Atlanta Falcons: First Team Looks Great, Depth a Major Concern

New Coordinators Inspire Hope

Dominique Franks slices his way through Raven defenders for a long return during first quarter action in Atlanta on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012.

Starting Punt Returner? (AJC)

The Atlanta Falcons debuted in their first preseason game and looked really good against a team that was a field goal away from going to the Super Bowl last season. The new coordinators inspired fans with hope implementing new schemes and showing some much needed innovation and creativity. Of course not everything went perfect, but overall the first team looked superb on both sides of the ball. The second and third team players, however, is a major cause for concern, or even panic if you prefer. The Falcons stormed out to a 14-0 lead, and ended up losing 31-17. That’s what preseason is for and they surely have a lot to correct, but there’s still a lot of good to take away. A review from the game……..

Great Debut for the Coordinators

The offense was innovative and creative. The defense was aggressive and completely shut out Joe Flacco and company when the first team was on the field. As longtime Cage Member Seminole Warrior noted, Matt Ryan seemed as comfortable as he ever has in the pocket on Thursday night. Is this really our Falcons? It can’t be stated enough that it’s still very, very early, but early signs are good. The 3 wide receiver set was used a ton on offense and the defense ran some exotic looks and blitz schemes. Yeah, it’s early, but the future seems bright.

Three Wide Receiver Set Seen Often

Yep, He's Good (AJC)

A big complaint from fans towards the Mularkey Era was his inability or unwillingness to include multiple wide receiver sets, especially last year when he had Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas, and they were almost never seen on the field together in 2012. Even though those three weren’t seen together, new OC Koetter used 3 and 4 wide receiver sets often throughout the entire game. Julio Jones was a beast as expected, Roddy White still got his catches, and Kerry Meier, Drew Davis, and Kevin Cone were in on the mix as well. And all this without Harry Douglas. Surely a good feeling.

“The Trade” is Quickly Becoming an Afterthought

All fans heard about in the 2011 off-season was “the trade” for Julio Jones where the Falcons gave up 5 draft picks to Cleveland to move up and grab the Alabama superstar. Many football purists panned the trade and that no good teams give up that much for one player, especially a wide receiver. Many of us, this author included, loved the Jones pick, but surely would have liked those draft picks as well. All of that is becoming an afterthought as Jones appears ready to take off into NFL stardom. Some writers say that he’s simply uncoverable in practice and we saw first hand that he is a beast. Falcons liked what they saw in his rookie year, where he hauled in almost 1,000 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns all the while missing 3 games (essentially 4 because he went out early in the Green Bay game). It appears that fans have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Those draft picks aren’t being missed right about now.

Dominique Franks Should Start at Punt Returner

This is surely no slight to Harry Douglas, but Dominique Franks should be the starting punt returner. To be sure, the former Oklahoma Sooner had good blocking, but he looked superb when he fielded the punt and took it 45 yards to the Ravens 15 yard line. Fans are hoping that Harry Douglas can be considered a starter with the advent of Koetter’s multiple sets and don’t really want to risk him getting hurt, especially since he tore his ACL a few years ago and seeing both Bradie Ewing and Akeem Dent getting injured on special teams, sadly losing Ewing for the year. Franks will likely be a starting cornerback sooner than later, but until then, a starting spot as punt returner would be perfect.

Big Play Potential on Defense – Both Ways

Biermann Gets a Sack (AJC)

The defense looked fantastic, having multiple blitz schemes and using players in many different ways. Sure, they only notched 3 sacks, but they looked downright outstanding against the first team defense. It was a joy as a fan trying to figure out where the defensive players were lined up and what formation it was. There was a play where the Ravens had the secondary toast, when they were all by themselves in the endzone, but Flacco overthrew him. That’s a reminder that they’ll be some rust and some pitfalls on both sides of the ball installing brand new schemes.

Ryan Looks Very Comfortable

Throwing out that really awful interception, Ryan looked as comfortable as he’s ever looked in the pocket. It’s insanely early, and maybe we’re overreacting to one game, but he really did seem more calm. Perhaps it was him bulking up over the off-season. Or maybe it was the improved play of the offensive line. Or it could have been a better scheme fit from Dirk Koetter. Maybe it was some combination of all three, but he looked good. As mentioned above, there will be some rough spots as that dreadful interception proved. Ryan played for Mularkey for 4 years so it’s to be expected that a change in philosophy won’t come overnight. That pass seemed typical Mularkey where an order for a timed throw was given, regardless of the situation. Still, it was nice to see Ryan play so good against a top-notch defense.

Are Turner’s Days Numbered?

No, but he definitely didn’t seem to fit as well in the new offensive approach as Jacquizz Rodgers does. That’s probably way over-simplifying it and it was only one preseason game, but Rodgers looked excellent and Turner not so much. Turner only got five carries, so it’s not really fair to judge him on that performance alone, but if Rodgers continues to look like he did on Thursday night, it’s going to be harder and harder to keep him off the field.

