Archive for atlanta falcons

Ryan vs. Schaub

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2010 by nathanelwell

I was driving to work yesterday and was listening to Atlanta sports radio.  The question at hand was if the Falcons would’ve been in a better position if they kept Matt Schaub instead of trading him away for a 2nd round pick back in 2007, thus leading the way for Matt Ryan to be drafted in 2008.  There are so many different alter-realities that would’ve been caused if Schaub stayed with the Falcons, but for the sake of simplicity, lets take each QB head to head based on statistics:

Matt Ryan

08            09          08-09

Matt Schaub

08            09           08-09
































































Matt Ryan 08 Matt Ryan 09 Matt Ryan 08-9 Matt Schaub 08 Matt Schaub 09 Matt Schaub 08-9














YDS 3440 2916 6356 3043 4770 7813
AVG 7.9 6.5 7.2 8.0 8.2 8.1
TD 16 22 38 15 29 44
INT 11 14 25 10 15 25
FUM 2 5 7 6 1 7
RAT 87.7 80.9 84.3 92.7 98.6 95.6
RUSH YDS/TD 104/1 49/1 153/2 68/2 57/0 125/2

I’m starting to think choosing Schaub or Ryan is like choosing a Big Mac or a Whopper.  You could choose either and still be happy.  But what else does each bring to the table?  (not the sandwiches, the QBs).

Matt Schaub came into the NFL with a successful college career at UVA.  He broke 22 school records including yards passing (7502), touchdown passes (56), completions (716), attempts (1069), completion percentage (.670), 300 yard games (8), and 200 yard games (20).  Schaub had two top notch campaigns in the ’08 and ’09 NFL seasons for the Houston Texans.  He set the franchise record for passing yards at 379 yards.  In 2009, Schaub led the league in passing yards (4,770), completions (396), yards per game (298), and passing attempts (583).  Matt Schaub is part of arguably the best QB/WR tandem in the NFL, the other half being Andre Johnson.  In the 2008 season, Johnson led the league in receptions and receiving yards, only to duplicate the feat in 2009 with 1569 yards.  Only one other WR in the history of the NFL went two consecutive seasons leading receiving yards – none other than the great Jerry Rice.  On top of receiving yards, Johnson went 7 games with 10 receptions, only further solidifying one of the most successful QB/WR tandems in the NFL.

Matt Ryan shined at Boston College, where he led his team to 3 bowl victories, and an overall record of 25-7.  He threw for 200 yards 15 times and is 5th all time in school history for both passing yards and completions.  Matt Ryan was picked 3rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL draft.  Ryan beat out Chris Redman for the starting QB position, becoming the first QB in Atlanta since 1975 to start the season opener.  He threw a touchdown on his very first past completion.  Ryan became the first rookie QB in Falcon history to throw over 3,000 passing yards in one season.  Along with Joe Flacco, Ryan was the first rookie QB to start all 16 regular season games and lead his team to the playoffs.  He was also named AP Rookie of the Year.  In 2009, Ryan fought turf toe for a significant part of the season, but still led the Falcons to a 9-7 record, which was the first time in franchise history that the team had consecutive winning seasons.    Matt Ryan fired many of his shots to WR Roddy White.  White was 4th in the league for receiving yards in 2008, finished the season with career and franchise highs in receiving yards.  This is receiving from a rookie QB.  In 2009, White was able to break the franchise record for most receiving yards in a game, with 210.  Under Matt Ryan, Roddy White gained the 2nd and 3rd years where he had more than 1,000 receiving yards for the season.

What do I conclude from all of these statistics and accomplishments? (1) Matt Schaub is a seasoned veteran who has reached the pinnacle of his career.  The Falcons may have gotten one more season out of him, but he probably is over the hill.  (2) In Ryan, you have a young QB that played like a veteran in his first NFL season.  (3) If I wanted a franchise QB who I knew would take the Falcons to the Superbowl, then I choose Matt Ryan.  If I want a QB to help with my fantasy league, then I’d probably pick Matt Schaub.  (4)  If I’m choosing between the Big Mac and the Whopper, I would choose neither.  I always go with Taco Bell!


NFL Playoffs features birds of all kinds

Posted in 1, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by nathanelwell

falconsvs.   cardinals coltsvs.  chargers

ravensvs. dolphins eagles vs. vikings

In the words of our pot smoking friend Dave Matthews, “This is the Last Stop” in our NFL season. On Saturday, the first two games of this year’s playoffs will begin  by showcasing the Falcons vs. Cardinals, and Colts vs. Chargers.  On Sunday it’ll be the Eagles vs. Vikings and Ravens vs. Dolphins. There is a lot of irony in the first round of match-ups. Let’s start by the fact that the combined win-loss record of all  of this weekend’s 8 playoff teams last year was an unimpressive 58-70.  Two teams (Falcons and Dolphins) won a combined 5 games.  Only 2 of the 8 teams actually had a winning record in 2007.  This year, things have changed for the better.  The combined win-loss record of the 8 teams is 81-46 (and 1 tie by the Eagles).  The Falcons and Dolphins combined for 23 wins, which is more than 4x greater than last season (with 2 new head coaches and starting QBs, this is not surprising).  Another startling fact is that 2 of the 8 Quarterbacks are rookies (Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens).  Now lets look at the individual match-ups, and I’ll make predictions on the outcome (disclaimer: If you should bet on any game based on my predictions and lose, too bad.)

