Atlanta Falcons: What’s Your Areas of Concern?

What Worries You

Will Smittyball Continue? (AJC)

As the Falcons get ready to start their preseason tour this week, there’s so much to be positive about as fans of our beloved team. New coaches, new coordinators, new schemes, new talent, Julio Jones, Asante Samuel, Sean Weatherspoon, and the list goes on and on. However, there’s always some areas that every team has to worry about as preseason starts and the Falcons are surely no exception. Of course we’ll all know a lot more after the preseason games have been completed and the final roster is set, but what concerns you as the Falcons get ready for the Ravens on Thursday?

Bird Cage Take

1) Offensive Line, Offensive Line, Offensive Line

It never strays far from every single conversation regarding the Falcons. When Coach Smith and Thomas Dimitroff arrived, they had to put together a patchwork line that did a fantastic job with several undrafted and practice squad linemen. It worked pretty well in 2008 and 2010, not so much in 2009, and a complete boat sink in 2011. Justin Blalock and Tyson Clabo are the only things resembling any semblance of consistency. The other three jobs are completely up for grabs, and the likely result will see Sam Baker at left tackle and 35 year old Todd McClure at center. In fact, there’s a distinct possibility that the Falcons OL will look EXACTLY THE SAME if reports are true that Garrett Reynolds is leading the right guard battle. Pat Hill is the new offensive line coach and Thomas Dimitroff drafted Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes with his first two draft picks. Cross-training has seemed to be an abject failure the last few years, but for some reason they remain adamant on doing it. The offensive line can’t be worse than last year, can it?  Concern Level – Nightmare Status

2) Cross-training OL: Good Development or Major Failure Ahead?

Center or Guard? (AJC)

The buzzword for the offensive line has been competition. The coaches are looking at all possibilites as they try each linemen at various spots. The idea has always been to get the “five best linemen” on the field at the same time, regardless of position. In fairness, some of the players have played multiple positions in the past, but many fans are growing weary of seemingly trying to fit square pegs in round holes. Even though Mike Johnson did play several positions while at Alabama, he helped the Crimson Tide win an SEC title, National Title, and paved the way for Mark Ingram to win the Heisman at guard, not tackle. Garrett Reynolds exclusively played right tackle in all his days at UNC, not guard. Joe Hawley was drafted in the fourth round as a center, not a guard. The big fear is that despite all the new additions, coaches, and schemes that the problem may still remain: Mike Smith and his offensive line philosophy. Concern Level - Pretty Distressed

3) More Hits to Defensive Tackle

Even at peak strength and full health, defensive tackle was still somewhat precarious with only Corey Peters being the rising star in the middle and seeing Jonathan Babineaux start to decline as he’s hit the 30 year old age. The hope was that Babineaux would return to his excellent form and pair with Peters in a new dynamic defense under Mike Nolan. Vance Walker and Peria Jerry were hoped to be excellent rotational players and provide some rush. Travian Robertson will likely make the team, but is still a project. There’s not a whole lot of girth to any of those listed above, with a few even weighing well under 300 lbs (Babineaux and Jerry). Not only is Corey Peters out for the entire training camp, but Vance Walker just came down with an injury and depending on Peria Jerry is not the best option to say the least. This should be a high priority for any veterans that get released when cuts come down. Concern Level – Bordering on Panic

4) Can Dent Rise to the Occasion at MLB?

Can Dent Step Up? (AJC)

The Falcons always wanted Akeem Dent to win the middle linebacker job and Dimitroff drafted him as such in the third round in 2011, which many believed to be a reach. TD seems to have hedged his bets well in not allowing Lofton to dictate an outrageous contract for being a really good tackler and not much else. They brought in Lofa Tatupu, which was always a low risk, potentially high reward venture. If nothing else, Tatupu’s experience would come in handy for insurance purposes. Sadly, Tatupu never made it to camp by suffering a major injury in the weight room. Like a comfortable shoe, the Falcons elected to bring back fan favorite Mike Peterson for one more go and it does make a ton of sense with him being a fantastic leader and his ability to play all linebacker positions. The big question is Dent and can he rise up and take hold of the job instead of just winning it by default. If recent UGA players coming to the NFL are any indication, Dent will surely benefit from proper development and coaching. Concern Level - Just a Little Anxious

5) Will Falcons Actually Abandon Smittyball?