Starters on Special Teams Hurts

Is that Baker on a Screen? (AJC)

It’s been a debate for a long time at all levels of football: should coaches play starters on special teams. Some believe that they must to ensure that special teams don’t take a back seat and play as big a role as offense or defense. Others believe that it simply puts valuable starters at too much risk. There’s no definitive answer one way or another, because guys like Desean Jackson and Percy Harvin play special teams and excel on them, but when you have injuries as the Falcons did on Thursday night, it hurts. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, and most fans understand Bradie Ewing working on special teams, but did they really not have enough players out of 90 (45 during the season) to keep starters off special teams? Hopefully, Akeem Dent will return healthy and ready to go before the season starts.

Time for New QB Backups NOW

The time has passed. It is beyond time for the Falcons to go with talent and upside over veteran leadership. Both Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson looked downright terrible against the Ravens. The Falcons have brought back Chris Redman for a long time and it appears that it’s finally time to move on. It’s understandable that you want some veteran experience just in case something goes wrong, but very rarely do backups take teams to ultimate success. Look no farther than the Houston Texans having 3rd string QB TJ Yates take them to the playoffs and even win the first round. John Parker Wilson displaced DJ Shockley many years ago, but it appears his Falcons days are coming to an end. Dominique Davis has talent and upside. Of course he wasn’t perfect, but it’s time to develop a legitimate QB behind Matt Ryan. Redman and Wilson looked downright pitiful.

Quality Depth a Major Concern

A big question regarding the Falcons has been their inability to develop quality depth. Fans have wondered why many of these players that have been drafted never see the field of play, even in blowout wins. It’s preseason and that’s what’s important to remember, but the backups on both offense and defense looked pretty bad. The secondary, in particular, looked weak and lost at times. Robert James was a nice bright spot at linebacker, but other than that a lot of players didn’t help themselves at all in the first game. The same goes for offense. The backup QB’s have already been mentioned, but the tight ends looking to earn a job didn’t do themselves any favors and the same goes for the offensive line backups. Hopefully, it was just the first game kinks, but if it wasn’t than either Dimitroff hasn’t drafted very well or Smith and Co. haven’t developed well.

Credit Where It’s Due

Quizz Looked Good (AJC)

The offensive line has been the biggest target of criticism going on two years now. They have been shredded by almost everyone writing about the Falcons (this author included) for their inability to pass protect and last year unable to run block. For all the criticism they’ve endured, they surely deserve praise when it’s due. The offensive line kept Ryan clean and comfortable in the pocket. Sam Baker moved well and Garrett Reynolds looked like a different player. As with everything else, it’s very early, but the offensive line may have some hope and the scheme surely has to help them out. It will be interesting if Peter Konz starts on the bench this year, as it stands now.

Your Turn

1) Simple Leadoff: What’s your take on the Falcons-Ravens game?

2) Hopeful about the new coordinators or too early?

3) How did you like the new offense?

4) How good can Julio Jones be? Still thinking about those draft picks?

5) Should Franks start at punt returner or is too early?

6) Your thoughts on the new defense?

7) What’s your thoughts on the Turner / Rodgers debate?

8.) Should the Falcons be playing starters on special teams?

9) Just rust or major panic about depth?

10) What should the Birds do about backup QB?

11) Did Ryan look more comfortable to you?

12) Who about that offensive line?

489 comments Add your comment

The Burner Turner

August 11th, 2012
11:30 pm

Turners days numbered. Turners days numbered. What the hey are you even talking about. My days are ahead of me. I will run run run.

Yeh I may have lost a few steps. I may get leg tackled by corners now more and more. I may have put on 50 lbs. But my game is the same. Get the money . Give me the rock and watch me rumble. Just dont do it at the five yard line and the Falcons need to score. That aint my gig.

Who is better than the Burner ? huh …. who dat ?

Who can run through brick walls ?

Who can eat 8 Big Bobs triple cheeseburgers and five large vanilla shakes ? Who Dat ?

I will carry this team on my back.

Uh my stomach hurts now. I got to order in some pizza pies.

The Burner Turner out…….

The Burner Turner

August 11th, 2012
11:31 pm

Enter your comments here

Day one fan

August 11th, 2012
11:34 pm

first? LB is the pos I worry most about. Due to injury, I feel a real strength has become a weekness.

Day one fan

August 11th, 2012
11:35 pm

D3, any update on Crowder?

Day one fan

August 11th, 2012
11:38 pm

A good problem to have, too many quality WR’s and not enough roster spots.

Day one fan

August 11th, 2012
11:40 pm

After attending FNL I can say, “dump JPW”, Dom Davis Should be our # 3. I am not ready to give up on redman though.

snacktastic

August 11th, 2012
11:42 pm

Good summary of the game. Thoughts:

Franks’ return was good, but I’d give him another game before cementing him as punt returner.

The run game didn’t appear to be that productive–perhaps because the passing game was outstanding–so I’ll reserve judgment on Rodgers vs. Turner.

Davis should be the #2 QB, hands down. JPW made just as many bad plays as good ones, and Redman looked uninspiring during his brief time in the game. Davis’ throws were on target, he has a strong arm, and moves quickly in the pocket. The more reps he gets, the better.

