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#pounditSunday, September 27, 2020

Articles tagged: Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Blank critical of Falcons players for onside kick gaffe

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank is reacting just about how you would expect him to react after his team’s embarrassing collapse in Week 2.

Speaking Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, the Atlanta Falcons owner was critical of Sunday’s showing against the Dallas Cowboys. Specifically, Blank criticized the players for their onside kick gaffe late in the fourth quarter.

“Clearly our defense is not playing at the level we want to see it play at,” he said, per Josh Alper of PFT. “Clearly on the last play of the game yesterday our players, you know, didn’t do what they, you know, either what they were instructed to do and they didn’t understand it.

“It’s clear though they didn’t, in my view, they didn’t clearly understand what the rules were and exactly what they had to do,” Blank continued. “I think that’s demonstrated when you watch the video of it.”

Down by two points with less than two minutes left, the Cowboys attempted an onside kick. Instead of making an effort to pick up the ball before it went ten yards, the Falcons just stared at it until it went far enough for a Dallas player to legally recover it.

The brain fart was just one component of an epic collapse on Atlanta’s part. Up 20-0 at one point and still holding a 15-point advantage in the fourth quarter, they crumbled late and lost on a Greg Zuerlein field goal as time expired. The Falcons are now 0-2 to start the season, and Blank clearly wants to see them get their act together.

5 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 2

Kirk Cousins

Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season was certainly memorable, but not always for the right reasons. One team suffered a truly epic collapse, while a series of major injuries put a damper on things for the entire league. While there were plenty of teams that played at an elite level, we were also subjected to one of the worst quarterback performances of the young season.

Here are five big disappointments from NFL Week 2.

5) New York Jets

The Jets look worse with each passing week. They were crushed by a hobbled 49ers’ offense that was missing several weapons. Their own offense could do very little against the San Francisco defense. The Jets had perhaps the worst all-around performance of any team in Week 2. It was enough to get coach Adam Gase to blow his top after the game when meeting with the media. Gase’s frustration is understandable; at this rate, Gase might not have a job by the end of the season. It’s that bad.

4) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Panthers

The Buccaneers’ defense was excellent on Sunday, and Bridgewater simply was not. His passing numbers were okay, and he piled up 367 yards, but he turned the ball over three times. He threw two interceptions, both of which were down to his poor accuracy, and also lost a fumble. It’s virtually impossible to win a game in the NFL when your quarterback turns the ball over three times in a game. Bridgewater simply has to clean that up going forward.

3) Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

Cousins turned in what has to go down as the single worst quarterback performance of anyone so far this season. The numbers speak for themselves: 11/26, 113 yards, three interceptions. He also took a safety. This came against a Colts’ defense that is good, but few would consider elite. Cousins doesn’t even look like an NFL starting quarterback at this point. His offense has too few weapons, and he’s nowhere near good enough to make up for that.

2) Injuries

Week 2 was the most brutal week for high-profile injuries in a long time. Worse, several of the injuries appeared serious. The most serious blows were to Giants running back Saquon Barkley and 49ers teammates Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas. That’s an awful set of severe injuries to pretty significant players. Hopefully we don’t see another week of injuries like this for a long time.

1) Atlanta Falcons’ special teams

The entire Atlanta team really deserves criticism after blowing a 39-24 lead over the Dallas Cowboys with eight minutes left. The offense was unable to put the game away while the defense was on its heels for the entire fourth quarter. Despite all that, the Falcons could have put the game away by simply recovering an onside kick, but their baffling management of that kick attempt allowed the Cowboys to recover and set up a game-winning field goal. Did they not know the rules? It’s hard to say. Whatever the case, it was an unacceptable failure.

Falcons have total collapse in ugly loss to Cowboys

Dan Quinn

The Atlanta Falcons will be kicking themselves after a brutal collapse against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Falcons had jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Dallas at the end of the first quarter, and held a 39-24 advantage with just eight minutes to go. The Cowboys managed to storm back to within two, but the real moment that turned the game was Atlanta’s baffling attempt to recover Dallas’ onside kick with 1:49 left.

Atlanta appeared to be in position to at least try to fall on the ball and ensure the Cowboys didn’t get another chance. Instead, they just stared at the kick until Dallas’ C.J. Goodwin swooped in and scooped it up. It was almost as if Atlanta’s players didn’t know they could pick the ball up before it went ten yards.

Ironically, it was the Falcons who had been more prepared on special teams earlier in the game. Dallas ran two fake punts, and the Falcons immediately seemed to sense that something was up on the second one and were more than ready for it.

That preparation disappeared at the end of the game. Atlanta’s defense was on its heels for the entire fourth quarter. Their special teams blunder was the icing on the cake. Given that 17 of their points came off Dallas turnovers, it could be argued they were fortunate to even have a chance.

Dallas, meanwhile, got a bit unlucky in their Week 1 loss. In Week 2, luck was on their side.

5 NFL teams that could surprise in 2020

Tua Tagovailoa

Seeing a team go from worst-to-first has become the norm in the NFL, and 2020 is not likely to see that change. There will be many top teams that sink to the bottom while others rise up and surprise the football world.

We’re not here to predict which team will go from worst-to-first, but we are here to examine five teams that could surprise in one form or fashion here in 2020.

