Can Stephen Nicholas Turn the Corner?

Is #54 a Long-Term Option at OLB?

 One of the few holdovers from the Bobby Prictrino-Rich McKay GM era, Stephen Nicholas has put in due time to become a full-time starter last year. He has all the physical tools (6’3, 230) and speed to become an excellent linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons. His first full year had some pretty decent results and definitely shows some major promise. He had 80 tackles, one forced fumbles, and 3 sacks on the season. In fact, he was the only linebacker able to rack up sacks and put pressure on the opposing QB. Nicholas notched 3 sacks, while Mike Peterson got one and Curtis Lofton recorded zero. The Falcons drafted Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and it seems as though the new #56 will make his way on the field sooner rather than later. Some believe that that Weatherspoon may be a better fit for a strongside linebacker, which would allow Nicholas to move back to his more natural weakside position, although his coverage was really poor last year. Is it a certainty that Peterson will be the one to go? The cagey veteran won’t go quietly. Can Stephen Nicholas take the next step, or will the Falcons be in the market for another outside linebacker very soon? Time for debate……..

Nicholas By the Numbers – 2009

((Rankings only include 4-3 OLB’s))

Snaps – 678

Comprehensive Overall OLB Rank – 24th (+1.6 Rating)

Pass Rush Rank – 7th (+3.4 Rating)

Coverage Rank – 43rd (-2.5 Rating)

Run Defense Rank – 22nd (+1.7 Rating)

Penalties – Tied 26th (-1.0 Rating)

QB Sacks – Tied 6th (3 Sacks)

QB Hits – Tied 14th (2 Hits)

QB Pressures – Tied 17th (5 Pressures)

Missed Tackles – Tied 13th (3)

Defensive Stops – Tied 22nd (28 Stops)

Receptions in Coverage – 41st (33)

Catch Percentage – 19th (71.7%)

Yards Given Up – 47th (390 Yards)

Yards Per Catch – 50th (11.8 Average)

Yards After Catch – 43rd (245 Yards)

TDs Given Up – Tied 1st (0)

Interceptions – Zero

Passes Defensed – Tied 7th (3)

Opposing QB Rating – 25th (97.2 Rating)

Great Games – Jets, Saints (1st Game), Cowboys

Bad Games – Patriots, Saints (2nd Game), Panthers (2nd Game)

(((Special Thanks to ProFootballFocus for the Excellent Stat Work)))

Stephen Nicholas Individual Stats and All 4-3 OLB Rankings

Some Potential, No Pro Bowler

Stephen Nicholas definitely has some upside, but any Falcons fans expecting the next Pro Bowler will likely be disappointed. Although he was a 4th round draft pick, Nicholas seemingly took quite some time to get on the field as a permanent starter. It is true that there were many players in front him with Michael Boley and Keith Brooking, but Nicholas seems to have a limited ceiling.

He’s already 27 and some fans are even questioning if he will be the linebacker to go in favor of Mike Peterson. Nicholas might simply be a pass-rushing specialist because he was pretty atrocious in pass coverage ranking near the very bottom. Perhaps he’s out of position, but if his pass coverage does not improve than the Falcons front office may be in the market for another OLB opposite Weatherspoon. For instance, what’s the reason that Nicholas only got 678 snaps where 33 year old Mike Peterson (at the time, he’s now 34) got 1038 snaps?

Nicholas Just Getting Started

#54 is one of the only holdovers from the Bobby Prictrino era and that should speak volumes all on its own. They obviously felt good enough about Nicholas to let both Keith Brooking and Michael Boley go after the 2008 season. Yes, they drafted Weatherspoon this April, but that’s almost a direct correlation to Mike Peterson’s likely last year as a Falcons (34 and last year of his contract). Nicholas had triple the amount of sacks that his OLB teammate Peterson did, including the fact that Curtis Lofton had zero.

Keep in mind too that Nicholas only received 678 snaps to Peterson’s 1,038. He had 80 tackles and ranked near the top in many areas including sacks, pass rush rank, and passes defensed. It was his first full year as a starter and he will only get better considering he just turned 27 and could possibly flourish moving back to his more natural weakside linebacker position. Also consider the fact that Nicholas had to deal with an unbelievably hard personal issue off the field with his infant son needing a heart transplant during the 2008 season. Excellent Entire Story by Pat Yasinkas Link Here. Nicholas has all the tools and skills to take the next step and will pair with Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon to give the Falcons the most athletically talented LB corps in years.

