• An impressive win over the Raiders move the Falcons can confidence needle slightly
    by Dave Choate on December 3, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesWe’re not fooled, we’re just optimists. Falcons fan confidence hit 0% in our weekly Falcoholic Reacts survey after the Week 11 loss to the Saints, and it wasn’t hard to understand why. Atlanta was entirely overmatched by their most bitter rivals, a team starting a gadget player/Sean Payton crush at quarterback, and they were humiliated to the point where they scored just 9 points despite a bye week to prepare. If you want to convince someone you’re not actually heading in the right direction as a franchise, that’s pretty much the textbook definition of how you do it. This past week, the Falcons hosted the Raiders and surprised just about everybody by thumping them. Forcing turnovers, flustering Derek Carr, and getting just enough juice out of the offense to help out resulted in an impressive 43-6 win, one that made it clear that even a quality team like Las Vegas can be handled by Atlanta when they’re not at their best and this defense is clicking. That two week roller coaster ride leaves us with...33% of fans feeling confident about the team’s direction heading into a Week 13 matchup against the Saints. Honestly, if it had been higher than that I would’ve feared fans weren’t learning their lessons. This team has a nasty habit of making you think they’re about to do something and then falling flat, as the up-and-down chart above makes clear. With a game against the same Saints that just embarrassed this team looming, no one’s confidence level is going to be particularly high until the Falcons win, if they can manage to do such a thing. The boost from that kind of win will be quick to dissipate when they inevitably lose another tough game in the near future, but beating the Saints will obviously spike this number because it feels so darn good. The next big milestone for this particular survey will come in the offseason, when we’ll have a new general manager and possibly all-new coaching staff to put our faith (or lack thereof) into before free agency and the draft.

  • Falcons land Michigan EDGE in Draft Wire's new mock
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Despite drafting edge rushers in the first rounds of the 2015 and 2017 NFL drafts, the Atlanta Falcons have a pretty glaring need at the (...)

  • Falcons land Michigan EDGE in Draft Wire's new mock
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Despite drafting edge rushers in the first rounds of the 2015 and 2017 NFL drafts, the Atlanta Falcons have a pretty glaring need at the (...)

  • Falcons “Swiss Army knife” Isaiah Oliver getting new looks in Atlanta’s defense
    by Dave Choate on December 3, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesThe oft-criticized cornerback has settled into a hybrid role effectively. It’s fair to say Isaiah Oliver is not a universally beloved player. The former second round pick was essentially mothballed in his rookie year before becoming a starter in 2019, where he was frequently targeted and sometimes crisped in a rough year for the entire secondary. While Oliver had brilliant moments in the early going this year, he once again had a missed interception here or moment where he was completely outpaced there that led to him enjoying the wrong end of the highlight reel far too often in the first five weeks of the season. With Raheem Morris assuming head coaching duties and Jeff Ulbrich becoming the full-time defensive coordinator, paired with the return of Kendall Sheffield, he’s now played over 75% of the defensive snaps just one in the past six weeks. He’s split time with Kendall Sheffield and Darqueze Dennard, playing inside and taking snaps as in what Ulbrich termed a “safety-like” role where he’s been asked to blitz and play closer to the line of scrimmage. His coverage miscues have been noticeably diminished, he’s delivered a couple of pressures and a sack as a pass rusher, and his always-solid tackling is playing well against the run. The net takeaway here is that Oliver appears to be more comfortable in his new, slightly reduced role, which has been part of the defensive improvement in recent weeks. Notably, Ulbrich is not ruling out Oliver getting more time at safety going forward. Jeff Ulbrich called Isaiah Oliver a "swiss army knife" with how they've used him lately. He's been playing inside at nickel and in a safety-like role as well. Asked if he might have a future at safety, he mentioned potentially ... but right now, he's a nickel/corner.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) December 3, 2020 When asked if Isaiah Oliver's future includes more time at safety, Falcons defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich responded by saying it's possible.— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) December 3, 2020 This is not something to put a ton of stock into at the moment—the Falcons are not benching either Ricardo Allen or Keanu Neal, and Oliver can get a few snaps per game as a nominal third safety without making major waves—but it is something to monitor because the Falcons figure to go into the spring without a whole lot in the cupboard at safety. If Oliver can continue to carve out a role as a versatile defender who can wear several hats, he might be able to pick up more of a role at safety under a new staff, though that’s heavily dependent on who is coming in. It’s not clear at all that a new staff will feel comfortable making Oliver a full-time outside starter again after some of the adventures of the last couple years, but that may not prevent him from having a significant role. It doesn’t particularly matter to me what you want to call Oliver’s position or where he actually plays, so long as it maximizes his strengths. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the team deploys him in the weeks to come and what it means for his role in 2021.

  • NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Head coach progress reports for all 32 teams
    by Sheil Kapadia on December 3, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Which coaches are exceeding expectations, meeting expectations or below expectations? We hand out progress reports for each team's coach.

  • NFL Predictions: Week 13 win probabilities and expected spread
    by Ethan Douglas on December 3, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    This is also the most lopsided slate we've seen this season by our projections, and that's also reflected in the point spreads.

  • Jacob Tuioti-Mariner wins NFC Defensive Player of the Week
    by Dave Choate on December 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesHis dominant game against the Raiders makes him the second Falcon to earn the honor in 2020. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner has been a quietly effective player all season, making plays on limited snaps and generally looking like an effective player for a surprisingly effective defensive line in 2020. It was only on Sunday against the Raiders, when JTM played more than 50% of the snaps for the first time all year, that he was able to ramp up the volume on that quiet effectiveness. Boy, did he ever. Tuioti-Mariner picked up a sack, forced a fumble, recovered two fumbles, and picked up six combined tackles on a day when the defense’s smothering play completely shut down what had been a potent Raiders offense. JTM was one of the team’s most active and disruptive players all day long, and his stat line and play earned him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! Congrats, @jaytmhuh!#ProBowVote— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 3, 2020 Tuioti-Mariner’s done great work to climb his way up from undrafted free agent to useful player on a defensive line headed for a reset in 2021, and his play and versatility is likely to get him a very long look from the next coaching staff. He’ll head into the 2021 offseason as a 25-year-old exclusive rights free agent, making him an affordable re-signing if the team is interested. They should be. This is the second time in 2020 that a Falcon has won NFC Defensive Player of the Week, joining Foye Oluokun after his dominant performance in Week 9. This is also the first time since 2017 that more than one Falcon has won the award in a single season, as Deion Jones, Adrian Clayborn, and Desmond Trufant all did that year. Congratulations to Tuioti-Mariner, and may he have a similar performance against Taysom Hill and the Saints this Sunday.

  • Falcons' Jacob Tuioti-Mariner named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    One performance that warranted some praise was that of DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, who finished Sunday's contest with six tackles, one (...)

  • Falcons' Jacob Tuioti-Mariner named NFC Defensive Player of the Week
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    One performance that warranted some praise was that of DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, who finished Sunday's contest with six tackles, one (...)

  • Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Version 2.0
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    The New England Patriots’ passing game operating like a well-oiled machine? They won, but that did not happen.

  • Week 12 NFL Power Rankings: Version 2.0
    by Matt Urben on December 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    The New England Patriots’ passing game operating like a well-oiled machine? They won, but that did not happen.

  • Will Ito Smith have a real role down the stretch?
    by Dave Choate on December 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsIto’s quality game against the Raiders may or may not augur bigger things ahead. Ito Smith’s career in Atlanta has been marked by many roadblocks. As a fourth round pick in 2018, Ito joined a team with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman already entrenched, but was able to take advantage of injuries at the position to put together nearly 500 combined yards and 4 touchdowns in his rookie season. In 2019, he was sparingly used and picked up multiple concussions that knocked him out for the year, seemingly putting his future with the team in doubt. Indeed, Ito’s lack of a role was a quiet but consistently befuddling issue this year. He was inactive once and otherwise barely played, watching Todd Gurley and Brian Hill increasingly get bogged down as runners and get virtually no targets in the passing game. It took an injury to Gurley to open up an opportunity for him against the Raiders, but he arrived with a bang, picking up 65 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Given that Ito is probably the most capable pass-catching back on the roster, his lack of involvement to this point has been pretty puzzling. In a healthy passing attack firing on all cylinders, running back targets are generally less valuable than targets to receivers and tight ends, given that they frequently average far less yardage and tend to be less successful overall. The Falcons, however, do not have a healthy passing attack firing on all cylinders, and slow-developing plays where Ryan doesn’t appear to have a clear checkdown to a back to pick up some yardage has been a problem this year. Ryan has thrown just 68 balls to backs, or 16% of all his targets, and just 24 of those have gone to the team’s lead back Gurley. Smith is the most capable back on the roster if the Falcons want to change that, which feels like a smart move against what figures to once again be a relentless Saints pass rush. Given that he’s also a strong runner on his best days, his lack of blocking acumen is the chief thing holding him back from a larger role, but if Gurley’s out it feels like there’s no way the Falcons can park him against New Orleans. It also feels like with Hill once again putting together a vaguely disappointing effort when given an opportunity to serve as the feature back and with Gurley seemingly wearing down in recent weeks, Smith’s a prime candidate to get more involvement the rest of the way, even if Dirk Koetter notably would not commit to getting him more involved. Everybody likes to get into what role everybody is going to play. There’s one football to go around all these guys. Whoever we don’t get the ball to, you guys are going to ask me why he didn’t. Ito has played a lot of football for the Falcons in his time here. He is a really good receiver out of the backfield and he showed yesterday what kind of runner he can be. A lot of it will be depend on what’s the situation with Todd Gurley coming back and that’s the kind of stuff we will sort out during the week. My hunch is that this will sort itself out in a way that leads to Ito Smith becoming a more prominent part of the offense down the stretch. Gurley’s status is extremely in doubt and his effectiveness has been steadily waning in a way that makes his health a concern, as he averaged 4.96 yards per carry in the first five games and just 2.72 over his last five games. Hill has been more effective overall but failed to knock anyone’s socks off against the Raiders and feels more like a solid all-around complement, which means he’ll have a significant role no matter what but doesn’t figure to get 75-100% of the running back touches in any game the rest of the way. Ito can step into that situation and chip in, and for a team that may not have Julio Jones and needs to figure out a way to get the ball out more quickly, he could provide a short-term lift. Given that Ito is the only semi-proven back on the roster who will be under contract in 2021, anything he does down the stretch can only help him carve out a role under what is virtually certain to be a new offensive staff next year. For a Falcons team trying to get a sputtering offense in gear, he’s unlikely to be transformative in a larger role but seems very likely to be a needed spark. I’m hopeful we’ll see more of him against the Saints.

