The Falcons might actually go to camp. What’ll happen then?

"Throw a screen pass? Are those even legal?" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"A screen pass? Are those even legal?" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Falcons might go to training camp on time. Should that happen, it would prompt the question: What the heck was the lockout all about, anyway? But that’s not among the issues we’re here to ponder today. These are.

1. If Julio Jones isn’t really good right away, will that mean Thomas Dimitroff’s give-a-lot-to-get-one-man draft strategy was wrong-headed? If Julio Jones is really good right away, will that mean Roddy White’s tender sensibilities get ruffled? (NFL rule of thumb: No. 1 receivers tend to have tunnel vision.)

2. If Julio Jones is really good right away, will we be able to tell? Or will Mike Mularkey’s offense remain the ponderous thing it became last season? Is Mularkey the guy to oversee a quick-strike attack this would seem to have the capacity to become, or is the only thing he shares with the mad scientist Mike Martz a set of initials?

3. What happens if, under the new collective bargaining agreement, three-fifths of the Falcons’ starting offensive line is granted unrestricted free agency? Will the Falcons move to keep all three — Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock? Will they settle for two of the above? One of the above? Who would replace the incumbents? Understudies Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson? Can a team poised for a Super Bowl run afford to change so much up front at such a late date?

4. Is there still a roster spot for Jerious Norwood? If so, why? Wasn’t rookie Jacquizz Rodgers drafted to be the new-and-healthier Norwood? Will Mularkey seek to deploy Rodgers in space by getting him the ball on screen passes? (Toward that end, has Mularkey ever called a screen pass?)

5. Michael Turner had 10 games in which he rushed for more than 120 yards in 2008 and 2009; he had three last season. He’s 29. He has carried the ball 888 times the past three seasons. Is he still the Burner?

6. Tony Gonzalez slipped from 83 catches in 2009 to 70 in 2010: How come? Why did he disappear — three catches for 19 yards and no touchdowns — in the Dec. 26 loss to New Orleans and the playoff loss to Green Bay? Did Gonzalez, who has since turned 35, stop getting open? Did Matt Ryan stop looking for him?

7. Ryan has taken the Falcons to three winning seasons in his first three professional years, but won’t the memory of those two playoff losses linger until he wins a postseason game? (We say again: Peyton Manning didn’t win his first playoff game until his sixth NFL season.) Is there anything about Ryan that suggests he can’t negotiate the logical next step? If so, what?

8. For a team coming off a 13-3 season, isn’t there much left for the Falcons to do after the lockout ends? Beyond the matter of the offensive line, don’t they still have to find a pass rusher to complement John Abraham? Is Ray Edwards of Minnesota, as has been suggested, that complement? If so, will he sign here? Will there be enough money left under the (presumably lowered) salary cap to accommodate Clabo and Dahl, say, and Edwards?

9. If teams throwing away from Dunta Robinson contributed to Brent Grimes’ rise to the Pro Bowl, what happens when those teams decide to start testing Robinson again? Were his pedestrian numbers of last season — one interception, seven passes defensed — an indication that the Falcons overpaid for the big-ticket cornerback, or were they simply a function of opposing tactics?

10. Peria Jerry was the Falcons’ No. 1 pick of 2009; he has made two pro starts and registered two pro sacks. Sean Weatherspoon was the No. 1 pick of 2010; he made five starts and registered one sack. Are these two difference-makers healthy enough to make a difference? More to the point, can they stay healthy?

11. We posed this question last January, and we might not get an answer until next January: Were the Falcons as good as 13-3 or as bad as the 48-21 playoff loss to Green Bay? Was the defense as flawed as Aaron Rodgers made it look? Or were the Packers just that good that given Saturday? Wasn’t it troubling that a team that played so hard and so well to gain home-field advantage collapsed on its home field? Will the sting of that wretched night be the goad that carries this franchise to bigger and better things?

By Mark Bradley

109 comments Add your comment

BOSS GATOR

July 12th, 2011
3:20 pm

Jacksonville 29. 2011….Come on down Red Panties…We’re waiting….YOUR BOSS

Outside Observer

July 12th, 2011
3:20 pm

Let the lockout end soon. Go Falcons!

