Thomas Dimitroff: The man with the plan, at long last

In the way the best quarterbacks see the whole field, Thomas Dimitroff, who’s the son of a quarterback, grasps the big picture. And when have we been able to say that of the man charged with hiring players for the long-suffering Falcons?

At 4:42 p.m. Thursday, someone named Ray posted this on an blog: “It sure feels good to know you’ve got one of the best GMs in the game. [It] kind of feels like the Braves’ moves of the ’90s. You always figured JS [John Schuerholz] would make the best moves for the Braves. Now we’ve got that for the Falcons.”

This came barely an hour after the Falcons consummated a trade with Kansas City for the Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez. At 33, Gonzalez isn’t what he was, but he’s way better than anything the Falcons had. And, by parting only with a Round 2 pick in next year’s draft, Dimitroff has cleared the path to do what he intended all along.

Since the 2008 draft was completed, 2009 had been earmarked for defense. Dimitroff bid adieu to five defensive starters over the winter because he felt he could find better. But reality, as reality will, intervened. There seemed a chance that Brandon Pettigrew, a gifted tight end from Oklahoma State, might fall to the Falcons in Round 1. And Dimitroff really liked Pettigrew.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Here’s my reading: Dimitroff was torn. He knew his D needed immediate fixing, but he wanted a tight end who would give Matt Ryan another outlet and would block like the crack of dawn for Michael Turner. This wouldn’t have been Dan Reeves taking Reggie Kelly for the heck of it. This would have been a considered decision, and I think Dimitroff might well have taken Pettigrew.

But now there’s no need. The Falcons have Gonzalez, and they still have seven picks to spend over the weekend. As many as six could be devoted to defense. (Dimitroff would like another offensive lineman, preferably a right tackle.) My guess – and, seeing as how Dimitroff wouldn’t say, it’s only a guess – is that the Round 1 pick won’t be a defensive back.

Dimitroff believes safeties make greater economic sense when found in later rounds, and he doesn’t consider many cornerbacks in this draft true No. 1 corners, meaning cover guys. That leaves defensive line and linebacker, and there are a lot of linebackers out there, including the three Southern Cal guys. But I keep coming back to what Dimitroff said in January: That Mike Smith, who coaches this team, believes tackles are the key position in any defense.

I’m guessing the Falcons will take a defensive tackle in Round 1 – either Peria Jerry of Ole Miss or Evander (Ziggy) Hood of Missouri. (Me, I’d prefer Hood, if only because of the nickname.) But we’ve seen enough over these past 15 months to feel confident, whatever Dimitroff deigns to do. I mean, he signed Michael Turner. He drafted Matt Ryan. He landed Tony Gonzalez.

In 43 years of operation, the Falcons haven’t managed consecutive winning seasons because they never had the man with the plan. They have him now. They have their Schuerholz.

(Self-promotion time: I’ll be blogging live on the NFL draft from rustic Flowery Branch on Saturday. We’ll start around 3:30 p.m. — the draft commences at 4 — and go until the Falcons get around to picking in Round 1, which should be around 7:30 or 8. And I’ll see if I can get some handsome photos of esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter to post while we’re waiting. Join the semi-fun!)

272 comments Add your comment

matt r

April 23rd, 2009
7:32 pm

And about damn time.

Whopper Dawg

April 23rd, 2009
7:34 pm

Agree. To TD, for TG. Thanks, we needed that.

country boy

April 23rd, 2009
7:36 pm

Good article MB but a long time coming.

The Rob

April 23rd, 2009
7:43 pm

Another great move by Dimitroff. Love this new regime.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
7:44 pm

Well, yes. Forty-two years, actually.

Hard rain out here in unfashionable West Cobb. Sirens went off a while back. Everybody be careful.

Reid Adair

April 23rd, 2009
7:51 pm

I think it’s a bit premature to assume that Thomas Dimitroff is on the same level of accomplishment/effectiveness as John Schuerholz was with the Braves in the 1990’s. While Dimitroff has done well (as of now) so far in his first year with the Falcons, I think he has some work to do to be on the level of Schuerholz.