  • Falcons injury report: G James Carpenter did not practice Wednesday
    by Evan Birchfield on December 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesFalcons practice report for Wednesday, Dec. 2 It’s rivalry week again as the Atlanta Falcons prepare to host the New Orleans Saints, who they played two weeks ago. The Falcons will head into the game 4-7, after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders this past Sunday. The team released its official practice report for Wednesday, giving us insight into where certain players stand health-wise. FULL PARTICIPATION FB Keith Smith (knee)LIMITED PARTICIPATION WR Calvin Ridley (foot/ankle) DE Dante Fowler (hamstring) WR Julio Jones (hamstring) RB Todd Gurley (knee) TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) K Younghoe Koo (right quad) NO PARTICIPATION CB Kendall Sheffield (illness) G James Carpenter (groin) Well, it’s Wednesday. This is the first real look at the team ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Saints, and the Falcons do have some injuries. A positive takeaway from Wednesday’s practice report is seeing Julio Jones and Todd Gurley, who both missed the Raiders game in week 12, were limited. Younghoe Koo who sustained a right quad injury against the Raiders was also limited, but as long as we don’t see him miss practice I wouldn’t worry. The team has kicker Elliott Fry on the practice squad in case Koo is unavailable on Sunday. The main concern early in the week is left guard James Carpenter who was carted off against the Raiders due to a groin injury. If he’s unable to go on Sunday, we’ll likely see Justin McCray or Matt Gono.

  • Falcoholinks: All the Falcons news you need for Thursday, Dec. 3
    by Carter Breazeale on December 3, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesIt’s Hate Week (again), baby. Hate Week 2 is on tap for Sunday. We look at the history of the Atlanta-New Orleans rivalry and more in today’s edition of Falcoholinks. A History of Hate The Falcons - Saints Part Deux is on tap for this Sunday, and while New Orleans embarrassed Atlanta in their meeting two weeks earlier, the Falcons have enjoyed some very streaky success against the Saints. Let’s hope this weekend’s game is the start of another one of those streaks. If they hope to get even with the Saints after the shellacking from a couple of weeks back, they will need to learn from their recent mistakes. At least Vegas doesn’t absolutely hate us this week? As a surprise, the Falcons opened as mere three-point underdogs against the Saints. Raheem and the work ahead Raheem Morris was elevated to the role of interim head coach in mid-October, and under his leadership the Falcons have gone 4-2, taking their 0-5 record when he assumed the position to 4-7. He’s been mentioned as in the mix for Atlanta’s head coaching search, but as with most interim coaches — and with the added aspect of his fingerprints on the current defense — his future with the team is uncertain. These next few games will be critical for Raheem. A new GM may simply want the keys to the franchise, but closing out the season on an extended positive note definitely can’t hurt Morris’ chances. Draft prospect watch This week, Falcoholic draft analyst Kevin Knight took some time to evaluate a few of the quarterback candidates that Atlanta may be eyeing in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s not currently a position of need, but it’s one of intrigue — you know, with age and all that. Depending on where the Falcons ultimately fall on the draft board, it might be wise to invest an early pick in the heir-apparent to Matt Ryan’s spot. The Falcoholic Live Episode 125 This week the crew continued their elation over Atlanta’s surgical dissection of the Las Vegas Raiders on a football field, as well as previewing Sunday’s NFC South clash with the Saints. If you missed the live show yesterday, as always, you can catch the full replay right here.

