Dimitroff: “It’s going to be a very busy two weeks”

Saturday's story: Brent Grimes is beaten for a completion. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Saturday's revelation: Brent Grimes is beaten. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In the grand scheme, maybe Saturday’s exhibition was the right game at the right time. The Falcons themselves weren’t just surprised by what transpired; they were shocked. But it happened 15 days before the first for-real game, which means there’s still time for some last-minute shopping.

Afterward, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said: “It’s going to be a very busy two weeks.” He would say no more, but the message seemed cleared enough: This is the man who found Domonique Foxworth and Jamaal Fudge near the end of preseason 2008 to prop up his secondary. There seems a strong need to do something similar now.

The Falcons liked everything about cornerback Chris Houston in training camp: His preparation, his attitude, his play. But something happened in Saturday’s first half: Houston yielded one big play on third down, then another, then another. If a guy’s going to be your No. 1 cornerback, that can’t happen. Even No. 1 corners get beat — all corners get beat — but they can’t let one bad play put them on the back foot the rest of the night.

The Falcons must now determine if Houston has the toughness to shrug off a big gainer and keep playing. He seemed to lose his edge against the Chargers, and if he’s incapable of regaining that edge from one play to the next the Falcons need to know it now.

Dimitroff watches the waiver wire. He knows who’s unsigned. (Chris McAlister, to name one former stellar cornerback. But he’s coming off knee surgery.) He knows other teams must make cuts, too. The trade for Foxworth seemed insignificant at the time, but he wound up starting.

Whom should the Falcons pursue?

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The Foxworth/Fudge acquisitions didn’t resonate at the time was because almost nobody figured the 2008 Falcons would be good enough for such late transactions to matter. There’s much more pressure on Dimitroff to do something now. This team is coming off a playoff run and has added an All-Pro tight end. The Falcons believe their future is bright, yes, but that includes the immediate future.

As Mike Smith, who tried hard to accentuate the positives, said Saturday: “We’ve got a lot of work to do … It’s not one unit; it’s a team defense. It starts up front and goes from the linebackers to the secondary, and there was not one group that succeeded on third-and-long.”

That could, and I expect will, mean more time for rookie Lawrence Sidbury at end. It could also mean a move not just for a DB. Derrick Brooks is unsigned, and he played linebacker at a fairly high level for a really long time. (Heck, Lawyer Milloy is unsigned, though I can’t imagine the Falcons taking him back.)

The Falcons aren’t necessarily looking for someone to play the next five seasons. They require someone to help them through the first couple of months of a difficult schedule. They learned Saturday night that they’re still in need of outside help. But better then than on the afternoon of  Sept. 13.

189 comments Add your comment

darrell starks

August 30th, 2009
5:01 pm

We are in serious trouble if the falcons dont make any changes, and dont be surprise if chris houston get cut, and please no more thomas decoud at safety how can you play 3quarter and not have 1 tackle.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!

midnite

August 30th, 2009
5:03 pm

Smitty really chewed aSS for five minutes after the second SD TD. After he was finished Abe got in on the a$$ chewing action. I mean four third down conversions all for long yardage that ended with the 44 yard TD run. UGLY, but I feel this staff will find us some help on D.

Nite Owl

August 30th, 2009
5:05 pm

Faith in TD and Coach Smith. They’ll figure it out.

ctfalconsfan

August 30th, 2009
5:07 pm

I have said since May that our Defensive is going to be an issue. We got rid of 4 starters and you bring in WHO??? Peterson? he’s as old as Brooking. Did Dimitroff think 7 draft picks could fill in?? This is a major problem that should have been addressed long before now.

darrell starks

August 30th, 2009
5:12 pm

TD call houston texas now and see whats up with dunta robinson, i wonder what is the asking price for him.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!

ctfalconsfan

August 30th, 2009
5:12 pm

Nite Owl I’m glad you have faith in TD and Smitty but I didn’t see ONE positive, NOTHING, from our Defense last night. No pass rush, LB’s struggled and the DB’s might as well been cardboard dummies.
How do you have the number ?? 24 I think Defense last season and not bring any in any Pro Bowl players? Not One!
We just need to hope that the Offense can win shoot out style games this year.

