The new Falcons: They’re real simple and really smart

Say this for the newfangled Falcons: They don’t lie. They tell you what they plan to do, and then they do it. On the day Mike Smith became their coach, he said he wanted to run the ball and to stop the run. Last season his team managed half that. Round 1 of the 2009 draft was the first step toward getting the other half right.

“You want someone who can create double-teams and unblocked situations,” Smith said Saturday, and in Peria – pronounced Per-RAY – Jerry, they believe they’ve found a newer and better and (slightly) sleeker Grady Jackson. And we on the periphery have no reason to doubt them. They’ve gotten pretty good at this talent-identification thing.

Already the Falcons are better than they were when they walked off in the field in Glendale, Ariz. They have a Pro Bowl tight end who will make a good offense better still, and now they have a defensive anchor.

There can be no real quibbles with this pick. (Not even from this observer, who favored Evander Hood for the selfish reason that a lineman nicknamed Ziggy would be worth his tonnage in puns.) They said they were going to upgrade their defense, and they determined the upgrading should begin at the heart.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Sometimes we confuse smart with clever, but the two aren’t the same. Being clever can sometimes lead to overthink, which can lead to trouble. The newfangled Falcons are meat-and-potatoes smart. They see football as a simple game, and they’ve taken a simple approach to getting better.

Said Thomas Dimitroff, the architect: “We wanted to be stronger and faster and more aggressive and more urgent.”

Said Smith, the foreman: “We wanted someone who would be very disruptive.”

Granted, it’s a new sensation. Mindful of Aundray Bruce and Steve Broussard and Bruce Pickens and Reggie Kelly, we’re accustomed to approaching every Falcons draft with a dollop of dread. We should stop sweating. This franchise is in good hands. Matt Ryan was the perfect pick at the ideal moment, and the rest of the 2008 draft was nearly as inspired. And now the big man from Ole Miss arrives to plug the middle.

Dimitroff again: “He’s country-strong. He’s a 1-gap guy with a high motor.”

First Michael Turner, then Matt Ryan, then Tony Gonzalez, now Peria Jerry. That’s four major acquisitions in 15 months for the new regime, and every one of them makes unassailable sense. Given that the first three play offense, this draft had to be given over to D, and Jerry was the soundest possible start. In Round 2 the Falcons found a safety in William Moore of Missouri, and they’ll surely seek a linebacker and a cornerback come Sunday. But you must grab an accomplished run-stuffer where you find him.

A good team a year ago, the Falcons have positioned themselves to be better in 2009. (Though their record, owing to the stiffer schedule, might not be quite so glittering.) They’re building from the inside out, which is always the way to go if you want your construction to endure.

And this one will. These are not your dad’s Falcons, who trafficked in gimmicks, or even your older brother’s. These are the new Falcons. These are the smart Falcons.

431 comments Add your comment

NRBQ

April 25th, 2009
9:47 pm

Mark:

Don’t confuse smart with being clever. Words a writer should heed, himself.

Right now, your online editor would be wise to heed this advise, as several paragraphs are repeated.

NRBQ

April 25th, 2009
9:54 pm

And Jeez, did you date yourself with your musical references on the last blog. You gotta write for the Kids!

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
10:01 pm

Wait a second. Somebody whose sign-in is NRBQ is tweaking me for dated musical references?

Reid Adair

April 25th, 2009
10:19 pm

It is amazing what Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have accomplished in their brief Falcons’ tenure.

Thankfully, these aren’t my dad’s Falcons … or my older brother’s (if I had one).

turkey

April 25th, 2009
10:20 pm

And it only took 40 years.

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
10:34 pm

You know, it took the Steelers a while to get it right, too. But when they did …

And with that, I’m stopping. It’s completely nuts for me to liken, even obliquely, the Falcons to the franchise that has won six SBs. But it has been a long day. And I’m headed home.

Anybody want anything from Taco Bell?

Marcus

April 25th, 2009
10:34 pm

can’t wait until Rounds 3-7.

lawton

April 25th, 2009
10:35 pm

good picks. i wouldve preferred that they had a shot at safety patrick chung ( a troy polamalu) clone, but we had to get what we could. being physical up the middle has been what this team has lacked for a loooonnngg time. good picks so far.

