Atlanta Falcons: Is Defensive Tackle an Area of Concern?


Peters Injury a Worry? (AJC)

Some of the biggest storylines and questions regarding the Atlanta Falcons on their upcoming season have centered on the two lines, both offensive and defensive. The offensive line has generally been the more discussed of the two with new OL Coach Pat Hill likely bringing a new attitude and new schemes to Flowery Branch. Some in the national media have even said the Falcons have the shakiest left tackle situation in the NFL. Up to 3 spots are available for players to earn a spot in the starting rotation.

Regarding the defensive line situation, the area of defensive end has gobbled up much of the oxygen. Questions on who will make the team, where will they play, and what kind of looks they will be in under Mike Nolan have dominated much of the conversation. One part of the defensive line that hasn’t gotten a lot of airtime, but is just as equally important is the situation at defensive tackle.

Most believe the Falcons are in a pretty good position regarding the DT spot with longtime stalwart Jonathan Babineaux still locked in and Corey Peters just continuing his rapid improvement since being selected in the 3rd round in 2010. The backup spots seem pretty set with oft-injured Peria Jerry, superb rotational player Vance Walker, and 7th round draft pick Travian Robertson. The Birds also boast an extremely talented undrafted player in Micanor Regis. Things are just fine at DT, right? A closer look might confirm many beliefs, but it also might cause some worry. A look at the Falcons DT’s……..

How Much Gas Does Babineaux Have Left?

One of the more shocking things that many fans may not realize is that Jonathan Babineaux is not only already 30 years of age, but that he’ll actually turn 31 in October of this season. Babineaux has been the supreme anchor for the Falcons and their fans for so long that perhaps many have just taken for granted just how long he’s been there. Babs has been a stud for the Falcons for a long time and the fact that he was drafted Lil’ Jimmy Mora should tell you how what an Atlanta vet he is. The former Hawkeye has been a beast at DT, becoming a full-time starter since Smith took over as head coach and racking up 14.5 sacks in that time with a high of 6 in 2009.

Babs Awesome, but How Much Left? (AJC)

However, age and health seem to be taking their toll on the great Falcon DT. An injury kept him out of 3 games last year, but more importantly his production took a big dip in 2011. Babineaux only nabbed one sack last season and failed to generate much pressure despite having both John Abraham and Ray Edwards on the ends and promising Corey Peters next to him. Babineaux is under contract for the next two years and his cap hit balloons to $6.3 million in 2013. Corey Peters is well on his way to replacing Babineaux as the Falcons main DT stalwart and the former Iowa product will need a bounce back year to insure his permanent spot on the Birds DL. Like all the other players, Babineaux should benefit from new DC Mike Nolan. Verdict – Bounce Back Needed, but Time is Moving Fast

Is Corey Peters’ Injury a Cause for Alarm?

Most fans were in shock when they heard Corey Peters name called in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL draft. Who? Why? The former Kentucky Wildcat quickly proved those doubts wrong as a rookie and looked even better in his sophomore season. He notched a sack in his first year, but proved to be even more valuable than just sack numbers alone. Peters looked good in run support as well as collapsing the pocket. If he looked good as a rookie, he looked even better in his second campaign, collaring 3 sacks and pulling down 33 combined tackles. He’s been everything Dimitroff and Co. had hoped for when they “reached” on him in the 3rd round a few years ago. Essentially, Peters has been a starter since day 1, notching every start except for two in his first two years.

Peters emergence has lessened the blow of Babineaux’s drop in production and looks to be the anchor of the future on the defensive line for a long time to come. The only slight worry is that Peters was held out of OTA’s and mini-camp with a foot injury. The former SEC player may be perfectly fine when training camp rolls around, but foot injuries can linger and Peters has definitely become the centerpiece to the Falcons defensive line. Verdict - Fans are Holding their Breath that the Injury Heals

Final Chance for Peria Jerry?

There’s really not a whole lot that can or should be said that hasn’t been beaten to a pulp already over the last 3 years. Many complain about Sam Baker as being Dimitroff’s worst draft pick, but objectivity aside for many fans, he has produced in some capacity and started every game on an OL that went 13-3 and nabbed the NFC’s #1 seed. Jerry, on the other hand, stands as the biggest black eye on Dimitroff’s resume unless Jerry finally finds some form. Not only was Jerry drafted in the first round with a well-known injury history, but he would turn 25 as a rookie.

Jerry's Last Chance? (AJC)

The Ole Miss Rebel had a good start in his first game and looked good only to go down with an ACL injury in his second game. Some thought Jerry may well be on his way back in 2010 where he didn’t earn a start, but did collar two sacks. Many than followed the assumption that last year (2011) would be his true “comeback” year. Jerry couldn’t supplant Corey Peters for a true starting spot and gave no indication of turning any corner or fulfilling his 1st round draft potential. Jerry is signed through 2013 and the good news is that the Falcons have already absorbed the brunt of his contract and he only counts $845k in 2012 and $905k in 2012 against the salary cap. Problem is, how long can or should the Falcons wait on their 1st round draft pick to have his “breakout” before they have to cut their losses and simply move on. Verdict - Seeing is Believing

Can Vance Walker Shed Rotation Label?

When a discussion takes place on some of Thomas Dimitroff’s best draft picks, the usual names always come up: Matt Ryan, Sean Weatherspoon, Julio Jones, etc., but if one that should get mentioned at the very top in terms of value is Vance Walker. The Falcons GM took a chance on Walker in the 7th round in 2009 and the natural belief was that he would struggle to even make the roster. Not only has he made the roster every single year, but he’s become one of the best rotational players the Falcons have had the last four years. He hasn’t earned many starts and his stats won’t blow you away, but he has played an important role along the defensive line the last 3 years. Mike Smith has carried 5 DT’s on the active roster since becoming Falcons head coach and Walker has worked himself basically into a lock at this point.

