Cover 9@9: Dan Reeves intrigued by coaching matchup

Bob Whitfield, Atlanta Falcons, Dan Reeves, Ray Buchanan

Players Ray Buchanan (left) and Bob Whitfield (center) dance the “dirty bird” with coach Dan Reeves in Woodruff Park at the finale of a city wide parade for the Super Bowl Falcons. (AJC)

Good morning! The Cover 9@9 is a weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, we published 9 items at 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning.

1. REEVES HIGH ON THE FALCONS: Former Falcons coach Dan Reeves, the only coach to guide the franchise to the Super Bowl, has been impressed with the NFC South Champions.

He’s looking forward to the Falcons (11-5) playing the Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1 in regular season, 1-0 in the playoffs) at 4:35 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

“I think it’s a great matchup with two outstanding offensive football teams and both defenses are good at times,” Reeves said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “(Falcons head coach) Dan (Quinn) knows them very well because that’s where he came from. They are very similar in what they are trying to do. It’s going to be interesting…. I’m interested in looking at what the two coaches are going to do because they’ve worked with each other. It’s going to be interesting to see how they attack.”

The Falcons were defeated by the Seahawks 26-4 on Oct. 16 in Seattle.

“They’ve done a great job all year of putting pressure on the other team because they do score so many points,” Reeves said of the Falcons’ offense.  “They’ve done it against some really good defensive teams and they’ve still put up points.”

Reeves still follows the Falcons closely.

“When they played them earlier and had a great chance at the end to win the game,” Reeves said. “That’s in a tough place to play in Seattle.”

Reeves marvels at the Falcons’ offense.

“You never know what the Falcons are going to do offensively, and that’s the thing,” Reeves said. “You have to give Kyle Shanahan an awful lot of credit and their offensive staff. They come out with a different (game plan) every time.

“Whether it’s bubble screens, boot legs one way or they don’t even throw to Julio (Jones) one week and the next time they throw five or six straight passes to him. You never know what they are going to do because they have so many weapons and they use them so well.

“I’m excited about watching this game.”

2. THE GODFATHER HAS SPOKEN: Former NFL executive Gil Brandt, who’s an analyst for

Gil Brandt, left, former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel, signs autographs with former Cowboys defensive back Cliff Harris during  the 2015 Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction class news conference, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

Gil Brandt, left, former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel, signs autographs with former Cowboys defensive back Cliff Harris during the 2015 Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction class news conference, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

NFL.com and Sirius NFL Radio and is affectionately called the Godfather, is high on the Falcons.

“I think this is going to be a close game,” Brandt said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.  “I think the Atlanta Falcons will win because of their offense. I don’t know if they can stop the run after I saw Seattle last week. Two weeks ago, they hadn’t run at all.”

Brandt also has been impressed with the Falcons’ offensive wizardry.

“The coordinator (Kyle Shanahan) should be the man of the year because I think the guy has done a fantastic job,” Brandt said. “I think the head coach has done a fantastic job.”

Brandt, a former personnel guru for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-88, liked some of the Falcons moves.

“The head coach (Dan Quinn) is really good,” Brandt said. “The guy that he drafted from Florida (Keanu Neal), everybody said, ‘why would you draft that guy?’ He’s played pretty darn good for them.

“I think there is a good chance that the Atlanta Falcons will be playing at home against Green Bay or in Dallas.”

He also credited Quinn with the development of Vic Beasley.

“What they did get to get all of that out of the sacker from Clemson, I think that’s all the head coach,” Brandt said.

3. ON INSIDE THE NFL ON SHOWTIME: Here’s what other analyst were saying about the matchup:

On Inside the NFL on Showtime about the Falcons, Phil Simms said, “Atlanta is in the playoffs. They are the No. 2 seed. We never talk about them and it’s a shame because Matt Ryan, I hope, and I think he deserves to be the MVP in the NFL.”

Boomer Esiason said: “What can Atlanta do? They can run the football. They are physical. Kyle Shanahan will be a head coach in this league—if is not this year, it will be next year. He will be the offensive coordinator of the year, the assistant coach of the year… and yes, Matt Ryan will be the MVP… I like Atlanta, they are a real deal offensive team.”

Brandon Marshall said: “This game comes down to Julio Jones and Richard Sherman. I hate to do it, everyone is talking about it, but it’s true.”

Simms added: “One big star that is not playing in this game, and it’s real and it can’t be over-talked, that’s Earl Thomas. Not playing safety, it definitely changes their defense. He is the greatest eraser I’ve seen at safety in a long time.”