I hope that signing a tight end who has already been in the league for 12 years pays off as much as everyone would like. I am curious what the status of Gonzalez’s contract is and what impact it has on the salary cap.

gary delabate

April 23rd, 2009
8:00 pm

Loved the article. Love being able to love the birds. if TD had a poster, it would be on my wall. Please keep up the good work!

Najeh Davenpoop

April 23rd, 2009
8:00 pm

“I bet White never has consecutive 1000 plus receiving yard seasons with Vick as QB.”

Yes he does, if Vick has Mike Smith as his head coach and Tom Dimitroff as his GM instead of the idiots with whom he was saddled.


April 23rd, 2009
8:02 pm

I agree with you that Jerry or Hood is now on tap for our first-round pick, and that is the correct way to go, IMHO. But I am NOT a fan of the TG trade. You say “only a second round pick next year.” Well, I don’t see a 2nd-round pick next year (which will almost certainly be a HIGHER pick than this year’s 2nd-round pick, given our schedule this year) as an “only”—I see it as a pick that you must believe will be a very good player who will start for the long-term. No one would say TG hasn’t peaked yet. He’s 33 for God’s sake. And we pay a big, big salary. Frankly, although I didn’t want the Falcon’s to go with Pettigrew in the 1st round (because we need defense much more), I would rather have Pettigrew there than this trade.


April 23rd, 2009
8:04 pm

Reid, it’s not like Dimitroff just arrived in the NFL. He did prove himself in New England too. Give credit where credit’s due.


April 23rd, 2009
8:09 pm

this is definitely a good thing, teams r really gonna have a hard time figuring out this triple threat. Michael Turner, The Wide Receivers, and Gonzalez. The whole NFC South better wake up cause come season start theres gonna be some sleepless nights.

Reid Adair

April 23rd, 2009
8:10 pm

Chuck, I never said Thomas Dimitroff just arrived in the NFL. However, in New England, he was not the general manager. He did very good work with the Patriots overseeing college scouting; I do not deny that.


April 23rd, 2009
8:13 pm

Hey, don’t hate on Reggie Kelly, he was better than his teams those years!


April 23rd, 2009
8:14 pm

No offense to JS but I would rather have a GM that’s going to do more than give us division titles. The Eagles have been to the NFC Conference Championship quite a few times, but people don’t talk about that. I don’t want this team to be reminded of the Braves of the 90s. They would win their division but not show up when it counted.


April 23rd, 2009
8:19 pm

THis trade want effect the salary cap at all, Gonzalez will be paid commission from aisle 10 of your Home Depot. Just remember Gonzalez, when loading the lumber on the trucks don’t forget to tie a flag on the end, ITS THE LAW!


April 23rd, 2009
8:20 pm

Why does Vick always come up in these blogs?? He is GONE people-get over it.

Great move for Gonzi-giving up only a 2nd rd pick from NEXT year is brilliant-the guy had over 1000 rec yards and 10 td’s with GARBAGE at qb-can you imagine what he will do with Matty Ice at the helm??

Hey Mark-any truth to the rumors of trading our first round pick for Dorsey??


April 23rd, 2009
8:22 pm

MB: “Gonzalez isn’t what he was…..”

A peek at the ‘08 numbers should alleviate those fears.

96 catches, the 3rd most of his career.

1058 yards, 4th most.

10 TD’s, 2nd most.

6 catches pg, 3rd most.

66 yards pg, 3rd most.

But, oh yeah, he did fumble once in the last 9 years.


April 23rd, 2009
8:22 pm

I like the move for TG. This seems right out of the NE Patriots handbook. Get an aging, yet still productive ACCOMPLISHED veteran (see Randy Moss, Junior Seau, The running back from Cicinnati?), while giving up very little in the imediate sense. You get a couple productive years out of them at the end of their careers while filling a GLARING NEED on your team. You’re able to properly manage your cap because they don’t cost you much, and there’s no long term committment because they’re already on the way out. You spend your drafts picks on young talent in later rounds and develop that talent with SOUND COACHING, again allowing you to better manage your cap money. The Patriots have been doing this for several years, and they’ve been succesful on the field and with the cap. And, they ALWAYS seem to have a ton of draft picks every year, even though they finish at or around the top of the standings each year.
I like what I see happening in Atlanta. It will only get better with Dimitroff calling the shots. Great to be a Dirty Bird fan these days!