Get out to a lead, than let opponent come roaring back. Can’t put away inferior teams. Can’t play two halves of complete football. Hyper-conservative, grinding offense. Soft-zone defense that allows aircraft carrier-sized holes. Sound familiar? As our longtime Cage Member Ken Strickland poignantly called it…”Smittyball.” Falcons fans have continued to wring their hands and get that uneasy feeling when their Birds play. Of course you’re never going to win every game and you can’t always beat your opponents by 30 points, but fans want intensity, creativity, and above-all a “no take prisoners” attitude from their football team.

Fans want their Birds to dictate their will on offense, defense, and special teams and finally gain some sort of killer instinct. The past has been consumed with allowing the opponent to dictate terms, tempo, and will. The Falcons would get a lead or play a good half and simply try to sit on leads and run out the clock. However rare, the defense did occasionally show signs of some aggression. The offense was never a threat to be a high-powered offense. It’s time for Smith to show that he can change as well because you can have all the new coaches, players, and schemes in the world and it won’t make a bit of difference if the philosophy from the head coach stays the same. Concern Level - Justifiably Paranoid

Your Turn

1) Leadoff: what’s your areas of concern as preseason approaches?

2) Give your list of concerns on the entire Falcons team and rank them if you choose.

3) Will you need medication to help you deal with this prospective offensive line?

4) What should the opening day starting OL be?

5) What worries you more: left tackle or right guard?

6) What’s your opinion on cross-training the offensive line?

7) Are you worried about a very fragile defensive tackle position?

8.) Can Akeem Dent rise to the occassion at MLB?

9) Could the Falcons actually become an aggressive team?

10) Will Smittyball be thrown out, reduced, or is it alive and well?

551 comments Add your comment

Unca' Bob

August 4th, 2012
3:53 pm

Enter your comments here

Jay

August 4th, 2012
3:58 pm

Offensive is a major concern as a Falcon fan.

Wings

August 4th, 2012
4:04 pm

I have two concerns:

Pure and simple for me the biggest concern is “SMITTYBALL”.

Next, the inability of the offense to reduce the number of touches given Michael Turner.

The Real Falcon

August 4th, 2012
4:10 pm

Let’s see:
RG
LT
DT
MLB
C
Did I miss something?

JJ

August 4th, 2012
4:10 pm

Smittyball without a dought!!!

The Real Falcon

August 4th, 2012
4:15 pm

The team has stressed cross-training since coming here. It has not led to an Ol that knows its position well yet. how about a lineman who knows his position extremely weel first?
Just saying…

The Real Falcon

August 4th, 2012
4:18 pm

Still waiting on the journalist at this paper to get the full details on the injury to Peters. If we were in NYC, SFO, or even Minn we would know.
What gives here?

The Real Falcon

August 4th, 2012
4:22 pm

Exactly who decides that Lofton’s contract request was outrageous? And when did a blogger who has no informaton on what that contract request was even say that?
I have an idea. How about doing your job and not being a homer? How about asking and demanding of the Falcons that they give us real informatio? How about doing your job? what a concept!

The Real Falcon

August 4th, 2012
4:23 pm

By the way: were the contract demands too much for the Saints?

D3

August 4th, 2012
4:37 pm

Real Falcon — I don’t know how else to tell you this or in what different ways I can get this across to you: I am a fan just like you. I am not a paid journalist. I am a school teacher who writes about the Falcons for a friendly fan blog. D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Falcons beat writer. Regarding the Peters injury, I completely agree with you. That’s all Coach Smith and how the Falcons operate. They never give full information regarding injuries. I certainly don’t know for a fact that Lofton was demanding an outrageous salary, but it was reported from many places that he wanted a deal on the level of DQwell Jackson or Jon Beason, which was really high. I was only saying that Dimtiroff hedged his bets by not being held captive in “having” to re-sign him. Ultimately, I just don’t think they wanted to re-sign him. A great tackler. Nothing more.

