Your Atlanta Falcons Biggest 2013 Concerns

In Nolan we Trust? (AJC)

As the dead zone of Falcons and Football rolls on, give your laundry list of concerns as the 2013 Atlanta Falcons Season is only months away. The Cage will be back with a full tilt of questions, answers, and thought processes, but at this point……..it’s your turn:

Sorry for the delay, had a ton going on recently. Most of you guys and gals have already mentioned most of what I had planned, but here goes The Cage list…….

#1) Second Half Smitty Brakes

We’re not going to mention the in famous name regarding Smith’s conservative nature for it may simply be unfair to blame only the head coach when something goes wrong in the second half. The second half collapses, bog downs, conservative mindsets, running out the clock, whatever you want to call them, came up and bit the Falcons at the worst time in the 2013 playoffs. A 3rd quarter collapse vs. the Seahawks nearly led to catastrophe and the 2nd half meltdown did lead to a loss in the NFC Championship game vs. the Niners. Fans aren’t expecting the Falcons to blow out every opponent 30 points, but if something isn’t done about these second half blow ups, than a Super Bowl will not be on the horizon.

#2) “Super Bowl or Bust” Pressure

The Cage Rolls through the Dead Zone (Arno)

Yes, let’s just go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room. Roddy White even went ahead with his brutal honesty and said that it’s “Super Bowl or Bust” for the 2013 Atlanta Falcons. There was always going to be pressure when Tony Gonzalez came back for one more year, but when they added Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora, it really accelerated the talking point. There’s been no silly and stupid mention of a dream team, but it’s a fairly obvious conclusion to draw if you look at the age of some of the players like Roddy White, Jonathan Babineaux, Gonzalez, Jackson, and others who have never even graced a Super Bowl. One of the greatest strengths that Mike Smith has shown is a magnificent ability for keeping his team focused both after wins and more importantly after losses. This season will need everything he’s got.

#3) Witness Protection Program

This will be analyzed more this summer as well as being researched heavily in the past, but this has to come to a merciful end this year. It’s well known that unless you’re a 1st or 2nd round pick (and even 2nd rd is pushing it) that you will likely not see the field for at least a year. Peter Konz famously didn’t even get a start until Garrett Reynolds was injured. Dimitroff seemed to throw a small gauntlet down in his post-draft conference when he said, in so many words, that we have to start developing and playing our own draft picks. Maybe fans are simply projecting and hanging on every single word said in the off-season vacuum, but with the various draft picks and subsequent releases, it seems as though the GM might be forcing Smith’s hand. However, seeing is believing.

#4) Will Defense be Good or Simply Good Enough?

Will Osi Measure Up? (AJC)

The Atlanta Falcons defense has been the epitome of mediocrity for the longest time. It at least inched upward a little bit with Mike Nolan taking the helm, but it remains a side of the ball that is only “good enough” and not necessarily good. The hope is that in year two with a plethora of new and talented defensive players, that the defense can finally take a leap of the hump of mediocrity, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will happen.

#5) Will the New Offensive Line Hold Up?

Only 40% of the Falcons offensive line will be back in their same spots from 2013. Only Justin Blalock at left guard and Sam Baker at left tackle return to their same spots. Peter Konz appears ready to move over to center and the other two spots are up in the air. It looks like either Garrett Reynolds is again in pole position to win the right guard spot for the 3rd year. His first foray as a starter didn’t go well at all, but his second chance was much better until injury. Joe Hawley and maybe one of the practice squad players, namely Phillipkeith Manley, are also in consideration. At right tackle, it seems that 3rd round pick Lamar Holmes is ready to take over for Tyson Clabo. Former Crimson Tide player Mike Johnson has also been mentioned, even though guard seems more of a fit for Johnson. The experience factor will definitely take a hit, but the hope is that the infusion of talent and athleticism will make up for it.

#6) Will the Lack of DL and LB Depth be a Downfall?

One of the biggest complaints from fans regarding the draft was the failure of the Falcons to take not one linebacker or defensive tackle. Both positions seem to be adequate, if not spectacular at the top, but after that it gets dangerously thin. Babineaux and Peters seem to be OK as the DT starters if they can stay healthy, but Peria Jerry has done nothing and Travian Robertson is a complete unknown. Rumors of signing former Dawg Richard Seymour have quelled fans fears some, but nothing is official yet.

It gets even worse at linebacker. Weatherspoon is the only surefire stud, Nicholas is average, and Dent is still in unknown territory. Robert James is the only other LB on the roster. It seems that the Falcons will be relying on a bunch of undrafted free agents and Brian Banks to fill the void. Regardless of a possible new scheme, you need linebackers in some form to be successful. Maybe a more permanent LB role for Biermann is in the works.

