Atlanta Falcons Football is Back!

Six Searing Questions as Fins Enter the Dome

The Falcons hit the practice field on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, in Flowery Branch as they prepared for their Friday night exhibition against the Miami Dolphins. Receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones laugh in the end zone after scoring back-to-back touchdowns during one-on-one plays against the defense.

A Beautiful Sight (C.Compton/AJC)

It’s finally here Bird Cage Falcon Fanatics: Atlanta Falcon Football is here at last! Well, at least pre-season anyway. But hey, football’s football and our beloved Falcons are taking the field knowing that the real deal lies right around the corner. Six searing questions as the Birds ready for the Dolphins in the first pre-season battle:

1) Will the Offense FINALLY Open Up?

Like peering deep into the mysteries of the universe, will fans finally start to see a more aggressive, “explosive” offense from Coach Smith and OC Mularkey? This debate has been ongoing since Smith took over in 2008. The offense has never hurt for weapons, but the offense has been a conservative, methodical approach that has lacked big plays and rare aggressive throws down field. That gameplan has served them well in helping lead them to a 33-15 regular season record, but as the Debacle in the Dome taught us, when it doesn’t work, it REALLY doesn’t work.

The Falcons got arguably the most explosive offensive playmaker in the draft and its almost insane to think that this offense and Matt Ryan will be handcuffed anymore. On paper, the Falcons boast one of the best and most balanced offense in the NFL. Roddy, Julio, HD, Gonzo, Turner, Snelling, Meier, Weems, and new draft pick Jacquizz Rodgers. All the weapons in the world won’t make one bit of difference if the results don’t happen on the field. Open the playbook, give Matt Ryan the keys, and get AGGRESSIVE on offense dagnabbit! Certainly no more excuses.

2) Can Van Gorder Silence His Critics?

Can Jerry Help D "Bust Out?" (C.Compton/AJC)

In terms of coordinator heat, Mike Mularkey has burdened the vast majority of the criticism Fans have been clamoring for him to get aggressive, stop being so conservative and open up the playbook (see #1), but DC Brian Van Gorder might be overtaking him in terms of fans urgency. There’s always been an excuse that the defense was undergoing a major overhaul. It was a pretty valid excuse considering that only a handful of players are still starters on defense from the 2008 team (Abe, Lofton, and Babs). Some argued that he was only being conservative because he didn’t have the players in place. Others argued that it wasn’t really his defense and that Coach Smith had his hands entirely too far in the cookie jar. Ultimately, it no longer matters.

The players are in place and when Ray Edwards suits up, the Falcons will have one of the most athletic, fastest, and deepest rosters they’ve ever had in franchise history. Van Gorder was known for his tough, physical, and aggressive defenses at UGA, but he’s yet to prove that to be the case in the NFL. As with the offense….no more excuses.

3) Is this One of the Deepest Rosters in Franchise History?

Obviously, this question is ridiculous to be asked this early in the season, but it certainly does have some merit, at least on paper anyway. With major credit to Thomas Dimitroff, this Falcons roster is one of the most complete this early on in the season with there being not only very few position battles, but also very few backend roster spots. It will be a dogfight for rookies and undrafted free agents to even make the practice squad. There are only three position battles that are even up for debate: the nickel back duel between Chris Owens and Dominique Franks, the clash for right guard between Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson, and the fight for punter between rookie Matt Bosher and Ken Parrish.

Even the battle for the last few roster spots are extremely limited this year. Special teams mavens Spencer Adkins and Robert James may be pushed out this year due to the re-signing of Peterson and the drafting of Akeem Dent. There may always be surprises, but you’re looking at much different picture than the one that took the field in 2008 when Smith and Dimitroff took over this team.

4) Will there be any Training Camp Shockers?

Thomas Dimitroff has proven that he’s an amazing scout when it comes to finding gems later in the draft and even the undrafted free agent pool. Vance Walker is a roster regular and is rotation stalwart after being taken in the 7th round in 2008. John Parker Wilson beat out hometown favorite DJ Shockley for the 3rd string QB role coming in as an undrafted free agent. Michael Palmer beat former draft pick Keith Zinger for the 3rd tight end spot last year, and showed some nice flashes as a rookie in limited action. Who will be the shocker this year?

As mentioned before, any undrafted free agent coming in this year will have an insanely tough task on top of an already difficult feat. Even draft picks Andrew Jackson, Matt Bosher, and Cliff Matthews will be in a fight for their professional life when cut day comes down. Can Ryan Wynterswyck nudge out Michael Palmer or Justin Peele at tight end? Any chance CB Darrin Walls makes TD forget about looking for a veteran cornerback? Can Phillip Sylvester knock Antone Smith and/or Gartrell Johnson out of their #5 RB hole? Can practice squad favorites Emmanuel Stephens or Brandyn Harvey make the jump the same way that Eric Weems did a few years back? On the surface, you’d have to say no, but these pre-season games will go a long way to deciding it.

