Is Sam Baker on the Hot Seat?

Can He Dispel the Doubts?

 Many fans and members of the media alike believed that Thomas Dimitroff had done well when he moved back into the first round to pick up Left Tackle Sam Baker from USC. The idea made complete sense in that Dimitroff elected to find the best protection available for his newly picked face-of-the-franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. After a serious run on left tackles in the 2008 NFL draft, the Falcons top brass traded picks to move up and select Baker. Some felt Baker’s arms were too short, among other critiques, to be a successful, franchise left tackle at the next level. Many of those critics are looking fairly smart in their initial questions of Baker in the NFL. After showing flashes of brilliance, Baker has had two injury riddled and fairly sub par years. The question begs asking if the Falcons left tackle is on the hot seat. Approaching this year’s draft, many believed that the Falcons should go ahead and draft a better LT for the future and move Baker somewhere else. Let the debate begin………

Injury Riddled Career

After having a stellar career at the University of Southern California where Baker started for the Trojans for his final 3 years, but the left tackle ran into some injury problems in his rookie year causing him to start only 5 games and play in 8 in 2008. #72 also missed 2 games last year as well. The injuries have been multiple and numerous including concussion, lower back, hip, and ankle. Compare that to the model of consistency in right tackle Tyson Clabo starting every game the last two years, all 32, and that doesn’t help matters much ither. To his credit, Baker did bounce back and miss only 2 games last season when many feared he might be an injury bust. Still, injuries have caused him to miss almost a third of total possible games in just two seasons.

Baker by the Numbers – Not Fantastic

Using the best and most comprehensive football stats website around, ProFootballFocus.com, Sam Baker doesn’t look like the franchise left tackle many hoped he would be, at least not yet. There are several things to understand in these rankings, however. Right tackles usually have easier assignments since they don’t have to protect the quarterback’s blind side and many times draw easier assignments regarding defensive ends, so take that into account when reading the stats.

2008 Campaign (only started 5 games and played 8 )

Overall Comprehensive Tackle Rank – 31st (-5.2 rating) out of 76 total tackles

Pass Blocking – 31st (-1.4)

Run Block – 58th (-3.3)

2009 Season (started 14 games)

Overall Comprehensive Tackle Rank – 55th (-11.7 rating) out of 77 total tackles; ranked 19th when sorted down to only left tackles starting more than 10 games

Pass Blocking – 58th (-7.1 rating)

Run Blocking – 43rd (+0.4 rating)

Penalties – 34th (5 yellow flags)

Sacks – Tied for 30th (5 sacks)

QB Hits – 23rd (4 hits); was highest rated LT of ones who started 10+ games

QB Pressures – 66th (28 pressures)

Tyson Clabo was ranked higher in most categories including overall, run block, pass block, and pressures. Keep in mind the difference between left and right tackles, however. Will Svitek had higher averages in overall, pass block, and run block even though he had roughly about a third of the snaps that Baker did (266 to 855). To be fair, Svitek’s overall and pass block were still in the negative territory, but not as bad as Baker’s. Stats can be very tricky and often times bended to fit agendas, but the trends aren’t very good for Baker in his first two years. He has had cumulative negative ratings in almost every category (overall, pass block, run block), with his one bright spot coming in a slight positive in the run game this season.

Needs More Time

A common idea that runs rampant among fans is that teams can simply draft a left tackle in the first round and plug him into be a great franchise LT for the next 12 years. It does happen and the most common recent examples are Joe Thomas, Jake Long, and Ryan Clady. These players have all made the Pro Bowl and been the franchise left tackles they hoped they would become. Those gentlemen were taken pretty high in the draft with Long taken first overall, Thomas taken 3rd overall, and Clady being taken 12th overall. Often times, however, many tackles taken in the 1st round either under perform or are moved to right tackle. For every Thomas, Long, and Clady, there are just as many Jason Smiths, Andre Smiths, Eugene Monroes, and Chris Williams. Tackles who either haven’t lived up to expectations, draft status, or been moved over to right tackle. In fact, several of the tackles selected both before and after Sam Baker in 2008 performed worse and some have been moved to right tackle.