Walker Excellent Rotational DT (AJC)

Dimitroff paid the franchise tender for Walker paying him $1.26 million rather than risk losing him or even settling for a 7th round draft pick in return for him. Fact is, the former Georgia Tech prodcut is one of the more underrated players on the roster. He’s not the biggest name or had the highest stats, but he’s been a very valuable role player on a defensive line that has seen it’s share of underachievement (Jerry, Jamaal Anderson to name a few). Walker even pulled down 2 sacks last season. The question now is whether Walker can shed the “rotational player” label and become something more or just be good backup. Verdict - Walker Could Pass Jerry as 3rd DT

Will Travian Roberston Make an Impact? The Roster?

Speaking of Vance Walker, the Falcons GM took another chance on a defensive tackle with the 7th pick in this year’s draft. Robertson is a big defensive tackle at 6’4, but only 302 lbs. His frame could possibly even support 10-15 more pounds. Another SEC starter for several years, Robertson had some pretty productive statistics in his final two years in Columbia with 91 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks. Not bad for a defensive tackle.

While Robertson is not necessarily the big-bodied DT that many thought would be coming to Atlanta, he gives good depth to a position of need. Dimitroff was quoted as saying that Robertson could very versatile in playing a DT in a 4-3, but also a 5 technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense, which the Falcons have very few of. There’s a thought among some that the front office may decide to go with only 4 defensive tackles on the active roster, but given the injury issues of Babineaux, Jerry, and now Peters, that seems pretty far-fetched. Even though Robertson isn’t sure thing to make the roster, all signs point to him making the 53 man squad. Verdict - Make the Roster, but Only a Few Looks

Is Micanor Regis Practice Squad Bound?

The Miami DT is in a struggle just to make the practice squad, much less jumping from undrafted rookie all the way up to an NFL active roster. Regis does seem to hold some talent though. The Hurricane played in 46 career games with 112 tackles (52 solo), 5.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and three interceptions at Miami. Just the fact that he notched as many sacks as he did and pulled down 3 interceptions as a DT proves he’s got some athletic ability. Regis appears to be a great candidate to develop on the practice squad. Verdict - May have a Future as a Falcon, but Not in 2012.

Dimitroff Passes on Brandon Thompson (Twice)

Thompson Could've Been Had (AP)

Many fans thought that the Clemson Tiger was the perfect draft choice for the Falcons in the SECOND round, being able to not only form an excellent tandem with Corey Peters for the next 8 years, but also having the size to help the Falcons transition to the 3-4, Nolan’s defense of preference. The Falcons GM had a chance to take Thompson not once, but twice when they traded back in the 3rd round. Lamar Holmes was the pick instead and he’ll forever be compared to Thompson, at least for Bird Cage members. Verdict – Still Painful to Think About What Could’ve Been

Free Agent DT?

Aubrayo Franklin is still out there as a big-bodied DT that could aid a 3-4 transition and there’s sure to be more available when cuts come down across the league. But if the words of Dimitroff are any indication, don’t expect any other defensive tackles to join the fray unless injuries become an issue. Verdict - Not Happening, Barring Injury

Your Turn

1) How comfortable do you feel with the Falcons DT situation?

2) Is DT a strength or weakness as currently constructed?

3) How much gas does Babineaux have left?

4) How much does Peters foot injury concern you?

5) Is this Jerry’s final chance for a breakout? Will it actually happen?

6) Can Walker be more than a rotational player?

7) Will Robertson make an impact or even the roster?

8.) Any chance Regis makes the roster jump?

9) Should TD have taken Thompson over Holmes?

10) Do the Birds need some outside help at DT?

108 comments Add your comment

Jrich

July 13th, 2012
12:35 am

Enter your comments here

Jrich

July 13th, 2012
12:36 am

1st!!!!!!!!!!

TRIGG

July 13th, 2012
3:10 am

BIRDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Ed

July 13th, 2012
4:59 am

1) How comfortable do you feel with the Falcons DT situation?
Luke warm as we don’t have a true stud that other teams have to worriy about an gameplan for

2) Is DT a strength or weakness as currently constructed?
It’s neither; basically a middle of road group of eclectic
players with lots of question marks

3) How much gas does Babineaux have left?
About a quarter of a tank

4) How much does Peters foot injury concern you?
Minimal as he’s a player that you have to break hus leg to keep him off the field

5) Is this Jerry’s final chance for a breakout? Will it actually happen?
Final chance, absolutely. No it won’t happen as he will be frustrated that he’s not starting and try
and overcompensate and get injured again.

6) Can Walker be more than a rotational player?
Not on a championship team

7) Will Robertson make an impact or even the roster?
No impact and will struggle to make the roster

8.) Any chance Regis makes the roster jump?
Slim and none

9) Should TD have taken Thompson over Holmes?
Absolutely

10) Do the Birds need some outside help at DT?
We need to bring someone in who will immediately be our best DT

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Big Ray

July 13th, 2012
7:12 am

1) We might need some help there.

2) Hard to say. Talent-wise I’d say it’s a bit above average, depends on a few things, which will be discussed below.

3) Good question. Hopefully Babs has a “bounce back” year. Last season was not good for him as he experienced lows in games played, tackles, sacks….pretty much in every category. We know this is due to injury, but the question that should be asked here is whether or not he is fully recovered. If he is, then we likely get to see the Babs of old, who will get you 30+ tackles and probably at least 3 sacks. If not….well you saw what last year looked like.

