Atlanta Falcons Biggest Holes – Post Free Agency

Still Plenty of Holes after Free Agent Signings

Hester's Nice, but Needs Role on O (AJC)

The Falcons added a total of 5 new free agents and have filled some of the gaps in a roster that went 4-12, but they’ve also created a few more that weren’t originally there. They also have some major concerns in terms of depth at many positions as well. There may be a few more small additions between now and the draft, but nothing more than some lesser, depth signings. The Falcons have brought in NT Paul Soliai, DE Tyson Jackson, RG Jon Asamoah, CB Javier Arenas, and KR/PR Devin Hester. That likely represents a few gaps that have been plugged, but several weaknesses still remain. In theory, many of them can be slotted with the upcoming draft, but it’s hard to believe that all of them can be. A look at the most glaring weaknesses on a team still in need of major improvement……..

1) Offensive Tackle

Baker = $41 Million Man (AJC)

Technically, this should be right tackle with the epitome of stability Sam Baker manning the left side of the offensive line. They predictably decided to pass on getting a tackle in free agency with the plethora of talent at the top end of the draft, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson leading the way, Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin towards the middle of the round, and a few others towards the end of the first round. The Falcons offensive line was one of the worst in the entire NFL. That included Ryan Schraeder (51st), Jeremy Trueblood (53), and Lamar Holmes (75th) out of 76 offensive tackles in the NFL. Sam Baker only played 4 games, but he managed to rank 120th out of 128 tackles before he was injured.

They re-signed Mike Johnson and brought in former 1st round bust Gabe Carimi to either add to depth or have another all-out “competition” for the RT spot, one of Smitty’s favorite games when he likes to play pretend. Since the free agency ship has sailed, this is what has Falcons fans waking up with balmy nightmares. Of course this all could be taken care of if they actually go against their nature of making the big splash and taking the best available OT on the board at #6 (Matthews or Robinson) or trade back to get either Lewan or Martin. This wouldn’t guarantee the Falcons offensive line suddenly becoming the Seven Blocks of Granite, but it would finally add a much needed injection of top end talent to an OL otherwise starved of it, particularly going forward.

Could Schraeder Be an Answer? (AJC)

Another option is the Falcons going defense with their first pick and then coming back to offensive tackle in the second round. This would include a group with Cyrus Koundijo, Morgan Moses, Antonio Richardson, and Jack Mewhort. This could be a viable strategy, but the fear is that the talent difference may not be that big from what the Falcons already have in camp. Also, in taking this route, these tackles are much less polished and would need more coaching up, not the finest of Coach Smith and his staff’s traits.

The nuclear option of course is that the Falcons feel fine, fit, and confident in “who they have” in an open competition with a new offensive line coach in play. Even in the best case scenario, this is just absurd to think that it’s an actual option. Some feel that since the Falcons improved the right guard spot that everything else will be better and a new top-tier OT talent isn’t necessary. Those same people also have a prime set of oceanfront real estate for sell in Kansas. It would be one thing if this was the first time, but if they’re idea of “recalibrating” (Dimitroff’s new pet buzzword) the offensive line is by bringing in Mike Tice and Gabe Carimi, you may want to find a new sport from around September through December for sanity’s sake.

2) Pass Rusher

Some would say that this should be at the top of the list and trying to see which is worse between protecting the QB and running the ball and rushing opposing QB’s, it’s a lose-lose scenario. Both have been equally terrible. However, the difference is the potential. The defensive side of the ball have at times shown a few spurts here and there, where the OL has been mostly awful across the board. The defensive ends for the Falcons ranked 32nd (Osi Umenyiora), 34th (Malliciah Goodman), and 37th (Jonathan Massaquoi) out of 52 total DE’s in the 4-3 and all of them had major negative grades according to Pro Football Focus. Stansly Maponga ranked 83 out of 93 when including players with lesser snaps.

