Grade the Atlanta Falcons Off-Season

How Did GM Thomas Dimitroff Do?

Back in Camp (C.Compton/AJC)

It’s heaven again: Atlanta Falcons football has officially returned! Gone are the days of being on pins and needles on whether or not the NFL and Falcons would return or if any of the season would be missed. There will be plenty of time to jump headfirst into the Falcons training camp, position battles, and roster spots, but we would be remiss if we didn’t reflect on the insanely quick off-season that was. Give your grades for the Falcons off-season moves and the job that Thomas Dimitroff did.

The Cage’s Take

Ray Edwards – A+

The only Falcons true free agent signing was a master stroke by Thomas Dimitroff. Everyone who has ever made any comment about football in the history of the sport said that the Falcons HAD to address their pass rush and if they didn’t, they were in for an awful year. Well, even though the Falcons probably would’ve been ok without a defensive end signing, but TD probably made one of his best free agent strikes since becoming GM.

Even though Edwards hasn’t played a down yet, the fact that the Falcons got one of the best and most consistent defensive ends available speaks volumes for what this defense can now achieve. Edwards has had 16.5 sacks the past two years, which about quadruple or 5 times the amount that the defensive line not named Abraham has had in that same time frame combined. Edwards is only 26 and was ranked as one of the best overall defensive ends by ProFootballFocus.com. The icing on the cake was the amount. After the Panthers paid about half their salary cap to Charles Johnson, TD inked Edwards for exactly half (12 million a year vs. 6 million) of what the Panthers paid Johnson. Well done sir!

Tyson Clabo – A+

Arguably the biggest potential free agent was Clabo, who just made his first Pro Bowl and was considered the best offensive lineman on the Falcons extremely consistent OL over the years. There was some worry that Clabo would try and cash in as on a big payday and bolt town, especially when there was news that Buffalo was making a strong play for the right tackle. In the end, the Falcons kept their bedrock on the right side after agreeing to an extremely fair deal. Clabo got locked up for 5 years at $25 million a year. The Falcons wanted to keep Clabo and he wanted to stay in Atlanta: a perfect win-win.

Harvey Dahl – A-

Tough to See Dahl Go (C.Compton/AJC)

Fans knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but how many of the three offensive linemen wouldn’t be retained on the model of consistency OL. In reality, the Falcons excellent consistency (Clabo, Blalock, and McClure haven’t missed a start), was just too good to be true and they benefited for a long time by being one of the more underrated offensive lines in the NFL. The secret was out after the 13-3 season and doing so well in rushing and passing categories. Dahl’s contract details haven’t been released, but the writing on the wall came when TD drafted Mike Johnson in the 3rd round with the assumption that he would be starting sooner rather than later.

It’s very unfortunate that Dahl is leaving, but he continues the Billy Devaney-Falcons-Rams connection and is going to a team on the rise. Even though Dahl was ranked by some as the best of the 3, he was probably the best to lose. Blalock is younger and more versatile and guards are much easier to find than bookend tackles like Clabo.

Stephen Nicholas – A

One of the most underrated signings of the free agency period. Yes, some believe that Nicholas isn’t that great and that the Falcons should have pursued other options, but this may turn out to be one of the best. Nicholas hasn’t made the impression of being the next Ray Lewis, but he has shown major flashes and owns, by far, the highest sacks total in one year (3) by any linebacker under the Smith/Dimitroff regime.

Another reason this was a must was due to the lack of options if they didn’t re-sign him. They could have gone with Mike Peterson at the age of 35 for an entire season, gone with an unproven player like Spencer Adkins or Robert James, or dipped into an extremely weak OLB free agent pool. Nicholas was signed for a very fair contract at 17.5 million for 5 years. Finally, this absolutely confirms that the starting linebacker corps will be Nicholas, Curtis Lofton, and Sean Weatherspoon. This gives the Birds their most athletic LB corps in a long time. Whether Smith and Van Gorder use them correctly is another major issue.

Jerious Norwood – B-

Many will vehemently disagree with this grade, but the Falcons could have really bolstered their insurance factor at running back if they would have re-upped Norwood. It absolutely true that Norwood hasn’t been able to stay on the field for more than a few games, but you have to look at what it would have cost to keep him. Even though the official money numbers aren’t out, it’s hard to believe that the Rams paid too much since they also signed Cadillac Williams to backup Stephen Jackson.

You can understand the Falcons staff not wanting to take away carries from rookie Jacquizz Rodgers (who’s reportedly having a very good camp), but they are extremely thin at running back behind Turner and Rodgers with Snelling still remaining unsigned. Hard to imagine that Gartrell Johnson and Antone Smith are answers after Turner and Rodgers. There’s no arguing that Norwood has proven unsustainable, but it’s also hard to argue that Norwood would’ve been a high risk in terms of contract.

