Peppers and Gonzo

Mid-Week Questions

The off-season is in limbo of sorts as fans wait for the grand finale of the NFL season this Sunday and most of the 2010 talk won’t hit full stride for the other 30 teams until after the Super Bowl has been played. There are some rumblings about potential free agents, trades, the collective bargaining issue, and of course the draft. But in general, the pace won’t accelerate to at least a week after the Super Bowl Champion has been crowned. There are a few items to ponder on our Falcons as the week rolls on……

Julius Peppers in Red and Black – Good or Bad Idea?

Continuing on a question that has picked up some steam after ESPN reported Julius Peppers likely will not return to Carolina, and Jeff Schultz wrote an article proclaiming the Falcons need to pull the trigger on signing Peppers, the question is worth pondering. Julius Peppers was franchised by the Carolina Panthers for the 2009 season and signed his tender for whopping $16.7 million a year. Peppers had a Pro Bowl year finishing with 10.5 sacks, 42 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Initial opinions from Falcon fans seemed to be pretty mixed. A look at the pro and con sides:

Send Me My Peppers Jersey!

Defensive end has been an up and down position for the Atlanta Falcons for some time. The Falcons made a huge trade for John Abraham from the Jets and inked him to a 6 year deal (this year will number 5) and was thought to form one of the most lethal DE combinations in football with Patrick Kerney on the other side. The duo rarely saw the field at the same time with injuries to both. The Birds drafted Jamaal Anderson and the rest has been history. To say that Anderson hasn’t worked out at DE would be putting it lightly (although he may have a future at DE) and Abraham had an amazing year in 2008 with 16.5 sacks, but had a big drop-off this year at 6.5. Peppers would finally solve the defensive end argument once and for all. Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury Jr. may have potential but are young and unproven. It is true that Peppers would carry some serious money, but it might be time to add some veterans to a very young defense. Add a perennial Pro Bowler on the other end from Abraham and watch the cornerbacks and defensive tackles immediately improve. He is up there in age, but the money’s worth it: send me my Peppers Falcons jersey now!

No Way – Spend Elsewhere

It is true that defensive end has had its issues since drafting Anderson with the number 8 overall pick, but there’s no way that the money would be worth the return on Peppers. He is an outstanding defensive end, but will command over $15 million dollars a year and the Falcons simply have too many holes and lack too much depth up and down the roster to spend on a veteran that is on the downslide. Abraham may have had a down year, but just one year ago he had 16.5 sacks and has been with the team for over 4 years. The defensive line didn’t create much pressure on the QB, but did dramatically increase its run stopping ability, not one of Peppers strong points. Add to that the fact that Peppers has developed a reputation of taking plays off and you get the feeling that the price doesn’t match the product.

Although many fans like to point to the failed pick of Anderson, the Falcons have some potential on their own roster in Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury Jr. Biermann in particular is primed for a breakout. He increased his sack total from 2 sacks to 5 from one to the next and has shown one of the best motors on the Falcons squad. Biermann had almost half the amount of sacks that Peppers had with 300 less snaps. Sidbury Jr. had only a small amount of snaps, but came away with one sack and fumble return for a touchdown. Neither Biermann or Sidbury Jr. might be the answer, but they at least deserve a chance to prove it. (Thanks to Unca’ Bob for the best stats website around ProFootballFocus.com)

Stats – snaps/sacks/tackles/forced fumbles/ints/QB hits/QB pressures/batted passes

Julius Peppers – 806 sn – 10.5 sk – 42 tkl – 5 ff – 2 int – 10 hts – 33 prs – 1 bp

Kroy Biermann – 499 sn – 5 sk – 49 tkl – 1 ff – 0 int – 7 hts – 18 prs – 0 bp

Gonzalez Trade – A Net Win for the Birds?

It’s likely the realization of the off-season setting in that makes one ponder seemingly ridiculous questions, but one has popped up a few times in the last few weeks. When Thomas Dimitroff pulled the trigger on the trade to get Tony Gonzalez the week before the draft, the deal was met with a smattering of praise for TD and loud boos for Kansas City’s new GM Scott Pioli. Dimitroff’s former mentor was roundly criticized for letting the greatest tight end in NFL history for a second round pick, in the next draft, not even in the current one. The deal was thought to be net win for Atlanta Falcons, who would likely get two and maybe three years out of Gonzalez and accelerate the process of going deep in the playoffs, while also expanding Matt Ryan’s passing arsenal. The stats certainly back up Dimitroff’s decision, with #88 having a Pro Bowl worthy year including almost 900 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.