Can Massaquoi Step Up? (AJC)

As a team, the Falcons ranked dead last (as in better than not one single team) in rushing the passer. This is nothing new of course, since the Falcons have been abysmal for 6 years. The linebacking corps didn’t fare much better. Sean Weatherspoon (20th), Paul Worrilow (23rd), and Joplo Bartu (34th) ranked below average and close to the bottom of all 35 LB’s. You can’t blame Worrilow and Bartu too awful much since they were both undrafted free agents, one from Delaware and the other hailing from Texas State. Weatherspoon, on the other hand, needs a great year to move out of the “bust zone.”

Almost all of the lack of pass rush rests with Mike Smith and his pathetic development system. The fact that they’ve not developed one single player (DE, DT, or LB) that can consistently rush the passer in 6 years is a joke. Perhaps this makes a case for the Falcons going with an elite rusher more than offensive line, but they have several defensive linemen they’ve taken over the years that has to produce something. Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga, Kroy Biermann, Akeem Dent, Sean Weatherspoon have all been drafted and not one has turned in anything. Not to mention Lawrence Sidbury, Spencer Adkins, Curtis Lofton, and a handful of others. Dimitroff deserves a lot of the blame, but has every single one been a bad draft pick?

The main pass rushing candidates on the table are Jadaveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, and Anthony Barr at #6 in the first round. Mack seems the most NFL-ready, but both Clowney (character / motivation issues) and Barr (rawness) will need coaching up and that’s asking a lot from a staff that hasn’t developed one pass rusher in 6 years. The issue with Mack is that the Falcons would be drafting a linebacker in the first round for the 2nd time with their last 4 first round picks and the issue players with their hands in the dirt, not linebackers.

Worrilow's a Keeper (AJC)

Since both sides of the argument have legitimate points, it’s hard to say one is that much higher than the other. One way to compare the two is to look at it from this perspective: would you rather have Mack, Clowney, or Barr with the Falcons same OL from 2013 minus a new right guard? Or would you feel better plugging in Matthews or Robinson and rolling with Umenyiora, Biermann, Bartu, and Massaquoi? Tough call either way.

3) Free Safety

Some would argue that this may be ahead of the other two since there’s not one starter currently plugged in. Although not great much of the time, Ryan Schraeder and Lamar Holmes started most of the year at the tackle spots. Same goes for Umenyiora, Worrilow, Bartu, Biermann, and Massaquoi. The same couldn’t be said for free safety, where Thomas DeCoud made every start except two in 5 years. He generally did a terrible job, but he did have two years that were decent (2009, 2012 Pro Bowl Alternate).

There’s no denying that DeCoud completely bottomed out in 2012. He ranked 83rd out of 86 safeties in the NFL in the overall category according to PFF, 83rd in pass coverage, 75th in stopping the run, and 82nd in opposing QB Rating stats (gave up 147 out of a total 158.3 highest possibility). No one will argue that letting DeCoud go was the issue, but rather what the plan going forward will be. They didn’t sign a safety in free agency and didn’t appear to even show any interest. They have either Zeke Motta or Kemal Ishmael as the only other safeties on the roster. They may be OK to fill in, but it would be a fairly dangerous prospect expecting two 7th round draft picks to blossom in year two with limited experience in year 1.

Motta an Answer at S? (AJC)

The final option is rolling with a safety via the draft. This definitely could work and there’s plenty of safeties out there who could do the trick. But the problem is how high do they draft them when they have other needs that are so pressing (see above). Assuming they don’t trade up and away picks (a big IF considering this crew’s history), than the earliest they presumably would take one is round 3. On the surface that’s fine, but take a look at Dimitroff’s 3rd round drafting history and you might start getting a little nervous.

They could have spend the $3 million a year they spent on Devin Hester combined with a few more cuts here and there and signed either of the two best safeties on the market in TJ Ward or Donte Whitner for $6 million a year. Both safeties are perennial stars in their prime and would have formed a fierce duo with William Moore.