5) Will Clash for Nickel Back Remain a Two-Man Race?

One of the best (and only) position battles under way up in Flowery Branch is the combat between Chris Owens and Dominique Franks for nickel cornerback. Chris Owens has had his ups and downs in the two short years he’s been an Atlanta Falcon. He took over for an injured Brian Williams at the end of the 2009 season and showed excellent flashes of even being a possible starting cornerback. Those hopes than came crashing down on the Georgia Dome floor when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers sliced and diced the nickel back in the “Debacle in the Dome.” Granted, Owens takes unfair heat for an overall terrible defensive day and an even worse coaching performance, but he was the scapegoat for many fans cringing at the thought of him being the nickel back.

Dominique Franks was considered by many to be steal of the 2010 NFL Draft when Dimitroff jumped up and snagged him in the fifth round, after he was considered by many draft scouts to go as early as the 3rd round or possibly even the 2nd. Franks had great size and hailed as the tallest of the Falcons CB’s @ 6’0 and seemed to have a very bright future after getting his first NFL pick in the second game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals. And since then………..he was never heard from again last year, unless you were discussing the inactive player lists. Can either one of these players make TD keep the phone on the hook when the player cuts come along?

6) Is this Lawrence Sidbury’s Last Gasp?

Will this Be Sidbury's Last Chance? (C.Compton/AJC)

Like several others, Lawrence Sidbury came in as one of the potential steals in the 2009 NFL Draft, after being taken in the 4th round from Richmond. Sidbury was definitely labeled a project at defensive end, but he came in with raw speed and pass-rushing skills that are difficult to teach. Sidbury got off to a pretty fast start and even came away with a sack as a rookie against Buffalo, which also included a defensive touchdown. Some believed that Sidbury would be the heir apparent to Abraham as he was nearing retirement. High hopes surrounded Sidbury last year only to see him be a complete non-factor in the 2010 season. He rarely, if ever, got onto the field for a defensive snap and was a part of the inactive list for the majority of the season.

Some thought that he was just paying his dues the same way that William Moore and Thomas De Coud did, but then the Falcons went out and signed one of the best free agent defensive ends in Ray Edwards and drafted a potential sleeper in Cliff Matthews out of South Carolina. All of sudden, Lawrence Sidbury may be going from the next great pass-rushing hope to out of a Falcons uniform. 3 of the 5 DE spots are already etched in stone with Abraham, Ray Edwards, and Kroy Biermann making up the major portion of snaps to come at DE. The next two spots pit Sidbury against coach favorite, and extremely versatile, Chauncey Davis and rookie Cliff Matthews. Davis obviously is pretty much a lock when they decided to cut Jamaal Anderson over Davis, when he’s owed $3 million this year and $3.4 million next year. That leaves Sidbury in a fight against Matthews. Hard to imagine that if it’s even close at all that they won’t go with the rookie to develop instead of the 3rd year guy who maybe couldn’t turn the corner. This preseason might be Sidbury’s last chance to finally “bust out.”

Your Turn

  1. Give your excitement level for preseason #1: Falcons Baby Yeah! or…yeah, its football I guess.
  2. How much stock do you put in preseason?
  3. Will the mystery of the universe (offensive philosophy) finally be solved?
  4. Will Mularkey/Smith and Co. finally turn it loose?
  5. Can/will BVG silence his critics?
  6. Will defense finally be aggressive?
  7. On paper, how deep is this roster?
  8. Any training camp shockers on the way? If so, which one?
  9. Will you panic if starting nickel is Owens or Franks?
  10. Can Sidbury keep his spot or is time up?

319 comments Add your comment

JB FALCON

August 10th, 2011
9:05 pm

Enter your comments here

Wabe

August 10th, 2011
9:36 pm

WR

August 10th, 2011
9:37 pm

D3, nice post considering the return of the younglings, but before I jump into it, I would like the cage to consider this:

Yes the Falcons got there rear end handed to them in the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champ. But how many have forgotten that, not only were the Falcons still in the game but they were threating for the lead mid way through the second quarter. Then mistakes, and more importantly, lack of experience in handling adversity on such a large stage took over, and yes thats including the NCB positional failures. Case in point:

The Falcons weren’t only in the game but threating to retake the lead when Ryan lofts a deep pass to Jenkins in the endzone, call it as you want, but if Jenkins doesn’t slip thats a TD, just so happens he slips and its intercepted, again, because he slipped, not because the pass wasn’t on target or because he was in the wrong position, thats 7. Now as the half is winding down, the Falcons are on target to cut GB’s lead to 4 or tie, great drive underway when Ryan throws the pass that every one and their mother knew was coming, its intercepted and instead of a 21-21 or 21-17 game, its 28-14 at the half. Against the hottest team in the league at that time, the Falcons weren’t only answering the bell, they were ringing it. What hurt them the most was “MO” short for momentum, when your a young inexperienced team, being able to handle adversity in the playoffs is bigger then any FA addition. For all the talk of the lack of defensive pressure up front, the lack of an NCB, or the Falcons lack of an explosive offense, give me those two plays back, or at least give me a veteran team who has been through the trenches to learn how to overcome such horrible disasters, and I say the outcome is different. Not to say the Falcons would have won, but to say for a young team without much proven winning leadership, its hard for me to say the Falcons were just the miles and miles away from GB as many seem to make them out to be.

The Birds most proven veteran offensive player or leader was Gonzo, hasn’t been pass the 1st rd of the playoffs, there most proven defensive player or leader was Abe, hasn’t had no playoff success. But now they have all been in the bully of the beast, which will help them tremendously, and on top of that TD gave them some more firepower to work with. I apologize for the post being so long, but its just hard for me to hear all the talk of the Falcons being basically throttled by GB without acknowledging that it was about two plays. Those plays changed that whole game, two plays that even some of the best teams or franchises of all time would have a hard time overcoming mentally, which I feel hurt the Falcons far more then talent.

Wabe

August 10th, 2011
9:37 pm

JB FALCON

August 10th, 2011
9:38 pm

Definitely a lot of quetions D3. I think your last post was pretty solid A on the draft and FA. Like a lot of us have said, it’s very hard to improve on a 13-3 team. The Sidbury situation concerns me the most, I guess since he has been the biggest mystery. Matthews has shown the same thing I thought we had in Sidbury. Maybe they got Matthews to bring out the mysterious thing that Sydbury has been missing? That’s a serious concern to me.
Owen or Franks? I think TD made a wise decision by not trying to draft a rookie or sign an expensive FA when we have these two. They’re both good with lots of potential.
Preseason? I used to care about winning, etc. but our team is so loaded and we have such high priority on who we keep, looking at all of the rookies is more important.
Coaching? That is the million dollar mystery. There’s no doubt that the coaching is going to have to adjust to meet the modern day game. I heard Ryan say that we will probably stick to the same regime that got us here, and he may be right, because now we can do it better.
Bottom line, I think we have the best set of players we have had in years, possibly ever. I have promised my 4 grandkids, since they were born, that I will buy them their jersey of choice when the Falcons win the SB. If I ain’t $320 broker next year, I will be disappointed and will have no choice but to be blaming the coaching.

PoolerSpirit

August 10th, 2011
9:42 pm

I reckon I’ll get it started…

1. Ready Baby! Let’s get it on and see what we got!

2. Not much, but I’ve always enjoyed watching the rookies fighting to make the roster and the unknown, undrafted free agents trying to make it.

3. I think our offense this year is going to be imposing their will on opposing defenses. At times, we’ll jump out to a lead and then turn it over to Turner and beat teams by 10-15 points. Other times, we’ll turn Matt loose and beat teams by 14-30 points. Other times, mainly against strong passing teams like Green Bay and the Aints, we’ll ride Turner primarily and add in some points through the air, beating those teams by 3-10 points. Whichever way we choose for any particular game, I think this team is talented enough to play whatever kind of game the coaches choose, based on what the opposing defense has shown.

4. Yes, MM and MS will open it up and cut it loose, though I don’t expect that every game.

5. I’m not sure about BVG… loved him at UGA, hated him after Statesboro/Georgia Southern, didn’t like him much in the Debacle in the Dome. He’s still a giant question mark in my mind. No doubt we’ve got better personnel on defense now… Would love for them to step up and be a Super Bowl winning defense.

6. Yes, I expect the Defense will be much more aggressive this year and play more like they did in the second Aint’s game… more relying on their speed, more blitzing, more three and outs.

7. Deepest roster in Falcons history… expect to see just one surprise UDFA make the 53 man roster this year… Early projection would be that kid from SMU… Youri Yenga???

8. See above. Also, I expect a running back to beat out A. Smith and G. Johnson… I really liked Gartrell coming out of college… that bowl game he had, he was just amazing. But he was a dud last year and I don’t see him or Smith making the cut. Wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them as early cuts.

9. Nope. I like them both… think Franks might beat Owens out for NB… think if Owens wins it, then they’ll move Grimes in on the slot receiver for his coverage skills and put Owens on the outside.

10. Really was excited about getting El Sid in the draft… don’t know what to think about his disappearance last year. Let’s hope they were just stashing him, teaching him, training him to take over for Abe when that day comes.

Brian

August 10th, 2011
9:47 pm

I say Franks wins the Nickle spot.

