Falcons Ready for True Test @ Steelers

Six Searing Questions as Birds Head to Steel City

How Many Carries to Quizz? (C.Compton/AJC)

It’s very debatable on how much stock to put into the preseason. Some believe its simply a glorified training camp practice and it means little to nothing. Others think that preseason, at least pertaining to the starters, can preclude some areas of great strength, but more importantly, serious issues that can linger long into the regular season. Either way, it’s a well-established belief that the third preseason game is the best representation of preseason because teams put in a gameplan and play their starters for the longest amount of time in an attempt to get them game-ready. That being said, six searing questions as the Birds travel to visit the 2011 AFC Champs……

1) Too Critical?

Even though we may venture in to being too critical at times, most of us here in The Cage readily admit to viewing our Birds with a tint of rose-colored glasses, this author certainly included. However, the most recent post was framed in a way that came off as entirely too negative and was cast as completely lacking merit and being out of bounds after the game against the Jaguars. That may have been the case, and I among many of us concede to filling out the fanatic part in the word “fan” when it comes to our Falcons.

Perhaps Too Critical of Smitty & Co. (C.Compton/AJC)

A dose of reality is needed to see what this regime has accomplished in only 3 short years after a season that would’ve killed many franchises. A reminder: first coaching staff to ever have back-to-back(-to-back) winning seasons in FRANCHISE history, 33- 15 record over last three seasons (one of best winning percentages in entire NFL), made playoffs 2 out of 3 years, achieved the #1 seed in the NFC with a 13-3 season record, tons of Pro Bowlers over the last three years (including a staggering 9 Falcons last year), 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year, superb drafting and player development, and top 5 in the league in scoring offense and defense. It’s good to have a cold dose of reality every now and then.

That being said, though, the intent was only to examine that there has been a pattern with the Falcons and the issues arising in preseason. Several things mentioned in the previous post have been lingering problems for the Birds since 2008. Also, issues that have arisen in preseason have gone on to be troublesome in the regular season. Chief among them being the inability to get off the field on 3rd down (2008, 2009, Playoffs), weak secondary depth (2008, 2009, Playoffs), and an overly conservative offense (2010). The opinions certainly may have come across as overly negative, but the goal was to simply acknowledge the frustration that fans have had with the recurring issues over the last three, going on four, years.

2) Michael Palmer Not the Heir @ Tight End?

Maybe fans such as this author just got a little too carried away with the bright flashes of tight end Michael Palmer over the past year. The homegrown Parkview product came in to camp as an undrafted free agent, worked his tail off, and not only won a spot on the coveted 53 man roster, but had showed many points of promise in the pass game with sharp routes, good hands, and even scored a touchdown as a rookie. Justin Peele is one of the more underrated backup tight ends in the business, but he was never seen as the heir to Tony Gonzalez at tight end, but more of a potential transition to the next player at tight end. Many felt Palmer could possibly be the eventual heir to Gonzalez with his immense upside, pass-catching ability, and good hands.

That idea has seemingly taken a hit with the enormous opening being created by Justin Peele’s recent knee injury. The immediate thought was that Palmer’s track for success may have been sped up. Then the Falcons went out and signed 34 year old Reggie Kelly who was a free agent and caught a paltry 42 yards last season. If reports are true from AJC Falcons Beat Writer D. Orlando Ledbetter, Kelly has been working as the #2 tight end. That would surely make a huge hit on Palmer’s potential as being he next Falcons starting tight end. Sure, he’s very young, but if were truly the heir apparent, then this would be a golden opportunity to work him into a potential starting role. He’s also been noticeably absent this preseason as well.

3) Is Ray Edwards the Missing Piece?

Your Expectations of Ray? (C.Compton/AJC)

Defensive End Ray Edwards will make his long anticipated debut against the Steelers on Saturday night. The Falcons big off-season acquisition has been roundly hailed as yet another magnificent free agent strike by Thomas Dimitroff, especially considering the value the Falcons got him ($30 million vs. Charles Johnson $72 million). Pass rush has long been the talking heads favorite term of criticism coming towards the Falcons defense. That now has seemingly been answered. Edwards had as many sacks last year (8) as the entire defense not named Abraham or Babineaux has had over the last three years combined. The results still have to be given on the field. Is the brand new Falcon the missing piece for a defense lingering around the middle of the league? Guess, we’ll get a preview on Saturday night.

4) Who’s In @ the #5 Cornerback Spot?