Chris Williams (Bears) – Drafted 14th, moved to RT, and ranked 65th overall

Branden Albert (Chiefs) – Drafted 15th and ranked 64th overall

Gosder Cherilus (Lions) – Drafted 17th, moved to RT, and 43rd overall

Jeff Otah (Panthers) – Drafted 19th, moved to RT, and 40th overall

Sam Baker (Falcons) – Drafted 21st and ranked 55th overall

Duane Brown (Texans) – Drafted 26th and ranked 60th overall

The point is not that the Falcons couldn’t find someone better than Baker in next year’s draft, but that it is pretty unlikely assuming the Birds draft somewhere later in the draft. Left tackles mostly just need more time and can improve over time. Considering the schedule was much tougher in 2009 and it was really like his rookie year, than there are positive reasons to believe that Baker can blossom under OL Coach Boudreau’s guidance. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a good example here, where he was long considered a bust after taken number 4 overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After years of bust talk, Ferguson was one of the top 5 ranked tackles, behind only left tackles Joe Thomas and Jake Long. Baker has had his issues for sure and really needs a good year to ease some fears among fans, but to simply cast him aside after only 2 years wouldn’t seem to make too much sense. Throw in the fact that Baker has shown glimpses, and that just moving him to right tackle might not be as easy an option as some think, with them either keeping Clabo there or grooming Garrett Reynolds to take over RT soon.

His Seat’s on Fire

Stats aside, Baker has missed almost a third of all possible games in just two years due to various injuries, which have been plenty. Granted, the Falcons may not have drafted the next Jake Long to man their left side for the next 10+ years, but Baker’s rankings went down in almost every category. He gave up 5 sacks alone from his side, combined with 28 pressures to rank as one of the worst among all tackles in the NFL. That stat doesn’t even include the tons of throwaways that Matt Ryan did (30, most in the NFL) to avoid even more sacks. Play-calling and schedule definitely made it tougher for Baker and the OL overall, but Baker needs to be showing improvement, not digression. For instance, #72 got absolutely dominated by Tampa Bay in both showings in 2009, and that was before they added Gerald McCoy and Brian Price at DT in this year’s draft. Baker made Stylez White (2.5 sacks in one game) look like the second coming of Reggie White, and one which actually led to the injury of Matt Ryan. If teams feel as though their left tackle is not someone they can build their entire offensive line around, they often will either move them over to the right side or even place them at guard.

The fact that Will Svitek was signed as a backup by Dimitroff and came in to outperform Baker in almost every category speaks volumes. Yes, Svitek only had about a little under a third of the snaps that Baker did, but even that he was close should say something. Baker will get every opportunity to prove he’s worthy of being the Falcons long-term answer at left tackle, but if has another sub par year in 2010, a replacement will be in order. Baker could move to right tackle or even possibly to guard, but with the drafting of RT Garrett Reynolds last year, guard Mike Johnson, and center/guard Joe Hawley this year, the Falcons won’t have a problem going in another direction.

Your Turn

-Is Sam Baker on the Hot Seat?

-What’s your opinion on Baker so far?

-More Time or Seat’s on Fire?

-Should they Move Baker on OL?

-How Long Should #72 Get?

-Can He Ever Stay Healthy for 16 Games?

 

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112 comments Add your comment

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 9th, 2010
11:20 am

Nayh, he is still learning. The injuries are disturbing (and TD seems to have used injury history as a draft factor this past draft) but he is still learning, growing.

chris

June 9th, 2010
11:30 am

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 9th, 2010
11:35 am

Having said that, he DOES need to improve, show a learning curve that trends upwards. Two more years to show what he can do (if he can staqy on the field). Thai is 4 years, and will show if he can cut it as an NFL left tackle, if he is more suited to right tackle, if he is a solid backup, or if he is a bust. Too early to tell, but the comparison to Will Svitek is disturbing.

We can’t realistically compare him to Jake Long, Ferguson, etc. We must compare him to realistic options to replace him considering we have other areas to address every year, and the long lead time it takes on average for a rookie LT to dazzle.

