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Falcons Nest: Can Atlanta Build Off the Week 1 Success?

Julio Jones looks to continue his success in week 2 against the 1-0 Raiders. (Madden 17)

*Disclaimer: This is based solely on a Madden 17 franchise and should not be taken for real life. 

The season opener is out of the way, and man it feels so good to come out with a victory. The Falcons beat the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-28 in a game that was honestly too close for comfort. The Falcons couldn't have jumped out to a better start, as DeVonta Freeman took a 70 yard touchdown run to the house for the first touchdown of the season. After a touchdown pass from Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan proceeded to find Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy in the end zone, and the Falcons jumped out to a 21-7 lead. Late in the first half, rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo attempted a 50 yard field goal that was blocked by Desmond Trufant and returned for a touchdown. The Falcons went into halftime with a 21 point lead and couldn't have asked for a more perfect start. As far as the Buccaneers, they registered only 7 points in the first half, and to make matters worse Tampa would lose star running back Doug Martin for the rest of the game with a broken collarbone. 

The 2nd half was a completely different ball game. The Buccaneers offense came out firing on the back of 2nd year man Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers scored early in the 3rd as Jameis found tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the back of the end zone to cut the Falcons lead to 28-14. Jameis once again found the end zone early in the 4th, connecting with Adam Humphries to cut the lead to 7. After multiple stops, the next score came late in the 4th with famous Jameis once again hooking up with Jenkins to tie the game at 28. The Falcons perfectly executed on their final drive of the game, on a drive that was capped off with a slant route by Julio Jones that he took 48 yards to the house. The Buccaneers nearly tied the game, but turned the ball over on downs inside the Falcons 10 to seal the victory for the birds. It wasn't clean, it wasn't the win we were expecting, but a win is a win.

My MVP for this week has to be Devonta Freeman. Coming into the season many expected Tevin Coleman to take the starting job at some point in the season, but Devonta quickly silenced the critics. Freeman rushed for 147 yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown. He played so well that Dan Quinn ditched the running back by committee and went all in with Freeman. The passing attack looked strong with Matt Ryan hitting 5 different receivers over the course of the game, and three of them scoring a touchdown. The defense played great in the first half allowing only 7 points, and Desmond Trufant returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Overall the team didn't play great, but certainly, good enough to win.

Now let's look on to week 2 as our Falcons travel to Oakland to play the 1-0 Raiders. The Raiders squeaked out a 31-26 victory over the Saints led by a balanced attack on offense. Derek Carr finished the day 24/40, 228 yards and 3 touchdowns. With Latavius Murray out due to a cartilage tear in his knee, Taiwan Jones made the most of his opportunity, picking up 77 yards and a touchdown on the day. The standout at receiver was Andre Holmes believe or not, as he caught two of the three Derek Carr touchdown passes. It was a quiet day for Amari Cooper as he finished with only 3 catches for 41 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, David Amerson was the MVP for the silver and black, finishing with 10 tackles and an interception.

Much like last week, I expect this to be a high scoring game for both teams. I give the Oakland Raiders the slight edge because of the home field advantage, but this game could honestly go either way. Let's look at some key matchups to look out for. First one is Aldon Smith and Kahlil Mack vs the Falcons offensive tackles. Ryan Schrader and Jake Matthews did a good job in week one keeping Matt Ryan upright, and they will need a duplicate performance this week. The next matchup is Desmond Trufant vs Amari Cooper. Don't be fooled by the quiet week Amari had. In fact, I expect that to fuel Cooper into having a big week this week. Last one is battle of Derek Carr vs Matt Ryan. Both QB's are coming off of a great week, and are likely going to have the same success this week. I expect the Raiders to win a nail biter and improve to 2-0. Now lets get into some questions via Twitter.

First off thanks for the question Mike. I'm not to sure if there is a way to entirely shut down the connection between Amari Cooper and Derek Carr, but the Falcons can do a few things to help contain it. First off the Falcons have to get pressure. The Falcons sacked Jameis 4 times last week and had him under duress all game. The Raiders offensive line is one of the best in football, so the Falcons have a tall task. Next, Desmond Trufant has to have a great game. I'd expect Dan Quinn to have Desmond Trufant in single coverage for a good portion of the game against Amari Cooper. We'll have to wait and see how the young corner holds up.

It never fails to have someone hate on others success. I can assure that Julio Jones is not using stickum. Julio has developed into one of the best receivers in the league due to hard work and dedication, he doesn't need to use illegal substances for a competitive advantage. Thanks for the question.

Some key matchups to look out for. Let's start with the two QB's. Derek Carr and Matt Ryan are both coming off of great week 1's and will look to continue that success in week 2. Next one I would look out for is the Raiders front seven against the Falcons rushing attack. I doubt the Falcons have the same success as they did last week with the Falcons facing the likes of Khalil Mack, and Dan Williams. Lastly I would watch the Falcons secondary against the Raiders passing attack. The Falcons corners were torched by Jameis Winston in the 2nd half, and will need a bounce back game. Thanks for the question Aaerios!

