Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

London calling: I’m here for the Other Football

  • 12:58 pm Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Funnily enough, there's no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

London — Flew overnight into Heathrow. Took the train to Paddington Station. Took a cab to the hotel, not wanting to drag three bags through these narrow streets. Lucked into a cab driver who liked football (their kind) and gave me a detailed report on Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Only then did I feel I was in England.

There’d been hints. We took the lift to the Heathrow Express, not the elevator. We were advised on exiting at Paddington to “mind the gap,” meaning don’t fall through the space between the train and the platform. My driver [More]

It’s going so badly the Falcons have fled the country

  • 8:23 am Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

After a month like this, you’d think about fleeing the country, too. The Atlanta Falcons have lost four consecutive games by the aggregate score of 127-68. (Not-so-fun fact: The Falcons beat Tampa Bay 56-14 in September and have still been outscored by opponents by 28 points on the season.) They’re 2-5. Not one of their losses has been by single digits.

We started off thinking (for good reason) that their defense was lousy. Now their offense is, too. They’ve scored 40 points and four touchdowns in three games. The lowest three-game output for the 2013 Falcons — who finished 4-12, you’ll [More]

If Matty Ice isn’t on fire, the Falcons are doomed

  • 6:47 pm Sunday, October 5th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Antone Smith makes another play. (Bill Kostroun/AP photo)

East Rutherford, N.J.

These short takes off the Falcons-Giants game are presented as a companion to the game column, which can be found here. The Falcons lost 30-20, in case you haven’t heard.

1. The Atlanta Falcons cannot win if Matt Ryan is only pretty good. For a while, this seemed another those vintage Matty Ice games in a season that has already yielded two (the overtime victory over New Orleans and the blowout of Tampa Bay). He completed 17 of his first 21 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He would complete 12 of his final 24 for 150 [More]

Live from Jersey: A Giant step for the Falcons?

  • 12:13 pm Sunday, October 5th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
When you're walking around it carrying two bags, it does feel like a giant stadium. (M. Bradley)

East Rutherford, N.J. – The glamorous life of the sports correspondent. Left Sanford Stadium last night at 9:10 p.m. Pulled in the garage at the ol’ homestead at 11 p.m. Left the same garage at 6:35 a.m. Landed in Newark at 10:48. Walked into the press box at 11:48 after a brisk stroll around the periphery of MetLife Stadium. (My cab driver wasn’t allowed to get close to the designated media gate.)

But enough about me. This is a fairly significant game for the evolving Falcons, which sounds nicer that saying “the depleted Falcons.” They’re down three offensive linemen, as you [More]

Bucs stomped here: The Falcons romp 56-14

  • 11:47 pm Thursday, September 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A record dash: Devin Hester does the Deion. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Buccaneers print column, which can be found here.

1. This offense is really something, and we don’t mean Tampa Bay’s. After a blah performance at Cincinnati, the Atlanta Falcons needed 177 seconds to score a touchdown. By halftime they would lead 35-0. After three quarters it was 56-0. Through those three quarters, the Falcons had outgained the visitors 457 yards to 151 and had mustered 24 first downs to the Bucs’ six. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Hester scored on a reverse and [More]

Falcons’ Smith is NFL’s 18th-best coach, per ESPN

  • 8:42 am Thursday, August 28th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I might be No. 18, Pete, but I'm 1-0 against you in the playoffs." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I’m not a major fan of everything ESPN does — I’m not sure the Worldwide Leader itself is a major fan of everything it does — but I do enjoy those features where anonymous coaches/executives share their thoughts. Regarding college football, Travis Haney does these on a regular basis for ESPN Insider; regarding the NFL, they’re the province of Mike Sando.

In July, Sando polled his nameless electorate and found that Matt Ryan was considered the NFL’s eighth-best quarterback. (That sounded a tad low to me, especially considering there was a four-way tie for eighth, but what do I [More]

From SI: Petrino and Grantham aren’t getting along

  • 10:18 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"All these guys? They hate me already." (Garry Jones/AP)

Well, that didn’t take long. According to an report by Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, the odd Louisville couple that is Bobby Petrino (once the Falcons’ coach) and Todd Grantham (recently Georgia’s defensive coordinator) has already had a falling out. Who among us didn’t see this one coming?

Write Thamel/Evans:

Sources with ties to the Cardinals’ football program and Petrino said there’s significant friction between Petrino and Grantham. The two have feuded often since Grantham’s hiring in January — so much that one source insists Petrino would have already gotten rid of Grantham if not for his guaranteed five-year contract [More]

Draft Day arrives: What should the Falcons do?

  • 7:45 am Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Time for a Big (Khalil) Mack Attack? (Mike Groll/AP)

Moving the NFL draft to May means that the hype, which was already oppressive, is now unbearable. Which is why the draft’s deferred arrival brings as much relief as anticipation.

By now, everything has already been said, and not just once but a dozen times. This post is meant to serve as a final fling before Chris Berman (ugh!) starts blathering. In your educated view, what should the Atlanta Falcons do?

The polls are open. Please avail yourselves.

From It’s not the Falcons’ biggest draft ever, but it’s big.

Also from 10 reasons the Falcons need Jadeveon Clowney.

Further reading: [More]

Johnny Manziel: Great college player, bad NFL risk

  • 10:19 am Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
This became the greatest moment of Manziel's greatest night. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Stepping back from the Atlanta Falcons and/or Jadeveon Clowney for a moment, we turn our attention toward Johnny Manziel, whom Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing believes ESPN is determined to make into the new Tim Tebow as a driver of 24-news cycles. And there are, I’ll concede, similarities. Both played in the SEC. Both won Heisman trophies early in their college careers. (Tebow as a sophomore, Manziel as a redshirt freshman.) Neither plays — or played — the way a classic pro quarterback plays.

I saw both as collegians at their absolute collegiate best. (Tebow against Alabama in the 2008 [More]

If the Falcons move to a 3-4, would Clowney fit?

  • 1:08 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Tyson Jackson plays the run. It's what he does. (AP photo)

The free-agent signings of defensive end Tyson Jackson, who’s better at stopping the run than rushing the passer, and tackle Paul Soliai, who can play as a nose man, have heightened the already-burning speculation that the Atlanta Falcons are moving from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4. The Falcons keep trying to act as if such a shift would be no big deal, but it would. It would be an admission that coach Mike Smith, who oversaw the 4-3 when he was a defensive coordinator, has come to believe there’s a better way than his way.

It could also be a [More]