Archive for January, 2011

Brent Grimes added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad

Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes (20) intercepts a Drew Brees pass in front of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson (19). Grimes' improvement at cornerback was key to the defense. He had five interceptions and knocked down 24 other passes. Associated Press

Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes (20) intercepts a Drew Brees pass in front of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson (19). Grimes' improvement at cornerback was key to the defense. He had five interceptions and knocked down 24 other passes. Associated Press

Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster, the league announced on Monday.

Grimes will replace Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who’s team advanced to the Super Bowl XLV.

Grimes will become the ninth member from Atlanta in the game. He joins teammates defensive end John Abraham, tackle Tyson Clabo,  tight end Tony Gonzalez, fullback Ovie Mughelli, quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner, wide receiver/special team specialist Eric Weems and wide receiver Roddy White in Hawaii on January 30, 2011.

The nine players by one team is a league-high and a franchise record.

In 2010, Grimes was targeted a league-high 119 times by opponents (according to STATS, Inc.) …

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Arthur Blank on the money with Super Bowl analysis

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

The folks at the Buckhead Business Association luncheon got some prophetic information from Falcons owner Arthur Blank last Thursday at the Atlanta Historical Center.

While Blank was clearly still coming to grips with the Falcons’ early playoff exit, one of the fans asked him for his Super Bowl prediction.

Here’s what Blank had to say:

“A lot of it is who is playing well at the end of the season.

“If the Patriots had gotten past the Jets, I would have bet on the Patriots because of their quarterback, personally. I don’t like to bet against the Steelers and they have a great quarterback. He’s not the prettiest quarterback, but he knows how to win. His record in the playoffs is outstanding. They are a strong choice and the Packers are playing very well. Chicago has a very good team, they have a good defense, their quarterback is excellent, but …

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Tony Gonzalez is set to return and earn his $5.75 million

Tony Gonzalez Day" - Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank honors tight end Tony Gonzalez with a pregame ceremony commemorating his 1,000th catch at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Tony Gonzalez Day" – Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank honors tight end Tony Gonzalez with a pregame ceremony commemorating his 1,000th catch at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez will return to the team next season, according to his public relations representative Denise White.

“He’s definitely coming back,” said White, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based EAG sports management. “He’s excited to be a Falcon next season and make another run at the Super Bowl.”

Gonzalez was on the Jim Rome’s show on ESPN and stated that he “definitely” planned to return.

He’s set to make $5.75 million next season, but had stated after the Falcons’ loss to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs that it was a “possibility” that he would retire.

He caught 70 passes for 656 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Gonzalez, who will turn 35 in February, is in California. …

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Tyson Clabo added to the NFC Pro Bowl team

Announcer Wes Durham, center Todd McClure and tackle Tyson Clabo. Wonder if this trio won the Karoke competition. (By Jimmy Cribb/Atlanta Falcons)

Announcer Wes Durham, center Todd McClure and tackle Tyson Clabo. Wonder if this trio won the Karoke competition. (By Jimmy Cribb/Atlanta Falcons)

Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo was added to the NFC Pro Bowl team on Thursday.

Clabo, who was the first alternate along the offensive line, will replace Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters. The Falcons will have eight players in the game. Also, head coach Mike Smith and the staff will coach the team.

Clabo will join teammates defensive end John Abraham, tight end Tony Gonzalez, fullback Ovie Mughelli, quarterback Matt Ryan, running Michael Turner, special teams specialist Eric Weems and wide receiver Roddy White in Hawaii on January 30, 2011.

The eight players is a league-high and franchise record.

In 2010, Clabo was part of an offensive line that averaged 341.1 yards of total offense per game and allowed just 23 sacks, which was the third fewest in the league.

Additionally, Ryan enjoyed his finest year as a pro throwing for …

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Here’s a list of candidates to replace Musgrave

Matt Ryan and Jeff Jagodzinski back at Boston College. (Associated Press)

Matt Ryan and Jeff Jagodzinski back at Boston College. (Associated Press)

The Falcons will move quickly to hire a replacement for Bill Musgrave.

Coach Mike Smith has a list of potential replacements and will start officially contacting folks today. He’s known since letting Musgrave interview that there was a likelihood of him leaving. The search likely won’t be completed before Smith and his staff leaves to coach the Pro Bowl in  Hawaii on Tuesday.

