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Atlanta Falcons

Posted by Craig Summers on November 18, 2010
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The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League. The AFL instead granted a franchise to Miami. In their 43 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 275–400–6 with division championships in 1980, 1998 and 2004. They have one Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXIII in 1998, losing to the Denver Broncos. Franchise history For more details on this topic, see History of the Atlanta Falcons. Once a stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was built, Atlantans felt the time was right to start pursuing Professional Football. One independent group which had been active in NFL exhibition promotions in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football League and the NFL, acting entirely on its own with no guarantee of stadium rights. Another group reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFL. With everyone running in different directions, some local businessmen worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city officials. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had been moving slowly in Atlanta matters, was spurred by the AFL interest and headed on the next plane down to Atlanta to block the rival league’s claim on the city of Atlanta. He forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues. On June 30 Rankin Smith and the NFL were the choice. The Atlanta Falcons franchise began on June 30, 1965 when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to Rankin Smith Sr. The expansion team was awarded the first pick in the 1966 NFL Draft as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The Falcons drafted All-American Linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas with the first pick of the draft, making him the first-ever Falcon. The league also held the 1966 NFL Expansion Draft six weeks later in which the Falcons selected unprotected players from existing franchises. The Falcons had their first season in 1966, and their first preseason game on August 1, 1966, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. They lost their first nine regular-season games and secured their first victory on the road against the New York Giants. The team finished the 1960s with only 12 wins. The Falcons had their first Monday Night Football game in Atlanta during the 1970 season. The 1971 season was their first with a winning record. In the 1978 season, the Falcons entered their first playoff series and won the Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles 14–13. The following week, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27–20 in the Divisional Playoffs. In 1980, after a nine game winning streak, the Falcons posted a franchise then-best record of 12–4 and captured their first NFC West division title. The next week, their dream season ended at home with a loss to the Cowboys 30–27 in the Divisional Playoffs. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Falcons made the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 30–24. Falcons coach Leeman Bennett was fired after the loss. In 1989, the Falcons drafted CB Deion Sanders in the first round who helped them for the next four years setting many records for the franchise. “Neon Deion” a.k.a. “Prime Time” had a flashy appeal and kept The Falcons in media circles which helped to establish a new young fan base for the 90’s. Sanders was also famous for playing on major league baseball teams NY Yankees and Atlanta Braves while simultaneously playing in the NFL. In 1991, the Falcons drafted Brett Favre as the thirty-third pick. But the Falcons season ended in a loss to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Playoffs. In 1992, the Atlanta Falcons opened a new chapter in their history moving into the newly constructed Georgia Dome. In 1998, under recently acquired head coach Dan Reeves, QB Chris Chandler and RB Jamal Anderson led the “Dirty Bird” Falcons to their greatest season to date. On November 8, they won 41-10 over the New England Patriots, ending a streak of 22 losses at cold-weather sites. The team finished with a 14–2 regular season record and the