BOSS GATOR

July 12th, 2011
3:22 pm

retired

July 12th, 2011
3:22 pm

good questions
1st

the teacher

July 12th, 2011
3:23 pm

retired

July 12th, 2011
3:24 pm

guess not ………3rd and holding

the teacher

July 12th, 2011
3:25 pm

I shouldn’t have read the article first. All good questions, and that is why we play the games…

BOSS GATOR

July 12th, 2011
3:26 pm

More NFL players were locked-up than locked-out……

PMC

July 12th, 2011
3:26 pm

As much as people salivate over Peyton Manning, I’m not sure anyone wants to have a postseason record like his early in his career or college.

It’s never good to get branded as a guy who can’t win _______x

[...] young potential superstar quarterback Matt Ryan, but are prepared to move on with some …The Falcons might actually go to camp. What'll happen then?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)2011 NFL Free Agency: Atlanta Falcons Will Have Their Hands Full [...]

Mark Bradley

July 12th, 2011
3:39 pm

Let that be a lesson, teacher. Never read one of my articles.

SeenThisB4

July 12th, 2011
3:41 pm

12. Will Mark Bradley ever realize that it’s a salary cap, and not salary cup?

13. During what pre-season game will Julio Jones sustain a torn ACL? or other such season crippling injury.

14. At what point will the falcan’t fans realize, that the Saints are going to win the NFC South Division this year?

teamguy

July 12th, 2011
3:43 pm

Yes, yes, no, yes, no, no, no…..whoa. I think this offense can be as good as Mularkey lets it be. As for the defense, we would have looked a lot better if we had wrapped up Rodgers when we got our hands on him. If Spoon and Jerry can recover from their injuries, and stay reasonably healthy, I think our defense is fine as is. Just the opinion of one “blinded by love for the Falcons” fan.

Too Tough 44

July 12th, 2011
3:49 pm

I am ready for some FOOTBALL!!!! Go Falcons!

The Grinch

July 12th, 2011
3:52 pm

I think unquestionably the biggest problem the Falcons are going to have this season is Mularkey. He must be a REALLY nice guy, because otherwise I can’t imagine why he supposedly has a reputation around the league as being “creative,” and is able to keep finding work. He is the most predictable play caller I have ever witnessed at any level of football, and all the new toys we keep giving him are going to go to waste. I sincerely hope someone’s given him a “hint” that he’d better open it up a little this season or start sending out his resume. This team is way too nice a Ferrari do be driven by that little old lady.

The Grinch

July 12th, 2011
3:53 pm

And ONCE AGAIN my post has been eaten on this blog. Unreal.

The Real Falcon

July 12th, 2011
4:01 pm

Why people seem to think a rookie is better than Norwood is beyond belief!

Brendan

July 12th, 2011
4:07 pm

I’ll say that all the UFA’s will be re-signed, and that this was a “whole lotta nuthin’” if the season starts on time. I still have faith in Dimitroff. So, I think this Julio Jones situation will turn out okay. If it doesn’t, all GM’s have to answer for their mistakes. I credit Arthur Blank for ‘greenlighting’ a magnanimous move like this. 31 other GM’s wish they had Arthur Blank as an owner.

D. Bell

July 12th, 2011
4:22 pm

They really need to find a way to keep all three linemen. They’ve been together a while now and only get better.

Matt from MN

July 12th, 2011
4:24 pm

I just have a really, really bad feeling about this upcoming season. I am particularly concerned about Ryan, who has regressed from his unbelievable rookie year.

Herschel Talker

July 12th, 2011
4:34 pm

MB:

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!

HT

Brendan

July 12th, 2011
4:38 pm

Matt Ryann will be just fine next seasons. He’s a good QB. It’ll be a great year for the Falcons. Maybe not 13-3, but 10-6 or 11-5 is very possible.

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2011
4:38 pm

In my opinion, they still have weak lines on both sides of the ball. It really shows up when they play a quality team. Don’t see that improving much this season.

