Clancy Pendergast headed our way?; TV ratings up

UPDATE

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

Safety Thomas DeCoud laid a big hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Monday Night Football on Nov. 2. The hit led to a Falcons touchdown.

Safety Thomas DeCoud laid a big hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Monday Night Football on Nov. 2. The hit led to a touchdown.

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.)

Sam Crenshaw and DOL on Sports Extra, Jan. 10, 2010.

Sam Crenshaw and DOL on Sports Extra, Jan. 10, 2010.

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.”

A few other items. . .

Nice bow-tie!!!

Nice bow-tie!!!


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

Mark Gastinaeu, Joe Klecko (73), Marty Lyons, and Abdul Salaam New York Jets. Klecko and Gastineau who lead the NFL in sacks with 20.5, and 20 respectfully led the Sack Exchange in 1981.

Mark Gastinaeu, Joe Klecko (73), Marty Lyons, and Abdul Salaam New York Jets. Klecko and Gastineau who lead the NFL in sacks with 20.5, and 20 respectfully led the Sack Exchange in 1981.

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.

75 comments Add your comment

The Real Falcon

January 13th, 2010
9:05 am

A bit of a surprise but he did cover for more than a few mistakes in coverage by Coleman.

The Real Falcon

January 13th, 2010
9:06 am

Sorry to see Emmitt go but it was time. Don’t get me started about Klecko!

kelscruggs

January 13th, 2010
9:20 am

anytime your listed height is under 6′ you can subtract 2 or 3 inches. 5′11″ = 5′8″.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 13th, 2010
9:21 am

Which Klecko. Little Klecko or Sack Exchange Klecko?

mountain_jim

January 13th, 2010
9:23 am

I expected Emmitt’s demise – glad to see the staff knows DB technique needs improvement. Houston never learned to turn around for the ball.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
9:23 am

Can we please get something that resembles an actual cover cornerback!!! Emmitt was a great coach, but the secondary obviously wasn’t getting it done, so it has been more than time to move on.

welikebaseball2

January 13th, 2010
9:26 am

Great article D. Orlando. Yeah, I’d say DeCoud was much more of a strength than a weak link in the secondary. Seemed like Coleman didn’t played that bad either, especially in terms of run support. However…we were still horrible against the pass. Would you say the poor pass defense lies more on the cornerbacks than secondary as a whole? Of course, the lack of a pass rush didn’t help. I’m talking strictly secondary though.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
9:26 am

What do you think about grabbing CJ Spiller in the draft with our first round pick?

The guy would make an immediate impact on special teams and provide a reliable back up to Michael Turner rather than the oft injured Norwood. The secondary is our most glaring needs, but we would be reaching to grab a corner back with our first pick with Haden already off the board.

Just a thought…

vafalconfan

January 13th, 2010
9:26 am

Emmit was a class act and will be missed. However the secondary seemed unprepared at times last season and I think bringing in “new eyes” to evaluate and coach this group will help tremendously.

colorado bulldog

January 13th, 2010
9:29 am

Mark down the 2008 draft already as the best Falcons’ draft ever. (Ok not saying much). But we got starters at QB, LT, MLB, and FS. (And if Baker could stay healthy, we could say they all have been excellent.) Plus Dimtroff got solid players in a Nickel DB (Jackson), 3rd WR (Douglas), and Pass rusher (Biermann). Who gets that much from a draft! The 2009 Draft jury is still out since the two top picks were hurt most of last season. But if we get anywhere close to 2008 in the years to come… look out.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

January 13th, 2010
9:35 am

DOL…wrong color on the bowtie. How about something royal?

Maybe it was time for Thomas to move on? We DO need young energy around our young guys.