The defense shutting out the Ravens for a quarter was impressive. I wonder if they’ll be able to keep it up an entire game, though.

What worries me the most are the backups. They looked lackluster out there. Still, I think actual game experience to reflect on will have a significant impact.

Day one fan

August 11th, 2012
11:46 pm

Unlike most posters here I think Chris Redman would be an adeqate interime starter. Hear me out, If Matt went down and redman had to come in, at least for that game most is lost. Redman is the kind of player that needs repetition to succeed. He has the talent to help the team. Not “right now” but for the near future.

af fan

August 11th, 2012
11:46 pm

1. First quarter really good. Last 3 qtrs unprofessional.
2. Confident with def. Off, wait and see more.
3. Looked good.
4. Very.
5. yes
6. Not confident our DTs and MLB can stop runs up the middle.
7.No debate. Both will contribute well.
8. No.
9. Don’t see any depth. 2nd and 3rd teams not ready to play at profesional level. Big lack of development. Need to fix player development ASAP.
10. Need one.
11. Yes, He made JJ look really good.
12 Same as last year. Still very concerned. Not confident.

Paddy O

August 12th, 2012
3:00 am

One of the errors of letting Weems go – he was key on the cover teams. It seems to be to be profoundly stupid – with the cutting of Tatupo – that our other LB is playing special teams. James & Adkins, the back ups, should be in this role. We have gotten a ton of guys hurt on special teams, and this may simply be another negative manifestation of Smitty Ball. How was Ray Edwards? If the Falcons excel with the 3 & 4 receiver sets – MM is grossly inept – far more than any here suspected. MM was a hubris pusher.

Paddy O

August 12th, 2012
3:02 am

I’m also glad that some elements of the cage are accepting that the JJ trade was not only valuable, but essential for perpetually good Falcon teams. Some folks need to give TD his due. Any news on Edwards? DeCoud? (could not watch game.)

Paddy O

August 12th, 2012
3:09 am

read Ken S’s Smitty Ball transition, and I’m having none of it. At least until the regular season starts & we get into a short & 4th situation. However, Smitty is a gambler on 4th, which indicates a guy who is alittle more edgy than MM. We shall see.

Michael M.

August 12th, 2012
5:23 am

Too early on a Sunday morning ……….If not for the Pick on Ryan , the Falcons would have been up 21-0 and had the one other drive where the receiver stepped out of bounds on the Smith challenge , this team quite possibly could have been up by 24 points or maybe even 27 by the end of that 1st quarter. Very good start to a year………..what impressed me was the Ravens couldn’t stop them from scoring on them.

Now , since we already had some major injuries this week to some players, it might play to wisdom for Smitty to keep the first string out of these preseason games cause we already have seen what they can do and everyone will agree that we don’t need to lose nobody to a season ending injury.

As for the Quarterbacks, Dominique Davis needs more playing time than what he had in the Ravens game………………………..should place him in front of JPW and Redman and give this kid a chance to shine. I would hate to see him be a really good qb and not get evaluated properly and let go and some other team grab him and he turns out to be that teams 2nd backup qb.

The game turned awful after Ryan and company left the field and we saw the 2nd and 3rd string take it over………………complete disaster indeed but its only way to see what you do have to work with. Hoping they play this bunch most all of the next ballgame cause it don’t count in preseason and seriously they have to make decisions on who will be the best fits on different positions as backups .

I don’t care if they win one preseason game as long as they are ready to bust it wide open and go on a winning streak as soon as the regular Season starts and make a run towards that big dance !
……………………………Now then I can go back and hit the Sack !…………………………….

The Grinch

August 12th, 2012
5:39 am

I thought Franks looked good on punt returns LAST preseason and was surprised people are just now getting around to seeing that. Agree with your analysis in general, D3. Davis should be given every opportunity to earn the number 2 QB spot. Redman looked awful and when he took one good hit he got up and walked around like Fred Sanford. He’s done. JPW never was.

Considering how paper thin our LB situation was already, having Dent playing special teams was asinine. If it wasn’t for James looking solid I’d really be panicking now.

Jones is going to explode; the trade looks better every day. Loved seeing the three WR sets; Douglas is gonna sneak up on folks when Julio gets double teamed.

Who is this person wearing Garrett Reynold’s uniform? And how the %^$ did Mike Johnson start for the Crimson Tide? He’s horrible. Agreed that there’s something lacking either in drafting or development.

If Dent comes back strong and we can stay healthy, I have a good feeling about the team. If any more starters go down though, we’re gonna be hating it.

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SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
9:24 am

Good morning Cage Family…

Quick hit on a move yesterday. I like the Chase Coffman move a lot. At 6′6″, 250lbs, the former Mizzou Tiger is a legit and dangerous receiver. Was stuck in Cincy behind former first rounder Jermaine Gresham so he did not see a lot of action other than special teams. He needs some work with his blocking but the team can always bring in a blocking TE for those situations.

He creates instant mismatches against LBs and TEs due to his quickness, crisp route running, and his abilities after the catch.

