What is Falcons Biggest Area of Need?

Positions of Need

Will #44 Be Here in '12? (AJC)

This is just a smaller new post thread to transition to a much more in-depth and longer post to come soon. Until the new post comes, we wanted to hear from The Bird Cage Faithful on the Atlanta Falcons biggest areas of need by position.

The Cage’s Take

Offensive Line

Some will say defensive ends or cornerbacks or maybe even running backs, but the Falcons must finally infuse some much needed talent into an offensive line that has overachieved since its inception. Maybe a new OL coach, scheme, and offensive coordinator can make a big difference with the guys already on roster, but Dimitroff likely even concedes he hasn’t drafted enough talent.

Only two players are solid at two positions, Justin Blalock and Tyson Clabo, and the rest will be totally up for grabs. Joe Hawley gave some flashes and Will Svitek did an admirable job in relief, but still major question marks on Mike Johnson and Andrew Jackson remain. Garrett Reynolds will likely only be seeing a starting job at RT if they move Tyson Clabo inside.

Defensive Line

Abe Likely Gone (AJC)

The Falcons could go in several different ways here, but one thing is certain: the idea of the smaller, quicker defensive tackles to get penetration with unspectacular defensive ends just doesn’t work. They are solid with Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, and are committed to Ray Edwards. Vance Walker provides a nice role player and Peria Jerry is staring down his last chance with the Falcons.

It appears the Falcons will part with Abraham unless he agrees to take a big paycut. Lawrence Sidbury has shown flashes, but very uncertain if he can be a 3 down DE. Kroy Biermann may be back in Atlanta or he might be moving on elsewhere. Maybe it’s finally time to get a big-bodied DT in here to help out the defensive ends, under tackle DT, and linebackers, especially some moves to 3-4 principles.

Tight End

This one’s obvious since Tony Gonzalez said this would be his last year and Michael Palmer seems to be no more than a legitimate #2 TE. Drafting Gonzalez’s replacement this year is an almost certainty.

Safety

William Moore is set at strong safety, but is often hurt. Thomas DeCoud may get another shot under a new and proven defensive coordinator or the Falcons may decide to part ways and draft a new starter. James Sanders provides a nice insurance policy for both Moore and DeCoud, and may even be the day 1 starter until they groom a new draft pick. Shann Schillinger was always a special teams player, but it appears his days are numbered in a Falcons uniform.

Running Back

Should He Stay or Go? (AJC)

Dynamic. The Falcons must get dynamic in the backfield in some form or fashion. Perhaps a Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combo at running back could work if used correctly, but Turner is heading downhill fast and Rodgers doesn’t have burner speed, but rather quickness. If the Falcons decide to part with Turner, they likely would keep Snelling as a transition back until a rookie gets up to speed, but it’s doubtful they’ll keep both again. Perhaps Antone Smith finally gets used correctly and can make a dent.

This much is certain: they must find a way to get more dynamic in the backfield.

The Bird Cage Faithful’s Turn

-Agree/Disagree?

-What’s your top 5 positions of need

-Rank yours with descriptions of why?

553 comments Add your comment

DePlane

February 6th, 2012
7:04 pm

Land O' Lakes Falcon

February 6th, 2012
7:05 pm

Both lines. Keep Grimes.

DePlane

February 6th, 2012
7:06 pm

Actually agree with the way you have them listed.

Unca' Bob

February 6th, 2012
7:08 pm

Enter your comments here

Unca' Bob

February 6th, 2012
7:10 pm

Sorry for the enter your comments.

rob

February 6th, 2012
7:17 pm

I wonder what round ATL will draft the replacement TE for Tony Gonzalez.

Kurtis

February 6th, 2012
7:19 pm

We need to be able to put pressure on the quarterback with our front 4 and we need a running back who can get a yard on 3rd or 4th and 1 even when the defense knows he’s getting the ball.

DePlane

February 6th, 2012
7:41 pm

Drafttek has us taking TE Coby Fleener from Standford at #54.

Paddy O

February 6th, 2012
7:59 pm

Paddy O

February 6th, 2012
8:02 pm

whoops. LT, S, TE, LB (if Lofton goes), huge DT.

waynester

February 6th, 2012
8:32 pm

D3
Other than swapping Safety for RB our priorities seem to be pretty well aligned. To put a finer point on it, OLT. It’s been a glaring need since before we drafted Ryan and the stop-gaps aren’t cutting it. 2nd, a BIG, athletic DT. Mike Martin is the guy I want, but he may go earlier than 54….