Gonzalez is coming back next year for sure, but even the fact that he considered retiring definitely poses a new light on the Gonzalez trade. With the trade, Piolo now owns 3 draft picks in the top 50 in one of the deepest drafts in NFL history. On the flip side, TD now doesn’t have a second round pick in one of the most talented draft pools, a year after having his first two picks, Peria Jerry and William Moore, go down for the season. Most Falcon fans will certainly agree that the Gonzo deal was a net gain, even if he only plays for one more year and that doesn’t mean a Super Bowl, but after seeing the Falcons take somewhat of small step back this year, the Gonzalez trade may have accelerated expectations a bit too much. If Gonzalez plays in 2011, the deal is an overwhelming win for the Birds. The Falcons are on the right track, but still have many holes to fill up and down the roster. Not having a second rounder sure is tough, but having the best TE to ever play the game eases that pain really well.

Speaking of Tight Ends……

Senior Bowl Players – Tight End

Even though we have the best tight end to ever play the game on our roster with Tony Gonzalez, he will be playing one more year for sure, but 2011 is anyone’s guess. The Falcons should take a look at drafting a tight end (later round perhaps) that can learn and tutor under the best and be ready to take over when TG leaves the game. A few performances from the Senior Bowl:

Colin Peek (Alabama) – Not sure if Peek will be available when the Falcons look to draft a tight end, but this guy can be excellent value for which ever team drafts him. Peek has good size (6’6, 255), possesses good hands, can run block extremely well, and can stretch the field (as evidenced in his 25 yard touchdown strike. Played for National Champion Alabama in the rough and tumble SEC.

Ed Dickson (Oregon) – Had a pretty good game with limited action in the Senior Bowl and showed good quickness and being able to get yards after the catch. Very good build at 6’5, 243 lbs and has very good speed and route running ability for a tight end. Surely probably needs work on blocking, but a good talent in pass catching. Had a beautiful 31 yard catch and run.

Garrett Graham (Wisconsin) – Graham displayed very good hands and being able to sit down in space to open up as a big target. Only had one reception for 10 yards, but after being extremely productive in college, could develop as an all-purpose TE with correct guidance and development.

Enjoy…………

Check out DOL’s superb work on the upcoming NFL Combine and other items

67 comments Add your comment

BT

February 2nd, 2010
11:07 pm

I don`t know about a deal for Pep but I am still down with dealing for TG.

Sarah B

February 2nd, 2010
11:10 pm

We pay Peppers and he takes the year off – bank on it!

Sarah B

February 2nd, 2010
11:12 pm

No doubt on Gonzo!!!

BT it is at Ashford Dunwoody & 285. A sweet commute for me! Cross your fingers!

Harry

February 2nd, 2010
11:16 pm

Colin peek sure looks like a good option in 3rd or 4th round

Nookah

February 2nd, 2010
11:20 pm

Greetings cagers!!!

The usual suspects are here I see!

D3, good job as always. IMHO, Peppers would be going against the objective of “the process”. For the amount of money we would have to spend, it just doesn’t make sense and the percentage increase in performance will not match the percentage increase in the amount of money we will have to spend, trust me on that.

Ken Strick, on the last blog, mentioned a point about Peppers having 4.5 or 5 more sacks (sorry I forgot the number) than Kroy. What’s the point in spending so much more money and not getting the comparative production? Not good economic sense, ask Arthur he’ll tell you. Remember what we need more than anything is that push inside and another solid LB combined with more depth at all our positions and we will be OK on D.

I would be remiss if I did not mention WR’s point about geting better on offense. We have to do that this year. We need another receiver (at least) who will draw some attention. What we have now just ain’t cutting it.

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!!

Sarah B

February 2nd, 2010
11:37 pm

Nooka our Rasta from the North… when do you get to come back home???

Sporkdevil

February 2nd, 2010
11:56 pm

Uh, let’s go with a run block guy first. Mularkey can’t figure out what the heck he needs to do once he has a good TE that can catch the football.

Box

February 3rd, 2010
12:26 am

Peek looks like a possibility if we can stretch to the fourth round to get him. No vote on Peppers. To much cash for a possible prima donna who may take off games or plays.