Questions:

-Is Sam Baker on the Hot Seat?
Not yet, but he isn’t gonna be confused for a pro-bowler either. At a minimum, he needs to keep Ryan healthy and I’m not sure he is there yet.

-What’s your opinion on Baker so far?
Mediocre, middle of the pack LT that needs to improve despite the setbacks the injuries have caused.

-More Time or Seat’s on Fire?
More time, but not indefinite.

-Should they Move Baker on OL?
It is an option, but let him try to grow into it. If Ryan is dumping too many passes again because of him, or is in danger of getting hurt again, then it is a different story.

-How Long Should #72 Get?
4 year total to show what he can do.

-Can He Ever Stay Healthy for 16 Games?
One would hope, but as injuries pile up on his resume one could reasonably assume that he is more likely to get hurt again in the future. Best of luck to him, the OL is crowded now, and talented!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt, Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/cXNiXR – Is Sam Baker on the Hot Seat? New Bird Cage Post/AJC Falcons Fan Blog. What's your take on the #AtlantaFalcons LT? [...]

Ken Strickland

June 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

Baker is as tough as nails mentally, as evidenced by him playing through all of those injuries, including coming back so soon after surgery. His issues aren’t about his talents and skills, but his ability to be consistent, which is tied to his injury problems. Once he’s fully recovered and can string together a couple of seasons without being derailed by injuries, he’ll be a Pro Bowl caliber LT.

The only way he’ll be on the hot seat is if one of our developing young OT’s mounts a serious challenge for his spot. In 08 he was a rookie and we were a run dominant OFF. In 09, due to injuries, we became primarily a passing OFF. What I’m saying is this will be the 1st season since he’s been a Falcon that our OFF will be balanced, which will place far fewer demands on our entire OL.

D3

June 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

Not relevant to Sam Baker post, but just saw this from Khaled Elsayed on ProFootballFocus.com (the premiere stat website) on why Abraham SHOULD be at mini-camp. A very good, well-rounded article……….

Pass-Rush Profile: John Abraham
The second pass rusher to come under the Pro Football Focus microscope is Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham. Khaled Elsayed breaks down where Abraham was getting his pressure from and who he was getting it against, with the findings making for some interesting reading after Abraham finished with a disappointing sack count for 2009. As always, there’s more to it than numbers …
After a 2008 season in which he had 17 sacks, it was inevitable that John Abraham was in for some criticism after registering just 6 in 2009. The obvious conclusion that many came to was that Abraham was “past it” and on the downside of his career. Though he may not be the force he was during Mike Smith’s first year as coach, it’s a little wide of the mark to look solely at Abraham’s sack numbers and make a judgment on his skills as a pass rusher. Indeed, a little look at our Pass Rushing Productivity ratings show that Abraham is still among the top seven in the league when it comes to generating pressure on a per-snap basis, even if where he got this pressure may inflate these numbers a tad.

On Abrahams’ 421 pass rushes he generated a healthy 57 total pressures, which was tied for 10th most in the league. Now that’s not in the same class as the 73 he managed in the ‘08 season, but it’s still good enough to rank him above guys like Julius Peppers, Mario Williams and NFC South rival Will Smith (and what’s more he did it on fewer pass-rushing attempts). So although it’s disappointing he didn’t leave ‘09 with double-digit sacks, he deserves credit for creating a high (if inconsistent) amount of pressure — especially in relation to fellow pass rushers — even if it doesn’t compare favorably to the high standards and expectations he created for himself with such an explosive 2008.