Najeh Davenpoop

February 6th, 2012
8:42 pm

The Falcons need to get used to being the #2 team in Atlanta, behind the Hawks.

Screen Pass

February 6th, 2012
8:46 pm

I think your order was pretty close D3. I would rate safety 3rd behind the lines with RB and TE last. Koetter doesn’t appear to utilize his TEs as much but blockers so until he proves he can even use a TE correctly I wouldn’t prioritize the position. We are way more than likely stuck with Turner 2 more years and that isn’t necessarily the worst thing. We can use a later pick on more versatile feature/ and or scat. I like Quizz but we can add another threat through a speedier option if available. If we could trade Turner we could easily get a more versatile RB and even value out of our 2nd round pick if we replaced him in draft. The money this frees up can help land a “gamechanger” at a more important position. Granted we will prolly still be the stuck in the 90’s plow the middle offense so if we keep Turner AND greatly upgrade the O-line it should be ok.

JB FALCON

February 6th, 2012
9:09 pm

falcon21

February 6th, 2012
9:25 pm

Matt Ryan got us into the playoffs this season because the man can take a beating, get off the turf and find a way to win. The only thing our O-line could do well was help him up. We were damn lucky we didn’t lose him to major injury. So yes, the O-line is the #1 priority.

JB FALCON

February 6th, 2012
10:02 pm

In answer to the post. Sounds like D3 got it pretty well right. I think with the new cords we will find out that we only need to keep a select group of our team and add some very well thought out FA’s and hope we can land a game changer in the draft.

WR

February 6th, 2012
10:19 pm

D3, nice write up and I too would keep the OL exactly where it is, an LT and some help in the middle besides Blalock are a necessity. I’m putting safety slightly above the DL. Now before someone jumps down my throat, I believe the DL needs to add some bulk, and with Nolan’s scheme I expect it to be a much better unit. Safety on the other hand has been as problematic as the OL during the last 4 years in my opinion. Now it could have been BVG or not, but all I know is that for all the flack, maybe deserved, that Dunta takes the Falcons haven’t gotten much out of them. I see huge upside in Moore but he has to be able to remain on the field, Decoud on the other hand is a top notch back up in my opinion.

As for TE, I believe it was SP whom mentioned it, but until we even have a remote clue as to what Koetter is going to be putting out there for an offense I just can’t put it that high on the priority list even though if Orson Charles were available in the 2nd they should break a leg running to the podium to turn in his name.

RB, now here is a very difficult position to truly judge. On the one hand the Falcons are living on borrowed time with Turner, sorry, that’s just the life of a punishing RB. On the other hand I would like to see Quizz more involved, but there’s no telling how much of a beating he can sustain over the course of a season. Snelling can be let go or kept, no matter what, really doesn’t hugely affect the team in my opinion. Love his service and his versatility but its not like its a back breaker if he was to leave. Lastly, either play Antone Smith or cut this guy, there are only so many players on an NFL roster, the rest are on the practice squad, if over the course of 4 years your not contributing, or have at least made it off the practice squad, your taking up valuable space.

Wabe

February 6th, 2012
11:07 pm

Both lines seems like the easy answer.

But, to elaborate on it, I wanna see us have a long-term answer at LT. Not sure how this will get done without a 1st round draft pick, but, I don’t wanna see a stop-gap in Svitek (as admirable his performance was this past season) assume this role next season. Solidifying that LT spot going into next season will go a long ways to shore up the O-Line.

Regarding Grimes, I keep going back and forth on this issue. Sometimes, I feel as though I’d be fine moving forward minus Grimes and letting Franks take over that role. And then there are other times where I think we might need a guy like Grimes in our secondary to be the pressure-oriented type defense that I think Nolan will bring. Nolan’s comments signal that he’s very big on having enough CB’s to make his scheme work. Grimes price may make it tough for us to bring him back, but, I could see why some might make the case that he’s our top priority, even over a guy like Lofton.