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals

We are looking at two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs for quite some time (3 years for the Falcons, 9 years for the Cardinals).  They have never faced each other in the playoffs, and the Cardinals have a 14-10 record against the Falcons in regular season history.  This past season, the Cardinals had a 6-2 record at home while the Falcons had a 4-4 record away.  In the postseason, the Cardinals have a 2-5 record with 1 championship, and the Falcons have a 6-8 record with a Super Bowl appearance but no ring.   The Cardinals have 2 powerhouse receivers in Boldin and Fitzgerald, plus a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Kurt Warner.  The Falcons have arguably one of the best rushers in the NFL in Michael Turner, and the Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Matt Ryan.

In my opinion, the offensive power of the Cardinals plus the home crowd starving for a playoff game will be too much to handle for the Falcons.

The final score: Cardinals 30 – Falcons 24 (sorry other Nate!)

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers

We go from 2 inexperienced playoff teams to 2 veteran playoff teams in the Colts-Chargers.  Look for an exciting game full of offensive explosiveness, with two of the weakest defenses out of the 12 playoff teams.  The Colts have a 9 game winning streak, Peyton Manning won his 3rd league MVP, and lets not even talk about all the options Manning has to pass to (Wayne, Harrison, Gonzalez, Clark).  Manning will undoubtedly use Dallas Clark, who was the #1 tight end receiver in the NFL this year (up for debate, but not really).  This will keep the Charger’s secondary on their heels, with too many options for Manning to choose from.  The Colts have a 17-17 record in the playoffs with 4 championships/super bowls under their belt.  They have faced the Chargers twice in the playoffs with a 1-1 record (they lost last year at home).  Their regular season record against the Chargers is 9-14.  The Chargers have Philip Rivers, LT, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson.  Their playoff record is 9-14, and they have 1 championship/superbowl to be proud of.  The Chargers ended the regular season with a 4 game winning streak, and beat incredible odds after being behind by 3 games in their division with 3 games to go.  (ahem….cough….choke….BRONCOS).  So needless to say, both teams have the momentum going into the playoffs.  The Chargers have home field advantage, and the Colts probably have the playoff experience.

In my opinion, the Colts will end up victorious in this classic playoff match-up

The final score: Colts 38 – Chargers 23

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins

First of all, let me say to pretty boy Jason Taylor: Sucks to be you!  I wish you were still a Dolphin.  Whoever predicted these two teams to face each other in the playoffs this year are crazy.  “Why?” You should ask?  Both teams had losing records last year (combined 6 wins between both teams), both teams fired their head coaches, and now have 2 different starting quarterbacks, one of which is a rookie (Joe Flacco).  Last year, the Dolphins defeated the Ravens in the last regular season game for the Dolphins 1st win of 2007.  So all that to say, the Dolphins could repeat this feat, but only to advance to the next round of the playoffs.  For the Ravens we have one of the best defenses of the league (#3 in the league in opponents points, #2 for total yards, and #1 for opponent first downs).  My guess would be that the game could be low scoring.  Joe Flacco passed for just under 3000 yards in 2008, with 17 touchdowns.  Le’Ron McClain was their top rusher at 902 yards for the season, and Derrick Mason their top receiver with just over 1000 yards receiving.  Bottom line is the Ravens had one of the better rush offenses in the league, but one of the worst passing offenses in the league.  They’ll probably win the game if they succeed on the rushing attack (ahem, are you paying attention, Dolphins?).  And what about Chad Pennington, QB for the Dolphins?  Ironic that he should beat the team that gave him the boot for the AFC East crown AND a playoff spot (sorry Favre, you should have retired).  With a better than average rush and pass offense, the Dolphins should put up a pretty good fight.  Cracking the Raven defense will be the key.  And patience for Pennington will be important, as the Ravens lead the league in interceptions.  Look for Pennington to choose a wide variety of receivers (Cobbs, Ginn Jr., Camarillo, Bess), and to hand the ball off to both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  The Dolphins have 20 playoff victories and 2 Super Bowl rings, while the Ravens have 5 playoff victories and 1 Super Bowl ring.

I’m going for the Dolphins, as they have a much more consistent offense than the Ravens.  If the Ravens had a more consistent passing game I may change my mind.

