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Did Mike Smith Make the Right Call Going for it on Fourth Down?

The Falcons lost to the Saints in overtime on Sunday after a controversial decision by Atlanta head coach Mike Smith to go for it on fourth down.  Like any other coach would for a gutsy call gone wrong, Smith has been crucified in the media.  Facing a fourth and inches at his own 30-yard line, Smith decided to let his offense try to keep the drive alive.  The Falcons had moved the ball on the ground against New Orleans all afternoon, rushing for 138 yards including 96 from Michael Turner — the man who was stuffed on the play.  If Atlanta converted and went on to win, it’s a ballsy call by a coach who trusted his offense.  Since they failed to pick up less than a yard, many have said it was a bonehead move from someone who doesn’t trust his defense.

Here at LBS, we were on both sides of the fence. On one side you have Del, who argues that no matter what you should always give your defense a chance to stop the other team when you are that deep in your own territory.  On the other side is L.B., who is a strong advocate for going for it since the odds of picking up less than a yard are heavily in the offense’s favor.

As Pro Football Talk pointed out, the website AdvancedNFLStats.com crunched some numbers that help make sense of the situation.  Their statisticians determined that if the Falcons punted, they had a 42% chance of winning.  If they converted the fourth down play, they would have had a 57% chance of winning.  They also unveiled that teams going for it on fourth-and-one convert 74% of the time.  Considering the Falcons were facing fourth-and-inches, it would stand to reason that they stood an even better chance of converting.

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B.J. Raji Rips Falcons for Failing to Back Up Their Trash Talk

B.J. Raji wouldn’t have anything to say about the Falcons if they hadn’t started things first. Last week, we told you that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was still motivated by Roddy White’s remark that the Falcons were a better team than the Packers despite losing to them 48-21 in the playoffs last year.

Green Bay came back from down 14-0 to win 25-14 in Atlanta Sunday night for their second straight road win at the Georgia Dome. The back-to-back easy road wins for the Packers is a pretty obvious sign that they’re a superior team. In case you didn’t feel that way, Green Bay defensive tackle B.J. Raji is here to remind you.

“They have a long way to go,” Raji said of being a Packers rival. “For it to be a rivalry, you have to win meaningful games. They’re just another opponent. They have a long way to go.

“I wouldn’t talk like this, but when people don’t respect you, I don’t take it lying down. Those people don’t respect us, so in turn I’m not going to give them any respect.

“Now that we abused them, for the second time in a row, at their home, there’s nothing really to do.”

Raji also made it clear that the Packers are superior to Atlanta in all facets. “We have better players, we have better coaches, we’re a better team,” he said after the game.

Ryan Pickett added that this was Atlanta’s Super Bowl, and that they were committing some dirty plays, including hitting after the whistle. Yet they still lost the game.

We’re not trying to pile on the Falcons with this post, but we’re just stating what we’ve learned through five weeks of the season. The Packers are the defending Super Bowl champions and they’re playing like one of the best teams in the league. The Falcons went 13-3 a year ago and got embarrassed in the playoffs. They’re 2-3 this season and they appear to be quite mediocre. The Falcons may disagree with that assertion, but that’s what they’ve shown us with their play.

Roddy White: Falcons Offense Will ‘Remind You of Greatest Show on Turf’

The Atlanta Falcons made one of the boldest moves of the NFL Draft, trading several high picks to move up and select receiver Julio Jones 6th overall. Though we think Jones is a skilled player, we said the team gave up too much to get him. Frankly, it’s hard to justify giving up two firsts, a second, and two fourth round picks for any receiver in the NFL, much less a rookie. Still, the hefty price they paid to draft him isn’t going to stop Atlanta’s Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White from praising the youngster.

“He’s real coachable and he’s learning everyday,” White said of Jones during an interview with NFL Network. “[Our offense is] going to be special. It’s going to remind you of the Greatest Show on Turf. We’ve got a lot of explosive players and I see a lot more explosive plays coming out of our offense.”