Michael Koenen – A+

$19 million? No Thanks (C.Compton/AJC)

If there was a grade higher than A+, than this would have it. Dimitroff sealed Koenen’s fate when he took punter/kicker Matt Bosher in the 6th round, but after seeing how much Tampa Bay paid him ($19 million contract), this looks like the biggest no-brainer of all time. Especially considering Koenen made 2+ million a year and was 28th in the league in punting average.

Matt Bryant – A-

Also a no-brainer after the year he had. There really was no other option and Bryant proved he could still kick after recording an excellent year filled with many last second winning kicks. The only reason this isn’t an A+ is due to the fact that he got a 4 year deal at the ripe age of 36. Did they learn nothing from the Jason Elam collapse?

Brent Grimes – A+

For all the drama surrounding Grimes this week, the bottom line is that he signed his restricted free agent deal, is now in camp, and said he “never intended not to sign.” It may be a case of simple miscommunication and Grimes has to know that he is line to get a very fair long-term deal from the Falcons front office, who have had a long history of being rewarded for great play and leadership (Clabo, Nicholas, White, Babineaux, Blalock).

Justin Blalock – A

Another great signing. After virtually no news regarding Blalock, it appears that it was just a matter of time of that they were just hashing out details. Blalock had the most potential and upside of all three free agents. He was drafted by the Falcons and has shown steady progress since working under Paul Boudreau. Only 27, Blalock can either continue his excellent work alongside Sam Baker on the left side, or he could move over to the right where he excelled at the University of Texas. The Falcons definitely showed how much they value Blalock when they gave him a 6 year, $38 million dollar deal. Maybe the Falcons overpaid a tad, but they locked up a core member of their OL for a long, long time.

Michael Jenkins – B

Even though Jenkins was the brunt of much criticism over the years (especially from this author), its tough to see a guy that was such a great teammate and leader in the locker room on the field leave town. Jenkins didn’t match his 1st round draft status, but he was consistent if not great. The simple truth came to bear, though, that with all the weapons on the field, Jenkins just couldn’t take advantage of the numerous one-on-one opportunities he was afforded. He was a good chain-mover, but definitely not a receiver to make plays after the catch. He even had difficulties taking advantage of his height in the red zone. If the Birds could have held onto him, they likely would have had one of the best and deepest receiving corps in the NFL. Jenkins didn’t really fit the description of a slot receiver in the 3 spot and it’s insane to pay a slot receiver or 4th WR over $4 million a year. Ultimately, he just didn’t live up to his contract or draft slot, but it’s still tough to see him go and the Falcons are now relying on two players who have had ACL injuries to complete 2 of the 5 spots available.

Jamaal Anderson – A-

The amount of space written about Jamaal Anderson could fill tons of books, so there’s no need in re-hashing a point of contention that has been completely worn out. Anderson couldn’t cut it at defensive end and was thought to have a shot at becoming a force at defensive tackle. Anderson was always good at run-stuffing and his versatility of playing both DE and DT made him attractive, but with the potential of getting Ray Edwards, his $3+ million salary was unacceptable for a backup. It would have been nice to keep him on for DT, but with a solid group of Babineaux, Peters, Jerry, Walker, and Lewis, Anderson finally was expendable. Some think that Chauncey Davis may have been a better choice to go, but ultimately Anderson’s versatility wasn’t a factor anymore with Edwards on board and the depth at DT.

Eric Weems – A+

Weems More Involved in Offense (C.Compton/AJC)

A special teams Pro Bowler looks to finally become more involved in the Falcons offense with the departure of Michael Jenkins. Weems returned two for touchdowns last year and there’s no more talk of him having to fight for a roster spot. He’s earned it on the field and hopefully will be involved in the offense.

Jason Snelling – N/A

It’s definitely a cop-out to not give a grade, but this one hasn’t been decided yet. Teams obviously didn’t have the feeling that Snelling could be a feature back, as some thought may happen. The Chiefs and Giants have both worked out Snelling, only to sign other backs after he left. The question is if the Falcons are not meeting his expectations in terms of money or if Snelling is hesitant to return with Rodgers on board.

A Nickel Back?

This seemed to be a definite need and its almost a certainty that Dimitroff will go the route he did with Brian Williams a few years back. Since the Birds only have 4 legit cornerbacks on their roster, they will need to add another cornerback. However, it may be an also ran if reports out of camp are true. There’s seems to be an epic battle going on between Chris Owens and Dominique Franks to land the nickel back spot. With their record of in-house development, don’t be surprised that any new cornerback signed won’t be a splash.

Mike Peterson – B+

Great to have Peterson back for his leadership and run-stuffing. He gives great insurance and a superb element to the locker room. Now that he’s in a backup role, this a great marriage. However, it does basically eliminate the possibility of a Spencer Adkins or Robert James making the jump and continuing their development since all 6 LB spots are spoken for (Lofton, Nicholas, Spoon, Dent, Peterson, Wire).

