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  1. 66 likes
    It's one of the oldest cliches around that football is a chess match... and it absolutely is, but it is also a puzzle. And one of the things that I absolutely love about good offensive football is the styles of playcalling. The great playcallers fit plays together so that they build off of one another, so that they set up a knockout blow. A great playcaller is like a smart boxer who spends 7-8 rounds beating you to the body just so they can get that split second late in the fight where your hands come down and they knock your jawbone clean off. I want to take a look at the touchdown from the first drive of last Thursday's preseason game, but before we get there I want to show how it was set up with a couple of nice body blows and what about it makes this offense so awful to play against. Here is the opening play of the game... Really simple naked boot off the play action. Now this is what I want you to take a look at, the three highlighted defender. If you are a linebacker or any kind of a box player, you key the movement of the offensive line, specifically the guards. They always give away the play and where the ball is going... MOST OF THE TIME. And that's what makes this offense a b!** to play against because it all looks the same. The run plays look exactly like the pass plays and you get to the point as a defender where you can't trust your eyes. By every right, this reads like a run play. Take a look at the offensive line. They are flowing hard laterally, indicating an outside zone. In that scenario, if you are one of those linebackers, you have to get on your horse and sprint to the sideline to keep the ball from getting outside. And that's exactly what they do. Hooper does an amazing job selling this and getting lost in the pile. The defensive end #50 isn't a factor here. He'll either pursure hard down the line or try to attack Matt. Usually, it's the backside end who has to be defeated on a naked boot. Here he's clearly confused and defeats himself. Take a look at the yellow circle #20 is really the only defender here who can make the play and limit the gain, but he came downhill on the run and effectively took himself out of the play. Easy money. And half the defense still doesn't even know what's going on. Now that was the body blow. Next play, inside zone. Play after that, speed out to Sanu. Play after that, Coleman stopped at 3rd and 2 on a dive. Keep in mind that all of this had been from under the center. I hate defending offenses who run from under center, especially if they have a good passing game, because they can put you on skates as a defender. When a team like the Falcons get going, they never tip their hand and you just play on your heels. Opening set of plays were: pass, run, pass, run... and only one of those passes was a straight dropback. The rest of the plays were run action. That's key because your eyes and your feet work together. When your eyes read run your feet are trained to come downhill. And now the knockout blow. First I want to take a look at the play design. Any of you all watch Gruden's QB Camp then you'll know the affinity he has for that old West Coast staple, Spider 2 Y Banana... well here we have a variation of that without a fullback on the field and run from 12 personnel. Falcons start out in a twins formation. Sanu motions across the formation. #41 follows signalling that the defense is in man coverage. Now take a look at the route combinations. There's really only one read here. The play is designed to go to one place... Free. The mesh concept run from Sanu and #17 are really just to swab out the coverage. Now in the rarest... RAREST of occasions, if that backside crosser beats his guy really bad then he'll get a look, but it's 4th and 1. This is a short yardage play. It's designed for the back out of the backfield. Once again, as in the first play of the drive, take a look at the offensive line. Look how hard they are crashing to the sideline. That's outside zone action all the way. Let me back up a few frames and look at it again presnap from the defense's POV. Once again, they are in man. Kiko Alonso, to the left of the screen is supposed to be on Free. The linebacker on the right #45, I don't think he's the RAT, (he might be) it looks like he was supposed to have the inside tight end. You can see his helmet peeking over to the right keying the guard and tight end. Now this is the part about playing linebacker that sucks. It's 4th and 1. You know that Atlanta is a good running team. They only need one yard. Your instincts are to get downhill and try to make a play in the backfield. You almost want to be moving before the snap.. ...and that's exactly what they do. Take a look at both linebackers. They're moving with the line, even though the back is going in the opposite direction. Even #22, who is supposed to be playing cutback, is flowing hard. At this point Alonso clearly sees it's not a run, but he's too late. He's taken himself out of the play with that one false step. And the guy playing backside contain... it's too late for him too... All he can do is watch... Now this is just one drive. Anybody good enough to be a coordinator can script a good opening drive. You really find out about a guy over the course of him calling an entire game (i.e. how well he puts together the entire puzzle), but this is a great start and reinforces what I felt about Sark when he was hired. He's a really sharp offensive mind and he's got a real feel for how to string plays together in a nice flow and how to manipulate a defense. GIF ADDED:
  2. 53 likes
    I did not know they were doing this. and no one ever said a word to me. Saturday they I was there taking pictures of the crowd for the home opener for the STH. at the end I decided to walk to the 300, where my seats are and see what it looked like. As I turned the corner into the 100 bar, I saw this. I could not believe it. I cannot think the person enough who found me. this is something I will honestly remember forever. and I can always tell my families kids that they can see my work when they go to a game. I cannot have kids, but it is all cool, I love taking pictures because I make so many people smile and able to see memories forever. And now that has happened to me. Again, I seriously cannot think the person enough who discovered me.
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    I know that this is off-topic and will likely get moved, but this is really the only board I visit, so here it goes. I am very happy to announce that my wife just had her last infusion of chemotherapy this past Friday. It was about this time last year that we were given the news that she had HER-2 positive breast cancer. Mind you, she had a pretty large tumor in her left breast. The tumor was too soft to feel, hence not detectable on breast examination. Even the mammogram was considered non-conclusive. Still, alert physicians insisted that the hazy area be biopsied. Well, much to our shock, the haziness turned out to be cancer. And not just any type of cancer, this was a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. You see, HER-2 positive cancers rapidly spread and a few years back were considered to have a very poor prognosis.....and that is why I am bothering to share this with all of you. Thanks to the countless hours, days, months and years of hardcore basic scientific work, researchers found a particular protein on the surface of these highly malignant cancer cells. The protein is pretty much unique to these cells and is a major factor for their aggressiveness. Hundreds of scientists around the world worked hard to isolate this protein and develop another protein that would bind to it. The result was a group of drugs called Monoclonal Antibodies. These special antibodies bind to the HER-2 protein and nullify its ability to multiply. If cancer cells can not multiply, they simply live their life span and die. Doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center (Miami Beach) put my wife on a regimen of traditional chemotherapy agents as well as two Monoclonal antibodies. The initial regimen lasted three months. As I mentioned earlier, her tumor was considered pretty large and there were concerns that it had spread outside of the breast just as stealthily as it had in the breast. Well, after the regimen of chemo/immuno therapy, she had surgery. She had both breasts removed and lymph nodes were biopsied. She wanted both breasts removed because, what the heck, why risk this scene again? No evidence of cancer was found in either of her breasts or the lymph nodes! The therapy was a smashing success! She continued to get an infusion of the monoclonal antibody for the remainder of the year (every three weeks), and her last infusion was Friday. As far was we know, she is cancer-free. Although, we all know that you can never be sure. My wife suffered with severe fatigue, diarrhea, mouth sores, loss of finger nails and loss of hair, but she never lost her spirit. I learned a lot from her this past year. I am grateful for my wife and for my life. I think I have a better understanding of what is important and what has real value in the world. Although we will both be looking over our shoulders for the specter of cancer, I think we will also live our lives with a little more color and wonder. I thank the many scientists that continue to work away from the limelight. I ask that all of you consider supporting continued research into cancer and all the medical maladies. Those nerdy scientists are true heroes and we all need to acknowledge them and give them the tools to continue their great work. Thank you for reading this lengthy monologue and may G-d bless you all.
