Last season, we saw a Falcons defense that ranked 28th in the NFL against the pass and and allowed a cartoonish 54 pass plays of 20 yards or more. It didn’t matter what the defensive front was because the secondary was scorched earth.
Rare are the times when a football coach doesn’t need to say, “I can’t comment until I see the game film.” Because we all knew what the Falcons’ biggest problem was. They’re taking a step to fix that.
Our D. Orlando Ledbetter reports free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson is close to finalizing a deal with the team. Robinson — who starred at Clarke Central High School but somehow got out of Athens and went to South Carolina — is in town today and talking with team officials. But it’s not known if a contract will be signed and/or announced today. The Falcons are not commenting, but there’s little reason to believe at this point things will fall apart.
(Funny side note: At about 8 a.m. I checked Robinson’s Wikipedia bio and it read that “Willie Dunta Robinson is an American football cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons who will wear No. 23.” Knowing a deal had not been completed yet, I sent out a note about the bio on Twitter. Alert reader Jason Kirk (@BrickCheney) then changed it back to the Houston Texans. It has since been changed again. It now reads: “Willie Dunta Robinson (born April 11, 1982 in Athens, Georgia) is an American football cornerback. He was drafted by the Texans 10th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played college football at South Carolina. He is now a free agent who is about to sign with the Atlanta Falcons.” Kirk has dubbed it, “THE DUNTA CONSPIRACY!” Ah, if only Wikipedia ran the world. Think of how quickly we could fix the economy.)
Let’s assume for a moment this deal gets done. Credit general manager Thomas Dimitroff for moving quickly. It’s what has quickly made him one of the top front office executives in the NFL.
Sometimes, general managers make mistakes. Sometimes they draft the wrong guy, or sign the wrong guy, or even cut the wrong guy. But mistakes notwithstanding, the best GMs are the proactive ones, and Dimitroff has been just that. There are problems all over the Falcons’ defense and any move would’ve helped. But the situation at corner is/was by far the most desperate — more so even than defensive line or outside linebacker. They started five different cornerbacks last season — Brian Williams, Chris Houston, Brent Grimes, Chevis Jackson, Christopher Owens — as well as using Tye Hill in nickel situations. Williams, the veteran picked up on waivers from Jacksonville, was the lone solid performer as a starter until a season-ending injury.
Robinson is not tall (listed at 5-10) but he gives the Falcons a proven — proven — NFL cornerback and allows them to focus on other problems early in the upcoming draft. Fact is, the Houston Texans would not have let him go into free agency if the money situation had not gotten out of hand and possibly damaged the relationship between the two sides.
Robinson turned down a contract extension before last season and was franchised by the team. He signed the one-year tender for just under $10 million but was upset about negotiations. In the season opener, he wore a pair of shoes with the words, “Pay me Rick,” a reference to Houston GM Rick Smith. He was fined $25,000 and later said, “If it offended anybody, I apologize, but it wasn’t that serious at all.”
Obviously, the Falcons aren’t concerned. It appears they’re about to give him a lot of money and he’s about to fix one of their problems.
Just looked around the ole’ inter-web thingy and decided to add two videos. The first shows a Robinson interception and return three years ago against Oakland (sorry, no sound). The second is a humorous commercial for a fantasy football website.