Rambo

August 4th, 2012
4:52 pm

How do u let loftan go to the saints of all places

Screen Pass

August 4th, 2012
4:52 pm

Note; From last thread

“SP ,

I agree. I’d like to see Dimitroff turn some of these players into actual assets . Like you, I’ll be watching Mr. Valdez closely up there in the land of Capital One credit card commercial types….what’s on YOUR practice squad? ” – BR

Love it BR, that’s funny. I had never given practice squad poaching much thought until the FudgePackers ganked Nance ( think it was him) when they had no RB’s left at the end of the year. When you think about it, it is not a horrible way for defiencies to made up at the expense of the team trying to maintain depth. I won’t elaborate as no reason to talk about Fight Club :) . Anyway, it is really hard to tell what is fan bias in regards to the talk about our WR core as most information we hear is from fans that may or may not have an agenda or limited ability to accurately judge. It does seem certain that we will have too much wealth at the WR position and might want to shop some of it around our “satellite” teams. Satellite teams?
It does seem our Falcons have now grown to the point of having Jax being Falcons South and the Rams being Falcons West lol. Since Ken has become the link meister for Falcon sites lately I will give a few of a different perspective. I wasn’t the only person that saw something potentially very special in I. Pead and it seems his coach agrees – ( http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2012/7/31/3207523/st-louis-rams-isaiah-pead-chris-johnson ). Trumaine Johnson got some love from the Cage and other Falcon sites, he sounds like depth at this point for the Rams ( http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2012/8/3/3218582/st-louis-rams-training-camp-report-cornerbacks-danario-alexander ). MM has had his hands full down in Falcons South with both MJD and 1st round pick Blackmon too scared of his playcalling to show at practice :) err..I mean holding out. MM does seem happy with B. Gabbert and is even planning on using his running skills on 1st and 2nd down ( http://www.bigcatcountry.com/2012/8/3/3217387/jaguars-training-camp-2012-blaine-gabbert-mike-mularkey ). MM is not concerned with not having MJD or Turner as his bellcow plow the middle and plans to use Gabbert in this role apparently -

“I’m not going to discourage running. He is a good athlete, he is fast. It is a threat. He can dictate coverages. People know that he can be a danger running the football. When you’re running the ball you have a chance to protect yourself. You can see where your threat is coming from compared to where you’re sitting in the pocket.” – Mularkey said of Gabbert

Never discount that good ol’ Mularkey creativity on offense :) . Jax seems ok at the receiver position as they will probably only be blocking for Gabbert anyways so I think TD needs to get busy shopping our WR wealth to Snead and Falcons West.

falcon21

August 4th, 2012
5:08 pm

Simple, Smittyball and O-line!

Screen Pass

August 4th, 2012
5:17 pm

Good article D3. I’m eating Chick-Fil-La atm (yummm, and fktard liberal Yankee dbag mayors hate me for it….all the better) and will get a post up soon.

D3

August 4th, 2012
5:22 pm

SP — Thanks brother. No politics please. It’s easy for me regarding politicians: they all suck!

D3

August 4th, 2012
5:39 pm

Wings — You got it brother. Above all the others, I would have to say Smittyball is my biggest fear. This whole cross-training and Garrett Reynolds deal is giving me flashbacks and I’m really afraid that Smitty’s our least common denominator.

Rambo — TD drafted Dent to be our next MLB. He wouldn’t have felt the need to do that if he felt that Lofton could / would turn into a play-making LB (sacks, ints, passes defensed, forced fumbles, etc), but he just couldn’t do it. He had 4 years to become the unquestioned leader of the defense and he never took that step. JMHO.

Screen — That’s a good point and here’s another one for you: William Middleton. He was let go by us (even though being drafted in 5th round) and has ended up being a pretty good nickel CB for Jax. Go figure. I think we keep Cone as #5 and either Calvin or Drew Davis on practice squad. The Jose Valdez error has to be one of TD’s biggest F-ups.

Gamer

August 4th, 2012
5:54 pm

It’s time for Falcons offense to dominate games.

Screen Pass

August 4th, 2012
5:54 pm

“SP — Thanks brother. No politics please. It’s easy for me regarding politicians: they all suck!” – D3

No doubt and no worries. I was actually eating Chik-Fil-A and thinking to myself how ANYONE of ANY persuasion could think for a nano second I would give up these wonders of Southern culinary expertise for their nefarious agendas. Politics interest me none for sure. Ok, enough nonsense, lets get back to nonsense.