Has had some issues with a foot injury in the past but if healthy, look out. DK will have one hell of a weapon to work with going forward.

Nice move, TD. A potential steal going forward at the TE position. And a potential starter for the Falcons next season when TG88 calls it quits. Working behind and observing a HoF player like TG88 will only help this young man.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
9:26 am

Will take some time and review this posting, which is, as usual, a darn good one. Great points and questions, D3. Back soon to address them. Laters!!

John Boy

August 12th, 2012
9:44 am

What is the status of Jerrell Harris?

Big Ray

August 12th, 2012
9:47 am

D3 , excellent write up. This is why Falcon fans keep coming back to the AJC.

The Grinch

August 12th, 2012
9:54 am

Yeah, I should mention this is my favorite sports blog on this site; you’re the only one of the bunch that tells it like it is.

I forgot to mention I was impressed with what I saw out of Massaquois as well. A little seasoning and he could be a beast.

Big Ray

August 12th, 2012
10:09 am

What I loved to see :

1) Julio. No more need be said if you saw the game.

2) Ryan. He was sharp, no signs of happy feet, no throwing the ball away 3 or 4 times, as in the recent past.

By the way, folks, that interception situation happens to every QB, every season. Yeah that’s right. Even the Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Manning types get picked off. And sometimes for the very same reason Ryan did. He was looking hard at his target and the defense managed to read it that time. Simple as that. Ryan will throw picks. And it will happen in this “new” offense. But there will be a lot more TD drives and a lot more TDs.

Ever notice that nobody is giving Eli Manning a ton of grief about those picks right about now? He threw 25 of them year before last, but wasn’t afraid to throw.

If you want Ryan to be a true gunslinger and not a game manager, be prepared to endure some mistakes, though they won’t be plentiful. I don’t know about some of y’all, but I’m about done watching him “wisely throw the ball away” on a great many of our offensive series’.

3) The OL. As the pic above shows, they are out there in the 2nd level, putting blocks on guys for screen plays. They also held up and kept Ryan clean. The couple times Ryan had to run, he had plenty of room to do so and even completed a couple passes while running.

4) The defense was murderous. I placed a caveat on that in the first preseason game because it IS preseason, but there is no caveat on this – they are now bringing more pressure than I’ve ever seen…. consistently , at that. Yeah, they’re gonna overbite at times and give up some plays. But that isn’t going to happen very often, I’m thinking.

5) We got to see first hand why Mike Smith keeps saying that Jaquizz is, to him, a 3 down RB. Some folks weren’t too high on him last season (saying he didn’t show anything worth barking about), but I contend that he wasn’t given the chance to do much. And again, I know this is a preseason game. But I saw him do nice things against Baltimore’s first team defense. That’s enough for me. And I’m betting more chances produce more results. And I could care less what Turner thinks about that.

6) McClain is a keeper. You don’t let somebody like that get snatched off your PS, especially when you have a DC that has already said he wants a handful of DBs on the field at different times. Especially when you’re looking at your CB situation changing soon. Grimes is on a one year tender. DRob is still getting paid good money. Samuel isn’t long for this world in all likelihood (this year and next). Where you gonna get your next trio from? Franks, Walls, McClain. Those are your next 3 CBs for your Nickle Defense.

What pissed me off

1) Mike Smith and his “no regrets” on keeping Dent in STs. I call bullsh!t. We cut loose the MLB option because HE got injured. But then you take your only starter and keep him out there on ST? WTF!! You telling me the ST unit won’t survive without Dent playing with them every time? You couldn’t sign up another LB (veteran) to do that?

2) JPW still getting the snaps when it is clear that he can’t move the chains as well as Dominique Davis. JPW needs to go. I used to give him the alibi of “well, he’s out there with the 2nd and 3rd team guys.”

Yeah, well so was Davis, and if not for 2nd team WRs and TEs screwing up, Davis would have thrown for nearly 100 yards and probably a TD. Whereas JPW would throw one or two good passes and then start throwing everything else into the dirt, Davis was firing right at the receiving target, the lone exception that I can think of was an overthrow into coverage (but I still like his intrepid attitude).

Get JPW out of here. Let Davis get those snaps. Other teams have backup youngster QBs like Davis, who need a little tweaking but have promise. Other teams are taking advantage of this. We are FOOLS if we do not, and that goes directly on Smitty. Why? Because Dimitroff finally brought a young man here that has the tools to challenge what has too long been the status quo. It’s on Smitty to get it done.

3) I do not like the depth issues more than anybody else. That goes on Dimitroff AND Smitty. I think we should have signed Crowder or Henderson already, the moment Tatupu went down and we cut him loose with an injury settlement, to be honest.

I liked the signing of Peterson, but if one more LB goes down or James/Adkins can’t handle a high percentage of snaps, then we are back to counting on Poppa Lion to play too many snaps…he’ll wear down. We need another capable LB. Dent will remain the starter, but he’ll be missing valuable preseason time.

Somebody suggested making Biermann part of the LB corps, at least temporarily. That idea has merit, but would Nolan like that? If not, I’m cool with the decision to not do this. However, there is also Smitty, who I am still not trusting to think outside of the box. Sorry, but he’s got a lot of trust to earn back.