NFC West division championship. On January 18, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded 15–1 Vikings at Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, 30–27 in an epic overtime victory. However, in their first ever Super Bowl appearance, they were defeated 34–19, by the defending champion Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers, acquiring the first overall pick (which was used on quarterback Michael Vick) in exchange for wide receiver Tim Dwight and the fifth overall pick (used on running back LaDainian Tomlinson). Co-founder of Home Depot, Arthur Blank purchased the Falcons franchise on December 6, 2001. Michael Vick saw minimal game time in 2001, playing backup and learning the system under starting QB Chris Chandler. Vick named starter for the 2002 season, rushed for 173 yards in an overtime win at Minnesota, the highest single-game rushing total for an NFL quarterback ever. Setting many records and supplying the media with numerous highlights for the season, Vick and the Falcons led the Falcons to the playoffs. During their ensuing playoff run, the Falcons were the first team in history to claim a playoff win over the Green Bay Packers 27-7 in Lambeau Field. Their season ended with a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles 20-6 in the Divisional Playoffs. On March 19, 2003, the Falcons presented their new logo. “The new Atlanta Falcons logo is fresh, strong and dynamic, and yet appreciates the tradition and history of this franchise,” said Falcons owner and CEO Arthur Blank. “The new logo depicts a more powerful, aggressive Falcon – one of fast movement. It is also representative of the evolution and direction of our team.” During the 2003 preseason Michael Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. After losing 7 straight games the decision was made to release head coach Dan Reeves. Wade Phillips acted as interim coach for the final 3 games. The Falcons ended up with a dismal 5–11 record that year. New head coach Jim Mora was hired and Michael Vick returned for the full season in 2004, when the Falcons went 11–5. The Falcons won their 3rd Division Title and earn a 1st round bye into the playoffs. In the divisional playoffs, the Falcons defeat the St. Louis Rams 47-17 advancing to the NFC Championship, in which they lost to the Eagles 27-10. The Falcons fell short again to maintain back-to-back winning seasons in 2005, going 8–8. In 2006, the Falcons Michael Vick becomes the first quarterback in League history to rush for over 1,000 yards with 1,039. After finishing the season 7–9 coach Jim Mora was dismissed. In 2007, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involved with dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, Vick received a 23 month sentence and was cut from the Atlanta roster. In the beginning of the 2007 season, the Falcons were forced to put Joey Harrington as starting quarterback. On December 11, 13 games into his first NFL season as coach, Bobby Petrino resigned without notice, and ran away to coach at the University of Arkansas. Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas was named interim coach for the final three games of 2007 on December 12. On January 13, 2008, Atlanta Falcons named the former Patriot’s director of college football scouting Thomas Dimitroff General Manager. On January 23, 2008, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coach and former linebackers coach for the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Mike Smith was named the Falcons’ new head coach. On March 2, Michael Turner agreed to a 6-year deal worth $30 million. On April 26, Matt Ryan (Quarterback from Boston College) was drafted 3rd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games in his rookie season and was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. On December 21, 2008, Atlanta Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–17 to clinch a wild card spot, earning a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Falcons finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11–5. The Falcons would go on to lose in the wild-card round of the 2008 NFL playoffs to the eventual NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, 30–24. The Atlanta Falcons hold the record