Dunta Robinson: Another key piece in a growing colossus

Arthur Blank gushes. Dunta Robinson readies to reciprocate. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Arthur Blank gushes. Dunta Robinson readies to reciprocate. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Every big-ticket free agent says he’s happy to have signed with his new team, for good reason: He has just punched a very big ticket. But Dunta Robinson wasn’t just happy Monday — he was ecstatic. The Falcons’ new cornerback was introduced to the media and did something previously believed impossible: He out-gushed Arthur Blank.

“This red and black — I can’t believe I’m standing in front of it,” Robinson said, gesturing to the Falcons-themed backdrop.

Actually, Robinson wanted to play for two teams that wear red and black, but one turned him down. He longed to be a Bulldog, but the hometown school, which was nearing the end of Jim Donnan’s regime, didn’t want him. (Robinson wound up at South Carolina.) And does he bear a grudge? Oh, yes.

“After that, the defensive coordinator was fired,” said Robinson, and then he laughed. But now, a decade later, Dunta — it’s pronounced Don-TAY, by the way — finally has the color scheme of his dreams.

He’s a Falcon. He’ll get to work in Flowery Branch, which is barely an hour from Athens. “I’m home,” he said, and his aim now is do what nobody has yet managed to do as an Atlanta Falcon: Win the Super Bowl.

With every offseason under the Dimitty/Smitty administration, the stakes get hiked. Two years ago the Falcons landed Michael Turner, who made the Pro Bowl. Last year they traded for Tony Gonzalez, who’s a Hall of Famer. This time it’s Robinson, whom coach Mike Smith lauded as having “the skill set you look for a No. 1 cornerback.”

It wasn’t so long ago — heck, it was every given Sunday in October and November 2009 — we wondered if the Falcons had even a No. 4 cornerback. Now they’ve paid, maybe overpaid, for a guy who has a reputation as a very good player but hasn’t yet made a Pro Bowl. And that’s OK. When you’re as close to something big as the Falcons are, you can’t pinch pennies. If you have a need, you fill it.

Robinson: “I think we really have a chance to do some special things … We’re strong up front and up the middle [on defense], and I’m that piece on the back end.”

Someone asked Thomas Dimitroff if the Falcons were closer to a Super Bowl than they were a week ago. Quoth the GM: “We are closer to being a team moving in the direction of being a perennial playoff contender.”

There was a time when the Falcons were capable only of perennial disappointment. That changed with the arrival of Dimitroff. Not every move has been a home run, but every move has been so well considered that a team in utter ruins when 2008 began is now viewed, and not just locally, as a real threat to unseat the Super Bowl champs in the NFC South.

And you can feel the difference. Since buying the team in January 2002, Blank has always spoken in bold terms, but today those words are backed by more than a rich man’s wallet. The Falcons aren’t paying Robinson $57 million over six seasons to help them make the playoffs every so often. They’re paying him to lift them ever closer to the Lombardi Trophy.

“Last year it was about getting the back-to-back winning seasons,” Blank said. That mission accomplished, there’s a new organizational mandate. Blank again: “It’s about getting rings now.”

Dunta Robinson could have shopped himself around. He’d have had a half-dozen suitors. He stopped at one. He told his agent a half-hour after free agency had begun: “If [the Falcons] want me in here, I want to be there.”

And now, the contract signed? “Now I’m here,” Robinson said, “and we’re going to take off running.”

Yeah, we’ve heard big talk before, and we’ve even seen the Falcons play in a Super Bowl. But never has there been such a vibe of positivity bordering on inevitability about this franchise. Never have we been able to say with any confidence, “The Falcons are going to win a Super Bowl within three years.”

But I just did. And I meant it.

162 comments Add your comment

natedawg

March 8th, 2010
7:00 pm

Bigstack O' Pancakes. It is an Irish name.

March 8th, 2010
7:01 pm

Awesome signing.

Decades Young

March 8th, 2010
7:01 pm

I’ve had season tickets for 36 years and went to the only Falcons’ Super Bowl.

I haven’t posted a comment before but just had to this time.

I agree with you Mark!

