Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The Falcons play and win and don’t look awful

  • 11:02 pm Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Matt Ryan completed six passes and called it a night. (David Goldman/AP)

So: Did the Atlanta Falcons look bigger? Tougher? Meaner? Are they ready to “rectify with a vengeance,” as general manager Thomas Dimitroff hopes? Is one exhibition victory over the Miami Dolphins cause to fire up the Super Bowl Express?


They looked OK. Not great, not awful. Just OK. They didn’t take a lead until the second half, and by then both starting quarterbacks were long gone, neither having played beyond the first quarter, neither having thrown an incompletion. The Dolphins took the opening kickoff and drove to a touchdown. The Falcons answered. That was it for both No. 1’s, and that [More]

On the bright side, the Braves get to face Strasburg

  • 8:57 am Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb. (AP photo)

If you’ve lost eight in a row to fall 4 1/2 games out of first place in your division and 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot and you’re about to begin a 10-game homestand over which you’ll meet three of the six division leaders … well, you take your positive signs where you can find them. Here are the only two I see:

1. The Atlanta Braves won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw next week.

2. They do get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight.

Of all the big-name pitchers the Braves see regularly in the National League East — that’s [More]

Pete Van Wieren: The Professor of baseball studies

  • 8:39 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The smart one, the nice one and the snarky one. (Marlene Karas/AJC)

Think of them as the three uncles. Ernie Johnson was the essence of avuncular, the nice man who’d shake your hand and ask how you were doing and make you feel welcome. Skip Caray was the sarcastic uncle, the one who’d make fun of your shirt. Pete Van Wieren was the clever uncle, the one who’d show you the ropes of coin collecting or how to use that telescope you’d gotten for Christmas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pete, whom Ernie Sr. famously dubbed the Professor and who died Saturday of cancer at age 69, and I’ve realized that little [More]

Silver lining: Nats aren’t exactly seizing the moment

  • 8:51 am Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Out at home: The Nats' Jayson Werth is thwarted. (Nick Wass/AP)

The Atlanta Braves have lost seven in a row, the latest coming on a night when they actually scored off Felix Hernandez, albeit on a broken-bat single, but were undone when Tommy La Stella dropped a pop-up. (At least he didn’t lose a grounder in the lights, as Chipper Jones managed to do against the Marlins in the Epic Collapse of 2011.)

The Braves remain three games behind Washington in the National League East. That’s not great, but it could and probably should be much worse. The Nats have lost eight of their past 13 games and six of the past [More]

Is UGA really the third-best job in college football?

  • 8:09 am Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"If we don't make a first down right now, I might slip to No. 4." (Jason Getz/AJC)

In a post for Fox Sports, Clay Travis of Outkick The Coverage has rated the 25 best coaching jobs in college football. He has Florida No. 1, Texas No. 2 and Georgia No. 3. Ohio State is No. 5, Alabama No. 6 and LSU No. 7.

Travis’ methodology: It’s better to be based in the South — “Increasingly, college football is a game played in the sunshine,” he avers — and most big-name recruits either hail from or want to move to the South. Which doesn’t explain why Florida State ranks No. 12, especially seeing as how Florida State graced [More]

The Braves are sinking not so slowly in the East

  • 8:06 am Monday, August 4th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Can't camouflage this: The Braves are in real trouble. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

The Atlanta Braves are 3 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and two games out of the second wild-card spot. Every game for the next three weeks will match them against a team that, as of today, is above .500. This comes after more than a calendar month in which the Braves didn’t play a opponent above .500.

Last week’s series in Los Angeles marked the Braves’ first against a winning team since June 20-22. As if on cue, the Braves got swept. Then they were swept in San Diego, which was terrible for much of [More]

Will the Braves hold on and make the playoffs?

  • 9:14 am Thursday, July 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Is the Braves' run about to halt? (AP photo)

In today’s AJC, I cast a rather cold eye on the Atlanta Braves and their playoff chances. I believe they’ll have to play better than they have — perhaps better than they’re capable — to qualify for the postseason. I say this even though they’re only a game behind Washington in the National League East and they’re leading the wild-card chase. (Actually, they’re tied with the Dodgers for the first WC, and they’re a game ahead of Pittsburgh and St. Louis for the second.)

I say this in large part because the pleasure cruise that has been the Braves’ midsummer schedule [More]

No vote of confidence: Tech picked fifth in Coastal

  • 8:15 am Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
One of these guys will win the Coastal. And Dabo and Jimbo aren't eligible. (Chuck Burton/AP)

If you’re Georgia Tech, the good news is that nobody knows how the ACC Coastal Division will play out. The less-good news is that you, Georgia Tech, were just picked to finish fifth in it.

And a pretty distant fifth at that. In voting by the assembled ACC media at the league’s press convocation in Greensboro, the Yellow Jackets finished three points ahead of Pittsburgh, which was sixth, and 148 points behind North Carolina, which was fourth. Tech drew the sixth-fewest first-place votes (one) in the seven-team division; even Pitt, for some unknown reason, commanded two first-place votes.


Another UGA arrest, another phone call for Richt

  • 9:46 am Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Mark Richt at SEC Media Days last week. (Butch Dill/AP)

Mark Richt was in a fine mood in Hoover, Ala., on Thursday. He told the media he liked what he has seen of his team. He’d just become a grandfather. He was wearing a bright red tie and smiling a lot, even by Richt’s affable standards.

He flew home to Athens and, twice in the past few days, was reminded that happiness, for a big-time college coach, can be a fleeting concept. A football recruit who visited Georgia over the weekend is being investigated for a dormitory burglary, and this morning comes word that Jonathan Taylor, a backup defensive [More]

Football Outsiders thinks Falcons will rebound!

  • 6:30 am Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A healthy Julio Jones could make a difference, don't you think? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Recent appraisals of the Atlanta Falcons haven’t been kind. Pro Football Focus rated theirs the 30th-best roster in the 32-team NFL. In its yearbook, Sporting News ranked them third in the four-team NFC South and 24th in the whole wide NFL. But today we offer glad tidings from an improbable source.

A year ago, Football Outsiders sounded the earliest alarm that the 2013 season wouldn’t be kind to the Falcons, rating their “mean projection” at an NFC South-worst 7.6 wins, which sounded mighty low for a team that had just gone 13-3. (As it turned out, even Football [More]

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