among all major American sports leagues for the longest streak of seasons without consecutive winning seasons, a streak that lasted from 1966-2008. Though they failed to make the playoffs, the streak ended in 2009 when the Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-10 in the final game of the season to improve their record to 9-7. When the team debuted in 1966, the Falcons wore red helmets with a black falcon crest logo. In the center of the helmet was a center black stripe surrounded by 2 gold stripes and 2 white stripes, These colors represented the two college rival schools in the state of Georgia; rival schools Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (White and Gold) and the Georgia Bulldogs (Red and Black) Although the gold was later taken out the White remains to this day. They wore white pants and either black or white jerseys. At first, the falcon crest logo was also put on the jersey sleeves, but it was replaced by a red and white stripe pattern four years later. They switched from black to red jerseys in 1971, and the club began to wear silver pants in 1978. A prototype white helmet was developed for the team prior to the 1974 season, but never worn. In 1990, the uniform design changed to black helmets, silver pants, and either black or white jerseys. The numbers on the white jerseys were black, but were changed to red in 1997. (The red numerals could be seen on the away jerseys briefly in 1990.) Both the logo and uniforms changed in 2003. The logo was redesigned with red and silver accents to depict a more powerful, aggressive falcon, which now more closely resembles the capital letter F. Although the Falcons still wore black helmets, the new uniforms featured jerseys and pants with red trim down the sides. The uniform design consisted of either black or white jerseys, and either black or white pants. During that same year, a red alternate jersey with black trim was also introduced. The Falcons also started wearing black cleats with these uniforms. In 2004, the red jerseys became the primary jerseys, and the black ones became the alternate, primarily wearing white pants with the white jerseys and white pants with the red jerseys. The Falcons also in select road games wear black pants with white jerseys. In the past three seasons, the Falcons wore an all-black combination for home games against their archrivals, the New Orleans Saints, winning the first two contests (24–21 in 2004 and 36–17 in 2005), but losing 31–13 in 2006. They wore the combination again in 2006, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. The Falcons won that game as well, 14–3. The Falcons wore the all black combination against the New Orleans Saints for 4 straight seasons starting in 2004. With the last time being in 2007, losing 34-14. The Falcons also wore their all black uniform in 2007 against the New York Giants, and in 2008 against the Carolina Panthers along with another game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for the second time). In the 1980s, the Falcons wore their white uniforms at home most of the time due to the heat. When the Falcons started playing in the dome, the team switched to their dark uniforms. The Falcons have worn their white uniforms at home a few times since 2000 after switching to the dome. It was announced at the 2009 state of the franchise meeting that the Falcons would wear 1966 throwback uniforms for a couple games during the 2009 season. The Atlanta Falcons wore 1966 throwback jerseys for 2 home games in 2009 – against the Carolina Panthers on September 20 and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29. Both of those game the Falcons won. They are expected to wear the throwbacks again for at least 2 games in 2010. Statistics Team? W? L? T? Percent? Last result? Last date? Last locale? Postseason? San Diego Chargers 7 1 0 .875 W 22-16 Nov 30, 2008 San Diego New York Jets 6 4 0 .600 W 10-7 Dec 20, 2009 East Rutherford Buffalo Bills 6 4 0 .600 W 31-3 Dec 27, 2009 Atlanta Carolina Panthers 18 12 0 .600 L 28-19 Nov 15, 2009 Charlotte New Orleans Saints 46 37 0 .554 W 27-24 Sep 26, 2010 New Orleans, LA 1-0 postseason Chicago Bears 12 12 0 .500 W 21-14 Oct 18, 2009 Atlanta New York Giants 10 10 0 .500 L 34-31 Nov 22, 2009 New York Houston Texans 