And don’t forget…when the DTs struggle, that causes the DEs to struggle.

4) Depends on how severe it is. We don’t want Peters to have a year like Babineaux did last year. But if he’s not fully recovered in time, that’s exactly what will happen. It’s bothersome to think that our two best interior defensive linemen might not be fully healthy when the season starts. And we all know that playing at less than full strength doesn’t help injuries….

5) I have little faith in Peria Jerry, but the fact is that we need something from him. In fact, we probably need a LOT from him. Will it happen? It’s all dependant on his ability to stay healthy. If he goes Jerious Norwood on us again, then it’s time to cut ties. I’m tired of that.

6) I don’t know why Walker has been just a rotational guy beyond the fact that Smitty and his crew have been painfully slow when it comes to development. I see other teams getting major minutes and production out of guys in their 1st and 2nd years. It’s like comparing cooking with a wok to cooking with a crock pot….

Walker may be good enough to get more PT, and while Ray Hamilton has been a mainstay as DL coach, we may get a different perspective from Nolan. We shall see. Maybe Walker is just a reserve…and a good one. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

7) I’d generally call this a bit of a longshot. Walker might make the roster, but only if he can pick up on the system quickly enough. Word is that he’s a strong SOB, but strength alone is not going to cut it. Again, this is predicated off of two things – the Falcons’ recent past as far as developing rookies, and the fact that 7th round picks aren’t generally major contributors in year 1.

8 ) No. I haven’t seen the guy play, but I’m not holding out any hope for any fairy tale, cinderella stories. He’ll have to work like a dog to make the PS, and that might be a spot that Travian Robertson ends up at.

9) This remains to be seen. Simplified – if Ryan’s blind side is very well protected by Holmes for years to come, then this conversation is a wash. However, as we speak Mr. Holmes is standing around with a broken toe and not a single practice rep. And while I agree with and recognize the emphasis on building the O-line, I’ll also say this – on draft day I wanted Brandon Thompson pretty bad, certainly more than Holmes, who I didn’t know existed.

Clearly the Falcons FO saw something in Holmes that many of us did not. It’s also clear that they didn’t think there was a big enough separation in Brandon Thompson’s skill set/capability/talent and that of other, lower picks. We will see just how wise that was.

10) We won’t know until training camp. If this unit reports as primarily healthy by training camp, it’ll be a good start. However, don’t rule out some big bodied help in free agency. After all, we don’t know that the unit will remain healthy throughout training camp and the preseason.

Big Ray

July 13th, 2012
9:03 am

Mikefalcon63

July 13th, 2012
9:07 am

1) How comfortable do you feel with the Falcons DT situation?
Overall, I feel fairly comfortable that we have a solid group of tackles. While I think Jerry is just taking up a roster spot at this point, he does have game experience which is needed with the way we rotate the d-line

2) Is DT a strength or weakness as currently constructed?
We are in wait and see mode there. It really depends on how Nolen deploys his tackles. If we were moving to a 3-4 (Which we are not based on us not securing a true 3-4 NT), then we could say it is a weakness due to the lack of size.

3) How much gas does Babineaux have left?
Call me a hater, but I kind of hope this is his last year. His performance has dropped and he does not seem like a viable option if we shift into a 3-4 from time to time. Teams will see him off the field and know we are shifting to a 3-4.

4) How much does Peters foot injury concern you?
Not a bit… He is taking it easy and should be ready in 2 weeks. Come back to me after camp starts and my opinion may change

5) Is this Jerry’s final chance for a breakout? Will it actually happen?
He is eating roster space right now… As a 1st round pick, he will not get cut unless every other tackle outplays him early in camp, which I doubt will happen since he has been around enough to know how to get by. That said, I hope there is a true competition for his roster spot.

6) Can Walker be more than a rotational player?
Yes, he is very underrated. In fact a Peters/Walker combo would not be a bad thing at all.

7) Will Robertson make an impact or even the roster?
I hope he challenges Jerry for his position.

8.) Any chance Regis makes the roster jump?
If they have a true competition and Regis can out play the other guys, the front office would be stupid to release him. But that happens every year due to the politics that are in NFL roster management

9) Should TD have taken Thompson over Holmes?
Too soon to tell… If Holmes makes us forget Sam Baker ever existed, no one will care that we left Thompson on the board. Every one thought Peters was a reach as well, yet he has been a dependable starter. I am not suggesting Holmes should start at Left Tackle this year…. But it is too soon to tell whether we missed the boat by not taking Thompson.

10) Do the Birds need some outside help at DT?
No, we have good talent at the position for a 4-3 defense that occasionally may roll into a 3-4. If we were looking for any outside help, it would have been corner, safety, and offensive tackle. And we addressed 2 out of 3. Everyone will say we needed to get an outsider at end, but why? We have 2 veterans and a stable of young ends.

Rick

July 13th, 2012
9:48 am

Going to sum all these questions with a short synopsis, our D coordinator will do wonders for this defense as well as our new secondary which will give these guys on the line 1to 2 more seconds to make a play. Finally we have to have a stud step up this year to show that Babs can play steady and save whats left in the tank for a big playoff run. As for taking the guy from Clemson, maybe we should have but we better hope TD got it right, he is giving JP one more chance to make a difference which is fair because Baker is being given the same opportunity. I like the loyalty it shines a light on the organization. Now……go get em Dline!

John Waynesworld

July 13th, 2012
9:52 am

Thanks D3, good stuff.

