FLOWERY BRANCH – With the offense in place, a promising young quarterback and a rebuilt secondary, the Falcons have managed to win the offseason Super Bowl.
No, there won’t be a parade down Peachtree Street.
No, Arthur Blank won’t get to hold a trophy over his head.
But by making all of the right moves, the Falcons are media darlings and are showing up in the top 10 of several of those so-called “power rankings.”
“We are real excited about the energy,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “The big message that we really stressed in the offseason is consistency.”
But the work for the “real” Super Bowl – the one that comes with the Vince Lombardi trophy — starts today.
“That’s exactly how we are going to proceed,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “When we first got here we talked about our goals and our goals are always going to be kept internally. I think that we have had a very productive offseason in terms of adding personnel through the draft and free agency. But it all starts on Friday morning.”
When I talked to Smith early last week, he was clearly excited to get back out on the field.
“It’s probably one of the best days of the year when you get your team together to start the journey,” Smith said. “There are going to be a lot of difficult decisions that we are going to have to make over the next five or six weeks leading up to
the start of the season.”
Smith noted that this camp will be much more difficult for his coaching staff. There wasn’t much depth when they arrived after the disastrous 2007 season. They gutted the team and have somehow managed to cobble together two winning seasons while rebuilding.
You can call it rebuilding on the fly.
But in this camp, there is depth at just about every position, even place kicker.
“We are going to get really good evaluations not only in the four preseason games, but by having the combined practices, the four against Jacksonville and the two against New England,” Smith said. “It’s really going to give us an opportunity to evaluate these guys that are fighting for roster spots.”
Smith was more than happy to talk about two of the positions that will be highly competitive.
1. CORNERBACK: “We felt like we needed to upgrade in the secondary. Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t very good in pass defense and we weren’t where we wanted to be in giving up explosive pass plays. We were 28th in the league. It’s been well documented and that’s unacceptable for everybody in this building. I’ve said it many times, that it was just not the DBs, but we felt we had to start to address that. We added Dunta Robinson. We also have Brent Grimes, Christopher Owens, Brian Williams and we added Dominique Franks in the draft. We feel like that is going to be the most competitive spot on the entire team.”
2. OFFENSIVE LINE: “I also feel that the offensive line will be competitive. We added new players in Joe Hawley and Mike Johnson. When you do your 53-man roster, you’re going to have 9 or 10 offensive linemen. That’s going to be very, very competitive.
“The front line starters are fairly set. They are set. I think that was a solid group last year. But I think we need to start looking at the backups at those positions. There are going to be some very good battles for those roster spots.”