JB FALCON

August 10th, 2011
9:49 pm

WR, we are definitely on the same page.

[...] Atlanta Falcons Football is Back!Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)It's finally here Bird Cage Falcon Fanatics: Atlanta Falcon Football is here at last! Well, at least pre-season anyway. But hey, football's football and our beloved Falcons are taking the field knowing that the real deal lies right around the corner. … [...]

Big Ray

August 10th, 2011
10:04 pm

WR ,

Good post, and even better memory and interpretation.

Reapics

August 10th, 2011
10:20 pm

How are we sure Davis is a lock. He does not make atl better in any way. I’d take matthews and sidbury any day of the week.

Big Ray

August 10th, 2011
10:22 pm

- Well, don’t know what’s up with Sidbury, but for some reason, I’m just not going to bet on Cliff Matthews getting cut. I say he makes the squad.

- Wynterswyck…his best bet may be to make the roster as a FB, if he can play the position. Tight end…not seeing it as Peele has more experience and the rook would have to prove that he’s a better blocker. Palmer is the heir apparent to Gonzo, if what we hear and see is any indication.

- Franks vs. Owens…I have nothing against Owens. I like the kid. I’m going Franks here, though. Right now, it seems Franks is the one making the plays. Look for Owens to wait in the wings for an opportunity that only comes if someone gets hurt or otherwise has a rotten start to the season. Something tells me we’ll see him lose the job to Franks, though.

- Phillip Sylvester…talk about an uphill battle. With rookie Quizz expected to try and take some of Snelling’s jobs, there isn’t much room for anybody who can’t do something better than everybody else. Sylvester has to prove he’s faster/more elusive/more explosive than the other backs, and still be able to pick up blitzes. Can he do it? Doubt it.

- The defense had better be more aggressive. There is no excuse. Veteran help, guys coming back from injury and in good shape…time to roll.

- Same for the offense. It’s time to go and attack. Attack without mercy, run up the freakin’ score, make it a thing of certainty. Keep opposing defenses guessing and on their heels at all times.

- Barring injuries, both sides of the ball should be very potent.

- Darren Walls…probably not going to be good enough to keep a vet off the roster.

- Andrew Jackson – barring injury, this is a future starter. I’m calling it now…

- Stephens/Harvey/Strickland….all of these guys are on the bubble. The practice squad is no place to earn a steady living, but for some it will have to do. Two things will determine whether a guy makes it to the team or the practice squad – ability to separate from defenders and make the catch, and precise route running. Lacking consistency in either is a fatal flaw.

BT

August 10th, 2011
10:42 pm

Good job, D3.
I am excited about Falcons preseason to see some of the new young guys in action, rookies, guys returning from injury and camp battles.
Yeah, the team is loaded with talent.
Stuff like, Smitty, MM and BVG being more creative and aggressive, that will be discussed after preseason when it counts.
I will be back, tomorrow to touch on some the other questions..it`s late.

LRD

August 10th, 2011
11:02 pm

Lets play some dang football!!
Shocking release on the “minor knee surgery” on Edwards.
Mystery of the offense. Do you mean we have other flavors that vanilla??? Turner doesnt have many more miles left on his wheels, so we need to change our approach…and having snelling back is a huge plus
Training camp shocker.. or maybe just speculation, but Meier ends up playing way more time than we fans expect. He becomes the shocker for the season.. AND I think Rodgers ends up being the scat back we have all wanted for so long.
Defense.. anything other than the Bend but Dont Break will be most welcomed.. and Spoon healthy, Jerry back up to full strength, being able to rotate the Beertruck to keep Abe/Edwards a bit fresher, Dunta another year with this team, Moore healthy, etc.. we have the tools to be very aggresive and BVG has to better utilize this potential

WR

August 10th, 2011
11:10 pm

Thanks JB Falcon and Big Ray, just an easy argument to make because its finally a good time to be a Falcons fan, and more then that its not the up this year down the next few years, days of the past. Now back to the topic:

I’m really excited about the preseason, don’t expect much as far as the Falcons showing their schematic approach to the season, but I do see them taking some shots down field in preseason just to get the ball rolling.

Also, beyond the obvious, waiting to see Julio in a Falcons uniform, I’m really looking forward to seeing Spoon after one full year of service, although injury-riddled, I expect him to soon be a player teams game plan for.

As for placing stock in the preseason, in my opinion its actually bigger now for the Falcons then it has been in the past. Why, to also answer question 7, its one of the deepest Falcons teams in their history. It’s not a year where you can play good and make the roster, you really have to show something bigtime this year not to be cut. Which probably means, if you make it as an undrafted FA, you probably will see sometime on the field this year. If an undrafted FA outshines a player who has been around for a few years, like a Sidbury or James, its probably bye bye to the ones who have already had their opportunity.