Overall – A+

Sure, there were names out there that the Falcons could’ve signed or the Bird could’ve have turned into the Philadelphia Eagles, who evidently are the new Washington Redskins, and just bought every big name out there, but Dimitroff’s methodical and amazing off-season moves have absolutely resulted in the Falcons owning their deepest roster in a long time, maybe in franchise history. Dimitroff kept the core players due up for free agency and added one of the best defensive free agents available to a team coming off a 13-3 season. Each year welcomes new position battles and competitions for roster spots, but the best thing is that outside of right guard, depth at running back, and nickel back, there’s not a ton of spots open. Thomas Dimitroff is the man, plain and simple, and has given the Falcons and their fans the best, most complete roster maybe in franchise history. He also has an amazing eye for what’s to come down the road. You can bet that this time next year, TD will have plenty of money to retain Curtis Lofton, Kroy Biermann, Thomas DeCoud, and Harry Douglas when they become free agents.

Your Turn

  1. Give your grades on all TD’s moves
  2. What was your favorite move?
  3. Do you have a least favorite move?
  4. What name should have TD gone after more aggressively?
  5. How happy are you with this roster?
  6. What else do the Falcons need?

217 comments Add your comment

Brian

August 5th, 2011
3:33 pm

I think the Falcons did an excellent job with the signings. Edwards was by far the best. Hated to see Dahl go though. The Falcons need another Grady Jackson type of DT.

Damon

August 5th, 2011
3:40 pm

I think he should have re-signed Jason Snelling hes’s proven him self time after time when Turner went out and on 3rd downs. It dont make any sense to me they didnt aggressively go after him.

JManye

August 5th, 2011
3:47 pm

Best job was with the o-line. Kept the two necessary and let the old one go. Combine that with the drafting o-linemen in the last two drafts and you have to give TD an A. Ray Edwards should be a success even if he only has 6-9 sacks per season becasue of the amount of money you are paying him. Jenkins needed to go. Julio should be able to learn something from Jenkins not using his size in all the 1 on 1 situations. If Julio can use is size and speed to go at these small corners he could be incredibly good as a rookie. Snelling would be a great end to the offseason but i wouldnt expect it. I think ATL brass are really liking what they see out of Quizz Rodgers. He plays bigger than he looks. And runs faster in pads than his 40 time suggests. Overall, Smith, TD, Blank and Co. definitely deserve a solid A for this shortened offseason.

Rikus

August 5th, 2011
3:49 pm

@JManye – Quizz is not a lead back in the NFL. If Turner goes down injured, who would you have us turn to? Not buying it. We need to add someone, and why not make that Snelling? He’s so versatile and does a ton of things for this team.

I refuse to grade the offseason until Snelling’s situation is resolved!

Flex

August 5th, 2011
3:50 pm

Great job TD! You have this team looking good. Can’t wait for the season!

falcon21

August 5th, 2011
3:50 pm

Best move was cutting JA and MJ giving us more cap room to sign Edwards and resign the others. I wish we could have resigned MJ but I knew it wouldn’t happen. I’ll give TD an A.

Paddy O

August 5th, 2011
3:51 pm

Agree on all except Jenkins – which would float somewhere between a c- and an F. I think most agree that Meier contributing is unlikely. Harry D was a big disappointment and we let Fin go. So, unless some of the practice squad guys make the leap, we traded Julio for Jenkins & Fin. The key to be expl is deception and distraction, which is tied into scheme – and for deception to be at its best, you need multiple viable options. Jenkins would have done that as the former #2. If I am the opposition D, I focus on Roddy & JJ – let Tony G get the underneath stuff – that leaves us exposed to good CB play. Jenkins would have caused teams major headaches. I’d still grade us at WORST A-. Very worst.

D3

August 5th, 2011
4:07 pm

How good is it to have Falcons Football back?

Brian — Well said. Tough to see Dahl go for sure, but it was the best possible situation.

Damon — Good point. I’m very afraid for our RB depth without Snelling. Hopefully, he’ll be back. Welcome to the Cage!

JMayne — Excellent point regarding Edwards. Because his contract was such a great deal, his expectations will be low. Whereas Charles Johnson better get double digit sacks for a long time with his deal.

Rikus — Agreed. Gartrell Johnson and, especially, Antone Smith showed me absolutely NOTHING. I mean, would it have killed us to give Ronnie Brown the same deal he got in Philly (1 year, 1 mill)? Could LT be an option?

Flex — Welcome to the Cage!

f21 — Ready for some football?

Paddy — Great points. I too have serious concerns about our WR depth. That being said though, Jenkins just wasn’t a fit as a slot receiver. HD and Weems provide us with that catch and run ability that Jenks doesn’t have. Hope that HD comes back in a big way, but agree that can’t expect too much from Meier. Really happy we have Brandyn Harvey on practice squad that could potentially take Meier’s spot. BFinn hasn’t been signed, so we could always bring him back for another run.

falcon21

August 5th, 2011
4:10 pm

D3, yes sir! Another great write up buddy!

falcon21

August 5th, 2011
4:20 pm

Paddy O, I hope Meier fools us all. Maybe someone from the Cage will go to Norcross tonight and let us know how Meier is looking.