Falcon4Life

April 25th, 2009
10:35 pm

William Moore was a steal in the second round. Most do not realize that he was hurt his senior season. Now his hips are more fluid making him if not the top S, the second best. Mark, do you agree that if the Ravens had not traded up; ATL would have selected Oher instead?

Shamus Thacker

April 25th, 2009
10:36 pm

Only makes it sweeter.

Falcon4Life

April 25th, 2009
10:37 pm

Mark,
Do you believe Marcus Freeman will be available when ATL picks? Also do you think Jasper Brinkley would be a good fit, moving him over to OLB?

Darrin "The Vent King"

April 25th, 2009
10:39 pm

Saw Jerry’s highlights and like the pick. Right now its kind of hard to argue with what Dimitroff decides anyway. The W Moore pick was a steal too. Both these guys will be starting real soon if not day 1- can’t be mad with that. Two holes filled nicely. Jerry seems to be that 3-techniqu disruptive type DT Coach Smith is used to having for run defense and creating havoc in the middle of the line which (gulp!) will free up Big Abe even more. If Trey Lewis can come back strong and JA98 can get it going, with Babs continued improvement we will be nice. With the rest of the picks we have, all I can see is improved defense. Nice day 1 IMO!! TD- you da man! GO FALCONS!!

Wabe

April 25th, 2009
10:40 pm

I kind of had a feeling the Falcons were going to take Peria Jerry about 10 picks before they ended up doing it. Just seemed they were focused on getting a DT w/the departure of Jackson. Also, football games are won and lost in the trenches, and it would seem fit for the falcons to plug the middle of that D-Line w/their first pick in this years draft. MUST STOP THE RUN/PRESSURE THE QB!

I really like their second pick. William Moore is known to be a playmaking safety. He’s a ballhawk. Critics argue if he jumped a year before, he had the potential of being a high first round pick. He wasn’t as productive in his last season at Mizzou, but definetely fills a need for the Falcons. Watching 3 of the other big name safeties go off the board before their 2nd pick, picking Moore was obvious – - and you could tell after watching how quickly they finalized this pick after they were put on the clock. The falcons knew who they wanted here – and they got exactly who they wanted.

Two picks, two areas of need addressed. Good stuff Dimitroff – lets just hope their talent translates into the NFL.

Big Al

April 25th, 2009
10:45 pm

I accept anything John Shuer… I mean Thomas Dimitroff does. Tony G. will look great in a Falcons uni. Love the Jerry pick.

Go Dawgs! Congrats to Matt, Knowshon, and MoMass. And congrats to Hines on a contract extension. I’m a happy football fan right now.

Shamus Thacker

April 25th, 2009
10:45 pm

I’m torn between Taco Bell and Pure Lard injections.

Think I’ll go with Taco Bell too, but it’s close.

Shamus Thacker

April 25th, 2009
10:46 pm

Moore was a S-T-E-A-L!!!

finally

April 25th, 2009
10:50 pm

Been a long time since Wade Traynam missed the ball on a kickoff. And Randy Johnson was sacked for the first of what had to be 1000 times. And Don Hansen took over for our beloved, injured Tommy Nobis, the finest lnebacker in history to not be in the HOF.
Finally, competence.

Hamad Meander

April 25th, 2009
10:55 pm

Nothing too exciting, but everything solid and smart. The team needed a DT and a SS, and they got them. The only disappointment was that Peria was drafted at about where he was expected – it wasn’t like he totally fell into our laps. I thought the way the first round was going – a few surprises – that the Falcons might end up @ 24 with someone they DIDN’T expect.

Getting William Moore # 55 was probably more like the situation described above – I think the Falcons were pleasantly surprised that he was still on the board when their pick came up. He was a top 20 pick last year if he had left Missouri his Junior year.

Basically, and practically, the Falcons have filled two starting positions today. It would be a surprise not to see Peria and Moore starting.

Shamus Thacker

April 25th, 2009
10:56 pm

How the Hell can you pass on a guy named Jasper Brinkley?

Gotta be one tough dude.

webhead

April 25th, 2009
10:56 pm

You forgot his mistakes. He didn’t have to get rid of BROOKING, WHO WAS STILL A VERY GOOD IF NOT GREAT PLAYER.A very good leader and teacher to the young kids.They could have found a way to keep a Falcon great with talent still to spare, so he’s not perfect. Maybe he can find room for Mike Johnson,he’s going to be a beast in the NFL.PEACE OUT!

