Tag Archives: Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons vs Cleveland Browns, 11-11-18: In-game report

In his second game as Cleveland's head coach, Gregg Williams unleashed an aggressive defensive game plan that reminded people why he was a hot coaching commodity in the late 2000s.  The Browns defeated the Falcons, 28-16. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Baker Mayfield 

Mayfield showed the Browns his potential in a near perfect game against the Falcons. The rookie out of Oklahoma completed 17-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. 

"When I woke up this morning, I was feeling pretty dangerous," Mayfield said during the post game press conference. "I just woke up feeling really dangerous."

Former Oklahoma Sooners signal-caller Baker Mayfield was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens gave Mayfield his full trust and it was evident in his play calling.  After a successful goal line stand in the fourth quarter, Kitchens called a passing play for Mayfield despite being on the team's own one-yard line. Mayfield, like he did all game, didn’t disappoint as he fired a pass on a comeback route to Antonio Callaway for a first down.  The rookie signal-caller completed all types of passes on Sunday: comeback routes, crossing routes over the middle across his body, check downs, play actions, etc.   He completed his first 13 passes to start the game while showcasing the skills to back up his confidence.  After watching the film from Sunday, he should continually be given the full playbook to work with. 

Browns defense

Gregg Williams is known for his aggressive 4-3 defense. Against the Falcons, his plan of attack was to make the Falcons one-dimensional. Not only did the Browns shut down the Falcons running game (71 rushing yards on 19 carries),  but they stopped Atlanta’s other receivers not named Julio Jones.  Jones caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown but it took him 11 targets and he accounted for more than a third of the offense.  The Browns also forced two fumbles and had two sacks on Ryan.  The stats might not jump out at first glance, but the intensity was there for Cleveland’s defense, which routinely rallied to the football for gang tackles. 

Falcons inconsistency 

Atlanta is 4-5 for a reason.  In one week they’re playing well on both sides of the football and the next they can’t get anything going.  The Falcons had a three-game losing streak followed by a three-game winning streak and then went to Cleveland and laid an egg.  Dan Quinn is in his fourth season as the head coach but despite his experience at the helm, Cleveland looked like the more prepared and better coached team.  Defensively, the Falcons linebackers and safeties took bad angles to the football, which was apparent on Nick Chubb’s 92-yard touchdown run.  Offensively, the Falcons couldn’t run the football or pass to its second and third receivers. 

"I told the team I thought we took a step back," Quinn said during the postgame press conference.  "That's tough to see and tough to say. I also told them we must regroup. We're trying to fight for consistency, and we certainly made improvement over the last three weeks, and we didn't get the job done."

As the playoff picture takes shape, the Falcons will have to find better balance if they want to compete in the NFC. 

2018 NFL Draft Recap, pick-by-pick: NFC South

NFC South

Carolina Panthers
Former Maryland WR D.J. Moore caught 80 passes for the Terrapins in 2017 and was named the Big Ten's Receiver of the Year.

Notable picks: The addition of Thomas adds versatility to the middle of the field when the Panthers use multiple tight ends. In addition, Moore’s arrival means that the team actually has another big play option to mix with last year’s second-round pick Curtis Samuel. Jackson brings speed to what was a slow secondary a year ago. This draft seemed to be about adding speed to the roster.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (24) DJ

Moore

6’0 210

Maryland 38 (2nd Round) Moore has the task of providing new OC Norv Turner with a legitimate deep threat. Turner has coached elite route runners in his past (Henry Ellard, Los Angeles Rams, 1985-1990).
2 (55) Donte

Jackson

5’10 178

LSU 93 (3rd Round) Despite a lean build, Jackson will tackle. His confidence in his 4.32 speed benefited him in school, but he won’t be able to sit on as many routes at the next level.
3 (85) Rashaan

Gaulden

S-6’1 197

Tennessee 199 (4th Round) Gaulden didn’t make a lot of plays on the ball, but the energetic former Vol can contribute in a number of ways.   Needs to get stronger.
4 (101) Ian

Thomas

6’4 259

Indiana 143 (3rd Round) Thomas’ breakout performance against Ohio State in the 2017 season opener was perhaps a harbinger of things to come. His run after the catch skill will complement Greg Olsen.
5 (161) Jermaine

Carter

LB-6’1 243

Maryland 327 (5th Round) He had over 100 tackles in back-to-back years and was a sack artist as well (9.5 career sacks). Carter forced eight fumbles in school.
7 (234) Andre Smith LB-6’0 237 North Carolina 237 (4th Round) Smith’s ability to close distances from the inside-out covers up some slight stiffness. If not for injury in 2017, he would have gone much higher in the draft.
7 (242) Kendrick

Norton

DT-6’3 314

Miami (Fla.) Norton is an athletic one-technique DT who can stand to use his 10 ¾-inch hands with more force down-to-down. At 314 pounds, he’s slippery and has a five-yard burst to close air.

