Atlanta Falcons: Who’s Your Favorite to Start at Center?

Several Options Available

Konz Likely to Start, but Where? (AJC)

Without question, the biggest area of concern for the Atlanta Falcons heading into training camp and into the 2012 season is the offensive line. It’s great to talk about how many skill players you have, new coordinators, and new schemes, but as many fellow Cage members have pointed out, it means nothing if your offensive line can’t protect their quarterback and open some holes for their running backs.

Even though left tackle is getting the most attention as the Falcons draw close to the season, the center position may hold one of the biggest keys to the entire offensive line. Not only is the center the “quarterbacK” and leader of the offensive line, but in the Falcons case it could have a domino effect on the right guard spot. As fans saw last year, the importance of the center position can’t be understated. Todd McClure’s injury forced Joe Hawley in to start in his place to begin the season and his struggles were just a preview of what was to come. After the issues at center, it only got worse. Sam Baker was a mess at left tackle and right guard was a huge trainwreck pretty much all season going through Garrett Reynolds first, then Sam Baker, and finally having Joe Hawley (ironically) add at least some stability to the spot. A look at the candidates:

Is it Time for McClure to Pass the Torch?

He’s been a stalwart for the Atlanta Falcons for 14 years and has 179 starts. The great center likely has a place in the exclusive Ring of Honor in his future. Of all the ups and downs in recent years, McClure has been a source of stability and strength to an otherwise volatile franchise. McClure was here before Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff and even here before Arthur Blank. His duty and excellence is outstanding and well-noted with all fans. However, is he still at the top of his game or has entered a rapid state of diminishing returns?

McClure for One More Year? (AJC)

McClure’s absence in the beginning of the 2011 season was surely felt and his return added some much needed stability to the trainwreck of the line. Left tackle was a major issue and right guard was a revolving boat-sink. The 14 year Falcons vet doesn’t escape criticism either. McClure’s play has slipped lately, and even though the right guard debate can be used, it doesn’t completely absolve McClure. If he wins the starting job outright, than it’s hard to argue with, but at some point the Falcons must start thinking about the future. If McClure starts, won’t they have the exact same problem they’re having this year?

Although the pressure is mostly attributed to the left tackle spot, much of the recent pressure has come from the inside. The former LSU Tiger has surely lost some of his power-blocking ability as evidenced by all those 4th and 1’s the Falcons failed to convert. The front office weren’t in a hurry to re-sign and let him sit on the free agent market for well over two weeks. That coupled with his one-year contract doesn’t exactly evoke confidence the Falcons are counting on him too awful much. Two questions regarding McClure: 1) Is there any other player that’s looking to start at 35 years of age, or close to? and 2) Don’t the Falcons have to pass the torch at some point?

Can Joe Hawley Fix His Early Troubles at Center?

While some fans believe Hawley may still have a future at center, there are some that never want to see him start again, certainly not at center. Although that’s probably a little harsh, all that many remember was his disastrous start to his NFL career. When he was taken in the 4th round in the 2010 NFL Draft, he was always going to be somewhat of a project and wouldn’t be expected to contribute, much less start, right away. The former UNLV Rebel was believed to be McClure’s eventual heir at center. That changed at the beginning of the 2011 season when he was forced into action due to McClure’s injury. Hawley was manhandled in his first start against Chicago, which led to a loss to begin the campaign, and had his issues against Philadelphia, but wasn’t the worst of the bunch(that would be Sam Baker) and held out for a slim win. His final start at center came against Green Bay where they looked like world-beaters in the first half only to collapse in the second half. To be fair, Todd McClure started at center for some bad losses as well.

Can Hawley Supplant the Vet McClure? (AJC)

Even the biggest Hawley critics have to give some credit where it’s due. After the rotating trainwreck at right guard became painfully apparent, Hawley was called in to finally stabilize the position after shuffling through Garrett Reynolds and Sam Baker. Hawley surely wasn’t dominant, but he finally did add some stability to an otherwise terrible position. That’s saying something that a natural center was able to come in and do better than the previous two linemen. Of course that also says something about the weak OL drafting on Dimitroff’s part. All that being said, though Hawley helped preside over a 6-3 record when he was at right guard. Although many of the opponents they beat were pretty weak, they still won them nonetheless (including an overtime loss to the Saints).