I will go with our O-line as our greatest worry and the middle of our defense as a distant second. I’m not worried about “Smittyball” as I always believed Mularkeyball was the real culprit. Smitty does seem to have ideas about using the Ravens defense first template as his M.O. but he also was the installer and controller of our no huddle offense. The Falcons no-huddle offense was way more effective than Mularkey’s RRP playcalling so it won’t surprise me at all if Smitty lets Koetter open up the passing game this year. There are a few unkowns in this argument so Ken could still be proven right, but what I’m reading out of Falcons South Jax leaves me quite sure MM and his “special bus” offense were most likely the problem. I could try to paint this argument in a religious light so I could break that unwritten blog rule today also if you would like :) .

JK. I’ll leave the satanic screen passes out of things for today anyways.

DePlane

August 4th, 2012
6:07 pm

Nice post D3. I’m actually not as concerned about the O-line as I am DT. Peters hurt and losing the practice and conditioning time with the team, who knows what we’ll get from Jerry, now VW hurt (hopefully not serious), and a rookie; kinda has me a little nervous.

I agree with you on the o-line cross training…let em’ get comfortable in their own position!

just "little ole" me

August 4th, 2012
6:07 pm

So which of the OL guys ends up on the PS? We have JB and TC who are entrenched. Then we have MD, Hawley, and Konz as possible for C. They are also working Konz at G with Reynolds, Jackson, and Johnson. Now they are also working Johnson at RT (cross-training garbage) and we have Baker and WS battling for LT. Not to mention Holmes. That’s 11 guys not counting the lesser known OLmen in camp. Even if they only keep nine on the 53 man roster that leaves two to the PS or cut. I doubt that Holmes ends up on the PS. So who isn’t making the roster?

D3

August 4th, 2012
6:08 pm

Screen — Funny as always my friend. Even I’ve been a little surprised at how much players have glowingly praised both coordinators, which is absolutely a shot at the former coordinators, whether they know it or not. Never heard players praise Malarkey or Brian Van Softserve the way I do now. Of course that could change, but it’s nice to hear. I also get the impression from reading various snippets that Malarkey was kind of an @sshole to work for / with. How many times have we heard players say they get to give their own input. Definitely a window into how Malarkey ran his offense, evidently like a d@mn dictator. “Dictator Dumb@ss”. That’s funny, b/c that’s what I called one of my former bosses. Hah.

DePlane

August 4th, 2012
6:14 pm

While I certainly loathe what we call Smitty Ball, I’m nearly convinced MM was to blame. Sure Smitty can be stubborn, but I agree with SP about the no huddle…and that offers sharp contrast to Smitty being entirely to blame for the ultra conservative play calling. No…I think it was MM, and I want to believe they are going to open this thing up.

just "little ole" me

August 4th, 2012
6:17 pm

DePlane – The injuries to CP and VW just open the door for Robertson and more so Regis to get some reps. It may be what they need to take PJ’s spot on the DL they are both about 10 lbs heavier than PJ and don’t have his injury history. I am looking for one or both of them to step-up and take advantage of the opportunities that they have been presented with.

D3

August 4th, 2012
6:25 pm

DePlane — I’m right there with you brother. Even though OL is the thing keeping me awake the most at night, DT has me really worried. Peters was a beast and essentially, he’s losing 3-4 games when you think about the conditioning he’s missing, that you mentioned. I also worry too because in their “Darth Vader Stealth Injury Policy” they said he would only miss OTA’s and all of a sudden he’s out for the ENTIRE training camp. What gives? I really like Lamar Holmes, I really do. But that Brandon Thompson pick would be looking really, really good about now. They were always going to give Peria Jerry every chance to redeem himself and if they drafted a new DT high, that would essentially eliminate his chance of a comeback. However, that was a risky strategy and it looks to be backfiring about now. The fact that we just signed another DT makes me worry about Vance Walker’s injury.

just me — Excellent question. I’ve thought a lot about that myself. I was thinking they may try to keep 10 instead of 9 due to the uncertainty. If they keep 9, some big names will be getting cut. Here’s what I think it SHOULD be, but that means diddly-squat to the great Cross-trainer in Chief Mike Smith:

T: Baker, Svitek, Holmes, Clabo
G: Blalock, Johnson, Reynolds
C: Konz, Hawley

If they feel that Andrew Jackson has enough upside, than I guess they could part ways with Svitek, but that’s risky as Hades thinking Sam(antha) Baker can hold up for a whole year. Honestly, I say just go ahead and cut Baker and let Svitek be the bridge to get to Holmes. Keeping McClure I think is a stupid @ss idea because that means we’re essentially giving up on one of these young guys so McClure can stay around for another year. Sorry, I love McClure, but his time has passed. How long can we continue to not invest in a young OL going forward?