4) Tight End

Putting aside the concerning fact that Levine Toilolo is set to take over and attempt to fill Tony Gonzalez’s enormous shoes, the Falcons only have one tight end on the roster. Technically, they have four, but the other three are practice squad perennials Andrew Szczerba, Mickey Shuler, and Adam Nissley. And since the Falcons always roll with 3 tight ends on their active, 53 man roster, they are looking to fill not one, but two spots. The tight end market for free agents was very weak, but they decided against bringing in any tight ends, either as promising young talents or older veterans for insurance. They let Chase Coffman walk out the door and they are down to one Mr. Toilolo.

Now looking at Toilolo. The front office evidently feel that Toilolo may be the future at tight end. But they have a habit of proving their brilliance in draft picks even when the facts become overwhelmingly obvious. As a backup to Gonzalez, Toilolo had negligible impact as a rookie. He pulled down just 11 catches for 55 yards, but two of those did include touchdowns. He no doubt is a definite redzone target with his size. And to add some positives, he came in ranked higher overall than Gonzalez and caught 11 balls when only thrown to 14 times with no drops. The problem was his inability to get off blocks due to his weaker upper body, looking clunky in his routes, and not being able to get any separation. He also performed poorly in run blocking according to PFF. Perhaps he will grow into the Falcons #1 tight end, but that’s a scary proposition as it stands.

Toilolo More than a #2 TE? (AJC)

The free agent option is obviously off the table at this point and the draft looks to be the only recourse. There’s some good middle round talent in this year’s class, as it’s hard to imagine the Falcons pulling the card on a tight end before the 4th round, assuming they don’t trade back and gain picks. Some of the tight ends with middle round grades include Troy Niklaus, Arthur Lynch, and CJ Fedorwicz, but the problem is the quantity. A small run on tight ends could easily make the cupboard bare really quick. This is similar to the free safety situation. When camp starts in August, this will likely be more stable, but right now it looks a mess.

The fact that the Falcons find themselves in this position is simply unacceptable on every level. They traded for Tony Gonzalez when he was 33 years old. And for the next five years, they have been unable or incapable of finding his replacement. The fact that this position is in such a mess when Gonzalez has been talking of retirement for years is outrageous.

5) Running Back

What once seemed to be an area of strength suddenly took a major hit. Steven Jackson is coming off an injury-plagued year that has seen his body take over 10,000 yards of NFL punishment and is set to turn 31 this summer. He also looked overall really weak in the passing game. Anyone would have looked terrible running behind that OL, but he seemed to be hopping and dancing more than running and hitting the hole. He’s evidently set to be the lead back in 2014, but it’s hard to imagine it being much different than 2013.

Jacquizz Rodgers had a decent year in the #2 role and came down with almost exactly the same amount of carries, yards, and receiving yards as he did in 2012. He rated the highest in overall category according to PFF and is a very nice change of pace back. The problem with Rodgers is that he’s really shifty, but lacks top end speed and it’s hard to figure out what type of back could complement him the best. He runs tough, but he’s currently not much more than a 3rd down back at this point in time.

Antone Smith = 29 yards per carry (AJC)

Always dependable Jason Snelling unexpectedly decided to retire and, even though he wasn’t a frontline starter, he was a jack of all trades and would do anything the Falcons asked. Including excellent special teams play. He ran as tough as any Falcons running back on the team. His presence will definitely be missed. A few days ago, FB Bradie Ewing was also cut, signifying another poor pick in the draft. You can’t help injuries, but did we really need to take a fullback in the 5th round?

Finally, there’s the curious case of Antone Smith. Perhaps not single better example of Mike Smith’s stubbornness or ineptness. With Steven Jackson injured, the Falcons were searching for something in the running game. With a pitiful offensive line, not much was to be found. But in comes Smith and reels off 5 carries for 145 yards, two touchdowns, and a 29 yards per carry average. And he was never to be heard from again. When questioned, Smith said that his “knee was bothering him,” yet he looked perfectly fine sprinting downfield covering kickoffs and punts. Call it a Witness Protection Program, Veteran Preference Program, or whatever nickname you prefer, it’s undoubtedly an epic failure all the way around.

