Atlanta Falcons: Will There Be an Odd Man Out at Defensive End?

How Many DE’s Will Falcons Keep?

Abe Leads a Strong DE Group (AJC)

The Atlanta Falcons may find themselves in a somewhat desirable position for a change regarding defensive end. After being one of the most problematic areas for the Falcons since the Birds had both Patrick Kerney and John Abraham, there’s a slight potential it could be an area for improvement in 2012.

While there’s no guarantee that defensive end will finally yield production, there certainly will be competition for starting and rotation spots this year. The hope with most fans is that Mike Nolan will want to use several different players and defensive ends and find ways to incorporate many of them in different schemes, blitz packages, and paths to get after the QB and disrupt the backfield.

In the past, the Falcons have usually carried only 5 defensive ends and 5 defensive tackles. That could change this year, but it still looks to be one of the more intriguing stories in preseason and if they stay with only 5 defensive ends, someone may be on the outside looking in. A look at the candidates and their likely roles in 2012……

John Abraham

One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the off-season was seeing John Abraham, basically the only pass rush for the Falcons the last 6 years, come back. Most believed that Abraham would want to max out for one last contract and head to the highest bidder. Initially, it seemed as though it was a hopeless venture as the free agency deadline began. Abe said he took less money to stay in Atlanta and finish his career as a Falcon, another indication in and of itself that this franchise is on the up and up. His new contract cements him as the top lock

Abraham recently turned 34 years of age and has shown some signs of slowing down, but considering that he’s had basically no help in rushing the passer, his stats and ability to affect the game is unquestioned. With the addition of Mike Nolan and a more aggressive scheme, Abraham should be a major beneficiary. #55 may take on the role as mentor and pass-rushing specialist as the new defensive coordinator starts a heavier rotation.

He signed a 3 year, $16.72 million dollar deal that includes escalators and roster bonuses. With Ray Edwards, Kroy Biermann, and maybe Lawrence Sidbury beginning to take much of the run down load-share, Abraham will be the Falcons top passing rushing specialist who will rush mainly from a 3 point stance, but shouldn’t be counted out as being a standup rusher. Roster: Lock; Role: Starter, Pass-Rushing Specialist

Ray Edwards

Some are already calling the Ray Edwards signing a bust, which seems pretty unfair after only one year in which he battled injury recovery. Many forget that Ray Edwards didn’t get a max contract and was believed to be a homerun signing for Dimitroff at the time for the value he got him for and being the second best DE free agent on the market last off-season. Edwards obviously had a down year stat wise, but he was hardly the only one to underachieve on defense, an undercurrent running throughout Brian Van Gorder’s helm as defensive coordinator. Specifically, Edwards mentioned how complex the scheme was in Atlanta compared to the one he had in Minnesota (perplexing to fans considering how ridiculously soft that scheme appeared to be). Those who say that he should just be dumped need to know that the Falcons are financially committed to him for at least two more years.

Edwards Surely Will Have a Better Year (AJC)

Edwards was never a top flight defensive end on the level of a Dwight Freeney or Julius Peppers, and his contract reflected that ($6 million compared to $12-13 million a year). Edwards is a good and solid #2 defensive end that has the potential to really flourish under new DC Mike Nolan and all the help he’s likely to see in rushing the passer (Abraham, Sidbury, Massaquoi, and Spoon among others). Edwards was still good against the run last year and if he can get back his pass-rushing prowess, it could really lead to a boon for the Falcons defense. Edwards will be a starter and it will be interesting how he’s used to rush the QB. Being one of the bigger DE’s on the roster could see him play some 5-technique in a 3-4 defense as well as a true DE in a 4-3. Roster: Lock; Role: Starter, Versatile DE

Kroy Biermann

This one is a very interesting signing. Biermann has been a fan favorite due to his versatility, work ethic, and leadership on the team. He signed a pretty reasonable deal for 3 years at $9.15 million. He may not have had the best of luck becoming a full-time defensive end, but he’s proven to be an invaluable rotational player and definitely shown his athleticism the last two years with two interceptions and touchdown runs. Biermann will likely continue his role as a good rotational player, possibly being in on run heavy downs and occasionally staying in to rush the passer.