1) How comfortable do you feel with the Falcons DT situation? The only issue I have is overall size. We presently have 6 guys all between 295-305 lbs with no true NT behemoth that 3-4 defenses require to succeed. There may be a few exceptions around the NFL, but none that made the Pro Bowl last season from a 3-4 scheme, so Nolan may be forced to employ the 4-3 more than he prefers unless TD pulls the trigger on Franklin. In house, if Travian can bulk up safely to 315-320 by the preseason and get some snaps, he may be the ideal fit for Nolan’s defense moving forward.

2) Is DT a strength or weakness as currently constructed? As a 4-3 it is strong enough (if we had TWO quality DEs), however I would prefer we had a monster in the middle who commanded double-teams on every snap, the obvious key to employing the 3-4 successfully.

3) How much gas does Babineaux have left? I think Babs is coming in this season as healthy as he has been since 2010 and the influx of Nolan will help everyone, imo. He is also closing in on his 2013 contract year and probably doesn’t much care for being labeled “old”, so motivation will not be an issue.

4) How much does Peters foot injury concern you? Very much. Foot injuries are very unpredictable and unfortunately, the best remedy seems to be extensive rest time. The good news is that Robertson and Regis will get more practice snaps, because I believe Smitty will err on the side of caution with Peters in the upcoming camp.

5) Is this Jerry’s final chance for a breakout? Will it actually happen? I think Jerry will either 1) Breakout and wow everyone (5%), or 2) he will have an unspectacular camp and settle for once again being 2nd or 3rd on the depth chart (60%), or 3) he will re-injure something in preseason and be released (35%).

6) Can Walker be more than a rotational player? Walker, although a solid performer and ahead of Jerry on the performance chart, is unfortunately disadvantaged because he is not a former 1st Round draft pick. We will see how hard it will be for Smitty and TD to swallow their pride and say goodbye to their first round baby. Sadly, Walker may end up being a roster casualty, whether that means PS or the street, because of Jerry’s draft status and Travian’s size, 3-4 NT potential, and (possible) preseason production.

7) Will Robertson make an impact or even the roster? I think so. His size cannot be overlooked, especially with Nolan as DC and his 3-4 preference. Robertson making a PS spot would not surprise me but neither would it shock me if Travian bumped someone off the roster if he plays well in preseason.

8.) Any chance Regis makes the roster jump? I see at best a PS invite. If he proves me wrong we will all see it, as he will have to jump off the game tape to the coaches in the film room to make them rearrange the DT roster for a rookie UDFA.

9) Should TD have taken Thompson over Holmes? Thompson would have been a nice pick, as our new DC would have liked a true NT to add to the mix, but LT was such a high priority for the future (and Holmes fits the mold albeit raw) that we had to make protecting Ryan a priority. The Nolan hire and the acquisitions of Samuel and Tatupu gave our already stout defense a real lift and it made leaving Thompson on the board a little easier in favor of helping our offensive line. Additionally, if needed in the near future, it will be a lot easier (and cheaper) to find a solid NT FA than a solid LT FA.

10) Do the Birds need some outside help at DT? Yes at NT for our hybrid defense. Franklin would be a fine addition if the price is right, but right now we have some quality and youth at DT.

D3

July 13th, 2012
10:47 am

Please, someone, ANYONE hack into Roddy’s twitter account and please disable it FOREVER……….

The Nobel Prize Laureate himself……….

A lot of stuff get swept under the rug at university’s don’t understand why penn state had to tell the media we got a coach rapping kids

You know that’s gone hurt the university you can’t control a grown man I just think they should’ve got him arrested and that’s the end

Joe pa told the people he was suppose to tell he is a football coach he coaches 100 student athletes the head people should’ve done more

I would send my kid there if he wanted to go he wasn’t rappin football players that’s a great program that joe pa ran

Y’all are crazy for thinking I’m saying it was ok for penn state to hide the incident but to blame joe pa when he told the people is bad

I hate when people take your comments and twist them into there own words I read the report and I feel terrible joe pa didn’t do enough

And the whole time I spelled rapping instead of raping and I really don’t care cause you got the point

Dude, please just play football and just talk sports and football on Twitter. Please don’t engage in things you clearly have no clue, concept, or idea about. Jeezus.

PMC

July 13th, 2012
10:56 am

Brandon Thompson was part of one of the least diciplined defenses in the history of the NCAA.

They ran forward without paying attention to what was going on. I wanted no part of Brandon Thompson either. He’s athletic and looks the part sure, but you can’t count on him to play within the scheme or do what he’s supposed to do.

John Waynesworld

July 13th, 2012
1:09 pm

D3, we need to get someone to develop a “Twitter Disrupter” app (something similar to an mini-EMP) for smart phones to block any transmissions going from Roddy’s phone to the Twitter server.

If not, we may see the first player in the NFL to get fined for aggravated twittering.

John Waynesworld

July 13th, 2012
1:10 pm

tweeting. lol

D3

July 13th, 2012
1:21 pm

Great Friday Cage! — A rainy weekend in Georgia in July? Can’t argue with the needed rain.

#1) — Comfort Level with DT Situation

I wish I could say I was really comfortable with our DT, but there are some concerns I have. As long as everyone is healthy and Babs has a bounce-back year and Peters injury heals, we’re in good shape. Now, that’s hoping everything goes right and everyone’s healed, which is a stretch in the NFL. I’ll also say that if Peters isn’t really close to 100%, then we’re screwed. He has overtaken Babs in terms of importance referring to our DT situation as currently constructed.