That’s the first interesting conclusion you draw from Abraham’s ‘09 season, but the more surprising findings come when examining where he is generating his pressure. Generally considered a speed rusher who works on the outside, Abraham achieved a higher percentage (54.39) of his pressure making a move inside than any other defensive player who totalled at least 25 combined sacks, hits and pressures. While that is a surprisingly high number, his pressure off the edge is surprisingly low: just 15 total pressures. Of the 46 pass rushers who achieved more than 30 total pressures, only eight had less outside pressure and none had a lower percentage of his pressure come from outside. There are a number of explanations for the big variation in where Abraham is getting his pressure; further study is needed to see the impact of tight ends and backs, and if his reputation of wreaking havoc around the edge in ‘08 caused teams to encourage him inside. It’s worth noting that Abraham didn’t get the “free pressures” that many of his peers received. On average, a pass rusher gets 14.94 percent of his pressure unblocked, whereas Abraham was only gifted 8.77 percent of his pressure.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Abraham’s season was his production on third down. It’s where you’d like to see your pass rushers making their biggest plays to get the opposition off the field, something that proved a big issue for the Falcons. Abraham, rather worryingly, only had 17 total pressures on third down. Putting that into perspective, he ranked 27th overall in terms of raw numbers, lower than Falcons teammate Kroy Biermann. What may be more worrying is that Abraham recorded a single sack on third down (three less than Biermann) and maybe this, combined with his disappointing outside pressure numbers, adds weight to the argument that Abraham may have lost a little explosiveness when coming off the edge.

Further concerns come when you see where his production as a pass rusher comes from over the season. An alarming 21.5 percent of his pressure came in the two games against Tampa Bay — a team whose tackles struggled to protect a rookie quarterback who had a penchant for holding on to the ball. Furthermore, the other big games of Abraham’s season came against Jermon Bushrod of the Saints (who, contrary to popular belief, was actually a marked liability as a pass protector) and then when the Redskins (and their patchwork offensive line) visited the Georgia Dome. Those four big-pressure games accounted for about half (49.01 percent) of Abraham’s total pressure, which speaks a great deal about his consistency (or lack thereof). The amount of relatively quiet games Abraham had against so-so pass protectors such as Flozell Adams, David Diehl and Jordan Gross raise plenty of questions as you would expect Abraham to do a lot more damage than the sackless, two-pressure games he produced against each.

In terms of numbers, things don’t look too bad for Abraham. He finished in the top ten in total number of pressures and per-snap productivity, and to some degree you can say that the criticism aimed at him for his low sack count is unfair. But when you look at where his pressure is coming from — and perhaps more importantly where it isn’t coming from (off the edge) — you start to open your eyes to the possibility that Abraham has lost something. When you break down who his pressure came against, it becomes all the more apparent that despite his slightly inflated snap count

Moose

June 9th, 2010
12:09 pm

Baker will be fine….. Looked to me the weak link on the left side was JBlalock and I think the Falcons addressed that problem with this years draft in MJohnson……..

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 9th, 2010
12:09 pm

Sorry Chris, how about second with a bullet :-)

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 9th, 2010
12:12 pm

D3- Interesting Abe article, thanks.

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 9th, 2010
12:16 pm

Moose-
Excellent point regarding Blalock’s effect on other members of the OL. Makes one wonder how Baker would do spending a season next to Mike Johnson!!

D3

June 9th, 2010
12:25 pm

One Mr. Sam Baker
Well, this one was a pretty enligtening one after doing research. Using ProFootballFocus.com’s comprehensive website and rankings (which I admit I’m overly reliant on) the idea that you can simply draft a left tackle in the first round of the draft and have the next Jake Long or Ryan Clady is a complete myth (at least in the last several years, anyway). After doing research, it just doesn’t happen often. Almost every tackle taken in the first round since 2007 (Levi Brown, Joe Staley, Duane Brown, Jeff Otah, Gosder Cherilus, Branden Albert, Chris Williams, etc.) have either terribly underperformed, been moved to right tackle, or both. After looking at the stats, Baker actually has been one of the better LT’s drafted in the last couple of drafts, at least ratings wise. He definitely needs an overall very good, injury-free year this season, but he definitely should get more time to develop. LT is one of the hardest positions on the field. To say that we can simply plug in a tackle from the draft and him being the next Jake Long or Joe Thomas is really not true, especially hoping we don’t draft until later in the draft. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was long considered a bust until he was one of the top 5 LTs in the league this year for the Jets, and he was drafted 4th overall, not 21st.

Moose

June 9th, 2010
12:30 pm

Thanks BA…… I think MJonson is gonna be a beast………..