The big question will be whether or not he stays exclusively at defensive end or tries his turn as an outside linebacker in Mike Nolan’s new scheme. Many believed Biermann to be more suited for an OLB in a 3-4 when he was at 241 lbs when he came out of Montana. The big question is whether he could play in space and cover. The rotation will be very interesting with the Falcons committed to John Abraham, Ray Edwards, Lawrence Sidbury, rookie Jonathan Massaquoi, and possibly even Cliff Matthews. It only seems to make sense that some of the ends will be working at OLB or some of them will be dropped from the roster. Roster: Lock; Role: Rotational DE, Potential 3-4 OLB.

Lawrence Sidbury

Sidbury’s a big question mark for his year. He’s flashed some major potential in the limited amount of time he’s gotten snaps. In fact, he notched 4 sacks in 206 snaps and has shown his excellent pass-rushing skills the last few years. Sidbury remains an enigma. For whatever reason, he just hasn’t seemed to be utilized correctly since his arrival in Atlanta. He got a sack and touchdown as a rookie and basically went missing in 2010, failing to even make the gameday active roster several times. He played half the amount of snaps that Edwards and Biermann did, yet out-produced them both in sacks. Most believe that Sidbury has not been utilized properly by Smith and former DC Brian Van Gorder.

Sidbury Utilized Properly? (AJC)

Some think that Sidbury could be the perfect weapon for Mike Nolan and his new aggressive scheme, being able to play with his hand on the ground as a defensive end or maybe a pass-rushing specialist as a rush OLB in a 3-4. He surely seems to have the athletic ability for the transition. The Falcons were thought to be set at defensive end, but the drafting of Jonathan Massaquoi definitely brings all possibilities back into the equation. Roster: Likely a Lock; Role: Pass-Rushing Specialist, Big Candidate for 3-4 OLB.

Cliff Matthews

If Sidbury is a big question mark, than Cliff Matthews is the ultimate great unknown. Like Sidbury, Matthews showed some flashes in preseason only never to be heard from again. Many fans may not know that Matthews actually is one of the lighter defensive ends on the roster at 6’4, 257 lbs. Thought to possibly hold potential on lining up as a 5-technique, he actually would be closer to being a standup OLB, possibly like Biermann and Sidbury. Matthews looked really good in preseason, and of course wasn’t seen in the regular season (another seeming example of the Falcons failure at developing players).

Matthews definitely will be on the bubble with the drafting of Jonathan Massaquoi. If the Falcons decide to carry only 5 defensive ends, Matthews likely be on the outside looking in. It would be a shame for Matthews seeming potential to go unrealized and be gone from the roster, which is why many think the Falcons may keep all 6 defensive ends with Nolan’s propensity to use a heavy rotation. Roster: Bubble

Jonathan Massaquoi

When the former Troy player’s name was called for the Falcons in the 5th round, fans were pretty puzzled. The Falcons were already committed to Ray Edwards and then re-upped both John Abraham and Kroy Biermann in the off-season, not including potential-laden Lawrence Sidbury and Cliff Matthews. The Falcons may be adopting the Giants strategy of never having enough players who can get after the passer, one that has worked pretty darn well for them.

Mass Have an Impact? (AJC)

Massaquoi was an excellent pick in the 5th round and has vowed to get back to his junior year weight and form, one that saw him notch 76 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks. Massaquoi is a welcomed addition to a team in severe need of pass rushing help in the worst way. It’s hard to believe that Massaquoi won’t make the teams considering almost all of Dimitroff’s draft picks make the active roster. What his exact role will be or where he’ll be in the defensive end pecking order is yet to be known. Like Sidbury, Biermann, and Matthews, Massaquoi could get some looks as a 3-4 OLB. Roster: Slight Bubble; Role: Pass-rushing specialist.

Louis Nzegwu

Nzegwu was rated as one of the top undrafted free agent signings by several draft sites. It’s a very long shot for Nzegwu to make it onto the active roster with all the talent in front of him, but he does have good size and speed and seem to be a very good candidate to develop on the practice squad. Roster: Practice Squad; Role: Development


Bird Cage Veterans Turn


1) What will the Falcons defensive end rotation look like in 2012?

2) What SHOULD the Birds DE rotation be like?

3) How many DE’s should the Falcons keep?

4) Will Sidbury’s talent finally be utilized under Mike Nolan?

