Just wondering – are the Falcons defensive linemen watching film of Dikembe Mutombo?
Or perhaps, calling Alonzo Mourning collect?
If this were the bye week, would they have considered a road trip to Utah in search of Mark Eaton?
But it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the Falcons are walking around their Flowery Branch facility wearing those ridiculous looking shoes with toe props that are supposed to increase your vertical leap.
I’m guessing they have figured it out. They have figured out that the blocked shot, the most unappreciated skill in the NBA, is making a comeback … in the NFL.
Bucs quarterback Chris Simms is finding himself the victim of routine rejections. His passes are going up, and an uncomfortable number of them are being sent back, or at the very least, deflected off course.
“You know, it’s not something you think about, it’s something that just comes second nature,” Falcons defensive tackle Rod Coleman said about the fine art of tipping the ball. “It’s about getting a push and realizing when you’re doubled to put your hands up. I stay close to the quarterback and do what comes natural. It’s something you learn in college and just keep doing.”
It’s an issue, and clearly one that those at One Buc Place, including the rejectee himself, can no longer ignore.
“I've got to find ways to throw it around guys, maybe throw it a little bit quicker here or there,” Simms told reporters on Wednesday. “Just things like that, where I've got to be more aware when I'm on the football field.
“Defensive linemen these days are good at reading three-step drops. They will stop rushing at times and try to play my eyes and try to bat the ball down. I've got to do a better job of throwing it around them.”
So, if we accept that the blocked shots are a problem, then you can bet next week’s paycheck – yours, not mine – that the Falcons are hoping to get some of that love.
When to jump? How to jump? What hand to use?
Careful not to provide any bulletin board material, Coleman joked that he’s not too eager for things to change this weekend in Atlanta.
Accept this, the NFL is a copycat league. Terrell Owens pulls a Sharpie from his sock, every receiver thereafter has to devise his version of the hidden prop caper.
Mark Gastineau perfects a sack dance, then every yahoo, with or without rhythm, decides they too can shake a leg.
So, if the Baltimore Ravens admitted they were very much aware of Simms’ low ball trajectory, don’t you think those in the ATL know about it too. They get Sportscenter there don’t they?
Again, Coleman was careful.
“Of course, we see it on film,” he said. “But, we don’t go into a game trying to bat the ball down. It’s not something you look for. It’s not something you game plan for. If it happens, it happens.”
Understandably, coach Jon Gruden is getting a bit tired of hearing the smack.
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he told reporters. “We've had a lot of balls rejected. I’ve seen some of the best of them get balls rejected. I saw a lot of offensive performances last week that left a lot to be desired. It’s inexcusable and I’m responsible for it. We had some real good live pass-rush drills and Chris [Simms] is doing all he can to avoid those situations. We’ve just got to prove it’s corrected. Until we play a few more games, we can’t answer those questions.”
Coachspeak aside, Gruden is right on on this one. Until it stops happening, it’s going to be considered, well, uncorrected.
And, it’s a shame.
Sure, Simms may have to be more precise with his release point, find better passing lanes, be more decisive in the pocket – all techniques, I hear, will limit his passes from taking a sudden detour.
But it can’t be all him.
Maybe the offensive line can re-arrange its approach. Maybe the play-calling can do the same.
Maybe the backs can take responsibility for picking up the blitz just a few seconds earlier. Maybe the receivers can not drop a pass, or two.
Heck, maybe the defense can not get gashed for 80 yards on the first possession. Maybe, maybe, maybe ….
We know one thing, barring a week-long media blackout in the state of Georgia, the Falcons know. When they get close to the Bucs quarterback they’re going to act like four Mr. Fantastics.
Palms in the passing lane.
Fingers reaching for the ball.
And since going through them won’t work, it’ll be up to Simms to find a way over, under or around.
Copyright 2006 PewterReport.com
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