  5. 35 likes
    And now everyone knows why he was running 3/4th team.
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    Stronger Ra'Shede Hageman ready to give Falcons big push Vaughn McClure Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman just happened to start training at the same Arizona facility this offseason -- Performance Enhancement Professionals -- as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Everyone has heard by now about Harrison’s legendary workouts, including the 39-year-old veteran throwing around 675 pounds with his hip-thrust exercise. Hageman, 12 years younger, can push some weight around himself. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound, fourth-year player didn’t get a chance to personally work out with Harrison, but Hageman did manage to improve his strength tremendously this offseason. Last year, his bench-press max was 400 pounds. And after training in Arizona? “500 plus,” Hageman said. “I’ve just been in the weight room working.” Maybe Hageman can challenge Harrison to a weight-room battle before Sunday’s exhibition in Pittsburgh. “He’s been doing it for a while, and I’m just getting on it,” Hageman said with a laugh. “Give me a couple more years and I’ll be straight.” The Falcons hope a stronger Hageman gives them an added push up front this season. The 2014 second-round draft pick from Minnesota has had his problems in the past, including attitude issues as a rookie, a sideline confrontation with former defensive line coach Bryan Cox in December 2015 and an off-the-field arrest in March of 2016 stemming from domestic-violence allegations. Falcons coach Dan Quinn noticed a transformation on the field based on Hageman’s performance during training camp. “Ra’Shede is another one who I thought has had his best camp in my three years with him,” Quinn said. “He’s been a factor for sure." Hageman benefited from the addition of Bryant Young, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle and now the Falcons’ defensive line coach. Hageman didn’t want to get into comparisons between Young and Cox in terms of coaching style, but he admitted the relationship with Cox probably wore him down too much. “It’s definitely a relief,” Hageman said. “Playing in high school and college, I had coaches who were like Cox, but not really. He was tough on me, but I didn’t need that. I’m well-disciplined myself. He was more trying to be like a father figure. That’s not what I needed because I’m grown now. I have a family of my own. “The [Young] shift is great. We’re definitely clicking off. And I just have so much respect for him, just watching his highlight tapes. It’s easy to play for somebody you can relate to, you feel me?” Hageman feels much more comfortable in the scheme playing as the backup nose tackle. He is part of a defensive line rotation that has developed depth behind players such as reigning NFC sack champ Vic Beasley Jr., two-time Pro Bowl selection Dontari Poe, and starting nose tackle Grady Jarrett. The Falcons know Hageman can push folks around up front. There’s a little more versatility in his game going into this season. He had two sacks and 18 tackles in 256 defensive snaps last season and feels like he can contribute much more. “I feel like my pass-rushing has become a lot better because [Young] has given us so many tools and drills,” Hageman said. “They’re drills that are like real combat. And it’s a different vibe, just to be 100. It’s a more happy vibe. Everybody’s just cool and kicking it. And I like it. I’m really with a great bunch of teammates. “I’m just going to be disruptive. I expect so much more of myself. Things having finally slowed down. I just have so much fuel for this fire. It’s taken me so long for me to get this point where I actually understand football. It’s actually starting to show up on film and even in the classroom. I’m not going to sit here and hype myself up, though. At the end of the day, I’m just going to play football.”
  7. 31 likes
    Each day of camp I do pictures of the special guest. Saturday was for a flag football group and they blocked off the corner of the hill for them. And man was it awesome. The way the staff and volunteers interact with them, is amazing. I had someone tell me that day, "some teams do things like this so they can just check it off there box they did it. but the Falcons actually really care and you can see it". And I agree so much with that. Anyhow I asked Neal to take a picture with the kids, and I could tell he was waiting on something. Which of course turned into him wanting Freeman over there. So when freeman came, he asked Freeman and Garland to helping the picture look even better. And it was great, I asked the kids to scream go Falcons, and then Freeman turned around and got them more pumped.
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    As I understand it... 1. he doesn't count against the 53 man roster while suspended 2. Cutting him only saves about $300k in cap space (saw this posted earlier today, so I am only assuming it's true). 3. Dude can play and by November, we may need another CB due to injuries. Besides the fact you're mad at him... why cut him? What value does that bring to the team? ($300k? that's nothing in the NFL)
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    I still wanted to congratulate you guys for whipping us in January. We were pulling for you guys in the Super Bowl. I so wish you guys would have won. We like you guys and I hope you get a ring soon as long as you don't beat us again. Do you guys hate us at all? You may have broke our hearts twice last season but we forgive you for that. I felt awful for you guys in the Super Bowl. My heart went out to you all. Hopefully you will be back this year.
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    So, you're disappointed that we didn't sign Berry who wasn't available, and that we didn't trade for Watkins who we don't need? Okay.
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    I've never seen anything like this
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    BEAUTIFUL WORK TD! 5yr 41mil? Thank god! That's a steal and what we all begged for!
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    Some of you younger fans may hear us older fans speak nostalgically of Bartkowski and how we almost beat Dallas in NFCCG, or of the Grtiz Blitz, William Andrews, Scott Case, Deion Sanders, Chris Miller and the Runn and Shoot, The Dirty Bird team with Jamal Anderson that went to Super Bowl in 1998. Those used to be the good old days, but not anymore. Never in Falcons history did this team even have back to back winning seasons until Matt Ryan was drafted. The playoff runs in 2012 where we were 10 yards and a holding call then incredible 2016 season capped off by a close Super Bowl. Never in this teams 60 year history have we ever come off a playoff run or Super Bowl with a team intact like this, never even came close. We collapased after playoff runs and the Bowl before, but that ain't about to happen this year. This is by far the best run this franchise had ever had since Matt Ryan was drafted. Look, 50 years from now some of you young fans will be talking about this current team nastoligically so enjoy this while you have it. You are really getting spoiled if you just started watching Falcons the last few years. It's a real treat what we are in the middle of and few teams get to enjoy runs like this. Many of us oldtime fans have been waiting over a half century for this team to get this good!