LRD

August 5th, 2011
4:26 pm

I would have liked to kept Jenkins. And I too am hoping Meier pans out for us. I am still not 100% sold on HD.
That being said A on this year by TD. BUT the final is yet ready to be graded. As they season has yet to start.
One thing about sports in the ATL.. why is there not local TV Coverage of Friday Night Lights tonight?
Or is there and I missed something?

Damon

August 5th, 2011
4:32 pm

Damon

August 5th, 2011
4:34 pm

Im very Close freinds with Snelling and there trying to have him take a BIG cut in pay from what he was already making.

Damon

August 5th, 2011
4:35 pm

He did to much for the team to ask him to do that

This waters cold...and it's deep too!

August 5th, 2011
4:42 pm

T.Dimitroff – #5 considerations after you purge down the roster and free up cap room about 4mil

1.) Why would we not look at Brian Waters FA (OG) formerly of the KC Chiefs or the recently cut/wavied Bryant McKinnie FA – (OT) to shore up the Offensive Line? Two veterans would be great for Paul Beaudrou since we run a majority of snaps with a #6th flex lineman.

2.) Why would we not look at Ricky Williams FA (RB) , Clinton Portis FA (RB), or Jerome Harrison FA (RB) to shore up the #2 position of the depth chart for the veterans minimun , Ronnie Brown only got $1mil for 1 year and I am worried that the strained FA relationship with Snelling and our current cap issue will prevent him from re-signing with the club at the price that “HE” wants to.

3.) Why would we not take a look at Keith Bulluck FA – (OLB), or Pisa Tinoisamoa FA – (OLB) to shore up the linebacking core with instincts, while we have speed and youth with (nicholas, dent, spoon) they can also learn and develop into a force as a unit.

4.) Why would we not take a look at Kelvin Hayden FA – (CB), or Lito Shepard FA – (CB) to add playmaking ability and solid football instinct to the db position, especially at the nickel (which is basically a starting spot for the defensive scheme of BVG , or make a move for “Raw but Rangy” Free Safety – Taylor Mays woul “over time” we can develop into something special. I get worried everytime T.Decoud blitzes, however T.Mays or W.Moore as a blitzer is just unfair.

5.) Why would we not take a long hard look at Steve Smith FA – (WR) , or Mark Clayton FA – (WR) both players are coming off of injuries and back loaded incentive laden contracts would bode nicely for two recivers that run exceptional routes, can be moved into the slot position which would land them as 3rd down go to guys to take pressure off of Matty Ice and the crew and creates instant depth for the Playoff Push becuase by that time both recivers would be at full strength.

Just my thoughts , Sound Off falcons

T

August 5th, 2011
4:50 pm

Keep drinking the Kool Aid, A+? They didn’t do bad, I would give the Falcons a B. As far as your point about the Eagles being the new Redskins. Look at the age difference in the example you used, and the Eaglas signed players in their prime. The Redskins went after veterans at the Twilight of their career. A lot of people also think Ray Edwards benifitted from the play of Jared Allen and the Williams boys, and his stats are over inflated. The Falcons still line up a team this year the Eagles can stop in the playoffs with a defense which will hold in check the Falcon’s offense.

Coop

August 5th, 2011
5:02 pm

Ray Edwards – B+

The deal financially was very good, but I’m withholding an A until I see if this guy is truly an upgrade over Beerman. He is solid, but was he a product of two great DTs???

Tyson Clabo – B-

I think we had to let at least one OL walk. I can’t decide whether it should have been Clabo instead of Dahl. Clabo is better, but what about Garrett Reynolds. With this 5 year contract, did Garrett become a permanent backup or OG??

Harvey Dahl – B-

See Clabo

Stephen Nicholas – A+

First, I really like Nicholas and have thought he was reall close to breaking out. He has been played out of position and had personal issues that have stunted his growth. Further, out horrible DL play in the past has not helped our LBs at all. This gets an A+ because there was NO one else. We don’t sign this guy and we are struggling at OLB. This weas the best move as it was a MUST fill.

Jerious Norwood – A+

I’ll agree that we could have probably gotten him back cheap, but it’s time to move on. He would have pushed Quizz to 3rd on the dpeth chart till he got hurt. How much would that stunt Quizz during preseason. I loved Norwood, but you have to close the door and give the young dudes a shot.

Michael Koenen – A+

Totally agree with D3’s assessment.

Matt Bryant – B

Lenght of the contract is my only issue. Perhaps there were cap reasons, and they don’t intend to keep him 5 years…

Brent Grimes – B+

OK, this is an A+ move yesterday but a C+ move overall, so I’ll average out to B+. I know I’ll get cruched for this, but he’s not as good as folks think. He should be our NCB. Folks think he’s the best and DRob is a bust and that’s simply misguided logic. Grimes numbers are a result of DRob. Now, to his credit, he made the plays when they came his way. The money probably wouldn’t work for Nnamdi, but what about Joseph, Clements, Samuel, and somme of the others? There were better CBs available so C+. Once they were all gone, A+. With Grimes, we’re STILL thin at CB. Without him now is not an option.

Justin Blalock – B+

I think we overpaid, but he has the most upside of the 3 we had to consider resigning. Keeping him over Dahl was the right move. Now, where do oyu play him???

Michael Jenkins – B

Hate to see him go and I wonder what the cap hit will be. Didn’t we just resign him to a long term deal recently? I agree he couldn’t be the 3rd or 4th for that kind of money. If they tried to get him to restucture and stay for less and he refused, this grade is an A+. If they didn’t even try, this grade is prbably a D.

Jamaal Anderson – B

This is similar to MJ12. Did they try to restrucutre and he said no? I still think he’s a better DE than Davis and a better DT than Walker or Lewis… Would hav loved the depth, but I assum ehe wouldn’t resructure.

Eric Weems – C+

Ehhh. From a return point, good. But he’s not a good WR. I thought one of the upsides to Franks was ability to return?!?! Weems was a great returner last year, but he ate a valuable roster spot just to do that.

Jason Snelling – A+

I’m so tired of Snelling can be a feature back, he’s better than Turner. D3 hit it on the head, he’s worked out for other teams who aren’t even asking him to back up. Having him in the mix prohibits Quizz. I prefer the change of pace to two bruisers.

A Nickel Back – F

If we don’t sign a NCB, this will be the only area I say we truly missed on. Even if we do, it will likely be a no name. So, basically, our secondary is the same one that got torched in January… I hope Ray Edwards is hte difference.

Overall – B+

Edwards is probably a slight to mid upgrade over Beerman. At worst he improves depth. We cut salary on guys that just never lived up (Norwood, MJ, JA, Koenen). We kept some important core guys (Clabo, Blalock, Nicholas, Grimes). But we didn’t address the secondary and could have some depth issues at WR and LB. Not bad, but not A+ for me.

falcon21

August 5th, 2011
5:14 pm

Coop, I totally agree with you on Grimes. I just don’t see the same player that most seem to see. He would best help the team at NCB. That is just my opinion as a fan.

waynester

August 5th, 2011
5:21 pm

B-plus for sure, perhaps an A. Looking at the moves individually, we brought in better guys than the ones we cut…not to run those guys down(since they obviously had plenty of worth as far as other teams were concerned). Overall, we greatly improved our rotation at DE and WR. The only reason I’m not voting a solid A is the current uncertainty at Nickel and RB….

Paddy O

August 5th, 2011
5:31 pm

JB – watched the Kerry film – he has a good arm, relatively slow but gets open consistently and really does have good hands and doesn’t mind taking a beating. I have a lot of support for him, but our knee injury track record still leaves me to conclude that he needs 1 more year. Also, sad to say, but it appeared to me (at least on one fantastic scheme TD) that Kansas operates a more sophisticated passing attack than we do.

JB FALCON

August 5th, 2011
5:42 pm

Try as I might, I just can’t see an A at this time, meaning I think there is more to come. Gotta go with Coop on the B+, at this time. We still have a few weak links that I can’t envision starting the season without shoring them up. A Smith, maybe could fill in for Snelling but I can’t think of any way to use Gatrell, ‘cept maybe waterboy. They say Owens and Franks are looking good. I know Franks looked good from what we’ve saw of him. I’ll postpone my vote until we see what TD & MS some up with out of the crop we have. Could be some diamonds in there!

D3

August 5th, 2011
6:19 pm

T — Jason Babin – 31, Cullen Jenkins – 30, Ronnie Brown – 29, Nnamdi Asomugha – 30….Really?

BT

August 5th, 2011
6:45 pm

I look at the off season as a whole, draft and FA signings combined.
From that stand point, it`s hard to see where TD could have done much better, with the salary cap considerations and an uncertain CBA situation.
The bottom line, the team has improved in a couple of key areas, stayed about the same in several others and team has gotten a bit more mature, as they are still a good, improving, young team.
I won`t issue a letter grade at this point.
However, it is nice to have a smart GM in charge, that actually has a plan.
From a old Falcon fans POV, it`s nothing like the old days, when they often left us scratching our heads saying WTF.

John Waynesworld

August 5th, 2011
6:52 pm

LRD, it would be nice to see live streaming from FalconTV. I would even pay for it, dare I say. Not too much, maybe $5 to log in to a live feed. Some folks say it would help outside scouts too much. I have to agree. It would be a live action video combine of all UDFA players, which includes the raw talents discovered that teams protect through the practice squad rules, versus real NFL competition. The perfect scouting tape for other teams.

Dan

August 5th, 2011
6:53 pm

Any interest in LB Channing Crowder who was released by Miami or Taylor Mays Safety from the 49ers?

JB FALCON

August 5th, 2011
7:46 pm

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the 49ers sent out a “mass email” to the other 31 teams letting them know S Taylor Mays is available for trade.
The Niners are giving up on Mays after one season. The 49th pick in last year’s draft, Mays is what we thought he was: A straight-line athlete with no prayer of being an asset in coverage. They might salvage a late-round draft pick in a best case scenario. Perhaps Mays’ old college coach, Pete Carroll, would be interested in giving him a look in Seattle. The Seahawks’ current projected starting strong safety is Kam Chancellor.
Adam Shefter onTwitter

ATLol

August 5th, 2011
7:54 pm

@damon- you say “Im very Close freinds with Snelling and there trying to have him take a BIG cut in pay from what he was already making.”

however, he was making close to the minimum. How big a cut could it be?

DePlane

August 5th, 2011
8:19 pm

I like Grimes and think he still has room to get better. But I agree he would be a great impact player at NCB. I’m not comfortable standing pat with Franks and Owens.

I love the move to secure Nicholas and play him in his natural position. I really like our LB corps the way its shaping up.

I give TD an A+ on the Edwards signing; he will be looking to prove he’s not just a product of the Williams…plus the money was just right for #2 FA DE available.

Side note: Corey P #1 on depth chart tonight. Is PJ going to give us that push up the middle this year? We appear to be set with a solid rotation…what will happen to Sidbury?

Goodbye JRock; hope you can stay healthy with the Rams and good luck!

Jenks is a good receiver and came up with some memorable catches. But with pick of JJ it made him expendable in the financial sense to free up $ for Edwards.

JA release long overdue.

Hope Koenen doesn’t come back to haunt us; good move though.

To me keeping Clabo and Blaylock were no brainers. It will be interesting to see how the o-line shakes out. We got some big hosses who will be dukin’ it out for a starting position.

If Turner is 100% and fully recovered from his groin surgery, and his ankle is finally healed he should be back to pounding the rock. I’m looking forward to seeing Quizz behind an NFL line. I’m hoping the fireplug is going to give us that shifty, elusive bowling ball type runner who can kick it up in space. Love the pick and think he was a steal.

If Snelling doesn’t sign with the Falcons it will be a loss. He is a versatile back who when given the chance to be a role player in the offense makes the most of his opportunities and has shown flashes of brilliance. But doubt remains about his ability to be an every down back. If Turner went down I’m not sure I’d be happy with Snelling and Quizz as your 1-2.

Gatrell Johnson is a beast; don’t know if he can play from what I’ve seen. Antione Smith excited us in pre-season last year, but didn’t see much from him during the season.

Overall I give TD a B. Still think we need DB help.

Paddy O

August 5th, 2011
8:21 pm

man, Mays is a gigantic bust. Bummer for SF. also water too cold – you are not paying too much attention to the purpose & action of our gm, TD. He drafts & develops, yet you seem to think the whole team is disposable (lack of stability is its own negative – look at the economy). I’m happy with our team, and as stated (and now backed up by that dude from the NY Times & cbssports), I’ll be satisfied with 11 wins + a playoff win, at least. I’d like to keep the tough games close, and I’d really like to defeat both Philly & GB. As our preseason indicated last year, we need to come out with focus on offense, and score, score, score. I still don’t quite get why we are jerking Snelling around.

Paddy O

August 5th, 2011
8:23 pm

WE also need to work on avoiding losing composure as we did the last 5 or 6 games last year – we started to rack up penalties – especially unsportsmanlike ones. I do think Roddy was getting mauled last year the refs WERE NOT calling it.

DHunt

August 5th, 2011
8:57 pm

TD is absolute best acquisition of the new regime. Hasn’t made a mistake yet. A++, because he not only did he make all the right moves, I’d be willing to bet he didn’t make any bad moves. While I wish them well (unless they run up against the Falcons), we won’t miss any of the guys who moved on.

For those waiting to grade the off season until you see some results, consider this. The players have to be put in the right position to make plays. On the offensive side of the ball, we have four guys at WR who have proven they can make plays (and yes I am counting the rookie). How many four receiver sets will MM call? Will the screen pass and slant route find their way back into the Falcons playbook? The defensive side of the ball may be even more athletic than the offense. How much will BVG unleash the fury?

Point is, performance may be more on coaching and scheme than it is on personnel. This is the best Falcons team, from an overall personnel perspective, that has ever worn the red and black. That is pretty much the product of the mad scientist Dimitroff. Coach Smith has them performing at a high level every time out. But the offensive and defensive brain trust that is Mularkey and VanGorder has thus far come up short. And we’ve all heard the whispers that they just didn’t have the personnel they needed to do what they wanted to do. I can’t accept that rationale any longer. Not with the studs we have in the stable now.

E43

August 5th, 2011
9:00 pm

I give them an A+. They did everything they said they would do to improve the team.I’m not going to penalize them because a player signed on with another team. I think the cage can go out on a limb and say that they delivered. I don’t think Owens and Franks have both proven to be liabilities yet. Id rather stick with what we have and see what difference the pass rush does before possibly spending money on something that we might not even need.

E43

August 5th, 2011
9:07 pm

I also feel like I should say that Brent Grimes is a starter and not just with the falcons. He should be lined up at nickel more but in no way shape and form is he a nickel corner in the NFL.

Wabe

August 5th, 2011
9:45 pm

Just read an article right here on AJC about Kerry Meier and how he looked good at Friday Night Lights down in Norcross.

Good stuff, and as is the case with Peria Jerry’s solid training camp outing, lets hope we see it on the field come time to kick-off on Sundays.

Just imagine the number of offensive threats we’ll have lining up if this guy’s talents translate onto the field on Sundays.

Turner and Quizz in the run game.
Roddy, Julio, HD, Meier, TG, and even Quizz in the passing game.

Can’t wait to see what these guys can do on the field.

falcon21

August 5th, 2011
9:51 pm

Thanks Wabe for the news on Meier. Going to find the article now.

JB FALCON

August 5th, 2011
10:08 pm

Glad to hear that Meier is back and doing good. I think he will cure a lot of the uneasiness among some of us.

Big Ray

August 5th, 2011
10:27 pm

Read the same article Wabe did….

Good to know Meier is back at it. I hope he does better than expected. Perhaps I was wrong about his recovery time. After all, he got hurt BEFORE last season, not during it. So he’s had quite some time to rehab and all that.

Knew Money

August 5th, 2011
10:43 pm

Enter your comments here

Screen Pass

August 5th, 2011
10:59 pm

Smells weird in here…ahh football is back. Long time no see, glad to see most of the old crew still here. Where to begin? Paddy-O, as always, hit upon a major point..our schemes. Im gonna reserve judgement on grading our moves til I get back into the football swing of things but I will go ahead and say what I was always saying before. Our schemes on BOTH defense and offense need alot of work and hopefully these roster shake-ups will make that possible…at the bare minimum certain people can no longer hide behind “personnel” excuses. The old timers will remember i wasnt enthused as most with our draft this year. I expoused getting a RB from Illinois and a WR from Miami…will history show that the Bama receiver costing nearly 2 whole drafts was a better move than aquiring those two or a similar full offense type araingement? My crystal balls are busted at the moment so I cant help yall there but I do have my hunches lol. The signing of R. Edwards is huge and restores alot of my lost faith in T.D. and the “process”. If the Snelling situation is resolved and MM can figure out how to employ a more open passing attack that is complemented/ set up by the running game instead of a 3rd and long spray and pray try to convert to make up for 2 failed up the gut running plays system..this year could be very good.

WR

August 5th, 2011
11:18 pm

D3, nice post as usual, I’ll have to grade the moves on a whole, FA and the Draft. Given that idea, I believe TD deserves an A+ for effort, B- for may be reaching, so overall I give a B+. First the A+, the effort was great, the Falcons seemingly went out and drafted or signed an FA to address the holes or flaws supposedly the team had. Big play receiver beyond White, Julio, check, improve the pass rush, Edwards, check, obtain a change of pace dynamic RB, Quizz, check.

But, the B-, maybe reaching part, I believe that Julio has the work ethic and background to be successful, but many of us believe that, belief in an individual doesn’t translate to results by the individual. I was skeptical about acquiring Edwards, but the Falcons got him at a nice price, but I am only left with hoping he’s better then Biermann, not so much as feeling that way based on his play. Then there’s Quizz, sorry but sure the Falcons could have gotten Norwood for the low, but seriously how long do you continue to pay money for a spectator, great move in not resigning Norwood and the selection of Quizz. If Norwood has a great year and Quizz doesn’t make the team, I’ll still believe the same, because it was just a nice strategic move, something not often seen from this franchise.

As for the rest of the moves, Clabo, Blalock, Nicholas, all get an A in my opinion, their part of the core of this team and they still have some of their best years ahead of them.

WR

August 5th, 2011
11:30 pm

As for Grimes, guess I will join the being bashed over the head crew, COOP, and Falcon21, and say that I’m still not sold on him. My reasoning: If any of the people pronouncing Grimes as a better corner then Robinson can tell me that he can keep up the unworldly effort it took him last year just to acheive what he did, can continue, I’m all on board. But in all honesty thats what it would take, Grimes has to almost play perfect just to be decent.

I too love underdog stories, which is why I figure so many were so happy with Grimes, I was in that boat. At the same time know one can say his play would strike any of the respect that Robinson garnered, even opposing teams know Grimes has to be exceptional just to be decent. Some mock the “keeping it real idea” but lets keep it real anyway, Grimes is a true underdog story, he has the heart a fan wants to see in all sports figures, he’s humble give or take a Miko, no one with any decency would want to see him fail, but its highly unlikely, highly, for him to duplicate what he did last year, after all he is human.

Lastly Snelling, don’t get me wrong he has been a stud for the Falcons, especially when Turner has been injured. But is there anyone out there asking themselves why is Tiki Barber, a has been, Jerious Norwood, extremely injury prone, Cadillac Williams (see Norwood), and others getting not only looks and auditions but getting signed yet Snelling just hovers in limbo. I mean seriously it doesn’t appear as though the guy has gotten even a look until the Giants wanted to give Ahmad Bradshaw an extra reason to sign. Considering there’s not exactly many stud RBs in the NFL, a RB capable of being an every down back should at least be getting some decent attention, h@ll the Falcons aren’t even in a hurry to resign Snelling. That says alot, even though I would love for the Falcons to sign him, someone earlier complained because the Falcons wanted to pay him less, well obviously no one else wants to pay him more, you get paid for what your worth, for the Falcons he’s worth alot, for other teams not so much, so should they over pay for a player no one else wants, naw.

Jimmy Jam

August 5th, 2011
11:35 pm

Overall I think he did a good job. However, they still need another WR, Douglas as a #3 is not gonna put fear in any nickel or dime defense. Jenkins was bad at times, but obviously still better than the slight Douglas, but I guess cost too much.

Brian

August 5th, 2011
11:51 pm

A+. Just please sign a solid CB that is good enough to start if neccesary. That way Grimes and Dunta are pushed to play their best. There is NO WAY anyone on the current roster has a chance to unseat them as starters. I do like Franks’ size and athleticism though.

Also need a veteran WR that is also good enough to start in case of injury. HD and Meier are not ready to be #2’s yet. This scares me. If Roddy or Julio miss games with injury we are not looking good here.

Also need a vet RB if we don’t resign Snelling.

A big bodied NT (Grady Jackson type) and a solid backup LB and we are set.

More work on the roster is needed still.

DHunt

August 5th, 2011
11:58 pm

WR, you just keep sleeping on Grimes. He was that good, even being targeted all the time, with absolutely NO help from the front seven as far as QB pressure. Perhaps you should be asking yourself how much better he might be if the opposing QB has to release the ball a little early. Watch the tapes. Grimes receiver receivers didn’t have that much YAC because he was always right there, even when he didn’t make them miss. Coverage is a team issue. Even Nnamdi can’t cover forever.

Big Ray

August 6th, 2011
7:28 am

Screen Pass ,

Oddly enough…I have more faith in MM right now than I do in BVG. That may make you want to barf, but you’ve been barfing since the draft anyway, so….

Why are we comparing Grimes to Robinson? They both wear red and black…Robinson was recently talking about how he has to play better, which is never a bad thing to hear from one of your starters.

Big Ray

August 6th, 2011
7:28 am

That last comment directed to the blog, not Screen Pass .

Marcus

August 6th, 2011
7:31 am

I like our direction and newer personnel: On offense, we physically dominate with an element of sudden-strike ability. Looking/hearing about Julio’s physical stature on the outside and pairing him up with other starting offfensive skill positions (Burner, Roddy, Gonzalez) means we can man-handle teams and wear them out. throwing in Jaquizz. HD83 (speed), Snelling (power and pass-catching, if he re-signs) , and Meier (height, quickness) only adds to it.
On D, I guess we are going with more strike-down (viper) vs. suffocating (boa constrictor) effect. We are not overly big, but we need to be able to get off the field and make quick decisive plays. As long as CPeters, Peria, Babs and some combination of Trey Lewis, Vance Walker can hold down the middle vs. the run and be disruptive in the face of opposing QBs … we should be aiight.

steven A.

August 6th, 2011
8:21 am

“Super Bowl” Not quite feeling it yet. Packers are still better, Saints are better. Eagles are better.
If their goal is to reach and win the Super Bowl, they need to do a little moore. Maake Keamatu is a FA,
when if healthy can push the pocket. Need a cover corner. Chris Redmand will be 35 this season. We will need a number 2 quarterback . J. P. Wilson is obviously not the answer.

Steven A.

August 6th, 2011
8:34 am

See New England Patriots……..Playmakers make plays.
Even smart people can learn moore. The people/players who are the most difficult to love(Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ocho, Moss, owens etc…,)
need our love the most. Give these guys a chance.

WR

August 6th, 2011
10:31 am

DHunt, I’m not sleeping on Grimes, I’ve been hoping the guy gets the opportunity as long as anyone. To clarify my post, Grimes overachieves because of heart and superior athletic ability. His technique has to be strong in order to maximize his Godgiven talent. Let me be clear here, Grimes has to work harder then most corners everyday. Its not the same idea as Grimes works harder then most CBs. Personally because of the new passing attacks in the NFL I believe he would be a better fit in the slot,where his skill set not only is better then most slot receiver, but the grind of what it takes for him to cover a third of the field would be reduced allowing him to have longevity in utilizing those said skills.