DePlane

August 4th, 2012
6:31 pm

Just little..that’s going to be a tough one to figure out. Some camp and pre-season tape will no doubt ferret out the decision. But if Hill likes Jackson, and Holmes makes it…kinda leaves Reynolds and Johnson on the bubble. I don’t see them cutting Hawley. Of course Konz is in. TC and JB safe. With Baker fragile they’ll keep Svitek. That leaves MD.

So who do you cut? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess Reynolds was a right tackle and doesnt play left? What do you do when TC is in front of you? Learn to play guard and better do it well. Johnson a great collegiate…with some good potential. I’d really hate to see either of those guys cut…they both have upside.

The coaches insist Baker is 100% and think he can get back to form. Right now, they don’t have anyone else so he’s the man. With Holmes hurt and behind he’s not going to help anytime soon.

Center has me perplexed. If MD is entrenced than you’ll have a competition at guard between Hawley and Konz just to get on the field.

It’s a mess for sure…but at least they’ve got some options and we’ll see who shows in camp and pre-season.

DePlane

August 4th, 2012
6:37 pm

D3, I’d love to see Jerry redeem himself, but if its going to happen now is certainly the time. I just have a hard time putting stock there with the history he’s had.

DePlane

August 4th, 2012
6:41 pm

D3, I kinda like your lineup there. But I just don’t think MD gets the Turk.

snacktastic

August 4th, 2012
6:53 pm

Frankly, with all the positivity and good signs coming out of camp, there’s not much I’m concerned about. If anything, I’m a little worried about whether we’ll drift back to Smitty Ball, and fail to make the proper adjustments during games, but I think this team will have new life on both sides of the ball.

I still have doubts about whether Smitty was the architect of the Falcons’ predictable play last season. I’m inclined to believe he took a more hands-off policy regarding the OC/DC because their gameplans worked so well in 2010 (during the regular season, anyway), and he expected them to continue to work, with a bit of a boost from Julio.

However, I think Nolan and Koetter are going to have as much of an impact on Smitty as they have on the players, and that Smitty Ball is solidly a thing of the past. I couldn’t be more optimistic about this team, even as I read the fans’ admittedly legitimate concerns.

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Screen Pass

August 4th, 2012
7:18 pm

“Screen — That’s a good point and here’s another one for you: William Middleton. He was let go by us (even though being drafted in 5th round) and has ended up being a pretty good nickel CB for Jax. Go figure. I think we keep Cone as #5 and either Calvin or Drew Davis on practice squad. The Jose Valdez error has to be one of TD’s biggest F-ups.” – D3

Agree on Middleton, imagine if he was available for nickel in that Green Bay game instead of having to throw Owens in there. May or may not be a real biggie in the Fup department. I wouldn’t classify losing Valdez as a major Fup just yet but it certainly is a head scratcher. Holmes has better footwork and balance but Valdez looked much better in run blocking so at a minimum we could have rotated the two with Valdez coming in for end of quarter/ game run the ball more time. Valdez will more than likely not be “great” but when comparing a replacement OT for Baker thats not really even an issue. I think Cone has to be protected and I would likely protect the California guy too as his speed/ size combo is just too enticing to a poacher. A team like the Rams has nothing to lose by poaching him and praying he turns into a beast. They may not go after a guy like James Rodgers or a more pedestrian measurable guy like Davis but who knows. You can bet Snead and other GM’s can get the real scuttlebutt on our guys if they want.

MD Wanna Be

August 4th, 2012
7:35 pm

Who is MD? The team doctor? I’m serious here. Is it impossible to to take 5 seconds and type out a person’s name??

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 4th, 2012
7:35 pm

Interesting column, coming into the season. I will think about it for a bit (working at home, teachers have to do that on weekends) –

BUT-

Just off the top of my head I would say the OL is my biggest concern.