That's going to do it for this installment of Falcons Nest. Check in next time as we recap week 2, and look towards week 3 vs the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. If you want to see the actual games, and keep up with the action as it happens, follow me on Twitch! If you want to keep up to date with all things Falcons franchise related, follow me on Twitter @Texashomeboy1. 


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Julio Jones vs rookie Vernon Hargreaves III is the matchup that everyone is looking out for. (Madden 17.)    

Welcome back to another edition of Falcons Nest football fans! All four weeks of preseason are behind us and now its on to the real games. In this weeks edition we are reviewing the Falcons preseason, see who stood in the four games and who ultimately was cut. We are also looking ahead to the season opener vs the Buccaneers. Finally we will be closing the article with some questions from Falcons fans on Twitter. Let's get into it.

Preseason was a major success for the Atlanta Falcons. They ultimately  finished preseason with a 1-3 record, but the record is meaningless to the fans who know the goal of preseason and the actual teams. Atlanta did suffer a few injuries in preseason. Levine Toilolo suffered a shoulder tear in week 2 but Dan Quinn said he should return very early into the regular season. DeMarcus Van Dyke (dislocated hip) and David Mims II (dislocated elbow) both suffered injuries during week 3 of the preseason and should miss at least the first 4 weeks. These are key depth guys, but thankfully none of the starters were hurt and they're all geared up to face Tampa Bay in week 1.

There was some very surprising cuts that came throughout the preseason and the biggest one was probably the QB position. The Falcons went into preseason with four quarterbacks, and now head into week 1 with only two. Matt Simms was a cut we all knew was going to happen and expected to happen. Sean Renfree is a bit of a surprise. Renfree struggled in his small window of playing time, and I think the Falcons jumped the gun a bit by cutting him. Going into the season with only two quarterbacks is putting a lot of faith in Matt Ryan staying healthy, and Matt Schaub being a capable backup. Another surprise cut was Charles Godfrey. Godfrey probably wasn't going to touch the field this season, but he is a great depth option and was a veteran presence that I think this young secondary needed. Hopefully GM Jeremy knows what he is doing.

The Falcons filled out their practice squad this week and it is quite the interesting one. Headlining the squad is linebacker standout Ivan McLennan, Jake Coker, Blake Bell, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Ivan shined in his limited playing time in the preseason and probably saved his job with his play. Jake Coker seems like a longshot to make this team, but the Falcons are going to keep an eye on the former national champion QB. Blake Bell is a guy I hear the Falcons are very excited about. He is a quarterback turned tight end that could be a long term project and fill the need that Atlanta has had a tight end since Tony Gonzalez retired. Ifo is a high risk, high reward player. Ifo has suffered a torn acl in both knees in the last two years and his NFL career is in jeopardy. He is a longshot to make this team, but if he can overcome his injury and return close to his days at Oregon, the Falcons could have a steal. I really like this Falcons practice squad and see multiple players who could have an impact for Atlanta in the future.

The biggest storyline for me heading into week 1 against the Buccaneers has to be the running back situation. DeVonta Freeman struggled in his limited carries, and Tevin Coleman absolutely shined. The Falcons plan to use a running back by committee over the course of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised if Dan Quinn slowly transitions to Tevin Coleman as the starter.

The Falcons were 0-2 in their matchup against the Buccaneers last season. The Buccaneers are young up-and-coming team with a loaded offense. This is a very even matchup and I expect a very close game like we've seen in previous matchups. I expect our Falcons to come out with the victory at home. Now let's get into some questions from Twitter.

I have to actually disagree with you. I think the wide receiver position is actually one of the Falcons deepest positions and a strongsuit on the team. I was surprised with the Falcons keeping seven wide receivers. Nick Williams, Aldrick Robinson, and Corey Washington all playing well in the preseason, the wide receiver position is set. Unless Titus Davis shows he can quickly develop in practice, I think his days on this team are numbered. Thanks for the question Mike.

Thanks for the question Aspect. Like I stated earlier, I think its a long shot that Ifo can return to his college days and even make this team. He has a long way to go in recovery and I hope he can return to full health. If he can return to something close to his college form, then there is a possibility that you could see Ifo one day aligned opposite of Desmond Trufant. Ifo is not going to play this year, so we are going to have to wait and see.

Honestly my expectations for Jake Coker are very low. The Falcons have their franchise QB for the near future with Matt Ryan. The Falcons are soon going to need at the backup spot with Matt Schaub at 35 years old. I think Coker's ceiling on this team is a good backup. Alabama has a track record of producing QB's who aren't fit for the NFL. I would say for at least the near future, Jake Coker will not be on the 53 man roster.

When looking at the roster, the running back position jumps out to me. I don't think anyone has more momentum heading into the season than Tevin Coleman. He had the best preseason out of anybody on this team, and established himself as a legitimate weapon for Matt Ryan. The player in my opinion who has the least momentum is DeVonta Freeman. in the very little playing time received, he struggled. If I was DeVonta Freeman I would be looking over my shoulder, because Coleman is coming.

