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Bloom's Falcons/Saints Notes (1 Viewer)

Sigmund Bloom

Staff member
Folks, since I have a little bit of extra time this week with the end of the 2nd season of the Five Minute Drill, I figured I'd type up some of my game notes for the Pool... First up, Saints-Falcons.

1st Quarter

The Saints come out right away and go for the jugular with a deep play action pass to Devery Henderson... intercepted. Chris Houston did a good job letting his man (Colston) go on the underneath route and getting deep to front Henderson, and Erik Coleman did a tremendous job playing the ball, undercutting Henderson. In fact, Coleman showed much better ball skills than Henderson, who was fading away from the ball and did not seem to locate or judge the ball correctly at all. The Saints wanted to set the tone in this game with this bold call on the first offensive play of the game, and they did, but not the way they intended.

Clancy and Ellis were stout against the first down run, and then the Falcons took a 15 yard penalty on an illegal block, so Coleman's good return was nullified. The Saints got a 2nd and 4 after a pass underneath to Moore, but Brees decided to go deep to Henderson again, challenging Dominique Foxworth this time, and Foxworth made the play. Babineaux got great penetration on the 3rd down run, forcing a punt, and the new NO punter, Pakulak, outkicked the coverage, allowing Harry Douglas to return the ball to midfield, although Pakuluk made the tackle.

The Saints were stout against the first down run again, but this time the Falcons answered by attacking the edges of the defense, with two successful mid range outs to White and Jenkins. After a Turner run set up a 2nd down and 5 at the 16, Ryan hit White for the TD on a five step drop with an ever so slight hesitation at the top of the drop. White got inside of Randall Gay on the skinny post, and Kevin Kaesviharn could not get over in time to stop the completion. With Mike McKenzie out for the season, this should become a familiar sight against the Saints secondary.

On the next drive, the Saints attempted to use play action again early, this time Foxworth made a nice aggressive play to break up the pass to Moore. Colston then made an excellent full extension catch on a high ball - looking like the old Colston. Aaron Stecker then got the ball across midfield on a nice run showing good vision and burst - it's too bad he ended up hurt again. The Saints then tried to run Deuce wide, but he showed his age and reconstructed knees. Colston made another nice extension catch on a high ball from Brees, and the Saints were in business, down to the 23. The Saints converted a short third down in the red zone, but it took a scramble from Brees, after he had time to throw, but no one was open. Chauncey Davis made a nice play to disrupt the 2nd down and short run after Jeremy Shockey put a half-hearted "block" on him.

On first and 10 from the 10 and half, Colston successfully got inside on Foxworth by bursting out of a light jog he went into at the snap, and Brees delivered the ball on time, but Foxworth made another very aggressive play. Colston got both hands on the ball, but Foxworth was up to the task. The Saints tried to run out of a three wide on 2nd down with Stecker, but guess who... Foxworth made a nice stick on the outside to hold him to a minimal gain. On third down, Brees had some time, but not much, and the play took too long to develop, and he had to throw as he was hit by Abraham to an open Moore, who had to go to the ground to catch the ball, ending the threat. Field Goal Saints.

Scott Fujita shot the gap and got Turner in the backfield on 1st down on the Falcons next drive (although it still took Ellis and others to actually get Turner down), and Turner then ran over Roman Harper to set up a third and five. Will Smith got great pressure, but it was because he anticipated the snap count a little too well, and let's also point out that Ryan made a nice play feeling the immediate pressure and stepping up to get the ball to Norwood on an improvised toss. The first quarter ended with another strong play against the run by Ellis

Second Quarter

After a decent outside run by Norwood, Ryan showed his arm strength is more than adequate for the NFL with a nice pass to the long side of the field to White. Mike McKenzie was giving White such a cushion that when he throttled down, McKenzie was still closing when the ball arrived, and missed the tackle, allowing White to get to midfield. Ryan worked the outside of the field again on a curl to Jenkins, and again showed no problem getting the ball there on a rope. Bobby McCray made a nice play to thwart Turner after a first down offsides made it 1st and five, but Ryan came back and attacked the Saints corners again, this time Aaron Glenn on an intentionally underthrown ball that Jenkins adjusted to. Turner easily converts the TD and it's 14-3.

Sean Payton continued with aggressive play calling, this time, Henderson led off the next drive with a 30 yard end around, showing more speed than anyone on the Falcons D. Colston made a nice block to spring it, and MLB Curtis Lofton of all people was the guy who forced Henderson out of bounds way downfield.

Pierre Thomas made a typical hard Thomas run to set up 2nd and short, and Brees used some misdirection to cross up the D on another pass play downfield, this one to Moore. The Saints were in business with a second and short after a productive dump off to Deuce, but Grady Jackson blew up the second down run to Thomas, and John Abraham turned the corner like only he can do and made a shoestring sack on Brees to force the field goal. The Rookie Hartley made his second field goal, and the score was now 14-6.

The Falcons come back and right away string together some plays. Norwood with an 8 yard run outside even though the Saints DL continued to control the middle. Ryan on a rollout had Jenkins and White both open and took the longer pass to White. NOW, Turner finds some room to run on first down, and eventually sets up a 3rd and short. When he gets the ball on 3rd down, Turner breaks it outside when the middle is clogged again, for a 20 yard gain. Ryan overthrew White on a long pass on first, and the Saints again stopped the run inside on 2nd down, but Norwood BURNED Kaesviharn on a pattern out of the backfield, and Ryan put it right on his hands 15 yards downfield. First and goal. More good play against the run by the Saints, and a good breakup by Randall Gay on what would have been WHite's 2nd TD forced a FG.

The Saints O comes alive on the two minute drill. A pass to Colston. Two underneath to Shockey. Colston goes up to snag yet another high ball to get them in FG range... but alas a holding penalty. Brees improvises on 2nd and long, and hits Moore who shows great field awareness by catching a ball that over the sideline and keeping both feet in and down before falling out of bounds. But Babineaux flushed Brees from the pocket on first down to force a scramble. Colston and Brees had a miscommunication for an incompletion on 2nd down. Davis deflects Brees pass on 3rd down. Curiously, Payton passes on the chance to pull within one score, and goes for it on 4th and 4 at the 28. Maybe he didn't trust the rookie Hartley. Brees made a good enough throw, getting it to Colston, who had position on Chris Houston, but Houston got his hand in there to break it up... giving all the momentum to the Falcons going into the locker room.


Key first half observations:

- The Saints front four is doing the job against the run. We saw them shut down AD earlier this year, so it should come as no surprise

- The Falcons were moving the ball by attacking the Saints corners

- The Saints seemed a little overconfident in their O, going for some low percentage plays instead of just dismantling the Atlanta secondary with short and intermediate stuff

- The Falcons corners stepped up in a big way, playing very aggressive, on their toes and very physical.

More to come as I get time...

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Very nice. One difference of opinion: The Colston TD that you have listed as being broken up by Foxworth, prior to the first field goal. I thought that was more of a drop from Colston than that good of a play from Foxworth. Not that Foxworth wasn't solid all day, but I thought that one should've been caught.

Very nice. One difference of opinion: The Colston TD that you have listed as being broken up by Foxworth, prior to the first field goal. I thought that was more of a drop from Colston than that good of a play from Foxworth. Not that Foxworth wasn't solid all day, but I thought that one should've been caught.
Definitely debatable and Im glad you brought it up. There's a school of thought that if the WR can get both hands on the ball, he should catch it, and this was one that more strong-hand WRs like Brandon Marshall or Roddy White would have caught. I can definitely buy that Foxworth's play just contributed to the incomplete pass, but that most of the blame falls on Colston.
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Folks, since I have a little bit of extra time this week with the end of the 2nd season of the Five Minute Drill, I figured I'd type up some of my game notes for the Pool... First up, Saints-Falcons.

Thanks for the thoughts. It was exactly this type of insight I truly wish was more common. It is sad that I am actually surprised when I find useful analysis on these boards. Outstanding post!
Very nice. One difference of opinion: The Colston TD that you have listed as being broken up by Foxworth, prior to the first field goal. I thought that was more of a drop from Colston than that good of a play from Foxworth. Not that Foxworth wasn't solid all day, but I thought that one should've been caught.
agree. colston dropped quite a few yesterday
Very nice. One difference of opinion: The Colston TD that you have listed as being broken up by Foxworth, prior to the first field goal. I thought that was more of a drop from Colston than that good of a play from Foxworth. Not that Foxworth wasn't solid all day, but I thought that one should've been caught.
agree. colston dropped quite a few yesterday
7 for 140 and nowhere to go but up, outstanding news.
Great stuff. I'm sure these are a chore to turn from notes to prose, but this snippet is the stuff of a must-read column.

3rd Quarter

Saints kick off and Norwood uses his speed to get to the edge and the Saints side of the field. The Falcons are the ones getting cute this time, going for the jugular with a play action pass on 1st down that didn't come open, instead a dumpoff to Turner for no gain, and then an end around to White that Randall Gay stops cold. Ryan and Finneran seemed to be out of synch on 3rd down, and the Falcons have to punt after Norwood's great return.

Thomas is now in, and he gets the Saints to 2nd and short on a well-blocked run, and Colston makes a catch (still tightly covered by Foxworth) to convert the first. Brees with plenty of time, but still finds no one downfield and has to dump off to Thomas for a 9 yard gain. Its obvious at this point that the Falcons secondary are playing outstanding football, because Brees does not usually fail to see open WRs downfield when he has time. Babineaux gets great penetration again on 2nd and short to stuff Thomas and the Saints are forced into a passing down on third and 4. The Falcons choose to only rush three, but all Brees can find is a tiny window to Colston as he got away from Chris Houston, but Colston couldn't reel it in (it was a tough catch), and the Saints have to punt.

Now the Falcons are happy to just put the lean on the Saints. They come in the wildcat with Norwood, who hands off to Turner, and two more Turner runs eke out a first down. Turner and Norwood runs get them another first down. Mind you, the Saints D isn't getting pushed around, it's just that Turner and Norwood are still very fresh and finding holes because the Saints arent attacking the line of scrimmage and winning the battles at the point of attack decisively like they were in the first half. Ryan makes a nice calm pass to Peelle with Shanle in his face, and the Falcons are in scoring position again. Turner rips off a couple of runs to get the Falcons inside the 20, and it feels like another TD is coming... until Kendrick Clancy completely blows up the first down run, and Randall Gay makes a nice play to get Turner when he tried to break it outside. The Saints D has no "give up" in them. Jenkins catches a couple of passes over the middle, but can't do much after the catch, and the Falcons settle for a FG to go up 20-6, but more importantly, they took 8 minutes off the clock.

Roby gives the Saints good field position, but once again, the Saints call a pass on first down that takes a long time to develop, and John Abraham and Kindal Moorehead almost sack Brees. With only a 4 man rush on 2nd down, Babineaux and Abraham again force Brees to throw early on a play that probably wouldnt have amounted to much. I should also point out that Pierre Thomas is getting most of the snaps now. On third down, the Falcons do blitz, and Brees has little chance, getting a pass off to Shockey that would have been a minimal gain., if he had caught it, but he didn't.

As the third quarter ends, the Falcons go back to leaning on the run, but Bobby McCray makes one great play and Shanle and Fujita team up for another forcing the Falcons into a 3rd and long. Matt Ryan makes a decisive read out of the shotgun and hits White for the first down on a play that had 3 WRs on the same side of field, allowing White to find the dead spot in the D, a terrific play design by Mike Mularkey, who is not getting nearly enough ink for being part of this Falcons turnaround. He is consistently putting the Falcons and Ryan in a position where they can succeed.

4th quarter

The first down conversion gives the Falcons the momentum at the beginning of the 4th, and they try to seize the moment with a deep pass to White, but Aaron Glenn has it covered, and it was overthrown. No worries, the Falcons have one of the most underrated talents at RB in the league, Jerious Norwood. He caught a harmless dumpoff from Ryan, left Scott Shanle grasping for air (after Shanle slowed down on the approach to tackle Norwood, tsk tsk), and after typical great blocking from the Falcons WRs (Robinson and Jenkins) downfield, Norwood was highstepping from about the 25 yard line to the end zone. Really. When he is up to speed, he looks like an olympic sprinter, like his feet are barely touching the ground. Another great designed play, where Norwood starts out on the left of the QB, then gets into the flat on the right, making Shanle have to cover a lot of ground to get to him. Kudos to Mularkey. Even if he stays with the Falcons for most of his career, Norwood will have at least flex value because of his explosiveness, and if TUrner misses extended time, watch out.

The Saints, down 21, should not feel like the game is over. Not with this passing offense. But they come out looking deep again, everything is covered, and Brees goes underneath to Shockey, only to have Boley break up the pass. Brees avoids pressure from Babineaux again to get the dump off to Thomas, but Boley comes up big with another breakup on 3rd down, again Brees targeted Thomas. The Saints, showing urgency, go for 4th and 1 at their own 29 and Thomas converts it.

Brees, once AGAIN tries to go deep, and this time Chevis Jackson makes a sprawling play to keep Lance Moore from getting a big gain. This was not like the Packers-Vikes where the D was constantly in the Rodgers face, and thats why the Pack O didn't score much. Brees had time to throw on most downs, but nothing was coming open downfield. Colston gets a target over the middle, but a big hit by Jackson breaks up the pass. On 3rd and down Brees does find Henderson in a soft spot in the zone after the Falcons decided to blitz.

A very entertaining play on first and 10 as Billy Miller makes a terrific adjustment to a ball over the middle from Brees, and Lawyer Milloy, looking to blow up Miller, instead blows up his teammate Keith Brooking, who couldn't stay with Miller. It was dare I say the kind of play Jeremy Shockey used to make, but no longer does.

Brees evades some pressure and finds Colston downfield, and the Saints are in the red zone. Brees runs about 70 yards to evade pressure again, all the way back to almost the 40, then to the other side of the field, but has to throw the ball away. Finally Deuce is back in, he gets the call on the screen pass, and he scores, as the Saints take advantage of how the Falcons D was getting more and more aggressive coming after Brees.

The Saints are within 2 TDs, 10 minutes left, this game is not over, but for some reason Payton goes for the onsides kick. Twice. The rookie does an ok job on the first one, getting it high in the air, but too close to the sideline. It goes out of bounds. Since it's still 10 minutes left, the Saints just get penalized and get to kick again. Kick it away, right? Nope, Hartley kicks some sort of dribbler that looks like a ground ball. It harmlessly goes out of bounds, and the Falcons get great field position. You don't trust the kid to kick a 45 yarder in the first half, but you trust him on an onsides kick from your own 25?

Surprise, surprise, the Saints hold Turner to seven yards on the first and second down runs, still playing strong and hard hitting D, and Ryan's pass to Finneran gets deflected away on 3rd down (although Finneran wanted a flag). Wow, imagine if the Saints had just kicked away instead of trying another onsides!

The Saints convert a first with a dumpoff to Thomas (after Brees looked downfield for a while) and a Thomas run sandwiching a longer incomplete pass to Shockey, where Shockey again did not look like the old Shockey. Brees continue to look downfield and alternate with some dumpoffs, and David Patten (remember him?) gets back in the mix with a few catches, including a 4th down conversion. Brees goes back to the exact same play that worked to Miller last time, same ball placement, same picture of Brooking helpless running to catch up, same 23 yard gain. Saints are back in the red zone (the 11), down 14, 5 minutes left. This game is not over.

Brees goes to Moore in the end zone, but Foxworth makes another aggressive play on the ball. Moore wants a flag, but doesnt get one. Brees tries to dumpoff to Thomas, but Boley does a terrific job covering him, and rookie Carl Nicks takes a rare OPI call on an offensive lineman for blocking downfield.

It's now 2nd and 20 and Lance Moore slightly pulls up on his route, meaning Brees led him a little too much to the inside, INT for Chris Houston, but this one is on Moore.

The Saints give up a first to Turner, but do eventually get the ball back, although only because Roddy White dropped a perfect 3rd down pass from Ryan.

The game isn't quite over yet. Colston makes another terrific snag over the middle, and then breaks free deep for a long gain (although he did fumble it out of bounds at the end of the catch). An out to Moore and the Saints are inside the 10, first and goal. 1:30 left. Time for a score and onside and another score for sure if they can convert... but Devery Henderson turns upfield when Brees throws to the spot where he was standing, Chevis Jackson makes the pick six ( Draftguys TV in the house), and finally the Falcons can celebrate their victory.

Let it be said, if the Saints had just taken the FG at the end of the first half, the complexion of the 4th quarter changes. Instead of forcing for TDs late, another FG would have made it 27-19 and pulled them within a score. Instead of going for the onsides with 10 min left, they wouldn't have felt as much urgency and kicked it away. The Saints D never caved in to Turner and the Falcons running game. The only real breakdown by the D was on the Norwood pass, but they played well enough to give the Saints a chance to win. The Saints were going for too much on O instead of trying to put together methodical drives, and clearly you have to give a game ball to the Falcons secondary for only allowing the one deep completion late to Colston. The year to date stats will suffer for the Falcons pass D, but they rose to the occasion on Sunday.

Some important fantasy takes from this game:

- Colston is back to being a true #1, there was a 200/1 game for him if he had made a few more plays.

- Moore is not going anywhere, he had a ton of high value targets, and if anything Henderson is back to his lapses. Meachem is looking like a bust, but Patten could play a bigger role if Moore gets hurt down the stretch.

- Billy Miller has to be ahead of Jeremy Shockey in the pecking order.

- Pierre Thomas has value again with Stecker hurt and Deuce not playing a role in the passing game. With Bush's knee no sure thing to hold up, and Deuce possibly facing a suspension, he should not be on any waiver wires after this week.

- Roddy White is still a start everyweek #1 fantasy WR (duh)

- Jenkins will continue have WR3/WR4 value because of Ryan's effectiveness and the soft schedule against the pass down the stretch

- Turner is going to get 350 carries this year, and finish somewhere around 1400/12, and that's without any crazy outburst games like he had earlier this year. He's going to be a top 10 pick for a while in fantasy leagues - A better version of Rudi Johnson, and the Falcons will remain a good team longer than the Bengals did.


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my take as a follow up

Saints secondary is horrible ( T.Porter gone / now M.M gone ) ..

Payton is out smarting himself ... and needs to understand some form of a running game is needed

Colston was " off " he dropped balls that he normally the last 2 seasons grabbed without problem ( the Td in the end zone should have been 6 -- he has come down with much harder balls --- the 4'th and 2 he dropped should have been caught --- much of his yardage came in garbage time ---

Brees was horrible ---

L.Moore let up on his route when Brees tossed the INT in the end zone ..... Moore's fault for letting up .. BREES fault for tossing it into coverage ..

and after all of this said .. The Saints were in it .. right up until the last minutes of the 4 th quarter --which to me doesnt say alot about the falcons becuase they should have been able to put the Saints away alot sooner and taken all question out of this game

M.turner is a train !

I may be in the minority here ... but i wasnt too impressed with MATT RYAN .. sure he made some throws... BUT the problem is that he wasnt pressured ... and the saints were giving a 10 yard pillow to the Wr's all day ... I guess what i am saying is that Ryan didnt show me he could WIN a game ... he showed me if given a soft defense ... he can PLAY at the NFL level and not lose a game

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I may be in the minority here ... but i wasnt too impressed with MATT RYAN .. sure he made some throws... BUT the problem is that he wasnt pressured ... and the saints were giving a 10 yard pillow to the Wr's all day ... I guess what i am saying is that Ryan didnt show me he could WIN a game ... he showed me if given a soft defense ... he can PLAY at the NFL level and not lose a game
He never really had to improvise, as the game plan and early scripted drives worked. He does have the derring-do to win a game in him, check out the Bears or Packers wins, or the way he kept fighting in the Eagles game for examples. I agree that this wasn't a game where he floored you with highlight reel throws, but he executes the game plan well, and you can tell that his extreme poise and confidence for a rookie just calms down the whole O and keeps them on the same page.
Payton is out smarting himself ... and needs to understand some form of a running game is needed
Totally agree. The game plan was too cute, going for big gains on most plays instead of calling some short and intermediate stuff to get the secondary cheating up and looking in the backfield, and THEN going for deep throws.
I agree --- ever since the T.B game last season when Payton called the reverse that Henderson/ Bush fumbled away and lost ... along with any playoff hopes... I have been critical of Paytons play calling

and yes Brees is usually a very good QB .. but you could tell .. almost every play the first read was a HUGE GAIN ...

he attempted to thread the needle multiple times in double coverage to D.Henderson ....

p.s - another Colston drop .. was when he split the two defenders and Brees put it a little ahead of him .. he got the hands on it .. and usually would have came down with it ...

p.s.s - for all the L.Moore love .. he is a perfect # 3 .. he plays a good " drew bennett " .... but when you start lining him up as a # 1 or # 2 wr .. he loses the effectiveness

I am really tired of hearing the they need R.Bush in the offense as well . because Bush still doesnt = a good running game ...

and if i have to see AARON STECKER in for DEUCE or P.THOMAS it might make me puke

I have a feeling Stecker has something on payton .. there is no other reason he is still with the team on offense ( if you want to keep him around as a gunner on ST .. ok )

I was actually at this game yesterday and have a few observations about what impressed me:

1) The ATL play-calling was very solid. I was thinking (early) that Turner would be hard-pressed to get very many yards, because the Saints seemed to be effective in stuffing him. I was impressed that Smith continued to call Turner's number, and it certainly paid off in the third and fourth quarters;

2) Matt Ryan's accuracy on all the routes called also impressed me. His throws were very good and very accurate;

3) The Falcons secondary was solid all day (until garbage time) - getting their hands on the ball, breaking up passes, and generally harassing the Saints receivers;

4) Shockey looked listless and uninspired. When the Falcons linebackers are THAT effective against you, something is wrong;

and one more...

5) Sean Payton's play-calling was weak. I was sincerely surprised at the Saints lining up for an onside kick down by 14 with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter. It was WAY too early for that kind of desperation. I expected it to be a fake onside, because a real onside was unnecessary there.

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Excellent work, Sigmund. For my last 2 cents, I do have to say I'm a bit concerned with the way the Falcons seem to shut it down with a big lead. Similar behavior in the Oakland game with 24 first half points and 0 second half points. Even the announcers talked about the Atlanta D having to "crank it back up", and there's just really no excuse for that. Play 60 minutes of football, and play like your down by 7.

Fortunately, the coaches and players all talked about that after the game, about how they need to clean up the second half and really finish games. I don't know what the percentages actually were, but I'd wager that it's close to 50% of Brees yards came in the 4th quarter, when the Falcons were playing prevent. Up to that point, the Atl secondary really man handled the Saint receivers and no one is more surprised by that than I am. Our secondary has easily been our weakest spot on this team, with the possible exception of punt returns, and it looks like Dimotroff may have scored again with Foxworth. He was a real difference maker in this game, and may help make the Atlanta D FF worthy again.


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