Willy

March 8th, 2010
7:01 pm

smitty dmitty is catchier

Willy

March 8th, 2010
7:02 pm

And If I hadn’t of bothered to read first, I’d have been first. thus goes my only chance

natedawg

March 8th, 2010
7:04 pm

personally, i agree with mark here on this one. the falcons are purtty darn close to reachin that next level. with our super offense in place with matty ice under the wheel, when jerry comes back we’ll have a decent front, curtis peterson is gonna bring the pain this year, plus with dunta (pronounced DAHN-tayyyy) and brian williams (not the tv anchor), i think we’ll be in for another great season, where we make the playoffs

Willy

March 8th, 2010
7:10 pm

Trade down, trade down, load up.

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 8th, 2010
7:10 pm

Not splashy but a stud center in the draft would be nice.

nativefalcon

March 8th, 2010
7:12 pm

Great FA signing, glad they got him. Goodbye to Houston, hope you learn to turn your head around.

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 8th, 2010
7:13 pm

Also, hope there is more to the Norwood tender than meets the eye.

RomeDawg

March 8th, 2010
7:14 pm

Good signing. I love that it DOES seem like every year the Falcons try to better themselves. When the Smith family owned it you got the feeling that they didn’t care about winning but saving money. We may not be too many moves away from a Super Bowl contending team.

thomas dmitroff

March 8th, 2010
7:15 pm

falcons fans,

wow, I’ve been reading the blogs and wow, you guys are the dumbest fans in the nfl. jamaal anderson is still the savior of this franchise! to let you all in on a top secret in the organization, with the 19th pick we will be drafting…….Tim Tebow. After all, we DO need someone to hold the clipboard.

Love, Thomas

Vick Supporter

March 8th, 2010
7:21 pm

Getting rings,lol.

Yeah right

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
7:32 pm

Thanks, Decades Young.

Kudos, natedawg.

Let the record reflect that this post was written in its entirety at Chick-fil-A at Northside and Paces. Good wireless at Chick-fil-A.

John James

March 8th, 2010
7:32 pm

While I agree that the birds are heading in the right direction, I still feel we are missing too many parts to be in a Super Bowl within 3 years. While Robinson strenghtens our secondary, he’s not a “shut down” kinda guy and this will still be a team wekness unless someone else steps up. We need help on our D line (no pass rush), and our Offensive line is still too small in my opinion and not getting any younger. Also, I’m afraid we may have worn Michael Turner out in his breakout year (hope I’m WRONG there) but overall, we’re definately on the right track………..I just think it’ll take more than 3 years to get it done

Wes

March 8th, 2010
7:34 pm

Great signing? I am sure it’s probably an upgrade, but not a big loss for Houston to be honest. He was selfish and wanted to much money. He sure can hit anyone that is in front of him, but receivers get behind him and burn him quite regularly. He really isn’t that good of a cover corner, but good against the run. I would rather have him go somewhere else than have an attitude like his hold out until the regular season and under perform to boot all the while asking for FAR to much money.

p

March 8th, 2010
7:39 pm

OK, at this rate, re-signing Foxworth would have been an absolute steal at $28 million last year. I’m a big Falcons fan, but failure to sign (or retain) a CB last year virtually threw the 2009 season into the trash before it began. We never had a shot to beat a really good team.

I like this move, but the pendulum has now swung to far the other way. We have vastly overpaid a CB, and now he had better be as good as advertised.

Dimitty/Smitty have done more good than harm, but I’m not ready to canonize them at this point. Let’s win a couple of playoff games first.

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

There’s no question that Robinson has had a better career than Foxworth, p. Denver gave up on Foxworth, let’s remember.

The Grinch

March 8th, 2010
7:44 pm

Welcome to Atlanta, young man. Since it’s pronounced “Don-tay,” “The Inferno” would be a perfect nickname for him other than it would imply getting burned. Hmmm. Back to the lab again.

Tailback U

March 8th, 2010
7:45 pm

As to your point about needing a defensive draft I do agree
in general terms. But any GM worth his salt will make that
1st pick based on the best player available with a middle
round pick rather than need unless it is assessed that they
are truly one player and ony one player away.
In the modern NFL this more than rare , it is unheard of
in the day of free aqency. TD knows his stuff I will feel
confident whether he goes offense or defense with that first
pick. Sounds strange from a Falcon’s fan considering the
terrible franchise history huh ? But it feels good to say so.

