Q and A with Falcons center Todd McClure

Vivlamore filling in for D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Todd McClure returns for a 14th NFL season, all with the Falcons, after signing a one-year contract this offseason. The center, drafted in the seventh round (No. 237 overall) in 1999, says he welcomes a chance to pass on his experience with the offensive lineman the Falcons took with their first two selections this year.

After a recent Organized Team Activities workout, McClure spoke on several topics including the team’s new offense, which will include a big screen game. Here are excerpts of the interview.

Q. What are your thoughts about the moves the Falcons made by drafting offensive lineman with their first two picks this year?

A. It’s been like this pretty much my whole career with younger guys coming in. I’ve always said I’ll try to teach as much as I can, pay it forward. I told these guys when they came in if they have any questions don’t hesitate to ask because we are making our team better. If I can teach those guys a little thing that can help us win games, that’s what I’m here for.

Center Todd McClure says he never thought about retiring and is looking forward to a 14th NFL season. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Center Todd McClure says he never thought about retiring and is looking forward to a 14th NFL season. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Q. Do you take all the criticism of the offensive line personally?

A. Not really. I’ve kind of dealt with that my whole career since I’ve been here. This group of up front has taken a lot of heat when things haven’t gone good. When things do go good, you don’t hear much about it. You take it in stride. Art Shell told me when I first got in the league as soon as you sign that piece of paper they are trying to find someone to replace you. It’s just the reality of the NFL but if you keep going out and producing on the field the rest will take care of itself.

Q. Do you have a chip on your shoulder going into this year considering the talk?

A. We always want to go play good. We try not to listen too much to what is going on outside and what people are saying. Every time we step on the field we want to do our best. So we know those areas we have to improve for this team to be successful. Everybody wants to talk about playoffs but we’ve got to win game one. Once we get to that point, hopefully we’ll take care of business.

Q. Can you describe the new offensive coordinator [Dirk Koetter]?

A. You can see right now we have explosive guys on the edge and the perimeter. We’d like to get them the ball. Dirk is doing some great things with the offense. Obviously we want to get better with our screen game. We haven’t been too good in that area lately. We are putting a big emphasis on that and you can already see some of the things we are doing we are going to have some big plays in the screen game.

Q. Do your responsibilities change [in the new offense] in terms of play calling or verbiage?

A. You know one of the things they try to do, this staff coming in, they tried to use the same verbiage where all of us on offense didn’t have to re-learn new terminologies. They just kind of adjusted their schemes and their terminologies to what we were doing so it’s been an easy adjustment.

Q. With the screen game are there differences techniques?

A. We are emphasizing those things and there are different coaching points that maybe we haven’t heard in the past or different ways that we are executing. Blocking schemes on our screens, I think, are going to be real beneficial for us and make us better. As offensive lineman we love to have a screen game that the [opposing] defensive line has to respect. They are not just pinning their ears back and rushing the quarterback. It’s an offensive lineman’s friend having a screen game going and we will get it going.

Q. How is new offensive line coach Pat Hill different than [previous coach] Paul Boudreau?

A. I don’t want to get into too much comparing one guy to the other. Pat brings a lot of experience to this team. He’s been a head coach for 15 years. He didn’t focus on just the offensive line. He’s seen the big picture of offenses and he can bring that to the table for us. And there are some little technique adjustments that he is going to try to help us out with that I think will put us over the edge.

Q. Did you ever consider not coming back for another season?

A. There was never a doubt this year. I wanted to come back. I’m still having fun playing. If I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t be playing. I still feel good. I’m just glad to be back. … I played 14 years. My body doesn’t feel the same as it did when I first started playing football when I was 10 years old. I’m still moving around well.

70 comments Add your comment

Chub Rock

June 11th, 2012
6:24 am

No disrespect to Mud Duck, I appreciate all that he has done in an Atlanta Falcons jersey over the last 14 years however I hope we can put a better product on the field at the center position. Either Hawley is ready to take over at this point or he is a career backup. Konz is listed as a guard so I assume he will compete for the RG spot. Going forward I believe Konz will remain at RG IF Hawley can step up and secure the center spot. At 35 years old, this will more than likely be Mud Duck’s final year and we need to see Hawley man up and take the spot now and let McClure be the backup for his final year.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Falcon James

June 11th, 2012
6:41 am

McClure is awesome! Our OL is going to shine this year.

Paddy

June 11th, 2012
6:42 am

Chub Rock…..that nails it. I can also see that as a strong plan for now and the future. We may also see more out of our reserve linemen now that a viable screen game has been included. It may now show why they were drafted/signed in the first place. I have faith in our line. Maybe more than most fans.

MJC

June 11th, 2012
6:57 am

@Chub Rock
I don’t see Hawley being a better option than Konz at the Center slot. Hey may have more experience, but I don’t believe he is more talented. By the middle of the season I can imagine that the torch will be passed from Big Todd to Konz. He has done so much for the team in all those years.

