game).

8. RED ZONE UPDATE: The Falcons have scored 23 touchdowns on 37 red zone trips this season, which is tied for the fifth best in the NFL. The Falcons' 37 red zone drives, ranks within the top 10 in the NFL.

9. DEPTH CHART: I took the liberty to move linebacker Philip Wheeler ahead of Joplo Bartu, who was inactive last week.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki

WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 51 Philip Wheeler, 59 Joplo Bartu

LB 55 Paul Worrilow 54 Nate Stupar

LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 28 Akeem King

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 30 Charles Godfrey

S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

PR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

Here's how the Falcons reached the 6-4 mark after 10 games

Here's a look back at the game stories, news and notes from the Falcons' games this season after their disappointing 24-21 loss to the Colts on Sunday.


5 things we learned from the Falcons' 24-21 loss to the Colt s

QUARTER-BY-QUARTER LOOK: How the Falcons lost to the Colts

Defense melted on key third down situation

9 comments from Dan Quinn on the loss to the Colts

What the Falcons had to say after the 24-21 loss

MATT RYAN: 'I've got to be better than that'

Rough day for Falcons rookies


5 things we learned from the Falcons' 17-16 loss to the 49ers

How the 49ers beat the Falcons, 17-16

JEFF SCHULTZ: Latest Falcons' embarrassment is on Dan Quinn

Gabbert, 49ers make Falcons defense look weak

Weems provides brief spark with big returns

PHOTOS -- Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE -- Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 23-20 loss to the Bucs

How the Falcons lost to the Bucs in OT

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the loss to the Bucs

Adams disagreed with overtime pass interference call

Matt Ryan's miscues help to gift the Bucs' 20 points

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons were saying after the 23-20 loss to the Bucs

Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston bests his role model: 'Mr. Ryan'

Falcons defense holds up, but forces no turnovers

Falcons rallied behind wide receiver Julio Jones

Bucs rookie linebacker Alexander dedicates win to deceased brother

TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 10, Titans 7

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans

BRADLEY: Falcons do enough to survive

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.