Not who will be the starting nickel back when the season opens, but rather the cornerback that will be rounding out the roster. It seems almost a forgone conclusion that it will be either Chris Owens or Dominique Franks in the nickel back spot and the player who loses out as the dime back. Neither may strike the most confidence in fans with so many talented passers due up this season, but their potential is particularly high. The next biggest question is who will take the 5th cornerback spot. This roster has been pretty settled for a long while, but this question has been a big one since they parted ways with Brian Williams early on.

The battle for the 5th spot seems to be between Rafael Bush and undrafted rookie Darrin Walls. Both seemed to have had pretty good camps and gotten good reviews from the coaching staff. Walls, in particular, has very good size at 6’1, 190 and they may elect to try and keep both with their affinity for cross-training their players. Either Bush or Walls could practice at safety and really could be used as a 6th cornerback/backup safety. If it comes down to splitting hairs, you’d have to think that it favors Walls since he’s a true rookie and Bush has already spent a year on the practice squad. The final point is whether or not Dimitroff and Co. will look on the waiver wire for a nickel back or 5th corner the way they did with Brian Williams. Even though possible, the coaching staff and front office seems very content with developing their own players.

5) What Will the RB Rotation Look Like?

Even though the Falcons backfield lacks a true game-breaking burner to the likes of Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, they have one of the deepest and most talented running back lineups ready to go for 2011. With 2-time Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner, excellent and versatile backup Jason Snelling, and now a superb and gritty change-of-pace back in rookie Jacquizz Rodgers. The depth is very much welcomed since Turner is speeding towards the dreaded age 30 curse and has shown some signs of slowing down. The great depth can be a blessing and a curse to OC Mularkey. Unlike some other positions, many running backs thrive on momentum and touches. It’s going to a very interesting dynamic to see how the carries are split up, especially with Rodgers very strong preseason showing. Rodgers isn’t a burner, but he is definitely more complementary to both Turner and Snelling than either of them are to one another. Perhaps a preview to come against the Steelers.

6) Any Training Camp Shockers on the Way?

Franks in @ Nickel? (C.Compton/AJC)

For the most part, the 53 man roster looks to be pretty settled. Only a few training camp battles seem to be raging for the coveted roster spots. Some of the only spots that seem to be open are the fight for the 5th cornerback spot between Darrin Walls and Rafael Bush. The safety position is one area that seems pretty wide open with even Shann Schillinger’s spot on the team possibly in doubt. It will also be intriguing to see who gets the last OL spot. Clabo, Blalock, McClure, Baker, Reynolds, Johnson, and Hawley are obvious locks. The battle seems to be between Jose Valdez, Will Svitek, and rookie Andrew Jackson for the last two spots. Jackson has been getting rave reviews, so it may be between the veteran Svitek or potential of Valdez. Time may be up for Lawrence Sidbury with both rookie Cliff Matthews having an excellent camp as well as practice squad stalwart Emmanuel Stephens. Matthews is almost a shoe-in, so do they go with Stephens or Sidbury?

Even players that have been special teams fixtures such as Spencer Adkins and Robert James appear to be on the outside looking in with Peterson, Wire, and Dent taking up the backup spots. One of the most interesting decisions will be whether the Falcons elect to go with a 5th running back like Antone Smith or Gartrell Johnson, or try and keep Brandyn Harvey on the 53 man roster. Good chances are that Harvey will be picked up if he’s put on the practice squad again. With Smith and Johnson not showing much at all and 2 of your 5 receivers having previous ACL injuries (HD, Meier), wouldn’t it be smart to keep Harvey? Can Ryan Wynterswyck make the Falcons forget about their recent signee Reggie Kelly and make the team as a 3rd TE?

Bonus Question

Who Makes the Practice Squad?

A testament to Thomas Dimitroff lies in the fact that the battle for the 8 practice squad spots seems as engaging as the 53 man roster. Assuming the rules are the same, if a player has played in an NFL game for said team, than they cannot be placed back on the practice squad and there is a limit for the amount of time a player can be on the squad. For instance, Spencer Adkins and Robert James can’t be put back on the squad. Rafael Bush, Darrin Walls, Phillip Sylvester, Ryan Wynterswyck, Emmanuel Stephens, and definitely Brandyn Harvey look to be on there if they don’t make the 53 man roster. Harvey, though, will likely be snatched up by another team needing quality wide receiver depth. The other spots are anyone’s guess.

Your Turn

  1. What do you expect from the Falcons-Steelers game?
  2. Have some of us, myself included, been too critical?
  3. Are there worrisome trends forming in preseason?
  4. Is Michael Palmer the heir at TE or not?
  5. Ray Edwards the missing piece?
  6. Your expectations for Edwards at DE?
  7. Who’s in @ #5 CB Spot?
  8. Should Falcons hit waiver wire for 5th CB spot?
  9. What should the RB rotation look like?
  10. Any training camp shockers?
  11. Practice squad candidates?