I’m afraid that Babs best days are behind him. It’s one thing to be a WR or QB and still play at a maximum level into your 30’s, but its another to be a DT that gets pounded on EVERY SINGLE PLAY. Even DE’s don’t take the amount of punishment that DT’s do.

In terms of depth, I like Vance Walker a lot. He’s been solid since day one and has only gotten better. He’s always been the #5 DT, but he’s moved up the rotation chain. He even managed to collar two sacks himself last year, one more than Babs. I’m not saying that Walker will replace Babs if he’s ineffective, but like Svitek, he’s at least capable. I can’t say I’m confident in Jerry. It’s kind of the same thing I feel with the Atlanta Falcons as a whole…..tired o hearing it, SHOW ME ALREADY!

I actually really do like Travian Robertson and what he brings. He’s tall at 6′4, but he probably could add another 10 or even 15 lbs and either be our 5 technique in need or a DT/NT in both 3-4 or 4-3 looks. I think he may have a big upside and only been punished in terms of the draft b/c of his late injury. I think he’ll be a part of our rotation for years to come and may even have a chance at starting one day.

All that being said, I would have felt a lot better about taking Brandon Thompson to boost and solidify that position for the next 8 years with Peters and Walker. I can understand them not wanting to give up on Jerry just yet, but at some point you have to move on. I like Holmes and really think he’s our future at LT, so its not a dig on him, just that I would have been elated to have both.

Paddy O

July 13th, 2012
1:34 pm

I’m pretty happy we are giving some good love to Vance Walker – if you watch him play, he is pretty tenacious, and has a presence. I’m hoping we get another good 2-3 years out of Babineax, and at this point, don’t really care what happens to Jerry. I think of all our potential problems, this is not high on the list. I think we have good depth and talent. LT – now that is a SERIOUS problem – no lingering potential connected to it. GO FALCONS!!

snacktastic

July 13th, 2012
2:07 pm

Looks like Brees got his deal. I was worried we wouldn’t get our shot at him in the regular season.

D Money

July 13th, 2012
2:33 pm

We only have 3 reliable DTs on the roster; Babs, Peters, and Walker. I prefer to bring in A. Franklin and take a chance in placing Robertsen and Regis on the practice squad. If someone trys to pick them up, that’s when the Falcons make a decision on whether or not to keep Jerry.

I also think we should at least talk to Shiancoe to come in this year as the #2 TE with an option of remaining on the team next season to bring along the TE we need to draft next year.

So I will be satisfied with the addition of a TE and DT to the squad. They’ve already addressed the back-up safety position.

JB Falcon

July 13th, 2012
3:10 pm

Yesterday Pat Yas posted a list of possible defensive upstarts for 2012. He listed Spoon as one of them but his opinion of Spoon was nothing to crow about, a little on the negative side. Now, on his Friday chat, someone confronted him with this question.
“You threw a bunch of names out there for the NFCS next defensive superstar, but which one do you think has the best shot?”
His answer? Weatherspoon! Talk about flip-flops!

Unca' Bob

July 13th, 2012
6:04 pm

JB Falcon,

He also stated once J Peppers left there was no one left on Defense to comment about. JA#55 should be, and rightfully so, Quite miffed. I know I was.

Mike Franklin

July 13th, 2012
6:37 pm

Yeah, I think this is Jerry’s make-or-break season. You gotta love this guy… but like so many before, the step from NCAA to the league was too much.

cdubb1545

July 13th, 2012
8:12 pm

I think Nolan will be able to maximize the talent the Falcons have at DT. With more single gap responsibility, I think the athleticism of the Falcons DTs should allow them to get into offensive backfields and be more disruptive.

Ken Strickland

July 13th, 2012
9:53 pm

I don’t think we have too much too worry about as far as our DT situation is concerned. With the added scoring potential of this yrs OFF, which scored 25.2PPG last yr, OFFs will be passing more and running less, due to having to play catchup much more than last yr. I believe VWalker can be a starting caliber DT as long as he’s not expected to be the #1 DT, and is sandwiched between a quality DT and DE.

Bojack

July 13th, 2012
11:48 pm

Ibelieve we lost lots of defensive development with Van Gorder. Looking forward for a great defensive team.

JB FALCON

July 14th, 2012
4:35 pm

Twelve more days!

D3

July 14th, 2012
6:06 pm

Great Slug-slow Days Cage! — Vacations, chill time, relaxation, and a chance to get away from the grind before the onset of fall and a new season, both in terms of work, play, football, and Falcons. Be here before you know it.

Brees the Fraud — Mr. “the bounty suit against us are the same as WMD’s in Iraq that cost over 3,000 American soldiers lives” finally signed his big deal that will make him rich beyond all his years. So much for being humble. I guess it’s a good deal, but Brees is 33 and the S(k)aints better hope Mr. Fraud himself doesn’t slow down in a major way the next 3 years. Personally, I think 2011 was his peak. In terms of us; hell you got a different monster twice a year now homie. No more Brian Van Soft-serve Gorder zones to pick apart as you choose. Cheaters never win @sshole. 2009 Super Bowl Champs* —–> *charged and proven to run a cheating, lying, and immoral injurious scheme that defies the rules and sets out to actually injure players for money. Nice. I forgot, though, Brees never had any knowledge of the situation and Roger Goodell personally owed Brees an apology and he “demands” to see the evidence (like he’s d@mn God incarnate). Simply put, what a fraud of an @sshole. That ridiculous sheen metallic suit was really awesome on the ESPY’s, mole-face.