1 1 0 .500 W 26-16 Sep 30, 2007 Atlanta Green Bay Packers 12 13 0 .480 W 27-24 Oct 5, 2008 Green Bay 1-1 postseason New England Patriots 6 6 0 .500 L 10-26 Sep 27, 2009 Foxborough, MA Baltimore Ravens 2 2 0 .500 W 26-21 Nov 11, 2010 Atlanta Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 18 0 .471 W 27-21 Nov 7, 2010 Atlanta St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals 11 15 0 .423 W 41-7 SEP 19, 2010 Atlanta 0-1 postseason Philadelphia Eagles 11 16 1 .411 L 34-7 Dec 6, 2009 Atlanta, GA 1-2 postseason Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 5 7 0 .417 L 20-13 Oct 7, 2007 Nashville Cincinnati Bengals 5 7 0 .417 W 39-32 Oct 24, 2010 Atlanta, Georgia San Francisco 49ers 30 44 1 .399 W 16-14 Oct 3, 2010 Atlanta, GA 1-0 postseason Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders 5 7 0 .417 W 24-0 Nov 2, 2008 Oakland Minnesota Vikings 10 16 0 .385 W 24-17 Dec 21, 2008 Minneapolis 1-1 postseason Dallas Cowboys 8 16 0 .333 L 37-21 Oct 25, 2009 Dallas 0-2 postseason Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams 26 47 2 .360 W 31-27 Dec 28, 2008 Atlanta 1-0 postseason Denver Broncos 4 9 0 .444 L 24-20 Nov 16, 2008 Atlanta 0-1 postseason Miami Dolphins 4 7 0 .364 W 19-7 Sep 13, 2009 Atlanta Detroit Lions 10 23 0 .303 W 34-21 Sep 7, 2008 Atlanta Seattle Seahawks 3 8 0 .273 W 44-41 Dec 30, 2007 Atlanta Jacksonville Jaguars 1 3 0 .250 L 13-7 Sep 16, 2007 Jacksonville Washington Redskins 6 15 1 .295 W 31-17 Nov 8, 2009 Atlanta 0-1 postseason Cleveland Browns 3 10 0 .231 W 20-10 Oct 10, 2010 Cleveland Kansas City Chiefs 2 5 0 .286 W 38-14 Sep 21, 2008 Atlanta Pittsburgh Steelers 2 12 1 .167 L 15-9 (OT) Sep 12, 2010 Pittsburgh Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts 1 13 0 .071 L 31-13 Nov 22, 2007 Atlanta Total 286 400 6 .420 6-9 (.400) Single Game Records Rushing: Michael Turner, 220 9/7/2008 Passing: Chris Chandler, 431 12/23/2001 Passing Touchdowns: Wade Wilson, 5 12/13/92 Receptions: William Andrews, 15 11/15/1981 Receiving Yards:Roddy White, 210 10/11/09 Interceptions:Many times 2 Last by Brent Grimes, 12/20/2009 Field Goals:Norm Johnson, 6 11/13/1994 Total Touchdowns’: T.J. Duckett, 4 12/12/2004 & Michael Turner 4, 11/23/08 Points Scored:.T.J. Duckett,24 12-12-04 24 & Michael Turner 24 11/23/2008 Sacks: Chuck Smith, 5 10/12/97 Single Season Records Passing Completions: 336 Jeff George (1995) Passing Yards: 4,143 Jeff George (1995) Passing Touchdowns: 31 Steve Bartkowski (1980) Passing Interceptions: 25 Bobby Hebert (1996) Passing Rating: 110.2 Wade Wilson (1992) Rushing Attempts: 410 Jamal Anderson (1998) Rushing Yards: 1,846 Jamal Anderson (1998) Rushing Touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008) Receiving Catches: 111 Terance Mathis (1994) Receiving Yards: 1,382 Roddy White (2008) Receiving Touchdowns: 15 Andre Rison (1993) Quarterback Sacks: 16.5 John Abraham (2008) Pass Interceptions: 10 Scott Case (1988) Field Goal Attempts: 40 Jay Feely (2002) Field Goals Made: 32 Jay Feely (2002) Points: 138 Jay Feely (2002) Total Touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008) Career records Passing Attempts: 3,329 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85) Passing Completions: 1,870 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85) Passing Yards: 23,468 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85) Passing Touchdowns: 154 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85) Passing Interceptions: 141 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85) Passing Rating: 87.4 Chris Chandler (1997–2001) Rushing Attempts: 1,587 Gerald Riggs (1982–88) Rushing Yards: 6,631 Gerald Riggs (1982–88) Rushing Yards by a QB: 3,859 Michael Vick (2001–2006)[10] Rushing Touchdowns: 48 Gerald Riggs (1982–88) Receiving Catches: 573 Terance Mathis (1994–2001) Receiving Yards: 7,349 Terance Mathis (1994–2001) Receiving Touchdowns: 57 Terance Mathis (1994–2001) Quarterback Sacks: 94.5 Claude Humphrey (1968–78) Pass Interceptions: 39 Rolland Lawrence (1973–81) Field Goal Attempts: 164 Mick Luckhurst (1981–87) Field Goals Made: 139 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007) Points: 620 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007) Total Touchdowns: 57 Terance Mathis (1994–2001) Pass Interception