If we were gonna bring one of those two back, Lofton vs Grimes, which one would you lean more towards? That’s a tough one for me. We’ve seen flashes from Franks, so it makes it a bit easier for me to swallow that pill (Franks taking over Grimes role) than watching an unknown talent in Akeem Dent. We were all wondering why TD pulled the trigger on Dent so quickly in last years draft. Some pointed to Lofton’s possible knee injury. Could it have been to prepare ourselves for Lofton’s departure this season?

Big Lou

February 6th, 2012
11:16 pm

“Snelling can be let go or kept, no matter what, really doesn’t hugely affect the team in my opinion. Love his service and his versatility but its not like its a back breaker if he was to leave.” -WR

I don’t know about this. Snelling could be on hell of a back if used effectively. That run against New Orleans convinced me of this guy’s heart, determination, and skill. It might now hurt the team stat wise, but I could only imagine how much of a threat he could be with the right utilization.

Big Lou

February 6th, 2012
11:20 pm

“If we were gonna bring one of those two back, Lofton vs Grimes, which one would you lean more towards? That’s a tough one for me. We’ve seen flashes from Franks, so it makes it a bit easier for me to swallow that pill (Franks taking over Grimes role) than watching an unknown talent in Akeem Dent. We were all wondering why TD pulled the trigger on Dent so quickly in last years draft. Some pointed to Lofton’s possible knee injury. Could it have been to prepare ourselves for Lofton’s departure this season?” -Wabe

I think that Lofton and Grimes could both be let go to be honest with you. I know they have both done a great job for the team, but Grimes will cost to much and Lofton might not be able to fit in Mike Nolan’s new scheme(he is weak on pass coverage). We will have to see, I guess.

Lamar

February 7th, 2012
12:14 am

THE BIGGEST NEED IS TO SOMEHOW GET RID OF DUNTA ROBINSON!! I DO NOT CARE IF IT WILL COST THEM 5 MILLION TO CUT HIM, THIS IS BETTER THAN WATCHING HIM CHASE SOMEBODY THAT JUST BURNED HIM AGAIN!!!!!! PATHETIC IS THE WORD ON HIM!!

Ed

February 7th, 2012
2:13 am

D3 we have too many needs and not nearly enough draft picks. I have always felt that you never, ever give up your next year’s first round draft pick. We could so use a number one this year far more than we ever needed JJ at the price it took. Just look at the possiblilties available this year at 22 and put with it what we could have taken last year and we would be much better off. It’s “Fool’s Gold” to trade away the future in hopes of winning it all now. So many things can go wrong but the draft will always be there to rectify unforseen situations.

trademark

February 7th, 2012
3:29 am

Seems like everyone’s about on the same page here. that being the lines need lots of attention. Like you, Wabe, I’ll elaborate a tad. First though,

Big Lou, Totally agree. In Shultz’s column he also took a shot at Snelling and basically wrote him off as a non-entity in regards to the offense. OK, why? When he was basically forced into service because of Turner’s injuries, he was all-world. He put up big numbers. Reminder (2009) 142 attempts, 613 yards (4.3 yds/carry average) and 4 TDs. Mix into that 30 reception and 259 more yards and another TD, and you got a WEAPON. That is about the only time Smith and Co. deigned to give him the damned ball. 87 carries in 2010 and a drop-off in yards and average, yeah, spot carries, tough to get into any kind of rhythm, and the last year it drops to 44 carries….?

Someone care to explain this to me?

Because it’s a total ‘effin mystery to me. You got Turner approaching the “30 wall” at break-neck speed, and you feed him the ball 300+ times last season. W-H-Y? So unnecessary. Snelling is talented as hell, a big back that runs with power and heart and can catch, and if he goes, mark it down right here: he’ll be HUGE elsewhere.

On the O-Line, I’m going to go against the grain a tad here, and say Svitek is a gem., more than a temporary bandage. Look at some of the pass rushers he went head to head with, including Jared Allen, and gave up nothing. That’s almost impossible, no matter who the hell you are. Personally, if you watch the tapes, you are seeing the pocket collapse to the interior a lot. Not directly from the NT position, where McClure was anchoring, but from within the hashmarks. Ryan was rarely (if ever, I tried to find one on tape) blindsided from the backside, or swallowed up from a failure by a RT side sweep….OK, with one exception when baker was in there and “Ole’ed” the DE…. This is pointing at the guards. Just my two cents on that.