5) Is Cliff Matthews on the bubble to miss the Falcons roster?

6) Will Jonathan Massaquoi have any impact as a rookie?

7) Should any of the candidates get looks at outside linebacker?

8.) What’s your prediction for sack totals for each player?

194 comments Add your comment


May 31st, 2012
7:53 pm

Enter your comments here


May 31st, 2012
8:00 pm

Sorry about the expiration folks. That continues to be a bane of my existence :evil: :mad: . But anyway, new post up and let the good times roll………………

JB — You beat UB to the punch. Glad to see you in here brother.

Optimistic Falcon Fan

May 31st, 2012
8:20 pm

Not sure Sid is a lock, can’t coast on potential forever. Maybe he ws held back my coaching, but Matthews could squeeze him out, unfortunate because I always hed out hope for him

Optimistic Falcon Fan

May 31st, 2012
8:24 pm

Abe, Edwards, Biermann are all locks.

Mass make it on potential IF he doesn’t urinate the staff with a holdout,

Leaves Sid and Matthews, does one squeeze out a LB off the roster?

Nzegwu- Mr. Scrabble pushes for a spot on the practice squad, unless there is an injury or two.


May 31st, 2012
8:36 pm

D3, great post! I had been waitin’ to respond to Big Ray’s last post but have forgotten what he said. Anyway, I am hoping we keep 6 DE’s, given Nolan’s MO. Even Nzegwu if we have room on the PS.
As far as sacks per player? I’d go back to Nolan’s idea of four per DE, that would be 24 at least, and that’s not counting Spoon, Nick, and DeCoud!
Since I’m on a roll here, I’m going to throw in 7 int’s for Grimes, 6 for Samuel, and 4 for DR, AND that’s not counting the LB’s. I am so looking forward to next year, more so than any other since 1966.

Big Ray

May 31st, 2012
8:56 pm

I don’t care how many DEs we keep, so long as we get good consistent pass rush pressure and have enough guys to do it with. Wouldn’t be surprised if we keep 5 or 6, especially if any of them can play standing up. The LB position does seem somewhat diminished, but then again, we haven’t seen Nolan’s sets yet.

Big Ray

May 31st, 2012
8:57 pm

Why in the devil is Massaquoi not signed yet?

JB ,

I don’t even remember what the hell I said. Must not have been important…


May 31st, 2012
9:39 pm

Patrick Kearny and John Abraham NEVER really played together. PK tore his pectoral on his second snap of the season opener. He eventually returned, but only after JA was out w/ a groin.

Some of the more frustrating injuries in Falcon history. We had Rod Coleman at DT in his prime as well. It could have been glorious….


May 31st, 2012
9:43 pm

I’m wondering why we resigned the Bier Truck… Other than the interception return, I just didn’t see him making many plays last year… or the year before… Not hating on him, just don’t see why he should be a lock when we’ve got guys that I think have more QB-pressuring skills and abilities like Mathews and Sid…


May 31st, 2012
10:00 pm

Pooler, Bier has another kid on the way, he needs the money. :(


May 31st, 2012
10:02 pm

I feel they will keep six and four tackles. However, if not, I agree with PoolerSpirit.


May 31st, 2012
10:03 pm

Lol @ Rod Coleman i forgot about him. How can you not appreciate Kroy beirman??? especially as a back up

Hamad Meander

May 31st, 2012
10:07 pm

Hard to believe we won’t be carrying all of these great guys, but the 53 man roster means we won’t be carrying a 4th string DE. I have a feeling that the odd men out will be Cliff Matthews and Louis Nzegwu, although my choice would be Matthews and Biermann. Reason being, I just don’t see them being playmakers…..nice pieces, but not playmakers. Don’t forget also our two starters have injury histories, so we could and should go deep into the depth chart all season.


May 31st, 2012
11:08 pm

Optimistic — Normally I would agree with you regarding Sidbury, but I think he’s just shown too much talent to not be a part of Nolan’s plans. Van Gorder obviously had no clue on how to incorporate his talent. That’s the only thing I can think of him going missing in 2010. I could definitely see either a DT or an LB getting bumped off the list in lieu of a 6th DE. We know we’ll have Spoon, Nicholas, Dent, Tatupu, & likely Adkins as locks. Does a guy like Robert James or an UDFA really benefit us more than keeping Matthews? Same goes for Peria Jerry to be honest. It would be a touch risky only going with 4 DT’s, but you can always find pluggers like Aubrayo Franklin or Carlton Powell to come in if need be.