4. CHARLIE CASSERLY ON THE FALCONS AND SEAHAWKS: NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly and former general manager addressed how the Seahawks would have to block Falcons All-Pro linebacker Vic Bealsey:

“They have a problem now. This offensive line has developed as a run-blocking offensive line but they’re going to struggle in dropback pass protection. Garry Gilliam at right tackle, George Fant the rookie at left tackle – they will struggle one-on-one with Beasley. You’re going to have to get another man on him, whether it’s a tight end or a back chipping. These guys can’t handle Beasley one-on-one.”

Casserly on the Falcons facing the Seahawks defense: “I think they’ll be able to run on this team and you have to stay with the run because you can wear them down. That’s the book on that front seven. However, you can throw the ball against this secondary. Let’s start with [Richard] Sherman. How do you throw on him? You get him running deep and then you break off the route. He’s a long strider and has trouble changing directions, but you have to get him to run and turn his back. Then you go to the other corners, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. Both of these guys are vulnerable. Again, get them running and get them to change direction in that 10, 12-yard area. You can throw on this secondary. And finally [Kam] Chancellor, he’s a great player but people isolate this guy in coverage. Again, you can beat these guys. You just have to run the right routes against them.”

September 11, 2016 ATLANTA: Falcons Vic Beasley Jr., who did not have a stat on the sheet from the game, lines up to rush in the second half against the Buccaneers in an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

September 11, 2016 ATLANTA: Falcons Vic Beasley Jr., who did not have a stat on the sheet from the game, lines up to rush in the second half against the Buccaneers in an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

5. BEASLEY THE FAVORITE: Beasley is the favorite to get the most sacks in the divisional round, according to SportsBettingDime.com.

PLAYER PROPS

Most sacks in Divisional Round

Vic Beasley Jr., Falcons: 4/1

Michael Bennett, Seahawks: 8/1

Justin Houston, Chiefs: 8/1

Jadeveon Clowney, Texans: 9/1

Clay Matthews, Packers: 9/1

James Harrison, Steelers: 11/1

Trey Flowers, Patriots: 11/1

David Irving, Cowboys: 12/1

FIELD: 21/4

6. FREEMAN A LONGSHOT: Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is a longshot to get the most yards rushing in the divisional round.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys: 2/1

Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: 5/2

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks: 13/2

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: 8/1

Devonta Freeman, Falcons: 16/1

FIELD: 11/1

7. THE OFFICIALS: The Steratore Playoff Crew will call the Falcons playoff game. R: Gene Steratore (114) FJ: Aaron Santi (50) U: Bill Schuster (89) SJ: Scott Novak (1) HL: Phil McKinnely (110) BJ: Dino Paganelli (105) LJ: Dana McKenzie (8) RO: Darryll Lewis

8. TALE OF THE TAPE: Here’s how the Falcons and the Seahawks matchup up according to their regular seasons statistics.

The Falcons (11-5) are set to face the Seahawks (10-5-1 regular season, 1-0 in the playoffs) at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

2016 Regular Season Statistics Rankings
Falcons                                                          Seahawks
33.8 (1)         Points/Game                              22.1 (18t)
415.8 (2)       Total Offense                               357.2 (12)
120.5 (5)        Net Rushing Yards/Game          99.4 (25)
295.3 (3)        Net Passing Yards/Game          257.8 (10)
30:11 (18)      Possession Average                     29:36 (23)
25.4 (27)         Opponent Points/Game             18.3 (3)
371.2 (25)       Opponent Total Offense             318.7 (5)
104.5 (17)       Opp. Rushing Yards/Game        92.9 (7)
266.7 (28)     Opp. Passing Yards/Game         225.8 (8)
+11 (4t)           Turnover Differential                 +1 (16)

9. DEPTH CHART. Here’s the depth chart for Saturday’s game:

(The team calls it an ‘unofficial’ depth chart. But if they are releasing it, for our purposes that makes it pretty official.)