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    No. A guy who dresses normal is a guy who doesn't care what you think. A guy who wears something bizarre every time he steps to the podium is a guy who obsesses about what you think.
  18. 26 likes
    If Takk doesn't have 8 sacks on 5 plays this preseason, dude is a bust.
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    I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before but run fits are just about my favorite thing about defensive football. They don't take any particular skill or talent. They're about want-to. They're about personal responsibility and teamwork. I do my job. I get my gap, I play my leverage and I trust that the man next to me is going to do the same. It ain't on me to be no hero, or make a play if it's not there. If I do try to play hero ball and get out of my gap then the whole thing falls apart. In that way run fits are really the essence of football and Thursday night I saw some good and some bad. I'll get to the good in another thread. Right now I want to take a look at the bad. 1st Quarter. Miami has the ball at their own 49. It's 3rd and 1. Offense: Miami is in a jumbo formation, or 13 personnel. 1 back, 3 tight ends. Very good short yard set to be in. Now I'm not 100% sure the play they ran. The initial movement looked like an inside zone type of play, but the blocking looked so funky and the playside guard came off the ball so awkward like he was looking to pull in a sort of Power-G run, but he didn't find anyone to block, but whatever. The play isn't so important here. Defense: Now this is the part that is important. Take a look at the defensive front. Atlanta comes out in what's called -- well I've heard it called a few names -- but for the purposes of this thread I'll call it by the name I know best -- 4-3 Over Open. Take a second and take a good look at the pic. Poe is playing the 3-tech to the strong side making it an Over front. Campbell is set to the weak or OPEN side of the formation. Hence 4-3 Over Open. Any of my Madden players out there you'll find this formation in any 4-3 playbook labelled simply 4-3 Over. Everybody still with me so far? Good because I'm going to get a little chatty with this pic. Now I'm not a huge fan of this front, especially against 3 tight ends. There are a couple of other fronts I like better vs. this formation, but I won't bore you. The 4-3 Open front I really like at lower levels, especially vs. teams that run a lot of veer option and reverse pivots with the QB; a team like Georgia Tech for example. BUT this is a front that I see used a lot vs. 3 tight end sets around the NFL, so what do I know. Run Fits: Before I get started I just want to point out that TRU AND RICO DO NOT HAVE A FIT in this coverage! So, I'm not even going to discuss them. Okay now this is where this deal can get kind of complicated, because run fits can be kind of proprietory at the NFL level. Coordinators like to put their own tweaks on them and for good reason. You'll get eating alive by offensive line coaches if you don't. Here (in the above pic), most of it is pretty straightforward... the one thing that is unique that I really like is Poe who is playing the 3 tech slants into the strong side A gap, instead of charging straight ahead into the B which he is in front of. Now I don't think he just decided to do that on his own but (he may have) I do know that it totally confused the blocking scheme and almost blew up the play. Now this is the part that had me confused and made it difficult for me to tell who messed, but somebody clearly did. Brooks Reed is playing the strong side defensive end to the left of the picture and he's head up on the tight end. Usually, this indicates a two gap assignment, which would make total sense considering what Poe did. Instead, this is what happens... Reed comes of the ball and engages the tight end with his OUTSIDE ARM FREE. This indicates that he is a contain player responsible for not letting the ball get outside and #20, the Strong Safety is supposed to come down and play the cutback lane. But the play is going weak so we're still in good shape. Poe is totally awesome here. Don't have any other word to describe it. Just incredible quickness and agility to beat the guard across his face and penetrate. Everything to the weakside where the play is going is still being played perfectly. Shelby is commanding a double team. Campbell has the D gap. Duke is clean to the runner. BUT take a look to the left side. That's where the problem is starting to form. Brooks Reed's outside arm is no longer free. He's dipped his head it looks like and he's starting to be turned... by a tight end no less. The running back gets the hand-off. Poe is right in his face... once again, Poe just whips him. #20 Neasman is coming down to fill the cutback. This right here is where it all goes wrong. Poe doesn't make the play, but I'm actually okay with that. He'll make that in the regular season. What is concerning is what's going on with Reed and Neasman. BOTH OF THEM ARE IN THE SAME GAP! That is the cardinal sin of run fits. You never, never, never, want two players to wind up in the same gap. You get the point by now. Neither Reed or Neasman has a chance Because both defenders are playing with inside leverage, there is no more contain and the ball is free to spill outside. Riley gets eaten up by a block. Jones actually does a fairley good job coming over the top, but it's too late. With no outside contain, he's just not making that play. Now this is what it looks like in motion. Reed goes outside, then back inside. I don't know if he was trying to break free and chase as he say the ball going away, but it was ugly. This is one of those cases where I wish a coach would come out and point a finger, just for us nosey folks. Because one of them wasn't doing their job. If Reed was two gapping then #20 is wrong because he's supposed to be the Force Player. If Reed had the one gap then #20 was right and it was Reed's fault for getting turned inside and losing contain. Not trying to assign blame here to trash a player, but to illustrate the point of how everyone has to their job right down to the smallest detail. 9 men did their job on this play. One (maybe two) didn't, and that's all it takes to go from a 3rd down stop but a 15 yard gain and staying on the field. Now there was some good... some very good. I'll get to that later. But this right here needs to be cleaned up.
