Reading the various reactions from yesterdays beatdown of the Eagles, I was struck by the narrative weaved by the collective sports media. I guess I expected that to happen to a certain extent. After all, watching "the dog killer", the "terrible" long term coach and the "dream team" burn is a better story than the Falcons playing well in the regular season. And the sports media is definitely full of opportunistic vultures looking for their latest morsel of righteous indignation and the opportunity to decry someone as "over-rated". I have to admit though, that I was surprised by how little the Falcons were mentioned. The possible rise of a new contender is generally a juicy enough story and I expected at least a few writers to look past the playoff failures and jump on the Falcons bandwagon early. Still I wouldn't worry about it too much. The good guys will get their due as the week goes on especially big name guys like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. For example, consider this and this.
The point of this post though wasn't to lament the lack of Falcons coverage from the national media rather it was to highlight a few guys who could possibly be missed out if and when the coverage does come. So, here goes:
- Dirk Koetter: The man designed a brilliant game plan. He leaned on the screen game to counter the added edge pressure because of the Eagles wide-9. In addition, Koetter realized that the WR bubble screen was becoming a tendency that other teams would recognize and designed a counter in case the defense played it too aggressively, like say at the end of the first drive maybe.
He ran long time consuming drives to suck the safeties in and then hit them with a Julio Bomb. (On a related note, was that a beautiful play or what? That beautiful rainbow hitting Julio in stride was one of my two favorite moments from Matt Ryan. The second one? The short armed pass/adjustment to Snelling for the second touchdown. That completely blew my mind.) Also, contrasting with popular opinion I agreed with Koetter's strategy of running the ball late. The weather was turning and we've had some success with this strategy, in this season. Maybe he could have waited one more drive before going into "kill-the-clock" mode but all in all it was sound strategy that just didn't work out this time.
Finally, I saw Dave's tweet about calling Dirk Koetter "the knife". I have a better alternative: Navajas. Navajas is a kind of switch blade and really a guy called "Dirk Koetter" has to have a knife related nickname. More importantly though Navajas is the name of Danny Trejo's character in Desperado. Watching Koetter slice through the Eagles defense yesterday I was reminded of the deft expertise with which Navajas hurled his daggers in desperado.
- Drew Davis: Excellent footwork (and hands for that matter) by Davis on the aforementioned touchdown. I do believe we have some solid depth i the receiver ranks. I hope he can keep it up as when he gets more opportunities.
- Sam Baker and Tyson Clabo: Ryan was sacked twice and hit two more times (according to ESPN) but none of those came from the edge. Against a DE rotation of Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Brandon Graham, Baker and Clabo gave up ZERO sacks or QB hits.
- Jaquizz Rodgers: I'm still not convinced that he is fast enough to be as dangerous as Sproles is for the Saints but the man can run, catch and block and given the ball in space make people miss to gain extra yards. Quiz is going to be a very good 3rd down back.
- Roddy White: Watch this 37 yard Gainer to JJ. This is why Roddy White will always be my favorite reciever. That, and his immense joy when one of his teammates scores.
- Mike Nolan: As with Navajas,Nolan did a brilliant job gameplanning the Eagles. Instead of chasing turnovers and leaving the defense vulnerable to big plays, the Falcons defense sat back gave Vick short completions and challenged him to be accurate and consistent enough to lead long mistake free drives. As expected he failed. Honestly, I was surprised that the Eagles didnt take a few more chances down field especially later in the game when they were trailing by as much as they were but I guess Vick's spate of turnovers pre-empted any act of boldness from Reid. One last digression - and I realize most Falcons fans dont agree with this - but I feel sorry for Vick. The man seems to have become a stand up dude since his return from prison but he seems genuinely hated by a vast majority of the american populace and I suppose he cant really complain. But watching him try to gamefully plod and get seriously beaten up on in an offense that just doesnt suit him and then give a truly sad press conference where he is (quite maturely I might add) accepting his fate and still trying to stand by his coach - made me feel bad for him. It also made me wish he had shown an ounce of this character when he was with the Falcons but I guess it all worked out for the best; at least for the Falcons - end digression.
A special mention to the Falcons defense and especially the secondary who did a great job in tackling the Eagles and not allowing them yards after the catch. Thomas Decoud and Robert McClain were our leading tacklers. Normally this would be a bad thing but on this night the Falcons secondary did a great job keeping the Eagles receivers to short gains and subsequently long drives. On a related note (alright, I lied), I love how good our secondary is looking and this despite the absence of Grimes.
Edit: Nolan also brought out the three tackle defense to stop the run.
- Kroy Biermann: The Beerman has been cursed to be the almost man on our d-line. He is forever in the vicinity of the QB but he never gets there in time. It was nice to see him chase a frantic around at the end of the game and get a sack and a QB hit for his troubles.