655 comments Add your comment

dbird1

August 27th, 2011
8:39 am

lets just get through the game injury free!

dbird1

August 27th, 2011
8:46 am

this football season seems to have a completly different feel from years past. maybe the lock out, maybe the fact we haven’t won a game since the regular season last year(Greenbay game still makes me sick to my stomach, and that arrogent a-hole Rogers). but right now i don’t feel the confidence that i should. maybe after a few wins and the falcons showing that the offence can eat up more than 3 yards shot i will feel better. will Malarky open it up, or resort to the horrifiing dink and dunk play calling. that has me most nervous. If Malarky cant change his ways, he needs to go.

Ken Strickland

August 27th, 2011
9:01 am

Excellent analysis as always D3. I don’t see us cutting Walls or Bush. Walls is a pure CB and Bush is a safety with CB’s skills. I don’t see Bush getting cut or put on the practice squad after getting serious consideration for the NCB spot. CB RPriest, who we haven’t heard anyone mention, would seem to be the odd man out rather than Bush or Walls.

Bush would replace BWilliams, who we cut, and Walls would likely replace RPriest. If our intent is to hold onto both players, we can’t afford to place either on the practice squad. Both players are too talented not to be picked up by some team, especially as desperate as most teams are for good CB’s and safeties.

As far as DE REdwards is concerned, how can he not be an improvement to our pass rush. After all, he only has to improve upon the 2 sacks that we got last yr from KBiermann. However, we have to temper our expectations for REdwards. With the Vikings he played every DEF snap, but with us he’ll be part of a rotation and won’t play every DEF snap.

So, he won’t get the same number of snaps he averaged when he got those 8 and 8.5 sacks over the last 2 seasons. It appears that for those who are looking for anything to brighten their hopes for the Falcons this season, this preseason gm is critical. And those who always take the negative approach will be looking for any excuse to whine, complain and predict doom and gloom for the season.

The Detroit Lions, who are the best example of what preseason really means, went 4-0 during preseason and followed that up by going 0-16 during the regular season.

Scott Anderson

August 27th, 2011
10:01 am

Got a bad feeling the Falcons are going to crap the bed tonight vs the Steelers.

At home, Steelers getting ready now for season, Steelers defense scrubbed Mike Vick , How we going to stop Big Ben with this secondard. and on and on……

waynester

August 27th, 2011
10:31 am

dbird1
I’m with you on Rogers…his new “handlebar” mustache makes him look like the the ‘biker guy’ from the Village People….

waynester

August 27th, 2011
10:40 am

Ken S
I think you’re correct on Priest being the odd man out. It’s a shame we can’t keep him from being poached off the PS but that’s the risk…..I don’t think we expect 8 sacks out of Edwards. We rotate for a sound reason and will continue to try and keep our guys fresh to always win the 4th quarter. That’s what many fans don’t understand about why we continue to pound MTurner even if it is only for short gains. The bashing starts to take it’s toll on opposing defenses late in the game.
ps: good point on the Lions–they’re the poster children for Tarzan preseason/Jane regular season…..

RobbE33

August 27th, 2011
10:53 am

I have confidence that Smitty will make the right choices to solidify the roster. It’s the schemes that have me concerned.
Is our defensive zone philosophy too complicated for the players or is it a talent issue that allows opponents to convert?
No way Blank is going to replace a coordinator in a lockout shortened off-season so Mularkey needs to adjust faster when his game plans aren’t working. I know he uses the running game to set up the passing game but why do Rivers, Brees, Rodgers and Brady make the vertical game look so easy?
I don’t expect the Falcons to show much of their playbook in Pennsylvania; I just hope they come back healthy.

[...] read from original news source: Falcons Ready for True Test in Pittsburgh | Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage [...]

Jim

August 27th, 2011
11:00 am

I’ve been feeling the same thing lately, that we are to critical of these preseason games.

l went back and watched the play of the first team for the first two games. There were a few issues I saw on the 1st teams, but overall for being where they are due to the lockout, I thought they looked pretty good.

Defense was ahead of the offense, as expected. O-line had a few issues with new RG in the lineup, but Turner did have nice holes to run through. Maybe a lot of the plays were scripted to go to certain guys to see how they’d perform. JJ the 1st game, HD the 2nd.