  20. 26 likes
    I have been hired on as one of the Atlanta Falcons photographers to be apart of capturing special guest, charities and etc. It has really been awesome to be apart of them, as well as what the images are for. Many know on here how big charaties are to me and my wife, so this is a win win all around...... So while I am not taking pictures like the old MASH report of the hits, catches, throws and etc. I will show you the other side of the Falcons from what I have captured. Just know some images I will not be able to show because it has children in it, so that is an obvious no for posting publicly. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. But I am limited on what took place in camp. But I can tell you how someone looks face to face (like weight, shape, personality). So what is it like for these guest? They are able to sit close to the field under the tents behind the main building and enjoy practice. Sometimes we are able to take some of them down to the other side of the field to view from that location. Then they get to go have lunch. And then at the end of the day, players walk to the training room and stop and sign autographs for them. And when the players see them, they usually stop unless there is something they have to get to. For example Takk had to get to rehab, so he was unable to, but he was really wanting to. It is great to see the interaction with the players and the guest. I wish I could post something from the Make a wish Foundation. but it is obvious why I cannot due to it being for kids. As many know Make A Wish is for making one childs wish come true. So the Falcons actually took people who were submitting in their application for it, and brought them out to camp while they were waiting on a yes or no for their application. There was 5-8 kids there. And they were all to cute. And the Falcons staff was amazing. They would hold hands with the kids, sit with them, talk and etc etc. You can really see thew falcons and staff were there for them because they wanted to be there. It was not like a, "meh, yeah lets say we did this". it was a "HECK YEAH lets do this and put smiles on everyone's faces". So first up is the Atlanta Mission. They are a non profit organization. If you have never heard about them, check them out. And if you are looking for a place to volunteer your time at, please check them out. A lot of people think giving money is the way, and yes it helps. But giving your time means a lot and really does help. And I say this for any of the organizations. The is for First Responders. The women in the vest in the second image was a trip. She was the person to hype everyone up. They said she was like that every day at work from start until finish. And as you can see she was screaming for the Oline/TE while doing drills. If you see in the last image for this event, Allen even signed autographs while getting his ankle wrapped. So you can really feel the passion/love the Falcons have for doing this for the community. Majority have seen my images from the flag football. Which was a great time. and again, I wish I could post more images of this one but it is of children. But man was it fun. And a fan even mentioned that day, "some teams do this stuff just to put a check mark in the box they did it, but you can see the Falcons do this because they want to do it". And that is truth. Look at the way Freeman, Neal, Garland are. And Freeman went and pumped the kids up even more for a picture..... There is a really cute one of Freddie And a kid. but I will tell you the back story to it, since I cannot show it. A child stayed watching camp while everyone else went to have lunch. Well Freddie came by, picked him up, and took him out onto the field. At first Freddie had him thrown over his shoulder, and the kid was just laughing and loving it. And then freddie of course took a picture and then he went back to being silly with the kid. Freddie is awesome as well. He is very friendly and will do anything asked of him. these are some pictures from todays special guest. The women in the Julio jersey was a trip. She was in love with Julio. So she waved at him and told him how awesome his shoes were, and he turned around and waved back. I thought she was going to faint. LOL. Later at the autograph signing, she made sure to get a picture with him. I will wait until next week to post another group of images. Tomorrow is for Cancer patients, then Rally on the Runway (some of y'all may remember when I took pictures of that. if not the link is below), And then Special Olympics, and lastly is Military Day! So here is some things I noticed. Julio seems bigger to me in the arms. Like he bulked up. Takk is very friendly. Very nice and stops to give everyone autographs, unless he has treatment to get to. Ryan is focused, more focused then I have ever seen. When camp is done, he is running off to getting the next thing done. Bryant is healthy Poe is in excellent shape. When you see an old picture of Poe vs the images I have taken of him, it is totally different. Vic is up there with being the friendliest. He is always there for these organization and making sure everyone has a smile on their face. Thanks everyone. and I hope this gives y'all a look into what else the falcons do besides just be the best NFL team.
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    Hope you guys enjoy the film. Tried to post as quick as I could! Let me know what y'all think! Email us suggestions and comments at Unintentionalgrouding@gmail.com YouTube: UnintentionalGrounding - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClCIW6b6I6MOfGGVEcc8f6g Twitter:@UnGrShow - https://twitter.com/UnGr_Show Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UnintentionalGroundingshow Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ungr_show Go support us on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/user Design and Graphics: by - Domingo Rodriguez - @d.omingo on Instagram
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    I don't like that they turned the fields around, I couldn't see hardly any of the DL individual drills. A few takeaways in no particular order: 1. Only negatives I have are Schweitzer, Harlow, & Garland's performances in OL v DL drills. Schweitzer lost all 3 reps I paid attention to. And he lost quickly. Once he failed on a double team and got beat inside, I think by Crawford. He also lost twice in 1-on-1's, again he lost immediately. He had his weight too far out over his feet and was lunging at people (also Harlow's biggest issue, when I look at his lower body I don't see an NFL caliber body, no thighs or butt). Didn't pay attention to him in teams. I'm not particularly worried at this point, but his technique is poor and he has high hips so idk bout him. But much more knowledgeable people than me believe in him. I'm still reserving judgement until the preseason games, but I am far less optimistic. 2. Coming into today I was most excited about the prospects of Grady & Poe playing together. Now I think I need to add & Hageman. He stood out in multiple reps in 1-on-1 & 11-on-11. Those 3 in whatever rotation with the bigger DEs is going to be a problem. He absolutely abused, & I mean abused, Mack in a 1-on-1 rep. Almost ran him into the goal post. And yea as others have noted Grady is about to show up & out this year. 3. Jack Crawford is much bigger than I expected. He moves well and looks like a very solid addition. Not a flashy add, but the kind of above average grinder who makes a talented squad that much deeper. 4. Courtney Upshaw looks a lot healthier & more explosive. I'm guessing when he packed on pounds for his position change last year some of it was understandably bad weight. He doesn't look any smaller, but more solid with less gut. I like how he was moving in individuals. 5. I saw DeVo win at least 2 reps as a rusher in 1-on-1's. His hands are active & violent and his arms are long. I'm curious to see how these front 7 rotations work with his move to SAM. Beasley can't be the LE in a 4-3. I imagine we'll see him in the LEO some in those situations, but if I see Beasley on the LOS over my T I'm running at him every play. Not a knock on Beasley, he's just 245 lbs. You don't see Von @ DE in those situations. So idk where Vic plays in base D if DeVo is there, & we can't just take Vic off the field in those situations. I want to see him more on early downs not just as a designated pass rusher. Exciting potential with this group. 6. Keanu looks bigger. Made a nice one hand snag in individual drills, turning back across his body. I saw him close to the action a lot, very good sign. Liked how he & Collins were putting in work w/ Coach Manuel on that punt coverage release. 7. I didn't see Rico at all today and it looked like Jalen was held out of the team portion. Kazee ran as the starting FS & Poole at NB, but since I don't see 37 or 32 rotate in at all I don't think the reports about who's getting first team reps carry much weight. Regardless it's the first padded practice so that amounts to very little. That won't get worked out until the preseason games. I do like what little I saw of Kazee. This secondary is DEEP. 8. I've been looking forward to the prospects of T-Co, Turbo & Hoop overtaking Sanu in terms of targets this season. All 3 are playmakers and can stretch the field in ways Sanu can't. But that man there is consistent. I won't be surprised at all if he ends up outproducing his 16-17 totals. 9. Free & DeBo had some good battles in coverage. They basically embodied what I saw from the entire team all day. This team competes. RISE UP!!!