Like always, there’s plenty of talent to be had in the middle rounds at running back, including Lache Seastrunk, Charles Sims, and Jerick McKinnon, to name a few, but ultimately it won’t matter if the head coach keeps them tied to the bench.

Your Turn – What’s the biggest holes left on the roster after free agency?

755 comments Add your comment

The Time is NOW

March 27th, 2014
11:09 pm

Enter your comments here

The Time is NOW

March 27th, 2014
11:09 pm

Mike in Minnesota

March 27th, 2014
11:14 pm

D3 – Nice piece !

Dewey

March 27th, 2014
11:22 pm

D3-excellent breakdown.
“IF” the Falcons were to draft Mack in 1st, I can’t get over this obsession with them drafting Attaochu in the second. I know there are other pressing needs. I know we have OLB’s out the wazoo, though in my opinion, Bartu is the only one worth it(Spoon will be moved inside in 3-4), I just can’t get over thinking what these 2 could be for us over the next 5 years. If Mack and Attaochu could both play to their potential, that’s at least 20 sacks/year from your OLB’s. with Babs, Solia, Jackson tying up at least 4 OL’s, opposing offenses would have to keep 6 maybe 7 in to try and account for who else is coming, 1 of the 2 rookies, Spoon, Warrilow, a DB, or some combination of all the above. And in nickle and dime situations, with Osi playing one end, Biermann, Goodman, Massaquoi, playing other end, Peters and Jerry at DT, with Mack and Attaochu, or Spoon, or Warrilow at LB, the combinations are endless, Mack and Attaochu could even play with their hand in the dirt on passing downs. Imagine Mack and Attaochu at DE with Osi and Bierman or someone else at DT in Dime situations, I could go on and on. I know we have other, more pressing needs, it’s just fun to think about.

KINGKEN

March 28th, 2014
12:11 am

KINGKEN

March 28th, 2014
12:15 am

im sorry D3 but DEFENSE WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS AND SUPER BOWLS. I TRUST MIKE TICE, everyone needs to get over this DRAFT A LT crap cuz SAM BAKER IS LOCKED WITH HIS CONTRACT. AND YOUR BOY MIKE SMITH SAID HE IS NOT MOVING TO RT. DRAFT MACK ASAP. or we will be just the same team from 2012.

RoddyRules

March 28th, 2014
12:33 am

Flo-ri-duh, you were right. I get the gist of the “cliquesh, high school nature” of this blog. It’s all good! I just figured it was for Falcon fans. My mistake.

icndark

March 28th, 2014
12:46 am

I would like to think, as a longsuffering fan and critical one the last few years, that this will be the year that Smitty/Dimiti will have a “George Costanza” epiphany and realize that if everything they’ve done before is wrong, then the opposite must be right. I truly fear that that would be overestimating the current brain trust, even with the recent(aka desperate) additions to the FO. Their collective failures to carry out their own stated objectives is the epitome of ineptitude. We as critical and right-thinking(read: no rose-colored glasses) fans can only be encouraged by the recent additions to the FO as it clearly points to a serious lack of confidence in the status quo, and a clear expectation of more success from the owner and former hammer salesman(best owner in Falcon’s history/not saying much).

I thought to myself, finally we are in great position for a rewarding and productive draft! They can’t possibly screw this up…THEY can…I vote zero confidence.
Please prove me wrong.

P.S.
I enjoy reading “The Cage” thoroughly and never tire of the honest and accurate accounting of the performance of every aspect of our birds. Thanks for all you do D3!

The Time is NOW

March 28th, 2014
12:48 am

It’s pretty sad if that’s all ya got….

The Time is NOW

March 28th, 2014
12:50 am

My previous post was not for you, icndark.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
12:53 am

44 sacks in 2013. Without MR they have no hope of having a winning season. It’s going to be a LOT at pick #6. Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson will start at ROT until Sam Baker goes on IR (Vegas odds says 5 games). Falcons do not have ONE OT that they can depend on. They have a fortune tied up in MR, JJ, RW & SJ. A LOT is just common sense.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
12:59 am

D3 – It helps that we agree on a LOT #1 at pick 6 and no trade up in 1st round. Again you come through with common sense. Nice work. Thanks.

