Posts Tagged ‘Falcons’

Bradley’s Buzz: Overrated = DeAngelo, Brooking and Vick

No. 7 is No. 2 on ESPN’s list

It’s the most loaded word in the lexicon of sports, and it’s not “steroids.” It’s “overrated.” Use it and you’ll start an argument. Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, writing for ESPN.com’s Insiders Web site, starts 25 arguments in one fell swoop, listing the most overrated NFL players of the past decade. (Link requires registration.)

DeShaun Foster holds the unenviable No. 1 spot, and I wouldn’t object: I’ve never seen him as anything more than an average tailback. But DeShaun Foster isn’t why we’re here. We’re here to identify the three former Falcons who cracked Schatz’s top 11, presented here — with Schatz’s full commentary — in descending order:

2. Michael Vick: Even before Vick’s sordid off-field activities came to light, he was a disappointing No. 1 overall pick. Vick was a great runner, sure, but when he dropped back to pass, he turned into Tyler Thigpen or Derek Anderson, quarterbacks who are close to Vick’s career averages of 6.7 yards …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Three Falcons among decade’s underrated

Say what you want about the Worldwide Leader, but it knows how to start a discussion. On its Insiders Web site, ESPN.com presents the 25 most underrated NFL players of the past decade, and also the 25 most overrated. Being Mr. Merry Sunshine, I’ll begin by accentuating the positive.

The list of the underrated (link requires registration) was compiled by Aaron Schatz of Football Insiders, and since it’s one of those pay-to-view things — and I paid my $39.95 — I’ll take the liberty of quoting liberally. The most undervalued player of the decade is wide receiver Derrick Mason. And three Falcons, present or past, are included:

11. John Abraham: Abraham ranks second in total sacks since 2000, behind Jason Taylor. He’s had five seasons with 10 or more sacks, plus a sixth season with 9½ in 12 games. He was a first-round pick and was later traded for a first-round pick, but he’s oddly under the radar. He hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2004, even with 16½ sacks last season.

22. Grady …

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More kudos for the Falcons: Is it all too much too soon?

It was just a year ago we weren’t sure the Falcons would win a game. Now they’re all the rage. From Mike Smith being ranked the league’s eighth-best coach by RealScouts to five Birds being listed among Peter Schrager’s top 99 NFL players on FoxSports.com to Roddy White being named the fourth-most indispensable player by Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders

And now this: Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com rates the Falcons’ coaches the best staff in the NFC South. Which, given that Sean Payton has taken New Orleans to the NFC title game and John Fox has led Carolina to the Super Bowl, is saying something.

And part of me thinks it’s great. It’s been a while since anybody had nice things to say about this franchise, and the folks in charge are good people. But another part of me — the part that says, “You know, this organization still hasn’t had consecutive winning seasons” — wonders if it’s too much too soon.

The 2008 Falcons were a delight because nothing, almost literally, was …

Continue reading More kudos for the Falcons: Is it all too much too soon? »

Rich McKay, genius? Well, he drafted indispensable Roddy

And here we’d been thinking Thomas Dimitroff was the real brains in Flowery Branch. Silly us. According to Bill Barnwell of the Football Outsiders on ESPN.com, the Falcons own the NFL’s fourth-most indispensable player. (Link requires registration.) And now you’re thinking …

Dimitroff signee Michael Turner? No.

Dimitroff draftee Matt Ryan? Nope.

Roddy White.

Color me surprised. I think of Roddy White as a fine wide receiver, but when I think of wideouts I think first of Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Smith or Randy Moss or even — pardon me for mentioning the name, lest ESPN the network do an hour-long special — Terrell Owens. But here’s Barnwell’s list of indispensables, and it’s an eye-opener:

  • 10. Kris Jenkins, DT, Jets.
  • 9. Michael Roos, OT, Titans.
  • 8. Ed Reed, S, Ravens.
  • 7. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans.
  • 6. Tommie Harris, DT, Bears.
  • 5. Ryan Clady, OT, Broncos.
  • 4. Roddy White, WR, Falcons.
  • 3. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders.
  • 2. DeMarcus Ware, LB, Cowboys.
  • 1. Peyton Manning, QB, …

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The Falcons are stacked — on one side of the ball, anyway

The good news: The Falcons have five really good players, according to Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com. The not-so-good: Only one of them is a defender. That’d be John Abraham, ranked 92nd.

The others: Roddy White is 56th, Tony Gonzalez 47th and Matt Ryan 43rd. And Michael Turner is the highest-rated Bird at No. 38, which seems low for a guy who tied for second in the MVP voting. And I was surprised to see Turner rated below DeAngelo Williams, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer. But quibbling isn’t why I’m here, at least not today. I come to highlight a theme.

The 2009 Falcons will be outstanding on offense, less so on D. The defense is young and reworked, and that’s not bad in and of itself. Last season’s unit was no colossus. (Remember third-and-16 in the desert? Yow.) But, if it was time for Keith Brooking and Michael Boley and Lawyer Milloy and maybe even lovable Grady Jackson to leave, it will nonetheless take time for their replacements to settle.