Let’s take a look:

5. Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons started off 1-7 in 2019 and things looked grim. However, they rebounded to close out the season by winning six of their final eight games to give them a 7-9 record for the second consecutive season. The turnaround was enough to save some jobs and give the current regime one more chance in 2020. They’ve since added running back Todd Gurley via free agency and selected Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell in the 2020 NFL Draft, essentially improving on both sides of the ball. With quarterback Matt Ryan still under center and some young building blocks spread out across the roster, we’re more likely to see the Falcons team that went 6-2 to close out last season than we are to see the Falcons team that went 1-7 to open last season.

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Todd Gurley passes physical with Falcons despite knee injury history

Todd Gurley has had knee troubles since college, and that is one of the reasons the Los Angeles Rams decided to part ways with him this offseason. The Atlanta Falcons medical staff, however, does not seem concerned about the star running back’s health.

Gurley finally took his physical with the Falcons on Monday after they reached an agreement with him two months ago, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The 25-year-old passed.

While that does not mean Gurley will avoid another knee injury going forward, it is obviously a good sign. The Falcons signed him to a deal that will allow him to make up to $6 million this season, which was a decent indicator that they were not concerned about his health.

Gurley’s knee became a topic of discussion once again last month when Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter made some troubling remarks about the running back’s health. There were also reports as recently as March that indicated the knee was still a major issue for Gurley, but apparently there is no structural damage.

After he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored 30 touchdowns in 2017 and 2018 combined, Gurley failed to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 15 games. He also faded down the stretch in the 2018 playoffs, but the Falcons are hoping he will come into camp looking fresh.

Falcons OC makes troubling comments about Todd Gurley’s health

The Atlanta Falcons signed Todd Gurley to a contract this offseason that is worth up to $6 million, and many took that to mean they are confident the star running back’s knee issues are under control. Apparently that is not the case.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter made some very surprising remarks about Gurley’s health on Thursday, basically admitting that the team is unsure of how healthy the 25-year-old is. Koetter said the Falcons will have to “find out (Gurley’s) health after he gets here.”

It’s not a secret that Gurley has had knee problems since college. That’s likely the main reason the Los Angeles Rams decided to move on from him, but Falcons fans can’t feel good about the fact that their team seems less than confident that Gurley is now healthy.

One report we heard back in March indicated that Gurley’s knee is still a major issue. The Falcons almost certainly won’t expect him to handle a full workload, but they’re paying Gurley $3.5 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of money for a player you are unsure about.

Falcons send funny tweet about infamous Super Bowl meltdown

Falcons Patriots

It has been more than three years since the Atlanta Falcons somehow blew a 28-3 lead with just over 17 minutes remaining in the Super Bowl, and one of their social media people clearly has not gotten over it.

SB Nation posed a question on Tuesday that asked followers to name one sports moment they wish went differently. Whoever was running the Falcons’ official Twitter account on Wednesday had a very subtle reply, but the meaning was quite obvious.

Obviously, that simple emoji was a reference to Super Bowl LI. The Falcons had a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, and Tom Brady proceeded to orchestrate one of the best — if not the best — comebacks in sports history. While it further cemented Brady’s legacy as the NFL’s greatest player, Atlanta is never going to live it down.

If it wasn’t bad enough that Brady trolled them over the comeback recently, the Falcons are now sending their own fans reminders of the most heartbreaking game in franchise history. You hate to see it.

Takk McKinley celebrates Falcons not picking up his fifth-year option

Takk McKinley

The Atlanta Falcons have chosen not to pick up the fifth-year option on Takk McKinley’s contract, and the defensive end is not hiding how he feels about it.

While the Falcons have not made an official announcement, McKinley took to Twitter on Wednesday with a simple message about his contract. He said his fifth-year option has been declined by the team and included the praying hands emoji.

McKinley will now be eligible for free agency following the 2020 season, and hitting free agency sooner is almost always what players want. Despite the somewhat disappointing start to his NFL career, he should still have plenty of suitors.

The Falcons took McKinley with the 26th overall pick in the 2017 draft. The former UCLA star was considered one of the best pass-rushers in the draft that year, but he has just 16.5 sacks total in his first three NFL seasons. He’s made some bold predictions that he couldn’t live up to, and Atlanta likely believes he can be replaced at a cheaper price than the fifth-year option would cost.

Falcons ‘aggressive’ in trying to trade up in draft, like Chase Young

Thomas Dimitroff

The Atlanta Falcons are picking at No. 16 in the upcoming NFL Draft, but they would like to be higher than that.

FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported on Wednesday that Atlanta has been aggressive in trying to trade up. He says they like Chase Young and even tried to trade up to the No. 2 spot.

Though Atlanta made an effort, Washington reportedly “loves” Young and is not inclined to trade the pick.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has a history of trading up and did so in 2011 to land Julio Jones, which paid off in a big way.

Panthers ruthlessly mock Falcons over new uniforms

The Atlanta Falcons were the latest NFL team to unveil new uniforms on Wednesday, and one of their division rivals thinks the jerseys are laughable.

Much like the threads that were unveiled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the day before, Atlanta’s new jerseys are fairly simple and have a vintage color scheme. However, not long after the big reveal, the Carolina Panthers took to Twitter to ruthlessly mock the Falcons for having jerseys that strongly resemble those worn by Adam Sandler and the inmates in “The Longest Yard.”

Those are quite similar. The color scheme isn’t exactly uncommon, but even the numbers look almost the same. Of course, the Falcons are sticking by their new design. They responded to Carolina’s trolling with a simple message.

No matter how badly the Falcons are taunted, they can’t get it much worse than the Los Angeles Rams got it when they recently unveiled their new logo. That said, the Panthers have now given their fans and fans of other teams something to heckle their division rival over. They probably consider that a win.