#7) Will Falcons be up for a Tougher Schedule?

A Wonderful Sight! (AJC)

After winning the NFC South and getting the top seed in the NFC in 2012, they will of course draw a tougher schedule in 2013. They face all the NFC divison winners (Packers, 49ers, Redskins) and also face the Patriots and Seahawks to go along with a much improved NFC South in the off-season. That’s not to mention teams like the Cardinals, Rams, and Dolphins who have seemingly improved as well. They didn’t fare very well in 2011, a year after they won their division and locked up the NFC top seed. Let’s hope this year is different.

#8) Is it Boom or Bust for Harry Douglas?

Even though he’s been a hometown fan favorite since he was drafted in 2008, the former Jonesboro High product simply hasn’t lived up to his rookie performance. Maybe Douglas is just a victim of expectations that are just too high. He was injured in 2009 and did haul in 38 catches for almost 400 yards with 1 TD. Perhaps fans are expecting too much from a slot receiver when there’s so many other talented weapons on the field (Jones, White, Gonzalez, Rodgers, and now Jackson). However, it’s not necessarily the sheer amount of touches he gets, but rather what he does when he gets them. He just doesn’t seem to have that ability of separation he once showed as a rookie. There’s been flashes here and there, but most feel that he should be downright lethal with so much talent around him. He’s definitely safe as the Falcons slot receiver in 2013, but if he doesn’t show something more, his time may be up for 2014. Another to consider is that the Falcons will need Roddy White’s replacement sooner than later.

#9) Will the Falcons Finally Get a Pass Rush?

If you polled most Falcons fans this question in the next 2-3 months, the likely answer would be “don’t count on it.” Maybe this really is the year that the Falcons create some sort of consistent pass rush, but it’s been either John Abraham or Jonathan Babineaux the past 5 years. One is gone (Abe) and the other will turn 32 in October. The Falcons replaced with Osi Umenyiora, drafted two talented defensive ends, and have been developing two the past couple of years, but like many of these other concerns, seeing is definitely believing.

#10) Will Building from the Outside-In Actually Work?

Most fans either actually screamed or wanted to when the Falcons set about drafting corners and safeties, but didn’t take on defensive tackle in the draft. Mike Nolan and Co. are clearly bucking the tried and true idea of “building from the inside-out,” which involves starting with interior linemen first (defensive tackles, defensive ends, and offensive linemen) and working your way outwards to the perimeter such as defensive backs, linebackers, and receivers. The idea is pretty sound since you’re building your foundation first (rushing the passer, shutting down the run, running the football, protecting the QB) and adding the fancy ornaments in a more secondary manner. The two Super Bowl teams, Ravens and 49ers, took this approach and it worked for both. The two teams that took the opposite approach (Falcons and Patriots) find themselves watching the big game from their couch. Are the Falcons doomed with their “outside-in” approach?

Will Outside-In Work? (AJC)

Not necessarily. The Packers, Saints, and Colts proved that a high-powered and talented offense can win the whole shebang. It should be said that the Packers, however, had a dominant defense. The Falcons have proven that building from the outside-in on offense actually worked pretty darn well in 2012 and even in the playoffs, which saw them dominate two of the best defenses in football (3 quarters vs. Seahawks, one half vs. Niners). It seems that they’re taking the same approach with the defense. On the surface is seems to make sense with the advent of the heavy passing in the NFL. Dimitroff and Nolan took two corners and two safeties in the draft, and it seems as though the Falcons will be relying on more of a nickel type coverage, be it the traditional 4-2-5 or 3-3-5. With the lack of LB depth, some think that Nolan may be ready to introduce a “big dime” of sorts, taking one of the LB’s in the regular nickel out and sub in a safety that can cover and hit. If nothing else, it seems to be interesting to see how this defense plays out.

147 comments Add your comment

falcon21

May 27th, 2013
9:13 pm

O-line and D-line are my major concern followed by our line backing crew or lack of. Yeah it is early but those are my concerns.

PoolerSpirit

May 27th, 2013
9:16 pm

LDE… Goodman or Bierman? Will we ever generate a pass rush that pressures opposing quarterbacks?
Secondary… easy to see the potential here, but how solid will they be THIS year?
RT… will Holmes be all we’ve hoped he can be?
Steven Jackson… He doesn’t have a tough act to follow, but when will his age start showing, and will he still have a lot in the tank when playoffs come?
Harry Douglas… will he develop into the threat we all imagined after his rookie season?
LB Corps… (Note: Corps, not Core.) Will Worrilow, Clancy or Bartu make the 53? Will we solve the Tight End riddle that we couldn’t answer in the playoffs last year?
Will Robert Alford take one back to the house? Two? Three? Will he remind us of Tim Dwight, or Dominique Franks?
Will Matt Bryant continue to amaze with his gifted right foot?