With 10 picks in this draft from just blind luck they should get 2 or 3 right.

icndark

March 28th, 2014
12:59 am

@ Flo- That’s why they’ll do something stupid.
Sorry, negativity seems to be so much more rewarding when it comes to this organization.
I completely agree with your logic. It is undeniable.

Kennycaine

March 28th, 2014
3:18 am

Using the “no trade up” premise, if Matthews or Robinson are there at #6 then by all means. If they are gone then Clowney cannot be passed up if he falls to 6. Why? Because despite his iffy nature, none of the draft experts have stated that he is no less than a top 3-5 pick and most make him the consensus top player in the draft.

That would make those who stated this look inept if he bombs and the Falcons would not be pariahs for not taking him. Conversely, if he turns out to be another Julius Peppers then its the team that traded Brett Farve or passed on Clay Matthews for Peria Jerry rehashed. As long as no picks are given to move up for him then let the chips fall where they will.

If Baker is going to start, a good insurance pick may be David Yankey or Cyrus Kouandijo in the second round. Either would be better than the status quo and neither would be a reach such as Lamar Holmes. If the top two tackles and Clowney are gone then the obvious (to my thinking) is either Khalil Mack or trading down for a Taylor Lewan and a second round pick.

My point is to not force things and let the draft come to us. rather than visa versa. As I have said before on several occasions, no one in this draft is worth trading up for (as far as the Falcons are concerned)and whomever we get is a need.

Either need can be addressed in the first or second as long as that valuable second round pick remains a Falcon commodity. There will be many first round talents slipping into rounds 2 and 3 I guarantee you and to not be armed with picks to take advantage due to some foolish trade up scenario is the height of incompetence. Having said as much, I have learned not to be surprised by any action that this regime takes

Kennycaine

March 28th, 2014
3:28 am

Another reason that I say that we should keep and use all of the picks including the compensory ones is the deep talent pool of the draft. There will be running backs, receivers and safeties in rounds 3-5 that in other drafts would have been late first or second to third rounders.

To needlessly give away picks to move up on a team needing upgrades at running back, safety and #3 receiver is living in a fools paradise. Believe what you will but Harry Douglas and Steven Jackson are not home run hitters and neither is JaQuizz Rodgers. Zeke Motta and Khamel Ishmael are not the second coming of Mel Blount. There are some difference makers in this draft in the middle rounds and it would be a travesty to miss out on them

Kennycaine

March 28th, 2014
3:50 am

Does anyone remember that in 2008 Mike Smith stated that he believed that a team should be “strong up the middle”, meaning from center to tackle to middle linebacker to safety?

So…. he accomplishes this by drafting a center in Peter Konz who could only lift 225 pounds 21 times, relying on a 290 pound Jonathan Babineux at tackle, playing 230 pound Curtis Lofton at MLB who was let go and replaced by some joker named Akeem Dent who was pushed out of the frame by guards and starting one of the weakest run support/ coverage free safeties playing center field in team history in DeCoud. A veritable “Fortress of Ineptitude” as far as the” strong up the middle” mantra goes.

This was supposedly a “process”. Does anyone ever want to hear that BS coachspeak ever again?

marko

March 28th, 2014
6:00 am

http://draftinsiders.webs.com/mock-draft

I agree with our hard working D3, Tackle first first, and pass rush later. This Draft Insider mock has us selecting Jake Matthews at 6, And Oregon State’s Scott Crichton at 37. They Have my man Trent Murphy going two picks later to Minnesota. That would definitely soil my Cheerios. Actually I like the pick. Just in reverse order. Murphy first, Crichton second. I’m trying to inject a little attitude into the D. I’m convinced that Murphy’s the man for the job, so I favor him over the arguably more athletic Crichton.

http://www.nfldraftblitz.com/2014mock.html

The Draft Blitz boys take another approach. In their mock Robinson, and Matthews are both gone already. The Falcons nab Mack at 6, and Morgan Moses at 37. Not my preference, but I think it makes a lot of sense assuming both our tackles are MIA.