It is hard to measure the 2nd team as a squad, only individual performances. I’d like us to keep Harvey on the 53. The RB’s Johnson & Smith look to be gone. I didn’t think that Sidbury would be this close to getting cut after getting rid of JA#98. Walls looks to be a keeper as the 5th DB. Valdez gets kept over Svitek.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

Morning Cage,

A very interesting post this and I look forward to diving into it later. Of course, today is draft day and the TeePee Sports team is arriving at the complex, getting ready to enter the War Room, and have a fantastic draft day experience. Will hit on one of the subtopics that D3 mentioned though.

Are we too critical? I say no. We have waited for forty five years for our Falcons franchise to be as consistent as it appears to be right now. While I thank the Smith Family for giving us the team, it is the Blank regime that has taken this franchise to new heights in community involvement, national acceptance, fan appreciation/support, and upside.

It was only four years ago that the organization was shrouded in embarassment and shame. Arthur Blank, humbled and betrayed, began a structural overhaul of the team. He first stripped Rich McKay of his GM duties (rightfully so after the disasterous hirings of Jim Mora Jr. and the Pg Farmer). He then consulted with respected NFL executives such as Ernie Accorsi and Floyd Reese. It would be Accorsi, a retired GM for the Giants, that would suggest that AB take a look at a young, talented director of college scouting for the Patriots. A web interview followed and the heavens gave AB the sign. AB moved quickly to hire the young star and make him the GM. With the arrival of Thomas Dimitroff, the fortunes of the Falcons began to change.

His first move was to hire a teacher. A patient yet firm teacher who could not only coach but could lead in word and in deed. From one of the leagues smaller markets, the young first time GM took an underrated, overshadowed defensive coordinator and gave him his first head coaching job.

The TD/Smitty combination has given us consistency, continuity, and stability. These concepts were unknown to the Falcons. But they would soon produce immediate results. The arrival of Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, the resurrection of Roddy White, and the commitment to building from the ground up with young talent like Curtis Lofton, Thomas DeCoud, and Brent Grimes gave us reason to believe the impossible dream. Could the Falcons ever again reach the Super Bowl? We had reason to believe.

Part II follows

DHunt

August 27th, 2011
12:14 pm

Just want to see offense look more in sync, and defense look more aggressive. Couple that with no injuries and it will be a good night for the Birds.

Ray Edwards, Dominique Franks, Darrin Walls, or anybody else that takes the field in a Falcons uniform is expected to perform up to professional standards. This team is stud heavy from top to bottom; if a bit young at places, and slightly old at others. When being scared about putting guys on the practice squad because they might get poached is a problem, I think that indicates that the 53 man roster is most definitely not a problem. So I shall refrain from any further personnel prognostication.

On the issue of being too critical, let’s just chalk it up to extreme desire to see the team do well. It’s not at all improper to point out areas of concern, especially the ones that seem to linger on year after year. It’s also not a bad thing to have high expectations for and of this Falcons team. It may be slightly over-reacting to base all the angst that was being displayed on a couple of early preseason games. I don’t see team trends in preseason. I see individual guys getting into game shape with a few bumps in the road for some of them. Most of the ones who haven’t looked stellar to us fans, have probably not made much impression on the decision makers at the Branch either.

The elephant in the room is offensive and defensive coordinators. Will this offense and defense live up to the potential of the individual parts? That’s the one question that I want answered, and the one that probably won’t be answered in any preseason game. The goal in preseason still has to be evaluating players and seeing what works and what doesn’t. There’s a significant difference when the goal is simply win at all costs. So if we don’t see a screen tonight, I will be not be shocked and I certainly will refrain from calling for Mike Mularkey’s head on a stake.

I suggest we sit back, relax and enjoy the game tonight. Not so much scrutinizing every minute aspect; just having a little fun watching football. There will be time enough for hand wringing, hair pulling, and teeth gnashing soon enough.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
12:16 pm

Part II

Critical? Yes, we have been hard on both sides of the ball. This blogger in particular, has on many occassions, assassinated the defense and the defensive coordinator for lack of consistency, weak effort, and lack of cohesion. Others have said the same about the offense. So yes, we have been critical but we are also tired of being the joke. The Falcon nation loves their team; sure, there are a lot of bandwaggoners but hey, AB will take their cash as the ticket booth. But us REAL Falcons fans, those of us that remember the red jackets with the white sleeves, those of us that saw Humphrey, Curry, Butler, Bartkoswksi, Andrews, Cain, Bean, Riggs, and so many others; those that recall the busted toilets at AFCS and the serious ass whippings we took at times, the heartbreak of the 1980 NFC Championship loss to Dallas, etc. I could go on and on and on. But you get the picture.