Return Yards: Pass Interception Returned for Tocuhdowns: Punt Return Yards: Kickoff Return Yards: Longest Punt: Players of note Pro Football Hall of Famers No one has yet been inducted based substantially on their service with the Falcons; however, two inductees played briefly for the Falcons late in their careers: 29 Eric Dickerson, RB, played for team in 1993 25 Tommy McDonald, WR, played for team in 1967 Retired numbers 10 Steve Bartkowski, QB, 1975–1985 21 Deion Sanders, CB, 1989-1993 31 William Andrews, RB, 1979–1983, 1986 (short-lived comeback after knee injury) 57 Jeff Van Note, C, 1969–1986 58 Jessie Tuggle, LB, 1987–2000 60 Tommy Nobis, LB, 1966–1976 78 Mike Kenn, T, 1978–1994 87 Claude Humphrey, DE, 1968–1978 Georgia Sports Hall of Fame 60 Tommy Nobis, LB, 1966–1976 87 Claude Humphrey, DE, 1968–1978 57 Jeff Van Note, C, 1969–1986 Marion Campbell, Head Coach, 1974–1976, 1987-1989 (also former University of Georgia player) 84 Alfred Jenkins, WR, 1975–1983 31 William Andrews, RB, 1979–1983, 1986 Dan Reeves, Head Coach, 1997-2003 (also Georgia native) Coach Years Record Notes Norb Hecker 1966–1968 4-26-1 (.129) Fired after three games in 1968. Norm Van Brocklin 1968–1974 39-48-3 (.433) Fired after eight games in 1974. Marion Campbell 1974–1976 6-19 (.240) Fired after five games in 1976. Pat Peppler 1976 3-6 (.333) Interim head coach. Leeman Bennett 1977–1982 46-41 (.529) Dan Henning 1983–1986 22-41-1 (.344) Marion Campbell 1987–1989 11-36 (.234) Retired after 12 games in 1989. Jim Hanifan 1989 0-4 (.000) Interim head coach. Jerry Glanville 1990–1993 27-37 (.422) June Jones 1994–1996 19-29 (.396) Dan Reeves 1997–2003 49-59-1 (.450) Asked to be released after 13 games in 2003. Rich Brooks 1998 2-0 (1.000) Interim head coach while Reeves recovered from heart surgery. Wade Phillips 2003 2-1 (.667) Interim head coach. Jim Mora 2004–2006 26-22 (.542) Bobby Petrino 2007 3-10 (.231) Quit after 13 games to take over Arkansas Razorbacks Emmitt Thomas 2007 1-2 (.333) Interim head coach. Mike Smith 2008–Present 23-13 (.625) Atlanta Falcons staff v • d • e Front Office Owner/CEO – Arthur Blank President – Rich McKay General Manager – Thomas Dimitroff Director of Football Administration – Nick Polk Director of Player Personnel – Les Snead Assistant Director of Player Personnel – Lionel Vital Director of College Scouting – Dave Caldwell Head Coaches Head Coach – Mike Smith Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks – Bill Musgrave Offensive Coaches Offensive Coordinator – Mike Mularkey Running Backs – Gerald Brown Wide Receivers – Terry Robiskie Tight Ends – Chris Scelfo Offensive Line – Paul Boudreau Assistant Offensive Line – Paul Dunn Offensive Assistant – Glenn Thomas Defensive Coaches Defensive Coordinator – Brian VanGorder Defensive Line – Ray Hamilton Linebackers – Glenn Pires Secondary – Tim Lewis Defensive Backs – Alvin Reynolds Defensive Assistant – Mark Collins Special Teams Coaches Special Teams Coordinator – Keith Armstrong Assistant Special Teams – Eric Sutulovich Strength and Conditioning Director of Athletic Performance – Jeff Fish Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Bill Hughan Strength and Conditioning Assistant – Jonas Beauchemin ? Coaching Staff ? Management ? More NFL staffs Radio and television As of 2006, the Falcons’ radio flagship station is WZGC, an adult hits format station known as “Dave FM.” Wes Durham, voice of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and son of longtime North Carolina Tar Heels voice Woody Durham, is the Falcons’ play-by-play announcer. Preseason games not shown nationally television (except NBC-aired games) are seen on NBC affiliate WXIA, also known as “11 Alive.” In 2008, preseason games aired on WATL-TV due to WXIA’s commitment to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Both stations are owned by Gannett Company. Fox affiliate WAGA-TV aired most preseason games through the 2004 season. WAGA continues to have a relationship with the Falcons as their primary broadcaster of regular season games (serving in this capacity since the Falcons started play), which dates back to when WAGA was a CBS affiliate and the NFL/NFC games were on CBS. WATL aired most Falcons games in 1994, as WAGA did not switch to Fox until December 1994.