Last week, Falcons head coach Mike Smith gave the assistant coaches Friday off.
They’d be grinding pretty hard and the extra day would give them a chance for a four-day weekend .
But the Falcons new secondary coach Tim Lewis, with his wife and kids still back in Seattle, went to work on his “off day.”
“I’m trying to get a chance to learn what we are doing,” Lewis said. “Jump right into it. It’s not like they are going to stop their offseason projects and teach Tim all of the defenses. No, it’s not going to work that way.”
One thing is certain, there will be some changes in the secondary under Lewis.
“We didn’t get it done, but hopefully we tweak some things, change some things, add some things, add new people . . . me being here is a change,” Lewis said. “The fact of the matter is that in this business things change all the time. We’ll make changes and make adjustments to try to get the thing right. Hopefully, I can be a part of that.”
Lewis has completed his evaluation of the defensive backs. Some will definitely be up for new roles and others will have some major competition to retain their Falcons wings.
“The players play hard,” Lewis said. “They understand the scheme. They generally and genuinely appreciate their coaches. I can see that on tape.
“I can tell that by the way that they fly around and the effort that they give is reflective of the relationships that they have with their coaches. I’m excited about being a part of that.”
He was not impressed with some of the technical aspects of their play last season.
“The secondary in particular, we can become more technically and fundamentally sound,” Lewis said. “Athletically, they’ve got a lot of skill. The corners, three of them are not real big, but they are very fast.
“Then I’ve got three of them that are very big, that have different types of skills. We’ll work with that and try to upgrade the talent. Try to move people around and get them in the right position.”
Free safety Thomas DeCoud drew some light praise from his new secondary coach.
“The safeties, you had the young fellow, DeCoud, he played fairly well,” Lewis said. “William Moore was injured. I liked him coming out of Missouri. I evaluated him very high just like I did with Christopher Owens. So we have youth and experience. You’ve got smaller, faster guys. You’re got bigger, stronger guys. It’s a good mix of people.”
Lewis believes the players understand how the scheme is supposed to work.
“There were not a lot of mental errors,” Lewis said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to hone in on what it is that we are trying to get done.”
Lewis will be charged with getting better results from the secondary. The Falcons gave up 242.1 yards per game last season, which ranked 28th in the league.
“I’ve got to try to get the players that they’ve entrusted me with, to play to the best of their ability within the scheme that Brian (VanGorder) and Mike have devised,” Lewis said. “If they ask a question about how I see something, surely I’ll offer my opinion. But at the same time, I’m here to fit in, try to make it better and not necessarily impose my will on anybody.”
Lewis plans to learn the nuances of the Falcons’ defense and hit the ground running.
“I listened to how each defense was installed,” Lewis said. “I’ll write down my comments and asked questions about those defenses at a time that is good for Brian, Alvin (Reynolds) and the other coaches.”
Lewis is very familiar with the Falcons 4-3 defense. It’s basically the Steelers defense, that Marvin Lewis took to Baltimore. The one that Jack Del Rio and Smith took to Jacksonville.
Lewis worked in Pittsburgh and was the defensive coordinator there and with the New York Giants.
Lewis replaces Emmitt Thomas on the coaching staff.
“Philosophically, I’ll fall in line with what we are doing here,” Lewis said. “Brian VanGorder is the defensive coordinator and what he says is how we operate it. If he asked questions about my experiences, certainly I would share that with him. But at the same time I’m a foot soldier. I understand my role. I know what I’ve got to do.”
SOME FREE AGENCY TALK: Here’s an interview with J. Michael Moore of AtlantaFalcons.com. We chatted mostly about the upcoming free agency period.
Here’s a look at the players the Falcons will have to address on their roster.
GOING BACK TO SCHOOL: Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran will participate in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at the Harvard Business School starting today.
Also, guard Justin Blalock, center Brett Romberg, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, and tackle Will Svitek will be participating in the program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania beginning Tuesday.