Questions 3,4,5, belong in the same boat in my opinion. Offense, Defense, doesn’t matter, in today’s NFL with all the technology you have to be extremely creative, beyond Smitty, I have a pretty good feeling that TD let the whole coaching staff know the Falcons have to put more then vanilla schemes on the field. Not to be left out, Arthur was standing over TD in order to help him formulate this opinion that the coaches now are definitely aware of.

As for training camp shockers, its not a shock but Andrew Jackson apparently is on his way to not only making the roster but starting sooner then later. I won’t use the GB game to determine whether to worry over Owens or Franks starting at NCB is bad or good, because outside of that game no one worried about it, especially us fans, until that torching was over. News flash, Ike Taylor was the nickel for the Steelers, he too was on the other end of some really hot flames against GB, but the Steelers thought he was a priority to resign, and he’s in his thirty’s, kind of like the Falcons chances with these young 20’s considering that.

Lastly, Sid is in some trouble, I had high hopes when last season it was stated that he was working out with Abe, then nothing, he has a pretty decent rookie season, then nothing. Unless it was another one of the Falcons Maguire tactics and they hid an injury, Sid has to be on the bubble, with the signing of Edwards thats probably so, but we’ll see.

DHunt

August 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

So excited, I will be able to trick myself into believing the preseason is something other than a glorified tryout. Preseason games don’t mean a thing, and I doubt if we see enough of the starters to get a real idea of how they plan to operate when the games really count. Especially this preseason, because coaches need to evaluate more than previous years, I hope they just keep it vanilla and give the hopefuls a chance to shine. Anything too complex won’t give you a chance to really evaluate on the field ability. I’m going to reserve judgement on who makes the roster until after the 2nd preseason game at least.

How insane is it that the biggest question marks on the team are 5th linebacker, 5th defensive end, 5th defensive back, 5th receiver, and 5th running back? Are you kidding me? And the 5th guy at some of these levels are going to be practice squad guys. Add to that, only one starter on defense and one on offense who aren’t completely familiar with the system. And both those players are at positions where they really just have to pin their ears back a play hard and fast. Not one starter that anyone could reasonably say, “man I really wish we had someone else in that spot”. That is a first in the history of Falcons football.

This season is all about the coaching. Any coach that can’t get it done withthis personnel, isn’t going to get it done period. Mularkey has the easiest time of it, because the offense is just so stacked. If he just puts them in reasonably good situations they almost can’t help but excel. VanGorder has to dial it up the most, in my opinion. Don’t want to depend too much on individual achievement, but with a good scheme, and with all the athletes we have on D, we should be in the top half of the NFL in all defensive categories.

Yeah it’s hard to improve on 13-3. But I feel a 14-2 or better season coming on, and I see Falcons Super Bowl paraphernalia in my immediate future.

cwltank

August 11th, 2011
12:17 am

I hope Sidbury, Matthew, & Harvey make the team. They really are good subs. Frank & Owens are the same to me, we need them both to beat the Saints. I pray they sign Hayden, I think he can play safety, I do not like our debt at both safety
’s position.

E43

August 11th, 2011
1:23 am

Big Ray- To answer your last question.I’m married to the UN. I go wherever the fire is. I don’t see myself getting married as long as I’m living my life on the road.

Paddy- I think I’m more of a psychopath than a sith :-)

1) I think Julio will make the falcons more explosive from day one. I just don’t think that explosive plays will directly equate to Julio getting 1000 yards. 700ish sounds like a start but also Douglass,Weems and Meier need not to be forgotten.

2)Mularkey needs to force Quiz into the passing game by all means necessary. I like our chances with Matt Ryan throwing to about 7-8 different receivers per game.

3)Defensively I think that the blitzing shouldn’t decrease just because we have Edwards. I think that a pass rush must be generated by force and not expectation. I’m also not in favor of the zone plays they deploy. Move Grimes and Decoud around more. Blitz Dunta every once in a while just to make teams prepare for it. I think that these guys have been here long enough and can afford to be versatile.

[...] read from original news source: Atlanta Falcons Football is Back! | Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage [...]

FrontRow

August 11th, 2011
7:54 am

They might be back but I’m not. How can you go to a game without a ticket?

I don’t think I can even get excited until the tickets come in the mail. Until then, well I’m glad it’s preseason.

Big Ray

August 11th, 2011
8:28 am

E43,

I hear you. Hope you like what you do…that’s what’s important in the professional world.

Rikus

August 11th, 2011
10:38 am

I also think that Davis is not a roster lock. His relatively high salary (for a backup) puts him in jeopardy when cut-day comes. If we decide to grab someone else’s cut-casualty (e.g. at CB) then we will have to dump someone who makes a few dollars… Davis could qualify.

