Tag:Atlanta Falcons
Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:30 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 9:31 am
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Justin Tuck says Falcons o-line plays dirty

Tuck is unimpressed with Atlanta's front five. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Well, that didn't take long. A day after the Giants beat the Cowboys and secured the final playoff spot, and six days before they host the Atlanta Falcons, defensive end Justin Tuck got down to the business of calling a spade a spade, at least from his perspective.

Namely: the Falcons' offensive line plays dirty.

“Yeah we’ve seen it. We know they have that quote-unquote ‘reputation,’” Tuck said according to the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano. “Most people, you would call them dirt bags. But it is what it is. We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing our job well. Then they will be upset and they will be trying to do things to get us off our game, and we’ve got to take that as a compliment.”

It is what it is, indeed. And it's not the first time Atlanta's front five have been accused of taking cheap shots. In October, the Packers' defense was unimpressed with the Falcons' tactics.

"It’s unnecessary,” defensive end Ryan Pickett said at the time. “They call it playing physical. But it’s after the whistle. It’s not physical. We know it watching tape that you they like to hit after the whistle. You have to watching yourself around the piles.

"They point at you if you react. We just felt like if we just punch them upfront at the start it would end that. It’s frustrating to a point, but we know we have to dominate them upfront in between that stuff.”

The idea, at least from the offense's perspective, is to take the defense out of its game. Tuck certainly recognizes this.

“They just want to get you fired up and get you to retaliate and draw a cheap penalty,” he said. “But it’s tough to ignore it, but you have a chance to get them back and have to take advantage of it.”

Easy in theory, a little tougher in practice. Going back to the Green Bay-Atlanta game from Week 5, Falcons' offensive lineman Joe Hawley pushed Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk in the back at the end of a play, Hawk retaliated, Hawley took a dive, and Hawk was promptly flagged for unnecessary roughness.

“I’m not that strong,” Hawk said. “I wish I was strong enough to do that.”

The Lions, who lost to the Falcons in Week 7, echoed similar sentiments.

“You watch film of Atlanta's O-line and they're 20, 30 yards down the field cutting guys,” Lions defensive end Cliff Avril said. “You're running toward the pile and they're trying to clean you up.”

The fun starts Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:13 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:05 am
 

2012 NFL Wild Card/Divisional Playoff Schedule

By Will Brinson

The NFL announced the schedule for the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs on Sunday night.

Here's all you need to know:

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 7
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (NBC)
NFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (NBC)

Sunday, January 8
NFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (FOX)
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (CBS)

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Saturday, January 14
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- New Orleans/Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta at San Francisco (FOX)
AFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Denver/Pittsburgh/Cincinnati at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 15
AFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Houston/Denver/Pittsburgh at Baltimore (CBS)
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta/Detroit at Green Bay (FOX)

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:48 pm
 

Report: Tony Gonzalez signs 1-year extension

GonzalezBy Josh Katzowitz

Tony Gonzalez wants to play another season, and according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, that’s exactly that he’s going to do.

Glazer is reporting that Gonzalez signed a one-year contract extension worth $7 million on Saturday.

Gonzalez, earlier this year, moved into second place on the all-time receiving list, and though he’s still more than 400 receptions behind Jerry Rice (meaning Gonzalez would have to have a REALLY good year to catch him in 2012), it’s nice to see that he’ll get a chance to get a little closer.


Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK




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Posted on: December 30, 2011 10:13 am
 

Pierre Thomas fined $12.5K for Xmas celebrations

Merry Christmas, Mr. Thomas. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The day after Christmas, Saints running back Pierre Thomas found the end zone against the Falcons and pulled a gold bow out, stuck it on a football and handed it to one lucky fan in attendance for New Orleans 45-16 romp against Atlanta.

Now Thomas has gotten his own presents from the league: a pair of fines that total $12,500 for his holiday spirit.

Per our Saints Rapid Reporter Larry Holder, Thomas was tagged with a $7,500 fine for the bow he carried on his uniform and another $5,000 for wearing green and red tape on his uniform.

As Holder notes, Thomas stuck the letters in the Saints locker room on Thursday, displayed by his locker "with a huge red bow stuck to them for visual effect."