Seminole Warrior

April 23rd, 2009
8:24 pm

Well written Mark. TD is definately what we have longed for as a leader in the front office. That dream parade may just take place on Peachtree after all while I still young enough to celebrate it….


April 23rd, 2009
8:26 pm

Its a TD (thomas Dimitroff) for the falcons ….just call him touchdown Tommy…

Seminole Warrior

April 23rd, 2009
8:27 pm

Greg, it is a second rounder for next year. But given this year’s lack of free agency signings, we stand to acquire at least two or three compensatory picks next season. And those will be in rounds three thru six. TD could bundle picks (non-comp) to move up into the second.

dimitroff is who we thought he was

April 23rd, 2009
8:40 pm

anyone that would knock this trade for the falcons is an idiot, they made out like bandits on the chiefs, 1000 yds, receiving threat, hall of famer, veteran leadership, a 2nd round pick next yr the only cost for all this, plus the comp picks atl will get next yr. some of these so called fans are just negative no matter what. the same ones that voyed they were through after the ryan pick last yr.


April 23rd, 2009
8:41 pm

Enter your comments here


April 23rd, 2009
8:42 pm

We have the real T.D. Gonzo is a phenomenal pik. Keep it up .. Glen Dorsey, Who?


April 23rd, 2009
8:51 pm









April 23rd, 2009
8:57 pm



————-NEWS FLASH————-


2008 SMITH & T.D. ……….1 AND DONE……. THAT’S A GENIUS :)


April 23rd, 2009
9:09 pm

Where’s your boy now?

Mike in Marietta

April 23rd, 2009
9:12 pm

Season ticket holder since the dome opened. Gone to falcon games since 1968…

VERY happy I will not be running into Vick Supporter 2 at the game….I mean really happy…like out of mind happy….

By the way loved seeing Vick play. Really sorry he was unwilling to up his game and learn how to check off his receivers. He never saw a receiver until they were 30 yards down the field.


April 23rd, 2009
9:16 pm

This is a GREAT Move for the Falcons! we now have a Fast Break Offense that will give any opposing Defense Fits to plan for! No team can double over the top, and Play Action will work every time with a legitimate Tight End Threat! Anyone who cannot see the logic of this Trade does not know football plain and simple!.

Mike in Marietta

April 23rd, 2009
9:19 pm

VS2 Of course Vick had nothing to do with Mora’s demise.

My wife said it best…what did MV do when his dog lost a fight…Too bad what goes around does not come around here.


April 23rd, 2009
9:20 pm

I can’t believe what a steal this move was! It this point it’s almost like defense is irrelevant—the Falcons are likely going to be putting up 35 every week barring any key injuries.

Oh, and gotta love weather report/travel warnings in a sports blog! Thanks, FM!


April 23rd, 2009
9:29 pm


Falcon 1

April 23rd, 2009
9:30 pm

Nice move, and allows a deep defensive draft. Expectations should be kept resonable. Schedule is much tougher. Will take a little time to get there. Next year is when we start to see some real movement toward a championship.


April 23rd, 2009
9:30 pm

What team do you follow VS2? You must not be a true fan of football or you would write about your team instead of always downing the Falcons. MV screwed himself.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
9:31 pm

You’re welcome, PSM.


April 23rd, 2009
9:37 pm

I was against going for Gonzalez only because I was worried about how much to give up this year. With our free picks because of Boley, Brooking, etc. we can make up for the loss of this pick. My question is how much is TG making? I also agree with the poster on JS as although he seemed to make good moves we did not win titles.


April 23rd, 2009
9:43 pm

Hey Mark,I keep hearing rumors that the K.C. Atlanta trade is not over. I keep hearing that we will be making a trade for Glenn Dorsey with our first round pick. The reason being, we need a defensive tackle(none worth a first round pick in this years draft). Kansas City is switching to a 3-4 this year and Dorsey dosen’t fit their plan. Have you heard anything about this trade Mark?