The Grinch

March 8th, 2010
7:46 pm

And let us not undervalue the effect being happy has on an athlete’s performance. I think he’ll do quite well here.

George

March 8th, 2010
7:47 pm

I seem to recall that when the Falcons were yet on the drawing board in the mid 60s, there was a discussion of having their colors reflect that of both Tech and Georgia. Now when one sees the Falcons, red and black are predominate and are apparently viewed by at least one new Falcon as the Athens pro team. Yes, white is one of Tech’s two colors and we see the birds in that color occasionally, but where’s the old gold? Perhaps red, black and gold just don’t go together. What say ye, Mr. Bradley?

80sFalcon

March 8th, 2010
7:50 pm

I went to my first Falcon’s game when I was 8 years old. My father took me and I was hooked! He bought season tickets in ‘75 and passed them down when he felt he was too old to go on a regular basis. We went to Miami to watch Atlanta in an improbable Super Bowl season. Over the past few seasons I’ve been excited about Falcon’s football to a level not previously reached. After 35 seasons, I’ll have to part with my tickets for economic reasons. I’m excited to see the Falcons turn the corner. Maybe in a few years I can renew my love affair with my Beloved Falcons! GO BIRDS!!!!

Kane337

March 8th, 2010
7:51 pm

Honestly I haven’t seen too many Texans games so I really don’t know how good this guy is. Sure I’ve seen some highlight reels but highlight reels can make anyone look good. I hope this guy does well for us. He sure is happy to be here that is for sure. I hope the marriage works out. Now lets get a pass rusher and get some pressure on the QB.

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
7:56 pm

I’m a big fan of gold and white, George. Those were the Maysville Bulldogs’ colors.

Tosin

March 8th, 2010
7:57 pm

80sFalcon
Your a true fan, to bad I live in MD so i don’t get many Falcon games.

Benjamin

March 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

Robinson + a healthy Williams + Grimes (if we can bring him back) = a top notch secondary.

Now we just need to fill in the gaps in the front seven. How much money do we have left?

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

My guess is that the Falcons will look first at defense, Tailback U., and I think it’s 50-50 over whether they take a defensive end or an outside linebacker. But there’s a chance they could grab an offensive linemen. Both Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl are free agents after next season.

Josh

March 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

Read one of your articles about the Braves in a 1992 AJC two days ago; boy does everybody look different.

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
7:59 pm

That’s where the draft comes in, Benjamin. You can spend whatever it takes to sign your draft picks.

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
8:00 pm

I look a lot different, Josh. Don’t know about everyone else.

gadawgs

March 8th, 2010
8:01 pm

Can Jason Heyward play football? Just sayin’…………………

Great addition to our secondary. Robinson will be a pro bowler next year, mark it down. Our defense just got alot better. With Grimes, Williams and Robinson we have a very good secondary. Now just draft Witherspoon and another quality receiver opposite of Roddy and we will be in the big game in less than three years.

OldTimer

March 8th, 2010
8:02 pm

The Falcons are a team I will pay money to see.

Benjamin

March 8th, 2010
8:08 pm

This is true, MB, regarding the draft. I’d still like to get another veteran or two, provided we had the cap space, preferably up front to beef up the trenches.

With Robinson’s signing, to answer your question in the piece concerning who the Falcons draft for, if I’m Dmitroff, I’m focusing almost solely on D this year in the draft. And if we’re in a position where we can deal our first round pick down a little for a later first/second or later first/third, I do that, too. Just my two pennies.

MikeyD

March 8th, 2010
8:14 pm

Let’s hope that Smith takes a bigger role in the defensive coaching. The Falcons’ d-coordinator is an in-over-his-head college assistant. The Falcons are going nowhere defensively until they get an upgrade where it matters most.

DePlane

March 8th, 2010
8:17 pm

Good pickup….takes the pressure off to spend the 19th pick on a CB…and opens up tons of possibilities in the draft.