We won’t know until free agency and the draft which direction Nolan is REALLY thinking with his D-Line. Watch the scales….anything looking like a 320-pounder and we’re going to see lots of 3-4, and maybe some speedier LBs. As far as Grimes goes….I think Nolan is going to want his corners tall and physical, to hit and jam routes at the line of scrimmage. If he feels Grimes can’t do that, he’ll petition to let him walk. If Grimes has convinced Nolan that he can, he will never let him go, and that franchise tag nightmare might become a reality (only a nightmare salary cap wise, I like Grimes’ tenacity and style and skill on the field). Cruel thing ,but this scheme that Nolan runs is physical, and if you don’t have the physicality to keep up, he can’t use you.

Great start to the Off-Season, D3 and Cage! Keep it up!

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Birdman

February 7th, 2012
7:14 am

A Play Off Win…..!!!!

trademark

February 7th, 2012
7:22 am

…or four….

IceFan

February 7th, 2012
7:27 am

O-Line: top priority. Just for kicks I looked at the 2008 draft. Left Tackle Duane Brown was taken 5 picks after Sam Baker. 60 starts in 4 seasons. All Pro this year!!!!!!!!!!

Looks like they will have money to spend. I’d like our free-agent “splash” to be a Left Tackle and/or a replacement for Dunta after we cut his sorry ass.

D-Line: next priority. I wouldn’t change the Julio trade, but we passed up on a fantastic DE class last year. We have to get a replacement for Abe.

Secondary: next priority. Dunta is horrible. DeCoud is horrible. Moore is awesome when he is on the field. Must lock up Brent Grimes.

Running Backs: keep Turner for one more year and draft his replacement. There are good backs every year past the first couple rounds.

TE: final priority. Tony will be Tony again for one last year. I’d hate to see them reach on a less than sure thing at TE just so Tony can groom him for a year. I’d rather go after his replacement in free agency next year or draft a stud if available in the 2013 draft.

John Waynesworld

February 7th, 2012
8:56 am

D3, you touched on them all and yes OFFENSIVE LINEMEN is the #1 priority. We are stuck with Ryan for now and he can’t move in the pocket or else he loses accuracy, arm strength, decision making, etc., etc. An immobile QB requires a stellar offensive line. Grab a FA Guard and Tackle (or two if possible), and pay them WHATEVER THEY WANT. This is a quarterback’s league now and defense (as in Grimes’ contract) be damned. We can raid other teams’ practice squads for better defenders than we have now. Offense is our only hope. We need a brick wall to protect Matty Stalagmite, or we just wait out his contract (as in losing) and find a more mobile QB for the future.

BobbyDawg

February 7th, 2012
9:10 am

We’ve GOT to replace Harvey Dahl with another monster lineman . I also wonder about Ovie. Is he coming back next year, or is that another premium player we’ve lost?

Samuel

February 7th, 2012
9:29 am

You need a back who has great speed and can get out on the edges. A offensive lineman who can protect Matt’s blind side. A tight end who has speed that’s athletic and can block. A solid young pass rusher who’s consistent. A safety similar to a young Ed Reed, a cover corner and a defensive lineman who can push the pocket up the middle.

SirReal

February 7th, 2012
9:30 am

Im gonna say BOTH lines. I think we need to have some space eaters…..our guys are athletic but they dont really push the pocket on D. On O-line, LT MUST be shored up….as well as RG and C. I like McClure, but do you really resign a guy at 35 who’s best football is probably behind him? We dont need to go all in on DBs…(I’d make a play for Cortland Finnagan though) bc the Giants proved you can win with average DBs. SCHEME plays a major role. Overallm I think what we need the most is an aggressive, hungry attitude no matter the position. Too many goody goodies on this team.

honest_abe

February 7th, 2012
10:11 am

samuel: let me continue on that thread. we need a qb like joe montanta, a wr like jerry rice, a head coach like vince lomardi, a middle linebacker like ray lewis, a cover corner like a deion sanders, a hard hitting safety like ronnie lott, a pass rusher like reggie white, a stud dtackle like suh hmmm… this is fun. ha!

