Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Classy Hokie

It was probably fitting that in the Falcons' first home game after the Summer of Vick, the dominant story is his Virginia Tech buddy DeAngelo Hall acting like a total jackass and single-handedly swinging momentum in a game that the Falcons were leading. Here's the drive chart from Carolina's tying drive:

1st and 10 at CAR 20
(9:09) J.Delhomme pass incomplete deep left to

PENALTY on ATL-D.Hall, Defensive Pass Interference, 37
yards, enforced at CAR 20 - No Play.

1st and 10 at ATL 43
D.Williams right end to ATL 37 for 6 yards (C.Houston).

ATL-D.Hall, Personal Foul, 15 yards, enforced at ATL 37.

1st and 10
at ATL 22
(8:29) D.Williams right tackle to ATL 20 for 2 yards

2nd and 8 at ATL 20
(7:52) J.Delhomme pass
incomplete short middle to J.King.

3rd and 8 at ATL 20
J.Delhomme sacked at ATL 29 for -9 yards (J.Abraham).

Penalty on
CAR-T.Wharton, Offensive Holding, declined.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at ATL 29. Unsportsmanlike conduct
called after the play.

1st and 10 at ATL 14
(7:26) D.Foster
right end pushed ob at ATL 5 for 9 yards (C.Crocker).

2nd and 1 at
(7:19) J.Delhomme pass short left to J.King for 5 yards,

J.Kasay extra point is GOOD, Holder-J.Baker.

It's really an accomplishment for a player to accumulate 67 penalty yards on a 80-yard drive, but the Falcons' "star" corner managed that feat yesterday. Part of me feels like the refs overreacted to Hall. The 15-yard blow to the face penalty was marginal, at best, and I've never seen a player get flagged for talking shit to another player, especially when that second player is talking back. In general, the refs gave the impression that they had money on the Panthers in the game, as they carried out a campaign against Hall on the one hand and on the other, let the Panthers take cheap shots on John Abraham (Fox's cameras caught this on Carolina's go-ahead touchdown) and make late hits on Joey Harrington. And I cannot fathom how they flagged Hall for talking too much when Steve Smith couldn't shut his mouth for the entire game. Moral of the story: I hate the Panthers.

All that said, DeAngelo put the refs in the position to screw him by totally losing his cool. It is the nature of the corner position that Hall is going to get beat every now and again. The fact that he completely lost his cool after Steve Smith beat him deep and then allowed his tantrum to affect the rest of the drive is unforgivable. Hall is no longer a rookie. This is his fourth year in the league, but he still acts like a child. He's a pretty good corner (although his technique is poor, as Rod Woodson explained on the radio last week), but he's a lousy teammate right now.

While Hall is a good player who can't control his id, Keith Brooking, another player who commands a good chunk of the Falcons' cap space, is simply not a very good player. If NFL Network re-runs the game, watch Brooking on DeShaun Foster's big runs. He's either blocked out of the plays or he over-runs them. Arthur Blank gets flak for getting too budd-buddy with Michael Vick, but Blank befriending and then overpaying Brooking might be a bigger sin.

All that said, there were a lot of positives for the Falcons yesterday, starting with Joey Harrington turning in a vintage Chris Miller-esque performance under center. Is this really the guy who was so bad in Detroit and Miami? He was accurate all day, he moved well in the pocket, and he didn't make mistakes. The slant pass that Roddy White turned into a long touchdown was something absent from the Falcons' arsenal when Mike Vick was the quarterback; he never hit receivers perfectly in stride like Harrington did on that play. Oh, and Harrington's 361 passing yards are 24 more than Vick's career high. Vick went over 300 yards passing exactly twice in four seasons as a starter. It took Harrington three games to do so. It's interesting that Harrington played so well in a week in which the Falcons brought in Byron Leftwich to push him for the position. G-d forbid, maybe competition at the quarterback position doesn't send football teams into emotional tailspins.

The rest of the offense played well around Harrington. Todd Weiner did a fine job on Julius Peppers and the rest of the offensive line blocked nicely for Harrington. The receivers made some plays, especially Roddy White, who has emerged as the go-to guy. The running game was fairly good in limited carries. Best of all, Bobby Petrino showed the ability to morph an offensive approach to an opponent; his pass-heavy game plan was very productive and would have produced a good number of points without a couple fumbles and a botched field goal.

And while his groin is still functional, how about a few nice words for John Abraham, who has been outstanding this year. He completely owned Travelle Wharton from start to finish. His performances have been excellent so far this season, although that doesn't really tell us anything we didn't know before. The rap on Abraham is that he plays this well and then gets hurt.

Overall, the Falcons are better than their record. They've been competitive in all three games. They're gaining almost as much yardage as they're giving up, so if you believe that yardage is a better indication of a team's merit than record, they look more like a 7-9 team than a 5-11 team. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they beat the Texans this week.


Anonymous said...

Selfish Selfish Selfish. Hall can't be explained in any other words. Who the hell says "I am going to stop worrying about my stats and look out for the team from now". And we are supposed to praise him for saying that? Shouldn't a player have learnt that its all about the team in 8th grade football and not 3 years into their pro career? Prick.

KennyBanya said...

I'm usually the first to criticize D Hall because I think he's over-rated. But its really hard for me to pin the blame on him for those two ridiculous calls.

The first one was criminal, there is nothing remotely wrong with blasting a wide receiver in the chest on the line of scrimmage, during the play. He did not hit him in the face, he did not hit him late. His coach will probably watch that and commend him.

The second call looked like a no-brainer off-setting personal foul. Both players equally jawing at each other, how in HELL can you call a penalty on only ONE player? It's both or nothing on that. Of course he should have shut up but its really easy for us to sit in our chair at home, with no idea what Smith is saying or what he's done earlier in the game and pass judgement.

If I'm Petrino that game tape is already at the officiating office. I haven't seen penalty yardage that lopsided in a while. That late hit earlier in the drive? Total crap.

I do however have a problem with Hall's actions once he got to the sideline. No one who considers themselves a leader snaps back at a head coach like that in public.

Fox said...

Enjoy the D Hall experience. Hall, KJ and Marcus Vick managed to ruin VT's most talented team ever (the 2003 team) with their me-first play). Just a selfish bunch of jerks. Incidentally, Jimmy Williams did the same stuff so enjoy that too.

Ryno said...

Season ticket holder for the dirty birds for the first year ever.

Knowing full well that in the season ticket process, you take your lumps and sit up high the first year and slowly move down into good seats.

With that said, I can't move down fast enough. There were more drunken jerk-offs starting fights in the sections surrounding me than I've ever seen in the dorm.

Clearly, the NFL attracts a different type of fan.

jrsuicide said...

D Hall sucks. he's not Dieon Sanders. hell, he's not even in the same league as Champ Bailey. he's basically a cover corner who can't cover and gets burnt almost every time he faces an elite receiver. he's more interested in what he does in one on one match ups with Chad Johnson, or Steve Smith, or T.O. than if the Falcons actually win any games. The Falcons should dump his ass in the offseason for some draft picks while he still has value. it's time for the team to completely rebuild and get rid of all our overrated and overvalued players like Brooking, Hall, and Abraham and go with youth and speed and a little bit of class. also no more VA Tech players.