Moose

June 9th, 2010
12:35 pm

D3- If John Abraham’s not 100% why have him at OTAs not suited up and have a media bombardment of injury questions like last year?

From Pat Yasinskas at ESPN……..Big John is the headliner…….

Atlanta’s John Abraham looks to rebound

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/10559/atlantas-john-abraham-looks-to-rebound

D3

June 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

BA — All good points and I think most of us are in the same boat, like Moose and Ken Strickland just mentioned as well. But I can also tell you that there a lot of people who think Baker is a huge bust and should be moved or dropped ASAP.

Ken — Very well put about the offense and its balance. What I would love to know is whether Matt Ryan’s high number of throw-aways were due to pressure, play-calling, or happy feet.

Moose — Excellent note on Blalock. Comparatively, Blalock was much worse (73rd out of 84) compared to Baker (55th out of 77). They were both pretty bad, but Blalock was worse.

CBrass

June 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

D3,

As always great job. I think this is the year that he has to show something. It is said that year 3 is the year that things really click. If he can stay healthy I think he will be fine.

D3

June 9th, 2010
12:39 pm

Moose — The air (rightly or wrongly) that he gives by not being at training camp is that he doesn’t NEED to be there because of his production, and judging by his stats and production last year that just isn’t true. He wasn’t at OTA’s last year to receive any media questions. Injuries can’t always be blamed for lower play and we don’t have a clue who participated or not and when at OTA’s other than the few snippets we got from DOL. Just my humble opinion.

Brent

June 9th, 2010
12:46 pm

Blaylock is definetly the weak link. Baker can be protected with formations and backs/tightends chipping and play calling but you can,t cover-up weaknesses from both. Hopefully Johnson will be able to comtibute right away and I think better gaurd play will help Baker improve.

Moose

June 9th, 2010
12:59 pm

I hear ya D-3…….. Just gotta give the old guys a break…….. Gonzos been out as well and I have no problem with it at all…….

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
12:59 pm

D3, great post and a very challenging question. While I think of my response to the Baker issue, let me take a moment to help out Justin Blalock.

This guy is talented. He was moved to the left side when he arrive in ATL a few years ago in the Petrino regime. That is NOT is natural position and it is not the position he excelled in at Texas. Blalock was dominate at both the RT and RG positions but it was his work at RT that made him a top tier draft consideration. Recall, the Falcons at that time were a run-oriented team and that is EXACTLY what his skill set is best suited for.

At Texas, the offense was built around VInce Young and his athletic abilities. Blalock was brought here under the premise that the Falcons would use his skill set to facilitate strengthening of our running game with Dunn and Vick. Recall, we were transitioning from a zone blocking scheme of Mora and Knapp to the power run game of Petrino but with a carrot to use MV7 in a variety of ways. That was supposedly what Petrino was brought in here for.

The Falcons OL, as it is currently configured, is extensively loaded with players who have played the right side of the OL most of their careers. It is much easier to transition from left to right at the NFL level than it is to go from right to left. Stats are important but I would remind you that the bulk that is Clabo and Blalock at guard opened many an inside hole for Michael Turner in 2008.

Even Baker, while at USC, was not a dominating OT. He got the job done and was more the product of massive media hype than anything else. Everyone was in love with USC and he benefited from it. But I think that he can grow under coach Boudreau. More about Sam later…just had to help Justin get some relief from the beatdown he is taking.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Myron Abernathy, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: AJC's fan blog: Is Sam Baker on the Hot Seat? http://bit.ly/aSvGte [...]

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:12 pm

What’s up Cage. I will come back to the Baker question in a little while. But first, a little defense for Justin Blalock.

People, Blalock is a fish out of water. He is NOT a left guard and we need to take note of that. He made his money in college at the RT and RG position. He anchored an OL that opened allowed Vince Young to run his way into Heisman consideration. His draft stock rose due to the incredible fascination the nation had with Vince Young. Blalock, like JA98 and Chirs Houston, caught the eye of an inexperience coaching staff and a pathetic front office.