Singletary

February 3rd, 2010
12:30 am

Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad always seemed to be able to dial the Falcons number in a bad way. That doesn’t mean I want to trade or pay steak prices for the mutton corps. Gonzo is different. He’s a mentor to the new QB and … I wish everyone (yes, even some of the guys in my building) would let it go about “his 34 is the new 24.” (Huh?)

Reid Adair

February 3rd, 2010
12:41 am

I am not in favor of going after Julius Peppers. I guess it’s probably still the sting from the general failure of the John Abraham deal.

I am still 100 percent in favor of the deal to bring Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta.

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
2:15 am

The Peppers vs Biermann stats are kind of misleading… Peppers has way more run defending snaps then Biermann… Biermann did not play on allot of run downs….

Pass rushing snaps

Julius Peppers: 446 snaps
Kroy Biermann: 339 snaps

The other snaps are run defending snaps. (Kroy Biermann:150 snaps vs Julius Peppers:345 snaps)

I really like Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury….. I think both has the potential to be starters in this league if they continue to improve but Peppers would take us the next level…. I’m talking about similar to the way Jared Allen changed the Vikings….We run a rotation so Kroy and Sid will see playing time plus Abe and Peppers would be fresh threw-out the year.

I know its going to cost allot but a impact DE is the most important position on Defenses…An impact DE can make every player on Defense better….Not only would we have a LDE that is a 10 sack a year guy…. We would have two 10 sacks a year type DE’s… That’s to go along with Babs and Peria Jerry.

Also… We would be able to use our 1st round pick on CB or LB.

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
2:25 am

With Tony G…. I still love the trade… It stings allot not having a 2nd round pick but i feel like Tony has brought allot to this team… I feel like the trade will pay off even more if we draft an young talented TE (mid-late rounds) … The rookie TE would learn from the best ever at that position… Learn Gonzo’s work ethic, techniques, and tricks of the trade…

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
2:35 am

Nookah , Its not just about sacks (even tho sacks are really important)….Its about pressures also… Coaches always say that pressure are just as important as sacks… Peppers had 33 pressures to Kroy’s 18 pressures….

This is no disrespect to Kroy because i like the guy and think he can become a starter in this league but Peppers dont play on the same line as an Abe or Babs… I think Peppers DT’s had an combine 3 or 4 sacks….

Ed

February 3rd, 2010
4:14 am

As always good stuff D3. I say absolutely not on Peppers., When you consider the salary he would command, and the compensation to the Panthers for signing him, it’s just not worth it. That’s not even taking into account his questionable playing habits. As far as TE’s possibly available in the draft, Miami’s Joey Graham is most intriguing. A 6′7″ ex-basketball player, he only had one year playing football for the Hurricanes, but has shown a lot of promise.

Unca' Bob

February 3rd, 2010
7:24 am

D3,

When I saw Peppers and Gonzo, I thought you had posted another Bobby Flay recipe(LOL). I’ve made my statement on Mr Peppers. If we were to have drafted a TE with a #2 pick and he went on to have 83 catches, 6 TD’s, and 862 yds, the ticker tape would still be raining down on Peachtree St. Yes, it would be nice to have a second round pick, but, I like the value of Gonzo both on and off the field.

blord

February 3rd, 2010
9:05 am

It isn’t just the Falcons fans that are mixed about getting Peppers. Heck I have mixed feelings about it too. Part of me thinks this smells of NE making a deal to get R. Moss. He was a guy who was accused of many of the same things Peppers is but since he has gotten to a good organization in NE there really hasn’t been much occur except he produced.
Then there is another side of me that says “don’t do it.” He would demand way to much money and we would be better off investing into someone else. I don’t like the idea of having two DE’s over 30 years old.
The truth is we are going to have to make a couple of FA pickups in order to grow as a team. Not sure where but we can’t address everything through the draft and expect to be a SB team next year. Thank God for TD.

Nookah

February 3rd, 2010
9:05 am

Greetings Cagers!!!

Sarah B – one of these days I’ll turn up out of the blue and you might all be surprised.

ATLJBO, I agree it’s not all about sacks but I really am more concerned about the outlay and the resources we will have to tie up in this guy. At this point in his career is it really worth it and furthermore how does that fit in with TD and Smitty’s philosophy? I have a feeling they are more content with building what they have. If they make the move then I’ll rest my case. After all they get the big bucks to make these decisions. But if they make that move, will it not send a message that perhaps the window of opportunity is closing for this management crew and we would be going for broke? Just a thought.