JB — Nice stats for INTs. That sure would be nice, but I guess I’ll just have to see it to believe it. Our defense has been so soft (thanks BVG) for so long that it’s hard to break that mental routine. There’s really no way our defense shouldn’t be a TON better.

Pooler — I think that’s a fantastic question regarding Bier. It made a ton of sense until we drafted Massaquoi. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we took Mass because you can never have enough players who can get after the QB. I really think that one or two will start getting some looks at OLB. Perhaps Biermann. He’s 6′3, 255 and was at 241 when he came out. Matthews the same thing, even though his height may preclude him from being able to cover well. It will be very interesting to see how it shakes out.

Magnus — You are correct. I remember being so darn disappointed when Kerney got his injury. That pair had so much potential and it just never came to fruition. Our pass rush has been pitiful for so long, isn’t it time for that to change already?

Hamad — Agreed. I was actually shocked to see how lesser Matthews weighed. So we essentially have several guys who are very similar in their build / frame (Biermann, Sidbury, Matthews, Mass)….all between 6′2 – 6′4 and between 255 – 265. I think that at least one will get a lot of looks at LB. I think Nzegwu would a perfect player to develop on the practice squad. Pair him with DT Micanor Regis and that’s a great tandem to develop on the DL.

Joshua Malavenda

May 31st, 2012
11:32 pm

I think the falcons will keep 6 de and 4 dt. The de roatation will be abs, edwards, sidbury, mass. matthews, I have said it before but the days of the falcons not developing or utilizing all their players to their potential are over with mike nolan. Nolan speclalizdes in utilizing all his talent and placing in perspective postion so they can succed.

Joshua Malavenda

May 31st, 2012
11:33 pm

I forgot to add bierman

Jeff B

May 31st, 2012
11:38 pm

@Hamad – Cutting Biermann now wouldn’t make much sense: it wouldn’t save us any cap space, and he’s now one of our most experienced DEs. They brought him back for a reason (run downs).

I also don’t think we can get by with just 4 DTs – those big boys need a breather now and then!

Keep in mind it’s a 54 man roster now, not 53 like before. You only get to add an extra man at one position, but maybe DE will be that beneficiary this year.


May 31st, 2012
11:40 pm

I believre Cliff,Mass,and Sid are the type DE,s we need and I believe they will bring the fire and rush that we have been missing,except for Abe.I like these young pass rushers and our DC will use them to make our D roll!

panic fan

June 1st, 2012
12:13 am

This is the year of plug and play think we fans will be blown away by what Mr Nolan is getting ready to show the league,he has more options to install mix and match on the fly.I say change is in the air.he has plenty of ground forces to pick from to attack the offense, yes i said attack not drop in coverage and pray, cant wait to see it, been long time since falcons had this option. They keep every 1 only people cut are the ones that wont or don’t ATTACK . YES 2012 FALCONS WILL ATTACK 0N BOTH SIDES ARE U READY?

Big Ray

June 1st, 2012
6:39 am

Pooler Spirit ,

Valid point on Biermann. I had high hopes for him at one time. I don’t really know what to think now, other than the is a good swing backup. We shall see what Nolan can do with him. I’d rather see him at LB….

Hamad ,

I’d like to see Matthews get some more snaps before cutting him. Last season, I thought he was a very active body in the preseason, but never got to see him after that. Here’s the difference between him an Biermann…..Biermann had plenty of opportunities in real games to make plays. Matthews never had that chance.


June 1st, 2012
6:44 am

Think I would keep the 6 DE mentioned above and drop a safety instead of a DT. Our backup safeties have little upside, and we could pick up comparable talent off the wire if needed after an injury. DR could fill in to close out a game if we are suddenly very shorthanded. Our rotational DEs have more value than our backup safeties.

Big Ray

June 1st, 2012
6:46 am

Yeah. Whatever. So it takes being told you’re not an every down LB for Curtis to lose weight and add speed? Whatever, dude. You’re the enemy now. You still don’t make nearly as many plays as Sean Weatherspoon, and we’re going to throw on you when we meet the Saints. Be ready.