Blalock, in his tenure, has continued to do what he has always done. He excels in the RUNNING game. Pass pro has never been his halmark. The Falcons, over the last five to seven years, have not built the OL to pass the ball. We have been all about the run until last season. The OL is in a state of transition that continues to this day.

Look at the OL configuration and you will find that the vast majority of our player all made their money on the RIGHT side of the OL, except for Baker and Ojinnaka. GIve this YOUNG line time to develop and grow. It is a hell of a lot easier to go from left to right on the line than it is to go from right to left.

Back with more later….

CBrass

June 9th, 2010
1:21 pm

Well put SW. Blalock was drafted for the athlete in MV7 not a traditional pro-style QB like Ryan. Let’s not forget he’s not a TD and Smitty draftee. He would have done fine with MV7 behind him running around just like at Young did at Texas. Both Young and MV7 take off and round if their one read on offense is cover. Ryan actually knows how to read a defense and goes through his progressions. IMO As you stated Blalock may be better on the right side of the line but we may never know because the nasty boys have that side of the line locked down.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:22 pm

As far as the OL configuration, TD sought to address this issue on the left side this season with the drafting of OL personnel that have EXPERIENCE on that side of the ball.

He went out west, to the pass happy WAC to find a center (Hawley) that can hold down the interior in both RUN and PASS schemes. He came back to the SEC to find a versatile guard (Johnson) who played well in both PASS PRO and the RUN.

Hawley and Johnson give us a basis to build on as far as the left side is concerned. This gives us considerable flexiblity along the OL front and more versatility than we have had in a long time.

ATLJBO

June 9th, 2010
1:29 pm

I dont think Sam Baker is on the hot seat….. If he has another injured year then he may be but not right not… The FO and Coaching Staff believes in him…. The guy plays top notch when healthy.

I think Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock is on the hot seat…. One of those guys will win the RG position and a contract extension… Mike Johnson is going to be our future LG….

I think Blalock (plays LG right now) can play RG and we know Dahl can play RG…… Who ever does the best this year and comes the cheapest,

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:31 pm

CBrass, thanks for having my back. Well stated. Your point about the nasty boys on the right is well made also. We are extensively loaded on the right side of the line. Left tackles are a rarity in terms of number and quality now days.

It is imperative that a good OC (Murlarkey/Musgrave) be able to adapt to this facet. I use the Colts as an example. They have never had a premier OL with the exception of center Jeff Saturday, a UNDRAFTED free agent signing. By playing to the skill set of their QB, using the intermediate passing game, and augmenting it with the run, they overcame the OL shortcomings to win the title. Why? Innovation in their scheme.

Gary Kubiak did the same thing last year with a healthy Matt Schaub. The Patriots did it with a host of middle round picks on their OL. We can do it too. It takes time to develop the OL, it takes an OC that is innovative, and it takes a commitment to the Process.

All three are in place in ATL. We just need to let the river flow.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:33 pm

Excellent points ATLJBO…that is where the battle lies.

Again, I say keep an eye on the Rams-Falcons connection. STL needs OL personnel. I can see a trade of two OL players to STL for mid round picks. Patriot Way….trust me on this.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:35 pm

For those that suggest we drop Big Sam, I have one question. What next? This upcoming college season offers not much at the OT position. Especially when you consider where we SHOULD be picking.

And it is not the Patriot Way to give up large numbers of picks to move up. TD learned that lesson the hard way in season one when he moved up to get Big Sam.

waynester

June 9th, 2010
1:38 pm

D3
Great topic!
I believe it’s a make-or-break season for all the players you mentioned. Stats can be made to mislead, but in this case, I believe it paints an accurate picture of the failures of our lines. That Abe is getting his pressures on the inside is not just a function of how teams chose to attack him, but of the slowdown that many on here have noticed. The tandem of Baker/Blaylock is what concerns me most. I don’t see Svitek as the answer, either, so I find myself in a quandry as to how we should proceed. Blaylock is probably better suited to the right side(Baker,too) but who on the roster can anchor the left side? I thought for sure we would pursue UDFA Tony Washington(dude who had relations with his sibling), getting a playmaker for cheap, since no other team wanted the PR pressure of picking the guy. No FA LTs to speak of,either, has me at a loss for the solution. Thanks for bringing up the topic, as I feel the OL still needs lots of work…

waynester

June 9th, 2010
1:41 pm

ATLJBO is convinced that the rookie Johnson will win the LG job, but how can we count on a guy who has yet to take an NFL snap? I have hope for the guy but at this point I’m worried your faith may be misplaced, or at least, premature….