 

Atlanta

Falcons

Ridley will have the opportunity to win a number of one-on-one match-ups in the Falcons diverse receiving corps.

Notable picks: Oliver has the length to make up for the release of Jalen Collins from a season ago. Ridley’s speed will win a number of one-on-one matchups in the slot or on the outside. It eases the departure of Taylor Gabriel. Four wide receiver sets could include he and fourth-year man Justin Hardy in the slots. If Ridley and Julio Jones are outside, then Mohamed Sanu and Hardy can man the slot positions.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (26) Calvin

Ridley

6’1 188

Alabama 47 (2nd Round) Ridley is more than capable of winning one-on-one matchups.   Don’t be surprised if he is used in the slot in three wide receiver sets.
2 (58) Isaiah

Oliver

6’0 201

Colorado 20 (2nd Round) Oliver’s length mirrors former Falcons’ cornerback Jalen Collins. He will intensify the team’s nickel packages.
3 (90) Deadrin

Senat

DT-6’0 314

USF 100 (3rd Round) Squats nearly 700 pounds. Barreling block destructor. He dominated his final career game (2017 Birmingham Bowl) and then it carried over to a dominant week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices.
4 (126) Ito

Smith

RB-5’9 200

Southern Miss 218 (4th Round) Smith’s production in school should not be underestimated. Aside from posting back-to-back 1,400-yard rushing seasons, he also caught 83 passes the last two seasons.
6 (194) Russell

Gage

WR-6’0 182

LSU 522 (6th Round) Gage’s versatility extends beyond the passing game. He ran for over 230 yards for the Tigers in 2017 and contributed 11 tackles on special teams.
6 (200) Foye

Oluokun

LB-6’0 215

Yale N/A Oluokun overcame a 2015 injury to earn 2nd Team All-Ivy League honors in 2017. He finished his career with an eye-opening 18 pass break-ups and three blocked kicks.

 

 

Tampa

Bay

Buccaneers

Vea (No. 50 pictured) may very well require two blockers and open up the pass rush lanes for newly acquired Jason Pierre-Paul and Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy.

Notable pick: Vea adds substance to a defensive interior that allowed nearly 118 yards per game on the ground in 2017. The team also put an emphasis on getting more physical in the secondary with the additions of Davis and Stewart.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (12) Vita Vea

DT-6’4 347

Washington 17 (2nd Round) Vea’s presence in the middle of the defense should create more one-on-one matchups for Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
2 (38) Ronald

Jones II

6’0 205

USC 88 (3rd Round) The departure of Doug Martin opens up the possibility that Jones II could get major touches in Year 1.
2 (53) M.J.

Stewart

AP-5’11 200

UNC 57 (2nd Round) Stewart’s positional flexibility extended itself to special teams during his senior campaign (11 yds/PR). He will be a candidate for sub-package duty immediately.
2 (63) Carlton

Davis

CB-6’1 206

Auburn 32 (2nd Round) Davis’ length adds a measure of size to the cornerback spot that was lacking when the team had to defend the Michael Thomas and Julio Jones-types in the division.
3 (94) Alex

Cappa

OL-6’6 305

Humboldt State 224 (4th Round) Cappa is yet another pick who can play multiple spots on game day. The college left tackle’s roughhouse approach may give him a chance to earn repetitions as a guard spot in the NFL.
4 (117) Jordan

Whitehead

S-5’10 195

Pittsburgh 149 (3rd Round) Whitehead plays with the passion necessary to earn playing time on special teams. He was always one of the Panthers top tacklers and he plays extremely fast.
5 (144) Justin

Watson

WR-6’2 215

Penn 319 (5th Round) The Ivy League’s all-time leading receiver was used on the outside, in the slot and even in the backfield during school.
6 (202) Jack

Cichy

LB-6’1 230

Wisconsin Cichy looked like an early round pick when healthy in school. He is a downhill player with a measure of explosiveness as a tackler.

 

 

New

Orleans

Saints

Davenport's positional flexibility (pictured during 2018 Senior Bowl) could very well operate in a number of positions in DC Dennis Allen's schemes.

Notable Pick: No pick will be more scrutinized than Davenport. But should it be? The team finished 27th in the NFL in sacks in 2017 (30).

