Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Predictions: No Gurley, no problem for Dogs

  • 3:59 pm Thursday, October 30th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
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According to suburban legend (defined as Googling outside of the perimeter),  Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as “Samhain” (pronounced, “sah-win,” because Celtics couldn’t spell) and is celebrated at the end of the harvest season, when the worlds of the living and the dead overlap, and mayhem ensues, and the dead rise (except B.J. Upton), and desperate housewives dress up like Lola and Candi on Stages 1 and 2, and evil spirits roam neighborhoods and sometimes go on to coach at Louisville, or get recruited by Florida State, or become president of the NCAA.

(I know. That [More]

Will Blank make move with Mike Smith?

  • 9:30 am Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mike Smith made some poor decisions down stretch Sunday. (AP photo)

The Falcons have scheduled coach Mike Smith’s weekly news conference for 2:30 p.m. So that should answer the immediate question: Is Mike Smith getting fired today?

Owner Arthur Blank is not a man who takes either defeat or public scorn or mocking well. My guess is he’s torn on this decision, and within the Falcons’ organization some people are advising him against making a change right now, primarily for two reasons: 1) Smith had a strong resume in his first five seasons, going 56-24 (playoff failures, notwithstanding); 2) The Falcons, despite having lost five straight and sitting at 2-6 at the [More]

Predictions: Jolly old loss for Falcons

  • 5:07 pm Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
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According to Thursday’s London Mirror (“The Intelligent Tabloid”), under “Football” news, Tottenham was looking for a win over Asteras Tripolis, a Spanish goalie may rehab with Manchester United, and Balotelli threatened a woman who took pictures of his Ferrari.

According to the London Sun (the more interesting paper), there is still time for women to enter the “Curvy Cover Girl” contest and win 1,000 pounds and a modeling contract with Milk Management (I’m not making that up). Also, Natasha tells her heartbreaking story, “I hid under fella’s bed… as rat romped with another.”

I’ve come to this conclusion: The Falcons left the [More]

Short takes: Falcons’ offense goes belly up

  • 4:02 pm Sunday, October 19th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent a lot of time in this position Sunday. (AP photo)

I’ll be back shortly with a full column to wrap up some of the ugliness associated with the Falcons’ 29-7 loss to Baltimore. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes.”

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column.

1. So where’s the explosive offense? The Falcons were expected to struggle defensively this season. But nobody could have anticipated the offense would border on anemic at this stage of the season, even with injuries to the offensive line. They had only 61 yards in offense at halftime and until the final minutes botched what few chances they had. It was five [More]

LIVE: Falcons try for something new — a win

  • 11:40 am Sunday, October 19th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mike Smith needs to figure out a way to end his team's losing streak. (AP photo)

BALTIMORE – Good morning. I just arrived in Baltimore after covering last night’s Georgia Tech game in Chapel Hill, N.C., where I watched a former 5-0 football team continue to stomp on hope with its second straight unexpected lost.

If the Falcons also lose today, at least it won’t be unexpected. I know, Mr. Nattering Nabob of Negativism, right? (Credit: Spiro Agnew. Kids, Google.) But consider the backdrop to today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens:

– The Falcons have lost three straight and four out of five since a season-opening, 37-34 win over New Orleans.

– They are have lost 10 of [More]

Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, Jameis safe

  • 3:56 pm Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
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With Mississippi State ranked No. 1, the Kansas City Royals going to the World Series and the usually profitable Weekend Predictions struggling in the first half of this economic season — there’s hope: I’m in the NFC South with the Bucs and the Georgia state ethics commission — let me stall a paragraph before getting to the uncertainty surrounding this week’s featured event: Arkansas vs. No Todd Gurley again.

Down in Tallahassee, home of the police force with selective investigations and future Baltimore Ravens executive Jimbo Fisher, No. 2 Florida State faces No. 5 Notre Dame. It’s such a big event [More]

Blank stands by Smith, Dimitroff. What say you?

  • 12:18 pm Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Falcons owner Arthur Blank is standing by Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

All together now: The Falcons are 2-3. The Falcons can’t win on the road. The Falcons are weak on the defensive front and can’t sustain a pass rush. The Falcons aren’t using Antone Smith enough.

That about cover it for now?

So here’s another voice on the subject — the most important voice.

I spoke to Falcons owner Arthur Blank on the subject of his struggling team. He said some things that I expected. He maintained confidence in coach Mike Smith and his staff and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. But I found it noteworthy that he chose not to issue public mandates like, [More]

Falcons turned this week into must-win game

  • 11:17 am Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Tom Coughlin's and Mike Smith's teams are going in different directions in the NFC.  (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

This isn’t a question I generally ask in the first week of October: But is it possible the Falcons’ season will come down to the next game?

They’re 2-3. That’s not great but it’s also not end-of-the-world stuff because they play in the NFC South, which is the NFL’s Mediocrity Central. Carolina is in first place at 3-2, and the Panthers have a net points differential of minus-16.

The Falcons’ problem — well, one of their problems — is they can’t win on the road. They’re 0-3 this season, 1-10 over the last two and have lost 10 straight games outdoors (going [More]

Predictions: More Falcons’ kindness

  • 3:28 pm Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
It's not a depressed job market in Flowery Branch. They're hiring.

As the Falcons go into their fifth game still looking for a defense, or even a speed bump, or even just a good joke to tell a receiver during a pass route on the chance that he might laugh and fall down — hey, how about setting up a lounge in the secondary with a two-drink minimum? — it’s worth noting Sunday is (and I’m not making this up, unlike most of what you read here): National Do Something Nice Day.

This is the Falcons’ week! The only thing more appropriate for the defense would be National Grease Fire Day.

The Falcons [More]

Falcons’ implosion may have just begun

  • 2:46 pm Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Matt Ryan figures to be under duress even more after losing two (or three) more offensive linemen. (AP photo)

Well, look at it this way: The Falcons are still tied for first place.

A season that has the potential of spinning out of control quickly — and we reference last season as Exhibit A — took a bad turn Tuesday when the Falcons confirmed they’ve lost at least two more starters for the season. Center Joe Hawley (knee) and tackle Lamar Holmes (foot) were placed on season-ending injured reserve after injuries suffered in Sunday’s 41-28 loss in Minnesota. Safety William Moore was placed on designated for return-IR with a shoulder injury, which means he is not allowed to practice for [More]