Paddy O

February 7th, 2012
10:53 am

I think Snelling is a necessity – as we need depth regardless for our RB squad. If we could get a very late round guy, or an UDFA RB WHO CAN LEAP – and use him for 4 &1 situations, that would be useful – who do we have that can leap? OR, you need a pair of motorgraders at the G positions. I would like to see Reynolds at RT, and Clabo at RG. Do you give Baker a chance to compete for RG? Or simply cut him?

Paddy O

February 7th, 2012
10:55 am

trademark – maybe just lazy game planning, but Svitek has serious problems with Giant he was lined up opposite – but I did not see him getting much chipping help.

ryan

February 7th, 2012
11:00 am

Ben Jones or Glenn who should the Falcons take or is there sleeper out there Boise ST . has produce some good O-line to and what FA who is available if we take any TE should be Orson Charles .

Jeff B

February 7th, 2012
11:02 am

It really depends on who we retain, but I feel like our biggest need this year – by a lot – is offensive line. We need help at multiple positions there. We have so much talent on offense, but it does us no good if the line isn’t working.

On defense, if we can re-sign Grimes and Lofton then we have a solid foundation. Defensive end still seems like the most urgent need, especially since Abe and Bierman are free agents. I disagree with D3 on defensive tackle, I think we are set there with a good rotation – Corey Peters has really exceeded expectations.

waynester

February 7th, 2012
11:05 am

It’s sounding more and more as if this Channing Crowder thing may be happening. I know we need a veteran presence and Peterson may not make it back, so no problem there…but Lofton needs to be making more $$–maybe more than we’re willing to pay. ESPN said Lofton participated in 99% of the teams Defensive snaps(Spoon over 97%) and that’s an amazing workload. Maybe SW is right again about the LB situation and we SHOULD add another guy like the Nigel Branham kid from FSU. It would be marvelous if Svitek were the answer at OLT–I just don’t really believe it…just as I’m not sold on Hawley as our OC… Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be debating whether to retain Mud Duck….

waynester

February 7th, 2012
11:10 am

ps
ESPN also reported that Peters and Babineaux participated in the most snaps on the DLine…60.4% and 54%, respectively, trailing only Ellis from NO in the NFCSouth. That’s productivity, but we still need to give them some BIG help….

honest_abe

February 7th, 2012
11:12 am

if svitek is the front office’s answer for a starting LT the falcons are going to be in a world of hurt while matt ryan will be hurting.

LRD

February 7th, 2012
11:15 am

What we dont need is a new stadium yet. Dont want to pay a lic fee….

But Oline to me is the greatest need. If we cannot keep Ryan on his feet and injury free, then all if for naught

Columbus

February 7th, 2012
11:54 am

If the Falcons are going to get up there and be a top team in the NFC they must do ONE thing because without it, the rest is throwing money and dreams away. They MUST get very STRONG offensive and defensive lines. Without that foundation, the offense and defense will suffer in several ways. Dont matter who your DB’s are if the QB’s have all day. Dont matter who your QB is if he is under pressure all day. You better get a running QB if you arent going to protect him adequately. Make the lines strong, make your QB and DB’s strong at the same time. Free up your LB’s too. Opens up the offense. It is a NO BRAINER. The Falcons lines are the weak link….

falconsam

February 7th, 2012
11:59 am

The single most important need right now is the O-LINE. Our line is undersized, often injured and patched together. We need BIG, fundamentally sound O-lineman at any position we can get. Look at the pocket that Tom Brady and Drew Brees have in which to throw. No defenders within 4 yards and plenty of space to step up. If Matty Ice had that type of space(and time), he would shake the bad habits and go back to making quick, accurate passes.

The next biggest need is D-Line, which is also severely undersized. We need bigger DTs and Bigger DEs(Beirman is basically a linebacker, his quickness is useless in a 4-3 DE scheme).

Beef up both lines and you have yourself a fearsome football team.

joe white

February 7th, 2012
12:00 pm

We must improve both lines that is a must there. We must get some corners in here as well along with a free safety cause decoud cant cover himself.We have to sign brent and take some money back from danta, i say move him to fs cause he can cover ground for sure and moore can play up close to the line, our defensive line must improve overall, abe is going must get youner and stronger.

falconsam

February 7th, 2012
12:01 pm

Oh, I see Columbus has just said the exact same thing. Sounds like we are all in accord!