Ed, I brought up Jimmy Graham in the last blog. Thank you, because I really like this guy. He is really raw but has all the tools, speed good hands, jumping ability, potential weapon in the red zone, huge upside. I am sure he could be coached up and be a force in the years to come and he certainly would benefit from TG’s presence.

D3, I have no issue with the TG trade. I still like it. The problem is that we need a good #2 receiver to bring more potence to this offense. (See the gospel according to WR).

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!

Nookah

February 3rd, 2010
9:35 am

Well said blord!!! Nuff respect!!!

LRD

February 3rd, 2010
9:36 am

No issue with Gonzo. I think he has helped Matt, gave him a safety valve that was not there previously. But, then everyone knew it was either gonzo or white as the pass threat. Plus Gonzo (and Peele) are good blockers, and in run based O we need that ability and can be overlooked.

Peppers… I am against the outlay of cash…I like Biermann for what he brings to the team as a whole. He is growing into this role as a DE and I think he will be a power, but his Spec Teams play is an extra bonus.
Again, rather spend the money on a WR than on Peppers… both prima donna’s, both have the tendency not to play the entire game, but we need an O threat to compliment Roddy…

Sarah: The view from CDC Clifton of the city is awesome, one of my fav’s.

WR

February 3rd, 2010
9:40 am

Morning cage, wish I was able to post when the fires are burning, no matter if I agree or disagree with some of the viewpoints, I will say once again, its shaping up to be a great offseason.

First off Nookah, sorry wasn’t able to respond in a timely manner but the idea of acquiring Vincent Jackson or Brandon Marshall is very intriguing. I would love for the Falcons to get Marshall, abate, I worry about his ability to fit in and not harm team chemistry. Has he really grown up, will he erupt and hurt the team, those are my biggest concerns with him. I don’t believe SD will let Jackson leave town, the Chargers have needed a go to receiver for years, even when LT was running over, around, and pass the competition. So yes, I would also take Jackson in a heart beat but that is extremely unlikely.

As for the offense vs. Defense concerns, BT addressed this point in the last post, the D is already extremely young, yet we fail to realize it has improved, we want to point at the leveling off of competition but what I saw was a team that had new young players at many positions, teaching and trying to get those players to understand the fundamentals of the defense, and then they turned them loose towards the latter stages and end of the season, and that philosophy gave way to promising results. To continue

WR

February 3rd, 2010
10:06 am

Now back to my main point I will reference a comment by my ACC brother SW, Ryan doesn’t have the strongest arm, he’s more of an intermidiate working the coverage type of QB. The first QB that comes to mind after reading that type of comment is one of my favorites of alltime, one Mr. Joe Montana. Montana had numerous weapons at his disposal, fast forwarding to current times, Drew Brees was a QB that supposedly didn’t have the strongest arm, or ideal height, but surround him with weapons and now he’s all world.

D3, put it best, especially when referring to the Falcons sacks allowed being misleading, some say its because of all the throw aways, but if you go back and watch each game, the throwaways were a result of not having any options. Some say, well if HD comes back healthy, and thats if he can build upon what he did during his rookie season, then all is well. NOPE, you still don’t have enough play makers, you don’t have a true fear of the deep threat, and you still don’t have a WR that can keep defenses honest and away from doubling Gonzo and White, plus putting eight, sometimes nine men in the box to stop the run. Like BT said, unless you just happen to have Peyton Manning on your team you do need a good running game, like D3 said the Saints have a number of offensive weapons. The Saints OL didn’t improve in 09, their D went from poor to mediocre, not really even good, except for creating turnovers, but they continue to develop their weapons and against the best D’s in the league they could rarely be stopped. No matter how good your defense is in today’s NFL, you can’t stop the good offenses of today, but if you have an adequate to good defense with a great offense, you have the makings of a championship caliber team, the Falcons have the QB in place for it, time to start considering giving him some ammo.

Lastly, supposedly you can find good playmakers at WR in the later rounds, but you can’t do the same for LB, you can find quality DL men, but you can’t do the same for a RB, talent is everywhere throughout the draft if you have the right man in charge, we all agree that the Falcons have that man, and if you believe that, you should believe the D is close to where he wants it to be, but the O needs help to keep a young QB from never reaching his maximum potential.