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (14) Trade from Green Bay Marcus

Davenport

DE-6’6 258

UTSA 25 (2nd Round) Davenport has all of the tools to excel in the team’s creative schemes. With Cameron Jordan on the field, he will help to create havoc off the edge with Alex Okafor.
3 (91) Tre’Quan

Smith

WR-6’2 202

UCF 44 (2nd Round) 34 ½-inch arms with an ability to snap out of his hips at the break points. He will be a back-shoulder option to complement Thomas.
4 (127) Rick

Leonard

OL-6’5 307

Florida State 487 (6th Round) Leonard is a good enough run blocker that he may get looks at an interior line position.
5 (164) Natrell

Jamerson

S-5’10 200

Wisconsin 146 (3rd Round) Jamerson continued his upward trek through the postseason with a fine week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices.   The former WR has positive ball skills and was one of the better gunners (punt team) in the draft.
6 (189) Kamrin

Moore

CB-5’10 203

Boston College 272 (4th Round) Moore’s versatility (corner or nickel) was a big reason the Eagles finished in the Top 35 in passing defense in each of the last two seasons (2016-17). He is a physical player who likes to challenge opponents.
6 (201) Boston

Scott

RB-5’6 203 (E)

Louisiana Tech N/A Scott supplanted 2016 1,000-yard rusher Jarred Craft from the lineup and paved his own path to getting drafted. He may be short, but he is by no means an easy tackle at 203 pounds.
7 (245) Will

Clapp

OC-6'4 311

LSU 321 (5th Round) Clapp is assignment-sound with positive size.   He frequently won with positioning and guile as a blocker at LSU. Shoulder issues may have caused a slide in the draft.

Q&A with former North Carolina DB MJ Stewart

There wasn't a lot that former North Carolina defensive back MJ Stewart couldn't do in school.  He would often change intermittently between positions on drives during games.  We caught up with the former Tar Heel during the 2018 Senior Bowl to discuss what he brings to an NFL franchise.

Former North Carolina DB MJ Stewart played cornerback, nickel back and returned punts for the Tar Heels.

DN: You had so much experience coming into the week having played outside, played inside, sometimes intermittently during games (at North Carolina). And then this week (Senior Bowl), you did a little bit of that as well. You seemed active and comfortable going against a number of receivers and you also looked real comfortable returning kicks. Talk a little bit about that.

Stewart: This is something I’ve been doing for awhile, you know. People didn’t know that. So this week was a good opportunity for me to show people that I could outside and inside. And I can return in the kicking game, too. For me, it’s something I’ve been doing for awhile so it’s nothing new to me, but it is new to a lot of people. I wanted to come out here and turn some heads.

DN: One of your teammates that you were kind of in concert with quite a bit during your career was Donnie Miles. It seemed like you and him on the field were real good in terms of communication. Talk a little bit about that connection and really how that all came about.

Stewart: That’s my boy, man. Donnie’s my boy. This past year we roomed together. We just wanted to build that connection even further on the field. Sometimes we’d be up late studying. We go to the film room together and we see things from each other’s point of view so we’re on the same page.

DN: You go to the NC State game, you’re able to look-and-lean down the field. Made some plays in that game when you were challenged. You had to be the leader on the defense after losing Andre Smith a little bit earlier in the season, and then also  (Cole) Holcomb, you lost him a little earlier as well. With those injuries, how much was the onus on you to step up even more as a leader?

Stewart: It was big. With all those vocal leaders down, I had to step up and be the big vocal leader. I tried to encompass that as best as I could.

DN: Who was the toughest receiver that you went against in your career and what was the one game you’d like for NFL scouts to see?

Stewart: Toughest receiver in my career. It’s hard. I’m a big believer in everybody’s good until you prove otherwise. You can’t sleep on anybody. But I’d have to say Justin Hardy (Atlanta Falcons) from ECU. When I played him I was a freshman and still trying to get my feet under me. And he was a veteran receiver so it was nice going against him. He was strong, very active, good routes. It was good seeing that early in my career.

DN: And then what was that one game you’d like for scouts to maybe point to for you in your career? Any year.

Stewart: I’d have to say this past year Miami (Fla.). I definitely was locked in. I’m locked in every game but I turned it up that game.

DN: No doubt man, best of luck in the draft.

Stewart: Thank you.

----2018 Senior Bowl practices, DraftNasty staff reports

UPDATE: Stewart -ranked 57th on DraftNasty's 2018 Big Board (No. 2 all-purpose player)- was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 57th overall pick (2nd Round) in the 2018 NFL Draft.