Arno

May 27th, 2013
9:29 pm

Coaching. Why wasn’t Dom given a chance after we had sewn up the 1st seed? In fact Matt did get hurt in the championship– it could have been worse. And yet our backup did not see the field in the regular season when he could have easily done so. But the big question– will the conservative second half mindset get it’s shoes out of concrete?

falcon21

May 27th, 2013
9:29 pm

That was some good stuff Pooler Spirit. Later all.

darrell starks

May 27th, 2013
10:43 pm

I still don’t understand TD.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

May 27th, 2013
10:45 pm

11 Drafts picks and you not select not one DT, SMH

The Falcons again will get dominated up front on DL and will finish almost dead last on defense in stopping the run.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

May 27th, 2013
11:01 pm

JONATHAN HANKINS #49

JOHN JENKINS #82

BRANDON WILLIAMS #94

JESSIE WILLIAMS # 137

PASS ON 4 BIG BOYS THAT COULD CLOG THE MIDDLE.

I still don’t understand TD.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

May 27th, 2013
11:05 pm

11 picks and not draft 1 RG

I still don’t understand TD.

Drafted 2 CB and 2 DE with first 5picks, SMH

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

May 27th, 2013
11:16 pm

OG LARRY WARFORD #65 LIONS

SMH

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joshua malavenda

May 28th, 2013
3:36 am

RobbE33

May 28th, 2013
7:04 am

There’s the usual suspects like the O & D lines and new corners but I’m most concerned whether Nolan has the pieces to run the schemes he wants and whether Koetter can react mid-quarter to defensive disguises like Frisco used in the second half to bait the Falcons. I love where this team is headed but hated to see them fooled with their own smoke and mirrors game. Jackson may solve a lot.

John Waynesworld

May 28th, 2013
8:49 am

1. Pass rush
2. TE coverage
3. Run defense
4. Center

The first 3 are obvious as our defense has alot to prove.

I was very worried about our short yardage offense until they signed SJ39 and started touting O line size and strength in this off-season. I am not as concerned with pass protection on the O line as most here in the Cage as I thought Clabo’s declining skills were forcing Ryan to throw too quickly on many occasions. A sturdier body out there at RT will make our offense even better.

I will be watching the Center position. Konz, who I assume will be the starting Center, needs to show he can be the quarterback of that line, making all the right calls on protection while working seemlessly with Ryan.

Additionally, Konz’ height (4″ taller than McClure) will be something to watch as 6′ 5″ for a Center is almost too tall, in terms of obscuring the QB’s vision of the short yardage area in the middle of the field (where the MLB usually squats). We shall see how Ryan adapts to a much taller Center.

Big Ray

May 28th, 2013
10:03 am

Excellent posts by Falcon 21 and Pooler Spirit .

PoolerSpirit

May 28th, 2013
10:19 am

Thanks Big Ray… so, have you eaten at Miss Jean’s in Rincon yet?

Flo - Ri - Duh

May 28th, 2013
10:55 am

Defense:

#1 CB – Is Trufant ready to start?
#2 DE- Does Osi still have it?
#3 OL – Can Holmes hold up?
#4 ROG – ???????
#5 C – ??????
#6 DE – Besides Osi who will get a pass rush?
#7 DT- Is Peters healthy?
#8 DT – Depth – Jerry?
#9 LB – Is there ANY depth at all?
#10 QB- If Ryan goes down?
#11 WR- If Julio or Roddy go down?
#12 TE- If Gonzales goes down?

That about covers it.

Flo - Ri - Duh

May 28th, 2013
10:58 am

Oh – And the schedule may be the most difficult in the NFL this season. Another reason to be concerned about depth on the OL,DL and LB.

John Waynesworld

May 28th, 2013
11:12 am

jdiggitty

May 28th, 2013
12:06 pm

In previous years I would be concerned about starting a rookie at LDE and possibly 2 rookies at CB, but we are so far beyond the point of the regular season being important that it doesn’t bother me at all now. I’m sure there will be some obstacles along the way, but by the time we reach the playoffs, those rookies will have a full year under their belt. Essentially they will be 2nd year players once we reach game 17, game 18, and hopefully game 19 this year, and those are the games that really matter.

I expect that this year’s crop of rookies will see significant playing time. I think Maponga has a very good chance to get 20-40% of the playing time behind Osi, who will probably be on a less restrictive snap count than Abe was. Toilolo would have a huge success of a year if he gets a couple red zone snaps a game and pulls in a few TDs, and then grabs a game-winner in the playoffs on 4th and 5 for a trip to the super bowl.