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
8:11 am

All I know is Sidbury hasn’t been given more playing time for whatever reason. I’m with BR in that I want to see Cliff Matthews get an opportunity to show what he can do in a game with the starters. He flashes during preseason last year that had me wanting to see more of him. The rooks and UDFAs will probably fall inline with Smitty’s “not playing rookies” belief. The exception of course is if you’re a first rounder. Smitty’s mouth says all positions are open for competition, but I don’t believe that for a minute based on the last four years. He’s been saying this every year. What makes us think he’ll be any different this year? I’m sorry guys, but I just don’t have a lot of faith in Smitty’s ability to change. He’s shown he can be one stubborn dude.


June 1st, 2012
9:01 am

I think we should go with the 6 DE’s and use 2 QB’s like last year or year before. Put JPW on the practice squad.
I’m starting to get excited thinking we have enough talent that when we have to let players go, many other teams actually want them. Also, I feel Mike Nolan’s defense will make a big difference from BVG’s. I’ve felt for a time our OC & DC was our big problem. Still hoping MS wasn’t pushing all that conservative play.
I read an article before and felt from it that our young players weren’t getting a fair shake at showing their skills. We see them doing good in pre season and then see them no more. MS has to change that.


June 1st, 2012
9:02 am

Great Friday Cage Fam! — Hope you all are getting ready for (hopefully) a nice weekend and enjoying the new topic. It’s surely one of the big things I’ll be keeping an eye one.

JM — I agree with you. Think there’s too much underutlitized talent there to cut any of those guys. You can never have too many pass rushers. Just ask the New York Giants. Having both Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, they still went out and grabbed Jason Pierre-Paul in the 1st round (I must admit I was dead wrong on him, I thought he would be a bust……..stupid me :oops: ). For me, it comes down to who’s more valuable: Cliff Matthews or Shann Schillinger (4th S) or Peria Jerry ( 5th DT) or Robert James (6th OLB) That’s a no-brainer for me.

Jeff B — You’re right. It surely is a risk only caryying 4 DTs. Other options include dropping a safety, as mentioned by SPS or dropping a 6th OLB. It is a risk for sure, I’ll give you that. I really think that if we can get one of the DE’s like Matthews, Bier, Sidbury, or Mass to play OLB, than we wouldn’t miss a 6th OLB. I tried to find the move to a 54 man roster, but couldn’t really nail down much. Do you have a link for it?


June 1st, 2012
9:22 am

jj — Totally agree. Even though I’ll finally believe it when I see it, it’s hard to imagine our defense not being a ton better this year.

panic fan — Great point. I think Nolan was the best off-season pickup. Not sure we’ve had a defensive coordinator on his level in a long, long time. Matt Ryan made a comment the other day about how many looks he’s been getting from Nolan in a few days compared to four years of playing against Van Gorder. An honest assessment from the QB, I think. Is your handle from Widespread? Huge fan as well if that’s the case.

BR — Biermann is kind of an oddity to be honest. It made sense until we drafted Mass. Doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere to be honest, unless he moves to a 3-4 OLB. I think he can make the transitiion, because he’s just not an every down DE, in my opinion. On Pat Y, I mean what is his deal? He’s been running like the same two stories (Smith / Ryan joined at the hip in failure and Curtis Lofton LOVES New Orleans). For chrissake dude, we get it, it wasn’t interesting in the beginning and it’s just darn annoying as bejesuz at this point.

Optimistic Falcon Fan

June 1st, 2012
9:32 am

D3 – Hope you’re right about Sid, I really do. I know he showed flashes when he was in, and had 4 sacks, but I seem to remember his getting manhandled on some running plays as well (just off the top of my head).

I just have a sneaking suspicion that this is his put up of pull out year. As this team matures and the talent TD has assembled gets a new and (hopefully) more aggressive focus, there may not be room for a one trick pony that has not developed other areas of his game as he enters his 4th year. Hope I am wrong.

Re: Sid, Paint me:

Optimistic that coaching finally pulls performance out of all that potential,

Realistic that a 4th rounder from a small school may not develop into a top rate NFL DE on measurables alone. One trick pony pass rusher that is a liability against certain formations??? If so, he could leave to make room for younger talent with higher upsides.

