Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

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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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 …

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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 »

You’re an NFL team. You need a QB. Vick, Favre or Vince?

The famous usher Walter Banks — also the nicest man who has ever lived — posed this question last night at the ol’ ballyard: If you were an NFL team and all your quarterbacks were hurt, would you sign Brett Favre, Vince Young or Michael Vick?

Me, I’d sign Vick. (Let’s assume for the sake of today’s exercise he’s cleared to play.) He has done more in the NFL than Young. (Speaking of whom, he’s still under contract with the Titans, but let’s pretend he isn’t.) I remain intrigued by Young, but I think Vick’s the better player.

Which quarterback would you choose?

  • Brett Favre.
  • Michael Vick.
  • Vince Young.

View Results

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And Favre? I feel about him the way Kate apparently feels about Jon. (Pop culture reference!) I’d rather go without a quarterback — think Tom Matte in that 1965 playoff game with the plays on his wristband — than have that dithering prima donna on my roster.

But you are, as ever, free to disagree. Here’s a poll, and the comment …

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When should Stafford become Detroit’s No. 1 model?

With Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco leading their teams to the playoffs as rookies, it’ll be tough for the 0-for-2008 Detroit Lions to justify not starting Matthew Stafford sometime in 2009. But when in 2009?

From Peter King of SI.com: “Matthew Stafford is on his way to winning the starting quarterback job in Detroit by Halloween, not by Thanksgiving.

Let’s think about that. The only time anybody outside Detroit pays attention to the Lions is on Thanksgiving, when the Lions play their annual Turkey Day game. Would you really want to save Stafford’s first NFL start for the only day this moribund franchise has the nation’s attention? What if he, like, stinks?

Halloween, or thereabouts, sounds better. The Lions will play the almost-as-lousy Rams on Nov. 1 at Ford Field, and Detroit will be coming off a bye. But even that seems a tad slow for someone in whom $41.7 million (of which apparently only $17 million is guaranteed) has been invested. But when, then?

The Lions’ first six games: …

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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: 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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Bradley’s Buzz: “The Falcons select Terrence Cody”

After the draft, more draft!

Before we take our leave of the 2009 NFL draft, we look ahead to the 2010 edition. Andrew Perloff of SI.com has been kind enough to do a mock for next year and, while it’s way too soon to take such things overly seriously, a mock draft is always fun to scan. And Perloff has the Falcons, who just took a big defensive tackle from the SEC West in Round 1, taking an even bigger one 12 months hence.

He’s Terrence Cody of Alabama, also known as Mount Cody. (He weighs 365 pounds, or thereabouts.) It’s also interesting that Perloff has the Falcons, who drafted 24th overall this time, picking 16th in 2010, which would seem to indicate he foresees some slippage in the 2009 season. Feel free to disagree. But, as you’re griping, take note of these names:

  • Sam Bradford, the Heisman holder from Oklahoma, goes No. 1 overall;
  • Eric Berry, the Tennessee safety, goes No. 2;
  • Tim Tebow, who plays for some school (I forget which) goes 13th;
  • Jonathan Dwyer, the Georgia …

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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 …

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