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    The city put in about $200M. The Georgia Dome needed at least that much in roof and other renovations to remain viable for the next 10 years. Essentially, the city got a free new stadium. You want Atlanta to be Birmingham? That's what we are without our major professional franchises and the 1st class facilities it takes to house them and compete in today's market. Our teams and facilities are big reasons why Atlanta is the capitol of the South. Or at least the Southeast. Charlotte and Nashville are waiting in the wings to take that crown. You wanna let 'em have it? Sorry, I don't agree. And I'm gonna be there for that first pre-season game with bells on. Now about the single game seats. We've had season tickets since 1968. We have seen some horrendous years. I can count dozens of times where a ticket of ours went unused, was given away, or was sold outside the stadium for as little as $5. It wasn't easy committing to those PSLs, and having to move up a level to afford it. I seriously considered giving the seats up. Were it not for my youngest son being such a huge Falcons fan, I would have. So if nixing the single game seats helps to increase resale value for the fans that ponied up and stuck behind this franchise, I'm happy for it. The season ticket holders deserve something in return for their loyalty. Keep in mind, at the time we committed to those PSLs, there was no magic Super Bowl season on the horizon. The team was considered about a .500 team by most predictions. The time to b1tch about the stadium was 3 years ago. Now, you can either get on board, or sit home and pout while the Falcons proceed to win a couple Super Bowls. For me, it's been a LOOOOONG time coming and I'm gonna be there.
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    Sad he didn't work out, but it's always smart to draft your kickers no later than the second round. Oh, wait...
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    Nice to meet you disappoint...
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    One cannot simply replace "hive sap dop"
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    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2724963-atlanta-falcons-super-bowl-loss-interviews-season-preview-2017 As the Atlanta Falcons historically choked away Super Bowl LI in Houston, nobody knew how to think, how to feel. Those final moments in February were an out-of-body experience. First came denial. He heard New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman scream—I caught it! I caught it!—but the player with the best vantage point of the most outrageous catch in Super Bowl history was in disbelief: Falcons safety Keanu Neal stared at the videoboard and still couldn't believe it. No way. No chance. In overtime, the player with the best vantage point of the game-winning touchdown felt the same way: Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell looked at Patriots running back James White, then at an official, then back to White, and waited for a review, but down rained the confetti. White's two-yard score sealed a 34-28 Patriots triumph. Of course, as the celebration commenced, the play was reviewed upstairs. Campbell didn't know and doesn't care. To this day, he is skeptical. "I don't think he got in," he tells B/R Mag. Next came the shock. Inside his locker, Campbell was motionless and speechless and stared at a wall for more than an hour. That night, he didn't sleep. That week, he locked himself in his bedroom and ignored the 300 texts flooding his phone. He couldn't watch any sports on TV. His Instagram was littered with fans ripping him for the late pass interference in overtime that moved the ball from Atlanta's 15-yard line to its 2. Campbell says he was in a "dark place." All of which would be followed by the weeks…months…years' worth of torment, as daily regret feeds one mind-numbing realization: You freakin' blew it in front of more than 111 million witnesses, and those witnesses will never forget. The Super Bowl hangover destroys teams, year after year, and here's a group forever known for two numbers: "28" and "3." The Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28 in overtime against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.(Getty Images) Hangover? Try life support. But here's what actually happened next. Rather than let the sickness linger, in the spring, Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn told all players in his first teamwide address that they weren't reclimbing Mount Everest from the bottom. No, they were already at "base camp." Established. At that exact point, the Falcons realized they do, in fact, have what it takes to return, with a vengeance, to the Super Bowl. Forget torment. This could be a revenge tour. And these are the players leading that tour. A quarterback, Matt Ryan, who keeps perspective. A safety, in Neal, who'll leave Edelman with a bruise next time. A receiver, Taylor Gabriel, on the verge of stardom. And a second-year linebacker, in Campbell, who's still rewatching the Super Bowl every **** week. Really. Listening to Future one week ("You Deserve It" is a go-to) and Jason Aldean the next (he loves how "authentic" country music is), Campbell deconstructs the loss. His angle on every tackle. His depth on every drop. Campbell takes meticulous notes. He scribbles a star next to every bad play, vowing to never make that mistake again. "That's how you recover quickly," Campbell says, "when you face it. When you sit there hiding from it… NFL Network ain't hiding from it!" He searches for a sign—any sign—that tells him when the game turned. How? Why? Who's responsible? The more he sifts through the ruins, the more Campbell realizes there was no singular moment. What he found was a team that got "lackadaisical," a team convinced "we got this." At STATS sports bar in Centennial Park District of Atlanta, in May, he wonders aloud if other players have reopened wounds. "Some people are probably running from it," Campbell says. "Not me. I'm facing it head-on. I'll watch it till the next season starts." This is the group that refuses to hide. The Voice Mid-meal, Campbell makes it clear that his will be the voice of reason this season. "I've earned the right to be vocal," Campbell says. Three gold chains around his neck, his dreads tucked tightly, Campbell is emphatic. And scathingly honest. The Falcons choked that night in Houston, and he refuses to let them choke again. Period. Next time, Campbell promises to lock eyes with every other player on the field and demand their best. Right here, right now, Campbell thrusts himself into that leadership role. "I feel like there’s nothing I can go through in football or anything I do that’s nearly as hard as what she had to go through with breast cancer, the heart attacks," Campbell says about his mom.(Tyler Dunne for B/R Mag) He knows he's a product of his mother, Cathryn, who's been through it all. She's suffered (at least) two heart attacks, the first choking her awake in the middle of the night. "I can't breathe," she screamed, her throat swollen. If the family didn't live five minutes from the hospital, she might've died. Mom battled breast cancer, too. Holding a softball-sized grip of air, Campbell demonstrates the size of the knot. Doctors thought they had removed it all, but Campbell's mother needed a second procedure. This is why he wears No. 59, for the year Mom was born. "At any point, she can die," Campbell says. "Everybody has to go at some point, but I'm not ready for her to leave. She gave me the mindset that I approach everything with. I feel like there's nothing I can go through in football or anything I do that's nearly as hard as what she had to go through with breast cancer, the heart attacks. She never complained about it." So Campbell doesn't complain. He faces his own trauma head-on. He watches that game again, and again, and realizes now he should've gone rogue. Sure, Quinn might've benched him on the spot. Who cares? He should've spontaneously blitzed Tom Brady and won his team the Super Bowl. That thought eats at him. More than anything, Campbell wishes he'd spoken up. "Shoulders were sagging," he remembers. "I don't think I said enough. Just to keep guys motivated and tell them, like, We earned the right to be here. Let's finish the job. We left so much on the table that day. Let's leave it all here, you know? Take a chance. Take a risk. That's what got us here. "This year they're going to see a totally different person. Going back to sandlot. Just ****-talking." I don't think I said enough. Just to keep guys motivated and tell them, like, 'We earned the right to be here. Let's finish the job. We left so much on the table that day. Let's leave it all here,' you know? Take a chance. Take a risk. That's what got us here."