  • Falcons vs. Saints odds: Atlanta just 3 point underdogs against 9-2 Saints
    by James Rael on December 2, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsFact: Sean Payton hates puppies. The Falcons will square off with the Saints in 4 days and if they play like they did against the Raiders, it’s entirely possible that they’d come away with a win. But we’ve seen what this Saints team can do, even with a non-quarterback quarterback under center. Let’s take a quick look at what the odds makers are saying about Sunday’s match up. Currently the Saints are tabbed as 3 point favorites. The Saints have oscillated between being 3 and 3.5 point favorites since the line opened on November 24th. The over/under is current set at 46, but it’s been as high as 47.5 (November 29th). According to Odds Shark, if the over/under holds steady at 46, it’d be the lowest over/under for a Falcons-Saints game since Dave wasn’t a raging alcoholic (roughly 2007). While it’s no surprise the Falcons are tabbed as underdogs, I’m frankly a little surprised the Saints are only favored by 3 points. For what it’s worth, the Falcons are facing a team that’s 10-2 against the spread over their last 12 road games. But it’s worth noting that the Falcons are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 games as underdogs. Your thoughts about the current odds, Falcoholics?

  • The Falcoholic Live: Ep125 - Raiders recap & Saints preview
    by Kevin Knight on December 2, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Join the crew of The Falcoholic Live at 8:10 PM ET as they recap the Falcons dominant performance against the Raiders, discuss Atlanta’s draft position and top coaching options, and preview the rematch with the division rival Saints in Week 13. Watch the stream below or on YouTube beginning at 8:10 PM ET Fellow Falcoholics, welcome to Episode 125 of The Falcoholic Live! After a devastating loss in Week 11, the Falcons rebounded against the Raiders in a dominant 43-6 performance that was by far the team’s best of the season. The crew is here to recap the play of the offense and defense, and try to discern whether this can carry over into Week 13’s rematch with the Saints. We’ll also spend time on some Draft Takes, including positioning and top prospects to watch, and top coaching candidates for the Falcons. You can watch the show here on The Falcoholic, but we recommend watching on YouTube for the best experience—including full 1080p HD video and access to the live Q&A in the chat. You can also access the show using your smart TV or device using the YouTube app for the real big-screen experience! Remember to subscribe to the channel on YouTube as well to get notifications when we go live. We hope you enjoy the show! If you have comments, we’d love to hear them. Send them to us on Twitter (@FalcoholicLive), leave them below, or e-mail the show at falcoholiclive@gmail.com. Thanks for watching!

  • 21 potential GM targets for the Falcons in 2021
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    The Atlanta Falcons aren't closing the door on retaining interim head coach Raheem Morris, but the franchise will look elsewhere for a new (...)

  • 21 potential GM targets for the Falcons in 2021
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    The Atlanta Falcons aren't closing the door on retaining interim head coach Raheem Morris, but the franchise will look elsewhere for a new (...)

  • Falcons Week 13 Injury Report: Sheffield, Carpenter out Wednesday
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the team's Week 12 (...)

  • Falcons Week 13 Injury Report: Sheffield, Carpenter out Wednesday
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the team's Week 12 (...)

  • Falcons Week 13 Injury Report: James Carpenter out Wednesday
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the team's Week 12 (...)

  • Falcons Week 13 Injury Report: James Carpenter out Wednesday
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the team's Week 12 (...)

  • Raheem Morris says Julio Jones, Todd Gurley will practice today
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley were both held out of the Falcons' Week 12 win over the Raiders.

  • Raheem Morris says Julio Jones, Todd Gurley will practice today
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Todd Gurley were both held out of the Falcons' Week 12 win over the Raiders.

  • Baker Mayfield, Matt Nagy and 12 others with most at stake in the next 2 months
    by Sheil Kapadia on December 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    To reset the season and preview what's to come, here’s a look at the QBs, coaches and coordinators with the most at stake.

  • Falcons OC Dirk Koetter comments on RB Ito Smith, matchup vs. Saints
    by Deen Worley on December 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Koetter when asked about what he is looking for in his preparation for the Saints in Week 13.

  • Falcons OC Dirk Koetter comments on RB Ito Smith, matchup vs. Saints
    by Deen Worley on December 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Koetter when asked about what he is looking for in his preparation for the Saints in Week 13.

  • Raheem Morris says Falcons failed former head coach Dan Quinn
    by Deen Worley on December 2, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    After expressing his hopefulness to see the return of RB Todd Gurley and WR Julio Jones, Morris was then asked about how the team has fared (...)

  • Raheem Morris says Falcons failed former head coach Dan Quinn
    by Deen Worley on December 2, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    After expressing his hopefulness to see the return of RB Todd Gurley and WR Julio Jones, Morris was then asked about how the team has fared (...)

  • Falcons DL Jacob Tuioti-Mariner was mic'd up for win over Raiders
    by Matt Urben on December 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    The Falcons delivered a performance for the ages in Week 12 and for once, didn't take their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.