As for DeCoud…I called this early in the preseason DOL. The original plan was to transition Coleman OUT and move to a DeCoud/Moore duo, with either playing either postion. This was the year to let all young defensive players get RIGHT. I like Coleman, but he is shaky in pass coverage. Does not make plays on the ball, and gets turned around when he has to make open field tackles down the field. Don’t get me wrong…he has been MORE than serviceable, but he does not mesh with the development of a SHUTDOWN defense that stops the run AND the pass. Like…what does he give you that Lawyer did not? Same player if you ask me. BTW, what is the status on Moore? Is he healthy? What are the coaches saying about him at this point?

Whatever the case, congrats to DeCoud on a heck of a year. His pick down in the red zone of the CHI game was a REAL interception (he actually jumped a route out in space given his read of all WR routes around him). We have a hammer at middle LB, and FS…now we need a whopping stick at NT to be strong right down the middle. See Ravens this weekend for an example.

retired on the lake

January 13th, 2010
9:49 am

Emmitt congrats on a stellar career. Now enjoy some time off you earned it.

midnite

January 13th, 2010
9:56 am

Too bad about Emmitt Thomas not getting renewed. Unfortunately there is no room for sentiment in pro sports today. Good luck to a class guy that greatly achieved in his NFL career as both player and coach.

Mave2124

January 13th, 2010
9:59 am

D-Led….why was ET let go…is he going to retire? Do they want a younger assistant for the secondary with Alvin Reynolds??? Is Bill Musgrave interviewing with the Bills as Pro Football Talk noted?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 13th, 2010
10:03 am

Was kind of hard for me on Emmitt. He was great to me and Steve Wyche on the beat. Also, I had him for one year in Green Bay when he was Ray Rhodes’ DC. Ron Wolf deep-sixed the entire staff hours after the final game and just one season.

FDB: I’ve got some royal in the closet, for sure!!! Interesting take on Coleman. Think he has more speed in coverage than Milloy at this point. They were going nuts about Moore before the injuries. But they just need to see him healthy for an extended period of time. Coach Smith said everyone was expected back from their injuries. (Was a little light on the details and I didn’t want to hi-jack the press conference by asking him to go down the list of 13 IR players, one by one. We do need a better medical update on everyone.)

DRAFT: RIGHT NOW — haven’t dived all the way into draft mode — I like FSU’s Patrick Robinson at 19/20. Spiller would be good, too. But you can “find” a good backup RB later in the draft.

Ricky

January 13th, 2010
10:10 am

Emmit, thanks for all your contributions with the Falcons. Best of Luck in all endeavors!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 13th, 2010
10:13 am

Mave2124: ON ET – The defense was ranked 28th vs. pass. Young corners are developing too slowly, Houston and Grimes in particularly. Don’t know if they want a younger assistant or not.

Haven’t seen the PFT report. As of late yesterday, no team had asked for permission to talk to Bill Musgrave. He’s under contract for next season with the Falcons. This was as of 1:48 p.m. yesterday. Will check again. Had a call about Chicago waiting to talk to him too. Word is Leslie Frazier is headed to Buffalo.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
10:13 am

Patrick Robinson would be the next bext available CB and probably would be solid, but most think that would be a reach at 19/20, as he’s graded a 2nd round talent.

CJ Spiller just came to mind after all the injuries this year to the running backs and seeing Eric Weems run directly into oncoming tacklers on every return…

boiler up

January 13th, 2010
10:16 am

Draft a Boilermaker.. Dt Ryan Kerrigan.. and Please get a defensive back that is a playmaker without the show boat D-Hall package that comes with him.

boiler up

January 13th, 2010
10:17 am

Enter your comments here

Kaye

January 13th, 2010
10:23 am

DOL: Do you think Houston will be back if we go corner or even B. Williams?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 13th, 2010
10:25 am

Nickz: THAT’S FUNNY! I thought that too. Also, thought Norwood ran into the ground with head down at times.

BOILER UP
: Guess and your Big Ten friends are happy about a decent bowl showing!!!

KAYE: I believe Houston is under contract for another year. Hill is a UFA, but I think you bring him back. Neither has shown “lock down” capacity. They added a rookie to the mix.