I think it’s been established that we don’t have a LB corps right now, and that’s ok. If Spoon comes back healthy, we’ll be alright. I expect our team’s leading tackler from last year (Nicholas) to have a better season this year, hopefully with less coverage responsibilities. I expect big things from Willie Mo, big interceptions from DeCoud, Asante, and Trufant, and some special teams sizzle from Alford. Osi claims his goal is to be defensive player of the year, so let’s see him put his money where his mouth is. I have very few doubts left about Sam Baker, he is solid yet unspectacular. Blalock will be fine as usual. Can’t ask for much more than the highest rated center from his draft class in Konz. RG does worry me a little bit, and I fully expect Holmes to anchor the right side of our Oline against the massive bodies we’ll see on Carolina’s Dline. Roddy, Julio, TG, MR2, SJax, I can’t wait to see these guys shine. Quizz should have another solid year, and hopefully Bradie Ewing is back to his old form.

I really liked the Ewing pick when we made it, because he was a very highly rated pass catcher out of the backfield, even if his rushing numbers were unspectacular. It will be fun to watch some of our formations with Roddy, Julio, TG, SJax, and Ewing, who are all excellent receivers/pass catchers. It’s not exactly the mayhem of a 5-wide scenario, but it does give the defense a lot more to think about than when we had Mturner and Mike Cox back there.

Overall, if we are able to sign Seymour, and if Spoon comes back healthy, then my only real concern will be Right Guard.

WR

May 28th, 2013
12:26 pm

Afternoon cage, my major concern with the Falcons starts at LB and continues with both sides of the line.

Let’s start with the OL, not being a Falcons coach I am concerned because basically two 2nd year players are expected to take over for 2 long time vets, Konz for McClure, Holmes for Clabo. Add to that the fact that Reynolds, who was the starter at RG before injury last year, really has no record to go on, and its concerning. But again, I am not a Falcons coach, so the belief here is that they know and have saw something I haven’t, so while concerned, its probably the least of my concerns.

Moving on to the DL, this one is really concerning, they let a really valuable member of the DL walk in Vance Walker. Corey Peters fail off last year, maybe due to injury, they let Abe walk to replace him with a player that’s also in his 30’s just not the mid 30’s in Osi. They have not had a consistent rush end opposite Abe in the 6 years of this regime, and whereas Biermann was supposed to be a ray of hope, that ray is getting dimmer by the minute. Maybe the young players step up, hopefully they do, but have we not been saying this same thing for the past 5 seasons, will year 6 change that. Suppose the young players finally step up at DE, that would be great but the DT situation is dire, even if Peters returns to form, maybe Babs has more left in the tank then I believe, maybe the Falcons also sign the aged Seymore, and maybe they get at least a little something out of their 1st rd investment in Jerry. Not only is that alot of maybe’s but it also shows a sign of no backups, and a total lack of talent overall, this position is really concerning almost as concerning as the unit that follows:

CDUBB

May 28th, 2013
12:29 pm

RG is the biggest concern in my humble opinion. Neither Reynolds or Konz was very effective last year. The Falcons need more beef up front on both sides of the ball but RG is a real concern.

WR

May 28th, 2013
12:38 pm

Sorry but in my opinion LB for the Falcons deserved its own share of concern. On the one hand you have Sean Weatherspoon who while good hasn’t had the impact many of us Falcons fans believed he would have. Then you go on to Akeem Dent, not alot to say here, it was his 1st year starting and he wasn’t on the field much, so its very hard to judge. But then there’s Nicholas, not only is he getting long in the tooth, but he’s just not that good at anything. He’s not a run stuffing machine, his coverage ability is below average, maybe he’s a good locker room leader, I just don’t know. Add to that the idea that the depth behind this questionable unit is now nonexistent and this is just a huge area of concern, without the hope of the other positions that may be of concern.

Coop

May 28th, 2013
12:43 pm

Simple… Smittyball

Paddy O

May 28th, 2013
12:51 pm

Paddy O

May 28th, 2013
12:53 pm

When I consider our 2 playoff games, the game plan for the 2nd half comes back to haunt me. we have to score in the 2nd half – despite turn overs and adjustments.

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Big Ray

May 28th, 2013
1:56 pm

Valid point on Ryan adjusting to a Center who is significantly taller than his predecessor.

On the subject of Centers in general, however….

Ryan played at Boston College and Matt Tennant was his center. Tenant is 6′4″.

I looked around at several NFL teams and found that McClure was actually a tad short for the position on average, and found that many of the NFL’s Centers are between 6′3″ and 6′5″.