Rick Bridges

February 3rd, 2010
12:39 pm

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
12:49 pm

I like Jimmy Graham but something is telling me that he is going in the 3rd round…. A sleeper is Miami’s best TE 6′3 250lbs Dedrick Epps…. The guy can block and stretch the field.

Nookah

February 3rd, 2010
4:26 pm

Rick Bridges, I could not have said it any better and that for me brings an end to the Pppers discussion.

ATLJBO, I tend to agree with you regarding Graham, as he has been moving up the charts. He will grab some attention. By the way not too knowledgeable about Epps. I’ll go look him up but is he #85? If he is I saw him early in the season and did look good catching the ball and YACS.

I love this place. You always learn something new!!

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime

Nookah

February 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

ATLJBO, I did a quick look up….#18. I was wrong. Will do more research.

KEEP AN EYE ON: TE Dedrick Epps – Last spring there were doubts Epps would even be playing this fall after he injured his knee in pre-bowl workouts last December. But he has played in every game and came up with three catches for 38 yards against the Sooners. Just as big as his 11-yard touchdown reception was his eight-yard gain on a short pass in a third-and-six situation on Miami’s final possession.

Go Falcons!!!

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

ATLJBO

February 3rd, 2010
4:42 pm

By the way guys… Check out my Thomas Decoud video (the music might be a little annoying)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uIGSDghH5Q

Ken Strickland

February 3rd, 2010
6:00 pm

Whether we should spend the big money needed to sign DE JPeppers depends on perspective and ones understanding of football, or ones overall football IQ. From a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make sense when you consider the financial restraints it put on the Panthers last yr, as far as signing and filling other needs, and would certainly put on us. That’s why they have absolutely no problem letting him walk.

From a production standpoint, it would NOT make sense, especially when combined with the financial issues it would create. Compared to 2yr DE KBiermann, who some say is unproven and more potential than finished product, it really makes no sense, and here’s why?

(1) Since Smitty’s arrival, we’ve employed a rotational system for our DL, which limits the number of snaps our DEF linemen get during gms. JPeppers has never played in a rotational system, and losing 307 potential snaps would definitely reduce his overall output. That’s why DE JAbraham’s 16.5 sack season was so phenominal. He accumulated his 16.5 sacks in far fewer snaps than JPeppers needed to get his 10.5 sacks this yr.

WE DON’T NEED DE JPEPPERS, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY IT WOULD TAKE TO SIGN HIM.

(2) Considering KBiermann’s lack of experience(2yrs) and the vast improvement he made to become a starter after his rookie, as well as his overall production, he’s a far superior and less costly investment than Peppers.

(3) Putting JPeppers in a rotational system like ours would limit the number of snaps he’d need to duplicate last yrs numbers. Therefore, with considerably fewer snaps, he might end up being hard pressed to even duplicate KBiermans numbers from last yr, let alone his own.

(4) Why ruin you salary structure by paying millions and millions more for Peppers and run the risk of possibly getting less than you got from Biermann last yr?

(5) In 307 additional snaps, JPeppers(42) got 7 fewer tackles than Biermann(49), which demonstrates he would be a definite liability in our run DEF. If Biermann could accumulate 5sacks in 499 snaps, he should be able to come close to matching, or even exceeding in some areas, Peppers sack total, as well as his overall numbers.

(6) KBiermann is going to get better as his career progresses and he gains more experience and confidence. JPeppers isn’t likely to get any better, and could likely start declining as his career progresses.

JJ

February 3rd, 2010
6:17 pm

In TD we Trust:

Sizing up the 2009 Atlanta FalconsJanuary 22, 2010 by Rick Bridges

It’s fascinating to now watch the playoffs unfold and reflect back on what the Falcons really did in 2009. The disappointment of early season injuries and missing the playoffs remains, but there is a feeling of hope for once in Atlanta. For the first time ever, the team didn’t quit on the coaching staff and that says volumes about the possibilities in the future.

They started the season 4-1 and appeared to have a chance to go to the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in the teams history. Then second year phenom Matt Ryan went through a sophomore slump and the defense forgot how to rush the opponents quarterback. Things had taken a turn for the worse.

Sure, there were injuries but no team can use that as an excuse. Losing Peria Jerry, Harry Douglas and Brian Williams for the season didn’t exactly help however. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner stayed banged up and missed several games each. Offensive linemen Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl sat out quite a bit as well.

