NFC South: Jake Plummer

Superlatives on the Falcons

October, 15, 2012
ATLANTA -- With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and the Falcons’ media relations department, let’s take a look at some statistical superlatives from Atlanta’s 23-20 victory against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday:

  • Quarterback Matt Ryan now has led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter in each of his past three games. Since his 2008 rookie season, Ryan leads the NFL with 19 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That’s three more game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime than any player in his first five seasons since 1966. Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Jake Plummer are tied for second with 16.
  • This is more of a lowlight than a highlight, but Ryan had only the second three-interception game of his career. He has six interceptions in his last four games.
  • Ryan is now 9-1 at home against AFC teams. His lone loss came against Denver in 2008.
  • Ryan and Roddy White connected on their 38th receiving touchdown. That’s the most by any quarterback-receiver due since 2008.
  • Ryan was 12-of-22 with all three of his interceptions on throws of more than 5 yards downfield. Ryan had completed 70.2 percent of such passes with seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his first five games.
  • Ryan now has thrown for at least one touchdown in 21 straight games. That’s the third-best active streak in the NFL behind Drew Brees (48) and Tom Brady (38).
  • The Falcons are off to the first 6-0 start in franchise history. They have seven consecutive wins, dating back to last season.
  • Atlanta coach Mike Smith now has won 49 games, which ties him with Dan Reeves for the franchise record. But Smith is 49-21 (.700) while Reeves was 49-59-1 (.454).
  • Kicker Matt Bryant hit a 55-yard field goal to win the game. It was the 14th game-winning field goal of his career and fifth as a member of the Falcons.
  • Bryant has made eight field goals of 50-plus yards in his career. His teams are 7-1 when he has made a field goal of more than 50 yards.
  • Cornerback Asante Samuel had his first interception since joining the Falcons and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown. Samuel’s 46 career interceptions rank No. 4 among active players and his 10 interception returns for touchdowns in the regular season rank No. 5 in NFL history.
  • Defensive end John Abraham had three sacks on Sunday. That gives him six sacks for the season. His career 118.0 sacks are tops among active players.
  • The Falcons have swept AFC West opponents this season. The Falcons average 29.3 points while allowing 17 points a game against the AFC West. They also were +10 in turnover differential against the AFC West.

Panthers now must focus on offense

January, 10, 2011
It looks like Ron Rivera will be the new head coach in Carolina, but he might not be the most important hire the Panthers make.

The Panthers believe that who they hire as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will be almost as important as who they hire as the head coach. They feel so strongly about this that team officials might try to steer Rivera toward hiring certain offensive coaches, and one name you should keep an eye on is Marc Trestman.

He’s been coaching Montreal in the Canadian Football League, but Trestman has a long history as an NFL coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Although this logic didn’t apply with Bill Cowher, there’s another reason Trestman might be on Carolina’s radar. He has a home in the Raleigh area and lives there during the CFL’s offseason. Trestman did a stint at North Carolina State before heading to Montreal.

Carolina owner Jerry Richardson has made it very clear he expects the new coach to improve an offense that was dismal last season and predictable throughout much of the John Fox era. With Andrew Luck electing to stay at Stanford and not enter the NFL this year, it’s unlikely the Panthers will use the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on a quarterback.

They could draft one later or they could target a quarterback in free agency. The Panthers realize they can’t sit still at quarterback, although there are people within the organization who believe that Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike still have the potential to develop into decent NFL quarterbacks. The belief is that Clausen and Pike didn’t have a chance to succeed as rookies because they weren’t getting great coaching and were in an offensive system that didn’t give them a chance to prosper.

Through his career, Trestman has worked with Bernie Kosar, Rich Gannon and Jake Plummer in seasons where those quarterbacks put up big numbers.