Hawley is a touch taller (2 inches), but not much more in weight (6 lbs) than McClure. If Hawley wins the starting center job, it would bode well not just for present, but also the future in allowing the Falcons to have a new and younger offensive line work and grow together as a unit. There’s an outside chance Hawley could compete for the right guard position, but it would be an uphill battle with Peter Konz, Mike Johnson, and Vince Manuwai likely ahead of him.

Where’s the Best Position for Peter Konz?

It was hard to find many fans who argued with the selection of Wisconsin center Peter Konz with the Falcons second round draft pick this April. He was clearly the best center in the draft and was projected by most to go either late in the first round or certainly early in the second round. Dimitroff clearly was able to select best player available at a position of need (OL). It was a relief to finally see Dimitroff and Co. spend an early pick on a talented and much needed offensive lineman, clearly the biggest weakness on the 2011 Falcons squad. The Birds front office immediately made it clear that “The Konz” would be competing for both the center and guard positions. It’s hard to believe that Konz won’t start somewhere, it’s just a matter of where.

A Welcome Addition, Wherever He Plays (AJC)

Originally, the belief was that the best idea would be to plug them in at their natural position and stop the madness of cross-training and playing players out of position. Since Konz was the best center in the draft, just put him at center and let the rest battle it out for the right guard spot. The former Badger could be the Falcons center for the next decade or more. However, the coaching staff have gone out of their way to say they will be putting the best 5 on the field, regardless of strict position. Konz’s size (6’5, 314) already boasts a better frame for guard than the other candidates. The belief is that Konz is going to add a needed injection of ability and talent whatever position he starts and it’s unimaginable him not starting somewhere.

In terms of the future, fans might like to see Hawley start at center and Konz at guard, thus creating an OL to grow together for years to come. On the other hand, having Konz start at center would open up the right guard for either former 3rd round draft pick Mike Johnson or the elder road-grading Vince Manuwai. Finally, what would seemingly be a mistake would have Konz start at right guard as a rookie only to move to center a year later, essentially having the Falcons offensive line be a constant turnstile. Konz is likely to start, but what will be the best for not only the present, but also the future remains a major question.

Your Turn

1) Simple Leadoff: Who do you WANT to win the center spot?

2) Simple Leadoff Pt. 2: Who do you think WILL win the center spot?

3) Does McClure have enough juice left for one more year?

4) Is it time to revamp the offensive line for the future?

5) What’s your feelings on Hawley: “still has potential” or “an eternal backup?”

6) Will Hawley benefit from his trial-by-fire time at center and his 10 NFL starts at guard?

7) Where do you think The Konz SHOULD play as a rookie?

8.) Where do you think he WILL play as a rookie?

9) Should the Falcons look only at this year or start building the OL for the future?

10) How would you feel if Konz started guard this year, only to move to center next year?

237 comments Add your comment

JJ

July 28th, 2012
12:55 pm

Enter your comments here

Bii Sexton

July 28th, 2012
1:02 pm

It would probably be best to keep McClure at center & put the rookie at left guard & Hawley at right guard. If the rookie adapts well, he should be projected to be the new center after McClure retires oe moes on. Hawley shuld be great at right guard. I hope it is good bye to Sam Baker at left tackle. He reminds me a lot of an old Falcon named Tony Casiuss. I probably spelled his last name wrong.

JJ

July 28th, 2012
1:15 pm

http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/07/14/three-years-of-pass-blocking-efficiency-centers/

McClure gave up the 5th most pressures last yr. Its time for KONZ to take over and prey they can coach up someone to play RG. After 10,000 Ken post, ZBS should really improve the OL and no more mularky bs playcaling!!!

old qb

July 28th, 2012
1:23 pm

Konz could easily win the battle at center and be a rock for the next decade. Idon’t see that happening. McClure will get the start and they’ll keep an eye on him throughout the season. Konz will be the starting right guard. He can dothe normal things a right guard needs to do, but he has a reputation for being able to pull. If so, he has to play guard so the Falcons can employ their screen pass philosophy. A good pulling guard is a rare treasure in the NFL.
Next year Konz will be the center and hopefullly, Johnson will have learned his craft enough to start at right guard.

