Longtime Falcons assistant coach Emmitt Thomas‘ contract was not renewed by the team.
“Everyone here in the Falcons organization has the utmost respect for Emmitt and we deeply appreciate his contributions to our team over the years,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said on Tuesday night. “We wish Emmitt the best in his future endeavors.”
Thomas, who served as the assistant head coach/secondary for the last two seasons under Smith, had served as an assistant under the last four coaches.
Thomas first joined the Falcons in 2002 under former head coach Dan Reeves.
He was responsible for keeping the team together when Bobby Petrino left during the 2007 season. He was selected to serve as the interim head coach.
Last season, the defense finished 28th in the league against the pass.
When Smith was named the head coach, one of his first decisions was to retain Thomas and promote him to assistant head coach/secondary.
Last season was Thomas’ 42nd in the league. He played for 13 years and has coached for 29 seasons.
Thomas was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August of 2008.
FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff gave their state of the team addresses on Monday.
Both were asked by WSB Channel 2’s Zach Klein to name their MVPs for the season.
Both picked tight end Tony Gonzalez as their offensive MVP. Dimitroff elected to award him a “game ball.”
Smith picked second-year safety Thomas DeCoud and defensive most valuable player. Dimitroff picked second-year middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.
Smith noted that offseason weight training program will start on March 24. The organized team activities will start on April 1 followed by the mini-camp in the second week of May.
ROSTER MOVE: Defensive lineman Dan Klecko, son of former New York Jets’ great Joe Klecko, was signed to a reserve/future contract by the Falcons on Monday.
Klecko was selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. He’s played with New England and Indianapolis. While he’s played some fullback, the Falcons consider him a defensive lineman.
BASEMENT WRITING CAVE — It will be interesting when Falcons owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith speak to the media today around 3 p.m.
Coach Smith will do his season-in-review and provide offseason medical updates for the 13 players on injured reserve and practice squad – injured.
Dimitroff is set to lay out the Falcons offseason personnel retention and acquisition framework. This will be quirky considering the league’s labor situation.
Mr. Blank will give his state of the union address from the ownership perspective.
So, while we are waiting for updates from Flowery Branch, let’s look back on my Five Highlights from last season. Feel free to add your own. Posting back-to-back winning seasons is the overall theme for the season, not a singular highlight.
5. Defensive end John Abraham tossing Miami’s Jake Long to the turf. After the way he man-handled Long, you just thought Abraham was in for another big monster season.
4. The run defense down the stretch. The run defense held the Bills to 40 yards rushing and then held the Buccaneers to 38 in the season finale. The run defense finished ranked 10th in the league.
3. Michael Turner’s 158-yard rushing game against Washington. He had a 58-yard touchdown run and you sensed at 5-3, he was ready to power the Falcons back to the playoffs in the second half of the season. He would suffer a high right ankle sprain the following week against Carolina.
2. Roddy White’s 210 yards receiving against San Francisco. He was going against Nate Clements, the $80 million man. He scored on touchdowns of 31 and 90 yards. “Roddy had a huge game out in San Francisco,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “One of the things that sticks out from that game for me was the 90-yard touchdown that he had. He made a great catch against press coverage. It was really unbelievable. That was fun to see him out there really dominating a game.”
1. The touchdown drive against the New York Jets. Ryan, playing in his first game back after suffering his turf toe injury, drove the Falcons 73 yards in 11 plays for the game-winning touchdown, a 6-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez. It was the team’s only victory over a team with a winning record. “That was a great drive for us,” Ryan said. “That was a great win for us up there.”