McNasty

January 13th, 2010
11:07 am

OK so one of my ideas on the coaching staff came to fruition. We still need to have game plans on both sides of the ball that are superior, or at least comparable to the elite first tier teams. Our last three wins were against third tier teams (NY Jets borderline 2nd.)where we played poorly in the first half. It seems that everyone knows our tendencies but us. It is not always a personnel handicap because the NY Jets dont have but one superior player (cornerback) than us. Nor do I think Baltimore has that much more talent than New England.
Its defensive game plan was diversified, stealthy, and pressurized.

Lets demand more from the game planners

Resign or Resign?

January 13th, 2010
11:11 am

Sorry about Emmitt; who was the secondary coach, Emmitt or Alvin Reynolds?

Michael Foster

January 13th, 2010
11:50 am

“Patrick Robinson would be the next bext available CB and probably would be solid, but most think that would be a reach at 19/20, as he’s graded a 2nd round talent.

CJ Spiller just came to mind after all the injuries this year to the running backs and seeing Eric Weems run directly into oncoming tacklers on every return…”

@nickz. —-are you an idiot? Weems was outstanding with kickoff returns. He had plenty of returns where he got after contact yardage.

Remember, there is no wedge anywhere, which has NFL kickoff returners scrambling to figure out how to return kicks anymore. Weems did a good job. You know nothing about football if you think Weems was a liability returning kicks

JackLackey

January 13th, 2010
12:01 pm

Norwood has lost about five steps since his rookie year. No explosion hitting the hole.

2006 Rookie Season — 6.4 yds. per carry, 78-long

2009 Season — 3.3 yds. per carry, 21-long

Injuries have taken a toll…

nickz

January 13th, 2010
12:02 pm

Yeah, you’re definitely right about Norwood…running head down directly into people or into the ground isn’t going him into open space very often where he can take advantage of his speed, which is about his only attribute since a 250 lb Jason Snelling shows more “shifty-ness” than Norwood.

Also, the quickest way to improve our defense at this point is to probably keep them on the field as little as possible during the games. I’d feel good with a Turner / Spiller backfield eating up 40+ minutes of clock per game a game…

nickz

January 13th, 2010
12:15 pm

Michael Foster – How many returns (kickoffs or punts) for TD’s did the falcons (aka – Eric Weems) have this season??? 0! That’s pretty “0″utstanding if you ask me…

Weems is a bum, medicore kick returner at best…granted, he was reliable at catching the ball and holding on to it, but C’MON!!!!, any player in the NFL (including actual kickers) can catch a football or they wouldn’t be in the league…

Nice try Foster…

F-105 Thunderchief

January 13th, 2010
12:19 pm

Nice post, sir. As usual, your blog is unleashed and off the hook.

truth

January 13th, 2010
12:29 pm

nickz……plz check and see what Weems average return yards where, then come back and tell us what you think.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
12:33 pm

probably around 25 per kickoff I would imagine…it’s great starting at the 25 yard line every drive, that’s great field position!

I MUS WRITE

January 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

Said it before but Decoud and Bierrman are my favorites on the Defense… Maybe i missed sumthig this year was Coleman really that bad??? See ya Emmit- Our Cb’s were horrible most of the year -im pretty sure better coaching would have helped Houston turn his dam neck…Wow

I Hope we can get a Veteran CB/DT in FA.. Trey Lewis, Thomas johnson are not going to cut it…PJerry who knows how his knee will be come Sept 2010…..

Im on the fence with our running backs. I like turner but he seems slow to hit the holes and gets tackled for losses alot. Norwood shoud go tothe Jags we atre totally using him wrong when he can manager to stay on the field.

Rb’s i like in the draft- CJ Spiller,Dexter Mcluster(ole Miss), T Best(California) We nedd a shifty burner type to go with Snelling and Turner.
We desperately need an OT and a yung LB -Clabo should be playing guard he is a beast inside but he doesnt posess the athleticism to handle guys on the edge.