JJ

July 28th, 2012
1:23 pm

http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/04/17/draft-grader-atlanta-falcons/

“Garrett Reynolds, G (156th overall pick in 2009): Got his chance to start in 2011 and it did not go well. Finished the year with a -13.8 grade and doesn’t look like a starting-caliber player.

Mike Johnson, G (98th overall pick in 2010): The former third-rounder has been something of a disappointment. Never far from the trainer’s table, Johnson was unable to beat out some pretty poor competition for the 2011 starting right guard spot.

-1.0: What a waste!

Sam Baker, T (21st overall pick in 2008): The more Baker has played, the more teams have exposed him. Granted, he has played through a back injury that has limited his performance. So far at this stage he’s been a waste of a first round pick, amassing a -52.5 grade in four years worth of action.”

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
3:03 pm

My choice to start at OC is Joe Hawley. He’s worked under TMcClure for 2 yrs and got extensive starting experience last yr. TMcClure is under a 1yr contract and this will be his last yr. The fact that Konz is considered the best OC in this yrs draft doesn’t automatically make him the best OC candidate. He was obviously drafted to be our RG of the future, as well as backup OC.

He’ll get a shot to win the OC battle only if Hawley fails to get the job done during training camp and preseason. I know a lot of you want to see Manuwai at RG because of his size, but he’s a high risk due to his injury situation, just like Tatupu was. We’re looking to build our OL for the future, and TMcClure nor Manuwai fits that bill.

BILL SEXTON-You don’t seem to have much of a grasp on Falcon football. First, you suggest that we put the rookie(I assume you’re talking about Konz) at LG, but you ignore the fact that JBlalock, our most consistent OLineman, is currently at LG. Then you say Baker reminds you of former Falcon TonyC. Tony was a DT, and he won a Superbowl as the Cowboys starting DT.

Junkyard Dawg2011

July 28th, 2012
3:26 pm

Konz should start at C, McClure has done a great job, but we need youth at our O-Line, and I think with Konz at C will help settle the uncertainty at O-Line.

Open competition at RG between Manuwai, Johnson, Hawley, and Jackson

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

July 28th, 2012
3:30 pm

1) Konz
2) McClure
3) Doubt it, but loyalty and familiarity?
4) Oh Hell yeah!!
5) Still has potential, new coaches, new eyes, open competition??
6) Benefit? Yes. Start? Only if (when) McClure gets hurt
7) C
8) G or bench
9) Future
10) Maybe no choice, but not crazy about it.

Junkyard Dawg2011

July 28th, 2012
3:48 pm

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Screen Pass

July 28th, 2012
4:07 pm

Vince Manuwai has ben released so at least one question has been answered. The real question now becomes was it his health or did Johnson/ Konz show enough in 2 days of practice to inspire enough confidence to let the insurance policy go? I’m not big on Hawley starting anywhere unless he has had a tremendous offseason of growth (cough – pharmachem – cough) and would prefer Johnson at RG with Konz learning behind McClure for at least the first half of the season. G. Reynolds supposedly has been starting at 1st team RG so maybe he got some “growth” out of the off-season and is impressing. I’m planning on getting out to camp some time soon. would like to see with my own eyes lol.

Unca' Bob

July 28th, 2012
4:07 pm

No way I saw that coming!

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
4:34 pm

I had recently come to the conclusion that Manuwai didn’t have much of a chance of starting, but I certainly didn’t think he’d be waived after just 2 days of training camp. Chances are he just couldn’t show enough progress to warrant any further consideration. We also have to consider that MJohnson, PKonz, GReynolds and AJackson really impressed during this short period.