Supes

August 30th, 2009
5:13 pm

Mark,

from the short list that you gave us, it’s obvious our biggest need is at CB. McAllister was once a top CB in this league and has experience. I can’t see the Falcons passing on that.

Our LB core could use the veteran play of a Derrick Brooks, b/c I haven’t seen much from Mike Peterson (brought to be that veteran LB).

At any rate, the defense is a huge question mark as a whole.

ctfalconsfan

August 30th, 2009
5:13 pm

Enter your comments here

T-Rock

August 30th, 2009
5:15 pm

How bad are the injuries to Norwood, Owens, and Moore. Looks like Moore wins the Training Room MVP this year. He is an ice pack with legs. Oh wait a minute the Chargers just threw another screen pass for a touchdown.

darrell starks

August 30th, 2009
5:15 pm

DUNTA ROBINSON AND CHRIS MCALISTER PROBLEM SOLVE SUPER BOWL BABBY.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!

Falcon 8211

August 30th, 2009
5:21 pm

I agree with starks please get us some corners and decoud has not showed anything either

Coop

August 30th, 2009
5:29 pm

I like the thought of getting a CB. Houston was AWFUL and I just don’t get the infatuation with Grimes. I’d rather see Jackson and Owens. Not sold on Decoud at safety either. BUT… BUT… BUT… our DL sucks! On each of those 3rd and longs, what pressure did we get? Zeee frickin oooo! I am done with JA and I’m not sold on Babs or Jerry getting a push up the middle. More than a CB or LB, we might need a BAD@SS DL that can get to the QB.

Finally, the Lions beat us to death with the screen. St. Louis hit it twice (as I recall) and SD scored on 3rd and long. Van Gorder! Hey, Van Gorder! Could we please spend 10 minutes in practice on how to cover that?

tim

August 30th, 2009
5:30 pm

The Falcons will need to score touchdowns this season…..not field goals…. cuz the defense is going to get ripped and give up a lot of points.

Coop

August 30th, 2009
5:31 pm

Over/Under on screens attempted against the Falcons this years???? Hmmmm…. I’ll say 48. that’s about 3 per game.

Coop

August 30th, 2009
5:39 pm

On another note. I liked TBrown last night. Looked improved on KR. I also thought that Booker was more than noteworthy. I had thought we keep Ferguson and Weems as our last two WR, but maybe Ferg and Booker and let TBrown return kicks instead of Weems. TBrown hasn’t beat out Snelling for a rsoter spot, but if JRock is hurt, who knows.

ff

August 30th, 2009
5:42 pm

i don’t think it was that bad. the defense got the chargers into multiple third and long situations. yes, it’s unacceptable to allow 7 of 8 of those to be converted. i don’t think that’s going to happen very often though. Decloud needs to step it up, wouldn’t he be responsible for the 3rd and longs?

DHD

August 30th, 2009
5:44 pm

Yeah…Super Bowl Babby. Whoever Babby is. :)

Dshep

August 30th, 2009
5:56 pm

Please keep former Arkansas Razorbacks away from this team. They are killing us!!!!!!!!

Larry

August 30th, 2009
5:58 pm

This is on the GM and head coach. Last season ended when we couldn’t stop 3rd and longs and here we are today, 8 months later and just two weeks from the 2009 opener, and we are weaker in the secondary and still questionable at the Linebacker and Defensive Tackle position. And with Mike Smith being a former Defensive Coordinator, this is completely unacceptable!

I do not recall a game–and the Falcons have had more than their share–by a Falcon Conerback that was worse than that which I witnessed by Houston last night. He was utterly confused and over matched on every single pass thrown in his direction.

This team will be fortunate to go 8-8, 9-7 at best, but anything more is impossible with perhaps the weakest cornerback tandem in the NFL. Sometimes you can help one weak corner with a safety, but when both are weak every good offense in the league will feast!

nativefalcon

August 30th, 2009
5:58 pm

Forget Feelings, we need a couple of good CBs and everything else NOW, get mcallister, Mcqarters, Milloy and Brroks for that matter. :)

Boo Boo

August 30th, 2009
6:05 pm

How many wide receivers do the Falcons have as trade bait?