He wasn’t ready to reveal his list of candidates last night when we chatted, but here are some potential candidates to replace Musgrave, who’s headed off to become the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.

1.   Jeff Jagodzinski, head coach Omaha Nighthawks:  He was Matt Ryan’s head coach at Boston College. He served as the offensive line coach for the Falcons from 2004 to 2005. He has been an OC, but has never coached QBs before.

Coach Brian Billick

Coach Brian Billick

2.   Chris Palmer, head coach Hartford Colonels: Well respected as …

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Bill Musgrave leaves to join the Minnesota Vikings

Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave talks with D.J. Shockley as they walk off the field after losing to the Ravens at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009.    Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave talks with D.J. Shockley as they walk off the field after losing to the Ravens at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCHBill Musgrave, the Falcons former assistant head coach/quarterbacks, accepted a position as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday.

“We thank Bill for his contributions that he made to our team,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “We wish him all the best with his promotion with the Vikings.”

Musgrave was granted permission by Smith to interview with the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns. He interviewed with the Browns on Tuesday and with the Vikings on Wednesday.

“The organization is first class all the way and Leslie Frazier is first class all the way,” Musgrave said in a statement released by the Vikings. “The players on the offensive side of the ball are very attractive to be associated with. I’m …

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Video: 3 key areas for improvement

Continue reading Video: 3 key areas for improvement »

Musgrave set to interview with Minnesota, Cleveland

Bill Musgrave and Matt Ryan (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Bill Musgrave and Matt Ryan (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCHBill Musgrave, the Falcons assistant head coach/quarterbacks, has been granted permission by Falcons coach Mike Smith to interview with the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns for their offensive coordinator positions.

Musgrave was promoted to assistant head coach last offseason  when the Houston Texans attempted to hire him away.

Also, ESPN has reported that the St. Louis Rams also wants to interview Musgrave, who joined the Falcons in 2006 and has been instrumental in the development of quarterback Matt Ryan.

Minnesota will not likely be enticing to Musgrave because they don’t have an established quarterback on the roster.

Cleveland is likely to put in the West Coast office under new coach Pat Shurmur and has a young quarterback to develop in Colt McCoy. Musgrave played in the West Coast offense for the San Francisco 49ers from 1991-1994.

Bill Musgrave

Bill Musgrave

St. Louis came within one win …

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Falcons sign seven players to reserve/future contracts

Jose Valdez was in attendance at Kanoheda Elementary School in Lawrenceville as part of the Falcons First Down for Fitness Program and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in Sept. 2009

Jose Valdez was in attendance at Kanoheda Elementary School in Lawrenceville as part of the Falcons First Down for Fitness Program and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in Sept. 2009

The Falcons signed seven of their practice squad players to reserve/future contracts on Tuesday.

They signed tight end Marquez Branson, center Rob Bruggeman, wide receiver Tim Buckley, wide receiver Brandyn Harvey, defensive end Emmanuel Stephens, wide receiver Andy Strickland and guard Jose Valdez.

The big name in this group is Valdez, who’s been developing nicely according to offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. After two full seasons on the practice squad, he’s expected to make a strong roster bid next season.

Three of the Falcons starting offensive linemen – Justin Blalock, Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo –  are in the final year of their contracts. Depending on the labor negotiations, they all could  be free agents of some classification.

Branson and Harvey were the only players that …

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Tony Gonzalez thanks the fans for their support on Twitter

110115 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, left, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, right, walk off the field after a 48-21 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011.     Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

110115 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, left, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, right, walk off the field after a 48-21 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez thanked the fans today on his Twitter.com account.

He wrote, “Hey Guys, I wanted to thank you all for your support this season. Without you we never would have made it that far. Thanks!!”

After the game, Gonzalez didn’t sound like a player headed for retirement. After getting hurt, he scrambled to get well and back into the game.

He has one-year left on his contract and said was still a “possibility” that he might. He definitely waiting to see if they have to play an 18-game schedule and that will certainly factor into his decision.

Gonzalez, who’s headed to his 11th Pro Bowl, caught 70 passes this season.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

Get instant updates on …

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