D.O.L. – Do you see Todd getting retired into the Falcons Ring of Honor?

SirReal

June 11th, 2012
7:54 am

They didnt draft Konz to play center. Hawley should do fine. I like McClure and remember him from teams I LOVED but Father Time waits for no man. I think this is likely the last year. His veteran leadership is why he’s still here. Wish him the best but I’m honestly ready to see someone new snapping the ball.

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

HGN

June 11th, 2012
9:17 am

I love McClure at the center position . He is what is needed in this transition year. I too think this is his last year as a starter. Could be backup next year to Hawley. Konz is going to play RG unless someone stands up and pushes him to Center. Otherwise, Hawley is the center of the future.

Falcon4Life

June 11th, 2012
9:26 am

The best scenario is for Johnson to come out mean and claim the RG spot and Konz to win the Center spot. That would give fresh new beef up front for those 4th and inches situations and pass rush up the middle.

Mikefalcon63

June 11th, 2012
9:28 am

The ideal scenario is that McClure becomes to the offensive line what Mike Peterson was for the linebackers last season… An insurance policy. Plus McClure could probably appreciate the rest his body will get as a back-up.

That said, I am not sold on Hawley as the starter at center, even though TD and Smitty are. My opinion means nothing, but I encourage everyone to go back and watch the games Hawley started in place of McClure last season. It was ugly. Part of that could be due to Garrett Reynolds stinking it up at RG. But Hawley seemed lost on a bunch of plays, and I am not sure he was good at making the line calls. Perhaps playing guard for half the season last year did him well in seeing/hearing next to McClure.

yeahsure

June 11th, 2012
9:45 am

Boudreau was supposed to be an O-line Guru. How is this seasoned vet just now learning techniques that will make the screen pass effective? I guess we will see this year if it was really Mularkey and Boudreau’s lack of coaching for our horrible screenpass play.

yeahsure

June 11th, 2012
9:47 am

BTW, Good stuff Vivlamore.

Paddy

June 11th, 2012
9:56 am

yeasure………our horrible screenpass plays were horible because we didn’t have any! The new coaches are teaching new techniques that heretofor was not part of the play book. If you don’t teach the screenpass for a few years, you need a refresher.

#10Fan4Life

June 11th, 2012
10:08 am

When 62 is out Matty Ice suffers!

dz

June 11th, 2012
10:10 am

@MJC

There is little doubt in my mind that Konz would be a better option at Center than Hawley.

That being said, you have to look at the whole, not just an individual piece. Konz is a better RG (theoretically) than Hawley. So say, for example, that Konz is ranked at a 9 playing Center, and an 8 playing RG, where as Hawley is a 8 Center, but a 5 RG, then you play them where the collective score is higher (8+8 = 16, where as 9+5 = 14).

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
10:23 am

Our defense got torched all the time by screen plays; one of its biggest weaknesses. WHY? Because they never saw any daily in practice. Maybe screens will help both sides of the ball.

yeahsure

June 11th, 2012
10:31 am

Mularkey used to say that we didnt have the personnel to run them. I say we run em during our Falcons/Jags practice (hopefully still on) this year and show him this lines potential.

Keith Brookings

June 11th, 2012
10:37 am

McClure should retire. What a loser!

DR. FALCON

June 11th, 2012
10:38 am

WHY IS SAM BAKER STILL ON THE ROSTER? DAMN! THE WORST LT IN THE NFL, BY FAR! I HAVE NIGHTMARES OF MATT RYAN LAYING ON THE GA. DOME TURF, BECAUSE BAKER MISSED A BLOCK!

[...] Todd McClure spoke after Wednesday’s OTAs. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted the Q&A [...]

Paddy

June 11th, 2012
11:24 am

Dr. Falcon……..you may want to lay off the caps lock. It sorta makes you look like a 12 yr old!

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
11:28 am

Generally, I don’t read posts with all caps.

tjhook

June 11th, 2012
11:49 am

Does anyone think we can trade Sam Baker to Jacksonville? I’m sure Mularkey still thinks he can play well in the NFL.

Paddy

June 11th, 2012
11:58 am

Falcon Jim….Huh?

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
12:41 pm

Yeah. All caps are considered rude in the cyber-world…………and hard to read.

Judge Smails

June 11th, 2012
1:04 pm

All Caps are for lazy people. What, hitting the shift key is too much for you?

Oh yeah, Go Falcons

Paddy

June 11th, 2012
2:01 pm

Falcon Jim…..I know the story behind caps lock. My question is, why do you use them if they are considered crude and immature? But I am glad you are not using them now!

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
2:18 pm

ME? I will use CAPS for EMPHASIS on OCCASION for words or phrases. But not for entire posts.

Paddy, what is your problem? WITH ME?