Curious if he was held back by coaching/poor scheme fit, or if the coaching was NFL standard and he simply didn’t step up.

Reality check, and this may be a bitter pill –

2007 – 4-12 record

New coaches/schemes arrive

2008 – 11-5
2009 – 9-7
2010 – 13-3, best in NFL
2011 – 10-6

THAT looks like a da*n fine coaching staff to me, look at what they were given, and what they did with it (that, and the record, and two pretty good ways to evaluate a coaching staff in my opinion, not their one performance in one game no matter how important).

SOOOO, if we accept the premise that the coaching staff was at the very least above average for the NFL, can we truly blame them for the lack of development of certain players? Or, could some of those players simply be a bad fit for a successful scheme (look at our record), or even lacking polish in certain areas of their game that other coaching staffs are smart enough to see?

Optimistic Falcon Fan

June 1st, 2012
9:33 am

blog monster!


June 1st, 2012
9:47 am

Two things to keep in mind…

The team has recently kept 5 DTs, but that has only been since Peria Jerry’s injury and struggles to get back up to speed and form. He was severely limited in 2010, and the extra DT was necessary for depth. Before that, the roster had only four DTs, with three of them active on game days. The roster spot for an extra DE might come from the DT group, bumping Travian Robertson to the practice squad to start the season.

Also, since the team didn’t resign Mike Peterson, the default candidate for the #6 LB spot is Robert James. It’s pretty easy to see Massaquoi taking his roster spot. With Mike Nolan likely to use more nickel and also to mix in some 3-4, any of Massaquoi, Sidbury or Biermann could act as a pass rushing OLB.


June 1st, 2012
9:51 am

D3- Great post and fun topic. One thing that I’m not sure was mentioned here is that the Falcons value Biermann’s Special Teams ability as much as anything, and I believe because of that his snaps will again be limited on Defense. I believe we will see Biermann and Sid as OLBs rushing the passer in 3-man fronts on 3rd down, with Spoon and Nicholas/Tatupu sliding inside. Massoquoi will probably be used rotationally in this role as well with limited snaps as a rookie (barring injuries). These players, along with Matthews will also be used in 4-man fronts behind Ray Edwards and Abe. I could see Babineaux and Ray playing 5-technique in 3-man fronts, with Corey and Travian playing nose. Nzegwu will be a practice-squadder unless he blows up training camp. Bottom line- Due to the fact that Biermann’s Defensive snaps will be limited with him playing Special Teams, I see us keeping all of these guys, with Nzegwu going to the practice squad.


June 1st, 2012
10:10 am

sidbury and mathews will fight for a roster spot. if mathews can’t win he’ll get a practice squad spot. the udf….. well he never really had a chance


June 1st, 2012
10:19 am

SPS — I think that’s a great idea and one I hadn’t thought of. Even though last year we kept 6 CB’s and 4 Safeties last year, at one point I’m pretty sure we only kept 5 CBs and 4 safeties. I agree 100%. If it comes down to keeping Shann Schillinger or Cliff Matthews, it’s a no-brainer. A 5th DT, a 6th OLB, or 4th S can go to keep a guy like Cliff Matthews, IMHO.

Chop — Smitty’s mouth says all positions are open for competition, but I don’t believe that for a minute based on the last four years. He’s been saying this every year. What makes us think he’ll be any different this year? I’m sorry guys, but I just don’t have a lot of faith in Smitty’s ability to change. He’s shown he can be one stubborn dude. — And right here is what sums up all the fears that fans have. You can get all the great coordinators, all the talent, all the new coaches, and all the best draft picks in the world, and not a darn thing will matter. I’m really hoping that he does change for all our sakes, but that garbage with Reynolds, McClure, and Baker “starting” on the OL isn’t a good start.

Plan B — I sure hope so too. I think that included 2 QB’s from last year. I would assume we do the same as last year, but some position will have to be cut as it stands from last year. Here’s the ones from last year……

QB – 2
RB – 5
TE – 3
WR – 5
OL – 9
DT – 5
DE – 5
OLB – 6
CB – 6
S – 4
ST – 3


June 1st, 2012
10:32 am

Agree that Bierman could move to OLB for Nolan… hopefully he’ll be able to get that extra second to make the QB sack with the secondary we’ll be deploying this year…
And Maxx… agree on his Special Teams ability… I’d forgotten about that aspect of his game…

Really looking forward to seeing what Nolan does with this defense!