Just goes to show that Koetter and Hill don’t have a built in preference for veterans over rookies or younger developing OLinemen. This move just might signal that OC TMcClure will be a backup, unless his competition isn’t up to par. If all things are equal, either Hawley or Konz will get the nod over McClure.

I believe the same holds true for the battle for LT, except Holmes is too far behind in his conditioning to be a serious factor at this point. Once Holmes catches up with his conditioning and everything else, he’ll take over for Baker if he faulters again.

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
4:43 pm

One other consideration in the Manuwai release. At this point in his career, and with his injuries, his size and possible limited mobility might be a liability rather than a benefit in our new OFF approach. It’s not like we’re not loaded with talented RG prospects with GReynolds, PKonz, MJohnson, and AJackson, not to mention the UDFAs. Remember, we have only 2 incumbent OLinemen that are guarantee a spot(LG JBlalock & RT TClabo). Every other OL position is up for grabs.

Screen Pass

July 28th, 2012
4:47 pm

Screen Pass

July 28th, 2012
4:58 pm

“One other consideration in the Manuwai release. At this point in his career, and with his injuries, his size and possible limited mobility might be a liability rather than a benefit in our new OFF approach.” – KS

I have been keeping up with some other teams a little more this year and it is not uncommon at all for some to come into camp way out of shape (see Iggles new lineman..he is getting crucified lol) or to “oversleep” and miss camp comepletely ( see Tru J. brainfart above). IF Manuwai didn’t have a health or “shape” limitation then I could see the mobility argumant coming into play. I said I would rehash some points from Koetters past to maybe get a line on what our new offense could be like. The problem is Koetters offense can be very heavy run oriented ( see last year…NO OC ran it into the middle more times…not even our beloved late buddy Mularkey if you can believe that) or it can be more “Peyton-esque” like his Arizona St. early 2000’s offenses. If we were gonna go the Kotter welcome back pound the middle approach then Manuwai having mobility issues would have been less a factor and quite possibly a strength for short yard situations. HOPEFULLY…if Manuwai was released for mobility issues, it means we are going for Koetters older college offense instead of his “Welcome Back Kotter” Mularkey approach. Please dear god make this so.

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Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
5:01 pm

As high as everyone seems to be on Konz and his versatility, as well as his ability to start immediately, it’s hard to believe he won’t earn a starting slot either at OC or RG. You can bet Koetter and Hill will have the 5 OLinemen that are best suited to doing what they want done along the OL.

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
5:14 pm

SCREEN PASS-NFL DEFs are the only ones that want the Falcons to go back to Mularkey’s conservative, predictable and one dimensional approach. I didn’t watch any of Jacksonville’s gms, other than the one we played against them, so I don’t know how they rushed, as far as inside vs outside. If we effectively utilize the same play calling and blocking scheme the Jaguars used, our rushing OFF will be just fine.

When you have to start a rookie QB that’s not ready to start, along with having below average receivers, and you can’t work with or even talk to them due to the lockout, that’s a recipe for failure in the passing OFF. Actually, I don’t know of another NFL team that’s had as much difficulty getting a quality WR and TE than the Jaguars over the yrs. They thought they had the problem solved when they drafted the big Arkansas QB, but he was more interested in catching a hit than a pass.

snacktastic

July 28th, 2012
5:40 pm

Coaching staff sure is quick about making moves now that training camp has started. I guess that means more time to coach up the guys they know will make an impact.

@Ken: For all Mularkey’s faults, conservative and one-dimensional did bring us some regular season success. Even if he takes the exact same gameplan from last year and transplants it onto the Jags, they may end up with a respectable record…once they grab the necessary talent. Their ceiling, however, will be locked in. I still think Tebow would have helped them out as a stopgap measure; too bad he picked the circus up in NY.

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
5:44 pm

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/atlanta_falcons_camp_update_vince_manuwai_released/11321476
Here’s an article of the release of Manuwai, but it doesn’t give a reason. It does give some interesting points on who we can expect to start along our OL.