Even Jerious Norwood was injured. I realize that’s not uncommon news but it sure gave Jason Snelling an opportunity to step in and show what he can do. And he performed admirably. But down the stretch of the season, the team was barely keeping it’s head above the .500 mark.

The team brought a 6-5 record into a very important match up with the Philidelphia Eagles for position in the playoffs. A win and the Falcons hold the tie-breaker. The problem was half the team was injured and the only advantage the birds had was playing at home. With no Ryan, Turner, Baker, Dahl, etc. It wasn’t going to be an easy task.

The Falcons took an absolute beating. In the return of Michael Vick, the Eagles all but eliminated the Falcons playoff hopes. The Eagles had not only won the game, but the crowd as well. By the fourth quarter, the remaining fans in attendence cared more about Michael Vick than the Falcons. Everthing looked bleak for the remainder of the season.

“It was as loud as it gets in the Dome,” said Vick, who teared up on the bus ride over to the stadium. “I heard the chants all through the stadium and it sent chills down my spine. They were just letting me know that people still appreciate what I’ve done.”

I do not believe the fans cheering for Vick understood the implications that game had on the Falcons post-season. It forced the Falcons to face the undefeated New Orleans team with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Harvey Dahl in street clothes.

I was at that game. It was disappointing. The Saints came out, took an 11 point lead into halftime and received the ball to start the third quarter. The Saints promptly picked the Falcons defense apart and scored on a 10 play, six minute drive that was like watching the same old Falcons surface.

Then something happened. Quarterback Chris Redman came out firing down by 18 points. It took him only four plays to drive to the fifty yard line. He then aired one out to Michael Jenkins for a touchdown and the Falcons showed signs of life.

The defense came out on to the field fired up. Say what you will about Michael Jenkins, but I believe that touchdown he caught created a defensive wake up call.

The Falcons eventually tied the game and ultimately lost a heartbreaker by three points. Not bad for a team missing half it’s offense. But the offense wasn’t the story for the remainder of the season. It was the defense.

In the three remaining games, the Falcons defense stepped up their game. Granted, they finished out the season against the Jets, Bills and Buccaneers. Not exactly offensive power houses. Never the less, the numbers do not lie.

In that season ending three game winning streak the Falcons secondary caught fire. Cornerback Brent Grimes picked off four passes. Rookie corner Chris Owens nabbed one interception and second year safety Thomas DeCoud had an interception, a forced fumble and several critical third down stops.

What was once the largest concern on the team suddenly became a strength. Going into 2010 that’s encouraging.

Currently, the New York Jets are lined up to play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in the AFC title game. It was just one month ago that very same Jets head coach Rex Ryan became deflated after losing in New York to the Falcons.

“We’re obviously out of the playoffs, and that’s unfortunate,” said head coach of the NY Jets Rex Ryan after his loss December 20, 2009 against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons entered that game with nothing left to play for on the season. It was all pride and the desire to destroy a curse. Their losses to both the Philidelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints ended all hopes of a post-season. But rather than bury their heads in the sand they continued to compete.

So much so, they ended the season with a three game winning streak and the first back-to-back winning seasons in club history.

The team made strides against the odds in 2009. They faced a tough schedule that included playing four teams coming off their bye weeks. They had crippling injuries to key players in the skill positions such as quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Yet somehow they played with a lot of heart and made believers of the fan base.

In 2010, the symetry between Ryan and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez will have had an extra year to gel. Peria Jerry will be back at the tackle position and Harry Douglas will replace Michael Booker in the slot.

In Dimitroff we trust is a saying that is spreading through the foundations of the team. Since his arrival, the team has changed. The prior regime has be flushed out and the players Dimitroff wanted are taking the field on Sundays. No more Vick, Crumpler, Brooking, Dunn and Hall. Replacing them are the players the organization believes can bring home a championship.

In 2010, it will be fun to watch. As T.O. likes to say, “Get your popcorn ready!”

The future is bright in Atlanta!

D3

February 3rd, 2010
7:29 pm

Great Hump Day Cagers! – The week is officially on the down slope and we’re headed for the grand finale of the 2009 season. Hope all of you are doing well as we roll towards the weekend.