There’s still a lot of the birds trade up for Clowney garbage out there. These are perilous times we’re living in.

Birdman

March 28th, 2014
7:05 am

Flo

Your 12.59 post

LOL I can just see them spinning a big wheel with there cigars in there mouth “(All screaming )”Who will it be ” Who will it be

icudark

Good read …Tell me guy’s has there ever been a franchise in the past to turn things around with the same leader’s Or does the Owner really need to just go ahead and clean house . Because it ant gonna happen with these guy’s ?? Is there still hope ?

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Smoke Ring restaurant review, Castleberry [...]

Birdman

March 28th, 2014
7:21 am

D3 Thanks ..!!!!

I think once again that this is a great job you have done and a lot of work . I just don’t see where you and others get the time to know all this stuff and study it . But I sure am glad you do . You see this site is my no 1 place to find things out and at least have some perspective . Not to mention touching base with some great People here in the Cage

My eye’s and mind while watching the Birds this last season leads me on one hand to think that with the points that MR still puts up with a crappie O line and 2nd string receivers Could we have had a winning season IF we had a D that could have gotten 3 and out’s?. By the way did Atlanta lead in giving teams 1st downs ?

Wings

March 28th, 2014
8:00 am

Flo-Ri-Duh you have become an important part of this blog in record time. Thanks!!

D3 another great reading!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
8:13 am

RoddyRules (12:33 am 3/28/14) – I would say the subject of MR and whether he is overpaid / overrated has been discussed on here over and over (guess you weren’t here?) . Overpaid? The attitude by some is so what? We got a billionaire owner and it’s his money/play toy…. so why should I care? Some actually believe he is worth what they pay him because: #1) he is among few in the world who can do what he does #2) the market determines their pay #3) he sells tickets and the owner makes millions off of the Falcons [may not be true] #4) his agent negotiated the contract fair & square #5) he puts his life and health on the line every time he steps on the field & with this OL it is safer in Afghanistan.

The overall attitude is that’s it’s a done deal, the cow has left the barn, so why discuss what you can’t do anything about. The most ridiculous thing brought up is the possibility of trading MR in his prime.
NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

Wings

March 28th, 2014
8:18 am

Headline in AJC:
Smith: Falcons are not shifting to a 3-4 defense

Can’t read the paid article but this man is crazy.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
8:27 am

RoddyRules (12:33 am 3/28/14) – Don’t let it bother you. You are welcome here as long as you are a TRUE Falcons fan and not a TROLL. Half on here think #1 OT and half #1 Pass rusher…. we all have opinions and we don’t charge anything for them!

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
8:40 am

icndark (12:59 am 3/28/14) – A smile is just a frown turned upside down. It would still surprise me if they moved up in Rd #1 even though they have done it twice. There are situations where I would actually agree with a move up: if they want a special guy they think will be drafted right before their pick and they gave up a 4th Rd to move up to get their man I could see it. After all how many 4th rounders have they had success with? So, moving up all depends. I’m 90% against any move up and I expect either Matthews or Robinson to be gone before pick #6. At that point I will start thinking should I move up one or two spots or stay put for BPA (best player available)? Odds are 90% that one of my targets will be there at #6 – that’s the way I see it. It will be real hard for them to screw up the 1st pick in the draft – but.

John Waynesworld

March 28th, 2014
8:48 am

Do you ever get the feeling that one person is using two screen names?

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
8:52 am

Kennycaine (3:18 am 3/28/14) – I get what you are saying but I don’t care what the “experts” say. The FO and scouts are paid to do their own evaluation. I would listen to all opinions but make my own determination of who to draft by evaluating the player on film, at the combine, at Sr Bowls, off the field, on the IQ tests, their personal history (criminal record, etc), face to face interview, face to face workout (when possible), and for heavens sake check to see if they have a history of serious injuries. In fact have my own physician check them over if possible. AND they’ve got to have HEART and “intense” determination to be their best,. I’m not looking for choirboys here – this is football but I don’t want headcases either.