Brent

June 9th, 2010
1:45 pm

MJohnson is probably better than Blalock right now,he can’t be any worse.

The Real Falcon

June 9th, 2010
1:46 pm

I would prefer having a LT that’s not “still learning”, “tough as nails mentally”, or “if he can stay healthy”.
The guy started more games and was worse than his rookie year. He needs to step up or step off.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:47 pm

The improved conditioning program should help Sam Baker out this season as well I would hope. When healthy, as someone said earlier, he is more than adequate.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:52 pm

I state it again!

Our line lacks the speed and lateral agility needed to be effective in a pass heavy offense. If that is the route we want to take, we need to go to the no-huddle or spread given the quick release capabilities of MR2. In the meantime, run the rock and emphasize the intermediate passing game.
Damned!!

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
1:53 pm

Sorry for my bad word.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:06 pm

LT Sam Baker..

This article tells it better than anything I could add. If he is over the injury bugs and under the tutelage of Coach B, I am ready to say that the best is yet to come from big same. At least it shows something special when he puts team ahead of self and plays, even when hurt.

http://www.footballsfuture.com/2008/prospects/sam_baker.html

Hamp

June 9th, 2010
2:07 pm

LTs are like DEs you get superstars every once in a while so the others need time to develop. When healthy Baker does a good job. So give him time. He does sport the injury prone badge. I say we can’t do any better right now so roll with it.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:10 pm

Oops.. the best is yet to come from Big Sam.

Breaking right…holding down the night beat once more. See you all on the other side. Great convo and sure to get even better as the day and evening go on.

Laters…God Bless. One Nation, Falcon Nation..

D3

June 9th, 2010
2:11 pm

Seminole — Great points all around. The stats do a 180 on Blalock though. According to Blalock, he actually was above average in his pass blocking ability (+1.4, ranked 44th) and was absolutely terrible against the run (-9.4, ranked 74th). The fact is, as ATLJBO stated, the battle will be between Blalock and Dahl on who will be kept. What about Clabo? Could he be kept and moved to LG? Doubtful. My money’s this being Blalock’s last year and I could see a trade with St.Louis to get something for him. Remember they may want to keep Brett Romberg for backup duty as well.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

D3, we will trade one or two OL men to the Rams. They need them and Devaney knows what we have in stock on the depth chart. Any of them could continue to grow and develop there as there is no rush in STL.

Blalock’s issues, IMHO, are the result of him being the fish out of water. He simply is on the wrong side of the line. I respect the stats but the relevant facts scream otherwise. If we can not recognize that, then trade the brother and get some value.

http://www.footballsfuture.com/2007/prospects/justin_blalock.html

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:19 pm

RT – Reynolds
RG – Dahl
C – Hawley
LG – Johnson
LT – Baker

This is the future of Falcons OL. IMHO.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:20 pm

Clabo and Blalock would give the Rams a nice interior, veteran presence as the evolution of Sam Bradford takes place.

TD, I have Bill Devaney on speed dial. Should I call him up?

ATLJBO

June 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

waynester

I’m not talking about this year….. Mike Johnson is not starting this year….. I’m saying he is the future starter….. The RG position is the position up for grabs for the future (between blalock and dahl) ….

D3

I dont know will Clabo want to take that step back in the pay…. I think we will realistically sign only one of those guys…. Denver Bronco’s Guard Chris Kuper just got a contract for six-year, $28.021 million contract, including just over $13 million guaranteed. .. Who ever we resign to play Guard will not get a 6 year deal but they will make around 5 million a year (probably 4 years) .

We have to remember.. guys like Harry Douglas and Kroy will be FA after the 2011 season…. I think we will resign 1 O-Line (and probably draft a RT) .