Mark, what do you think the chances are of the team taking a look at Matt Ryan’s old center Matt Tennant…projected as a 2-3 rounder. Think he will last til the 3rd round?

Supes

March 8th, 2010
8:18 pm

Now lets hope that P. Jerry and W. Moore can live up to their draft status of being high draft picks, we didn’t really get to see them perform. It will go a long way toward making our D better. Having an above average CB helps…plus he wanted to be a Falcon only makes it better!

Atlanta Peach

March 8th, 2010
8:25 pm

Enter your comments here

now that's funy

March 8th, 2010
8:26 pm

It’s good to know we have a GM that goes after what the team needs. Thank You, TD. No GM can predict the future, but it’s nice to have one that addresses obvious needs. Things look bright in ATL.

If Brent Grimes starts 16 games, he willl have 10 picks.

Mark Bradley

March 8th, 2010
8:33 pm

I don’t know that Tennant will go as high as Round 3, DePlane. He’s rated the fifth-best center available by Scouts Inc., and the fifth-best center might go later.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

March 8th, 2010
8:38 pm

Alas, if the NFL has lockout this is all for naught.

Sonny Clusters

March 8th, 2010
8:48 pm

Mr Blank looks like about the same size as this guy with a better haircut. Maybe Arthur can play the game. We was always surprised when people we didn’t expect could play would turn out to be a player. Would a prominent nose on a prominent owner fit in a helmet okay or would there have to be accommodations made? Arthur is already conditioned for the sidelines and as far as we know he could be a fill in the Blank someday in the secondary.

waynester

March 8th, 2010
8:48 pm

Mark
Lots of mocks have Tennant going in the 3rd (some even in the 2nd). He’s a good ‘un.
Never felt such a positive vibe from the fanbase– even in the Superbowl run–going back to the mid 60’s( dating myself) when the team came into the league. My dad bought me a falcons jersey and a “real” helmet from the JCPenny christmas catalogue that year and yes, you bet I’ve still got it! Wish my granddad was around to see it he’d absolutely be going nuts right now!

vuduchld

March 8th, 2010
8:52 pm

Franlky, this guy is an ok corner, but the Falcons are a long way away from a SB. I’ve seen too many signings from this franchise over the years to be jumping up and down about this pick up. How much gas does Turner have left? Is Matty Ice the real deal(me don’t think so). What about Norwood and who’s the complimentary wideout to Roddy White. And the D? Well, they couldn’t stop anyone last year so what else is new? The Falcons are like swiss cheese, they are full of holes. And last but not least the coaching staff, not that impressed with them. I’ve seen these signings come and go, I’m from Missouri, SHOW ME!!!

JEM

March 8th, 2010
8:56 pm

MAKE THE THROWBACK UNI’S THE OFFICIAL UNI’S!

Steve Spurrier

March 8th, 2010
9:02 pm

Enter your comments here

SC Boy

March 8th, 2010
9:02 pm

A great Gamecock!

BirdDawg

March 8th, 2010
9:03 pm

I think this team as at a crossroad where they will either take off and become a dynasty or fizzle and become a disappointment. Personally, I see them becoming a dynasty. Not just because of the talent they have, but also because this team has a winning mentality. The players have a lot of heart and fight in them which is an undervalued trait in a championship team. Despite their record, they were a few plays and hurt players from being a championship team this past season. If they can stay healthy, I don’t think there will be any stopping them.

birdlifer

March 8th, 2010
9:07 pm

JEM, good call! The ‘throwbacks’ are THE Atlanta Falcons uniform!!! Vudu, go back to Missouri, dude. We don’t need anymore ‘dropdowns’ in town. Mark, the wireless is good there. The food’s not bad, either. How long until Jamaal and Coleman are gone?

Chop Buster

March 8th, 2010
9:09 pm

Some of you will never be happy with any moves this team makes. I’ll just take a wait and see approach to how Dunte will perform this year. That’s all any of us can do. I know one thing he’s not and that’s Chris Houston. So from that standpoint we’ve upgraded the position. Even though something inside of me wishes we would have kept Chris to see how he does under the new secondary coach.