Critical? Yes. But in a constructive way. For this fan, I just love what I see happening. Like MLK, I can see the promised land. I can see that Lombardi Trophy coming to ATL in my life time. I could not see that before the arrival of AB, TD, and Smitty. And in the words of the late Edward Kennedy, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dreams shall never die.

Critical? Yes. But I believe in the Dream. I believe in the Process. I believe in the Atlanta Falcons.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
12:22 pm

One more nugget….

Walls is a keeper and a potential starter at some time in the future….bank on it.

Back later to comment on the rest of this fine topic…..great as always, D3. Off to the War Room for this afternoon’s FFL draft. As I draft and think of the draft, will be listening to my tune and reflecting on our fallen Queen…

SB, put on our tune and chill while we roll with this draft. The Avengers are with us in spirit and love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzDbzsRsuAU

JeromeMJ

August 27th, 2011
12:33 pm

The ATLANTA Falcons are going to have another great season. Matt Ryan is the future and a hall of famer.They can beat anybody and have proven it year after year. The had the best record in football last year and this year they will win it all. The defence has gotten better and so has the offense. All we need is to have our coach learn how to coach in playoff games and we can’t be beat. We have the best and depeest team. Our only weakness is at head coach because he doesn’t know how to get the plays call. You can’t win big games without taking risks and letting your QB and other players play. Tiem to let Ryan take over and win the Super Bowl… if the coach screws it up again he is gone.

BT

August 27th, 2011
12:37 pm

What do you expect from the Falcons-Steelers game?
I expect them to test the strong Steller defense, to check how the run is game going against a top shelf opponent also, test the deep passing game some being it`s been openly stated they want more production in that area.

Have some of us, myself included, been too critical?
Most likely but hey, we are just fans wanting and expecting excellence.

Are there worrisome trends forming in preseason?
Yeah, inconsistent play of the O line.
Hopefully, it`s just rust and their play will improve and the old often mentioned habit of letting teams convert on third down is a concern but a lesser concern to the O line.
Punt coverage is also an issue, it`s bad luck to have the punter leading the punting team in cover tackles.

Is Michael Palmer the heir at TE or not?
Not sure, I like Palmer and Kelly is no long term answer.
One thing I have noticed. the O line is better with a good pure blocking TE in the lineup in certain situations and they have not had one since Ben Harstock left.
So, I have not read much into the Kelly signing in terms of Palmer`s future.

Ray Edwards the missing piece?
It`s hard to say at this point, hopefully they have found one of the missing pieces.

Your expectations for Edwards at DE?
Solid against both the run and pass and a valuable piece in the D line rotation.

Who’s in @ #5 CB Spot?
Walls, look at him much the same as Harvey, put him on PS if they are brave but say good bye if you do it?

Should Falcons hit waiver wire for 5th CB spot?
I don`t think so, continue the development if their young guys.
However, if a real steal pops up???

What should the RB rotation look like?
That one is easy, Turner, Snelling and Rodgers.
Cut the rest and pick one back up off the street if the need arises?

Any training camp shockers?
Not really.

Practice squad candidates?
I will answer that tomorrow.

Ken Strickland

August 27th, 2011
12:40 pm

WAYNESTER-I don’t believe our coaches will be disappointed is DE REdwards doesn’t reach 8+ sacks, knowing his snaps will be reduced. However, I firmly believe they expect DE KBiermann to more than make up the difference. Getting 6-7 sacks from Edwards and 4-5 sacks from Biermann would be a vast improvement over what we’ve gotten out of RDE over the past 3+ seasons.

If we can also get 6-7 sacks from DT’s PJerry and CPeters combined, and 5-6 sacks from JBabineaux, our pass rush, and overall pass DEF will be very much improved. This coaching staff, and to some extent the previous coaching staff, hasn’t made a habit of giving up on young talented players.

If they had given any credence to the rantings, ravings and fears that’s constantly expressed by some of our fans, players like SS TDeCoud, FS WMoore, DT’s PJerry & JBabineaux, as well as Probowlers RWhite(WR)and BGrimes(CB), wouldn’t be on the team. CB COwens just completed his SECOND(2nd)yr in the league, and some of you act like he hasn’t done a damned thing in that time.

Since DFranks was on IR all of last yr, this is the equivalent of his rookie yr. It’s just too doggone early to start cutting such talented players just because they aren’t performing on the level of certain CB’s some of you want us to sign or trade for. Give what you’ve got a solid chance to show what they can do before suggesting we throw them under the bus.

waynester

August 27th, 2011
12:51 pm

Ken S
sack totals like you’re envisioning would place us firmly among the league leaders and that’s what we all want to see. Hopefully, Edwards is the missing piece (along with a breakout year from PJerry) to put us in a position of dominance on the d-line….