 

The Real Expert’s Time (Your Turn)

-What’s your overall thoughts on Stephen Nicholas?

-Is #54 a truly reliable option at outside linebacker?

-Has Nicholas hit his ceiling?

-Who will be the starting OLB’s on opening day? Mid-season?

-Will/Should the Falcons be in the market for another OLB soon?

-Is Nicholas/Lofton/Weatherspoon the most athletic LB corps in recent memory?

 

Check Out our Falcons Friends

-The Falcoholic Has Some Great Topics Up as Usual

-Troy Heinzman Has a Neat Pre-Season Predictor at Blogging Dirty

-FalcFans.com’s Got a Story About the Falcons WR Competition

-AJC Falcons Writer D.Orlando Ledbetter Talks DJ Shockley’s Future

 

Please Come Follow The Bird Cage (D3_Falcons) on Twitter and Become a Facebook Fan of The Cage

 

144 comments Add your comment

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
9:46 pm

D3 I cried the first time I read the piece by PY, I cannot read it again.

ATLJBO

July 19th, 2010
9:49 pm

Some may think im crazy but i think Nic can be a poormans Julian Peterson… It all depends on how we use him…. I think the guy can be a impact LB and help give us one of the most complete LB groups in the NFL if we use him the right way…. Curtis Lofton the run stopper…. Spoon the coverage playmaker… and Nicholas the blitzer….

I think its up to how the coaching staff use the guy tho… if we blitz him more… We will like what we see.

Ive been looking at our games on NFL Rewind online… The guy was our most complete LB last year to me to be honest.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D. Orlando Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter and Dawson Devitt, Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/bzqWi1 – Can #AtlantaFalcons OLB Stephen Nicholas turn the corner and become a star? New #TheBirdCage / #AJC Post. [...]

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
9:50 pm

But it did make me really respect the guy. I hope he steps it up.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: AJC's fan blog: Can Stephen Nicholas Turn the Corner? http://bit.ly/cEFSgX [...]

falcon21

July 19th, 2010
9:55 pm

Joel Williams, Al Richardson and Buddy Curry. I hope we now have the talent to match those three.

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
9:59 pm

Me too F21. I think we do.

falcon21

July 19th, 2010
10:03 pm

Hope so Sarah, it looks good so far.

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
10:06 pm

If we stay healthy the schedule weighs heavily in our favor.

falcon21

July 19th, 2010
10:18 pm

If we stay healthy we have the 98 team again but we should be deeper in talent than that team. I may be dreaming but I see this team making a long run in the playoffs and hopefully the SB. It kinda reminds me of the 80 team but with a better coach.

Eric

July 19th, 2010
10:37 pm

I think Nicholas is a keeper. His numbers were okay, just not great. His main problem will be trying to out-perform Weatherspoon.Lofton will start, Peterson will probably have the edge over Nicholas, but if Nicholas does not look lights out against Weatherspoon, the tie will go to Weatherspoon and Nicholas will be a back up.

falcon 21,
I here what you’re saying with this falcons team and their depth, but I’ll go one step further: The Falcons will win the division, and they WILL make it to the Superbowl.

falcon21

July 19th, 2010
10:52 pm

I hear ya Eric, and with ya buddy.This could be our year. A lot of good things have to happen. I DO BELIEVE

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
10:58 pm

Pitt – No Ben, Ari – No Kurt, Iggles – No McNabb, Cats – No Delhomme. That means we must at least split with NO and we should be good to go.

falcon21

July 19th, 2010
11:06 pm

Ain’t gonna be no split with NO Sarah, we will dominate. You heard it here first. Have a goodnight Sarah. Enjoyed the the convo.