(i have a new keyboard that does not have a caps-lock light, which is very annoying, but nothing to do with this.)

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
2:52 pm

GO FALCONS !

Corey's Peter

June 11th, 2012
3:47 pm

Only here does a story on the Falcons center get changed to caps.

AGTFan

June 11th, 2012
4:03 pm

I don’t get why everyone is so sure that anyone is going to be a better option this year than McClure. He never got the job because he’s a pretty face. He’s always done the job on the field. If someone beats out, fine. To just assume that someone is better choice because this is MClure’s last year is silly. I don’t care if it’s a player’s first season or last season, I want the that gives us the best chance to win on the field. Since it’s probably his last year, I want Hawley and Konz to get as many reps as possible, but if McClure gives us teh best chance to win now, I want McClure to get most of the reps.

1danielbell

June 11th, 2012
4:35 pm

^^ What he said.

donte080

June 11th, 2012
5:12 pm

AGT,

Falcons OL was pretty bad last year, of which McClure was part of. Pretty sure McClure’s best days are behind him. I respect his work here, he’s had a remarkable career, but Falcons drafted Konz to begin the process of rebuilding our offensive line. He’s not the only answer, but hopefully he is going to be a huge part of it.

J-Lo

June 11th, 2012
5:32 pm

Thank you Todd! Here’s to another great year for you at center!

torgo

June 11th, 2012
5:50 pm

The other name to throw in the mix… Vince Manuwai at right guard. If he shows he’s back to form, he might be our best bet at RG this season. That would allow the team to work in Konz at center, giving the Falcons a whole lot of beef up front.

SeenThisB4

June 11th, 2012
5:52 pm

Geriatric McClure will be the starter this year, not because he has enduring talent, but because the falcan’ts failed to find a somebody, anybody, duirng the off season, with a semblence of talent to replace the weak link.

PlanB

June 11th, 2012
5:54 pm

Too many draft picks and a FA or 2 since 2010 to not have a good OL by now. That, along with resigning Clabo & Blalock. I’ve also heard of some of these guys playing at a position with much less experience than their college position (Garrett Reynolds). Two positions OK if it doesn’t hurt the progress of learning just one but some can’t do two.
We can be assured of having a little better OL due to having screens. Those and draws have always helped slow the pass rush down some.

PlanB

June 11th, 2012
5:56 pm

Two things I don’t read. All caps posts and aints losers posts.

Falcon Jim

June 11th, 2012
6:04 pm

Chub Rock

June 11th, 2012
6:11 pm

MJC- For some reason the Atlanta Falcons have chosen to list Konz as a guard on their website. I tend to think that is for a reason. Dimitroff and Smitty both have already said they view Konz as a guard first and center second. Is Konz a better center than Hawley at this point? Maybe. Is Konz the best option at guard at this point? Probably. I just don’t know what happened to Mike Johnson. The kid was an All-American at Bama and has not shown anything in the NFL. The Falcons draft Konz and list him as a guard and sign Manuwai which means Johnson could be looking for work elsewhere if he can’t beat out Manuwai and Reynolds.
Only 9 guys get to make the 53 on the O-line, that is the number Smitty quoted in an interview. Who would you guys pick as the 9 O-linemen to make the 53 man roster? D feel free.

AlanFalcon

June 11th, 2012
6:37 pm

KeithBrookings, are you still doing your chicken dance on the sideline in Dallas, its probably the best I’ve seem from you since you left Atlanta.

Waffle House

June 11th, 2012
6:53 pm

Thanks…..Todd for 14 years!!!

Chub Rock

June 11th, 2012
6:57 pm

torgo- I wonder just how much Manuwai has left. They signed him at veteran minimum with no incentives. Can’t see Manuwai being very helpful on the screen plays but might be solid backup.

Chub Rock

June 11th, 2012
6:59 pm

SeenThisB4

June 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

Lim lliw

June 11th, 2012
8:38 pm

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John

June 11th, 2012
9:34 pm

Guys, the reason that Konz was drafted was because MCclure is going to retire after this year and Hawley has shown that he is not the answer at center. If Hawley was ready he will supplant MCclure this year. That remains to be seen

hiramsaint

June 11th, 2012
9:48 pm

all that talk and yet no mention of playoff win aspirations ! now you know why lofton left to play for the saints for the same money . in his words “i came to win a championship ” he could have stayed a failclown but he knows the failclowns are perennial chokes in the playoffs .

Bubba Bean

June 11th, 2012
10:03 pm

hiramsaint, I do not see your beloved ain’ts winning without Sean Payton and Vilma!!!!

takebadwithgood

June 11th, 2012
10:41 pm

first of all STOPworrying about CAPS either you can read or tou cant we are bloging falcons foot ball all these punks from the cheating nawling stinks bounty ball need to get hell out of here that goes for hairup his a– and seenhis face Nobdy is worried about lofton he cant cover