White mentioned that having Julio Jones opposite him will create an opportunity for more one-on-one coverages for him. Then when the point was raised that the team maybe should have opted for defensive help instead of an offensive weapon, White said “We’re going to outscore everyone.” Additionally, as Pro Football Talk pointed out, White confidently stated that “We’re going to be Green Bay south.”

White’s not the team’s GM so of course he’s going to try and find the positive in the team’s moves, so we won’t blame him too much. This is on Atlanta’s front office for trading away too much and not addressing their defensive needs. Jones is another offensive weapon, but is outscoring everyone realistic? Probably not. They’ll need a Super Bowl win to justify the pick and trade and I don’t see that happening. Though the Falcons went 13-3 last year, their biggest problem was surrendering 48 points in the playoffs to the Packers and they didn’t do much to address that issue.

Julio Jones Is Good, but Atlanta Falcons Traded Way Too Much

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft was filled with surprises, ranging from Jake Locker going 8th overall to James Carpenter getting picked by the Seahawks at 25. While fans were shocked left and right, one move that stood out to me for its outrageousness was Atlanta’s decision to trade five draft picks for Julio Jones. I like Julio Jones, but I’m not sure I’d deal five picks for a receiver guaranteed to be a combination of Calvin Johnson and Reggie Wayne.

Atlanta gave up the 27th overall pick, their second and fourth-round pick this year, and their first and fourth-round picks in 2012 just to move up to the sixth spot. That’s two firsts, two seconds, and a fourth all for Julio Jones. That’s close to too much to surrender for a franchise quarterback. What can a second receiver do for you?

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2,288 Atlanta Students Set Exercise Record at Georgia Dome with Falcons

When they’re not dealing with helmet-to-helmet hits, DUIs, and drug arrests, the NFL actually does a fantastic job with its public relations. It’s nearly impossible to watch an NFL game and not see a commercial for their Play 60 program, or at least a logo on the field somewhere. The Play 60 program is pretty simple — its mission is “To make the next generation of youth the most active and healthy.” Keeping the program in mind, the Atlanta Falcons essentially sponsored an event at the Georgia Dome where 2,288 elementary and middle schoolers came to the Dome to participate in a physical education class.

The 2,288 people together for the class was confirmed as a new Guinness World Record, breaking a previous record of 646 students together at FedEx Field in Maryland. Somewhere the University of Michigan is thinking they can blow people away at the Big House. Gotta love the NFL — does anyone do P.R. better than them?

Captain Morgan’s NFL Thanksgiving Weekend Preview: Packers vs. Falcons


Make your Holiday legendary with Captain and Cola. Join the party on Facebook.

Why Should I Watch?

All Michael Vick talk aside, this weekend’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons will do a lot to determine who the team to beat is in the NFC.  The Falcons have won eight out of their last nine and the Packers’ defense has allowed only 10 points over the last three games.  This could definitely turn out to be the first of two games between these teams this season.

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Samuel L. Jackson Reps the Atlanta Falcons in New Commercial

Samuel L. Jackson never met a script he didn’t like. Perhaps then it’s no surprise to see him pimping the Atlanta Falcons in a commercial for their ticket sales department despite Jackson being born in D.C, growing up in Chattanooga, and living in Los Angeles. I guess his ties to the Falcons come from his days at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Regardless of how Rev. Sultan swung this gig, it’s pretty amusing and worth watching. Check out this Samuel L. Jackson Atlanta Falcons commercial via The Sporting Rave and Jimmy Traina’s Hot Clicks:

If that video does not make you want to buy Falcons tickets, then nothing will. Right on, Rev.

Sources:
Samuel L. Jackson Wants Atlanta Falcons Fans to Rise Up [The Sporting Rave]
Samuel L. Jackson rallies Falcons fans [SI Hot Clicks]
Video Credit: BigDawgJP