Birdman

February 7th, 2012
12:08 pm

BRO

February 7th, 2012
12:36 pm

Got to have defensive tackles that are big, fast and able to put pressure on the QB. Without these guys it will not matter who the D-backs are. Will also allow the defensive ends to put on real pressure and not just sometimes. Offensive line is weak-no pass protection and limited blocking ability. Need better evaluators of college players in order to draft better players. This current half-ass approach will not work. can not wait to draft quality players in the late rounds–not with the current people that are making the choices.Drafts have been very weak-based on loses to quality teams at crunch time.

Kurtis

February 7th, 2012
12:50 pm

I have to disagree with you D3 about Palmer being no better than a #2 tight end. I think he can step up and be our starter when Gonzalez leaves. He has the size and the hands for the job, we just have to start trying to incorporate him more next year, like Belichick uses both Gronkowski and Hernandez together in New England. Maybe now that Mularkey is gone we will start to do more stuff like that.

WR

February 7th, 2012
12:50 pm

Afternoon cage, on the Snelling front. I’m not saying he hasn’t had value, I’m not saying that he hasn’t preformed well when called upon, but the question was asked about priority and I just can’t see him as being one of the most important ones. Now someone mentioned him stepping in for Turner and how well he preformed, I completely agree. But, why have we not seen more of him instead of overloading Turner with carries. Snelling may have been faster then Turner but he is a power back, that got it done in Turner’s place as a power back. Not only did he not see any uptake in carries the Falcons actually waited to the last minute to offer him a 1 yr contract while allowing him to seek FA deals elsewhere and he got nothing.

On the one hand we blame coaching, we question player development through the coaching, we blame scheme, but why has not only the Falcons staff but no other staff seemed to value Snelling all that much. Again, he has had benefit for the Falcons, and in a different scheme maybe he can add more benefit, but the fact is, in regards to Snelling, he shouldn’t be a major priority, especially this year, when he wasn’t last year, and the Falcons were exposed more this year.

Greg Mendel

February 7th, 2012
12:51 pm

I’m just a fan who has followed the Falcons since 1966. Most folks here know a lot more about football than me — and, refreshingly, are more civil than some on other blogs — so I really enjoy reading D3’s posts and appreciate the thoughtful comments. I don’t have any keen insights, but I do have a some observations and a couple of questions.

Regarding personnel changes, it seems to me that the choices are complicated by how current players will or will not fit the new schemes employed by the new coordinators. I don’t know enough about such things to judge. I do think some players (Snelling and Robinson, for example) could have much more impact if used differently. Some players (Baker and Jerry, for example) seem like proven busts to me.

If I could see only one effective change next season, it would be Matt Ryan having a few more seconds to throw the ball. All other positions aside, anything that gives Ryan the time Brees, Rodgers and others get “should” make a huge difference.

Overall, the defense has performed beyond my expectations. Never dominated a whole game, but always hung in there longer than I expected. For that reason, I’m hoping a few changes and new schemes will suffice for another season.

I’m undecided about Turner. I wasn’t impressed with Mularkey’s repeatedly bashing him into a wall. Maybe an improved OL would improve Turner. Regardless, I do know that running backs get used up fast in the NFL.

My question for you better-informed contributors is this: Seeing Dimitroff constantly criticized for his picks and FA hires, has he really made more bad choices than GMs of other teams? I don’t keep up with other teams, and don’t know TD compares, so this is a sincere question. I assume other teams acquire players who turn out to be busts, or wind up chronically injured.

Finally, I’m wondering if the Falcons should put less emphasis on trying to tweak the team for a playoff re-run next season, or put more money and effort into more fundamental rebuilding. I know everybody is impatient and that we’re hamstrung for the upcoming draft, but might it be smarter to concentrate on making one component of the team rock-solid? Just a thought.

WR

February 7th, 2012
12:55 pm

Birdman, I like the bleacher report theory, but trading for Osi would be a trade to replace Abe not find a player to play opposite of him. Ray Edwards is fresh off a nice salary, the Falcons would then have to resign Abe, which is more cap, then you add the healthy demands of money that Osi would bring, thats completely taking up cap space and leaving your franchise QB exposed for another year.

I believe given the addition of Nolan, their won’t be a premium place on having 2 ten sack DEs, fact it he has already said that. The bleach report is just guessing at this point, which is all most of us can do.