JB FALCON

July 28th, 2012
5:47 pm

You can bet Koetter and Hill will have the 5 OLinemen that are best suited to doing what they want done along the OL.- KS

Ken, I think you answered the question better than I could have. As far as my favorite, that would be the player that wins the position. I’m liking this competition thing. Throw them all in there and see which one comes out on top. I agree that Konz should start somewhere but if he don’t that would be because someone was better, at this time. Same thing with Holmes, the one I am really pulling for and who would make the most impact on our offense,,, IF he comes out on top. He may not start the first game but I’m hoping that he will catch up and finally plug the LT spot.

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
5:56 pm

SNACKTASTIC-There’s not doubt Mularkey had some early success with his system. But after going 13-3 during the regular season and getting routed by the Packers, the rest of the league used their blueprint to stiffle his OFF approach. He only knew one way to do things and seemed totally detached when confronted with what was happening. That’s why he never made an adjustments or changes when things didn’t go well.

If fact, the Jaguars hired Mularkey because they want him to have the same success with their 2nd yr QB that he had in guiding MRyan to such an effective and productive start to his career. The problem with that is the league has already adjusted and solved what he did with Ryan. And you must keep in mind that he won’t have any Probowl or Probowl caliber skill players to work with.

Ken Strickland

July 28th, 2012
6:05 pm

JB FALCON-My last link breaks down the RG situation. Because of his injury history and him missing so much time over the last 3yrs, it’s believed that MJohnson isn’t durable enough to be a valued starter. I don’t know if we can afford 2 players with the same continued issues with major issues(Baker & Johnson). I just don’t see AJackson or GReynolds beating our PKonz.

He’s bigger, and considered to be quicker, faster, and more polished than any of the remaining RG prospects. It’s his position to lose. Othere than Blalock and Clabo, he’s the closest to a sure thing to start along our OL.

JB FALCON

July 28th, 2012
6:12 pm

You can bet Koetter and Hill will have the 5 OLinemen that are best suited to doing what they want done along the OL.- KS

JJ

July 28th, 2012
8:08 pm

29 days, 19 hrs and 20 min……..tictoctictoc…lol!!!!!!!

Big Ray

July 28th, 2012
8:24 pm

Nolan said one big adjustment in the new defensive scheme is the coordination between the roles of the cornerbacks and safeties. It has been a big focus early in training camp and the coordinator praised the work of Grimes, whom he called a “franchise player.”

I’ve been against using the tag on Grimes all this time, but it’s hard to argue with somebody who has Nolan’s credentials….

Big Ray

July 28th, 2012
8:27 pm

Manuwai being released could have to do with one or all of a few things:

1) He’s out of shape or has some other physical limitation that the CS does not like.

2) Our other Guards are already showing enough to where we don’t need a vet of Manuwai’s stature on the squad.

3) We’re making room for a different FA signing.

Either way, idea #2 has to have some level of credence, or we’d not be releasing the guy if he wasn’t injured.

Big Ray

July 28th, 2012
8:42 pm

I’m of a mixed mind on this center position. A few thoughts:

1) I thought last year should have been the year McClure was relegated to backup duty and Hawley was handed the reins. That said, I don’t feel that Hawley was half as bad as some folks say he was. Every single guy on the offensive line struggled to a point due to the struggles of his teammates. Blalock struggled at times because of the things he had to do to help Baker. Right Guard was so awful that anybody playing RT or Center was struggling.

Hawley wasn’t the worst by a long shot if you ask me. But he’s a better center than he is a guard. If he plays well, he should start at center. He’s less suited for Guard.

2) Konz is a good center, but he might be a better Guard. I really don’t know. What I will say is this – if he outplays everybody else at center, then that’s where he should be playing. But what if he outplays everybody at Right Guard?

Now you have a choice to make. Konz is a starter at one of the two positions if he plays that well. But which one is not determined by Konz himself, but by the 2nd best guy at either Center or Right Guard. Here’s how you decide – if the 2nd best guy at Center is only slightly less good at Center while the 2nd best guy at Right Guard is WAY worse, then you start Konz at Right Guard and put the 2nd best Center as the starter at center. Conversely, if the 2nd best guy at Center is significantly less effective at Center, but the 2nd best guy at Right Guard is only slightly less effective at the position, then you start Konz at center and put the 2nd best right guard in as a starter at the position.