Big Ray

August 12th, 2012
10:12 am

I didn’t think Massaquoi would show out well enough to take somebody like Cliff Matthews off the docket. First preseason game says I was wroooooong. Dude is quick. Should have had two sacks.

Robert James was the best reserve on defense. By far.

Charles Mitchell damn near had a pic. That kid is a keeper as well. Time for the Falcons to invest some real time and real coaching in young talent. We have it on the roster – KEEP IT AND COACH IT UP .

Chase Coffman could make things interesting. Maybe he sticks on the roster along with Palmer, who had a nice catch and run in thursday night’s game.

Screen Pass

August 12th, 2012
10:24 am

“Those draft picks aren’t being missed right about now.” – D3

I will argue differently, but it is a minor point of contention. Others have said their peace on your writing so I have to pitch in and say I always get a laugh out of the fact the best Falcons writer at this rag is the only guy not getting paid :) . Most people are tired of hearing about the JJ trade and think his performance have put that issue to rest. I don’t recall anyone being unhappy with who we got, just the price from a value perspective. The Browns didn’t do so hot with the picks we gave away but that doesn’t invalidate the fact alot of our current depth stems from those lost picks. Does that mean it is the end of the world and TD suxxors? Of course not…we just need to be mindful of making back that value in the same way we would try to replace our retirement fund or get out of debt if we had to make a major purchase in real life. I said the pain from those lost picks wouldn’t really hurt until years 3-5 when all those picks aren’t coming into their useful life on the roster. We have missed on some low round picks which are killing us in the depth department too but we do have JJ and a heck of a receiving core. Hopefully his amazing talent can compensate while we try to get back to level in the value department. Members of the Cage wanted us to value farm some backup QB’s which still sounds like a great idea, not just because ours suck but if you can develop good trade bait it will alleviate the lost value from the JJ picks. I read where that K. Moore guy is doing well in Detroit and might have already taken over the #2 QB spot. That could have been a huge value win for us and D. Davis is looking good so far too. Maybe TeePee-sports should submit a challenge to TD’s scouting department…with a lil help from the Cage I bet we would give them all they could handle :) .

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
10:50 am

Big Ray, excellent points across the board. Not much to add to that but we will try later.

SP, I never have seen what the hell is the love affair with JPW. Davis should get a very intense look as the #3 QB. What I would do is give him a full quarter in the next game and do the same thing with JPW. And each man should get to run with the SECOND unit.

Davis is a keeper and would be a tremendous backup QB going forward. At this moment, he would count very little against the impending 2013 salary cap while allowing uys the potential to develop a fine talent that we sustain long term or use as trade incentive down the road.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
10:55 am

Back to the Coffman signing. I really like the move. He comes to the Falcons with a tremendous ability as a receiver. Again, we do not need him to block as often as some other teams would but I am sure that he could learn to be better. He has had time on the practice squad in Cincy and backed up Gresham. If for no other reason, he brings more NFL readiness than any other TE on the roster not named Palmer or Gonzo. Get rid of the rest and keep this kid. The year spent on the roster, observing and working with the greatest ever to play the position, will prove invaluable. And the year in the program, working with DK and TE coach Scelfo would be a plus.

Telling you…this dude is a late blooming rose that we should secure in the Miracle Gro right now.

Falcons gave up too much for Julio Jones

August 12th, 2012
10:58 am

haha, fooled ya!

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
11:02 am

BR, it was the TeePee that floated the idea of a move by Biermann into the LB corps.

The Falcons are overstocked with defensive ends. Biermann played LB, both inside and outside in high school and briefly in college. From what I have seen of his play as a Falcon, he is very quick to get into the backfield and shows signs of being a disruptive element. In the middle, he would be free to attack directly in front of him. He has the range and the speed to close it would seem. He has a set of adequate hands so the transition to cover TEs and RBs would not be as hard as some would think given his previous experience. At 6′3″, 255, he would be an imposing figure in the middle behind the tackles against the run. His wrestling background ensures his ability to anchor there, thus giving us an additional element in rushing defense. It also allows us to give more time to Matthews and Massaquoi at the defensive end position while adding a potential gem to an emerging, talented LB corps.

It is a win-win. I think the move could pay the same dividends as what Wade Phillips did last year when he took DE JJ Watt and converted him to an OLB. There is similiarity in the two players game.

Screen Pass

August 12th, 2012
11:04 am

“SP, I never have seen what the hell is the love affair with JPW. Davis should get a very intense look as the #3 QB. What I would do is give him a full quarter in the next game and do the same thing with JPW. And each man should get to run with the SECOND unit.