Dshep

August 30th, 2009
6:09 pm

leland

August 30th, 2009
6:10 pm

Dear Mr. MB–I sure hope Mr. TD and Coach Smith read these bloggers and especially those on Bird Cage. If they only would, they would find out exactly what to do. Lord help us! Your pal, Leland

Jack G.

August 30th, 2009
6:15 pm

Soph. jinx is caused by to much success as a rookie or 1st year GM, Coach or Player.

They have some sucess, get to reading their press clippings telling them how great they are, Start believing those press clippings and develope the attitude that they can do no wrong.

Dropping 5 players off of a defense is the result of such thinking.

Thats why things get better the 3rd year when they start getting back to basics, or as we should say—back down to earth.

Tim

August 30th, 2009
6:19 pm

The Falcons need another pass rusher besides Abe. JA is a 1st round bust. I would put Sidbury out there on 3rd down and turn JA into the waterboy. Stephen Nichols is not getting the job done either. Houston, Grimes, and Decloud are a joke. Two midgets at cornerback will not get the job done. Even Stevie Wonder can see this going to be a long season. HELP WANTED SIGN is in the window.

Barry Jay

August 30th, 2009
6:19 pm

Does anyone have any idea which DB’s might be available in a trade?

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2009
6:19 pm

The defensive redo will take time. We have known that all along. But last night’s game was truly sobering.

JDawg1957

August 30th, 2009
6:29 pm

If anyone bothered to pay attention watching the game last night Dan Fouts and his buddy said it best. A 5′10″ CB can’t cover a 6″5″ PHYSICAL wide receiver. I don’t care who you are if you are out sized by 7″ and being out muscled you LOSE. We have to get some bigger, more physical corners. Far and away losing Foxworth was the most critical lose of the offseason!!!!!! Brooking and Boley can be replaced by who we have on the team now. Milloy provided veteran leadership, but we can get that from Abraham and Peterson. If TD doesn’t make some kind of move to get some decent CBs then we are going to have to depend on the offense to go out and outscore the opposition week in and week out. Given our schedule I don’t see that happening.
I have a lot more faith in TD and MS than any of the leadership the Falcons have had since the days of Steve Bartkowski. They are going to have to be patient, see who hits the waiver wires and look for some help via trade without giving away the farm.

GT GRAD

August 30th, 2009
6:31 pm

I have clearly stated since early in training camp that CB was or big weakness and that we need better players……….several bloggers did not agree and many said I was being negative. I was simply stating my opinion and I was shocked that nobody else seemed concerned. I wonder how these same bloggers feel now? I hope we can somehow sign two starting caliber CB’s; but from where??

Brooking made a big difference for our defense and he was a HUGE reason why teams did not have success with screen plays. Brooking is very smart, quick and a sure tackler……….this is why he made such a positive impact (I am only making this statement because so many “so-called fans” need to realize they were wrong with they way they treated Brooking). Curtis Lofton played AWESOME last night, but Peterson is too slow. Peterson has flash with big hits, but I would rather have a LB who is fast, a sure tackler and consistently in the correct position.

Rebuilding

August 30th, 2009
6:32 pm

We all know that a sub 0.500 season is in order (History does not lie). TD should keep the plan for 2010, 2012, 2014, etc. This year the rookies will get the experience.We’ll draft more Def help next April and keep moving forward. Falcons all the way in 2010!!

Michael in Decatur

August 30th, 2009
6:34 pm

I like BVG as a person, but not as a football coach…..

The Grinch

August 30th, 2009
6:34 pm

Agreed, MB; McKay’s picks and signings can’t all be purged in two off-seasons. Picking up an unemployed vet or two isn’t going to make this defense excellent, but anyone who thinks McAllister (even with a bum knee) wouldn’t be better than Huston or Brooks better than Nicholas is kidding themselves. Time for some bondo to get us through this season and let the youngsters develop.

After watching DeCoud last night, I can see why we drafted Moore. Unfortunately, he can’t stay healthy (which was the knock on him in college and why he fell to us).

Next year we MUST sign/draft a pass rusher and a shutdown corner. And another LB. That’s really all we’re missing from going deep into the playoffs (providing Moore pans out).