JB FALCON

July 14th, 2012
7:16 pm

D3, I don’t mean to be presumptious but I sense a slight indication in your post that you do not hold a high regard for Mr. Brees and the fact that he thinks his crap don’t stink. Welcome to the crowd. Brees wouldn’t be what he thinks he is if it weren’t for his linemen, yet he seems to think he is the greatest QB, and actual person, that has ever graced this earth. His face and his team’s uncovered schemes have been painted into the minds of every player that will have the opportunity to break his leg this year. Not that I would want that to happen. I’d rather see his team go 0 – 16.
The only good thing I can say about the man is, he makes good fodder for conversation in the dull times.

D3

July 14th, 2012
7:51 pm

JB — EXACTLY! I actually like(d) Brees a lot from the (now we know) propaganda that came out during their Super Bowl run to the championship*, with him being a good guy, teammate, and savior of a city. I really did respect him a lot and appreciate the good things he did for the city of New Orleans. However, this bounty stuff and his reach for true greed (piddling over millions while the NO itself sees upward of 30-40% unemployment) reeks of hypocrisy, narcissism, and self-indulgence. Honestly, the contract doesn’t bother me near as much as this ridiculous posturing on high horse and outright lying that he had no knowledge whatsoever of a bounty program. Really, dude? And then the audacity of him demanding an explanation / apology from the NFL and Roger Goodell on the bounty system. Who the F do you think you are brother? The comparison of his illegal, immoral, and injurous bounty system to WMD’s in actual war with real brave men and women losing their lives was the topper.

* – Team was found to be guilty of running an illegal, cheating, immoral, and injurous bounty system during said Super Bowl run

Ken Strickland

July 14th, 2012
9:47 pm

CAGERS-the majority of us have known all along that the Falcons have had the talent to accomplish a helluva lot more than we’ve accomplished over the last 4yrs, especially last yr. We also know that this is the most talented Falcons team ever, but we’ve lacked one thing those other Falcon teams had, and that’s adequate coaching. But we certainly have that now.

Our secondary, pass rush, DL, and LB play will all improve exponentially. Our overall DEF, not just our rushing DEF, will rank in the top 7. Our overall OFF, not just our passing OFF, will also rank in the top 7. That’s no small feat for a team that finished last season10-6, and coulda/shoulda finished 12-4. The Atlanta Falcons are going to blow the socks off the NFL this season.

Over the past 4yrs, we’ve won almost exclusively based on our OFF, and it’s ability to keep our DEF off the field. This yr, not only will our DEF carry its own weight, it will contribute to the OFF. Our OL and DL might not be elite, but neither will hold us back. This yr, our DEF will go from focusing on stopping the run, to stopping the pass, which is what modern NFL OFFs do most.

With MLB CLofton gone, we’ve strengthened our overall LBs pass coverages. With the addition of CB ASamuel and moving DRobinson inside, our CB coverage will be much improved. And switching from a very soft jello type zone coverage to a pressing man to man, along with the different responsibilities of our safeties, will improve their ability to max their playmaking abilities and overall production.

Presenting different looks and schemes(3-4, 4-3, 3-3-5), rather than running the same look and scheme every doggone time, will help confuse the QB and give our pass rush extra secs to get to the QB. I guarantee you that no rookie, 2nd or 3rd string QB will have another career gm against Nolan’s DEF, like they routinely did against VanGorder’s DEF.

JB FALCON

July 14th, 2012
10:08 pm

Ken, I am with you 100%, you are a true Falcon fan and state your opinion very well. I have noticed that this entire blog has been the most optimistic I have seen in years.

Sir Dean 15

July 14th, 2012
10:29 pm

Good points about Drew Brees D3. I was watching ESPN after he signed the new contract and during an hour long show ESPN found it necessary to talk about the contract 7 times!! Thats overplaying it just a bit dont you think? He is a talented QB but nobody is worth that much. Its beyond ridiclous. And unfortanely that is now the new ceiling for contracts. Which in turn raises the price of any good player. Very selfish.

Ken Strickland

July 14th, 2012
11:51 pm

JB FALCON-Thanks my friend. I know it’s been difficult for some to imagine basically the same players from last yrs team potentially having a breakout season this yr. Some focused primarily on blaming the players, while those in the know placed the blame squarely where it belonged, on the coordinators, their poorly designed and excuted schemes, predictable and conservative play calling, along with certain assistants.

We now have an OC that actually understands the concepts of modern OFF football, and will apply modern NFL schemes and approaches to playing OFF, unlike Mularkey. We also have an NFL caliber DC who will apply NFL schemes and approaches to coaching and playing DEF, rather than VanGorder’s college principles and approaches.

There can and will be adjustments from gm to gm, quarter to quarter and half to half. This will be possible because both coordinators will utilize multiple approaches to their schemes and approaches. This wasn’t possible under Mularkey or VanGorder because both used 1 scheme, 1 approach, and didn’t have anything they could adjust to or fall back onbig .

The screen and vertical passing OFF, along with the use of our RBs and multiple WR sets, will elevate our passing OFF to the level of the AINTS, Packers, and Patriots, and give us greater flexibility and play capability. Koetter’s run blocking scheme and play calling will add consistency and big play capability to our rushing OFF.

We can’t continue using last yrs OFF and DEF issues as an excuse to doubt. We now have new coordinators, assistants, and an entirely new approach and philosophy. The 2012-2013 DIRTY BIRDS are going to be downright NASTY.

marko

July 15th, 2012
10:33 am

I don’t see any big problems at DT. I was a little surprised that we didn’t select a big butt for the three four. still a smaller rotational guy could handle the job on a limited snap count. I think it was a nice to have, but not a got to have situation.