That is going to do it for this installment of Falcons Nest. Next time we will break down week 1, and look onward to week 2 versus the Oakland Raiders. If you want to catch the game versus the Buccaneers or any Falcons games, you can follow my Twitch. For all updates on when I will be streaming and anything Falcons related, follow me on Twitter @Texashomeboy1.


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Falcons Nest: 2016 Season Preview

Welcome back to another NFL season football fans. The best time of the year is upon us, and I can't wait to see what the 2016 season has in store for us. This season I am lucky enough to follow and report for the Atlanta Falcons. I want to give a big thanks to Arthur Blank, new GM Jeremy, and the entire Falcons organization. It is a great opportunity, and I can't wait to see what this season has in store.  The 2015 season was quite the rollercoaster season for the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta started the season  5-0 behind a balanced offensive with Devonta Freeman carving defenses up on the ground, and Matt Ryan in the air. Once defenses began to figure out the Falcons scheme, Kyle Shanahan failed to adjust and the Falcons finished the season 3-8 and missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Now 2nd year head coach Dan Quinn enters into the next season with some new faces on the team. In free agency the Falcons spent over $100 million to improve this roster and a lot of that money went towards the big free agent signings in Alex Mack, and Mohamed Sanu. Offensive line has been a major problem for the Falcons for years, and the addition of Mack provides a veteran presence and a massive upgrade at the center position. Sanu gives Matt Ryan a 2nd receiver that the team desperately needed and didn't have in Roddy White last season. Another chunk of the money went towards pass rush. The Falcons invested $26 million into Derek Shelby and Adrian Clayborn to help get after the quarterback. This is a Atlanta defense that finished last in the NFL in sacks, and had rookie Vic Beasley lead the team in sacks with 4. The Falcons are likely looking at a similar season to 2015. They probably aren't going to go on the same road that the 2015  season saw, but 8-8 sounds right about where I have the Falcons in 2016. The NFC South is the Panther's division to lose, and I think the wild cards are coming out of the NFC North and NFC West. Now I think I've gone on long enough, let's see what the #RiseUp nation has to say about the Falcons and the upcoming season. Time to take it to Twitter.

This is a great question Jevon. The one name that I think all Falcons fans should keep their eye out for is 2nd year running back Tevin Coleman. Last season Tevin Coleman was actually outperforming Devonte Freeman in camp and was posed to be the starter before he got hurt. I hear that GM Jeremy really likes Coleman and wants to use a running back by committee this season. Coleman could be posed for a big year.

This is a bit of a hard one to predict Mike. Matt Ryan had a 2015 season to forget and was ridiculed for the many red zone turnovers that Atlanta fans witnessed last season. I expect Ryan to bounce back and have a much better 2016 season. With an improved offensive line, a great rushing attack, and a new weapon in Mohamed Sanu, Matt Ryan should have a great season. If I had to predict a statline, I would say something along the lines of 3,400 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Thanks for the question.

First off thanks for the question Aaerios. If I had to pick one player with the most to prove this year I would honestly say it's Matt Ryan. He's about to enter year four of a six year $105 million contract with the Falcons. He's in no question the franchise quarterback for this team, but Atlanta fans are starting to get restless. The Atlanta Falcons haven't reached the playoffs since 2012 when they were probably one 4th down conversion away from reaching the Super Bowl. Many fans felt like last season's team had more than enough talent to reach the postseason. Seeing that the Falcons improved in the offseason, I'm sure fans are going to be once again looking for the postseason. If they don't see an improvement over last season from Matty Ice, Falcons fans may be calling for a QB change.

Thanks for the great question Young Jedi. Obviously I don't know what the Falcons front office is going to do, and with the season not even officially started I'm sure their draft board is likely going to change over the course of the season, but the Atlanta Falcons have a few big needs. I'd say the biggest need is cornerback. Atlanta doesn't have another quality  corner to play alongside Desmond Trufant.  Jalen Collins seems to be the guy the Falcons want to develop and be that next guy, but he is going to miss the first four games due to suspension. After Collins, the quality of the corners takes a big dip. Next position to look at is quarterback. Matt Ryan is the franchise quarterback, but the Falcons have a need at the backup position. I wouldn't be shocked to see Atlanta take a quarterback in the late rounds. The last need is pass rush. Expect the Falcons to find a pass rusher early in the draft to pair alongside Vic Beasley.

This is a really good one to close the article out on. Like I stated earlier the Falcons finished last in sacks last season with only 18. In free agency, the front office made pass rush a big need bringing in Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw, and Derek Shelby. I expect Vic Beasley to make a jump in his sophomore season and for his sack total to increase. As far as the team goes, I'd be happy if the Falcons could be middle of the pack as far as sack total goes.

This is all I have in store for this edition of Falcons Nest. In the next edition of the Falcons Nest, we will discuss all four weeks of the preseason, who has been cut from the team, and preview the week one matchup when the Falcons host the divisional rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Follow me on Twitter for updates for all thing Falcons @Texashomeboy1.  



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