TWO QUICK THINGS
1. CLANCY PENDERGAST: We’re checking out this Clancy Pendergast to the ATL note. I know when the Falcons played Arizona in the playoffs last year, Coach Mike Smith had nothing but kind words to say about Pendergast and defense.
Don’t know what happened in Kansas City other than Scott Pioli is trying to put the New England band back together.
2. FALCONS ARE TV DARLINGS: For the second consecutive year the Falcons have seen a significant rise in TV ratings, according to Nielsen TV ratings provided by the NFL Broadcasting Department.
Falcons game TV ratings have increased 57 percent since 2007, the largest increase among any other NFL team. Atlanta is also up seven percent in ratings from last year’s 11-5 campaign.
In 2009, Falcons games were viewed by an average of 498,000 homes each week while Atlanta ’s Sunday Night contest against Chicago at the Georgia Dome reached the highest audience for the team in a single regular season week (642,000 homes).
FALCONS LANDING — Free Safety Thomas DeCoud was a surprise pick as the team’s defensive most valuable
player by head coach Mike Smith on Monday.
The battle for the starting strong safety position never materialized when second round pick William Moore struggled with his health.
Secondary coach Alvin Reynolds had to make a decision.
He elected to move last season’s free safety, Erik Coleman, over to Lawyer Milloy’s old strong safety. That created the opening for DeCoud, a third round pick in the 2008 draft from California.
DeCoud entered the final game with 108 tackles, according to the coaches’ film breakdown. He had two sacks, three interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble.
He impressed with his striking ability. It was his hit that ended Clinton Portis‘ season.
DeCoud was also strong in coverage. His range allowed him to provide help over the top of the zones.
The Falcons don’t really like the old free and strong safety classifications. They like to have the hybrid safeties with range and hitting ability.
The question on DeCoud was if he had the hitting ability. He showed his speed and range on special teams as rookie.
When he started pummeling folks in the run game and stopping receivers in their tracks after the catch, you thought he was a keeper.
Now, he’s the coaches’ MVP.
HOFer EMMITT THOMAS’ CONTRACT NOT RENEWED: 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 coach Mike Smith said Tuesday night. “We wish Emmitt the best in his future endeavors.”
Thomas, who served as the assistant head coach/secondary for the past two seasons under Smith, was an assistant under the team’s past four head coaches.
Thomas first joined the Falcons in 2002 under Dan Reeves.
He was responsible for keeping the team together when Bobby Petrino left during the 2007 season and was selected to serve has the interim head coach.
Last season, the defense finished 28th in the league against the pass.
When Smith was named the head coach, one 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 made the Kansas City Chiefs out of tiny Bishop College and went to a stellar career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August of 2008.
Q & A EXTRA: Here’s a bonus question from the interviews the AJC conducted with owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and and Smith earlier in the week. (THE BIGGEST NEWS FROM THE Q&A’s WAS THAT THE OWNERS AND THE NFLPA ARE MEETING ONCE A WEEK IN AN ATTEMPT TO SETTLE THEIR LABOR DIFFERENCES, according to Blank.)
How active will the Falcons be in free agency?
Blank: “That will depend in part on whether or not the year is uncapped or capped because obviously the number of players that are free agents would become restricted free agents. So, we’d have to see how that plays out.”
Dimitroff: “We are very, very active in our evaluations of the free agents at this point. We’ve done a lot of work and we’ll continue to compare a lot of the free agents out there at positions of need. Again, we are waiting patiently to find out what will come to fruition on March 5 (start of free agency).”
Smith: “We are going to always try to better our team. Of course at the core, Thomas and I believe that you build through the draft and you supplement through free agency. If this is an uncapped season, the landscape of free agency will be much different than years before.”
DIMITROFF ON THE POTENTIAL OF AN UNCAPPED YEAR: “We are not going to be driven by the uncapped year. We will be very mindful of it. . . I know that we will be very fiscally responsible here.”
BLANK ON CONTINUITY OF THE COACHING STAFF: (He answered this before Thomas’ contract was not renewed.) “I think if you look at the great teams in the NFL, one of the things that’s pretty consistent is their positions at the top of their organizations. The general manager, the personnel departments, their head coach, their
coordinators and their position coaches. They tend to stay together. So we are going to do whatever we can to make sure that this organization has that kind of stability.”
MORE ON KLECKO: Defensive lineman Dan Klecko was signed to a reserve/future contract.
Klecko, 5-11, 275 pounds, was selected by New England in the fourth round (117th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft.
He has also been used as fullback. He’s played in 63 career games with six starts. He’s recorded five sacks for 33 yards, one fumble recovery, two rushes for five yards and 10 receptions for 56 yards with one touchdown.
Yes, he is the son of former New York Jets’ Sack Exchange member Joe Klecko.