ATLANTA SPORTS FAN IN VEGAS

August 27th, 2011
1:17 pm

I’m curious to see how the first team defense performs especially the secondary….

E43

August 27th, 2011
1:43 pm

1)What do you expect from the Falcons-Steelers game?
Nothing really. Its all entertainment to me because there’s no way of telling what any of the coaches value during such a game.

2)Have some of us, myself included, been too critical?
Yes and no. It depends on the person. D3 I’d say no because I know that you will praise them when praising is needed. Some bash the falcons player 24/7 regardless of how a player contributed.

3)Are there worrisome trends forming in preseason?
Not to me because we will see anything and everything during the regular season. Some things will be forgotten and picked up multiple times depending on the agenda of the analyst.

4)Is Michael Palmer the heir at TE or not?
Don’t know because I don’t know what is asked of him. Julio Jone’s acquisition makes me wonder even more.

5)Ray Edwards the missing piece? Depends on what you mean by missing piece. But my answer is still no. I thought the Falcons were going to go all the way last year. Many people did until Tramon Williams ended up in the endzone with the ball. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “missing piece” I think that missing pieces are things that every team coins after and not before they perform well. Example is Vick. He wasn’t the “Missing piece” until the pro bowl talk began.

6)Your expectations for Edwards at DE?
10 sacks

7)Who’s in @ #5 CB Spot?
I like DWalls because he fits into everything the falcons have never had. A CB with potential as well as good size and speed that we can groom. Then again the same could have been said about Jimmy Williams. I think the difference between the two is that DWalls isn’t too big.

8) Should Falcons hit waiver wire for 5th CB spot?
Ask me again once the nickelback situation is over.

9)What should the RB rotation look like?
Turner-Snelling Rodgers 3DRB

10)Any training camp shockers? I like bear woods but haven’t watched the falcons play in person so I cant say.

11)Practice squad candidates?
Cant tell. But I think there will be a focus on safeties and DE’s

E43

August 27th, 2011
1:46 pm

I think Decoud and Moore need to be the MVP’s of our defense should this team want to move deep into the playoffs.

WR

August 27th, 2011
1:48 pm

Afternoon cage, trying to put together a big draft board for the FFL draft which is coming whether quickly.

Looking forward to the game, D3, hit on many of the critical points I’m watching for, at the same time I see the Steelers as a good team to just really let some things hangout. That meaning, take some shots deep, not just on go routes, all over the field, with a safety like Polamalu this is a good time for learning and teaching. Throw a few screens, again with a team bringing pressure like Pittsburgh this is a great barometer to gauge where you stand.

Now this is the one that will get me hung, but, and it probably is definitely not a problem for the Falcons, limit the blitzes tonight. The front four is basically intact against a good improvisial QB, let’s see what they can do, lets give the LBs and the NCB position some experience in coverage. Hines Ward will be in the slot, no better WR in the slot in the NFL to learn from for Franks. Last comment was not to discount Owens, just see him as better suited for the outside, whereas Franks appears to be that playmaking NCB teams are looking for in today’s NFL.

Lastly, SW, I’m sure you caught it, Desmond Howard on ESPN college gameday basically said word for word what you believed about the Noles of this year. So credit is given where credit is due, but and sure I’m a homer, those busy bees who are being discounted will be alot stronger then many people think. Hate the highschool offense, but after watching practices this offseason, the pieces are in place for it to take off, and thats considering the ACC championship team of only two seasons ago.

Alright, back to the draft board of the FFL, not use to such last minute planning and preparation, the lockout obviously affected my front office, and Goodell(AKA D3) laid down the law with expansion plans which really changed things up,LOL.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
1:56 pm

LOL, WR. Desmond is wise. Just wait and see.

The new format is going to be a challenge for sure but I feel that this is going to be a very interesting season. Love the Goodell reference….LOL. And expansion is good; I think once they find their own grooves, the new teams will be fine.

And with the first pick….JJ goes with All Day. Count on it… The second pick…..Lil Dave will go with Aaron Rodgers; Third pick…the Good Ole Gunny from Gamecock land will take, Tom Brady.

And with the fourth pick…..the new look team from TeePee City, the Warriors, will take………………..