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:05 am

http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/122622/smith-still-sees-value-in-rb-jackson

CAGERS-Here’s just another example of Smitty’s one track minded STUCK ON STUPID approach to everything. He says he wants us to be able to run the football when everyone knows we’re going to run the football. That’s why he’s insisted on having his imprint on our dead last rushing OFF, rather than allowing OC Koetter to implement his OFF philosophy on developing a rushing OFF like the top 2 rushing OFF he developed with the Jaguars. It also explains why he insists on running everything up the middle despite DEFs being stacked up the middle in anticipation of the obvious.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:10 am

Marko(6:00 am 3/28/14) – Neither mock took a FS in 1st three rounds. Unless Falcons get FA Chris Clemons I doubt that will happen. Good mocks though – thanks.

D3

March 28th, 2014
9:11 am

BY D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Falcons coach Mike Smith wanted to clear the air.
While scouting players for free agency and the draft, and reviewing training and practice plans, he heard all of the radio and blogosphere chatter about the Falcons switching to a 3-4 defense.

He squelched those rumors in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the NFL owner’s meeting held recently in Orlando, Fla.

“I think it’s a non-question,” said Smith, who normally is guarded when talking strategy. “We are going to do what we’ve done in the past.” — Some Dumb@ss Head Coach

Arthur Blank is going to soon regret giving this GD fool another year with the reigns. Calling it now: talent-wise we should be at least 10-6 or 11-5, maybe 12-4.

But with this GD clown as our head coach, we’ll be really lucky to hit 8-8.

Just dmt!!!!!!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:14 am

Birdman (7:05 am 3/28/14) – You are up and out early today… that’s good. Always look for you in the “Cage”.

Draft day will be here eventually and they have lots of time to prepare. I’m being optimistic right now – just don’t see how they can screw up the 1st Rd.

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:15 am

http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/122622/smith-still-sees-value-in-rb-jackson

CAGERS-Here’s another example of HC MSmith’s STUCK ON STUPID approach to implementing a rushing OFF. It also explains why he’s refused to allow OC DKoetter to implement the same type of top 2 rushing OFF that he implemented as the Jaguars OC. He says he wants us to be able to run the football when everyone knows we’re going to run the football.

That’s why we run everything up the middle despite knowing DEFs are expecting it & stack their DEF up the middle in anticipation of the obvious. It also explains why we finished dead last in rushing last yr & near the bottom of the league in previous yrs. Rather than placing all of the blame on our OL for our bottom feeding rushing OFF, we should look at a combination of having a poor blocking scheme & Smitty’s conservative, predictable & very limited philosophy toward developing & implementing one.

D3

March 28th, 2014
9:15 am

RoddyRules — We don’t want to come off as cliquish at all and we absolutely value your opinions and what you bring to our blog. You just happen to be seeing 5 years of Matt Ryan jet-lag. We’ve had to fight tooth and nail to keep the effin’ trolls out of here. We know you’re not a troll at all, but rather a valued-Cage member. I happen to agree that Ryan’s contract is probably too big, but what most of us are saying is that it was #1) the front office’s failure not to re-up him earlier, and that #2) the market, unfortunately, began the QB mega-contract phase long before he got his. #3) They could have easily avoided the craze by (see #1). He may not be elite, but he more than enough gives us the best chance we have to win a Lombardi.

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:16 am

It looks like the BLOG MONSTER has decided to make a feast of my last 2 post attempts.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:19 am

Wings (8:18 am 3/28/14) – Thanks but I see myself as a “kid” on here compared to experts like Seminole Warrior, etc.

Waiting for your MOCK – should be interesting.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:25 am

D3 (9:11 am 3/28/14) – So you are down with my prediction of an 8-8 season in 2014? This thinking alike is getting scary.

Good thing they have a DC to take that heavy load off of MS’s brain. (smiley face patent applied for)

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:29 am

Ken Strickland (9:16 am 3/28/14) – Blog Monster is still trying to digest all the BS I put out. Needs a good dose of Ex-Lax. Probably my fault- sorry.

