Falcons Post Game Notes
Atlanta's postseason dreams are resting on whether or not Doug Johnson, a fourth-year veteran who supposedly is playing for a big contract in the offseason, can carry the Falcons' offense until Vick returns from a broken right fibula sometime next month.
So far, he's buckling.
Johnson completed 13 of 19 passes against Tampa Bay last Sunday, but three of the other passes were interceptions, all on horribly thrown balls.
To be fair, he has minimal help, thanks to a running game that was good for 29 yards on 19 carries Sunday, and his No. 2 wide receiver, Quentin McCord, has gone without a catch in his first two NFL starts in place of injured flanker Brian Finneran (broken left hand). Will the Falcons dip into their shallow salary cap reserve ($594,000) and sign somebody who might get open and catch a pass? Who knows.
But forget about all this. If the Falcons don't figure out soon how to get Johnson untracked, they can probably forget about whether or not Vick is going to make an I impact.
Nobody is saying it, but Johnson's playing like he's nervous. Whenever there's pressure in the pocket, he tends to unleash a ball in the general direction of a receiver. It's usually not close.
The worst interception was Johnson's last, when he overthrew WR Peerless Price down the middle, even though Price as open.
That pick, at the end of the first half, helped keep the Falcons from cutting into the Bucs' 17-3 lead. They won 31-10.
"I just know that you have to know when to take a chance and when not to take a chance," said coach Dan Reeves. "And when you take a chance, you don't throw it down the middle of the field when you know they're sitting in a zone."
--WR Quentin McCord was no factor in his second NFL start. Working in place of starting flanker Brian Finneran, who's out two to four more weeks with a broken left hand, he went without a catch in the the Falcons' 31-10 loss to Tampa Bay, his second straight catchless game.
--WR Peerless Price, whom the Falcons gave up a first-round pick for, caught six passes for 45 yards. Several balls were overthrown in his direction, but at least he was the target of the Falcons' gameplan.
-- S Gerald McBurrows, who moved out of the starting lineup this week as SS Cory Hall returned from a sprained right knee, was the only Falcons player not to return to the game Sunday against the Bus. He suffered a sprained neck.
--SS Cory Hall made his first start with the Falcons Sunday, but didn't help much. He was responsible for covering Bucs DL Warren Sapp, who lined up at left TE on first-and-goal from the 6-yard line. He didn't bother. "I was in a new position," said Hall, who actually was filling in on the goal line defense for injured reserve safety Kevin McCadam.
--QB Mike Vick, who broke his right fibula Aug. 16 in a preseason game against Baltimore, was on the Falcons' sideline Sunday without crutches for the first time. He was wearing a walking cast, or removable boot. Still, nobody expects Vick back before Atlanta's game Oct. 13 at St. Louis.
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