Harry – Would love to add Peek around the 4th round. After watching him in the SEC, I think he’s got what it takes to develop into a solid one. He’s ranked as about 8th TE by DraftCountDown.com

Nookah – Agreed my man. Peppers would not even be close to what we need right now. If you’re going to spend money on a free agent, do it on a shutdown CB or a legit #2 WR, IMHO.

SporkDevil – Certainly would’ve thought our offense would progress, not regress. Injuries played a part, but our receiving corps was exposed this year, outside of Roddy and HD being hurt.

Reid Adair – I thought the question was pretty silly on Gonzo when I typed it, but I thought I’d see if any Falcon fans disagreed, and they haven’t.

Ed – Thanks for the props as always. Definitely no on Peppers and I’ll check out this Graham guy. Any tight end or running back we get is in a good position to come and learn and not be asked to contribute right away.

ATLJBO – Good point on mentioning the snap differential. I guess my point is that even that Biermann is somewhat close to Peppers sack totals give me hope. I could be dead wrong, but I think we should at least know for sure if Biermann is an every down DE before leapfrogging into FA or #1 pick. JMHO.

D3

February 3rd, 2010
7:39 pm

LRD – Agreed. Would rather spend money on a WR or shutdown CB than Peppers. Getting him would make our DE’s 30 and 31. Time to get younger at DE. Many of us thought TG would raise everyone’s game, but instead it proved once and for all that Jenks is no #2. #3 or #4, than that’s fine, but not a legit #2 receiver. Like Peele too, but he’s over the 30 mark as well.

WR – It really is unbelievable when you start listing off the weapons that Brees has and the ones that Ryan has. I say we need two, not one, wide receivers. Add someone like Josh Reed (Bills WR) through free agency and draft one to compete for the #2, #3, or #4 WR spots. Looking at the FA WR’s, most of them will be restricted FA’s. Call Bergeron up and call Aaron Kelly back while you’re at it. Like Weems as a Spec Teamer, but not sold on him as a WR. Maybe its the playcalling, but he should have thrived in the slot with White occupying the outside and Gonzo occupying the middle and Jenkins…….beating people deep only to drop the ball.

Rick Bridges – Nicely put and great article by the way. We’d love to have your knowledge make a home here in the Cage.

JJ – How’s the recipes coming? Finalized on a new King Flay wing recipes and poblano “chili” fries, similar to jalapeno poppers.

Keep it going strong Cagers! Try to pop back in tonight if possible.

JJ

February 3rd, 2010
8:07 pm

D3, I’ve got a simple recipie I tried last night for sunday. It’s from the Paula Dean boys. It’s on GMA under football recipies but the condenced cheedar soup stinks, I’m going to use velvetta and rotelle instead for the dipping sauce.
– boneless chicken breast cut in 1″ strips (add seasoning)
– wrap slice of bacon around like candy cane (I sliced lengthwise)
– bake at 400 for 25min
– broil 2 min a side to crisp bacon
Dip: velvetta brick w/ rotelle
Cut strips in half, add toothpick, voila!

Nookah

February 3rd, 2010
8:25 pm

Greetings Cagers!!!

ATLJBO, thanks for the videos and I especially enjoyed the DeCoud video not for the spectacular play of TD but the anticipation it leaves me as a true Falcon fan when I started salivating at the end to see what can be with a fit William Moore. Our safeties are going to be feared.

We’ll have to put up a sign behind our LB’s…….ENTRY INTO THIS ZONE COULD BE HAZARDOUS FOR YOUR HEALTH!!!!

Go Falcons!!!

Nuff respect everytime!!!

Sarah B

February 4th, 2010
12:18 am

Everyone bailed out tonight huh?

Box

February 4th, 2010
12:40 am

Sarah B.
Not completely.

Sarah B

February 4th, 2010
12:43 am

Sarah B

February 4th, 2010
12:46 am

Gettin ready to bail out for bed.

Box

February 4th, 2010
12:46 am

Heard you’ve got an interview Friday. Good Luck!!! Are you doing the SB get together? I can’t make it.

Box

February 4th, 2010
12:47 am

Night, night.

Sarah B

February 4th, 2010
12:48 am

Talk to you tomorrow Box.