Davis is a keeper and would be a tremendous backup QB going forward. At this moment, he would count very little against the impending 2013 salary cap while allowing uys the potential to develop a fine talent that we sustain long term or use as trade incentive down the road.” – SW

The idea behind “value farming” QB back-ups is to not only to ensure we have a good back up but to try and create a factory that churns out trade bait to convert into trade/ draft currency. Keeping sub-optimal performers like Rojo and JPW because they are simply cheap is not using their roster spots to peak capability and is a tremendous waste of potential. Neither Rojo or JPW have any trade value, limited back-up value, and have little to no chance of further development to change this. Those spots are wasted instead of trying to use them “dynamically” and “aggressively” for depth and profit. It would only take 1 or 2 “hits” to get us ahead of the value curve again and be like the Patriots always having multiple low round draft picks. We should have already invested in bringing in a “QB coaching” braintrust to work with M. Ryan and develop our back-ups. There are plenty of “retired” famous ex QB’s pitching penis products and lord knows what else..it shouldn’t be hard to find a couple whose sole job is to help train and develop our “QB factory”.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
11:09 am

SP, TeePee Sports loves to mine talent in those lower rounds. As you recall, we found the likes of Darrin Walls there in the past. This past year, we called for guys like RB Brandon Bolden. We spent so much time at USM looking at Holmes but how did we miss on the dude he was blocking for, QB Austin Davis.

Would love to chat with TD about scouting. Will not boast that we are better; that would be stupid. But definately think we could add some diamonds to the mix.

DePlane

August 12th, 2012
11:16 am

Not trying to be negative here, but watching Dent in coverage kinda makes me cringe and I hope he improves drastically over what we saw against the Ravens. He lost Torrey Smith coming across him and Smith had a nice 25 yard gainer. Then he had an opportunity to break up a pass in the end zone, a 8 yarder from Flacco to Dixon and was not even close. Asking him to cover Smith & Dixon may be too much…I guess we’ll see how he holds up in coverage as the preseason goes on, assuming the concussion protocol doesn’t keep him out too long.

On a more positive note; watching Matt Ryan throwing darts and putting touch on the long ball (Julio down the sideline) was awesome to see. The pick is a reminder lesson.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
11:22 am

DePlane, I was going to give it the benefit of the doubt (the Dent play your referenced) but you are absolutely correct.

The pick, IMHO, was an adrenalin rush. He got happy and locked in on his receiver. He should learn from that. But I love seeing what I have been waiting for; the effective use of MR2’s complete arsenal, especially in the intermediate game.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
11:30 am

DePlane, will state it again. I think the answer to the MLB puzzle is Biermann. He is solid in coverage.

But I agree with you. The only Falcons LB that might be able to keep up with the likes of Smith is Weatherspoon so that is a mismatch we will lose more often than we would win.

JJ

August 12th, 2012
11:33 am

Deplane, noticed that as well. Dent looked lost out there in coverage. Only ist ps game and plenty of time to coach him up but nows he out indefinatly with concusion protocals. Sproles will have a field day if we cant cover at MLB. This def could be our achilies heel!!!

JJ

August 12th, 2012
11:35 am

SW, agree, might as well try Bieerman but I have faith in our DC.

DePlane

August 12th, 2012
11:35 am

SW…been saying prayers for you and your Angel. We’ll keep em’ coming.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Beer Truck at MLB to see what he can do there either. Why not give it a try?

DePlane

August 12th, 2012
11:39 am

JJ…ditto on Sproles unless somebody shows us something.

Screen Pass

August 12th, 2012
11:47 am

“SP, TeePee Sports loves to mine talent in those lower rounds. As you recall, we found the likes of Darrin Walls there in the past. This past year, we called for guys like RB Brandon Bolden. We spent so much time at USM looking at Holmes but how did we miss on the dude he was blocking for, QB Austin Davis.

Would love to chat with TD about scouting. Will not boast that we are better; that would be stupid. But definately think we could add some diamonds to the mix.” – SW

Better is a relative term in the draft game. Hits and misses will always happen…the strategies involved in finding that system that hits more than it misses and hedges to soften the blow of the misses is what I find interesting. The idea that people thinking outside the box can’t compete because they are not “employed” by a team I do find silly however. Many industries and the managerial hiearchies that run them become victims of “following the Jones” and just plain stale thinking. For many centuries the world was believed to be flat and to argue that “truth” could get one ridiculed or killed. At any rate it always fun to talk draft stuff with you and other Cagers.

JJ

August 12th, 2012
1:48 pm

Someone asked about Decoud, who I really like. But once again he bit on a playaction and a wr ran a deep post. Wide open, easy six but big arm flacco over threw him by a mile. Decoud was easily 15yds behind the wr and with our corners playing tight this yr, we cant have our safety beat deep. This is a common mistake from him.
Not nitpicking, love how our staring O and D played. But if I had to list 2 areas of concern from ALL of our starters, it would be Dent and Decoud.

Trust Nolan will fix these problems and/or tell TD to scour the waiver wire, which Im sure hes doing anyway.

Overall, very impressed how the starters played against a tough D and yes its only preseason 1. Theyve had what, 10 days of coaching?

Depth is always a concern this early. We have some great coaches and will wait a few weeks before hitting the panic button on backups. Except qb, tks but JPW does not belong in the NFL. That was a 3 yr waste, thats on you TD.