OFFENSE
WR 11 Julio Jones 16 Justin Hardy 15 Nick Williams 14 Eric Weems
LT 70 Jake Matthews 76 Tom Compton
LG 67 Andy Levitre 63 Ben Garland
C 51 Alex Mack 63 Ben Garland
RG 65 Chris Chester 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder 76 Tom Compton
TE 81 Austin Hooper 80 Levine Toilolo 82 Joshua Perkins 86 D.J. Tialavea
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu 18 Taylor Gabriel 19 Aldrick Robinson
QB 2 Matt Ryan 8 Matt Schaub
RB 24 Devonta Freeman 26 Tevin Coleman 28 Terron Ward
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DEFENSE
DE 50 Brooks Reed 99 Adrian Clayborn 93 Dwight Freeney
DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux
DT 97 Grady Jarrett 91 Courtney Upshaw
DE 94 Tyson Jackson 77 Ra’Shede Hageman
LB 44 Vic Beasley Jr. 41 Philip Wheeler
LB 45 Deion Jones 55 Paul Worrilow 53 LaRoy Reynolds
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell 52 Josh Keyes
CB 23 Robert Alford 29 C.J. Goodwin 38 Blidi Wreh-Wilson
CB 32 Jalen Collins 34 Brian Poole 30 Deji Olatoye
S 37 Ricardo Allen 20 Sharrod Neasman
S 22 Keanu Neal 38 Dashon Goldson
SPECIALISTS
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Eric Weems 16 Justin Hardy
PR 14 Eric Weems 16 Justin Hardy
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher

The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov get into the Julio Jones-Richard Sherman matchup, the Falcons run defense, the team’s areas of concern and where the Falcons have the advantage.

RECAP OF THE ATLANTA FALCONS 2016 REGULAR SEASON

GAME 16: Falcons 38, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Saints

Falcons defense sags late but hangs on vs. Brees

Julio Jones says bye week will be ‘great for me’ with sore toe

GAME 15: Falcons 33, Panthers 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Panthers

NFL playoffs: Falcons clinch NFC South title

Third-and-21, no problem for Coleman

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Panthers

GAME 14: Falcons 41, 49ers 13

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the 49ers

What Matt Ryan had to say about the win over the 49ers

PHOTOS: Falcons win over the 49ers

GAME 13: Falcons 42, Rams 14

REPORT CARD: Falcons handled their business against woeful Rams

GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Chiefs

Falcons still control their playoff destiny

PHOTOS: Falcons have a bad day at the office

Matt Ryan tormented by Berry’s big interceptions

Beasley becomes a double-digit sacker

GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Cardinals

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons keep getting better as they go

Julio Jones gets calls this time

Taylor Gabriel continues scoring streak in win over Cardinals

Coleman scores TD in return from injury

Falcons’ offensive line ‘stepped up to the task’

GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Eagles

Ryan, offense slowed down to a crawl

Perkins stalls key drive with costly penalty

Defense gets blown of the line of scrimmage

Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons’ biggest issue is injuries (Trufant and Tamme)

Falcons go into bye week wrong way — beat up by Eagles

What Dan Quinn had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What Matt Ryan had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What the Falcons had to say after the loss to the Eagles

PHOTOS: Falcons fall to the Eagles

GAME NINE: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ rout of the Bucs

GAME EIGHT: Falcons 33, Packers 32
 

GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Chargers

Dan Quinn’s gamble with house-money backfires

6 penalties ‘unacceptable’ for Falcons offensive line

Philip Rivers confounds Falcons with short passes: ‘He picked us apart’

Matt Ryan’s late-game interception leads to overtime loss

PHOTOS: Chargers rally to beat Falcons

GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Seahawks

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me)

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud

Matt Ryan’s turnovers were costly

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Seattle slows down Falcons’ running backs Freeman, Coleman

Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half

Julio Jones: ‘It was just a missed call’

What the Falcons had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Richard Sherman non-commital on pass interference non-call

PHOTOS: Falcons at Seahawks in Seattle

GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons upset of Super Bowl champs

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies

What Dan Quinn have to say after the win over Denver

Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense

Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks

Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles

What the Falcons had to say after the win over the Broncos

Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos

GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 48-33 win over the Panthers

Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons

Falcons’ rookie Neal holds on vs. Olsen

What Julio Jones had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

Alford battled; Collins to return

Early view in NFC South isn’t what most expected; Falcons on top

GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 45-32 win over the Saints

Falcons, Saints protest with unity circle before game

REPORT CARD: Falcons earned high marks for drubbing Saints

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What the Falcons had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons

Falcons’ Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home

AJC POWER RANKINGS: Falcons best in NFC South?

GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Raiders

Trufant’s heads-up play saves the day

Tight ends help to power offense

Weatherspoon plays strong in first start since 2013

Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less

JEFF SCHULTZ: Falcons put on offensive show and win

What Matt Ryan had to say after beating the Raiders

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Raiders

GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Bucs

No sacks for new-look Falcons pass rush

Julio Jones not worried about his ankle injury

Falcons have a case of the “no-huddle” blues

REPORT CARD: Falcons can’t ‘gift’ opponents 17 points

FILM REVIEW: Beasley missing in action

AJC’S NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where are the Falcons?

Hageman charged is domestic violence case

 


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