The O-line inhaled with a wet slurpy sound last season, and much of the prevailing optimism is based on the boundless optimism that reigns supreme this time of year when unproven players/squads have yet to screw up!

WE have a hole at LT that we hope gets better when an oft injured dino-armed vet miraculously heals, OR a long time sub ratchets his game up a notch (as do all players this time of year), OR an unproven rookie that comes to town hurt out of a small school steps up and plays up to his measurments.

Add to that a hole at G that we hope is filled with a fresh faced unproven rookie that has yet to take an NFL snap, OR Reynolds that failed miserably last time he took at shot at the starting nod, OR another unproven benchwarmer from last year.

Add to the mix a new coach that has been in the College ranks for years and is expected to turn wine to water (if he was THAT good why was he out of the pros for so long??).

Don’t get me started on C.

I understand that optimism reigns in a way that that it only can BEFORE the season starts, and I am somewhat optimistic as well, but even so – I have this feeling that our OL is improved based on best case scenarios from several factors simultaneously.

Other than that, all is peachy keen

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 4th, 2012
7:43 pm

long post disappeared., aauugghhh

Firey Falcon Fan in the Sweltering Southern Sunshine

August 4th, 2012
7:51 pm

While my literary masterpiece on the biggest problem has disappeared into the blog monsters over-stuffed gizzard, I will try to slip one by in my guise this evening as contrarian.

I am only mildly miffed at Smittyball. I think he used what he had (just very poor ingame adjustment and too predictable). A clock control, rest the D while wearing down their D offense has merit, going back to the days of Dooley Ball.

Reduce turnovers, control the clock, and take an occasional shot downfield. We were hurt when Finn was gone and we couldn’t replace that really tall possession Receiver – but TG did a fair job of taking on that role.

Can’t go deep much if the QB doesn’t have time, so use what you have.

Remember what they took over when Smitty and crew came here. Turned that trainwreck into a bulldozer.

D3

August 4th, 2012
8:04 pm

FFF — Post is out.

MD — He’s referring to MudDuck Todd McClure.

PM

August 4th, 2012
8:18 pm

Area of concern? The marshalling yard on 41. Sticking taxpayers with even a dime for this new stadium is a slap in the face -and even if they get it, they promise no particular loyalty back to the city. It’s more like they’re threatening to leaving if they don’t get it, but not promising to stay if they do. When spouses act like that, it’s good to take them up on the dare and let ‘em walk.

JB FALCON

August 4th, 2012
8:25 pm

I got to go along with snack’s 6:53. Our four year record has shown that we have a good solid team that can score points, most of the time. The recognition of the smittyball concept, as we call it, was evidently recognized and adressed by bringing in the new cords. The team has been upgraded, somewhat, but I I tend to think we just had the right tool but using it wrong, ergo, smittyball, or MM/BVG ball.

MD Wanna Be

August 4th, 2012
8:33 pm

Thanks, D3! Wasn’t thinking of nick names…

Big Crimson 75

August 4th, 2012
9:11 pm

Big Ray

August 4th, 2012
9:17 pm

Good article D3. I’m eating Chick-Fil-La atm (yummm, and fktard liberal Yankee dbag mayors hate me for it….all the better) and will get a post up soon.

:lol: :lol:

Big Ray

August 4th, 2012
9:19 pm

Smittyball ends when Smitty stops playing it.

We are subject to his learning curve. Either he learns to let go or this organization will have to let him go, because we can go no further than he will allow us. That simple.

steven a smith

August 4th, 2012
9:28 pm

I have “3″ concerns about this team: 1. Offense
2. Defense
3. Special Teams

Julio Jones and Harry Douglas are your only speed guys!!! Defensive line and MLB are major concerns!

D3

August 4th, 2012
9:38 pm

Big Ray — Smiley faces count too in politics (laugh). :neutral: In regards to Smitty, I think they will give him another year even if we don’t have a really good season, barring a complete collapse.

John Waynesworld

August 4th, 2012
9:48 pm

Thanks, D3. We are getting close to preseason and you always help us get through the dead zone.

1) What are your areas of concern as preseason approaches? Health. Unlike others, I don’t care if we lose every one of these games if it means we keep our starters intact. I’ll be satisfied with a few strong drives by our No 1’s and get them out before they break a sweat (or anything else).