Where can I get updates on OTA’s?


June 1st, 2012
10:33 am

Optimistic — Post is out.

Corey Peters out with a foot injury……but he’s expected to be back by training camp.

Finally, a common sense article regarding Matt Ryan……..

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
11:00 am

D3, I’d like to see Koetter develop an attacking game plan and turn the keys over to Matt and let him drive this baby. If protection is there and he fails, only then can you truly say it’s on Ryan. Use these camps to work on timing and accuracy. Let’s beat some winning teams down this year.

Optimistic Falcon Fan

June 1st, 2012
11:07 am

SRS – good point, agree.


With our stated preference of Nickle D over base maybe 50% of the time (reasonable in this pass happy league, and against certain O’s) we may go with one less LB on the roster, so an extra DE (or CB) could cover when needed or in some exotic looks on D.

PLEASE stop dropping Abe into coverage, though.

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
11:13 am

D3 10:19 post. I don’t want to come off as a pessimist about the birds. I just hate being told one thing and then you do another. I’m hoping a new staff will allow Smitten to trust his coaches more and keep his hands out of playcalling. Say NO to micromanaging.

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
11:17 am

Optimistic I did not particularly like dropping our best pass rusher in coverage either–especially on third down when we needed to get after the QB.

Section 322

June 1st, 2012
11:17 am

@Big Ray. I love it! We will be sending Gonzalez across the middle for 1st downs ALL DAY LONG against Curtis Softon. He is the enemy and we know his weaknesses.


June 1st, 2012
11:27 am

Chop — No worries whatsoever. I have the exact same feeling. Ultimately, I want to believe that Smith will change his stubborn ways, but as I’ve said many times this off-season, my phrase is simple: “Show Me!” They can take Rise Up and shred it for all I care. As dedicated fans, we’ve all risen up, it’s time for them to “Show Us!” Stop talking about it and do it.

(+) — Thoughts on the DE Rotation……….

My hope may be different from the reality. My hope is that Nolan really does maximize all these players with potential and really does use rotation in his attacking scheme. I thought as soon as Nolan was hired that Sidbury would / could be the ultimate secret weapon. I brought up the one year explosions of Elvis Dumervil in Denver (17 sacks) or Cameron Wake (14) under Nolan after coming from obscurity. Sidbury has the athleticism and pass-rushing prowess to be a seeming perfect fit for Nolan and his scheme. Of course I could be dead wrong, but I really think Sidbury “could” blow up.

Biermann is a little bit different. As I mentioned many times in the post, Biermann re-signing made a ton of sense up until we drafted Mass this year. As hard as he worked and as much as he tried, Bier is just not an every down DE in a 4-3. There’s no question he can rush the passer,

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
12:04 pm

Section 322 – I was thinking the exact same thing. We will abuse him the same way Brees use to…with RBs, slot receivers and the TE. LOL


June 1st, 2012
12:06 pm

(got cut off for some reason)………Bier cont’d……He can rush the passer, but he definitely struggles getting off blocks when rushing from a standard, hand-on-the-ground, DE position. He’s shown his immense athleticism on those two interceptions and subsequent touchdown runs. The question is can that athleticism translate to covering and playing in space. There’s only going to be so many snaps to go around between these 5-6 DE’s. Abraham has already had his snap count reduced, but that still isn’t going to make up for enough. Really, the only DE’s that can truly play a 5 technique if needed are Abe and Edwards. I suppose Biermann “could,” but he sure is light for that type of role. That’s why many mentioned Travian Robertson as possibly playing there. A guy like Micanor Regis could play that role too, but doubtful he’ll make the final roster.

And as I said earlier, the big unknown is Cliff Matthews. See what I culled from DraftCountdown regarding Matthews…….

With their final pick the Falcons chose South Carolina DE Cliff Matthews, who was considered to be a potential Top 100 pick at one point. Matthews has often been compared to John Abraham and like his fellow Gamecock alum and new teammate he is undersized. There was plenty of speculation about converting Matthews to outside linebacker at the next level but in Atlanta he will play with his hand down. The expectation is that Matthews will compete for a roster spot as a backup and pass rush specialist.