C-Rock

August 30th, 2009
6:35 pm

Dimitroff, OK, I know you saw the game, and I know you have to have some players hidden at Flowery Branch that we haven’t seen yet right? Come on now, the joke is over, bring out our defense now! Smitty, it is called a screen pass, look it up, practice for it please.

leland

August 30th, 2009
6:36 pm

Dear Mr. MB–vengence will be serve. Your pal, Leland

Mr. Ross

August 30th, 2009
6:40 pm

I just was totally embarrassed last night by the defense. We finally played a quality opponent on national TV and the defense gives up not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 third and longs. In a normal game you might give up 1 or 2, but 4. Not only 4 in a game, but 4 on one series. Amazing. We need help immediately.

Garza

August 30th, 2009
6:41 pm

Don’t panic sport fans, sure up the db’s with Chris Mcallister, and Ty Law (Law at safety). Lb’s tackled well they just needed to drop deeper in coverage.

Mike Vick Curse

August 30th, 2009
6:43 pm

I jinx you fools…..no more playoff wins………ever

Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VOODOO……….VOODOO……….VOODOO……..VOODOO

Curious Observer

August 30th, 2009
6:47 pm

The Falcon DBs simply got abused, taken to school. There’s no excuse for allowing the conversion of that many third and longs. And the defensive line was simply nonexistent. It’s third and 13, and you rush nobody, hoping those short DBs can cover tall and fast receivers? The final score should not fool anybody–it simply means the Falcons’ third string is better than the Chargers’ third string. We need free agency or trade help now. The offense simply can’t score enough points to overcome the disadvantage the Falcons have on defense.

Bad News

August 30th, 2009
6:53 pm

Genuis/Brilliant/Masterful – those are the words that you guys used for your GM after winning 11 games due to an overly easy (9th) schedule.

News Flash – Brilliance doesn’t wait until the last preseason game to put the right personnel in place. Sounds more like he was just throwing players on the field and see how lucky he could get.

TD is not brilliant, he is not even great, he is an amateur. Look at the other great minds at Baltimore, Philly, New England, Miami, New York Giants, etc…. These GMS are cutting not adding.

If you can’t do your homework and analyze talent during training camp, OTA and preseason, you are just another arm chair quarterback. He allowed the franchise to go on National Television, to be embarrassed and humiliated. If you guys think that is brilliant, you are as big of idiots as he is.

If he thinks he will get lucky like he did with Foxworth last season, he better stop drinking that stuff he is on. If there was any good talent still floating around, they would be under contract – all he will get is other team’s leftovers.

Way to go TD – I’m sure McKay is smiling on the inside.

DW

August 30th, 2009
6:55 pm

‘Houston, we’ve got a problem’!!! The NFL got it right with that beautifully shot slow motion ad where Steve Smith smokes Chris Houston for a TD. He is the new poster child for inept cover skills and almost makes Grimes look good. Our combination of a non-existent pass rush and the total inability to cover receivers on third and long (even VERY long) was clearly exposed against SD. Do we still really think that 5’ 8” and 5’10” are going to be effective against the plethora of 6’4” receivers we must face this year? Will BVG be forced to resurrect his ‘09 version of the ‘Gritz Blitz’? Will there be another Foxworth available this year to bolster our secondary? Can we consistently outscore teams in shootouts, at least often enough to have our first consecutive winning seasons? MR2 looked rather ordinary for the first time in a long time and was lucky he didn’t have several passes intercepted due to CB drops. That first half was UGLY and depressing for the defense. At least we have two weeks for TD and our experienced coaching staff to address some issues before the real season starts but my optimism for a great year has certainly been shaken by this game. There were bright spots and we found a way to win the game and thanks to The Bolts for the reality check while there is still a little time before games count. There were bright spots and we found a way to win the game but look out, we host the Ravens in a few days. YIKES.

Nite Owl

August 30th, 2009
6:58 pm

Reading these blogs since last night is like poking an anthill. I love the panic. As for me, I’m going to sit and watch Animal House on a loop until I feel better.

“Have a beer. Don’t cost nothin’.”

“We…are gonna die.”

“Stay calm! All is well!”

