Inside slant: Atlanta Week 13 review

Here's the "Inside Slant," your twice-weekly source for news about the Bucs' NFC South rivals. Today's edition wraps up Week 13's games, including personnel news and exclusive unit grades for the Atlanta Falcons. It's a premium service from

Falcons coach Bobby Petrino wanted to speak to his players before publicly declaring who his starting quarterback would be Monday against New Orleans. Yet, by not saying things would be status quo with Joey Harrington, the possibility, if not probability, of Chris Redman emerging as the starter seems very likely.

Petrino gave his players off Monday but it appeared as if a decision was made, following Redman's 16-of-24, 172-yard, two-touchdown performance in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 28-16 loss at St. Louis.

That he has either pulled Harrington out of games or taken his starting job from him at least four times signals that he could be finished with a player who's been unable to prove himself worthy with three teams (Detroit, Miami, Atlanta) in six seasons.

Byron Leftwich has served as the No. 3 quarterback since injuring his tailbone against Tampa Bay Nov. 18 and Petrino seems very concerned about his limited mobility behind a patchwork offensive line.

Petrino didn't mention Harrington or Leftwich during his Monday afternoon news conference. The same can't be said for Redman.

"It was impressive and it started with him hitting hands and being very accurate," Petrino said. "He made good decisions, the protection got better. Jerious (Norwood) popped a couple big plays for us we scored quickly, which gave us some time on the clock to give us a chance to win."

Redman knows the offense better than Harrington and Leftwich and he knows what Petrino wants from his quarterback since he played for Petrino at the University of Louisville when Petrino was the offensive coordinator.

Redman also has the backing of his teammates.

"Chris came in there and had real good energy," wide receiver Michael Jenkins said. "He was getting the ball out and we were making plays down the field."

Whereas Petrino didn't want to say much about his quarterback situation, he did say that second-year tailback Jerious Norwood would be seeing more action. Norwood rushed for 94 yards on eight carries and is averaging 6.4 yards a rush this season. The stunning thing is that Norwood has just 69 carries.

Petrino has stuck with starting tailback Warrick Dunn because he said the offense is a little more stable when he's in the game. But the Falcons have been outscored 90-36 in the past three games, so there hasn't been enough production to keep limiting the most explosive offensive threat.


--The Falcons have not filled the 53rd roster spot after placing OT Todd Weiner on injured reserve last week following season-ending knee surgery. They could add a player this week, possibly off the practice squad.

--By falling to 3-9, Atlanta will post its second straight losing season, third straight non-winning season and is on the verge of having its 20th double-digit losing season in its 42-year history.


--DB Antoine Harris suffered a left knee injury vs. the Rams, but he could be ready to play Monday against New Orleans.

--RG Kynan Forney was ruled inactive for non-injury reasons Sunday, signaling that the coaching staff has lost faith in the seven-year starter. D'Anthony Batiste started his second game in Forney's place and drew praise from Bobby Petrino for his competitiveness and pass protection.

--SS Lawyer Milloy, a run-support safety, nabbed his second interception of the season.

--Rookie DE Jamaal Anderson has taken a lot of heat for not recording a sack yet but Anderson has 34 tackles, more than any other defensive lineman on the team.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- The Falcons threw for 356 yards, but Joey Harrington was erratic and continued his habit of throwing four-yard passes when eight yards are needed for a first down. Chris Redman was far more efficient and accurate, as he competed 16 of 24 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Each threw an interception and the Falcons allowed four sacks.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Jerious Norwood broke off several big runs, leading, once again, to questions as to why he hasn't had double-digit carries in a game this season. Norwood totaled 94 yards on eight carries. Warrick Dunn had 17 yards on 10 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Gus Frerotte carved up the Falcons in the first half. Defensive backs got roasted on double-move routes and didn't win many of the close battles for balls. Atlanta managed just one sack against a weak offensive line.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Atlanta held Steven Jackson in check until he broke off a 50-yard touchdown run with just more than a minute remaining. Players clogged lanes and forced him to rush side-to-side.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Punt returner Adam Jennings had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown called back for an illegal block, but he did some bush-league taunting at the end of the run that resulted in a penalty flag being thrown as well. Morten Andersen remained automatic from 45 yards and in, booting a 41-yard field goal for the Falcons' first score.

COACHING: C -- The Falcons had nine days to prepare and came out flat. Bobby Petrino took the blame for that, but that was good PR. His players let him down. Petrino also should get credit for sitting Forney and Williams for not playing as well as they can.

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