Maybe Sidbury and / or Biermann stay with their hands-down as true DE’s and the guys who will stand up will in fact be Matthews and / or Mass. This is truly a fascinating position to watch play out this year with the new DC and new scheme. Again, just keep all 6 DE’s and work some at OLB.

John Waynesworld

June 1st, 2012
1:21 pm

Harry’s talking up Koetter. Sounds good to me and it hints that MM was just as we thought, a stubborn old mule.

Chop Buster

June 1st, 2012
2:30 pm

JW – Sounds like Koetter actually plans on designing plays to the players strengths. Imagine that. What a novel idea. Can’t wait to see it put in action.

Jeff B

June 1st, 2012
3:40 pm

Not sure if that 54-man roster thing went through or not… it was something they talked about a few months ago, but all I’m seeing now is the 80-to-90 offseason roster expansion and the concussion thing… I guess we’ll find out for sure this August!

Optimistic Falcon Fan

June 1st, 2012
4:13 pm

Jeff B.

“The NFL approved a plan on Monday that will increase offseason roster sizes for teams from 80 to 90 players. That change goes into effect at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April, 24.

The new roster limits will include active, inactive, exempt players, reserve lists, unsigned draft choices and franchise free agent players. The beside the numerical increase in manpower, the most notable aspect of the change is the inclusion of unsigned players, including draft picks that have not signed their contracts.

Teams are allowed to keep their rosters at 90 players through the third week of the preseason. After that third game, teams must cut the roster down to 75 players. A final round of cuts, from 75 to the final 53-man rosters, happens the week before the regular season starts.”

Die Hard Falcon

June 1st, 2012
5:17 pm

I believe there will be 6 DE’s on the roster this year, I still think 5 DT’s are going to be necessary as well. I see the 6 DE: Abe, Ray Edwards, Kroy, El Sid, Massaquoi, and it’s a toss up between Nzegwu & Matthews, I have seen a lot of great things about Nzegwu and wouldn’t be surprised that if he busts his butt, he’ll make the roster, but I worry that we not keep the wrong personnel, b/c I think if we put any of these players on the PS, they could easily get scooped up, any of the 6. For DT’s: Babs, Peters, Jerry, Walker & Robertson, I think Micanor will be a PS player too. If they are good enough, I wouldn’t be upset if they kept all 7 DE’s on the roster if Kroy, El Sid, Massaquoi can fill in as hybrid LB’s, then we can reduce the LB by 1 from last year and lose Schillinger at safety to make up for it, Keeping only Nicholas, Spoon, Tatupu, Dent,and Adkins for LB’s and Moore, DeCoud, Mitchell at safety w/ option to rotate DRob in emergency situations, w/ the cross training for the hybrid DE/LB’s and DRob as a swing NB to Safety, we could just keep the best quality players on the active roster so we don’t lose them. Also, I think keeping 2 QB’s on the active roster is a good move, I know we signed JPW b/c the Vikes were going to swoop him, but I haven’t seen anything that makes me think we couldn’t find a suitable 3rd string guy anywhere to fill the PS and take snaps w/ the scout team. I really hope that we use multiple looks/packages, switching between 4-3 and 3-4, if are D improves like I think it will under Nolan, and our Offense improves even a little bit, we’ll be a force this year.

Go Falcons!!!


June 1st, 2012
7:20 pm

D3-Good article on Matt Ryan. I liked hearing that Koetter is going to the no huddle more often this year. I am not too concerned with Mike Smith micro-managing. I truly feel that Koetter was brought here to run the offense and Nolan the defense. Remember, it was often Smith who decided on running the no huddle during the course of a game to increase the tempo. To me that indicates that he was not confident in the offensive playcalling. Interference like that, I hope, will not be necessary this year, but it was positive interference at that time. Also, he allowed BVG to run that soft zone year after year. So, I do not see where he interfered that much…maybe not enough with the coaches we had.

Lofa Smith

June 1st, 2012
7:57 pm

Dawson, excellent blog. I think Jonathan Massaquoi has potential to be a difference maker with his speed. I believe you are spot on in that he could possibly play well at OLB.

BVG did not do a good job of adjusting to opponents within the game itself. Let’s hope Mike Nolan can take this defense to a higher level. Go Falcons.

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