Players i want gone….Crisp houston,JA98,Norwood,Trey lewis,T.Johnson, possibly Abe depending on what we can get for him.

Daddy Warbucks aka Big Bank Blank -Open that check book and make the fane base happy……
Just heard Jaxonville is looking at obtaining MV7…….

nickz

January 13th, 2010
12:55 pm

Fine….I’ll concede…CJ Spiller would in no way be a better backup RB than Norwood or better returner than Weems.

It would certainly downgrade both positions. Why would we want a quality backup RB who can stay healthy and carry the load in case Turner gets injured? Why would we want a homerun threat as a kick/punt returner when we can get just get a nice average return with Weems, with no chance of him taking one to the house and potentially changing the game?

Clearly I’m delusional…or ya’ll are just idiots

now tha't funny

January 13th, 2010
1:02 pm

Why do we need a backup tailback? We have the best one in the NFL right now. Cornerbacks are an iffy pick at best, and there is ALWAYS a learning curve with a corner. If Brent Grimes starts 16 games he will have 10 picks. Eventually other teams will stop throwing the ball his direction. Draft a hard, pipe hittin outside linebacker that can rush the passer. Or get the Mountain from bammer. The first pick is going to be defense.

Michael Foster

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Weems gave us great field position a lot. He was a valuable returner. Watch the games.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Anyone remember when Jason Snelling was the only active RB on the roster this past season? Does anyone remember a time when Norwood wasn’t hurt?

Yulee Falcom

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Weems is doing well enough I believe. I don’t think we need to use such a high draft pick on CJ Spiller. Weems (and our Special Teams) ranked 9th out of 21 in return average among returnees with at least 30 returns this season. I will give you that his 3 fumbles (2 on kick-offs and one on a punt) need to be addressed, but they are not worth demoting because of it. I do see Snelling taking the #2 spot from Norwood next year. Without a 2nd round pick this year, I just can’t see us going after Spiller with such weakness on defense.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
1:24 pm

Season ticket holder here Michael Foster…so I managed to see a few games this year…

But I do like how Weems has gone from “outstanding” in your first post to now only “a valuable” returner…having doubts or are you conceeding to superior logic???

nickz

January 13th, 2010
1:31 pm

Yulee Falcom – I agree with most of that. I just don’t want to reach for a player with less talent with our 1st pick just to address a position we have an urgent need to address (aka – Cornerback). I think we tried that before a few years ago with Jamaal Anderson and we all know how well that worked out for us…

I’d rather grab a guy like Spiller who could contribute immediately on Special Teams and allow Norwood to wobble around on the sidelines with his crutches all season…

NOLA

January 13th, 2010
1:42 pm

Who dat? who dat? who dat gonna beat em saints?
Boohoo
not the damn ‘cons. cause the cons don’t play this weekend?

hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahah :) :)

Who dat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yulee Falcom

January 13th, 2010
1:48 pm

As for Norwood, I can remember last year when he played in all regular season games and the playoff game in Arizona. The year before that he played in 15 out of 16 games. In his rookie season, he missed only two games. This season has been his first true banged up year. Is it a sign of things to come? Who knows. I would understand if Atlanta does not try to resign him. Some other team will throw some money at him and look past his injuries.

Yulee Falcom

January 13th, 2010
1:55 pm

nickZ–I agree with you on the 1st round bust that is JA98. Had we got him with a 6th or 7th round pick, I believe he wouldn’t have such a large target on his back. He is serviceable and his talent leads towards being a starter on a poor team. One thing is for sure, he will not make more money than his current contract if Atlanta needs to resign him.