Paddy

July 12th, 2011
4:52 pm

Seen this B4….you are not supposed to be on here, remember. You hate the Falcons and said you were never posting again. It is not nice to lie, young man.

Larry

July 12th, 2011
4:57 pm

Was the defense as flawed as Aaron Rodgers made it look?

Yes! And it is grossly under coached, too!

Just look at the same Aaron Rodger’s numbers the very next week against Chicago:

17 of 30 (57%), 244 yards, 0 TD, 2 int.

And the Packers barely won 21-14 due to the Bears’ 3rd string QB throwing an int for a TD to the Packers’ Defensive Tackle!

Yes, our defense IS that bad, and BVG is way over his head!

Delbert D.

July 12th, 2011
5:00 pm

The simplest way for the team owners to handle the free agent situation is rock-paper-scissors.

honest_abe

July 12th, 2011
5:03 pm

mularkey’s offense is just fine. however, arthur blanks, ahem i mean dimitroff’s desperate move to get a high profile receiver will haunt this team for the next decade.

Kane337

July 12th, 2011
5:14 pm

Mark, Peyton didn’t win his first playoff game until his 6th season. He was drafted in 1998 and beat the Chiefs in Jan of 2004. It also took Drew Brees 6 seasons to win his first playoff game.

Astro Joe

July 12th, 2011
5:16 pm

A potentially rough scenario would be spending to keep the O-line intact only to watch Moore, Witherspoon, Jerry and Abraham miss significant time (again). Throw in a Big 10-esque offensive strategy from Mularkey and we could be looking at a disappointing step backwards. My vote is to hedge the bet… sign 1-2 of our o-line FAs and go after a FA difference maker on the defensive side. And offer Mularkey a FAT bonus if the team scores more than 400 points in the regular season.

Kane337

July 12th, 2011
5:24 pm

Correction: Peyton Manning and the Colts beat the Bronco’s a week earlier before playing the Chiefs.

mountain_jim

July 12th, 2011
6:06 pm

Mularkey’s offense is not just fine.

I appreciate Mark pointing out his issues here. He needs to open it up with screens and more deception and a more sophistcated route structure. Just from down and distance and formation, opponents and us at home knew the play way too much of the time. Hopefully he will use his new weapons well – otherwise I hope he is gone after this year. He called a great game against Baltimore but the rest of the season went into a shell with the lead every time.

SeenThisB4

July 12th, 2011
6:14 pm

Text of the conversation during the photo shot above:

Mularkey: Matt, You’ll never be an elite QB and I’m tired of covering for you.
Fatt Ryan: Coach I’m trying my best!
Mularkey: BS! If you were, you’d have learned the playbook by now!
Fatt Ryan: Wow! We have a playbook?

Najeh Davenpoop

July 12th, 2011
6:39 pm

East: Eagles
South: Saints
West: 49ers
North: Packers
Wild cards: Lions, Falcons

FALCONS SORRY

July 12th, 2011
6:59 pm

MARK BRADLY! IT DONT MAKE NO DIFFRENCE IF THE FALCONS GO TO CAMP OR NOT BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT AUTHUR BLANK AND MATTY HOPELESS WILL JUST MESS UP THE SEASON! THE WHOLE WORLD WAS WATCHING IN THE PLAY OFF LAST YEAR WHEN MATTY HOPELESS THROW AWAY THE WHOLE SEASON WHEN HE THROW THAT BALL RIGHT TO THE PACKER THAT THEY RUN BACK IN FOR A TOUCH DOWN! BLANK LOOK LIKE HE WANTED TO CRY AFTER THAT GAME! THE FALCONS CHANCES OF EVER WINNING THE SUPPER BOWL GOT BLOWED TO KINGDOMCUM WHEN THAT SNAKE BLANK THROW MIKE AWAY FOR HIS ILL LEGITMATE SON FROM BOSTON MATTY HOPELESS! YOU CAN SEE THE LIKE NESS BECAUSE THEY BOTH LOOK LIKE SISSY BOYS! MIKE IS BACK ON TOP OF THE WORLD THERE IN PHILLIE BECAUSE PEOPLE THERE KNOW WHAT GOOD HE IS! EVEN THAT SORRY NIKE KNOW THEY MESS UP AND THEY BEG MIKE TO COME BECAUSE THEY WERE GOING BROKE WITH OUT HIM! MIKE OWN THE ATL! BLANK IS GOING BROKE WITH OUT MIKE AND HE DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO! BLANK BELONG IN PRISON NOT MIKE! GET YOU A ORANGE PRISON SUIT TO GO WITH YOU ORANGE HO DEEPO APPRON BLANK! CLEAN UP IN BLANK CELL! BLANK WET HIM SELF AGAIN!