Great Falconi

July 19th, 2010
11:25 pm

Bobby Prictrino

I like what you did there.

bcinbuford

July 19th, 2010
11:32 pm

Hey guys and gals. Yes I am very psyched about this season too. I was wondering though, we were able to get probably the two best TE’s this year. That puts five on our roster, what do you think we should do about the final roster. Lets face it, we know who our #1 TE will be…duh, but what about the other four. Looking at these two, Michael Palmer and Colin Peek, I really think the coaches should look hard at keeping them on the roster. Both were not only accomplished receivers, but they were also two of the best blocking TE’s in the nation. If this is the last year for TG, shouldn’t we have these kids learning from the best in the business. We know that both Peele and Zinger were here for the blocking aspect only. With these two kids you get the complete package. They both have the size needed for TE in the pros, and both have proven themselves as very durable players. I know this seems like a gamble, but don’t you think TD or Smitty should want to take the chance? Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Sarah B

July 19th, 2010
11:55 pm

bcinbuford – I think training camp @ preseason will tell that.

bcinbuford

July 20th, 2010
12:04 am

As for Stephen Nicholas, he will be around as a Falcon for a while I believe. The coaches might have him split time with Spoon this year, but we all know how Smitty likes to cross train his players. We might even get to see a glimpse or two of the future with Nicholas, Lofton and Spoon in there at the same time. I know Van Gorder likes to blitz from everywhere, but doesn’t it just make sense to put your best blitzing linebacker on the weakside? We know that Lofton will stop the run, and Spoon has the athleticism to cover TE’s and RB’s. Yes I think they have given us a good reason to be excited about our LB corp for the future!

Stirg d'Nahsif

July 20th, 2010
1:55 am

Its too much for me to read back and catch-up to where we are; so, judging from the most recent comments I want to chime in on the starters (like most think, I know its too early). I actually like #54, D3. I really fell in love with Nicholas when I discovered his sacrifice he made for his child. Through it all, during the time of her ailment, he played football and did very well, I might add. On the field, I think he can (will) be exceptional. Now that his personal affairs are in order, he can concentrate on playing football. You know what I believe is going to take Nicholas to the next level? (don’t laugh) Sean ‘Spoon. Two years ago, Coach Smith said that his system requires interchangeable position(s). He needed his defensive backfield to consist of players that can play multiple position. He needed a free safety to strong safety; and needed both to play corners…thus, William Moore is drafted. ‘Spoon was drafted to play both outside line positions (he also has reps at Mike). This allows Nicholas to freely approach his craft and, ultimately, allowing him to avoid his weaknesses (imagine that). So, with that said, could you imagine a defense with a 3-3 front or a 4-2 front (with interchangeable linebackers)? Then we can play the Three-Headed Safety (Coleman, Moore and DeCoud) and a linebacker corps of Nicholas, Lofton and Weatherspoon (lets call this unit Defensive Law Firm; The Firm). May I suggest:
4-3-4
Anderson
Babs
Perry
Biermann
Nicholas
Lofton
‘Spoon
Robinson
Owens
DeCoud
Coleman

3-3-5
Anderson
Perry
Biermann
Nicholas
Lofton
‘Spoon
Robinson
Owens
DeCoud
Moore
Coleman

I really don’t believe that Abraham will make the team this year.
Coleman will survive the cuts because Moore is injury prone.
Grimes will be the best nickel back in the NFL this regular season.
T.O. will be a Falcon by regular season.
Good night.

Ed

July 20th, 2010
2:56 am

Your usual stellar work D3. If Nicholas is used properly he can flourish. We need to play to his strengths which is rushing the QB in particular. I remember when DeMarcus Ware (with the Cowboys) struggled at first when they tried to make him into something he wasn’t. Then they turned him loose on the edge and the rest is history.

BT

July 20th, 2010
6:26 am

Good job, as usual D3.

I concur, with dcinbuford.
Nicholas will likely be in around for a while.
Good points on Palmer and Peek also.

Come on Strig, REALLY?
Abraham released and T.O. in a Falcons uni?
Not no but hell no to both ideas.

Dan

July 20th, 2010
8:37 am

I see Travis Lewis OLB for Oklahoma in the near future (2011 draft) as the Falcons other OLB

WR

July 20th, 2010
8:42 am

Stirg, you left off the 3-4, just imagine along the DL, Abe-Lewis-Andersen, yes Andersen because in the 3-4 the DE is not counted on as much to put pressure on the QB the OLBs are, the DEs need to be strong against the run and Andersen has that covered. Now as for the OLBs you have Spoon and Nicholas, in the middle you have Peterson and Lofton, now thats a strong front seven. The Falcons will be able to utilize multiple fronts this year which is what Smitty favors, between him and BVG the Falcons should be able to bring it defensely by about the 6th game of the season.