Because Thomas was fined for the red and green tape, anyone else on the Saints who wore the illegally-colored tape -- and there were several players -- can expect to see similar fines from the league.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that this sort of good fun, especially around the holiday season, has to be punished. But hey, someone's got to play the Grinch.


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Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:12 am
Edited on: December 23, 2011 9:12 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Colts/Texans, Week 16 preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The next-to-last week of the season is underway and after watching the Texans lose to the Colts, it promises to be a doozy. We break down what happened with the Texans, if they are in trouble, what this means for the Colts and Andrew Luck, and whether Reggie Wayne should stick around Indy.

Then we break down the Week 16 games, wondering whether Norv Turner can save his job with a win over the Lions on Saturday, if the Jets and Giants will ever shut up and just play football, if the Eagles fate is narrowly miss the playoff or if they're on a high-speed collision with the postseason, whether Chicago can use Kansas City's blueprint to beat the Packers and if Atlanta can upend New Orleans on Monday.

All that plus much, much more below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 10:44 am
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Julius Peppers will play a big role in stopping Aaron Rodgers. (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Packers vs. Bears
The question is, What did the Chiefs do to make the Packers imperfect, and can the Bears do it too? In short, the Chiefs did nothing special. They ate up clock offensively, running on early downs and sustaining drives with conversions on several third-and-manageable situations. They stayed in base personnel That kept the Packers in their base 3-4, which is plainer than rice cake compared to the blitzes and disguises from their nickel and dime packages. Against that front, Kyle Orton was able to manipulate the defense with play action and eye movement.


Defensively, the Chiefs played press-man against the Packers’ receivers, which the Chiefs had just enough resources to do given Greg Jennings was out. They often rushed only three and forced Aaron Rodgers to beat them from the pocket. Normally, Rodgers would do that with ease, but Sunday he was uncharacteristically jumpy.

The Bears can certainly play this rudimentary style of football – any team can. But that doesn’t mean it will work for them. It hasn’t worked for them yet, after all. Caleb Hanie has been asked to manage the game and has often responded by ruining it (three interceptions in three of his four starts). With no staple ground attack, the Bears haven’t even been in position to play dink and dunk football.

Defensively, Chicago has moved away from the archaic Tampa 2 and towards more press coverage schemes. But their press coverage has not been pure man-to-man, perhaps because of Charles Tillman’s limitations in change-of-direction. It’s doubtful the Bears can simply out-execute the Packers’ receivers; instead they’ll need Julius Peppers & Co. to exploit that injury-riddled offensive line.

Cowboys vs. Eagles
Apparently the 2011 Eagles just needed 12 games to find their identity. The last two weeks they’ve looked like what everyone originally expected them to look like. It’s not that the players are finally getting comfortable in the system, it’s that the system has been tweaked and is finally logical.

Defensively, the Eagles have played more press-coverage and have mixed things up in their pass-rush (for example, aligning Trent Cole and Jason Babin at standup inside linebacker positions behind a two-man line against the Jets – a tactic that generated two of Babin’s three sacks).

They’ve moved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to dime back, giving the slot nickel duties back to Joselio Hanson. They’ve inserted Casey Matthews back into the lineup, not as a starter but as a nickel linebacker, where he’s been fairly comfortable. Thanks to all this (and more), this defense has given up just 29 points and has recorded 11 sacks over the last two games.

Offensively, Philly’s line is doing a much better job picking up blitzes. The receivers are reading coverages and Michael Vick is playing with patience in the pocket. Vick’s limited football IQ has still led to a few unnecessary hits and missed opportunities, but the good has far outweighed the bad.

LeSean McCoy was bottled up by the Dolphins but, working out of spread formations, he produced 102 yards on 18 carries against the Jets. He’s scored five touchdowns the past two games.

The Eagles won their first meeting with the Cowboys handily. Even on the road this week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them do that again.

Saints vs. Falcons
No one is playing better than Drew Brees right now, though Matt Ryan has played well enough to make the Falcons this year’s Wild Card Team That Nobody Wants to Face.

After an up and down start, Ryan has gotten comfortable with the Falcons’ new pass-oriented system. That system has had them operating out of 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, three wide receivers) in a no-huddle. Ryan has called most of the game at the line of scrimmage.

This has helped Atlanta on several fronts. For one, Michael Turner, though a power back, has been very good running from the wider 2 x 1 receiver formations. In these sets, Turner gets a clearer picture of his running lanes and faces more cornerbacks and fewer linebackers at the second level.