South o' Columbus

April 25th, 2009
11:02 pm

Any yellerjackets go today?

Wabe

April 25th, 2009
11:08 pm

KEITH BROOKING NEEDED TO GO!!!!!!

He will never be forgotten in ATL after his 3rd and 16 mishap vs the Cardinals in Wildcard Weekend.

Falcon4Life

April 25th, 2009
11:12 pm

Look Brooking was overrated. He was not the best run stuffer for a LB. I hope to see ATL land Freeman and Brinkley tomorrow. I am not sure if they will be around though. Ellerbe would be a good pick up also.

NW_Falcon

April 25th, 2009
11:15 pm

Great start, but will not get the praise that last year’s draft got. That is too bad because these are good picks that not only fit the gaps but arguably the best available when drafted.

Colonel Reb

April 25th, 2009
11:16 pm

Congrats Falcon fans, Peria is an absolute STUD and a great kid too. Kick some a$$ Peria! HOTTY TODDY!!

Baracked the vote!

April 25th, 2009
11:25 pm

Mark, you are exactly right. In the past, i would be nervous before the draft, worrying a player would drop down which would lead to a pick while a need identified prior to the draft would go unfulfilled. unfortunately, the 09 schedule is a bear. Also, congrats to the bulldogs!

row3

April 25th, 2009
11:30 pm

Jerry at #24 and Moore at #55, what a steal at both picks. T.D. is a F@%$*^%g Genuis. Can’t wait till Tomorrow, who else can will we steal?… Without having to trade up and losing picks. AAA+++

chuck

April 25th, 2009
11:32 pm

What do you folks think of Dorell Scott or Michael Hamlin(who has a knack for the ball) as Falcons in Day 2?

GT610

April 25th, 2009
11:32 pm

South O’Columbus….No Yellerjackets today…Although, who won the game in November? I believe it was them Jackets that stung them dawgs in their own house. Matthew Stafford will be a bust in Detroit don’t get your panties in a wad Dawgs fans. Stafford + Detriot= Joey Harrington. Mark it down. I wish Stafford the best, but wait the best thing he has going for him IS a Yellerjacket in Calvin Johnson…how’s that for you South O’ Columbus?

bravofan

April 25th, 2009
11:38 pm

does anybody know what kind of black bracelet matthew stafford wears?

SlimG

April 25th, 2009
11:38 pm

Picks look fine to me. At 24 not really looking for a lot. We’ll see. I like the Gonzo pickup our offense seems set. Look for us to take another DB and offensive lineman.

David

April 25th, 2009
11:38 pm

Loyalty to the falcons finally feels good

South o' Columbus

April 25th, 2009
11:43 pm

GT610…shine your ring, polish it well. Keep it close and kiss it every day. You will probably get another 3 point victory in another 7 years or so and a new ring to keep you busy. As a bonus you’ll even get another chance to post on a blog or two for a year. Yep, I like that.

Archie

April 25th, 2009
11:48 pm

With a run stuffing DT like Peria Jerry, your linebackers become better without having to do anything at all. I wouldn’t be upset if we took Michael Johnson if he’s still around when our next pick comes up. That’ll really make the defensive line a strength of the team.

chuck

April 25th, 2009
11:57 pm

I’m beginning to really like our chances of winning the NFC South!

intellibird

April 26th, 2009
12:06 am

Michael Johnson would be a good day 2 pick. That would really raise the competition along the defensive line. He may turn out to be the player that we thought Jamal Anderson would be, or maybe they will push each other to get better. Anyhow, I like the day 1 picks. Another bowling ball in the middle to go along with Trey Lewis. Lets keep going defense. Maybe an offensive lineman too on Sunday.

Supes

April 26th, 2009
12:07 am

Mark, solid work. You’ve done a good job covering this day 1 on the blog too.