2) Give your list of concerns on the entire Falcons team and rank them if you choose. 1) Offensive Line. 2) Defensive Line. 3) Matt Ryan. 4) Backup QB. I am confident in our secondary, our linebackers, our running backs, our wide receivers, our tight ends, our special teams and our kicking game. My concerns are the men on both sides of the trenches, our starting QB’s utter lack of mobility, and the blandness of his backup.

3) Will you need medication to help you deal with this prospective offensive line? I am a lifelong Falcons fan. I learned to medicate years ago watching the likes of Randy Johnson, Scott Hunter, Jeff George and Doug Johnson. Now everything is a crusade of sorts. Our offensive line is on a crusade to get better. Another round, bartender.

4) What should the opening day starting OL be? It should be Holmes, Blalock, McClure, KONZ!, and Clabo. It will probably be Baker to start the season at LT with Holmes working his way into the starting five eventually.

5) What worries you more: left tackle or right guard? Left Tackle. RG is taken care of by Konz. We will see how quick of a trigger the Falcons have when Baker breaks down. Hopefully Ryan can survive it.

6) What’s your opinion on cross-training the offensive line? Cross training is a necessary evil because of the specter of injuries, but it could also save a roster spot in the cutdown to 53 men, which may be used to keep a 6th Wide Receiver or a 5th Safety.

7) Are you worried about a very fragile defensive tackle position? No. If, because of injuries to the DT position, Nolan decides to employ more 3-4 looks, we have a few big guys left who can plug up the line and an abundance of DEs and OLBs to fly around. We can make due until Peters and Walker are ready to return. They may pick a real Nose Tackle off the waiver wire at any time, and also Obi will serve as a good DT practice teammate.

8.) Can Akeem Dent rise to the occassion at MLB? I have followed Akeem since he came to UGA, and he has been a hard-hitting model of consistency and dependability. He will do well as a Pro and make his presence known immediately.

9) Could the Falcons actually become an aggressive team? They have to be aggressive in Nolan’s defense, that is his trademark and he’s not going to downshift now in his coaching career. Hopefully Nolan’s presence will bring a fresh attitude of defensive confidence to the players and his attacking schemes will give our pass rushers better success.

10) Will Smittyball be thrown out, reduced, or is it alive and well? The new coordinators will be working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Smittyball will probably rear its ugly head for a series or two late in the season or in the playoffs, but hopefully we will overcome it all and shock the world.

old qb

August 4th, 2012
10:50 pm

Without question our biggest weakness is linebacker. First, there’s zero depth. If Weatherspoon goes down for any length of time we have Peterson whose lost a step–or two. But what if Weatherspoon goes down and Peterson is playing middle linebacker because Dent as a first year starter couldn’t handle the job? Nicholas is no all-pro and barely adequate. Harris is a rookie. Bottom line is if Weatherspoon goes down we’re in deep trouble.
If Smitty was truly running Smittyball someone has to gag him in the second half. Way too conservative–somebody give hm a class in Spurrier Ball.
Actually, I believe our offensive line will be a strength this year. There’s just too much talent. If they don’t play up to it it has to be the coaching.

Coop

August 4th, 2012
11:15 pm

Without a single dount… Mike Smith.

On a quick side note, I’m not happy about the whole Lofton deal. I certainly hope Dent pans out, but you do expect your 2nd round picks to stay on the team past their first contract… don’t you?

If you count Lofton as a bust (since we didn’t like him enough to resign him), then in 4 years, TD has whiffed on Sam Baker, Peria Jerry, and Curtis Lofton in the early rounds. Baker and Lofton in the same draft. I’m more concerned about TD as the drafts roll on… easily as many head scratchers as celebrations.

Birdman

August 5th, 2012
12:45 am

My main concern is will Matt Ryan move to that next level with the weapons he has in his 5th year . Will his front line protect him better and will he stay injury free .

I think the defense will be better with Nolan and will be stronger !! But I just don;t know about our new OC Yet !!