Secondly, the Falcons can create more inside spacing for Tony Gonzalez, which punishes defenses that try to defend him with a linebacker. Defenses that put a safety on Gonzalez are leaving single coverage on either Julio Jones or Roddy White.

Perhaps the best benefit of the hurry-up is, with all the audibling, Ryan controls the pass protections. That’s given Ryan a much better understanding of where the defensive pressure is likely to come from. Ryan’s presnap protection calls will play a huge factor in the outcome Monday night, as the Saints are known for their aggressive blitzes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:22 am
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 15

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 15 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Hernandez  Smith Succop Belichick
Prisco   Brees  Babin  Lee Crennel
Brinson   Brees  Smith  Lee Crennel
Katzowitz   Brees Abraham  Suh Crennel
Wilson  Stafford  Smith  Lee  Turner
Week 15's a wrap and that means the NFL's regular season is just about over. Sigh. Anyway, hardware time.

Drew Brees moved well within range of Dan Marino's passing yardage record on Sunday and the near-perfect performance earned him our Eye on Offense Award.

And Aldon Smith's beasty performance on Monday night locked him into our Eye on Defense Award pretty convincingly as well. His teammate Andy Lee's big-footed evening was enough to warrant an Eye on Special Teams nod.

And though Romeo Crennel made some mistakes on Sunday with his clock management and fourth-down decisions, taking down the previously undefeated Packers and getting his first Gatorade bath was enough for him to pull in the Eye on Coaching Award this week.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Ryan Wilson
Aaron Hernandez Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots
The other Gronkowski destroyed a solid Denver defense with nine catches for 129 yards. Actually, Tom Brady should win this award, but he wins the damn thing every week. When the Broncos shut down Gronk, Brady shifted to Hernandez, and Hernandez, like a growing number of players at his position, presents huge matchup problems for a defense.
Matthew StaffordMatthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Sure, the Raiders didn't play much defense on that final fateful drive, but Stafford threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns (with no picks), including the game-winner to -- you guessed it -- Calvin Johnson with 39 seconds to go.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Drew Brees Drew Brees, QB, Saints
He threw for 412 yards and five touchdown passes and sat much of the second half against Minnesota. Brees did what he wanted to against an overmatched Minnesota defense.
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees is probably going to win the award next week too when he breaks Dan Marino's passing record ... with a week to spare. Want real proof QB rating is dumb? 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns somehow doesn't garner a perfect rating. Brees was just that on Sunday.
Josh Katzowitz
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
I don’t think I’ve voted for Brees once this season, but come on, the guy has been spectacular. Against the Vikings, he was 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns. If not for guys named Rodgers and Tebow, Brees would be THE story as he hunts down Dan Marino’s passing yards record. Somebody should give that dude a raise.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Wilson
Aldon SmithAldon Smith, LB, 49ers
One play he drove Max Starks so far into the Pittsburgh backfield, Starks was in San Jose. Once the 49ers play better offenses with quarterbacks not on one leg, that defense will truly get tested. But for now, it's dominant, and Smith might be its most dominant player.
Aldon Smith Aldon Smith, LB, 49ers
Steelers LT Max Starks should get some credit for his turnstile-tastic effort. To paraphrase Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football, if the game had gone on much longer, Smith would've earned a trip to Canton on that singular performance. 
Prisco Brinson
Jason BabinJason Babin, DE, Eagles
He had three sacks against the Jets, whipping tackle Wayne Hunter all day long. Babin leads the NFL with 18 sacks and has been one of the best free-agent pickups this season.
Aldon SmithAldon Smith, LB, 49ers
The real culprit for the blown transformer prior to the Monday night game? Smith, who ate the damn thing and used it as a source of power to terrorize the Steelers offensive line all night, repeatedly pummeling Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh's backfield.
Katzowitz
John Abraham John Abraham, DE, Falcons
He took over the game in the third quarter when he sacked Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert 3 ½ times and forced fumbles on consecutive Jacksonville series. Abraham is 33 years old, but he’s now got 8.5 sacks on the season, showing that even though he keeps getting older, his level of outstanding play isn't decreasing.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Wilson
Ryan SuccopRyan Succop, K, Chiefs
Succop kicked four field goals in Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon and was one of the main catalysts for knocking off the previously unbeaten Packers.
Andy Lee Andy Lee, P, 49ers
He punted six times, always changing field position in the process. He had punts downed at the Steelers' 5, 10, 8 and 14. David Akers gets all the notoriety but Lee is just as important to the 49ers' success.
Prisco Brinson
Andy LeeAndy Lee, P, 49ers
He averaged 47.5-yard per punt and 49.2 net yards  -- the latter speaks volumes about hang time -- and he also had four punts inside the 20 against the Steelers Monday night.
Andy LeeAndy Lee, P, 49ers
Turns out the only way the Steelers were winning on Monday was by generating some turnovers and getting good field position. Lee made sure the latter didn't happen, sticking the Steelers inside their own 20 four different times and averaging 47.5 yards per punt on the night.
Katzowitz
Ndamukong Suh Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
If there’s anybody in this world who can make a game-winning, NFL record 65-yard field goal, it’s Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski. Suh wouldn’t let that happen. After sitting out his two-game suspension, Suh helped save the Lions by getting a hand on Janikowski’s attempt.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Wilson
Bill BelichickBill Belichick, HC, New England Patriots
Solved the riddle that is Tim Tebow. Now, the Lions were able to shut down Tebow earlier in the season, but that wasn't this Tebow. The Patriots, after a disastrous first quarter, battered Tebow and made him throw the football. At this point, he can't do that consistently well.
Norv Turner Norv Turner, HC, Chargers
He won't get many more chances to win this award since he could be looking for work in a few weeks, so I thought I'd honor him after blowing the doors off the Ravens' defense Sunday night. Philip Rivers looked like, well, Philip Rivers. Looks to be too little, too late, though … or does it?
Prisco Brinson
Romeo CrennelRomeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
He takes over for the fired Todd Haley and his team pulls off one of the biggest shockers of the season in beating the Packers, ending their chance for an undefeated season. Who else could win this award this week?
Romeo CrennelRomeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
For some weird reason, I'm enthralled by the picture of a Gatorade-soaked Crennel getting love from his players after beating Green Bay Sunday. He took down an undefeated behemoth as an interim coach and did it with his speciality: defense. How could it be anyone else?
Katzowitz
Romeo Crennel Romeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
The Chiefs were a different team with Crennel. They played hard, and we didn't have to see Tyler Palko go out there and fling the ball around. My favorite moment from the Chiefs win? With the victory in hand, Crennel is smiling and clapping. He gets a Gatorade bath. For a second, Crennel stops, startled by the cold. Then he smiles and begins clapping again.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:15 pm
 