Shouldn’t be a huge problem. I’d be more worried about Ryan and Konz’s chemistry, Konz’s ability to call out blocking assignments and notice DL/LB adjustments, and simply anchoring the interior of the OL in general.

A.Brown

May 28th, 2013
2:12 pm

My needs personally:

1.) LBs: I dont just mean the depth of the Linebackers but the starters. Akeem Dent didnt look like he was going to be a star but he did play good in the snaps he was in on but the Cornerbacks are too young to think Mike Nolan will play as much nickel and dime packages early into the season. Akeem might be playing alot more which means we will truely see if he can be a strong MLB. Stephen Nicolas is solid all around but he is in the position where if one of the undrafted rookies impress he could be cut due to the salary cap. Sean Weatherspoon is the only sure thing. Depth will be needed and hard to believe the undrafted rookies, practice squad players and Brain Banks can get the job done.

2.) Right side Offensive line: From the Left tackle, guard and center the falcons look solid with Baker, Blalock and Konz. But the right guard and tackle spots are up for grabs. I believe the falcons have great depth and backups with Joe Hawley, Garret Reynolds and Mike Johnson but none of them have grabed a frim hold on a starting job. I believe Reynolds is the most ready and could help the guard spot alot but Llmar Holmes is a mystery. I love the size but is he truely ready to be a starter? Depth wont be in issue is Johnson and Hawley dont start.

3.) WR depth: Harry Douglas, this is your last chance. Its either he becomes that great slot reciever the Falcons have been hoping for since his rookie season or they find another guy. The Falcons have been strongly dependent on Roddy White for the past 6 years now and Julio Jones is the next great WR but what if one of them goes down? Harry Douglas has never been able to produce in the #2 WR role. Drew Davis or Kevin Cone are solid 4th and 5th options but neither of them have done anything to stand out! Davis had a TD catch in the season but it was mostly set up by Julio Jones. Besides that nothing. Atlanta either needs to sign a veteran that could come in and compete with Harry or draft a speedster next year.

4.) DT: Going into the 2011 season, this group probably looked great on paper! Peria Jerry was a year removed from a rookie knee injury, Corey Peters was coming off a great rookie campaign and Jonathon Babineaux was a solid 5 sack DT. Since then its gone down hill. Jerry has been a hug bust and this is the last chance he has, Peters has shown flashes but needs to stay healthy and Babineaux is getting up there in age. Vance Walker looked like a solid rotation guy but Oakland signed him for more money. This group could be helped greatly if the falcons end up signing Richard Seymour. He could be similar to what Asante Samuels was last year! A leader that can be a plug in starter for a few years longer. If all goes well this could be a strong point of the defense and help the whole defense. Jerry doesnt need to become a star, just a good backup that can keep the top 3 guys fresh.

5.) CBs: The CB’s arent a weak spot but they are really young! 2 rookies in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, and a 3 year player in Robert McClain. Asante Samuels is the veteran leader and will help guide them but you have to think that this could be a struggling year for the Cb’s. Asante played thru alot of injurys last year and helped the falcons by picking off 4 balls but the rest of the depth is gone. Grimes, Robinson, Owens have all signed else where leaving the Falcons young at Corner. I believe that Trufant can come in and be a pro from day 1 but is Asante Samuels shows his age or gets hurt that could be a huge problem. Alford and McClain seem best suited for nickel but if one is forced out to play on the outside it could be a boom or bust move.

Personally i believe these are the strongest problems going into the season. Defensive End and seems to be stable with alot of youth there which means alot of rotating players in and out! Osi just needs to be a younger and quicker version of John Abraham. Safties are perfect with the starters under contract and depth not an issue after drafting 3 safetys the past 2 years. TE is solid with Tony Gonzalez as the starter and good depth! Tolioio is a guy im excited to watch play this season!
RB is set, i believe even if Jackson starts to slow down, Jaquizz Rodgers can carry the loaded. He is a special player and could breakout this year. QB is a little scary if Matt Ryan goes down, Dominque Davis didnt play at all in the season but the Falcons seem comfortable enough with him as the back up. He looked like a stud in preseason but thats preseason. Hopefully the falcons wont need to use him in the season unless its at the end of games to finish them up.

Big Ray

May 28th, 2013
2:15 pm

The LB unit is clearly not a major focal point right now, even if we fans think it should be (well, ok so I do). That should be obvious due to the fact that not a single LB was taken in the draft (yet we used FOUR picks on the secondary).

As for Weatherspoon – I still think he’s one of the best OLBs in the business, but I wonder if we’ll ever see how good he can be individually. At the moment, I think the answer is simply no.

How good has he been? Well, perhaps we expected to see him get 10+ sacks, a handful of interceptions, and lead the League (or come close to it) in tackles. I don’t know.

