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A Look At The Atlanta Falcons

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 23, 2011 – 8:39 am

The Vikings are back on the road this weekend and will fly south to tussle with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons boast a 6-4 record, are in 2nd place in the NFC South, and are coming off a 23-17 win over the Tennessee Titans at home.

Home for the Falcons is the Georgia Dome, a place where they’ve won 16 of their last 21 regular season games. The Vikings haven’t played Atlanta on the road since 2005 – a 30-10 loss – and have logged a 1-1 record against the Falcons since 2007.

There will be a lot of familiarity when the Vikings and Falcons clash on Sunday. Vikings WR Michael Jenkins played for the Falcons from 2004-10, Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave was an assistant coach in Atlanta from 2006-10, and Vikings WRs coach George Stewart held the same position for the Falcons from 2003-06. In addition to that, former Vikings DE Ray Edwards is now a starter for Atlanta’s defense. Edwards had 8.5 sacks for the Vikings in 2009 and 8.0 more in 2010, but so far this season for the Falcons he has just 2.0.

The Falcons entered the 2011 season with high expectations. They won their division in 2010 and, consequently, hosted a home playoff game. The Green Bay Packers marched into the Georgia Dome and steamrolled the Falcons, though, which prompted the franchise to make a few slight adjustments before making another run at the Lombardi Trophy this season. The highlight of Atlanta’s offseason came during the draft when they traded up from the bottom of the first round to the sixth spot so they could select WR Julio Jones. Typically a run-leaning offense, the move to acquire Jones infused the offense with another aerial threat and it also laid the foundation for sky-high expectations in 2011.

Atlanta got off to an uneven start this season, moving to 3-3 after a Week 6 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Two more wins sandwiched around a bye got the Falcons to 5-3, and things were looking good for head coach Mike Smith’s team. But then the New Orleans Saints came to town, solved the Georgia Dome hex and took control of the division with a 26-23 overtime victory. The Falcons defeated Tennessee the following week, and will now look to log consecutive victories while hosting the Vikings on Sunday.

If Atlanta is to defeat the Vikings, they’ll have to do so without Jones. The 1st-round pick is dealing with a hamstring injury and said earlier this week he’s unsure if he’ll be able to play on Sunday. The Falcons have plenty of weapons even if Jones doesn’t play. They feature one of the NFL’s best RBs in Michael Turner, who ranks 5th in the NFL with 888 rushing yards and also has 8 rushing TDs. When Atlanta attacks through the air, TE Tony Gonzalez and WR Roddy White are the primary targets. Gonzalez and White have combined for 104 catches and 10 TDs already this season.

Guiding the Falcons offense is Matt Ryan, a 4th-year veteran who is completing 60.8% of his passes. Ryan’s career TD-INT ratio is 81-44, an impressive mark, and in 2011 that ratio is 15-10. He’s a composed and poised passer in the pocket who prefers to stand in and throw in the face or pressure rather than escape and get work done on the run.

It’s fair to call the Falcons offense a balanced attack. Atlanta has 361 passing attempts and 291 rushing attempts, and they’ve scored 15 TDs through the air compared to 10 on the ground. The Falcons have the NFL’s 12th ranked total offense and the 14th-ranked scoring offense.

Defensively, the Falcons are better than the statistics say. Their head coach is a former defensive assistant coach for the Ravens and Defensive Coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Atlanta has the 15th ranked total defense and is ranked just 26th against the pass, but only San Francisco is better against the run. Atlanta employs a 4-3 scheme that features solid starters across the board. Edwards and 4-time Pro Bowler John Abraham anchor the team’s pass rush from the DE position, while a trio of young LBs – Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nichols and Sean Witherspoon – hold things down in the middle of the field. In the secondary, the Falcons feature Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes – one of my favorite restricted free agents from last offseason – at CB and then Thomas DeCoud and William Moore at safety.

That’s a quick look at the Falcons, as the Vikings begin their on-field preparations today and work toward their Week 12 showdown with the Falcons this Sunday. We’ll have plenty more today and throughout the week, so stay tuned to vikings.com for everything Purple.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 32 Comments »


32 Responses to “A Look At The Atlanta Falcons”

  1. By Deertracks on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Never fear, Edwards will be here, or there…With the Swiss cheeze Viking OL, Edwards should be able to raise his sack numbers from 2.0 to maybe 6.5 or above this weekend…

  2. By Parody on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    WEll, without AP, that just gives their run defense even more leverage against us. They can probably move into the #1 spot this weekend. Hopefully that means we get to see a lot passing though. I’m hoping to see Ponder have his best game to date this week.

  3. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Feed Toby a lot– he does get going.

  4. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Go 49ers!
    Go Lions!
    Cowboys-Dolphins? Who cares?