Make sense?

3) For all the talk about putting McClure out to pasture, he’s still a very seasoned veteran. What if Konz wins the starting job at RG? Do we really want him next to Hawley who is still learning to earn his spurs, or do we put him next to the veteran Center we paid to come back for one (final?) year? Which is wiser?

The only reason why I say this is because somebody has to anchor this line. Somebody has to step up and lead this unit. It can’t be the rookie…he’s a freakin’ rookie. People clearly don’t think enough of Hawley for such a role, and maybe he’s not ready for that yet (but then, what if he is?). I don’t know about y’all, but I didn’t see Clabo take a step like that last season AT ALL, and being even more honest, I don’t think he’s a true Pro Bowler on his own standing. Blalock is a force, but a leader? Haven’t seen it. Baker….oh please stop….

So if there’s a reason to have McClure in the lineup, then leadership is it. But it would be my only acceptable reason outside of necessity due to injuries.

cdubb1545

July 28th, 2012
10:55 pm

If he can win the spot, I would like to see Konz at C. The Badgers have turned out some great lineman throughout the years, I don’t believe Konz will break that tradition. Let Hawley play the RG, he stabilized the position last year and with DK’s offense I think his mobility will be good for the position.

Birdman

July 29th, 2012
12:44 am

May the best Man Win…..!!!!

Paddy O

July 29th, 2012
3:55 am

so, both rolls of the dice this FA season came up snake eyes. with this info, it appears that Hawley as OC and Konz at RG would be the way to go, unless McClure beats out Hawley again.

Kelly

July 29th, 2012
4:46 am

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Ken Strickland

July 29th, 2012
6:43 am

BIG RAY-It’s been confirmed that Hawley can make all of the calls at OC. Last yr, even McClure had problems due to the RG issue, which could have contributed to his injury, but we don’t know that. Hawley took over for McClure when the RG situation had actually gotten worse, because we had moved SBaker to that spot before he was benched for the season.

If the RG situation had been resolved before Hawley replaced McClure at OC, it’s not unreasonable to assume he would have solidified the OC position just like he did the RG position. Without factoring in these dynamics, and hearing that Konz was the top rated OC in the draft, some fans have convinced themselves that Konz is the logical choice to be our OC of the future.

The truth is, Konz was drafted to be our RG of the future, and him being rated the best OC in the draft is just a bonus. It’s no different than when we 1st signed FA VManuwai. Everyone looked at his size and accomplishments at Jacksonville, ignored everything else, and immediately penciled him in as our starting RG. I know what I’m talking about because that’s exactly what I did.

Now we all see how wrong we were after seeing him get waived the 2nd day of training camp which featured basically walk throughs. Hawley won’t be given the starting OC position, and McClure is listed #1 on the depth chart more out of respect, but it’s Hawleys job to lose. The same can basically be said for Konz at RG.

Unless Baker has some sort of setback, our OL at the start of the season will be Baker @LT, Blalock @LG, Hawley @OC, Konz @RG, and Clabo @RT.

Ken Strickland

July 29th, 2012
7:29 am

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/07/28/12/Nolan-shaping-up-Atlanta-defense/landing.html?blockID=768025&feedID=3703

CAGERS-When I say this is a must read, believe me, this is a must read, especially if you’re interested in the how our DEF will be shaping up. Though unintended, it’s none the less a not so subtle direct slap in the face, by both players and Nolan, of former DC BVanGorder.

Ken Strickland

July 29th, 2012
7:51 am

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82ae253e/article/jason-babin-riley-cooper-add-to-eagles-injury-woes-?module=HP11_headline_stack

Anyone that thinks we’ve been affected by injuries should take a look at the Eagles, and this doesn’t include them having already lost their Probowl LT during the OFF season.

JJ

July 29th, 2012
8:46 am

Ken, great link about Nolan. Cannot wait to see this new defense on the field. Last summer I believe WR and D3 were talking about this team needs to be dominate/explosive on at least one side of the ball. Looks like Nolan will bring the heat, so long BVG and 20 yd soft cushions!