T-Town Dawg

April 23rd, 2009
9:48 pm

Good to see ya back Vicks Jockstrap2. What happened to Vickuary 21. Must be Vicktember 21 now. Your boy is STILL wasting away in the Federal pen. Goodell will not re-instate him this year. I hope your team, the Carolina Pussycats sign him. That will be 2 guaranteed wins for our Falcons every year that he’s there. Birds are on the rise without Vick.


April 23rd, 2009
9:49 pm

Brilliant post Mr. Bradley. I love it!

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:00 pm

All I know, Eric, is that the Falcons have confirmed the Gonzalez-for-next-year’s-No.-2 on their Web site. There’s no mention of a deal-to-be-made-later.

[...] Now that the deal is official, the Falcons will give a second round pick in 2010 for the Hall of Fame tight end. And this makes me happy. Because it’s next year, not this year. This is just the type of deal that will make me mad next year, but just the type of deal that makes me happy this year. [...]


April 23rd, 2009
10:23 pm

Please, for the love of God, do something about idiots like Vick Supporter 2.

Matt Ryan is a bust?

Someone needs to start taking their f—ing meds.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:24 pm

Thanks, Volman. But “brilliant”? Moi? I’m blushing.

And here, Eric, is a link to the Glenn Dorsey rumor. Not vouching for it. Just passing it along.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:29 pm

Another late-breaking link: In his late-late-latest mock draft, Don Banks of now has the Falcons taking Peria Jerry in Round 1.

Beautiful Monte

April 23rd, 2009
10:40 pm

Y’all give Vick Supporter a break. It’s quite obvious that his mother was a crack head, which has severely impaired her spawn’s “intellect”.

BTW, is there any truth to the rumor that Davenpoop-for-brains is Vick Supporter’s biological father?

We need to get Maury on the case!


April 23rd, 2009
10:41 pm

Let’s see, Matt Ryan last year, T. Gonzalez this year for a second rounder next year! This guy is good. Now if you want to make it a clean swept, take the LB out of Niu in the second Rd this year, and A. Allen in the third and you’ve got a complete draft!P.S. A.Smitrh, or D. Robinson will be there at 24th pick.


April 23rd, 2009
10:42 pm

Not to burst the bubble but where you going to be in two years when he finally retires? Odds are not a super bowl win, luckily maybe a playoff win. Doubt it, why do you think you only got him for a second round pick, two years tops 1 playoff win and no super bowl. We got hosed!! Looks good on paper but he won’t produce….

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2009
10:43 pm

Now, now, Monte. Let’s leave aside the ad hominems. You folks have, in the main, been doing a nice job keeping it higher-level on both Bradley blogs today. No reason to stop now.


April 23rd, 2009
10:54 pm

Good move considering it is a second rounder in 2010. The rumors some days ago was a second rounder this year which would have been a bad move on the part of Thomas Dimitroff. TD’s focus now must be on Defense starting with Tackle, Safety, Linebacker and a corner over 5′9″.

Shut up Terrence

April 23rd, 2009
11:00 pm

Wow. This is a horrible trade. It goes against everything Dmitrof has stood for in terms of building through the draft. We trade a coveted 2010 2nd rounder for a past-his-prime tight end that we don’t need.

The offense run in Atlanta goes through Michael Turner and is better suited with a blocking tight end. Gonzalze doesn’t block because he’s not a team player. He’s too selfish, to “me me me.”

Look at how he threw a fit and demanded a trade. He’s a cancer and he’ll destroy the locker room chemistry, like he did in Kansas City. We traded a 2010 2nd rounder for a guy that will play one year and quit.

He’ll show up to training camp out of shape and get hurt before the season starts. The guy is always hurt. He’s missed so many games over the past few years.

And then what will Dimitrof do next year when Gonzalez is retired? I tell you what he WON’T do: draft a tight end in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft. Good job Thomas, you just set the franchise back five years.

I put this right up there with the Steve Smith-J.R. Rider trade.