(Tyler Dunne for B/R Mag) Campbell can invigorate the defense, but he also knows true revenge starts with the quarterback. One year prior, Cam Newton sulked at his Super Bowl postgame press conference—and his team proceeded to sulk all of the next season. A 17-2 team finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs. Campbell's not shy. Those Panthers "felt sorry for themselves" in 2016, he says, because Newton set a tone. "I did not like that, man," Campbell says. "You're the quarterback of this franchise. You lost. Get up there. Be a man. And talk about it. You can't get it back. There's nothing you can do about it except go up there and be a man about it. … He's the captain of the team. They sulked so much that it definitely affected them last year if you ask me." The Panthers took on the personality of their QB. The Falcons will, too. The MVP Friends, for months, have tiptoed into conversation with Matt Ryan. Their words drip with sympathy. Enough already. "Everybody asks me every day, Dude, how do you get through your day?C'mon!" Ryan says. "Let's have some perspective." And Ryan keeps football in perspective. "This is very important to me," Ryan says, "but it's not the only thing that's very important to me." The player who became synonymous with "28-3" says his mind traced back to when he was 16 years old and his brother Michael was 19. Matt was the starting quarterback on his high school team and Michael a backup at Division III Widener University. On a drive to a country club, their lives changed. Another car rear-ended Michael's Volkswagen Jetta, and they ricocheted into the other lane, where the brothers slammed into a military truck head-on. Matt lucked out with a broken ankle. Michael demolished a right elbow that would need several surgeries to fix. A metal plate holds his humerus in place. His football career, instantly, was over. First, Matt felt guilt. Why did he get to play football instead of his big brother? Over time, guilt evolved into appreciation that Ryan used in the aftermath of "28-3." “This is very important to me,” Ryan says about football, “but it’s not the only thing that’s very important to me.”(Getty Images) "Those are all kinds of things that happen throughout your life, and you're like, Listen man, there are worse things than losing a game," Ryan says. "It's really important. There's no question about that. But life goes on. Sometimes I think people have this perspective that you are just what you are on the field. There's a lot of other things that make up who we are. "Even though you had tough losses, you have tough days, you're still thankful for the opportunity you have to play and be able to go out there and wear shorts and T-shirts in May and consider that a work day." He's not alone. This Falcons roster is loaded with perspective. Vic Beasley, the tornado of an edge-rusher who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season, is driven by the loss of his father to alcoholism and his brother to a car accident. Taylor Gabriel, who made a good offense great, is driven by the death of his mother to a brain aneurysm. And reserve wideout Justin Hardy changed his number this offseason to honor his late father. Ryan wipes sweat from his brow after an OTA practice and asserts that this team—his team—is in the right mental state. The Patriots loss hasn't lingered. "If you use it the right way," Ryan says, "it's perfect." All eyes are on Ryan, and he knows it. He hasn't talked, acted or conducted himself any differently than he ever has. Every practice at Flowery Branch, Georgia, is treated with the same stoicism, the same drive. And—"no doubt," Ryan says—he personally wants to go down as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. "That's why everybody plays," Ryan says. "I've had some good years, and that's fine. But it's about doing it over and over and over and trying to be consistent. That's what you see in the great all-time players." The reigning league MVP is positive he'll keep finding the "1 percent" in his game to improve. He was nearly perfect last season, completing 70 percent of his passes for 5,958 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 19 games. Of course, the lasting image isn't a laser to Julio Jones. It's a fumble he should've never lost and a sack he never should've taken—two gaffes that could poison and deteriorate anyone's poise forever. “I’ve had some good years, and that’s fine," Ryan says. "But it’s about doing it over and over and over and trying to be consistent. That’s what you see in the great all-time players.”(Getty Images) Then again, this is the same Ryan who was drilled repeatedly in college and kept bouncing off the canvas. His old receiver at Boston College, Brandon Robinson, still remembers a booming Ohhhhh! stopping him mid-route in Death Valley. He turned around, thought, Holy ****, what just happened? and then watched a replay of Clemson's David Dunham harpooning Ryan in the sternum. "He didn't brace for anything," Robinson says of his former QB. "One of the worst hits I've ever seen." Ryan's helmet popped off. He sat out one play. He doesn't know how to react any differently. "When everything is going crazy," Ryan says now, "you just keep doing what you're doing." Ryan loathes a question on being the perfect leader at the perfect time—he doesn't want that word attached to his name. At all. Yet a steady CEO who would never ride a Cam-like roller coaster is a must this revenge tour, and that's been Matty Ice's M.O. since that car accident with his brother half a life ago. "Good or bad," he says, "you're going to get my absolute best every day. And I expect the same from everybody else. I think that's real clear. Regardless of what happened last year—who cares?" Hour to hour, day to day, the Atlanta Falcons inch back toward the championship. This is, after all, one of America's most cursed sports cities, from the Braves only winning one World Series through 11 straight division titles, to the rise and fall of Michael Vick, to the eternal mediocrity of the Hawks, to the defunct Thrashers. Living here for a decade has given Ryan a sense of what it'd mean for 5.7 million residents to see him hoist the Lombardi Trophy. "That's our mission," he says. "That's my mission. To find a way to bring it back to Atlanta. And give our city a taste of what it's like to win a Super Bowl." To do so, they'll need finishers. The Finisher He can't order a meal without a patron recognizing him, approaching him and bringing up the nightmare. Seconds after Keanu Neal sits down at Taco Mac, on the outskirts of Atlanta, a woman in her mid-30s asks him if he's a quarterback for the Falcons (he's a starting safety) before informing Neal that her four-year-old son is, you know, the biggest Falcons fan. "After the Super Bowl," she says, "he was devastated." Neal smiles, tilts his head down and musters a "Yeah…" “Something changes when the game comes,” Neal says. “It’s going to that dark place. … Not bragging or anything, but I intimidate guys. And that I could use to my advantage. Guys aren’t going to catch the ball in the middle of the field if I’m there.”(Tyler Dunne for B/R Mag) If only she knew. If only she, too, could see Chris Hogan running that flag route on 3rd-and-10 with 3:17 left in regulation. Neal knew it was coming. Tom Brady wasn't even looking when he threw it off his back foot in his own end zone. Yet instead of jumping the route for a pick—for a title, for immortality—Neal hesitated, and Hogan's 16-yarder resuscitated a game-tying drive. If only she, too, were staring at a horizontal Edelman somehow vise-gripping the ball, a strand of floss above the ground. Neal already had put too much pressure on himself as a rookie. Then, this? "There are scars," Neal says later, "we won't forget." He wasn't complacent when Atlanta led, 28-3, but Neal says he might've been…"comfortable." Whether it's the middle of Week 1, the Wild Card Round or a game-tying drive in the Super Bowl, Neal knows someone on this Falcons roster will face another moment of truth. And he knows, next time, the hammer must be dropped. The kid who coaches used to call "Cotton Candy" because he was afraid of contact, Neal has learned to unleash inner rage. Don't let the charm and GQ smile fool you—this man will send you straight into tomorrow. Ask Derrick Henry. Ask any wide receiver who ran a drag route vs. Atlanta last season. Neal still remembers one diminutive Panthers receiver—he won't broadcast who—alligator-arming a pass so he wouldn't get hit. "He purposely dropped it," Neal says. "He looked after he dropped it." And, oh, there's Neal getting a finger popped back into place on the sideline against San Francisco. He felt numbness and tingling then but holds out that damaged hand over a plate of chicken wings today like a badge of honor. The finger never hurt. Not until the following Monday, anyway. By then, his hand was on fire. "Something changes when the game comes," Neal says. "It's going to that dark place. … Not bragging or anything, but I intimidate guys. And that I could use to my advantage. Guys aren't going to catch the ball in the middle of the field if I'm there." Yet Neal also says he stressed too much last season. He'd return home from a win and rewatch himself for one, two, three hours, agonizing over barely noticeable mistakes. "Stop beating yourself up!" his girlfriend pleaded, but he couldn't. Not with that HOME OF KEKE NEAL NO. 22 sign perched outside the flea market back in his hometown of Webster, Florida. Not with so many old friends resurfacing on Facebook. He felt pressure from the 5.7 million here and from the 1,000 residents there to deliver as the 2016 draft's 17th overall pick. He knows the same kids tempted by drugs in "The Sub," the subdivision he avoided as a kid, are watching him. He could be their inspiration. He could serve as a ray of hope in a hometown where, Neal says, there's nothing but an elementary school and a couple of gas stations. “I just want to be different,” Neal says. “Be uncommon.”(Tyler Dunne for B/R Mag) "Everybody's behind me so much that I'm like the heart of the city right now," he says. "It's an awesome feeling. … It comes with a lot of struggles, too. You don't want to let them down." After safely digesting the chicken wings, Neal is asked to relive the nightmare once more. On an iPhone, Edelman's circus catch awaits on YouTube like a stab to the abdomen. As the video buffers, Neal closes his eyes, mutters, "Oh my god," opens his eyes and stays glued to the screen. Right there—right when Robert Alford tipped the ball—that's when he was thinking pick. "How in the heck do you catch that with three guys?!" Neal says. "I watched the review, and it's literally, freakin', this far off the ground." He holds his hand less than an inch off the table. Neal exhales and appears refreshed. Renewed. A trip to the Bahamas helped. He escaped to The Cove Atlantis with his girlfriend after the Super Bowl. Cycling through photos on his phone, Neal explains that he left a trail of petals into a private cabana one day. He was kissed by a dolphin. Stress? Keanu Neal doesn't stress. "I just want to be different," he says. "Be uncommon." With that, Neal gets up to leave and is stopped by a restaurant employee to chat. This time, nobody's asking about the Super Bowl. The Rising Star He doesn't laugh away the idea as a quirk or a joke. Taylor Gabriel makes you believe he really will change his first name. The 5'8", 167-pound bullet of a receiver first floated the idea to NFL Network in March. For four months he proceeded to flood all social media accounts with the name—Turbo, Turbo, Turbo—before actually sounding half-serious in a July interview with B/R Mag. "I believe I'm changing my name to Turbo Gabriel," he says. "That might be legit. I might need to call Chad Ochocinco and ask him about that process." Everyone knows Julio will be Julio. Devonta Freeman will be Devonta Freeman. Beasley will be Beasley. The Falcons need another star to emerge, and that star is Turbo Gabriel. He's the gnarly, jaw-dropping dynamo who's lived "me against the world" his entire life. His voice is precisely what the Falcons need. “We want to arrive violently when we get back on that field,” Gabriel says. “I feel like we will. … Coming from a Super Bowl loss, it’s a mindset you have to have. It’s a mode that you have to be engraved in.”(Getty Images) A year ago, he was told he's too small. Again. The kid who received zero Division I interest was cut by the lowly Browns. From the head coach to the front office to his position coach, he asked everyone why. The answer was a Constanza-esque "it's not you, it's me." The worst team in sports called it a numbers game. So here he is—fresh off 750 receiving yards and six scores in 16 games—ready to stick it to anyone doubting him or the Falcons. "We want to arrive violently when we get back on that field," Gabriel says. "I feel like we will. … Coming from a Super Bowl loss, it's a mindset you have to have. It's a mode that you have to be engraved in." Arriving violently in 2016 meant literally cutting so hard that Seattle's DeShawn Shead tore his ACL in coverage. It meant embarrassing one of the game's best corners, Malcolm Butler, with a stutter step in the Super Bowl. Turbo faced Butler in college and knew Shead personally, so both should have known better. Arriving violently in 2017 could mean becoming the next Antonio Brown. Turbo's rare 0-to-60 acceleration blends with an even rarer ability to stop any split millisecond he pleases. He declares himself both the fastest and quickest player in football. He's strong enough to bench 365 pounds and loves pointing out to teammates he can still win jump balls at 5'7" because of a 40-inch vertical leap. Says Gabriel, "There's nothing that I'm not able to do." Which means he can realistically follow in the footsteps of AB. "I feel like I can," Gabriel says. "Just the opportunity. Just showing what I can do. Not saying I'll be Antonio Brown, but the little things he does I feel I can be similar with. In and out of his breaks. Being confident in catching the ball and turning a four-yard catch into a 60-yard touchdown. Those are things I do have in my game, but at the same time it's opportunity." New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, he's confident, will give him those opportunities, too. This is how an offense that finishes first in points and second in yards gets even better. He expects Sarkisian to take more shots deep. “We have to climb that mountain again,” Gabriel says. “We know the things we’ll run into. We know the things we have to do.”(Getty Images) "We have so much talent I feel like it can get lost at times," Gabriel says. "That's the one thing, that's his problem. Too much talent. That's a good problem to have." Before training camp began, Gabriel fired off a tweet that he's "coming for everything you said I couldn't," which he described as a direct shot to all friends, coaches and even family members who ever doubted him. He thanks them all for making him this hungry. Now the Falcons are back at base camp, oozing with confidence. Campbell vows to speak up. Ryan refuses to lose his cool. Neal will be the closer. Gabriel will bring the fun. Of course, so many obstacles will stand in their way this climb. Aaron Rodgers' arm. The Cowboys' ground attack. In their own division, the Panthers are reloaded on offense, Adrian Peterson joined the Saints, and Jameis Winston may be on the cusp of greatness with the Buccaneers. But the Falcons aren't concerned with any of this. They bought into all of Quinn's rallying cries last season, and they'll do it once more. "We have to climb that mountain again," Gabriel says. "We know the things we'll run into. We know the things we have to do." And if they're on that stage again, Gabriel knows what'll happen. "We get back to the Super Bowl," he says, "and we finish it off."
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    In 2014, we all were worried Mr. Blank had let this team become a mess. Many of us, me included, were very disheartened that Smith got fired but Dimitroff did not. I think most of us thought the future was more downside than upside. Mr. Blank didn't listen to popular opinion. He hired a search firm, kept Dimitroff, and got a coach with a similar vision and (more to the point) an ability to articulate that vision in terms of player personnel very clearly. I can't count the times I've heard Dan Quinn say something like "he's a great player, but he isn't what we need for this team." He knows exactly what he wants, and he makes the GM's job easier as a result. It would have been easy to cut bait on Dimitroff. And there was ample reason to. The Baker contract is for me the low point of Dimitroff's career as a GM. He overpaid a guy who couldn't stay on the field, and we literally just took him off the books at the end of last season even though he didn't play that season or the one prior. More than drafting Jerry. More than getting rid of Abe and "replacing" him with Osi. More than cutting loose all our corners in 2012 and leaving holes all over the team. More than signing Jackson or re-signing Gonzo. The Baker contract was awful. Mr. Blank had every reason to send Dimitroff packing. But he didn't. He didn't listen to us. He listened to the experts. And he clearly got good advice. They did an exhaustive coaching search. I wanted Rex Ryan (yeah, I own that -- it's worse than the Baker contract). Then Bowles. Then Quinn. Many of you also wanted Rex. Some of you wanted Bowles. Others wanted Austin or someone else. They got Quinn. Quinn brought in Shanahan, and the fanbase went ape****. I actually liked that hire, but after 2015 people were calling for his head, and Quinn's along with it, and wondering if Mr. Blank would ever be able to put a winner on the field. He didn't listen. He stayed the course. And we went to the Super Bowl last year. We just came off our third consecutive draft where I really can see what the FO and staff are thinking. There is a clear plan. There are almost no "WTF" picks. FA pickups are generally not top dollar, and the one that was (Mack) was a gem. Poe is a solid addition. Crawford should be. Shelby is a "wait and see," but due to health issues more than play. Gabriel is a 100% home run. This team has the arrow pointing up with no signs of pointing down anytime soon. Thank you Mr. Blank. Thank you for not caving into pressure from the fanbase. Thank you for taking this team seriously and taking championships seriously. And thank you for running a classy organization in a classy way. I don't think we say it enough, but for me at least, your efforts to bring a winning culture to our team are much appreciated.
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    He's from GA and was a high school legend. The wall is dedicated to all the GA high schools. I mean it's not that big a deal.
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    I think Reggie Davis has impressed too much for the Falcons to cut him in favor of Nick Williams.
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    Don't know anything about him, but if Shanahan cut him, I think he probably isn't right for Shanahan's system, which is what we run.
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    I hope we beat them twice this year 28-3. That would make the sign laughable.
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    Idc what anyone says DQ is the man and I hope he is our Bill B for the next 15 years
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    http://www.espn.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/27929/takk-mckinley-already-letting-his-pads-do-the-talking FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley received a lot of attention nationally for screaming out profanity during a live interview on draft night. Then McKinley started to develop a larger following on Twitter because he spoke his mind about anything and everything through social media. McKinley has been given the green light to participate in 11-on-11 drills after starting camp limited to individual position work, following rehab from pre-draft shoulder surgery. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said prior to camp the team hoped to give McKinley meaningful reps in the third exhibition against Arizona on Aug. 26. The Falcons have been confident all along about McKinley being ready for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Chicago. Now that the defensive end from UCLA is back on the field, he's letting his pads do the talking. Just ask teammates Kevin Graf and Wil Freeman, a couple of tackles who felt the wrath of McKinley's bull rushes over the first week of training camp. And starter Jake Matthews might be next on the list. Don't expect McKinley to brag about any of his plays, no matter how outspoken he might appear to be. "I don't really talk," McKinley said of his on-field demeanor. "I'm not a big talker. I just work. I'm not the rah-rah guy that's like, 'Man, do this, do that.' I'll make plays and celebrate to fire the team up. But I'm a rookie. It's not my place to tell vets, 'Pick it up. Pick it up.' I'm here to work, here to learn and to help us win." McKinley had the respect of his teammates from Day 1. While some outsiders were critical of his outburst on draft night -- real emotion related to him fulfilling a promise to his late grandmother to overcome a rugged past and make it to the NFL -- his Falcons "brothers" viewed him as a guy with passion whom they couldn't wait to welcome to the team. "I knew where he was coming from," middle linebacker Deion Jones said. "I mean, I lost my grandmother. For him to fulfill that promise, that's emotion. That's why he does what he does. And I understand it. A lot of people might not understand it, but I do. He has a lot of passion behind what he does. That's what moves him. That's what keeps him going. That's why he wakes up. That's why he grinds. I'm with it. "His story? You have to feel his passion about that." McKinley's goal now is to make sure opponents feel him, every time he lines up across from them.
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    When you have a beach party 4 but have barbershop quartet practice at 5.