Big Ray

July 29th, 2012
9:05 am

Wings

July 29th, 2012
9:10 am

Ken S I read the “Nolan Shaping up Atlanta defense” and this is the “slap” I like:

“Atlanta allowed a third-down conversion rate of 44.1 percent, 29th in the NFL. Nolan’s defense in Miami was No. 7 on third downs (33.8 percent allowed), arguably with weaker personnel than the Falcons have. Atlanta also was No. 30 in the NFL in third-down sack rate (6.02 percent, with 10 third-down sacks) while Miami was No. 2 (12.2 percent, with 21).”

Noted your OL picks and I agree:

“our OL at the start of the season will be Baker @LT, Blalock @LG, Hawley @OC, Konz @RG, and Clabo @RT.”

You nailed it in an earlier post when you said, “The fact that Konz is considered the best OC in this yrs draft doesn’t automatically make him the best OC candidate. He was obviously drafted to be our RG of the future, as well as backup OC.”

To my knowledge, no one has explored Konz’s OC credentials compared to OC’s drafted in other years. Just because he was considered the best center in this year’s draft doesn’t make him a great OC or the best OC choice for the Falcons. Sometimes we read more into these statements than the statement says.

Ken you have really scoured the media for interesting articles during the doldrums of summer. I am really getting excited about the defense and I am looking for redemption from the offense.

Wings

July 29th, 2012
9:16 am

Screen Pass welcome back from the sweltering southern sunshine. The football gods are aligning things.

Big Ray

July 29th, 2012
9:19 am

Ken ,

That was one of the best articles I’ve seen yet on our defense. Great link!

One of my favorite parts:

Nolan, in fact, has seen remnants of that through the first third days of training camp. That’s why he and his staff are asking defensive backs to get up in the faces of receivers, so the coaches can see who can and cannot play aggressively.

Once they get a feel for that, some DBs — newcomer Asante Samuel, for example — are likely to be given the option of picking their own method of defense. The more they show in practice, the more often they will be allowed to choose, like a speedy baserunner who gets the green light to steal on his own.

“That’s exactly right,” Nolan said. “We play off, or press, press where they get their hands on them, and press where we bail. We call those, `tools.’ A player has different tools that he can use so that he doesn’t just have one way of doing it. (A defensive back) can be a little more offensive in what he does … so that receivers can’t just come out and say, `I know what you’re doing.’

“That’s why we’re telling them to get up so much because they’ve been used to being off so much that we want to get them up and see what they can do. If we have a couple tools and execute them properly, it puts more strain on the offensive players.”

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson is pleased with the prospect of freedom.

“It allows us to be more aggressive,” he said. “And I get to go inside and play nickel, where I’m able to roam a little bit and make some tackles. It’s a very versatile defense . . . not showing your blitzes (ahead of the snap), just showing a bunch of different things. It’s kind of a cat-and-mouse game.”

And then there’s what Babineaux said about what the D-line gets to do/can do under Nolan.

Man….I didn’t know how much I couldn’t stand BVG until now (reading these quotes and stuff), and how excited I am about having Nolan.

Big Ray

July 29th, 2012
9:20 am

Wings ,

Good points. I’m actually quite cool with the idea of Hawley starting at center and Konz at right guard.

Wings

July 29th, 2012
9:23 am

Big Ray this is the revealing and eye opening statement from Gonzalez:

Gonzalez said. “One thing about Coach Koetter, is that he’s going with what’s good for the players. I love that in a coach; put players in a position to be successful. It’s not about his system, it’s about what works and what Matt [Ryan] is comfortable with because obviously he’s the one driving the train.”

Wings

July 29th, 2012
9:27 am

Big Ray this will be the year that the talk about the number of draft picks for Julio Jones will end!