Then I’m going to play “Louie, Louie”, “Shama Lama Ding Dong”, and the rest of the Animal House soundtrack during my commute all week, studiously ignoring the week-long panic on talk radio.

Let me know when it’s Thursday night. Until then: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain’t over now.”

Look Alive---There are buzzards overhead

August 30th, 2009
7:00 pm

I WAS WORKING AND DIDN-T SEE ALL OF THE GAME BUT I WONDER ON THOSE CONVERTED THIRD AND LONG IF WE USED A 3 MAN RUSH. IF SO THE DC SHOULD BE FINED AND TOLD ANY MORE USE OF THE GIVE UP DEFENSE WILL RESULT IN TERMINATION. THE 3 MAN RUSH IS THE MOST STUPID PLAY IN FOOTBALL AT ANY LEVEL. ON THIRD AND LONG THE QB SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TIME TO THROW DOWN FIELD. I REALIZE THAT MOST FOOTBALL COACHES ARE PHYS ED MAJORS OR SOMETHING SIMILAR BUT EVEN A PERSON OF ONLY AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE SHOULD REALIZE THAT THIS IS A FUTILE DEFENSE. JUST LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF LOSING TEAMS AND YOU WILL SE THAT NO PRESSURE ON THE QB RESULTS IN A COMPLETED PASS. WHEN WILL THE INSANITY STOP? 3 MAN RUSH IS ONLY CALLED BY MORONS.

Barry Jay

August 30th, 2009
7:02 pm

I know Ryan had some inaccurate passes, but on at least two of the “near interceptions” Roddy White was loafing and not coming back to the ball. He stopped and stood still waiting for it while the man covering him made up ground and jumped in front of him. Roddy was doing the same crap he did before last season. Receivers need to come back to the ball not stand and wait.

m45

August 30th, 2009
7:08 pm

Houston,Grimes,Decoud all need to go and Nicolas.Derrick Brooks would be an upgrade And Chris Mccalister at CB and TY Law at FS.And Abraham needs some help getting to the Quaterback this defence SUCKS!

T-Rock

August 30th, 2009
7:15 pm

Our secondary can’t cover road kill.

T-Rock

August 30th, 2009
7:16 pm

This just in – it’s 3rd and 24 – watch out for the screen pass, watch out for the sreen pass, watch out for the…………damn!!!!

greg

August 30th, 2009
7:18 pm

I guess the tag “brilliant” GM needs to come off. Bust up the defense in the off season and two weeks before the season starts we find out that this defense is as bad as it is? What the hell is this all about. One key injury to the offense and this team wins maybe 5 games.

Bad News

August 30th, 2009
7:18 pm

Barry Jay

Did they make these same excuses when Vick was here?

No excuses, Roddy is a pro bowler so don’t make excuses for Ryan.

He sucked!

bigeasy830

August 30th, 2009
7:21 pm

Bad News, that was a great post. You are right on time with that one, and Falcons fans you do not have a great wide receiver core, you have one very good receiver in Roddy and a decent on ein Jenkins, remeber the other 2 you picked up the other week are cast aways, and please i don’t want to hear anything about Finnergan. You were lucky to find Foxworth last year and you let him go. You were lucky last year period. TD is no genius, he trade 2 secound picks for Baker when baker would have been there in the second round. You could have use one of those picks to get a corner. Corner was a position of need last year and you all still have not addressed it. He traded Laurent Robinson for a sack of beans, Robinson will be a “Beast” for the Rams. But all we heard from all you Falcons fans is how great TD is and how the defense will be muched improved because because you got younger and faster. During the draft you all did all that name dropping and you put your stock in rookies and undrafted FAs. Matt Ryan had a special year last year but you cannot depend on Rookies and undrafted FAs and late round picks to build a solid team. The Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Chris Johson thing just don’t happen too often. I along with a few others tried to tell you that your team had no CBs but you called us ugly names, We tried to tell you your team should not cut as those vets from the defense but you called us ugly names. We tried to tell you that the Falcons Suck.

Falcons will be 4-12 in 2009
“Back To Life, Back To Reality”

bigeasy830

August 30th, 2009
7:23 pm

Greg if your team stays healthy they won’t win 5 games, 4 at the most.HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA