Monthly Archives: October 2016

Break the streak! Please? Falcons@Buccaneers preview.

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buccaneers

Have you ever failed at something you knew that you should have had every self-assurance that you could succeed in? That has been the story of the Falcons-Buccaneers rivalry over the last three meetings.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suck, folks. While they got a lot of hype as a wild card team, and their win in Atlanta seemed to reflect that, things have changed in a hurry. Jameis Winston is on track to throw roughly twenty picks, complete less than 60% of his passes, and barring a lot of improvement in the years ahead, become the only backup quarterback with a Heisman. Doug Martin is out, though he’s been outplayed by Jacquizz Rodgers, who was our #3 running back his last year with us anyway. The “much-improved” defense of Tampa, much like the top ten quarterback Winston would become, has been all talk. Even though the Bucs are just a game away from .500, their wins include a backup quarterback for a losing team (Panthers) and the worst team not located in Cleveland (49ers).

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Well, Captain America is a superhero who doesn’t have any powers on a team of people who do, so this kind of fits.

The Falcons, on the other hand, have the best offense in the league! We have finally mastered the West Coast scheme and it’s paying dividends! Sure, our defense has been bad, but it’s been showing improvement, as evidenced by the second half against Green Bay. Besides, it can come through in the clutch, as evidenced by the fourth down stops against Oakland and Green Bay and pick sixes on the Saints and Panthers.

But you’d never know any of this from the meetings between these teams lately. The Buccaneers have beaten us three times in a row! If Winston played only us, it looks as though he’d be a future Hall of Famer! No more!

I mean, our quarterback is a MVP frontrunner for Christ's sake!

I mean, our quarterback is a MVP front-runner for Christ’s sake!

And now for the keys to the game. Our offense should have no problem scoring on these guys. Without stupid penalties in the first game, we’d have scored over thirty the first time! Defensively, pressure Winston! We’ll give up yardage, but he’s done nothing to suggest that he won’t do something stupid if he has to think on his feet.

This team has done great things and has potential, but getting swept by the Bucs again would still be an embarrassment. RISE UP!!!

For once, the second half works for the Dirty Birds. Falcons-Packers recap.

Falcons win!

Falcons win!

We’re back out of the danger zone. Atlanta had taken two (controversial) losses in a row. That made us 4-3. Today we faced the Green Bay Packers, who are always a challenge to any team. Well, unless Aaron Rodgers is injured in 2013.

If we lost this game, we’d have fallen to .500 and had the Buccaneers and Saints right behind us. Instead, we’re still multiple games up on everybody in the NFC South. And snapping a four-game losing streak to Green Bay ain’t half-bad, either.

The first half was not so great. The dreaded offensive line penalties of last week were back and the defense was again bending and disintegrating. As a result we trailed 24-19 at halftime. And the Packers got the ball next. The possibility of a 12-point deficit loomed large.

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Happy Halloween!

But then a funny thing happened: the defense got a stop. After the Pack had advancing the ball to midfield, a third down sack by Adrian Clayborn got our defense off the field. Next drive, Devonta Freeman and Terron Ward outplayed Green Bay’s steel-hard run defense to get a touchdown and put us ahead 26-19.

The fourth quarter saw both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan trade touchdown passes. This was a scary moment. Rodgers, perhaps prematurely written off as a shell of his former self, was putting up big numbers for the second straight game. And he just had to get his team into field goal range. Instead, our defense completed an uncharacteristically competent second half with a fourth down stop to seal it.

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Making their future HoF quarterback choke really made it come together!

Some are probably going to say that we only won this game because their secondary was beat up. But what about our injuries? Tevin Coleman was out. Julio Jones was shaken up at one point so he may as well have been out. For all we know, we could have scored 50 with them in the thick of things.

The season’s not over, but plenty of doubt of another midseason collapse has just been cast RISE UP!!!

Next week…

buccaneers

Sharknado

sharknadotitleIan Zierling as Fin Shepard
Tara Reid as April Wexler
Aubrey Peeples as Claudia Shepard
Cassie Scerbo as Nova  Clarke
Chuck Hittinger as Matt Shepard

Remember when Sharknado was trending on Twitter? This made-for-TV horror flick got some people who watched it to tweet about it. Of course, I can remember weekend reruns of The Goonies trending one day, so this doesn’t necessarily have any sense to it. I say this only because despite the cult following, despite the sequel and video game it has since gotten, Sharknado totally sucks!

I know that horror movies are the kind you can hold to too high a standard. Simple plotting, suspect acting, and overrated production values are the hallmarks of this genre. I am not saying that I hate horror. I like it. I’m just throwing facts at you. But this movie can’t come near even that bar.

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This movie did the same thing to me.

As far as the plot goes, I can’t complain too much about the concept. Complaints about execution will follow shortly. But it’s not really fair to nitpick the story of storms/floods watering out Los Angeles and sending sharks at everybody. I can’t even protest the ripping off of Jaws. It had been almost forty years; the statute of limitations had expired.

The acting… there’s where things really go wrong. Nobody has their heart into their performance. There’s a scene early on in which somebody’s leg is badly cut and he only manages half-hearted expressions of pain. I mean, it doesn’t get easier than that. I have done more than eighty movie reviews before this one. Only three of them — Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Red Zone Cuba, and Manos, the Hands of Fate had worse performances than this. No lie!

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Would CNN have sued over the phrase “breaking news?”

While the concept works fine, the attempts at character interactions don’t work. They attempt to incorporate familial dysfunction between father and daughter into this, but it seems forced. While it’s hard for it work with these actors, there’s no excuse for these issues to all of a sudden get resolved just because the script calls for them to be.

And then there’s the horror… and I use the term loosely. Very loosely in fact. Nothing about this movie is scary. Supposedly, they use black humor like some movies like Nightmare on Elm Street. I only suspected until I saw confirmation online because nothing really made me laugh. The jokes are lame and obvious. I add that although horror is a genre that kills good guys left and right there is a non-death scene in which I not only saw the survival of the characters surrounding it a mile away, but how they would survive as well! Never a good sign.

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If you’re not satisfied by our flying fish, they will eat you for no extra charge!

What more can I say about Sharknado except that it fails at everything it sets out to do. It fails at horror, fails at monsters, fails at character interactions, and especially fails at humor. Other than that, a damn good movie! Looking forward to the sequels.

Overall: 1 out of 10

And now for the Pack. Falcons-Packers preview.

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What was done on Sunday is what was done on Sunday. Time to move on.

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That works too.

The Green Bay Packers are not an elite team this year. This is largely because Aaron Rodgers isn’t having a great season. Actually, it’s his second straight down year, unless you want to judge him only on two or three hail marys (never think like this, by the way) last year. I thought a horrible offensive line that allowed 46 sacks was the main culprit. Now that he has the protection again, I’m not so sure. Because of this handicap, they lost both their games against good teams and did not demonstrate the incredible home field advantage that they have enjoyed in their rivalry with the Detroit Lions (just one home loss to them since the first Bush administration). They remain as questionable on the road as they ever were, nearly losing to the Jags in Jacksonville, one of the worst teams in the NFL.

The word right now is that Rodgers bounced back on Thursday, but it was over the 1-win Bears. And they were up by just a field goal at halftime. It was only when Chicago’s defense got tired from being on the field roughly two thirds of the time that Green Bay dominated. It was, after all, a close game about 73% of the way.

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If Rodgers wears this in Hotlanta, it’s official that he’s lost his mind.

What does all this mean? Not necessarily much. Not after the defensive meltdown we saw last week. While Rodgers may not be playing so great, he’s not doing any harm. Maybe doing no harm is all you need to do to score on this defense.

Now, I do believe our offense will score, but how much? I fear that if we don’t score at least 31 points, we don’t win. There are two concerns for this offense. First, the offensive line cannot be committing so many penalties that force 1st and 15s and 1st and 20s. Second, can we please not force the ball to Julio Jones like we did in the second half of the Chargers game? Beyond the predictability, the last two games show that he’s getting the LeBron/Shaq treatment where he is denied calls because the referees feel sorry for whoever is unfortunate enough to be matched up with him. Of course, part of the latter was because we got conservative after we went up by 17.

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Learn from your mistakes. Please!

Who’s going to win? Damned if I know. One thing we don’t have to worry about is Quinn taking his foot off the pedal, for I guarantee that we won’t go up by 17 this time. RISE UP!!!

Couldn’t be better, thanks for asking! Alabama bye week report.

AlabamaWhen the season began, my expectations were not that high. With Jake Coker and Derrick Henry having graduated and the former being replaced by a freshman, I expected what qualifies for a down year in Alabama Nation. I figured that we’d lose to two SEC West teams (Ole Miss and Auburn being the most likely).

Almost two months later, we could be headed for yet another National Championship. While there is never any favorite for any title before the postseason even begins, we have all but won the West. The SEC Championship game is a near lock. We have already terminated the myth of Tennessee’s elite status. The Gators have a lot going for them, but a Swiss cheese offensive line has decimated their offense. For what it’s worth, they’re probably the closest to a contender that the SEC East has. The eternally hyped Georgia Bulldogs have failed to deliver for the fourth straight season. Far more surprising: they’re looking to lose more than five games this season.

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Things are a little different now that Saban’s not supervising you, isn’t there?

Ohio State seems to be getting cold. Michigan has a defense that has allowed an average of just 10 points a game. The game between Michigan and Alabama should be good. It will probably crown the National Champions no matter where in the postseason it happens, but you never know.

How have we done so well? Jalen Hurts has proven to be a better quarterback than anyone imagined. The freshman has played like a senior. And a near elite senior at that. He’s a true running quarterback with the arm for deep balls. Defense, of course, is as awesome as it’s ever been.

He blows up every Nike ball he handles, along with the end zone.

He blows up every Nike ball he handles, along with the end zone.

Pity about Eddie Jackson going down. Fractured leg; out for the rest of the season. That is a blow to this team. But we still have a fantastic pass rush and Jackson is not our only good defensive back. We’re in a really good spot going forward ROLL TIDE!!!

Next week…

lsu

How high will Dwight fly as a Hawk? Hawks season preview.

atlhawksIn the 2014-2015 season, the Atlanta Hawks were swept in the NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers because Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap were playing hurt. No more, no less. The 2015-2016 playoffs were a different story. We had won 48 games, but against teams that finished with at least 45 wins, we only won something like 40% of the time. The ’14-’15 Hawks? Great record against top-tier teams. For example, they were .500 against Golden State and 2-1 against Cleveland (again, I am talking regular season). So unlike many fans, I frankly wasn’t surprised or even disappointed that the Cavaliers swept us again last Spring. We had demonstrated an utter inability to beat true Finals contenders.

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So yeah, we weren’t really contending.

Our problem wasn’t defensive play; in fact, our guys were elite in this area. Offense was another matter. I watched many games in which we could maneuver underneath the basket, forcing us to shoot from a distance too much. And when we missed, we struggled at recovering rebounds as well.

Basically, we were the Houston Texans of the NBA; a great defensive team but not able to do all that much with the ball. We weren’t starved for points, but remember that basketball is a turnover-rich game in which there can be lots of points scored virtually on defense. Thing is, LeBron James is unstoppable. To beat him, you have to score a lot with no help from the opposition. And we were not the team to do that.

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Defense always wins championships? I beg to differ.

So the folks at Atlanta made some moves. Al Horford is out. He’s been replaced by Dwight Howard. He has won Defensive Player of the Year three times. More importantly, he has skill at rebounding that cleans up a need.

But can he be any better a playmaker than the guy he’s replacing? Many believe he’s a downgrade if anything. More than anything, his performances will determine this season. True to Atlanta!

Defensive blunders finally cost us. Falcons-Chargers recap.

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Falcons lose!

There are going to be some people who contend that this overtime loss isn’t that big a deal. There will be those who say that this team was still good enough to beat Denver and come within a missed call of doing the same to Seattle. Not I.

I mean, look at the Chargers. They are not a good team. 2-4 heading into this game. Have a complete and total inability to hold a lead. Mike McCoy is said to be a bust of a coach. Well, apparently this bust of a coach out-coached Dan Quinn.

Defensive genius or in over his head? Only the future can tell.

Defensive genius or in over his head? Only the future can tell.

Why? Well, for starters, we got conservative in the second half, up 27-17. It’s like the Mike Smith days all over again. This tendency to sit on a lead never seems to change, no matter what who the coaches are. It happened in both our 2012 playoff games, it happened in several of our 2014 games, it happened in three games just last year, and it also happened in this game.

The other issue is the defense. Well, I don’t know if you say the whole defense because we sacked Philip Rivers four times and did a good job of stopping the run. Thing is, we kept giving up short passes because our linebackers and star safety are rookies. Despite the two stellar defensive performances before this game, it’s clear that we can’t depend on this defense.

Tight ends: the bane of the Falcons.

Tight ends: the bane of the Falcons.

And for all the praise our offense gets, there’s one continuing issue: false start and holding penalties. Out of this world performances have masked that but with seventy penalty yards today, it is officially unacceptable. In particular, the 1st and 20s caused by Ryan Schraeder and Andy Levitre alone cost us at least 6 points.

Frankly, you really have to question if Dan Quinn is cut out for this whole head coach thing. I’m not saying fire him right now, although I’ll be a lot closer to that position if we can’t win this miserable division. We have coaching problems that talent does not excuse. Levitre and especially Schraeder are good blockers. Why can’t they be taught discipline?

Whenever I see a flag on our offense, I know it's Levitre or Schraeder.

Whenever our offense is flagged, I know it was probably Levitre or Schraeder.

And one thing I never expected was for our defense to get significantly worse than last year and I don’t buy the arguments of tougher opposition or overemphasis on pass rushing (keep in mind that we sacked Rivers 4 times but couldn’t begin to stop him). We faced five teams that finished with winning records last year (Vikings, Texans, Redskins, Panthersx2) and they scored an average of 22.2 points a game. If I weren’t an Alabama fan, I’d have forgotten that you could hold an opponent to that little.

The Atlanta Falcons are probably still favored to enter the playoffs, if only because every other team in it sucks. If we even reach 8-8, we get a home playoff game. But after that…

I’ll elaborate further during the bye week. For now, it suffices to say that this is not the last time that our defense betrays us. If they get it together, things may look up in the near future. RISE UP!!!

Next week…

packers