ATLJBO

June 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

SeminoleWarrior

I dont think we will trade anyone…. We have awesome depth right now…. …. If we do make a trade its made be for 1 O-Lineman…. I dont think we will tho.

John Waynesworld

June 9th, 2010
2:43 pm

Geez D3, the more stats you find on ProFootballFocus.com the more I want to cry “STAT ABUSE!”

First of all I don’t know how you can rate a right tackle against a left tackle. Right tackles are generally underachieving left tackles moved to the right side or overachieving right guards moved to right tackle, or cemented right tackles who have never played out of position and have previously failed as a left tackle. Additionally, the left tackle usually gets the best pass rusher to protect the blind side of a right handed QB, which most NFL teams have. It befuddles me how these stat heads can conjure up some of this stuff. If I’m Sam Baker and I’m facing Jared Allen, how can this matchup be even remotely compared to Tyson Clabo vs Ray Edwards? Who is Ray Edwards by the way? You know what I mean. How can you manipulate a statistic that creatively and keep a straight face?

I also totally agree with CBrass and SW about the QB mobility dynamic. Another statistic monkey wrench.

All I know is Sam has one more year to get it right and if he doesn’t, then it’s time to let Hacksaw’s son, The Chainsaw, out of the tool shed.

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

ATLJBO, we will move them if we can stockpile picks. It is the Patriot Way.

Clabo and Blalock, for instance, can be traded for mid to late round picks. As you said, Bierman is a FA in 2011 and given what I expect of him this season, he is a MUST sign next season to a long term deal. Trust me, teams are keenly aware of his upside. We must retain him.

Douglas, if he returns to form, is the key to the effective integration of our intermediate passing game. He would be a keeper as well but I think we may be able to get the “hometown” discount for him.

Stockpiling picks, if possible, allows a master horseman like TD to continue to find those diamonds in the rough. Also, by not overpaying, we can be assured of a couple of comp picks each season. We need a minimum of 7 picks each year in order to ensure continuity of our Process.

Like your thoughts and feedback though my friend…

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:47 pm

JWW, I love the new nickname. By the way, Garrett was the nephew of the Hacksaw if I recall.

Thanks to you and CBrass for having my back. D3 is my brother for life….but I am with you on the stats. Damned, I love how you broke that down.

The Chainsaw…with your permission, I want to make sure I share that nickname with him at training camp unless you get to him first, JWW. I love it!!

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

Speaking of 2011 Free Agency: Here is the preliminary list. Oh, TD has his work cut out for him.

Norwood, Snelling, Finneran, Gonzo, Clabo, Ojinnaka, Blalock, Dahl, Lewis, Nicholas, Peterson, Wire, B. Williams, and Koenen.

Ouch!! So much for great depth at the end of this season. It is with this insight that I foresee some active trading going in the future. Too much talent to just let walk away….got to get whatever we can in as many cases as we can.
So you see where sign and trades could definately come into play now…

SeminoleWarrior

June 9th, 2010
2:55 pm

Truly breaking right now…will check in later from the office. Great convo. Kudos D3, on another great topic line. You are the man!!

Laters all. One Nation, Falcon Nation.

bigsapp1

June 9th, 2010
3:02 pm

When he has been healthy, he has showed signs of being a good LT, but when playing with injuries, he play has dropped off considerably. Hopefully we can solve his injury history with better conditioning, which that whole MMAtheletics training should produce, along with greater toughness.

ATLJBO

June 9th, 2010
3:07 pm

John Waynesworld

I agree… PFF is great but you have to go off what you have saw on the field mainly because PFF stats can be skewed …. I like PFF but i really cant base something around it unless the i see the play on the field match it…. I think Justin Blalock is better then his PFF stats say…. He getting blamed for s blitzer getting thru on a blitz overload is not his fault even if he technically suppose to picked up that guy…

SeminoleWarrior

I understand its the Patriot way but we have not made allot of patriot like trades like that…. We dont do everything the Patriots does… I would be cool with trading one of them tho…. We would still have good depth…. If we trade 2 O-Lineman…. We would be in the same position we were last year (O-Line depth thin)