I voted for “solid pick” on Jerry. I do realize they filled a need with a solid pick. However, I do wonder if passing up on both Clay Matthews Jr. and Ray M. from USC will come back to haunt the Falcons, who still need a playmaking LB! Those 2 guys have pro bowl potential. Not sure if the Falcons can get a starting LB in rounds 3-6, but in Thomas Dimitroff I trust, so I will not pass judgement at this point. Wait for the whole draft…then 3 full seasons to say great, solid or bust.

Oh, and the addition of Jerry should help J. Anderson, it’s DO or DIE for him.

Moore pick…I think it was an absolute steal. The guy was a top 10 pick last year but didn’t come out. He was never truly healthy in 08. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a heck of a player at safety.

braveshater

April 26th, 2009
12:10 am

TD hell of a job. William Moore is an instant impact guy, he wsa banged up his entire senior season, but never complained and played thru it. Jerry will be a stud for a long time to come. He and Abe will wreck havoc in opposing teams backfields this season. And you people need to stop with the Keith Brooking sentiments, he was always overrated, and chasing down ball carriers from behind. How many great linebackers play that way, ahhh 0.

Shamus Thacker

April 26th, 2009
12:14 am

Keith Brooking was master of the “ten-yards and a cloud of dust” play.

He’s rode more ball carriers than Kim Kardashian.

Always felt like he underachieved, though the effort was clearly there. He just wasn’t as gifted physically, or mentally, as it turns out, as the delusion I’d formed from his time at Tech.

I could never understand the Pro Bowl selections. Made tons of tackles, after being “escorted” ten yards by the Center. Stats do lie at times. He also had/has hands that made Granny’s look like Jerry Rice, and she’s DEAD! Had more balls bounce off his chest than Marylin Chambers.

This draft is sweet(pre-draft trade included). E’thing else will be icing on the cake.

rms

April 26th, 2009
12:22 am

hey Mark, is too late for 2 beef gorditas supremes and a grilled stuffed burrito with mild sauce

Mark Bradley

April 26th, 2009
12:27 am

Sorry, RMS. I just missed your post. (I had two items from the 99-cent menu, you should know.)

And, speaking of my drive home, I’d just about gotten over my disappointment over Ziggy not being a Falcon when, just as I pull into the neighborhood, guess who comes on Sirius XM NFL Radio? The man himself.

I started weeping all over again.

rms

April 26th, 2009
12:31 am

DANG!!! I am starving and I am too lazy to get up and go get something. Nice to hear Madden at least on radio again. Do you see the Falcons picking Micheal Johnson at DE next, or what is your guess?

rms

April 26th, 2009
12:32 am

by the way what was he saying about the draft.

Mark Bradley

April 26th, 2009
12:35 am

Ziggy was very happy to be a Steeler, and was, he said, willing to play wherever they ask him to play.

As for tomorrow: If Asher Allen is there in Round 3, I think the Falcons will pick him.

And thanks, Supes. Always a pleasure.

tyler

April 26th, 2009
12:39 am

Had to have the DT. Good pick. Hopefully Lewis can come back and offer some comp. I like what I hear about Moore. Safeties that are play makers always seem to come later than the first round ( Ed Reed exception) . This is a defensive draft and we put it in TD’s hands. Keep drafting defense and let Coach Smith do what he does best.

rms

April 26th, 2009
12:43 am

I am looking forward to the Falcons season than those sorry behind inconsistent Hawks. Hurry up football season, Hurry!!!

Mark Bradley

April 26th, 2009
1:16 am

Dimitroff said the other day that safeties historically come after Round 1. That’s what I mean when I say he tells you what he’s going to do — well, not exactly what he’s going to do — and then does it. You just need to listen close.

DawgsRUs

April 26th, 2009
1:17 am

No disappointments here. Can’t wait to see who the Falcons choose next. Asher Allen would be a good choice in round 3 but we’ll see. I will not question the Falcons’ decisions on the draft until Mr. Dimitroff and Mike Smith give me reason to do so. Much like my designated driver on New Year’s…I trust them totally until they wreck!

Dr. Warren

April 26th, 2009
1:27 am

Mark, were the Chinese right about about the Falcons picking Jerry or what? That statistical method seems to work. (Note that the prediction came before the Gonzalez trade).

DawgsRUs

April 26th, 2009
1:45 am

What? The Chinese picking for the Falcons?

Dr. Warren, I missed the scoop on the statistical method. To what are you referring?