Stay tuned.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
2:01 pm

Three hours to the draft……

WR, Desmond is wise. Heed his warning. I already told you so. See you in Charlotte, planning for the Orange Bowl in Miami, and praying for much bigger.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
2:06 pm

As far as the six questions go, will assess the performance tonight and provide exclusive TeePee Sports analysis tomorrow. Definately will be taking detailed notes.

I gave you my first draft nugget yesterday in UGA’s Brandon Boykin.

I will give you a couple of names to watch this season. If these men become “free agents”, and the defense fails to achieve the desired standard, keep an eye on these names as a possible new DC in the ATL. 1) Marvin Lewis 2) Mike Zimmer.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
2:09 pm

Walls has two skill sets that Jimmy Williams was sorely missing….intelligence and work ethic.

SeminoleWarrior

August 27th, 2011
2:12 pm

I agree with WR on the front line assessment. The Steelers O Line is a mess so pressure from the front four should be intense tonight.

Linebackers have an excellent chance to work on pass coverage and you can bet the Big Ben will test us deep on a couple of occasions.

The intermediate game (Gonzo, Douglas, Meier) should also get a good workout tonight. They will immediate seek to minimize Turner as they did last season. The Jones factor should pay dividends tonight as well.

This should be a very good, competitive assessment of the Falcons moving forward. Good luck Birds.

BT

August 27th, 2011
2:20 pm

If your TD and you had to let a DE walk and you felt you had to make a decision between Sidbury and Davis?
Who would you keep, I`m thinking I would keep Sidbury.
Neither has shown me too much lately but Sidbury makes a lot less money to do little.

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
2:20 pm

Reggie Kelly is a blocking TE; Michael Palmer is a pass catching TE.

Ray Edwards biggest impact may be in the running game; Kroy is more of a designated pass rusher than complete DE. Be nice to not have to rotate players out situationally as much.

Some people believe that pointing out a WR drops a ball or CB blew a coverage is not being a real fan; some folks are trolls who will find fault regardless of results. I believe most of us fall somewhere within the spectrum.

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
2:25 pm

BT, Davis is a solid, proven DE which provides depth for a Super Bowl run versus unproven potential future talent. So I keep Davis based on where we are now unless we need his salary cap space to sign someone else.

BT

August 27th, 2011
2:28 pm

”Reggie Kelly is a blocking TE; Michael Palmer is a pass catching TE.”

So true, it`s really comparing apples to oranges.
A blocking TE is not too much more than an extra tackle and the designation on the depth chart is a matter of schematics.

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

What to watch for tonight:

Franks/Decoud vs. Mike Wallace: Over the top coverage.
Falcon DL v. Pitt OL: If we can’t get pressure on this weak OL, sound the alarm. Is Pouncey even playing?
Spoon/Nick v. Heath Miller: Do we continue to show coverage improvement.
Lofton v. Mendenhall: Let’s keep him contained
JJ/Roddy v. Polamalu: Deep Ball
Reynolds/Baker vs. DE: scary
RB/TE v. DE: pickups
HD/TG v. LBs: middle of the field spacing

BT

August 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

I hear ya uga_b
But what about those two rookie DE`s.
I`m greedy and don`t want to expose either guy to the PS, especially Mathews.

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HJones

August 27th, 2011
4:55 pm

D3, Keep Doing What You’re Doing!!

What do you expect from the Falcons-Steelers game?
A really talented and capable group of players will be there. I have no idea what type of performance to expect. It is hard to know which Falcons team will be on the field tonight. The team is not consistent which is one of the definitions of quality. The Falcons team that shows up depends on what the offense does, and the offense does as Mike Mularkey does. We will know after 5-8 offensive plays what the offensive strategy is. It will be either the 1) “Run Turner Run” strategy full speed ahead damn the torpedoes make a yard at any cost and don’t use first down to catch the opponent’s defense off-guard, or it will be 2) “Let It All Hang Out” strategy with Matt Ryan in the no-huddle as needed, passes to both wide receivers especially down field to White and Jones, and runs when runs are not expected. Last year 1) was used in the opening Steelers game and many more after that. I really think 2) was used in only one game and it was the Baltimore Ravens game on Thursday night, and 2) was needed for better performances against the better teams that beat us. I am not as concerned about the defense because I truly believe the defense will play better if the offense scores more points and does its job. Give the ball back to the defense with seven points having been scored – not three; not zero. Make the other team pass to catch up.

Have some of us, myself included, been too critical?
D3, you have not been too critical! None of us on this blog have been too critical! We see… what we have seen before since 2008… with no adjustments during the game and from game to game. We really saw it in the Green Bay game. Someone has to do the job of criticizing in this town since no one else does when it so obvious. This team has the players and talent to go to the Super Bowl, and criticism should not be held back if it identifies weaknesses with the utilization of the players.