What I do know is that we apparently expected him to do this while playing at first for a DC who didn’t know how to utilize him, and now for one who apparently would rather focus on his CBs and Safeties, behind a weak DL that has been average at best when fully healthy (which has been rare as it is), and also next to lower talent levels.

Spoon’s best season came when he was healthy for the whole season and Lofton was the MLB.

I wonder if Von Miller, Clay Matthews, and other “notable” OLBs would have done better in the exact same situation.

But to many, that point will continue to be irrelevant.

Still….. We run a 4-3 that is very heavy on the Nickle and has been weak at the point of attack (which…ummm..would be the defensive line!), and we wonder why our LBs don’t shine as much as we’d like. Why wonder…the answer is right there UP FRONT.

And we did not address the interior of the DL in the draft AT ALL.

So should we expect anything different from the front 7? I doubt it.

Looks to me like this defense is built to hold the edges and pressure the QB (maybe…finally) while the secondary does its thing. Since the DT position wasn’t a focal point in the draft or in free agency and clearly we’re not going to a 3-4, the position will continue to not be a strong point.

By the same vein, neither will the LB corps.

Side note – Nicholas has good speed at the position and some decent instincts against the run at times. Beyond that, he’s a “solid starter” who will soon not be that any longer. If he was more than that, then those threats to go to Detroit would have been realized, and there would have been a war for his services, instead of a decently quick signing. Like with Brent Grimes, that ish never turned out to be what it supposedly was.

I hope to see his replacement in next season’s draft. We could have had his replacement this year, but instead we have Asante Samuel’s replacement and two guys who won’t be able to unseat Decoud anytime soon (if ever).

Oh, and Zach Ertz’s backup.

WTFE….

JB Falcon

May 28th, 2013
2:17 pm

Polo bear

May 28th, 2013
6:47 pm

as a falcon fan, the falcons are really a much better team then last year even by letting our vets go. I look at the signs of better leadership, most of all our vet have super bowl experience. Our secondary was mud over the past years even through the mike vick era. But when you put a vet that everybody said was washed up, that can walk the walk that he love to talk, he made our secondary one of the best in the lead thanks to Asunte swagger. Even though they dont get enough credit, we had the best passing defense and we were number one with the least amount of touchdowns thrown at. Dont be surprised if Osi have that same effect on that DL. SJax a bigger, faster, great cut back rusher who dont have to worry about 8 players being in the box because of our big 3, roddy, tony g, julio. Plus he is a bigger and better blocker then turner and joccuezz. Matty will be more comfortable in that pocket. Our biggest issue is that we are not aggressive enough. Every team look at us like we are beatable and we are not a threat unless we have possesion in the last 2 minutes for a winning drive. With the talent we have we shouldnt never be in that position. Defense was awesome last year and they averagely give the opposing team 19 points, thats like forth in the league and also in the turnover ratio. We need to learn how to tackle and stay aggressive. we more of a finessse laid back team will alot of personality. when we get a great lead we celebrate to early. The coach got matt ryan throwing and not strategizing, the defense lay off the pressure and we dont know how to take advantage of our turnovers and time out. i feel its more of a head coach issue. he is to nice and the team has became to friendly. we dont opposed a threat like the super bowl teams. Yeah we are number one in penalties, but only because we are to nice and cooperative. we dont have that angry beast on defense, like ray lewis, terrel suggs, troy polumolu, james harris, clay matthews, justin tuck, alston smith, jj watts, even richard sherman. When the saints won that super bowl, it wasnt because of brees, they had the best defense especially with the turnover ratio. Its was the year of the bounty scandle, but they defense was hell of aggressive and was known for they best blitzs schemes that year. The reason why the 49ers are one of the common super bowl pick is becasue of how aggressive their defense is and they offfense. They offense are so aggressive, my falcon defense was to scared of Kapernick. They was so scared, they wasnt watching the the tight end or runnig backs and thats why you had them big wholes, to busy watching kapernick. When teams play theses people, they are scared and worried, even on offense, Brady, arron rodgers, megatron, adrian petterson, even drew brees. The biggest threats we have is Tony G and Julio, thats why they was so productive in the confrence championship. The league is scared of them o yeah and we got SJax. Hopefully our head coach is in the hot seat, so he can be more aggressive and his players will respond with that same attitude just like the New york giants coach. When he is in that hot seat, his teams wins the super bowl. The most aggressive coaches has super bowl rings for a reason. Be more agressive and start wraping up and tackle, then OUR RUN DEFENSE WONT LOOK SO BAD LIKE LAST YEAR. All of the big running plays was YAC.

