NFC South: Todd Bowles

With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and the Atlanta Falcons' media relations department, let’s take a look at some statistical superlatives on the 30-17 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
  • Philadelphia changed defensive coordinators, from Juan Castillo to Todd Bowles, during its bye week. But that didn’t really matter. Like Castillo, Bowles didn’t use the blitz much at all. The Eagles sent four or fewer pass rushers on 30 of quarterback Matt Ryan’s 33 dropbacks. Ryan responded by completing 73.1 percent of his passes in those situations for an average of 8.7 yards per attempt with three touchdowns. All three of those were season highs against the Philadelphia defense when sending four or fewer pass rushers.
  • This might be my favorite stat of the day. Ryan completed nine of 10 screen passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. We’ve talked before about how new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has made the screen pass a bigger part of an Atlanta offense that rarely threw screens when Mike Mularkey was calling the plays the previous four seasons. But attempting 10 screens in one game? That’s not just a big deal by Atlanta’s standards. No quarterback in the league had attempted more than eight screen passes in a game before Ryan did it Sunday.
  • Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 22 straight games. That’s the third-longest active streak in the NFL, behind Drew Brees (49) and Tom Brady (40). Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 37 of his last 39 games.
  • The victory was the 50th of Ryan's career. Ryan tied Ben Roethlisberger among active quarterbacks by getting his 50th win in his 69th career start. The only quarterback to get to 50 wins faster is Tom Brady, who did it in 65 starts.
  • Ryan had three touchdown passes. That’s the 15th time in his career Ryan has thrown at least three touchdowns and the Falcons are 15-0 when that has happened.
  • Ryan’s 137.4 passer rating was the third-best of his career. The Falcons are 28-0 when Ryan has a passer rating above 100.
  • Ryan’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones was his longest scoring strike of the season.
  • Jones finished with five catches for a season-high 123 yards (a 24.6-yard average). Jones has seven career 100-yard games and all of them have come on the road. In 11 career road games, Jones has 10 touchdown catches. He also has a touchdown catch in his last seven road games.
  • Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said he wanted to use last week’s bye to try to improve a run defense that wasn’t very good early in the season. Whatever he did worked. An Atlanta defender made contact with running back LeSean McCoy behind the line of scrimmage on five of his 16 rushes. The Falcons held the Eagles to 92 yards on the ground.
  • The Falcons became the first team to beat the Eagles after a bye since Andy Reid became the coach in 1999. Prior to Sunday, Reid’s teams were 13-0 coming off the bye.
  • Atlanta scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Since coach Mike Smith’s arrival in 2008, the Falcons have scored a league-high 200 points on opening possessions.
  • The Falcons continue to get second-year running back Jacquizz Rodgers more involved in the offense. Rodgers finished with 110 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 60 yards on eight carries, had 20 yards on five receptions and 30 yards on two kickoff returns.
  • Tight end Tony Gonzalez moved into ninth place on the all-time receiving yardage list. Gonzalez now has 13,797 yards. He passed Henry Ellard, who had 13,777 yards.
  • Defensive end Kroy Biermann had his best game of the season, making seven tackles (five solo) with one sack, one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
  • Defensive end John Abraham recorded his seventh sack of the season and the 119th sack of his career. Abraham is the league’s active leader in career sacks.

Who could be next for the Bucs?

January, 2, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. — Now that Raheem Morris is out as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, let’s start taking a look at some of the possible replacements.


[+] EnlargeTennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliJeff Fisher, who parted ways with the Titans in January 2011, has made no secret about his desire to return to the NFL as a head coach.
Jeff Fisher: Will likely be the first person the Bucs call because he’s the best coach available that has made it clear he wants to get back into coaching. Even if it’s just for show, the Bucs need to make the call to show fans they care. Fisher’s a long shot, though. He likely will have his pick of jobs and coming to a team that hasn’t been willing to spend in free agency doesn’t work as a selling point for the Bucs.

Bill Cowher: He’s made it sound like he plans to stay in television. Even if that changes, there’s almost no shot of Cowher coming to Tampa Bay. If he coaches, it likely will be in a major market and not with a team that needs major rebuilding.

Tony Dungy: He’s said he doesn’t want to coach again and he’s told that to several teams that have inquired. The Bucs might even be one of those teams. It might be fruitless, but I say the Bucs make a run at Dungy (even if they already have) and beg him to return to the franchise he once made respectable. He could do it again, better and quicker than anyone else. Throw all the money and power you have at Dungy and if getting him means co-chairman Ed Glazer has to wash Dungy’s car three times a week, get out the bucket and the sponges. But this almost certainly won’t happen.


Mike Sherman: When you fire a coach, you usually go hire the opposite. Sherman’s very different than Morris. He’s mature, he believes in discipline and he comes from an offensive background. He also won during much of his stint in Green Bay. Sherman’s name keeps popping up with this job, so don’t rule him out. There’s a good reason for that. Sherman has the same agent as general manager Mark Dominik, who is likely to have a big say in this story.

Mike Mularkey: The Atlanta offensive coordinator is going to interview for the Jacksonville job, but he could fit the profile for the Bucs. He’s done a nice job developing Matt Ryan and he has previous experience as a head coach in Buffalo. Mularkey’s got the resume to make people believe he can straighten out Josh Freeman. Plus, Mularkey started his coaching career with the Bucs under Sam Wyche.

Brian Billick: He once had a reputation as an offensive guru, but he won his Super Bowl in Baltimore with great defense. Billick’s also been out of the game for a bit. But he is a name and this franchise needs to sell tickets.


Rob Chudzinski: The Carolina offensive coordinator is a hot name after Cam Newton’s stunning rookie year. He’ll get some interviews, but may need one year as a coordinator before he gets a job as a head coach.

Todd Bowles: He finished the season as Miami’s interim head coach and will interview for the permanent job. But, if Bowles is available, I’ve been told he could get a look. He doesn’t have the offensive background. But he’s viewed as a rising star who is older and more mature than Morris.

Mike McCoy: Like Chudzinski, McCoy could be a year or two away from a job as a head coach. But he’s done a great job as Denver’s offensive coordinator. He also has the charisma to win over players and fans. Oh, he also shares the same agent as Dominik and Sherman.