Big O

August 12th, 2012
1:49 pm

I suggested this last winter and now for the second time I see someone else agreeing; i.e., Biermann would make an impressive MLB. He has the necessary speed and quickness. His experience, strength, and height will make his pass coverage skills better than Dent. And he will make runners up the middle pay and pay. He would be a strong blitzer as well.

Moreover, Sidbury probably has the speed and skill set to likewise play some LB.

And, have we forgotten Louis Nzegwu? This guy can run a 4.6 40 yard dash and has a 41.5 inch vertical! He’s 6-3 252 lbs.! He needs polish of course, but what a LB he might make someday soon!

JJ

August 12th, 2012
1:51 pm

…back to Kiawah

Chop Buster

August 12th, 2012
2:04 pm

We all saw the same thing sounds like from your write up:
- Julio is a beast (screens, 109 yds 1st qtr is crazy); he’s going to be unstoppable with all WRs in
- 1st team looked great (offense and defense)
- Franks looks better as a PR/KR than a CB (something about him is not aggressive enough)
- Jacquizz looked good; Turner still too slow to the hole
- QB depth is horrible and we need a good veteran behind Matt now and one to develop
- 2nd & 3rd stringers were horrible and looked lost/out of sync (coaching will fix I’m sure next game)
- OL did a decent job and Matt seems to be getting the ball out quicker (helps the OL)
- LB position is now a need in the middle (especially coverage again)
- Everything is vanilla on offense and defense and I can’t wait to see when we game plan
- I know it’s one preseason game but finally I see some creativity on both sides of the ball

Dhunt

August 12th, 2012
2:06 pm

1)The only team evaluation that matters in preseason is the starters v starters evaluation. I’m pretty sure everyone in the football world was STUNNED at what the Falcons first team did on both sides of the ball. The national media is being pretty quiet about it now (nobody wants to be this year’s Peter King right?), but this is the Falcons we all expected to see last year. What we actually go was a bunch of Mularkey and Van-diddly squat, but those days are officially over. As for the rest of the game, if you evaluate individual performances, rather than the results of their backups against ours, we still came out looking pretty good. Several players showed they have what it takes to play in the league, especially if they are playing with 9 or 10 other NFL caliber players around them.

2)Hopeful? Nope. Ecstatic is a much better word. I spent all last year complaining about scheme. I won’t spend a second this year even thinking about it.

3)Like the new offense? I LOVE IT!. I’ve heard a lot of “how will Roddy respond to the emergence of Julio” blather. Most recently from Ryan Stewart when he called in to John Michaels’ show Friday evening. That is not going to be a problem, because Roddy is going to get his catches, because there is no way teams are going to just sit back and let Julio rack up 100+ yards per quarter! They will have to rotate the whole defense to cover him, and that means Roddy, Tony G, and HD will get their shots. Everyone is going to be so happy about winning, and the whole new atmosphere that there won’t be any time for hurt feelings. Tony G might just decide to go one more year to get a shot at back to back Super Bowls. And I have to give credit here to Matt Ryan, because he looked like a different guy out there. Quick decisions and far more confidence are going to be the keys to his graduating into a top 5 QB this year. I have been one of his harshest critics, but if this keeps up, and I see absolutely no reason why it should not, then he has a long and illustrious Falcons career ahead of him.

4) Extrapolate 100 yards a quarter over an entire season, and you see why the G.O.A.T., Jerry Rice, has called Julio the next big thing. Nothing more needs to be said about that, and I may get physically violent with anyone who tries to denigrate that move. So we miss a few low round draft picks. That’s what trades and the waiver wire are for. We’ve already seen that TD can mine the waiver wire and find some gold nuggets. I expect that to continue, and there will not be any long term negative affects from losing a few picks to get the first 2000 yard receiver in NFL history. While playing alongside a 1,300-1,500 yard receiver. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

5)Franks should get the start, if only because he is less valuable at his main position than HD.

6)The Defense was moving so fast that I couldn’t really see everything they were throwing at the Ravens. And that will be the difference this year. They will be fast and aggressive, and unpredictable. And I really believe that Nolan will not allow teams to take advantage of mismatches (like the Sproles situation mentioned by JJ). I didn’t see any of that playing 10 yards off the ball crap, and the first team seemed to be in pretty good sync. the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Bierman at MLB, especially in running situations. They drop ends in coverage anyway, so they obviously think he can handle limited coverage responsibilities.

7)There is no Turner/Rodgers debate. Snelling may be the odd man out, but that’s the way the ball bounces. There are too many good/great teams out there with a 2 or 3 headed monster at RB. In fact, that is the rule now, rather than the exception. DK will get both these guys in positions to be productive, and if both stay healthy and well rested throughout games, they will be a nightmare for teams to stop, especially since the passing threat will be there all the time.

8.)I’m trying not to 2nd guess Smitty on this one. He says Dent only plays 45% of the defensive snaps, so it’s not unreasonable from that standpoint to have him on special teams. Again, when we have this discussion in hindsight, it looks like a terrible decision. But if a head coach makes every decision based on who might get hurt, most of us would lampoon him for being too conservative. Put the talent on the field, and let the chips fall where they may. Injuries happen, and it’s not really fair to judge a decision based on a totally unpredictable outcome. Dent got speared in the chin and knocked the f*@% out. Ewing blew out a knee with absolutely no contact. It’s simply not fair to put that on Smitty.

