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Found 6 results

  1. Atlanta Falcons two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman vowed to move beyond his team's historic collapse in last month's Super Bowl loss to New England Patriots. At the same time, Freeman knows the empty feeling might stick for a while. "That's like a scar you'll see forever," Freeman told ESPN. "You'll always remember that scar. It's about, 'How can I shake back?' In life, you've got to always learn how to shake back and have another elite year." That the Falcons blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead in a 34-28 loss to the Patriots continues to be a topic of discussion this offseason. Critics still harp on the blunders, including then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan declining to run the ball late and Freeman missing a fourth-quarter block on Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower that led to Matt Ryan being sacked and losing a fumble -- resulting in a momentum-swinging touchdown for the Patriots. Freeman was asked if there was anything he would take back from the game. "Nothing," he said. "No play. Even the mistake I made with the missed block. When you look at a football game, you're talking about four quarters. You're talking about the best guys against the best guys on both sides of the ball. Mistakes are going to happen. If you're perfect in the NFL, something is not right. I don't know anybody who's perfect. "My mistake is a scar. I'm going to learn from it. I'm going to get better from that. That's how I look at it." Freeman said the loss will serve as inspiration heading into next season and beyond. The Falcons hope to make another strong run in 2017 behind reigning MVP Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, Freeman and a rebuilt defense, led by the addition of two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe. "If I dwell on the Super Bowl like, 'Oh man, we lost,' already, I lost," Freeman said. "I'm worried about something that I can't control that's over with and that's in the past. It's peanuts to me. You just move on from it. But until you win the Super Bowl, ain't nothing else going to feel better than winning that Super Bowl. I guarantee it. I don't care if I get 1,000 yards, 10 Pro Bowls. If I don't win that Super Bowl, I'm going to always remember that one Super Bowl we lost."
  2. Dontari Poe is not an Atlanta Falcon, at least not yet. Poe, the top free-agent nose tackle and formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, visited the Falcons' facility on Tuesday but left without a contract. It was the third stop on Poe's free-agent trek following visits to Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Now Poe is in Miami visiting the Dolphins, as ESPN's Josina Anderson reported. The fact that he hasn't secured a contract yet makes you wonder about his asking price. It also raises questions about his health, with reported concerns about Poe's back. If it is all about the money, it would be surprising if the Falcons get into a bidding war, considering general manager Thomas Dimitroff already implied the Falcons wouldn't make a big splash in free agency. Sure, Poe could have a great impact on a defensive line in need of help, and his athleticism is off the charts for a guy who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 346 pounds. But giving Poe, let's say, $10-$12 million in a one-year deal doesn't seem like the best option, even if another team is offering the same. His replacement in Kansas City, Bennie Logan, just received a one-year, $8 million deal that included $7.68 million guaranteed. The Falcons don't have a ton of cap space. The latest NFLPA figures have them at around $14.5 million. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have $47 million in cap space, according to numbers obtained by ESPN's Field Yates. The other two teams on Poe's list -- the Colts and Dolphins -- have $37 million and $18 million in cap space, respectively, according to NFLPA figures. We'll see how it all plays out from the Falcons' standpoint. They need to fill a hole at defensive tackle after cutting veteran Tyson Jackson and not re-signing veteran Jonathan Babineaux. They need a game-changing type player who can stop the run and has pass-rush ability. Poe has to the potential to be that guy, but will he consistently be that type of player? His production dropped the last two seasons after Pro Bowl showings in 2013 and 2014. The Falcons have gone the bargain route with their other free-agent signings thus far, so maybe spending big on one wouldn't be all that bad. But again, it's hard to imagine the Falcons getting into a bidding war, especially against the cap-rich Jaguars. Poe's willingness to accept a one-year deal seems to indicate the 26-year-old wants to prove himself and secure a lucrative, long-term deal after the 2017 season. Maybe the Falcons can convince him he'll have his best opportunity to shine playing for a team fresh off a Super Bowl. And maybe the Falcons can convince him to sign -- for the right price.
  3. Falcons' Ricardo Allen hopes to erase explosive plays against Seattle FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Ricardo Allentakes to heart his "eraser" role in the Atlanta Falcons' defensive scheme. Now the free safety has to erase one bad play from memory and focus on Saturday's divisional playoff matchup with Seattle. Allen was bothered all last week after missing a tackle in the regular-season finale against New Orleans. On the play, he didn't wrap up running back Mark Ingram 13 yards through the hole, and Ingram proceeded to break loose for a 38-yard gain. The fourth-quarter run was the longest rush by an opposing running back the entire year. And Allen, as the single-high safety, is supposed to be the "eraser" and prevent such explosive plays from occurring. "This whole year, I've prided myself on getting the best of the best on the ground," Allen said. "And I hadn't missed any tackles like that. For me to go that many weeks in a row -- and I've been grinding -- I have been getting players down on the ground and haven't let any big plays get by me. And for me to miss that one ... you know, I'm a perfectionist at what I do. "I even had [Ingram] in my wraps. I didn't miss my track or anything. My angle was perfect. He just pushed me down. I went too high, and I actually tried to rip the ball out of his hands. He did a good enough job of covering up the ball and actually pushing me off. For me, that's not good enough. No matter what I do, I've got to get him on the ground. And I was pissed." Falcons coach Dan Quinn called Allen the team's best tackler coming into this season. He believes Allen has filled the "eraser" role quite well while establishing a strong voice as a defensive leader. Allen finished this season with 90 combined tackles, third behind rookies Deion Jones (106) and Keanu Neal (105). Now, it's up to Allen to maintain a high level of play against a Russell Wilson-led Seahawks offense that is always capable of generating explosive plays. And the Falcons' defense is the primary concern, considering MVP candidate Matt Ryan and the offense can outscore anyone. Seattle had just three plays of 20-plus yards when the teams met back in Week 6, a narrow 26-24 win by the Seahawks. Two were pass plays, and the other was a 21-yard run by Christine Michael, who is now with the Packers. "I think we did pretty good against Seattle handling the vertical stuff down the field," Allen said. "They had one I remember to Jimmy Graham [25 yards], but other than that, they really didn't have much." The Falcons did surrender their share of explosive pass plays throughout the season, however. They finished the year giving up 53 pass plays of 20-plus yards, tied for 10th most in the league. During a four-game winning streak to end the season, they showed improvement in allowing 11 pass plays of 20-plus yards. A big part of it had to do with the emergence of NFL sack-leader Vic Beasley Jr. A part of it had to do with the growth of the rookies. And a part of it had to do with playing some suspects offenses (Rams, 49ers and Panthers). But at least it is something to build upon, despite the unit taking a step back against Drew Brees, Ingram and the Saints in the finale. "Those explosive plays were down from the beginning of the season," Allen said. "When did things change? When we started communicating better. When our defense started do really good and not giving up very many points, that's when the explosives went down. If we take away those explosives, man, then we're doing really good as a defense." "That's what I take pride in, too: All those explosives that got behind us, there wasn't many of them that scored. I think the only one that scored against us was the one against Tampa that was thrown in the end zone. The rest of them, I caught the guys and got them to the ground." Allen doesn't like to compare himself to Earl Thomas, but he essentially has to play the same role as the injured Seahawks star in the defense Quinn brought over from Seattle. Having a Thomas-like impact would be an ideal scenario come Saturday, especially with Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls capable of breaking into the open field and the Seattle receivers' ability to make spectacular catches. Seattle might also be getting one of its weapons back in running back C.J. Prosise, who is set to return to practice this week after missing time with a shoulder injury. "When Coach [Quinn] comes to me, he tells me that my position is the most important position on the defense," Allen said, "because when all goes bad, you've got to erase all bad plays. And he says, 'You just have to give them one grain of grass. You've got to fight, scratch, and claw.'"
  4. Don't know if this was posted. Didn't see it but I love this teams bond.
  5. Matt Ryan talks no-huddle again, and again, and again Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made it clear heading into the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that the no-huddle offense is something he discusses often with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and has at his disposal. Regardless, Ryan continues to be peppered with questions about whether he nudges Shanahan to run the no-huddle more often. Such was the case again Tuesday during Ryan's weekly radio show appearance on 680 the Fan in Atlanta. Ryan, who thrives in the no-huddle, was asked why the Falcons opted not to utilize the no-huddle earlier during a 31-24 season-opening loss to the Buccaneers. The Falcons trailed 31-13 before going no-huddle. Ryan then converted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 1:42 left in the third quarter. "I think there's pluses and minuses to it," Ryan said of the no-huddle. "For us, for our run scheme, it really waters down what you can do in the run game. ... With the way that our scheme is set up, it's important for us to get that run game going. It's no question about that. "But also, we play with pretty good tempo in and out of the huddle. I think we move and we operate pretty quickly. But we used (the no-huddle) effectively in this game. We used it a couple different times. You mentioned the one timeout that we forced. The touchdown that we hit to Julio was in a no-huddle situation as well. So, we do some good things with it." So why not more? "It's just different," Ryan continued. "Our coaches feel and believe that getting in that huddle and creating motions and shifts and using some of those things to our advantages to get the fronts that you want is an advantage for us. And again, I thought we did some good things. We moved it efficiently. Had we cleaned up a few of those (procedural penalties) in the red zone, I think you're talking about a really good offensive performances." The Falcons slowed themselves down with three false starts in the red zone, although they overcame two of them on Ryan's 5-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu in the first quarter. We'll see if the no-huddle becomes more of a weapon for the Falcons in Week 2 against pass-rush demon Khalil Mack and the Oakland Raiders. Wearing down Mack would be ideal before he wears out the Falcons' offensive line.
  6. FLOWEY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich is not ready to give up on Paul Worrilow as his starting middle linebacker despite the addition of speedy second-round draft pick Deion Jones. Although Worrilow remained with the starters for the two sessions open to the media prior to this week, Ulbrich said Jones has gotten some first-team reps throughout organized team activities. But that's not a slight to Worrilow. "Paul is a guy who is always evolving,'' Ulbrich said. ``He's always growing. He's always challenging himself. He's a guy who you can never count out. And for people to think that he's giving up his spot willingly, it ain't happening. So if someone beats him out, they're going to have to earn it.'' Worrilow, the team's leading tackler the past three seasons, aimed to clean up the tackles he's missed by working with an MMA trainer this offseason. Worrilow understands he's not the fastest guy on the field so he hopes an improved tackling technique will help his coverage skills improve. Ulbrich was asked about Worrilow in coverage. "Everybody has to work on everything,'' Ulbrich said. ``And everybody has to always improve. He understands that.'' As for the rookies, Ulbrich has been impressed with both Jones and fourth-round pick De'Vondre Campbell, who has seen extensive time with the first team at the Will linebacker spot. ``The beauty of it is we've finally created some real, authentic competition in this group,'' Ulbrich said. ``It will be fun to see the cream rise. The starting three will have to earn it. ``With both [Jones and Campbell], it's been their attitudes. A lot of rookies can be overwhelmed, and both of them have been steady, been great in the classroom. They've been able to apply it out here on the grass at a higher level than most rookies. ... Deion, with his closing and his quickness, it's different. And I think De'Vondre, his length and his speed have showed up.'' One other linebacker has been particularly impressive to Ulbrich. ``It would be a shame if I didn't mention Philip Wheeler,'' Ulbrich said. ``He is all in. He's all into the football, into the culture, and to everything this building wants to be about. He's the oldest guy in the room but is willing to do whatever it takes for the team. That's been cool.'' Wheeler is working as the first-team Sam linebacker in the base package, allowing Vic Beasley Jr. to slowly transition to the position while focusing on his nickel pass rush role.