bgdawg

July 12th, 2011
7:22 pm

lol the haters are out of there hole today

falconfan2986

July 12th, 2011
7:31 pm

We will be OK. Stop stressing, Mark.

falconfan2986

July 12th, 2011
7:33 pm

Just got upgraded seats to Section 114, Row 5 seats 17,18. I am so excited.Go Falcons.

The Truth

July 12th, 2011
7:46 pm

The internet is a wonderful thing. No matter how illiterate and stupid you are like Falcons Sorry you can post your racist nonsensical opinion. Never mind he seems to forget that the Eagles lead by Mr. Wonderful lost to the Packers when Mike threw an interception to end the game. I still pull for Vick when he isn’t playing the Falcons but I understand that his demise was his own fault.

Stizz

July 12th, 2011
8:08 pm

Not only will the Falcons win the South, but the Saints better watch to make sure the Bucs don’t beat them for 2nd.

BirdDawg24

July 12th, 2011
9:04 pm

the defense was that bad in the play-off loss. but the offense didnt really shine either. jones could be a difference maker,defense needs to get to the QB faster.Rodgers made the defense look terrible.but lets face it they didnt play that great all year.For every one big play they made, in a game .they gave up 3 big plays.a really good offense will destroy them.the offensive line , at least 2 of the guys if not all of them needs to be resigned, this is a no-brainer. this needs to happen. the falcons need a shutdown corner on defense .the D line is pretty good but they have to get better pressure on opposing QBs.if julio becomes a deep threat this offense is gonna be wicked.but they have to take more shots downfield and the recievers have got to catch the ball.

Just wondering

July 12th, 2011
9:32 pm

@Boss Gator, when did UF cancel the Georgia/Florida game and schedule the Falcons instead?

Dr. Warren

July 12th, 2011
9:51 pm

I was reading the blog and muttering to myself what about Turner. And there it was. Point #5. He showed signs of slowing down last year. This will be his last productive season.

Trip

July 12th, 2011
10:07 pm

Sainthater

July 12th, 2011
10:11 pm

I just took a leak on the Saints Superbowl ring… Your city is only good for strippers and creole and the strippers are mediocre at best. The Falcons are set for the long term. Let Brees get hurt and we will see how great you are. Seen ThisB4

Alan

July 12th, 2011
10:16 pm

Hey Mark How fitting was it that JJ went 1 2 3 and two of the outs were against the Detroit tigers!

Seen (Sean Payton) This (Get embroiled in a painkiller scandal) B4

July 12th, 2011
10:20 pm

Actually, SeenThisB4, both your comments made me laugh out loud. If you can’t laugh at yourself…then what’s the point? So, for now, I say: GEAUX SEENTHISB4! YOUR TIME!

Seen (The Overrated American League) This (Lose the All-Star Game) B4

July 12th, 2011
10:21 pm

Great point Alan…go J.J, go BRAVES! I hope Freddie does a better job of using Venters in the 2nd half, though…used him way too much so far.

Sports watchdog

July 12th, 2011
10:41 pm

Falcons will go 8-8
Miss playlets by 2 games, but be competitive. Boston college qb won’t win big games, just can’t take the heat.

SeenThisB4

July 12th, 2011
10:44 pm

Yeah, some of the dialogue on this blog, even about the Saints, is pretty funny.

Top Dawg

July 12th, 2011
11:02 pm