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By STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007
There was a little bit of a shakeup last week in Atlanta.
Coach Bobby Petrinoresigned Tuesday and immediately took over as coach at Arkansas. That left the Falcons an emotional wreck, with players feeling abandoned and betrayed.
How that plays out on the field today remains to be seen.
And how will the Falcons change? The biggest difference will undoubtedly be on offense. Petrino handled play-calling duties. Now that job falls to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, given the task by interim coach Emmitt Thomas. Although the scheme and quarterback (Chris Redman) won't change, there likely will be subtle differences that will be difficult for the Bucs to predict.
"It's not going to change completely, but there will be some different things that Hue likes to call," Redman told Atlanta reporters. "We're excited about it. Hue's a great coach, and we all believe in him, and we expect some big things this weekend."
The Bucs don't see it as a major issue.
"They're going to do some things that they would not have done had (Petrino) been calling the plays," coach Jon Gruden said. "That's the way it usually is. We'll have to respond to it. We're not going to do everything the same way we did it last time against them, either. So, I guess it will work both ways. But that's not something we've concerned ourselves with."
The Bucs won't be able to glean anything about Redman from watching the film of their meeting Nov. 18. In that game, Byron Leftwich got the start, giving way to Joey Harrington after committing three turnovers. Tampa Bay won 31-7. Redman has since taken over as the starter and has arguably been more impressive. He has thrown for 470 combined yards in starting the previous two games, including four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions - though the Falcons remain on a skid that has reached four games.
Defensively, the Falcons have talent at several positions. But they have fallen short in some respects. Despite having standout pass rusher John Abraham (seven sacks), the Falcons have not generated consistent heat on quarterbacks. Their 19 sacks are third fewest in the NFL.
The Falcons managed just one sack in the previous two games, so there is no mystery to explaining why they have given up 639 passing yards and six passing touchdowns in that span.
The Falcons can be susceptible to being gashed on the ground as well. In the first meeting between Tampa Bay and Atlanta, the Bucs rushed for 149 yards.
Bucs: FB B.J. Askew (ankle), LB Ryan Nece (groin), RB Michael Pittman (ankle) and DE Greg Spires (calf) are questionable. QB Jeff Garcia (back) and WR Ike Hilliard (back) are probable.
Falcons: G Tyson Clabo (ankle) and WR Roddy White (knee) are questionable. CB Antoine Harris (knee) is probable.
Keep in mind
Receiver Roddy White has 17 receptions of 20 yards or longer, more than some other premier wideouts such asRandy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Torry Holt. White ranks fourth in the NFC in receiving yards with 995, the highest ranking for a Falcons receiver since Tony Martin finished third in the conference in 1998. Of White's 65 receptions, 63.1 percent have resulted in first downs.
Bucs WR Joey Galloway vs.Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall
Hall has a tendency to be a show-off, and that got him into trouble his last game against the Bucs. He tried to jump in front of a Jeff Garcia pass to Galloway, whom Hall was matched against in one-on-one coverage. But Garcia offered only a pump fake, allowing Galloway to leave a flat-footed Hall waiting on a pass that never came. Garcia went over the top, and Galloway went deep for six points. Expect Hall to come in looking for the big play to atone for his misstep.
[Last modified December 15, 2007, 17:58:37]