Dunta Robinson on Jaguars WRs: '[bleep]ing jokes'

By Will Brinson

During Thursday's 41-14 loss, like much of the 2011 season, the Jaguars struggled to move the ball against the Falcons because Blaine Gabbert couldn't get the ball down the field. Part of that is Gabbert, but a bigger part of that might be a lack of wide receiver options available to Gabbert on Jacksonville's roster.

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson would lean towards the latter and, in fact, he thinks that the current Jags receivers are "[bleep]ing jokes."

"Those guys are [bleep]ing jokes," Robinson said per Vito Stellino of The Florida Times-Union. "Those guys couldn’t get a [bleep]ing receiver if it hit them in the head."

Ouch. Robinson added that the Jaguars "haven't had anyone decent since Jimmy Smith."

That part is actually true -- the Jags leading pass-catchers since Smith retired in 2005 are Matt Jones (2006, 643 yards; 2008, 761 yards), Reggie Williams (2007, 629 yards), Mike Sims-Walker (2009, 869 yards), Mike Thomas (2010, 820 yards) and Marcedes Lewis (2011, 415 yards).

If you're looking for a description of "a motley crew," this is pretty much it, and that doesn't even take into consideration that a) Lewis is a tight end and b) Jones and Williams were monumentally busty first-round picks, one of whom is retired and one of whom is politely referred to as "currently a free agent."

So, yes, the Jaguars desperately need a talented wide receiver. But given the other problems they have on their roster, it seems more likely that they'll pursue on in free agency -- Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson and Dwayne Bowe will all be unrestricted this year -- instead of reaching for one in the first round.

Maybe then Dunta Robinson will be happy.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com