Screen Pass

July 29th, 2012
9:28 am

“It’s been confirmed that Hawley can make all of the calls at OC” – KS

By who? How did Hawley confirm anything just 2 days into training camp? This isn’t last year and since a new offense is being installed all the OC candidates are in the same boat learning wise. There is an article quoting J. Abraham actually having to ask rookies about plays on the defense side of the ball. I know some really want their predictions to come true and some seem to confuse internet fans articles with real info instead of op-pieces but let’s not jump the gun and let training camp decide things. I’m excited about all the changes but making stuff up doesn’t make anyone look good. We will get a good idea about how things are shaping up after the first pre-season game. Hawley did not solidify ANYTHING last year and was replaced as soon as McClure was healthy. IF, and it is a BIG IF that no one including me, you and that Scar guy can say for sure yet, Hawley has made tremendous improvement over the off-season then maybe he can be more than a back-up. Until there is actual proof, can we please stop acting like we know why Konz was drafted and that Hawley is the starting center already. It is really annoying.

Screen Pass

July 29th, 2012
9:31 am

“Screen Pass welcome back from the sweltering southern sunshine. The football gods are aligning things.” – Wings

Thank you and good to be back. I’m still stretching after a relaxing vacation but had to throw a heater at some heads to warm up lol. Let’s see if Ken is ready for the season lol.

Screen Pass

July 29th, 2012
9:36 am

“Good points. I’m actually quite cool with the idea of Hawley starting at center and Konz at right guard.” – BR

Morning BR and I agree. I couldn’t care less who wins out in the end as long as they don’t suck like last year. Hawley has alot to prove but if he can do it then more power to him. I can’t believe G. Reynolds could have in anyway shown enough in limited and unpadded practice to become the RG frontrunner, certainly not enough to release Manuwai halfway through the 2nd day. A line of Clabo, Reynolds, Hawley, Blaylock, Baker scares the bejeebus out of me but if thats the best at the end of camp so be it. I just cannot see that happening but what do I know lol.

Screen Pass

July 29th, 2012
10:10 am

“so, both rolls of the dice this FA season came up snake eyes. with this info, it appears that Hawley as OC and Konz at RG would be the way to go, unless McClure beats out Hawley again.” – Paddy-O

I have to disagree here. I would throw some heat at you but think I pulled something firing at Ken :) ….anyways the problem with Konz at RG and Hawley at OC is that after this year we will have to find another back-up OC. We got the UDFA from Miami and unless he shows out we will have to spend a draft pick on yet another OC to replace McClures back-up services. We have a log jam at RG with Reynolds, Johnson, and the ex-Prez. If hypothetically Johnson starts at RG then Reynolds is capable of backing up at Tackle or Guard with the XPrez in deep reserve. Konz starts at OC with a decent back-up in Hawley who could also back-up guard. This gives us alot of depth and flexability but most importantly means that we could only need to have UDFA’s fight for the back-up vacancy of McClure instead of spending a 6th or 7th on a high-floor low ceiling safe pick. If the Miami guy really shows out then this isn’t a big deal but if no one does step up then having Konz at RG causes some roster issues down the road.

ryan

July 29th, 2012
10:18 am

What was the point in signing those FA then cut them what TD just want to make it like he was active in free agency i hope he has something up his sleeve .

Ken Strickland

July 29th, 2012
10:52 am

SCREEN PASS-Welcome back as well. And as usual, your taking the I’M FROM MISSOURI APPROACH to everything you can’t comprehend. And believe it or not, this is the 2nd day of Hawley’s 3rd yr as an OC working with TMcClure, not the 2nd day of his rookie training camp. Are you questioning his ability to play the position or make the calls after 2 yrs of experience?

And for your info, the installation of a new OFF system doesn’t suddenly render an experienced player incapable of making the calls at OC. What’s being called, how, when, and where might change, but the ability to make the calls isn’t suddenly lost. If it doesn’t fit your particular paradigm, then you come up with all sorts of questions and doubts that even you can’t substantiate.

Otherwise, instead of asking who confirmed his ability to make all of the calls, you’d use COMMON SENSE to figure out that going into his 3rd yr as our primary and only backup OC, he’d have to know how to make all of the calls to hold that position. Then again, maybe therein is the problem.