Wings

May 28th, 2013
7:12 pm

Coop I agree with you. It may be harder to recognize but there will be those plays that are called that fit the mold. I am concerned SJax will be used much like MTurner was in previous years. For the third season in a row I say: ‘Leopards don’t change their spots”.

Paddy O

May 28th, 2013
7:29 pm

JB – that was funny.

Matt

May 28th, 2013
8:17 pm

My concerns? I can name depth and concerns on oline and dline, but if i’m not mistaken we weren’t good at either last season and still went 13-3…My CONCERN is the second half adjustments that our coaching staff doesn’t seem like they know how to do or don’t do period. Plus, we are great in first half, then just go back to conservative mode like the first 4 years of the smitty and ryan era. We HAVE to keep the pedal on the metal the entire game, because we have an offense that can dominate, barring injuries, so why not do it? that’s my concern.

Ken Strickland

May 29th, 2013
8:49 am

INJURIES are my only concern. This team is as talented as any in the entire NFL. Some of our young players will step up & get the job done &won’t(should be a very limited number).

The way this team is constructed, no player has to be a superstar, or carry the teams OFF or DEF on his shoulders for us to be successful.
That’s not the case with teams like the AINTS/TAINTS, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Panthers, Bucs, Bronco, Packers etc.

The additon of RB SJackson & the upgrades to our OL will lessen our dependence on QB MRyan. We’ve seen several of those teams almost totally collapse without their starting QBs to run their almost totally QB dependent OFFs.

Admittedly, we were in that same category, at least for the last 2-3yrs, before this yrs OFF upgrades. I’m looking us to actually become stronger, not weaker, down the stretch & in the playoffs. Last yr, a few of our key vet starters wore down & their production dropped drastically.

Abraham had 7 sacks his 1st 7gms & only 3 over his next 11, including playoffs. McClure also wore down as the season progressed. We saw the same problem with OLB MPeterson. The only key veteran starters that might come close to having that problem this yr might be Osi and/or Babineaux, which is doubt.

LRD

May 29th, 2013
10:37 am

Osi is a big concern for me.. and if the signing of him will be yet another boondoggle. (yes I am a broken record on this one.. I know….)

LB corp is a concern.. Will Spoon stay healthy all season?

and as others stated.. Smitty Ball… with all the offensive weapons we have, we cannot be conservative on our offense.

Seat Lic Fee… that is an issue for my budget!

Final concern.. what happens to coaching staff and support of the team IF we somehow do not make the playoffs, let alone advance to at least the NFC Championship game this year? Will Smitty be let go? Will fan base that has been growing disappear?

John Waynesworld

May 29th, 2013
11:25 am

First pic of SJ working out with the guys…

https://twitter.com/FalconsJAdams/status/339762877256851456/photo/1

He’s gonna look awesome in pads. Come get some of this, NFC South!

A.Brown

May 29th, 2013
11:33 am

I agre with what you said Big Ray but the i still believe Linebackers are the biggest need. The Defensive Line was bad last year but when you think about the issues it had, Ray Edwards and Lawernce Sidbury werent any help, Abraham was getting older and the other 2 Matthews & Massiqoui all should decent signs of being starters in limited time. The ends where the weak point going into the season and once this offseason came it was the D-Line as a whole. I think the Defensive Tackles will be a strong point this year. If the Falcons sign Seymour you cant say that the Dline is weaker. The Falcons Drafted 2 DE’s and signed Osi and will probably sign Seymour so that means the D-line has been helped out this offseason. I just still believe the Linebackers are the weak spot. They got no help in the draft or free agency. Im hoping Brian Banks can be a great story and maybe have a huge impact but that isnt likely to happen. This position needs the most help going into the season and thats why its my Top Offseason Concern.

John Waynesworld

May 29th, 2013
11:44 am

It’s like DeCoud said on NFL AM this morning, concerning the defense this is the 2nd year of a “new” system, so if anything they should play faster and with more confidence. The new guys will have some growing pains, but in Nolan’s system they will protect the rookies as much as possible.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-am/0ap2000000207529/Thomas-DeCoud-joins-NFL-AM?campaign=Twitter_nfln_videos

DeCoud also welcomed the idea of Seymour in the mix to (among other things) “help out Spoon and Akeem (Dent)”. It almost sounded like he knew it was a done deal.

John Waynesworld

May 29th, 2013
11:50 am

John Waynesworld

May 29th, 2013
12:17 pm

cagelurker

May 29th, 2013
12:49 pm

I appreciate the Link JW. Anyone else notice how big Peria Jerry has gotten?? The guy looks like a monster compared to last year. I’m not jumping on the this is the year for PJ band wagon again, but can’t help notice the dude is extra SWOLL..