D3

February 4th, 2010
10:06 am

Happy Start of the Weekend Day Cagers! – Even though I have tons of topics ready to roll off in the next several months, I wanted to get input from you guys and gals on what you want to talk about.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW OF ANY TOPICS YOU’D LIKE TO SEE AS WE ARE OFFICIALLY IN OFF-SEASON MODE

CBrass

February 4th, 2010
11:25 am

D3, How about profiling young players we think will make an impact next season. Like Beirmann, Sid, Grimes, Owens, Nicholas or Walker. We all know that White, Gonzo, Lofton, Turner, Snelling and Ryan will make an impact but the others that I mentioned before may not get the credit/love that they deserve. You know maybe mention their strengths and weakness. Sorry if this has been done already. Just throwing an idea out there. Hope you and the family are all doing well.

LRD

February 4th, 2010
11:26 am

Weems: great on spec teams, so so as rcvr. The end arounds just make me cringe every time… successful or not.. that play just makes me cringe. but if HD is back and full speed, will he or weems be return guy (i know fight it out in camp).

Wide Rcvrs: We need 2 speedsters… Again HD is not a given, Jenk’s is def not a given, and we need that threat.

JJ: Heres one for you. Purple Chicken
1 Scotch Bonnett ( or 2 if you like heat)
4-5 Mango’s purree’d
4 ckn breasts or 2-3 pounds of wings.
De-seed the peppers, add to the mango’s, put in container and marinade the ckn for up to a day + in the mix
Bake Chkn.
Makes the ckn turn purple, and the mango sweetness helps to offset the peppers heat.

LRD

February 4th, 2010
11:38 am

D3.. off topic , topic for you… since JJ started it.. a collection of Cage Sunday Game Recipes in regards to getting prepared to watching games at home or out in the Lot itself.
I know its not exactly on topic, but as someone that enjoys cooking and trying new stuff, always curious what some folks cook up for the games. ( yea, bit lame…but still)

tbhawksfan

February 4th, 2010
1:53 pm

I don’t like the trouble MR had this year, seems like most of his passes, by 4 seconds he was either down or the ball was gone. Give him more time and he might be great. Give him more and better weapons and more time and he’ll likely be great.

What if we…trade up. Just enough to get Bulaga. He’s the REAL thing. Keep what we have and add Bulaga.

We only need to move up two or three spots to get in front of SF and we can get him. Our #19(20) plus a fourth?

With the rest of the picks go depth. We need FA’s. A good CB (doesn’t have to break the bank) would solidfy a potentially very good secondary. An OLB with avg starter quality could go far with Nicolas and Pete already doing fairly well. Could use the third round pick on an OLB too. A WR. I think WR could be the easiest position to get a quality FA for a decent price.

Three FA’s, don’t get old guys, look for mid-level players in or just under their prime. 3 FA’s is a lot. I’m looking for starter quality, but at the right price. I think these moves and a kicker would give the Falcons everything they need next season.

Our first and our fourth to move up 4 spots.

Ken Strickland

February 4th, 2010
2:41 pm

D3-I’d like to know how much the surgery DE JAbraham had before training camp started contributed to him having an off yr. I’d also like to know what the coaching staff thinks about the progress and potential of DE’s LSidbury, KBiermann, LB SAdkins, OT’s GReynolds, WStivek, and the return of WR HDouglas. Their progress and level of improvement will have a tremendous impact on who we sign during FA and who we draft.

I’d really like you to try and find out why OC MMularkey has refused to incorporate screen and swing passes in our OFF, especially when he’s had such an explosive, talented open field RB like JNorwood at his disposal for the last 2yrs. I can understand why it wasn’t used when MVick was the QB, but there’s simply no excuse for it not being made a vital part of our passing arsenal since his departure.

GT GRAD

February 4th, 2010
6:13 pm

Colin Peek played at GT prior to his transfer to Alabama (he only transferred because Coach PJ’s triple option offense does not use a TE).

He is a very talented player with a solid NFL future!

JJ

February 4th, 2010
8:47 pm

D3,
– in depth analysis of starters: OL, DL, LB, WR, RB, CB>
– in depth analysis of 2nd/3rd: all above.
– Where is the need for: starter or backup?
– Best available athlete vs Need?
– ‘09 complete stats vs potential
– tailgating: best parking, food, fav activities
– dome exp.: best entrance to music playing to concession.

Finally, birdcage mudwrestling:
Sarah B. “cougar” vs CBrass “i hate ffl”

Sarah B

February 4th, 2010
8:55 pm

Funny, funny funny JJ!

JJ

February 4th, 2010
9:13 pm

SB, good luck tomm with interview, Rocky and I have our fingers and paws crossed.