Hopefully the 3rd week of pre will answer a lot of questions for us all

marko

August 5th, 2012
7:59 am

O-line, O-line,and O-line How could I improve on D3’s masterful assessment. If we start the season with the same retreads we used last year, it’s reasonable to expect the same results. It’s safe to say that we knew Holmes was a major project when we drafted him, but Konz should start at center. Todd McClure has been a great player for us, but it’s clear that he’s in decline. Do the Falcons really think he can take sixteen poundings, and still be effective in the playoffs? If Reynolds is our right guard? I think he could be OK in the right system. He certainly moves well for a man his size, but is he a power blocker? I don’t think so. What is our system anyway? It’s August, and were still speculating about that little detail.

I think I’ve addressed the gloom and doom scenario reasonably well. But, what if we designed our offense to utilize the skills of the players we actually have. Turner, much like McClure, has been a solid asset for us. When TD signed him it was one of his best moves. We had a rookie quarterback that greatly benefitted from having a solid running game to take some of the pressure off him. I bet Peyton Manning wished he had a Michael Turner to hand off to when he broke into the League. Turner’s been a good horse, lord knows we’ve ridden him hard enough. This year I’d prefer seeing The Burner used more as an unpleasant surprise, and less as a predictable outcome. why does a team with such obviously talented receivers run so much? It’s hard to get a feel on Koetter by watching his Jacksonville offense. He really lacked talent. The question’s how will he utilize the talent he has now? Will the line look as bad if the other guys have to guess what’s coming next? I definitely feel that our birds suffered from a severe case of predictability. This year I’d like to see a bunch of wild and crazy guys out there. I want the Falcons to look more like the dudes that kicked their butts and stole their lunch money.

JJ

August 5th, 2012
9:28 am

Another area of concern is halftime, wtf are the coaches doing?
Can we expect actual game planning from our new coordinators during halftime this yr?
Love what CS has done for this franchise in only 4 yrs but gameday coaching has been abysmal.
Wont even get into the game planning against the giants, or lack there of.
Not bashing, Smitty has been the best coach weve ever had going by his record. But to get to the next level, we need Smitty to rise up!!!

DePlane

August 5th, 2012
9:35 am

1) Leadoff: what’s your areas of concern as preseason approaches?
My first inclination is to say coaching. With a revamped staff, will they have the cohesiveness to be on the same page coming out of the gate with new systems, coaches and a few new players? I like the coaches, but the proof will be out on the field.

2) Give your list of concerns on the entire Falcons team and rank them if you choose.
1) DT 2) OL 3) LB -I like Dent…really. I like the fact they are using the young talent. I’m glad M.Pete is here as the old sage for this young corp. I don’t miss Lofton. But the question I keep asking myself is if I have seen enough of Dent’s play to know if he is a starting MLB? If everyone stays healthy and settles into the new scheme this concern could evaporate.

3) Will you need medication to help you deal with this prospective offensive line?

This thing is a work in progress thats for sure. Even though its up in the air, there is some beef there to work with.

4) What should the opening day starting OL be?

You’ve got 4 LT’s and 3 Centers. You’ve got three G’s. One true RT. Hmmm. No wonder cross training important.

T: Clabo, Baker, Svitek, Holmes, Jackson
G: Blalock, Johnson, Reynolds
C: Konz, Hawley, McClure

T: Clabo, Baker, Svitek…don’t see it changing…but what do you do to protect your young talent? Do you keep five?
G: Blalock is set. The battle here is between Johnson and Reynolds for RG. Who backs up Blalock? Konz can also play guard.
C: Keeping 3 is entirely possible.

Bottom line: The Turk is coming for somebody. Who’s it gonna be?
5) What worries you more: left tackle or right guard?

6) What’s your opinion on cross-training the offensive line? I guess you have to do it when you have more talent at one position then another.

7) Are you worried about a very fragile defensive tackle position?
Yes…has superceded the debacle on the o-line to one of near obsession.

8.) Can Akeem Dent rise to the occassion at MLB?

I would like to see that. I hope so. I think so. But we’ll see? I know, non-commital sounding but I got faith in the coaches decision to put him out there, and the kid is talented.

9) Could the Falcons actually become an aggressive team?

Yes, I think they have it in them. We’ll see how the coaches are able to operate and if they don’t have their hands tied then I believe it will happen.

10) Will Smittyball be thrown out, reduced, or is it alive and well?

One can only hope its Goodbye Smittyball (or Mularkey Ball if thats what you think)!!!