The O-line in general, and left tackle in particular, remain my greatest concerns.

JB FALCON

July 15th, 2012
9:23 pm

Breaking news! Brees asked the Saints organization to put their hands on their knees and spell RUN slowly. They went for it!

Ken Strickland

July 15th, 2012
9:31 pm

I continue to see references being made about us using the 3-4 hybrid DEF, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. From what I’ve been reading, that 3-4 DEF has yet to be referenced out of Flowery Branch. What we do hear frequently out of Flowery Branch are references to a HYBRID 3-3-5 DEF, which will be utilized primarily in passing situations.

Therefore, we won’t need a BIG BUTT DT. What we’ll need most at DT in that situation is a penetrator rather than a space eater.

Big Ray

July 15th, 2012
11:05 pm

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/36608/around-the-nfc-south-329

Fifth paragraph down down, D3 gettin’ some love from ESPN, baby!

Saints R.E.A.M.

July 16th, 2012
1:33 am

D3, you are so off base about N.O. – since Katrina it has had lower unemployment than most areas due to all the construction..etc.

Anyway, Brees’ contract while steep is worth it. He does more for the city than just play great football…compare that to P. manning…he is not that impactful to the city of Denver yet, but got 18.2m$.

Gotta admit that the birds coordinators seem solid. Will be interesting to see which players thrive in the new system & if anyone struggles. I do know that if you can’t stop the run on defense it may not matter if you have a great secondary for pass coverage. Also, your offense will rarely see the field as teams run it down your throat and eat up the clock…constantly wearing your defense out. Saints had that problem and it sucked. You guys would run Turner for 5 a pop until he broke one. If your DT’s are soft beware when teams get to the second level cuz Assante tackles like Deion Sanders

D3

July 16th, 2012
11:12 am

Happy Sunday Cage! — Is it time for Training Camp yet? Starting to finally get excited as our Falcons and football inches ever closer. 11 DAYS!!!!!!

#2) – How Much Gas Does Babs Have Left?

I kind of mentioned this in my earlier post, but I’m fearful that Babs doesn’t have that much left in his tank. Not anything against him, and I could be dead @ss wrong, but anytime you start seeing defensive tackles hit the 30’s, they start a downward decent most of the time. That’s really the case with most NFL players.

Babs had his best year in 2009 where he racked up 47 tackles and 6 sacks. He was truly robbed on not getting a Pro Bowl nod that year. He still had a fantastic year in 2010, where he nabbed 4 sacks, but his tackle production dropped way off, going from 47 to 27. That certainly may not be all his fault, but that’s still a pretty big fall. And then, maybe b/c he never regained form from the injury, he had a huge drop last year.

I’m holding out hope that Babs can regain his form, and I’m sure he will have somewhat of a bounce-back year, for no other reason than simply playing under Mike Nolan, but they’ve got a address the future at DT sooner rather than later. I like Walker and Travian Robertson a lot, but neither has enough potential to be an outright stud, starting DT. Maybe Robertson one day, but surely not Walker, at least IMHO. They had a chance at solidifying the future with Brandon Thompson, but I can also understand them wanting to give Jerry one more chance. Assuming we’ll have all our draft picks next year (an enormous leap), I’d expect a DT in the first 3 rounds next year assuming Robertson doesn’t blow up.

D3

July 16th, 2012
11:26 am

Ken — I’ll have to disagree with you on the 3-4 DEF. Having a big-bodied DT isn’t as necessary for all forms of the 3-4. Wade Phillips didn’t have any big boy DT’s in Houston and they had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Corey Peters is 305 and can play the NT if needed. Travian Robertson is 304 and very strong. Vance Walker is 304. If they felt it necessary, they could always sign one like Aubrayo Franklin. They have guys who can play the 5 technqiue (Ray Edwards, Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson, & John Abraham in a pinch) and a plethora of standup-OLB’s (Sidbury, Biermann, Massaquoi, and even Abraham). I think we’ll see a lot more 3-4 and 3-3-5 looks than we think. Smith and Nolan both have said that we’ll see both looks.

JB Falcon

July 16th, 2012
2:43 pm

JB Falcon

July 16th, 2012
2:51 pm

And there’s this prediction. It’s so not even interesting it’s just plain stupid!

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/2012_nfl_preview_predictions_atlanta_falcons/11182126

snacktastic

July 16th, 2012
3:48 pm

@JB: Opinion #1 is mildly interesting. Opinion #2 might as well have been formulated by a spoon.

The problem with both of these articles is that the authors assume this year’s Falcons will be exactly the same as last year’s, and the year before that.

#1: The Falcons would be in “win now” mode even if they didn’t have key players on their way out. In fact, Matt Ryan used those exact words earlier this offseason. Teams don’t jump from mediocrity to eliteness in a single season, but after four years of hitting a wall, you certainly aren’t thinking “win later”. That’s why we have two new coordinators–to figure out why we’re not getting over the wall. Not only that, but I think that even if we went one-and-done another year (knock on wood), we wouldn’t have nearly as much trouble grabbing new talent as the bottom half of teams in this league. We’ll still be loaded down with playmakers for some time, and plenty of prospects will want to be a part of that if they think they can make an impact.

#2: This guy apparently read just enough about the Falcons, and the teams we’re playing, to come to a pathetically flimsy conclusion.

The Redskins should be “much improved? Uh, no. Slightly improved. Not that that will matter much in their division, or against our run defense and cornerbacks.

Games against the Chiefs and Raiders could “easily amount to losses”? Neither these teams nor the Chargers could get it done when Tebow Time rolled around, and all of them were at home on their couches when they shocked the Steelers. And Manning does NOT turn Denver into instant Super Bowl contenders.