By the way, I too am not opposed to a T.O. signing. I know, I know, he’s supposedly a cancer, he kills locker rooms, but I believe he has been humbled, even if he hasn’t a strong locker room, a strong coach, and a strong organization have proved to offset these problems. Without the presence of a face of the franchise, Ryan, without a first ballot hall of famer, Gonzalez, without an already proven number one receiver, White, maybe T.O. past problems would be an issue even if he still had them, but the foundation is in place to take a chance on this type of personality, how did it work out for Moss, actually the experience of going to NE has completely changed the guy. Without knowing how Douglas will return from injury and with the knowledge of not being able to expect much out of Jenkins in the passing game I don’t think a T.O. experiment would hurt this team. The one think that has been consistent about T.O. is the fact that when he has felt hung out to dry he always makes it his mission to prove naysayers wrong for at least one season and with no one taking a chance, believe me the team that does will get a receiver that plays out of his mind, especially if their in contention. We just need him to do it this year while our rookie’s develop,Douglas completely rehabilitates, and Ryan continues to grow.

Self Fawd Nanekcihc

July 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Thanks JJ! Now I got it Stirg! lol

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

July 20th, 2010
9:05 am

Good analysis D3. Appreciate your work. Nicholas was horrible in coverage last year…I mean really bad. But it was his first year on the field, and most first year LBs in the NFL suck at pass coverage.

He will get better, but he will never be Vilma.

However, the man was downright brutal against the run. Real physical. Complete opposite of Boley (finesse LB). You need guys like Nicholas on your team, IF he can get better against the pass. I think he will.

FBD

CBrass

July 20th, 2010
9:36 am

D3,

As always great job. I think SN54 will be fine. As it has been said before he was basically a rookie last season. With what he’s been through and now losing his head really say alot about his guy.

As far as T.O coming to ATL…LMAO yea right!! And Abraham being cut…not gonna happen. He will be here.

Coop

July 20th, 2010
9:54 am

D3 – Great work again. I think I was one of the few last year that wasn’t down on Nicholas. I like this kid a lot. I think he can be a great linebacker for us if we ever get the rest of the D squared away so he can play the position correctly.

Our mentality on D the last two years is a bend but don’t break. This encourages coverage guys to allow the catch versus getting burned for big plays. Unfortunately, we did a lot of both last year. The biggest problem was getting no puch from the DL. If Abe has another year in the tank, Beerman takes over and wreaks havoc on the left, and our DTs finally anchor the line, we might start to see a whole different look from our LBs and CBs in coverage.

We’ll force more bad throws, quick throws, and throwaways. We’ll put our opponents in long conversion attempts. Basically, we’ll set up our playmakers on D with situations that favor them.

I’ve said it a thousand times, good to great DL play makes the other 7 guys look better than they sometimes are.

So I think our D improves because we can be more aggressive. We are finally getting the pieces together that allow us to turn up the pressure instead of just hoping for mistakes. I think you’ll also see an increase in take aways this year.

Stirg – I think Abe is gone next year, but he starts and registers 8 – 12 sacks. As for TO, I don’t want him. I don’t care that it worked for NE and Moss. I want high-character guys all the time.

Coop

July 20th, 2010
10:05 am

WR – If we played a 3-4, which I don’t believe we have the NT to do effectively, but if we did, what do you think about JA98 as an OLB?

waynester

July 20th, 2010
10:10 am

If we can get the rotation going, Nicholas should get enough snaps on the WLB side to give us an answer to the “best position” question. Even if Sidbury steps up big-time, I can’t see us letting Abe go when he’s still under contract anyway. He’d probably be more effective in a rotation with even fewer snaps than last season, but only if Sid is up to the task of starting. (I’m not giving up on the possibility of a bounce-back season for Abraham, either). As for TO, if he’s unsigned by the end of camp and one of our projected starters goes down I’d take the idea a little more seriously, but not much more. He doesn’t fit the profile of player TD/MS are using build this team. The only way I can see it is–if we’re desperate. Yes, he’s talented but he’s not a Smitty-type player.

Hamp

July 20th, 2010
10:18 am

What’s your overall thoughts on Stephen Nicholas?

I think he is a good/servicable LB he isn’t going anywhere.

-Is #54 a truly reliable option at outside linebacker?

yes you can’t count on him in passing situationd but he will knock the snot out of you he is reliable.

-Has Nicholas hit his ceiling?
If he has he is still good for the now. I think he can get better dude is 6′3″ he is alittle stiff but a good backer.

-Who will be the starting OLB’s on opening day? Mid-season?

Peterson, lofton, Nicholas at the opening. By mid season I think if peterson wears down like last season he will start and on 3rd downs spoon will play. Peterson won’t go quietly he is still a good backer and he is willing to tutor spoon. Win Win!

-Will/Should the Falcons be in the market for another OLB soon?

Not this year but get one in the draft next year. Barring injuries we have an above average LB corps

-Is Nicholas/Lofton/Weatherspoon the most athletic LB corps in recent memory?

Yes we have always had one or two but now Our LB corps is a strength and very good strength. I like the Idea of multiple defenses this young team can employ.

I keep saying this don’t count JA98 out I beleive he is gonna be a awesome DT. We will get a return on him and on the cheap because he did not live up to his contract we will get a discount on the next contract. If he doesn’t show up I will eat my words gladly but I think he will turn out to be a good maybe one day very good DT remember he is still one of the youugest players on the team.

I think all of the lack of attention T.O is getting will humble him and I would love to have him on this team. We have a young but Strong locker room. So give him a fair contract and sit him down and tell him the falcon way and if he deviates in anyway let him know he will be cut. This team is for the most part three years into it. I don’t think anyone can disrupt what we have built.

WR

July 20th, 2010
10:28 am

Coop, it wouldn’t be the Falcons base defense of course but as a different front if Lewis is in as good of shape as he looked at camp he could fill the NT position in sub-packages. As for JA98 at OLB in the 3-4 I could see, matter of fact many have suggested he would probably be better suited for that role. I could see a 3-4 front of DL, Abe-Lewis-Biermann, OLB Nicholas and Andersen, MLB Lofton and Petersen, that group would be strong against the run and you could bring your pressure from the middle with Lofton and from the outside with a combination of Nicholas and Abe, you could then actually drop Andersen and Biermann into a Zone blitzing style of coverage.

Also, see your point of T.O. he’s somewhat of an enigma, actually in person the guy is nothing like he is like in a locker room, he’s actually laid back and extremely quiet in person he has no character issues on the field thats another monster. Now a certain QB in the Falcons past was hell in person, straight ghetto, being around the guy I figured it was only a matter of time. I mention that to say it won’t convince many people but T.O. has only wanted the ball, mostly in dramatic fashion attempts at getting it, at his age and considering the drama he has caused I think, don’t know if I believe it yet, but I think the man generally wants to win and go out a little better then what he has brought upon his career.

Coop

July 20th, 2010
10:34 am

WR – Agree that 3-4 would only be for sub packages. Interesting take on zone blitzing options. I’ll admit I know much less about the intricacies of the 3-4 as I do the 4-3 (and I’m no expert there). I look forward to the Dawgs switching and hopefully learning more about the 3-4. However, I’m not sure we have the personnel to man the line. Lewis just doesn’t strike me as a solid anchor. I preach about our two DTs anchoring the line in the 4-3. It is even more critical in the 3-4. Just don’t think we have that Casy Hampton – type player.

Also not sure that Beerman is the best DE for the 3-4. He might be like JA98 a better OLB. You could play Davis and Abe at DE in the 3-4 though. Hell, even Sid might be better suited for OLB in the 3-4.

Fun to consider.

Coop

July 20th, 2010
10:38 am

As for TO versus ol’ #7, I’ll agree they aren’t in the same discussion. But TO will bring with him distractions whether he creates them or not. He has achieved annual attention from the media. Like Farve, whether he’s a good team player or not, he adds a demention to the team that probably isn’t positive. How many more interviews does MR2 get specifically about TO? Other WRs? It’s just too distracting.

As my old man says, the juice aint worth the squeeze.

WR

July 20th, 2010
10:44 am

Coop, thats pretty much the point, who knows whats going to happen but the Falcons are finally starting to have some options. I forgot about Davis, he would be a decent fit also. I like the overall speed of the DTs now though, the team is built on fast penetrating DTs but I do wonder about that space-eater and anchor missing, but you have to remember we’re basing our opinion on the old NFL, the power running NFL, in this new NFL is about speading the field with the passing attack and mixing in some runs, thats where the speed of the DTs comes in. The 350lb anchor is not as important as it use to be, thats another reason so many teams have switched to 3-4s, getting more speed and personnel to make plays in space, the Falcons are doing the same but their utilizing small DTs that are bigger then 3-4 LBs, while also utilizing speedy LBs, same principles different alignment.

WR

July 20th, 2010
10:51 am

Good points on TO, didn’t really think about the distractions other then his blow-ups, but if there ever was a time when the team was built to finally handle distractions its now, I like the overall direction the team has taken, and I believe in the moves they have made and will make outside of Tye Hill, but everyone gets at least one pass.

Coop

July 20th, 2010
11:54 am

WR – good discussion and some great points. I think we’ll use the 3-4 a couple times per game, but I still think we lack the space-eater. The teams with the most successful 3-4s seem to have those guys. Wilfork, Hampton, Rogers, to name a few.

Ken Strickland

July 20th, 2010
12:14 pm

I don’t think the individual performances of certain players was due exclusively to a decline in individual ability, in DE JAbraham’s case, or limited ability, like in OLB SNicholas’ case. When we started the season, our DEF had rookie DT PJerry, 2 new OLB’s(MPeterson & SNicholas), a new CB(BWilliams) and 2 new safeties(EColeman & TDeCoud).
And during the course of the season, we lost both starting CB’s.

I remember a few yrs back when people questioned whether Ravens ILB Ray Lewis had lost a few steps, because his performance had certainly declined. Well, he finally spoke out and demanded management get him some help. He specifically stated he wanted another BIG BUTT to provide protection for him, and more help at ILB.

Ownership definitely listened and drafted exactly what he said he needed, and he immediately became the dominant RLewis of old. You see, it wasn’t his loss of ability that affected his play, it was his loss of support. With key injuries and the lack of experience, came the lack of stability, chemistry and support.

We can’t adequately judge SNicholas’ overall ability until the experience, chemistry and stability issues are resolved. OLB SWeatherspoon will likely be the only significant addition to our starting DEF. I wouldn’t consider DE KBiermann an addition if he starts, since he logged so many snaps last yr.

With the exception of CB DRobinson, this will be the 2nd training camp and preseason for all of our returning DEF starters, and all but DT PJerry will have had a yr of playing together. And, CB DRobinson is the only certain starter that has to learn the players, system and terminology.

This will be the 3rd yr the starting OL, that finished 2nd in rushing in 08, has been together. We also have key players who are determined to prove something. QB MRyan and RB MTurner want to prove the 08 wasn’t a fluke, and 09 was. TE TGonzalez wants desperately to finish his career with a Super Bowl win, or at least an appearance. OT TClabo, QOjinnaka, OG’s JBlalock & HDahl want to prove they deserve to be resiged, and/or offered a large contract by some team, if not the Falcons.

DE JAbraham wants to prove last yr was a fluke and he hasn’t declined that much. The there’s the battle at DE to prove who deserves to be the starter opposite JAbraham. With CB’s CJackson, COwens, BGrimes, DFranks and BWilliams, there will be no more desperation trades, and/or experimentation, like we’ve done the past 2yrs, if the CB opposite DRobinson falters.

CBrass

July 20th, 2010
12:46 pm

LRD

July 20th, 2010
12:51 pm

D3: Wonderful write up. Cage in whole brings out the point, are we seeing the forest from the trees, as the D as a whole functioned good last year, and the whole bend not break just personally drives me nuts… but as Mr Strickland stated, we finally have everyone here for training camp. As a team we have a team with experience together (yes I know we did have some new additions)but overall no distractions on signings or hold outs (other than suspension for big man coming up)..allowing the focus purely on the team, and not on individuals per se.

Peterson in last year here, Spoon maybe not ready for prime time means that Nicholas has no choice but to be the man this year…and the thoughts of next year of Lofton, Spoon and Nicholas.. yikes!
The TO conversation… maybe the fact no one seems to want him will humble him so that the team that does pick him up could have less issues. Sign him here for a 1 yr contract to scare Jenkins a bit, and make Roddy even more hungry for the ball could shake things up a bit. Plus a large target like him in the redzone could mean Gonzo is not blanket covered every time. I know in the past I said I was against it.. but now I would say I am sitting on the fence…..

LRD

July 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

Cbrass: him and all of us too!!

The Real Falcon

July 20th, 2010
1:24 pm

Move him to his best position and then let’s see.

WR

July 20th, 2010
1:34 pm

LRD, alot of us have been in the H@ll NO department for T.O. but that fence your sitting on is getting a bit crowded specifically because of the points you just made.

By the way back to Nicholas, with a year under his belt look for the Falcons (Smitty and BVG) to finally get the opportunity to utilize his maximum ability. Even if his coverage ability is lacking his overall ability is far from it and its up to the coaches to put him in the best position to utilize his maximum potential not weaknesses. That being said, I see Nicholas being utilized more for blitzing this year, especially with a coverage backer like Spoon on board. If anyone looks back to the 98′ superbowl team, that team started an over the hill Cornelius Bennett who could get it done in the running game but suffered in the passing game, same could be said of the over the hill Daryl Talley, but that team had a rookie playmaking backer who came in during third downs, one Mr. Keith Brooking, could be me but sounds like a familiar formula in the works here with a far more talented team.

Speaking of the 98 team, back then the league was more of a power rushing attack type league except for the niners. But the Falcons got it done with an undersized Travis Hall, Shane Dronett, Chuck Smith, and the platoon on the otherside at DE. Now the current line may not have the credentials of that line yet, but its far more talented with even more speed, if the Falcons can avoid the injury bug, even if the offense sputters I finally can see the D winning some games, IMHO.

LRD

July 20th, 2010
1:45 pm

So…Bab’s dodges one jab.. now the roundhouse from Commish is coming…

Ken Strickland

July 20th, 2010
2:21 pm

LRD-Exactly. While we still have questions going into this season, especially on DEF, there aren’t as many, and they aren’t as serious. Unlike last yr, we now know what to expect from newcomers to the team like TE TGonzalez and OLB MPeters. We also know what to expect from 1st time starters like DT PJerry, DE KBiermann, OLB SNicholas, CB’s BGrimes & COwens, and safeties EColeman & TDeCoud.

We also know what to expect from rookie backup DT VWalker & UFA TJohnson, OT’s GReynolds & WSvitek, and WR EWeems. The only question marks we have going into this season are:

1-will OLB SWeatherspoon earn a starting spot or provide quality backup?
2-will our OL, RB MTurner and QB MRyan repeat their performances of 08 or 09?
3-will OC MMularkey open up the OFF and expand his so far conservative play calling?
4-will we get the pass rushing capability of 08 or 09?
5-will DT PJerry, WR HDouglas and safety WMoore remain relatively injury free and contribute?
6-Will rookie DT CPeters, OG MJohnson, OC JHawley and WR KMeirs progress and contribute significantly?
7-will DE LSidbury make the leap and become a serious challenger for the starting DE position, or a major contributor to our pass rush?
8-Will CB DRobinson become the shut down CB he was paid all of that money to be, and solidify our secondary?

For the most part, these are not questions that would pose a serious problem for a team looking to become a Super Bowl contender. Most of the questions are related to the development and contributions of rookies and/or backup players.

Like I’ve said before, there’s a reason more and more sports writers are picking the Falcons over the Saints to win our division. And if they think we’re good enough to win our division over the defending Super Bowl champions, it means they think we’re good enough to win the Super Bowl.

D3

July 20th, 2010
4:30 pm

Hey Cage! — Was invited to be a guest on The Falcoholic’s Second Podcast now titled “Courage and Fight”. If you haven’t yet, please check out The Falcoholic in general.

Check out the new podcast in which I’m a guest along with Adam Schultz and Jason Kirk (Writers and Editors of The Falcoholic) and Caleb (Member/Fan of The Falcoholic). Let me know what you think. Hopefully, not too bad.

It’s under the “download” option at the bottom of the post.

D3

July 20th, 2010
4:31 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2010/7/20/1577905/courage-and-fight-episode-002

Sorry, forgot to include link.

Special thanks to Adam, Jason, and The Falcoholic for having me.

JJ

July 20th, 2010
4:52 pm

D3, congrats buddy, “movin-on-up”!

Coop

July 20th, 2010
5:27 pm

SeminoleWarrior

July 20th, 2010
5:41 pm

D3, Outstanding work my friend with the interview. Cool, calm, collective. Great knowledge, smooth delivery. Well done.

SeminoleWarrior

July 20th, 2010
5:41 pm

Back in a few to discuss the Nicholas questions….