The final score: Dolphins 24 – Ravens 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings

This will be an exciting game for two teams whose playoff hopes went down to the last regular season game.  There will be a single deciding factor in this entire game: Adrian Peterson.  Will he show up with steady hands or butterfingers?  Peterson fumbled the ball 9 times this year.  This will be the key for a Vikings offense that ranked #25 in the league (the Lions were even better than the Vikings).  Look for Tarvaris Jackson to throw to Berrian, Wade, and Shiancoe.  Look for Donovan McNabb to come through in the clutch as he has in so many playoff games past.  With Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, and nearly 7 other eligible receivers, McNabb will use a variety of offensive plays for sure.     With the #6 offense and the #4 defense in the league, look for the Eagles to stop Peterson dead in his tracks.

The final score: Eagles 26 – Vikings 20

So in summary:

The winners: Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles

The losers: Falcons, Chargers, Ravens, Vikings

Enjoy watching the game, for those few souls who survived my torturous post.

The Flight of the Falcons

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The Falcons are back.

No, I’m not saying they’re going to the Super Bowl.  I’m not even saying they’re going to go to the playoffs, though they certainly haven’t hurt their chances by going 4-2 in their first 6 games.

What I am saying, is that we’re looking at a real football team again.  They may not have a team of superstars, but they’ve got talent and just as importantly, they’ve got confidence.

Last year was bad.  Awful, actually.  But to say they’ve overcome that year is selling them short, because they’ve actually had to overcome several years of frustration.  In 2004, they made it to the NFC Championship, but after that they had two years of mediocrity, followed by a year of atrocity.  They may only be 4 years removed from that playoff appearance, but it’s felt a heck of a lot longer.

The last few years with a lot of mediocre play from some of the players that were supposed to be the stars, clubhouse controversy, off-field distractions, and poor coaching.  All that would make it difficult for any team to be successful, and it took it’s toll on the franchise. 

But then Arthur Blank made some changes.  He gave Thomas Dimitroff his first shot at being an NFL GM, and then they gave Mike Smith his first shot at being an NFL head coach.  While many people questioned if the Falcons would be able to compete this year, Dimitroff and Smith instantly brought a sense of stability and direction.  They knew the team had a long way to go, but they brought confidence and chemistry to a team that had been lacking both.  Anything they did after that would seem like icing on the cake this year.

Well, so far the cake is tasting pretty good. 

They raised a few eyebrows when they took Matt Ryan, but very few are questioning the move now.  He’s only 6 games into his career but he’s already one of the leaders on the field, he’s got the respect and confidence of his teammates, and the new face of the franchise is the ultimate professional.  He’s still a rookie and there will still be some bumps in the road, but I don’t hear much talk about Dorsey in Atlanta anymore. 

The doubters got even more vocal when the team picked Sam Baker in the first round.  Scouts said he had short arms, much to his surprise.  Well he and his arms have done very well, as has the rest of the offensive line.

In fact, most of the Falcons draft picks have done well.  Dimitroff came in with a reputation of being an expert on college talent, and he’s proven to be exactly that. But he didn’t rest on the draft alone.  Among others, he brought in Michael Turner and Jason Elam, both of whom have been crucial to this year’s success. 

So are the Falcons a surprise this year?  Yes, but not to themselves anymore.  They take the field with a belief that they’re going to have a chance to win the game.  And that’s why they’re back.

A Football Weekend

Posted in 1, NFL with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

394 Yards.  5 Touchdowns.  

I went to see the Georgia game on Saturday and the Falcons game on Sunday, and those are the numbers I witnessed Knowshon Moreno and Michael Turner put up this weekend.  It was a good weekend to be a fan.  

Turner set a new Falcons single game record for rushing yards, and Moreno had the best highlight when he literally hurdled Central Michigan safety Vince Agnew.  If you didn’t get to see it, check it out here.  

Welcome back football, you’ve been missed.  

I haven’t had the chance to attend a lot of football games.  Prior to this weekend I had only been to two NCAA games and two NFL games, one of which was preseason.  But what I experienced this weekend only reinforced what I had already learned – you just can’t beat the football environment.  

I am a die-hard baseball fan and always will be, but it just doesn’t seem to quite match the excitement that you find at a football game – even in the markets like New York, Boston, and Chicago.  I don’t believe any of the other sports do.  I realize the crowd energy is going to vary depending on the city.  Fans at an Atlanta Hawks game are going to be very different from the Boston Celtics.  But to me football still holds the edge, and I think I’ve finally figured out the reason. 

Football isn’t just a sport, it’s a cultural experience.

It’s the fact that the game doesn’t start when the clock starts ticking; it starts when the generators powering your portable satellite are running and your tailgating tent is in place.  It’s the attitude that every game has the importance of a playoff game; there is no regular season.  It’s the reality that fans will sit in any kind of weather to watch the game.  It’s the total devotion of the guy next to you that dresses up in some costume that seriously invades the boundaries of your personal space.  

And it’s the fact that a mascot like Uga has an air-conditioned doghouse and his predecessors are buried in marble vaults at the stadium.  

All that combines to make for a stadium experience that I don’t believe is matched by any other sport. 

But maybe that’s just me.  What do you all think?