I see some 40-37 games coming …

Continue reading The Falcons are stacked — on one side of the ball, anyway »

Michael Vick as a Falcon: Some brief shining moments …

I remember how it was that Saturday in 2001. I remember so many folks descending on Falcons headquarters for a scheduled draft-day celebration that traffic backed up for miles and even Hall County police couldn’t sort it out. I remember what Dan Reeves said about driving to work that giddy day: “People were pulling up beside me and giving me the thumbs-up. Usually they give me some other sign.”

I remember how thrilled we all were that Michael Vick was a Falcon. I remember Jamal Anderson — not Jamaal, but Jamal — saying how heady it felt to be part of an organization that traded up to make such a wonderful thing happen. I remember the feeling that a door to the future had been flung wide open, and that ahead was nothing but seashells and balloons.

I remember waiting for his apprenticeship to end, and I remember the giddiness over the opening game of the 2002 season and how splendid he was in an overtime loss at Lambeau Field. (He would soon revisit the scene to even greater …

Continue reading Michael Vick as a Falcon: Some brief shining moments … »

Mike Smith: From “Who’s he?” to “He’s really good!”

Not long ago, more than a few folks wondered who Mike Smith was and why the Falcons hired him. And now, 17 months on the job, Smitty finds himself rated in the upper 25 percentile of the NFL’s head coaches.

According to RealScouts, which is Sporting News Today’s evaluative panel of former NFL scouts, Smith is No. 8 among the elite 32. He trails Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton and Ken Whisenhunt — three of whom have won Super Bowls, six of whom have been to the Super Bowl.

Admittedly, this was the year to move upward, what with Tony Dungy, Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren no longer coaching and Lane Kiffin having moved his genius to the SEC. Still, eighth for a guy who hasn’t won a playoff game — and who has worked only one season as head coach — is heady stuff. (And Smitty is ranked one spot above John Fox and 12 above Lovie Smith, both of whom have taken teams to the Super Bowl.)

Who’s the best Falcons coach since Dan …

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Bradley’s Buzz: A rosy consensus emerges on the Falcons

A team grows in Flowery Branch

In ESPN.com’s first power ratings of the 2009 season — technically, the 2009 season doesn’t begin for three months, but haven’t we learned that pro football is a year-round sport? — its panel of analysts pegs the Falcons as the NFL’s 11th-best team. (Thanks to reader Anthony Burnette for the tip.) But the Worldwide Leader didn’t become the Worldwide Leader by letting it go at that.

Each voter — there are 12, meaning ESPN has more NFL analysts than the number of players any NFL team can field at any given time — has his ballot broken down, and here’s where it gets interesting. Eleven put the Falcons between No. 7 and No. 13 in the 32-team league. The exception is esteemed former colleague Len Pasquarelli, who has the Falcons 20th.

The same Pasquarelli ranks Carolina No. 3, and the Panthers, who finished one spot above the Falcons overall, generated the widest spread of any team. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. had them 24th. Five of the 12 …

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Matt Ryan on 2009: “We want to win our division”

Flowery Branch – A year ago minicamp for Matt Ryan was about Matt Ryan, who was just trying to show he belonged in the NFL. This one was different. The world now knows Matty Ice belongs, and the Iceman himself is focused on his team.

“Last year you were just trying to keep your head above water,” Ryan said Sunday, the Falcons having completed their weekend drills. “I certainly don’t want to sound like I have it all figured out — because I don’t — but this year it’s more about fine-tuning.”

A quick way to get Ryan to try and change the subject: Ask about last season. The greatest rookie quarterback in NFL history doesn’t care to revisit his rookie year — at least not yet. “It’ll be be nice to look back on when you’re done playing,” he said. “But right now it was just a good start. It’s something to have in the bank.”

When he does recall 2008 — hey, writers are paid to be persistent — does he think first about successes or failures? “A little bit of both. You have to learn from …

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Bradley’s Buzz: The Hawks win a series, and people notice!

A change of pace: Glowing Hawk reviews

Back in October, John Hollinger of ESPN.com picked the Hawks to finish 31-51, 13th among the 15 teams in the NBA East. On Sunday he sat in Philips Arena and watched them beat the Miami Heat to advance to Round 2, and it’s safe to say he was duly impressed.

Focusing on Joe Johnson’s breakout game, Hollinger also wrote: “If Atlanta’s All-Star could match Miami’s All-Star [Dwyane Wade} shot for shot, as he finally did Sunday, there was no way Wade’s supporting cast could lift him past Johnson’s.” (Oddly enough, a guy I know had been saying much the same thing. Not that I’m ever right. Though I was, kind of, this time.)

For the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman wrote essentially the same thing and played heavily off Wade’s assertion that the Hawks have five guys who can make a play. And five tends to beat one.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

On SI.com, Bill Trocchi called Zaza Pachulia’s dive-on-the-floor offensive …

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