ATL Observer

August 11th, 2011
11:29 am

1. Bring it on!!!

2. Very little, unless significant injuries happen (knocks on wood).

3. Not early on. I actually think if this team wins two (yes, just two) of its first five games, it will be fine and can find its offensive rhythm during that time.

4. Not on the “greatest show on turf” level, but at a level higher than last year.

5. He’ll have to, or else he’ll be on the unemployment line.

6. See #4: not on the level of a Chicago Bears, but a level higher than the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

7. Except for in the backfield, deeper than any roster I can recall for the birds.

8. Don’t see any, but my fingers are crossed for Wallis.

9. “Panic” is a strong word, but we’ll need to see more upside if it’s Owens. It’s his third year coming up so I’d like to see significant progress.

10. Prognosis = likely to be the last stand

darrell starks

August 11th, 2011
11:47 am

D3 my biggest concern on defense is the nickelback between OWENS VS FRANKS i hope they step up to the plate and perform well.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 11th, 2011
11:50 am

RICARDO LOCKETTE, PLAYS TONIGHT SEAHAWKS VS CHARGERS the falcons should have sign him this guy will be a steal.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

Coop

August 11th, 2011
12:47 pm

Morning Cage!

D3 – Great post.

WR – You are corret that those two plays were critical to turn the tide. Hoewever, we lost that game to GB cause we absolutely could not stop them. They had a game plan for our D and executed it to near perfection. Our only hope was going to be matching them score for score. The two plays you referenced sealed our fate.

I remember after the Weems KO return thinking, oh no, we have to put the D back on the field with no rest. Even though we were up, it was almost like the KO was a bad thing.

As for Sidbury, I hope he makes hte team. Would rather keep Sid and Matthews and let Davis go. $3.5M is a lot for your 4th DE.

SOMEBODY NEED TOO TELL THE TRUTH

August 11th, 2011
1:09 pm

Years pasted I’ve been concerned about the starting line ups on both sides of the ball…. not so much this season. I have a sense of calm that we will put a dynamic offensive product on the field… and yeah, you heard it hear first, we will surprise the leauge on the defensive side of the ball, ok get ready, you heard it here first… WE WILL HAVE A TOP 5 DEFENSIVE UNIT!!! For all of you that just pasted out, a little smelling salt will bring you back around… but in all seriousness, my prediction is of a serious nature.

My concerns have shifted to the UFA, I think we have some very talented undrafted free agents. My concern is that we will not have enough roster and practice squad space for the talent we have in camp this year. We will surely let go some real diamonds in the rough and other teams will finish polishing them up and make good pros out of them. It’s alway’s good to hear of a UFA making the starting line up, becoming successful in the league… Maybe I’m a bit selfish, I would prefer that story book ending coming from our franchise.

joe white

August 11th, 2011
2:21 pm

Good luck sidbury

uga_b

August 11th, 2011
3:46 pm

It seems like a UDFA CB should have a real good chance to make the team unless they keep both Rafaels. A lot of the other players will be based on what positions the Falcons decide to carry. Yenga definitely could have a shot with James/Adkins underperformers. From early reports it seems that Matthews is showing upside while Sidbury is barely showing up. With the Edwards pickup that seems to be the end of the era. The President also sounds very impressive in camp.

We won’t know about the Offense until the Regular Season since Preseason is always so vanilla.

Paddy O, from the last blog, I would’ve been happy to return with the 2010 team this year and think the Edwards signing was great, but I can’t give a GM all A’s for standing pat. I will say he handled it in an A+ way. But I did see other teams upgrade at positions through FA where we are going to do it internally just like Green Bay (who I wouldn’t say won FA either).

Big Ray

August 11th, 2011
4:13 pm

Interesting that Rafael Bush is “in the mix” for NCB. Then again, it could just be D. Ledd doing his usual thing…

It’s down to Franks and Owens. I’m going with Franks taking the job, but in reality, it could be a position that stays open a few games into the season until one or the other nails it down for good.

The Real Falcon

August 11th, 2011
4:22 pm

This is what I don’t get. The lack of any feedback from you
about what has happned with Sidbury.
Either the coaches feel he is a bust or he does not want to improve.
Why cants you find out the real scoop?

JB FALCON

August 11th, 2011
4:26 pm

Big Ray, the DOL’s info on R Bush came from Tim Lewis so…..
I’m with you on Franks though. They say Owens was hurt,etc. in the GB game but he’s not hurt now and Franks, imo, is out playing him.
Who knows? Could be Bush!

JB FALCON

August 11th, 2011
4:29 pm

Real Falcon, as uga-b’s prior post mentioned, Sid is just not geting it done. He’s out there but, word is, he can’t seem to handle the bigger guys very well. He will probably lock up a position on the practice squad until he shows some improvement.

marko

August 11th, 2011
4:30 pm

It’s occurred to me that I had some rather uncomplimentary things to say about the owners during the lockout. I’m big enough to admit that I misjudged and underestimated those guys. I actually like the new agreement better than the old one. the millionaires are still millionaires, and the billionaires are still billionaires. the special team guys and developmental sorts seem better off than before. the only big losers were the top draft choices, and everybody with a measurable IQ agreed that NFL was giving way too much money to unproven rookies. I sincerely hope Julio justifies his lofty draft status and after he serves out his rookie contract, I’ll be trilled to see him take Arthur to the cleaners. Till that day comes, he’s an unproven rookie and should be paid as such. Enough about the former misunderstanding already. Are we ready for some football?

Big Ray

August 11th, 2011
4:37 pm

Marko ,

We’re already there…catch up, dude! ;)

JB Falcon ,

True. I was half expecting D. Ledd to ask Tim Lewis what’s in his IPOD and how does he like his pizza…

Big Ray

August 11th, 2011
4:43 pm

uga b ,

I don’t know just how much value there is in “winning free agency.” I seem to recall a few short years ago, lots of people were raving about the Redskins and the signings they had. None of them worked out…

Of course, everybody feels that the Eagles won free agency. Time will tell. If they don’t make it to the SuperBowl this season, what value will “winning free agency” have? Just a thought.

As for us standing pat, I get what you’re saying. Again, you have to weigh what you’d pay to have a proven product over something you’ve not finished developin/trying. Funny thing is, proven products aren’t always what they are cracked up to be once you start looking at other important factors such as scheme/fit, coaching, health, etc. Heard some really smart NFL football people say that you build through the draft, not through free agency, unless you’re going all in for a particular year.

I’d say we don’t have a fully enough developed system yet to go “all in” the way Philly did. Or even New England. We’re still not 100% sure of what our coaching staff can do, particularly with a roster of healthy starters on both sides of the ball.

Not an argument per se, just another thought. Sometimes the moves you don’t make are the best ones. Sometimes they ain’t.

uga_b

August 11th, 2011
4:46 pm

Real Falcon,
The silence around Sidbury is deafening. D-Led mentioned in his live chat that he has problem with bigger guys as JB said. That was okay when he came out as an undersized D-2 player, but this is his third year. I don’t see him earning it through Special Teams, which D-Led also mentioned…but in a way that made it seem he wasn’t making an impact there. Both Matthews and Winterswyck could fill his same role on Special Teams and they have had some positive mentions this preseason…

JJ

August 11th, 2011
4:46 pm

The real falcon:
Because D3 is a teacher who runs this in his spare time, its called a FAN blog. At the top of the page is a bio of D3.
Maybe you should direct your question to Dled who is the paid falcons reporter!!!

Big Ray

August 11th, 2011
4:58 pm

uga b ,

I think you’re dead on target in regards to Sidbury. Last season it was all about “he needs to keep progressing.” Now there is nothing said. Dead duck…

uga_b

August 11th, 2011
5:00 pm

Big Ray, I guess it is like judging Nnamdi by his lack of interceptions. TD wants to build through the draft so it makes sense he is trying to win the Draft and player development awards and not Free Agency. I love that he took care of his players and got an impact FA signing at a value price and don’t care that he didn’t go sign everybody like Philly.

Recently, IMHO the Cage Family has sometimes gone past Kool-Aid to Hunch Punch with their enthusiasm. This is basically the same team that people have been ripping for the Green Bay game except a lot of your skill positions are getting older (which is why TD has made the moves he did like JJ and Edwards). However, in my heart, I am just as excited and optimistic as all of you and I feel like our leadership and core give us the reason to.

JB FALCON

August 11th, 2011
6:07 pm

As far as Philly goes with their big FA signings, so be it if they can afford it and they feel they need that much help. As per Pat Yas on ESPN the Falcons are now $13 Mil over the $120 cap. Don’t know about the rest of the teams but there are going to be some cuts made all over. He did mention that TB is nearly $15 mil Under the cap. I don’t things are done as far as player distribution is concerned.

Paddy O

August 11th, 2011
7:20 pm

uga – I thought the grade was on the entire off season – draft & FA – although I was surprised we did not have a “quicker” plan – but, I suspect we first targeted johnson (Falcons brass would know about Ray’s knee, yeah?) – but his price went stratosphere, so we back tracked and picked up Ray on the rather cheap. If Ray/Kroy get combines over 10 sacks, and ABE gets close to double digits, I’m good – I am hoping of R DT (Jerry/Peters) comes up with 3-5 sacks, and Babs gets 6 – that would be pretty productive. On pre-season, I think we need to demonstrate we can spread the field at will, the would provide a lot of food for thought for our first few regular season games. This should be a more exciting season than last year, and last year was great up to the playoffs.

uga_b

August 11th, 2011
8:16 pm

Paddy O, yes that was my understanding as well but I just took into account that we added less new players than 31 other teams via draft and FA. Also, I look at the ages of our skill players and pro bowlers and most are 30+. So, from the people we added, I think the only large impact players may be JJ, Edwards, and Bosher. Maybe Quizz if the philosophy changes. We lost Jenkins, Dahl, Anderson, and Williams. But I will get back on topic.

I will actually put a lot more stock in preseason this year for the bottom 50-60 players on the roster, which is really the only value to preseason. Doesn’t sound like many shockers but I am interested in seeing what they do at the 5th CB spot and OLB because it may be a UDFA. Also rooting on the 7th rounders and my man Winterswyck. Practice Squad may be too loaded this year to actually keep.

falcon21

August 11th, 2011
8:54 pm

I hated losing Jenkins but Dahl can be replaced. I think we already have that covered. Losing Anderson, oh well. The good thing is we opened up some cap space to do what we did. Cutting Jenkins and Anderson allowed that. Now we need to see something out of our 2nd and 3rd year players. I think that is what TD is depending on. We will find out after the first 3 regular season games how well TD did his job.

WR

August 11th, 2011
9:09 pm

I see the age of a very young Falcons team has somehow become a problem. Lets see, realistically in the football world, Abe is over the hill, Peterson has been over the hill, McClure definitely makes the over the hill gang, and there’s the fountain of youth but over the hill Gonzo. Turner could be included in that bunch because of the shelf life of an RB, but beyond that I must be missing something.

Impact players, Abe, Gonzo, Turner, and I’ll throw in McClure because the OL is often overlooked, beyond that please help me understand how the Falcons are remotely old.

Just to help out as far as the same team that got smacked down by GB, as I recall GB kept the same team together that got smacked around by Arizona only a couple of seasons ago, they added a piece here and there through the draft, and added a veteran or two through FA, wonder how things turned out for them, oh there defending SB champions.

Teams use FA to add what they believe is missing on their team, the idea that Philly had to go out and basically add every big name they could muster tells you alot about where they feel their team was in general. As for the Patriots, they went out and got bargain basement aged big name players in Ochocinco, and the talented but disgruntled and disruptive Albert Haynesworth. The Saints went out and tried to improve their interior DL, drafted an RB to improve their poor rushing ability, but some think the Falcons didn’t do enough.

That the Falcons didn’t do much says alot about where internally the leadership and ownership feel the Falcons are. Grasping at straws, doing a bunch of hopeful patchwork doesn’t mean a team has a better front office, it means the team feels it has more holes. Now truthfully know one will know who’s belief was correct until Febuary, as a Falcons fan we believed the birds needed another player to help the pass rush, covered, we believed they needed more of a big play threat at receiver and a change of pace back at RB, covered, well they forgot about the NCB position, that is unless he was already on the team.

WR

August 11th, 2011
9:10 pm

Falcon21, Amen.

falcon21

August 11th, 2011
9:23 pm

Back at ya WR, 9:09 is well said.

JB FALCON

August 11th, 2011
9:35 pm

WR, poetic to say the least. I have pulled for these Falcons since they were bird eggs. I cannot see, for the life of me, how anyone could not be excited about this years offering. We, as fans, and as a team are entering into a new era that we don’t know how to react to. We are so used to big changes and big picks and big hopes and then falling on our face. We are now fine tuning a Porsche. The old Chevy just wasn’t getting it. We have to learn that it doesn’t take a lot to go from darn good to great!
We have the team, we just have to learn how to drive it and get the maximum performance out of it.
I think you said all of what I just said but in more understandable words so you too get an amen.
Or, I may be totally out in left field.

WR

August 11th, 2011
9:53 pm

JB FALCON, you actually said it in less and better words then I did.

Not to continue to beat a dead horse, but I find it hard to believe how fans believe a team is doing well when they go out and sign any and every FA they possibly can. To me, and it just might be me, but that screams desparate. I like the NE moves they were after filling holes, I like the Saints moves, they too were after filling holes, but the Eagles moves makes you wonder did they have any confidence in their team. Thats a point that some fans miss, its not exactly a good thing when your team is trying to buy a championship, its actually a pretty good sign that the team knew it wasn’t even close, or as leadership stands, someone may be ready to move on and head into retirement(Andy Reid). Occasionally you get the joke of ownership who believes money can buy a championship, see Daniel Synder, but ulitmately making alot of moves in FA only points to huge team defiencies.

The Falcons are now being built the correct way, mostly through the draft with the occasional FA addition, maybe it doesn’t make a splash as far as fans viewpoints, but it yields results, which is what us Monday morning QBs really want.

falcon21

August 11th, 2011
10:13 pm

Later WR and JB, 6am is calling!