The Falcons will suffer because Turner’s numbers will erode? This isn’t Jacksonville. We have not one, but three running backs ready to put up yards like machines. People outside Atlanta know the names of our wide receivers. Oh, and don’t forget #88.

Next?

D3

July 16th, 2012
4:43 pm

Big Ray — I thought I’d been blacklisted from Pat Y’s blog. Thanks for the heads up

JB, snack — That has to be one of the worst and most poorly written “articles” if that’s what you want to call it in my life. It’s one thing to write a hatchet job, but also at least be somewhat objective, but it’s quite another to have your bias completely in tow before you even write the d@mn thing. I mean this is just terrible all the way around. Sure, I have my biases against teams I don’t like, but I’m not going to sit here and create ways to say they’ll go 7-9. As much as I hate the Saints, I’ll completely admit that they probably at least win 10 games. Trash journalism at it’s best. Check the source. :eek:

D3

July 16th, 2012
4:55 pm

Jerry’s Final Chance? —

I would love to come right out and say emphatically and without a shadow of a doubt YES. But you have to look at the numbers. He’s only costing the Birds 845k this year and it goes up to 905k next, the final year of his deal. There’s a couple ways to look at this one.

First of all, look how long they gave Jamaal Anderson before they finally shipped him out. I mean, they gave him 3 years to get it right and two different positions and the dude didn’t have the excuse of injury that Jerry has. I actually think that Jerry “can” have a pretty good year this year. Notice I said can, not will. Like all the other D players, he’s got a new scheme and one of the best DC’s in the game. He should get plenty of rotation with Babs and Peters both battling nagging injuries.

There’s a few problems, though. He played in all 16 games last year and even started 4 (believe it or not) and he made a negligible impact. I do remember him looking good on that one play that caused the Vick fumble and that was a big play in the game. I thought he did pretty good in that game overall, but the rest of the season he looked like he was just shoved aside with ease when he was trying to get after the QB or in the backfield. Who knows, he may prove to be pretty good with a new DC and new scheme, but he looked pretty bad last year. We all thought he was ready to turn the corner and that has never happened. If he were paired with a big ol’ boy DT to take away some pressure, than he might be OK. Problem is that even when I saw him in 1-on-1 matchups, he was not match to apply any pressure. Simply put, he may just be a case of “injury bust” that never realized his potentialm a la Jerious Norwood. Now that’s all well and good if it wasn’t well known that Jerry had MAJOR injury problems throughout his entire career, but it was. Although many think that Baker is TD’s worst pick, I say that given the info on Jerry before the draft, his age at the time, and the fact that there was a ton of talent all around him (Michael Oher a spot before, Clay Matthews, Louis Delmas, Ziggy Hood, and Hakeem Nicks all after just to name a few), that Jerry is without a shadow of a doubt TD’s worst pick as GM.

Unca' Bob

July 16th, 2012
6:35 pm

Saints R.E.A.M.,

Long time, no see. Glad to see you back on board posting good Saints sense. You are few and far between. Your encouraging and positive words are appreciated. Thank you again.

D3,

Oher was taken before we drafted so I don’t feel his name should be brought up. But that’s hindsight. In that day we tended to draft for need. Our need at that time was at DT. We got P Jerry on board and he started the first two games he played in. He was injured in his second game and has not been the same since. While our FO is not very forthcoming of injuries, my research has shown he tore everything one has in one knee. Both ACL’s as well as his MCL. That he performs at all should bring some praise for his work ethic and over all skill set. Me, I’d be in a wheelchair( Round about at best).

Paddy O

July 16th, 2012
7:26 pm

d3 – the yard barker article looked like he wrote it while on the jon. WE replace about 3 starters per year anyway, so losing the guys indicated is simply team evolution. Our corps is pretty young – Roddy should have another 3 years; if we come close this year, I can see Tony G coming back again – provided he still enjoys the game – which I think he does. McClure has been replaced. Turner should have another good year (this one); it is relatively easy to find a replacement RB. So, I have no real worries – at least regarding whether TD is up to the task of constantly massaging the roster.

JB FALCON

July 16th, 2012
9:46 pm

Well, at least the moronistic link I found got some conversation going. This is worse than serving on jury duty when you never get called. The WiFi in Clayton County was down 3 of the 4 days.
On the positive side, the idiot riled up some Falcons fans, as it should have.
There are a lot of popular sportscasters out there that do not realize one simple fact. We have been building this team since TD got here. We have a helluva winning record during that time and we didn’t do it with incapable players. We have kept the core of the players and improved upon what we lost. We have changed the way we are going to use those players and the rest of the league is going to see, first hand, how much of a change we have made.

Ken Strickland

July 16th, 2012
11:30 pm

snacktastic

July 17th, 2012
9:23 am

@Ken: I was reading that on Sunday and thinking that the fans seem pretty optimistic about our team’s ability to get the schemes down quickly. I’ve mentioned before that I’m optimistic about it too, mainly because we have a veteran team that takes this stuff seriously.

But now I can think of a second reason that’s even more convincing. If any competent fan can tell you what the Falcons’ issues were last season, then you can bet the players themselves were aware of those issues as well. Not only that, but we’ve heard nothing but good things about open lines of communication between players and the new coaches. Thus, if the coaches are reacting to concrete player concerns from last season, and putting schemes in place that are not only easy to understand but fix specific issues, then the players will pick them up that much more quickly.

The more the team believes new strategies will help them win, the less trouble they’ll have dropping the old ones.