Good to see you in the Cage this morning Big Guy.

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:30 am

D3-What you said, ditto. You can tell he’s trying to hold onto whatever influence or power he has as far as maintaining his preference in doing things his way. He’s spoken out on us switching to a 3-4 despite our FA signings to the contrary. He’s also spoken out on his preference for having a big, strong power RB.

It appears obvious it has yet to penetrate his STUCK ON STUPID mentality that we finished dead last in the 2 areas he’s insisting on maintaining his philosophy, approach & influence, and they are rushing OFF & DEF. He’s still refusing to allow his OC, DKoetter, to develop & implement the same top 2 rushing OFF he developed & implemented as the Jaguars OC.

PlanB

March 28th, 2014
9:30 am

Incognito would be a cheaper fix for a much needed problem. Then we could go defense with #6. MS & TD get over the choirboy fixation.

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:39 am

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
9:39 am

Kennycaine – When MS said that he believes they should be strong up the middle he wasn’t talking about physically strong he was talking about their lack of deodorant use.

paddy o

March 28th, 2014
9:52 am

actually,during Tony G’s tenure, we’ve had 2 decent TE’s come through here – Peele and some other guy; for no apparent reason, we cut them. the longer TD is here, the more inept he appears. Now, you can shovel the manure however you like; when looking at salaries, the most important player is MR2 – do you want some Kmart O line guys protecting your best asset (and Holmes is a blue lighter). If either Robinson or Mathews are available at 6, and we don’t select them, TD can hit the road.

paddy o

March 28th, 2014
9:52 am

Ken Strickland

March 28th, 2014
9:55 am

FLO-RI-DUH-WHAT’S UP! I’ll be going in for my 8th treatment this morning & so far so good, since I haven’t suffered any side effects, other than sheer boredom.

Mike in Minnesota

March 28th, 2014
9:58 am

Birdman – Surprisingly enough… from what I can tell …if I’m reading it correctly…we were 17th with the average of 20.3 1st downs per game by our opponent for 2013…I also found that 45.1% ( on defense ) there was an offensive score !

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/atl/2013.htm

for 45.1%…and

http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/opponent-first-downs-per-game

for 17 place for 1st downs given up

Make it harder for opponents to score…Get Ryan some protection…That is the big debate…If we go defense at #6…we can win more games because Ryan is that good ( as he proved last year with the horrible O-Line that was protecting him )…However , if he gets hurt we’re back to a repeat 2013 and I would hate for Matt Ryan to have to go through what the second greatest Falcon QB ,Steve Bartkowski had to go through !…Maybe we get “lucky” in the draft…And if “the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars” we’re able to take our FA signings and draft “wisely” we’ll be playoff bound.

paddy o

March 28th, 2014
9:59 am

no offense, but only a profound moron would conclude that MR2 is a detriment to the team. Just because some posers come here and pretend their anti-Ryan perspective is valid, does not mean the cage is clique-ish. In general, we just do not tolerate fools.

paddy o

March 28th, 2014
10:05 am

is ryan perfect? nope; but without him, Mike Smith is a sub 500 HC

paddy o

March 28th, 2014
10:07 am

for rookie cagers, wait until D3 posts his mock database. Absolutely amazing.

Grits Blitz

March 28th, 2014
10:09 am

CAGERS – Speaking of priorities, can we REALLY say we care about our fellow Cage brothers by keeping them in our “prayers” on the one hand, and then blaspheme God with “GDs”?

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 28th, 2014
10:12 am

BleacherReport (3/28/14) – Mike Smith “The TE position will change for us. The TE will be more of an assist player than a front line target. More of a traditional TE”. That’s why Falcons will draft a TE in the mid-rounds rather than go for an Ebrin or Armaro in Rd 1 or 2. I’m ruling out the Falcons taking a TE in 1st 3 Rds unless Ebron, by some miracle, falls to them in Rd #2.