  5. By xvike on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Ponder having his best game? Without Peterson? I highly doubt that. I wouldn’t even worry about the vikings running the ball if i were the falcons. Without peterson, its going to be much more difficult for ponder.

  6. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    I have a funny feeling about this game– I think we will win.

  7. By Animal26 on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    this game is going to be ugly, but on the other hand losing will only give the Vikes a better spot on the drafting board, so either way I think I’m ok with either outcome, since the playoffs are out of reach.

  8. By Viking Joe on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Titus I like your optimism, but the only chance for the win is keeping Ponder upright.

  9. By vikeforever on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    this game won’t even be close. I just hope Ponder continues developing and maybe get a look at some players giving them a chance. Jared getting a few sacks but that is it – we are not winning another game unless we match up with a team as futile as the Vikes…

  10. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Anyone see the horrible coaching for the Falcons — Atlanta vs New Orleans? You never know— Vikings 31, Falcons 27

  11. By Viking Joe on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    One of the main keys is to stop Abraham, he’s tearing it up.

  12. By VegasVike on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    I watched Toby a lot in college, don’t discount him. He’s young, quick and strong. He’s never been given the opportunity to be the star. This is his shot.

  13. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve watched Toby with the Vikings– when fed the ball, he gets on a roll, Remember that Washington game last year?

  14. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    I know some of my predictions are hopeful and almost wishful thinking– I do it because I am a fan and stick by my team– but seriously, this week, I have a strange feeling we really will provide an upset.

  15. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    If we lose this week-end, I promise– no more predictions this season.

  16. By Parody on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    I have a funny feeling too…I feel like we’ll see a flash from the team to give us hope…and then they’ll crumble at the end to make us feel that much worse for believing in them…

  17. By VegasVike on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Lol Parody

  18. By Derrick.G on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Parody is right. I see a remake of the Detroit – Vikings game….

  19. By Derrick.G on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    And after we lose again Titus makes another prediction anyways…hahahaha. Optimism is key. Im optimistic we will play 2 quarters!

  20. By sandiamond on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Jake Locker made some strides(2 td’s) in the 2nd half last week vs the falcons. This guy has a rifle arm and he looked like a kid in the candy store with his first action of the year. Got a feeling it will be a duplicate blueprint in our game sunday with Ponder attempting to bring us back in the 2nd half

  21. By Rocksalt on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    Matt Ryan will have a career day. He’s probably giddy about his matchup with our DBs

  22. By CanadianVF on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    The papers up here in Toronto were reporting today that Percy Harvin was going to replace AP on Sunday, is that true?

  23. By sandiamond on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    VF I think Frazier stated that Gerhart and Booker would carry the load with AP out sunday.

    C. Cook’s attorney must have got this hearing postponed until Jan. Looks like he is done for this season :

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8245e4cb/article/vikings-cb-cook-to-contest-two-felony-assault-charges

  24. By SaskatchewanVikesFan on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    ACTIVATE ARCENEAUX NOW!!!

  25. By Frederick Jones on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    No heads have to roll. We just need that person who
    can come in an organize the mess we call
    THE VIKINGS FRONT OFFICE.

    It has to be a contributing factor. NO ONE PERSON COULD BE THAT DUMB and
    ignore the gaping (sp) holes in the Offensive Line and the Defensive Backs.

    (You would be surprised how good the defense would look with an offensive line.)

    Frazier is trying to organize the TEAM, but he has no power. Give the coach some power!!!

  26. By Frederick Jones on Nov 23, 2011 | Reply

    HIRE A GENERAL MANAGER!!!

  27. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    Bring in none other than Frederick Jones to be the new GM.

  28. By Rocksalt on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    we will lose this game. period. stop the unrealistic expectations

  29. By Rocksalt on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    TT- your track record for predictions is not favorable for vikings

  30. By Rocksalt on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    and 6hat i8s an UNDERSTATEMENT IN THE EXTREME

  31. By truther on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    As it turns out, it isnt R Spielman that has failed to find good talent in the Draft. It is Scott Studwell that has failed the Vikes Misserably. He is the Director Of College Scouting and has been so since 2002, But he has been the college scout for the Vikes since 1992 , Over two Decades. He is the Cancer that must be removed. Remember Spielman can only choose from the college players that Studwell brings back as picks to Spielman. Read S Studwells BIO. The only college prospects that he found that developed in to PRO Bowlers were all First Rounders That were so obvious talent wise that a 10 year old would have found them while scouting all college Players. Studwell is absolutely responsible for the Vikes Horrible Secondary and Bad O Line. and WRs.

  32. By TITANIUM TITUS on Nov 24, 2011 | Reply

    After considerable thought, I believe we should give Chris Cook another chance. Everyone makes mistakes, and we should not rush to judgement.

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