9)If we ever have to play our whole 2nd string defense or offense at the same time, the season is already lost. Same thing goes for all 32 teams. Individuals on 2nd and 3rd teams showed flashes. Names have been named already. But since we seem to need something to kvetch about as Falcons fans (long history, hard to overcome such an ingrained habit), then I’d rather that thing be depth. For what it’s worth, the only real depth concern I see is LB (maybe TE, but as the teepee noted we did pick up a potentially good piece). And I bet if I see it, then so do the Falcons brass.

10)Fire JPW yesterday and demote Redman tomorrow. Both are taking away valuable practice snaps from Davis. Neither of these guys have any upside. The best that can be said for Redman is that he has experience, but that’s quickly becoming code for old as hell. If you can’t develop a talent like Davis, then you really don’t deserve to be an NFL coach. Davis not only looked far more athletic than the other backups, but he really looked far more poised, even while playing with the scrubs.

11)Difference in Matt Ryan is night and day from last year. I think he finally likes what is going on with the offense

12)We expected to be screaming bloody murder about the O-line and they didn’t give us any reason to do so. That deserves a standing ovation. But what impressed me most was seeing Pat Hill jump all in the backup O-line’s butts about their play. With that kind of fire coaching them, we will get the best out of what we have, and that will be more than enough.

realitycheck

August 12th, 2012
2:19 pm

They ABSOLUTELY ARE missing all those picks for Julio. No middle linebacker, no fullback, average OL, below avg DL, and depth problems most everywhere. Something tells me this type of “glass full” article on the Falcons could/will be seen only on the homer flavored AJC. Dreamers are absorbing this garbage like sponges for now, until all the hope transitions to “wait til next year”

JJ

August 12th, 2012
2:36 pm

Cosign Dhunt!

Realitychik, you either didnt watch the game or your a hater. Doesnt matter, true fans are ecstatic after our first viewing of post mm/bvg. We’re ALL dreaming of that first parade down p’tree, thats why were fans numbnuts!

Chop Buster

August 12th, 2012
2:48 pm

Seems we’re thinking alike because I’ve said that Biermann would make a good MLB as well. He’s really a 3-4 OLB any way. No harm in trying him at the position until they decide they need to bring someone else in to compete with Dent–who personally I believe has some growing to do in the position.

falcon21

August 12th, 2012
3:32 pm

Well said Dhunt!!!

Birdman

August 12th, 2012
4:57 pm

1 My take on the game was that the Falcons looked really good on the offense and defense . They looked as if they were ready to play and Hungry for the game . But always consider The Ravens could have just come out flat as we have seen the Falcons do in preseasons past .But actually do better during the season . Another pre game will answer that even more I think.

2 Hopeful Know doubt . But I was that before the game . I think we will be better with them but still to early to tell

3 The new offense looks great and the weapons Ryan has . I think we will even see more of what we saw Thursday night .If they all stay healthy.

4 I think he will be a pro bowler this year and I think his name will be right there with C Johnson This year . He is a super star but I knew that when the Birds got him . If he stays healthy this year there is no holds bared for this young man.

5 to early but for sure a thought for the spot..

6 To early yet to give true thought . maybe one more game.

7 I really think that Rogers and Snellings are just as good a duo .

8 yes

9 Concern

10 See who they may could pick up early before the season begins . As I said before Painter at least looked like a backup . And I know that Redman and JPW was not with the starters but neither was Painter. Falcons need better backups . If MR gets hurt with these 2 as QB the Birds are doomed

11 Ryan looked very good to me . The way I was hoping he would look . But as for as comfortable .To early he ant got hit much yet Hopefully he want get hit much this year .

12 looked good but need to see more .

steven a smith

August 12th, 2012
5:01 pm

Over 1 year ago i said that Chris Redman had overstayed his usefulness and JP Wilson is a career “Scrub.” JPW is destined for the Arena League or Canada. We need a solid Back-up behind Matty “meltdown” We mssed out on FA running backs who could have helped, ie…Brandon Jacobs and Mike Tolbert. The only thing that will make the “BURNER” run faster are all those mothers coming for child support checks.

snacktastic

August 12th, 2012
5:08 pm

“…a bunch of Mularkey and Van-diddly squat” -DHunt

That made my afternoon.

SeminoleWarrior

August 12th, 2012
6:04 pm

Take on the Ravens and Falcons…

It was your typical first preseason game. The Falcons have some serious work to do in areas. The main issue is the work in in areas that we did not think were going to be an issue. The quality of play from the second team is troubling to the TeePee. Those guys have been with the team for a while and should have shown more consistency than they did. Even when the Ravens second unit finally got into the mix, there were too many misses in too many areas but the Falcons second unit.

Extensive attention needs to be focused on them this week. They have too ciritical of a role to play if this team is to make the deep, serious run we feel it is capable of.