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Answering Your Week 11 Mailbag Questions

Nov 20, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) runs in the end zone for a two point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Atlanta defeated Seattle 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of recording a normal podcast episode to answer your questions during the hectic Thanksgiving week, I will answer your Atlanta Falcons film questions pertaining to their win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11 here. Let’s get into it!

You sort of have to define “meaningful.” Which in this case, I’m going to assume means in the closing minutes of a game and the score is within five points, which would allow this past Monday’s two-point conversion by Jimmy Graham to qualify. Let’s put the cut-off at the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime.

With that in mind, there are only five occurrences of that happening in the Matt Ryan Era (since 2008). Teams converted three of those five, including the Graham play this past week, Danny Amendola’s conversion in the Super Bowl and Aaron Rodgers’ conversion in the regular season last year to give Green Bay a six-point lead in the closing minutes. As a side note, it’s odd that all three “failures” on the part of the Falcons defense have occurred in the past 13 months and likely contributes to your perception that it’s been a while since the team got a stop on a two-point conversion.

But the two times the Falcons got stops came in 2013 and 2014. The most recent example came against the Detroit Lions in the London game back in 2014. The other was in Week 15 against the Washington Redskins a year earlier.

Against Detroit, Desmond Trufant broke up a pass to Golden Tate on a two-point attempt and prevented the Lions from tying the game with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Then the Falcons then had a quick possession and the Lions drove down the field for a game-winning drive. Most blamed former head coach Mike Smith’s poor clock management for the losing effort.

Against the Redskins a season before, former Skins head coach Mike Shanahan opted to go for two to get the win with under 20 seconds to go in the game. But Kirk Cousins threw late to Pierre Garcon and Trufant was able to break it up in the endzone to preserve a Falcons win.

On that play, Robert Alford thought he had safety help but the Falcons were playing Cover-2 man. A deep route by Tyler Lockett pulled Ricardo Allen away from the middle and Keanu Neal was covering his deep half on the opposite side. Doug Baldwin split the two safeties and Alford didn’t keep pace because he presumably expected one of the safeties to help him out. They did not, and Baldwin was wide open for an easy touchdown.

I don’t think you can blame anyone besides Alford. Both Allen and Neal played their assignments. Alford did not.

Yes, the Seahawks continually attacked the same gap/hole in the first half of the game with their big kickoff returns. That was the hole that was usually played by LaRoy Reynolds and Derrick Coleman, arguably the two most capable cover men on the Falcons kickoff coverage units. But the Seahawks did an excellent job blocking both guys, sometimes with double teams and it created huge seams and alleys for Lockett.

Bosher’s kicks were short, but likely due the ankle injury that was plaguing him last week. The Falcons worked out punter Matt Wile on Monday. As you might recall, Wile replaced Bosher last year for a game in which he was injured. So that was indicative that the team was concerned that Bosher’s injury might keep him from playing.

Couldn’t Andre Roberts have gained much more on his first KOR by going outside the kicker (who brought him down), instead of to him attempting a stiff-arm? Has Tak McKinley added anything besides a bull rush to his repertoire? Was the main problem on kickoff coverage (injured) Bosher’s lack of hang time (as well as not being as good on depth for touchbacks)?
— Jim Ottinger

I don’t think Andre Roberts would’ve gotten significantly more yards on the opening kickoff return had he gone outside. The kicker (Blair Walsh) had a good angle on him. It’s likely he would have gained more yards, but perhaps five or so more, which wouldn’t have been much of a difference on a 50-yard return.

As for Takk McKinley, I haven’t noticed any significant developments in his pass-rushing repertoire. He is mostly using power or speed to create pressure. Nothing along the lines of the chop move that Adrian Clayborn used so effectively against Chaz Green the week before.

As I mentioned above, Bosher’s subpar performance was likely due to the ankle injury to his plant (left) foot, preventing him from generating as much power on his kicks.

Other than the big sack at the end of the game how did Schweitzer look on his one on ones? Particularly with Michael Bennett?
— Jordon Benjamin Yates

Wes Schweitzer had his fair share of struggles, but he had his right leg rolled up on during the first series and seemed to favor that leg throughout the remainder of the game. Seahawks pass-rushers (including Bennett) were able to attack and beat him to his outside (right) shoulder because he didn’t have as much balance or strength on that side of his body. And he struggled to create push at times when he was forced to push off his right side, particularly on zone blocks to the right side. He also lost his balance a couple of times when he was forced to put weight on that right leg and pivot.

So I grade Schweitzer somewhat with a caveat understanding that he was more than likely playing hurt for the vast majority of the game. Given those circumstances, I think he proved mostly effective. There were certainly a fair number of plays where he struggled against the likes of Bennett and Sheldon Richardson. But given that he was basically playing on one leg, I think he held his own relatively speaking.

Andy Levitre also had his own struggles against the Seahawks interior rushers like Richardson too. He missed a couple of snaps with an injury and was replaced by Ben Garland for a few snaps.

I mentioned that only because I feel as if many have indicated that Schweitzer’s play is a massive liability for the Falcons offensive line and I would disagree with that. Each of the Falcons blockers have had their ups and downs, just to differing levels. Schweitzer is the clubhouse leader in terms of the number of “downs” he’s had this season, but that was to be expected from a first-year starter.

He’s been far from a liability (compare him to Chaz Green) and despite his struggles against the Seahawks front, he mostly took care of business since Ryan wasn’t constantly running for his life in this game.

That’s it for the mailbag questions this week guys. I appreciate all the great questions!

 

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Aaron has covered the Atlanta Falcons since 2006 on his website Falcfans.com. He is the host of the Locked on Falcons podcast and co-host of Falcons Central Radio podcast at Pro Football Central.com. He’s also contributed in the past for draft website, The Huddle Report, and been a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. He currently resides in North Carolina, is an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh and has a deep abiding passion for chicken wings.

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