Are there worrisome trends forming in preseason?
I believe Mr. Blank’s disappointment with the Packers game resulted in the Julio Jones pick and signing of Ray Edwards. I believe Mr. Blank and Mr. Dimtroff have voiced their displeasure in the awful offensive statistics of few long plays downfield last year. I don’t believe Mike Mularkey is able to translate the displeasure into a more consistent, more big play oriented, less predictable offense. He is what he is! I sense the same old type of offense. As I said above, who knows what team will be on the field any given Sunday. It has to change to accomplish the “more explosive” play desire.

Is Michael Palmer the heir at TE or not?
It is hard for me to believe that 34 year old Reggie Kelly is a better choice that the younger Palmer.
Ray Edwards the missing piece?
I don’t think magic will happen with Ray Edwards. The defense will improve but I really think it can improve immensely if the offense improves into one that scores more points and is not afraid to get ahead by several scores.
Your expectations for Edwards at DE?
We will have more sacks overall because of him. He will be the catalyst in evaluation of the overall defense at season’s end.
Who’s in @ #5 CB Spot?
D3, your analysis is good enough.
Should Falcons hit waiver wire for 5th CB spot?
No
What should the RB rotation look like?
Is this a trick question?
Any training camp shockers?
I am 65 years old and got my first ever sports autograph on my cap by Mike Palmer. I went to my first practice ever during training camp.
Practice squad candidates?
It will workout as it always does.

tdawg

August 27th, 2011
5:02 pm

Good for you D3. Instrospection makes for a better writer? blogger?

D3

August 27th, 2011
5:19 pm

Thanks tdawg. Sure appreciate your help, passion, and awesomeness!

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
5:20 pm

BT, I am high on Stephens and Matthews. I definitely keep Matthews but Chauncey has done it in NFL games and the others haven’t so he makes me feel more secure in case of injury. But I wouldn’t mind keeping Stephens instead. Frees up more cap room for a LT next year…oops…being critical…hahaha

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
5:21 pm

D3, you’re just saying that because he is a dawg fan…

D3

August 27th, 2011
5:23 pm

Well, you’re awesome too, uga_b. I can assume that you’re a UGA fan? Your thoughts on Boise State in the Dome? Last time I was there in The Dome was referred to as, I like to call it, the “Debacle in the Dome.”

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
5:34 pm

Yeah, WV was the last time I saw them in the dome…

I think we will know if they look like the team from last year that rolls over or like the team that destroyed Hawaii. Defensively we should match up well with a 3-4. Should have the size on offense. I think we might surprise some people. I like that they are under the radar a lot like the Falcons.

D3

August 27th, 2011
5:40 pm

Good point. I was referring to the Falcons Debacle in the Dome, but WV works the exact same.

Frankly, I’ve lost most confidence in Richt to turn it around. Shortsighted on my part perhaps, but that program has been in complete disarray for some time. Worried about the OL, no proven running backs, weak WR corps (at least proven), defensive cohesion, and serious lack of safety play. All that and the fact that Richt is our head coach.

waynester

August 27th, 2011
5:56 pm

Boise has some dang good coaching. I’m surprised some SEC team hasn’t already poached their HC–if Richt doesn’t pull a great season out of his hat our new AD may look to do just that…..

JB FALCON

August 27th, 2011
7:02 pm

Just got caught up on the blog, nothing since 5:56? Pregame just came on so ya’ll buckle up!

John Waynesworld

August 27th, 2011
7:04 pm

Let’s do this!

Unca' Bob

August 27th, 2011
7:08 pm

JB and JWW,

I don’t know ’bout y’all, but that wore me out. My TV guide says I’m getting NE v Det. Ugh!

John Waynesworld

August 27th, 2011
7:17 pm

I screwed up so bad UB. There was one point I thought I was picking the best available Safety and I picked the first Safety alphabetically instead. And an Eagle to boot! Ticked me right off. I guess I need to find out how to waive him and pick up another guy.

Unca' Bob

August 27th, 2011
7:22 pm

JWW,

If you need any help, you should have my email address. I’ll help you any way I can.

uga_b

August 27th, 2011
7:22 pm

This is bittersweet. I mean, I know I get football right now but that means no more Falcons for a week. On top of College Football buildup.

I think Pittsburgh wins the coin toss.

JB FALCON

August 27th, 2011
7:23 pm

UB, try to get 94.1 FM or 790AM. Probably get more info than the TV folks who tend to lose interest in the game.