Jeff Schultz blog 

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

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]

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]

Falcons: No defense, no line, no chance

  • 7:42 pm Sunday, September 28th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Teddy Bridgewater celebrates after his 13-yard touchdown run. (AP photo)

MINNEAPOLIS — I’ll be back shortly with a column on the Falcons’ 41-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the column.

1. DEFENSE! (NOT); DEFENSE! (NOT): Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was making his first NFL start. He had tougher days at Louisville. He threw for 317 yards before leaving with an ankle injury. The Vikings drove 73, 53, 61, 80, 84 and 43 yards on their first six possessions for three touchdowns, two field goals and a missed field goal, as well as having one TD [More]

LIVE: Falcons face Vikings minus Peterson

  • 2:58 pm Sunday, September 28th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Inside Vikings' fan store, Adrian Peterson's jersey is not for sale.

MINNEAPOLIS — Welcome to middle America, where the contrasting emotions of how Minnesota Vikings’ fans feel about suspended running back Adrian Peterson continue.

Outside of the University of Minnesota’s football stadium, where the Vikings are playing during new stadium construction, I saw several fans wearing No. 28 Peterson jerseys despite the fact he has been indicted in Texas on child abuse charges. But in the team’s official stadium pro shop, the player’s jersey is not available for sale. (See photos.)

Meanwhile, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll has ignited larger debates on: 1) whether parents are justified in hitting their children and, 2) [More]

Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati

  • 4:20 pm Sunday, September 14th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Matt Ryan struggled behind Falcons' banged up offensive line. (AP photo)

I’ll be back shortly with my column on the Falcons’ ugly 24-10 loss to Cincinnati Until then, here are my three short takes on the game.

UPDATE: HERE’S A LINK TO THE FULL GAME COLUMN.

1. Problems up front: The Falcons’ offensive line was pretty good against New Orleans in Week 1. Not Sunday. Losing starting tackle Jake Matthews (ankle), after already having lost starter Sam Baker in the preseason, was too much. Matt Ryan was sacked only two times but he was forced out of the pocket on several occasions and rushed on throws. Ryan was only 24-for-44 and threw [More]

LIVE: Falcons’ line to get tested by Bengals

  • 12:04 pm Sunday, September 14th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
This guy look familiar? Falcons face former Georgia star A.J. Green today. (Getty Images)

CINCINNATI – There are a number of ways to gauge how good an NFL team really is, but here are two of them: 1) How well do they play in December; 2) How well do they play on the road.

December is a few months away. But we’ll learn a little more about the Falcons’ level and toughness today when they play their second game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They were impressive in many ways in last week’s 37-34 home win over New Orleans, showing both their strength (Matt Ryan and the offense) and their weaknesses (defense). But today they will [More]

Falcons can survive without Baker, not others

  • 10:25 am Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Julio Jones is one player Falcons can't afford to lose. (Kent Johnson, AJC)

There have been two general reactions from Falcons’ fans since Sam Baker was lost for the season: 1) OMG, we lost our starting left tackle; or 2) That’s OK, we only loss Sam Baker.

Both are understandable. The left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side. Kind of important. But Baker widely has been considered a bust since the Falcons traded up to draft him late in the first round in 2008, and part of the reason is he’s been injured so often.

He played only eight games (five starts) in his rookie season. He started only six games in 2011 and four [More]

Weatherspoon out (Is this happening again?)

  • 9:49 pm Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Sean Weatherspoon, who had been working his way back from previous injuries, is lost for the 2014 season. (AP photo)

Last September, when the Falcons were in only the early stages of what would become a calamitous string of injuries, I offered my, “Can’t Afford To Lose” top 10 list of players. The list:  Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson on offense; Sean Weatherspoon, Osi Umenyiora, William Moore, Jonathan Babineaux and Asante Samuel on defense. (Looking back, I don’t know if I overrated the aging Samuel before last season or he just couldn’t get healthy.)

This year’s list wouldn’t change much, which means the Falcons just took a big hit — and they didn’t even [More]