What do you think about Josh Cribbs? We get the returner you want plus we can keep our first round pick. He is looking for 3-5million a year, well bellow first round draft pick salary.

ello

January 13th, 2010
2:01 pm

as a family member for emmitt he is really retiring he said he was tired of the travel and have the fear for flying so he said it is time to turn in his footware , he his ready to come home been in the game to long so to he say thank to all

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
2:04 pm

I agree with nickz; unless McClain is available with our first pick I like Spiller. Weems had a few good moments, but he doesn’t scare anyone. Turner was inconsistent and Norwood goes down like a shot with an arm tackle from anyone over 140 pounds. We can get a solid corner through FA; we have so many needs I say draft best available then plug holes in FA.

Let us not forget, Douglas was a pretty good returner too. Hope he comes back 100%; we definitely need a #2 receiver and since we just grossly overpaid Jenkins last offseason it’ll need to be from within. How is a 6′4 guy with long arms and 4.4 speed never open? And why the heck did we give him a 4 year extension after watching it over and over?

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
2:08 pm

Cribbs is a malcontent; we just spent a couple of seasons getting rid of all those but Babinaux.

nickz

January 13th, 2010
2:34 pm

I’m definitely excited about Douglas coming back and I couldn’t agree more with Michael Jenkins being the worst #2 reciever in the league. He’s got every physical attribute you could ask for accept the ability to catch a freakin pass!!! That was a real bad call on his extension…

I’m mixed on Cribbs, he’s a great talent and he certainly deserves more than the pathetic offer the Browns gave him, but other than his return abilities, he doesn’t in one position as he’s more of RB/WR hybrid player. That’s valuable if utilized correctly in a offense or gimmick plays, but that doesn’t really fit in with Mike Smith’s style of offense based of the running game. Cribbs is a better fit in the wildcat formation, which I’m not sure we need to incorporate.

I think the defensive side of the ball is where our focus needs to be in both the draft and free agency, but if there’s no value at the positions we need when our 1st pick comes along, I’d rather grab a guy like Spiller than reach for a player, like say a Patrick Robinson mentioned above when he’s not a 1st round talent

Dan

January 13th, 2010
2:36 pm

Basically we need to take a freak in the draft. Every year there are the same type of players but when you have a chance to possible draft a freak you do so. My this year freaks are Ndamukong Suh and Eric Berry but of course he will be gone when the Falcon pick. So my next one are Dez Bryant: He doesnt drop passes, he is big muscular kind of a Terrence Owens build and would be a perfect complement to Roddy White. Taylor Mays big fast hard hitting safety you dont see any of these ( Docoud did good but when a freak is sitting there have to take a second look. Mt Cody huge DT Freak to stuff the line that is athletic (Dont know if Babineaux is going to be around) and finally Jermaine Gresham a big athletic catching TE? Gonzalez isnt going to be around for ever and Jermain should maybe learn from the best. I know some of these players dont fill an immediate need but I dont see anything really outstanding in those other players that dont come through the draft year after year. I say get these and supplement the other area that are lacking on the Defense CB,DE,OL and Outside LB through Free Agency

Martin Calloway

January 13th, 2010
2:42 pm

Is Alabama LB Rolando McClain a possibility for the Falcons?

I MUS WRITE

January 13th, 2010
3:04 pm

Nikz- Im with you some what…. Weems is a football player period,any good team needs guys like him and bierrman. weems did a good job returning kicks and punts,but Spiller could come in and do just as well as a rook IMO. Spiller has the it factor and he would upgrade our Special teams .
Norwood is hurt every dam year and his yac yards are way down fron his rookie season,I want him houston and Anderson gone NOW!!!

Also dexter mccluster would also be an option -he is wicked fast. he reminds me alot of chris johnson who by the way just won odffensive player of the year award.

does anyone know if #57 for bama is coming out this year- That man is a beast i want him on our line, i’ll pas on Mt Cody

I MUS WRITE

January 13th, 2010
3:09 pm

Wait a minute….Cribbs only wants 3-5 mill. Sign him release Norwood and draft Best or Mccluster in the middle rounds