LRD

May 29th, 2013
1:57 pm

Looking at the pic of Jackson, and all I can think is how would you like to be a corner back and Jackson takes a screen pass out of the backfield in stride and he is coming straight for you and full speed , lowering his shoulder and ………. tell me that wouldn’t make your eyes bulge a bit…

Screen Pass

May 29th, 2013
4:27 pm

“We could have had his replacement this year, but instead we have Asante Samuel’s replacement and two guys who won’t be able to unseat Decoud anytime soon (if ever).

Oh, and Zach Ertz’s backup.

WTFE….” – BR

:) . Careful there, you might get a reputation for being “negative”. I always liked Vishnu’s posts from the alcoholic sounding site and it looks like this is his new digs – ( http://falconsblitz.com/2013/05/29/ranking-the-quarterback-productivity-on-third-downs/#sthash.bOUHyrn3.dpbs ). Some don’t do links so I’ll quote one of the money shots;

“This has been a big problem for Falcons, especially before 2012. The Falcons lead the NFL in last three years in number of 3rd and 10+ yards to go attempts, primarily because of the negative yardage runs on first and second downs. Ryan had most 3rd and 10+ yard attempts, ranking third in number of conversions and 7th in conversion percentage. ” – Falcons Blitz

Getting rid of Turner was the first step, however “Smittyball” and a meh O-line remain potential roadblocks to getting our offense to the Juggernaut level it should be, and should have already been. One last link, ( https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/28/ranking-the-2012-offensive-lines/ ), an interesting attempt to rank last years O-lines. Getting our O-line past mediocre or slightly below average could and arguably should have been a priorty. PFF ranks Clabo a lot higher than I expected and they give Konz a kick to the face. This “reshuffle” or “yut” movement on the O-line will be a large determinant factor in our upcoming campaign. I will wait until pre-season games to start hurling bricks and give the new guys a chance. If this blows up badly, expect TD’s hair to be in danger lol.
I know we have some FFL players here, there are a couple good articles on PFF atm, give a look.

Screen Pass

May 29th, 2013
4:28 pm

Blog Monster Vomit

John Waynesworld

May 29th, 2013
5:27 pm

FB/DL Deon Goggins was waived.

JB Falcon

May 29th, 2013
6:30 pm

Big Ray

May 29th, 2013
6:50 pm

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/atlanta-falcons/2013/may/29/falcons-quotes-after-wednesdays-ota/

Finally. A little something to read. My initial takes on a few things –

1. I’m actually glad to hear that Biermann’s STs assignments will decrease, and that his time at LB will likely increase. He’ll still probably get used all over the place, but it’s definitely time to get more pass rush production at the DE spot, which means playing this guy where he belongs – in the 2nd level of the defense.

2. Bradie Ewing needed to get/be stronger. It’s good to hear that he actually is.

3. We knew SJax was a beast. Imagine Ryan having both him and Ewing to dump passes off to when necessary. But don’t just think of that – think of the extra pass protection…

4. I think it was interesting to hear Smitty speak of competition at the backup Safety spots, especially in conjunction with the draft. VERY interesting. Mitchell and Schillinger could very well be looking for jobs by September/October. Fuh reeeeeel…..

5. Worst Smitty quote of the article, regarding the OL in particular –

As you know, we have to cross train these guys and get them ready.

Ugh.

Best quote of the whole article from Smitty, again regarding the OL – even if it ain’t much – “It was nice to see Lamar Holmes come out and handle his business at the right tackle position.”

6. Most confusing quote of the article, coming from Babineaux –

ON THE TRANSITION: “Like every other team in the league, things change from year to year. It will take a little while to get adjusted to.”

Uhhh..what’s he talking about, exactly?

Ken Strickland

May 29th, 2013
6:57 pm

Big Ray

May 29th, 2013
6:57 pm

A. Brown ,

I don’t disagree with a single thing you said. I do believe that the DL becomes instantly stronger with the addition of Seymour but also with Peters becoming 100% healthy…and staying that way. One other thing – the development of Travian Robertson.

My only point is that the DT and LB positions were given NO attention via the draft or free agency (Seymour MIGHT be the lone exception). I feel that they need attention, but they didn’t get it. The emphasis and focus has been purely on the secondary and the DE positions, in that order.

JB Falcon

May 29th, 2013
8:12 pm

BR, glad to see you back at work. I usually don’t even check Led’s blog during the day.There were some very positive quotes in there. On the Babs quote, I think maybe Nolan has thrown in some new twists to make him more effective? You know old dogs don’t like new tricks.
I know you were disappointed that we did not draft a “hugh” DT, uh “Big” Ray, that might be a birds of a feather thing, but I think we drafted in order of need and there are some very heavy-weights in the crowd. Size does matter and I don’t care what females think about football.