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  1. Deen Worley Mon, September 20, 2021, 4:10 PM·3 min read One of the bigger questions surrounding Arthur Smith when he became head coach of the Falcons was how different Atlanta’s offense would be. Additionally, the loss of Julio Jones added to the mystery. In place of Jones, fourth-year receiver Calvin Ridley moved up to the No. 1 spot and rookie Kyle Pitts has been frequently targeted through the first two games of the year. Let’s take a look at the Week 2 route charts for both Ridley and Pitts, using NFL Next Gen Stats. WR | Calvin Ridley (NFL Next gen Stats) While he hasn't shown it in full just yet this season, Ridley is a game-changing receiver and a viable threat on offense. He just needs the ball in his hands a little space to make moves. That wasn't the case in Week 2 as Ridley has become too concentrated in one area of the field. It doesn't take but two seconds to realize the disparity of distribution in Ridley's route concepts. Of the 10 targets that came Ridley's way, all but two were from positioned on the right side. Ridley was only able to gain two yards after the catch twice. One of those receptions he turned a five-yard shallow drag into 21-yard pickup by adding 16 yards after the catch. We like to knock down Dirk Koetter for his poor offensive scheme and game plans, but a direct comparison between Ridley's first matchup against Tampa a year ago to his first matchup this season shows the difference is night and day. Koetter's system offered Ridley an array of options and didn't have him concentrated in one general area. Have a look at the route concepts for Ridley in Week 15 of 2020. (NFL Next Gen Stats) The play design, much further downfield, allows for Ridley to create yards after the catch. You can see multiple occasions where Ridley was able to gain extra yards instead of being crowded close to the line of scrimmage. With Julio Jones out for the season by this point, Ridley had long been the number one option for the Falcons' offense. However, the route concepts under Koetter were much more favorable than for someone like Ridley. TE | Kyle Pitts (NFL Next Gen Stats) Kyle Pitts ended the day as the Falcons' leading receiver. While he had two less catches than Calvin Ridley, his 18-yard catch and run after a seven-yard completion helped, as well as his 24-yard gain on a 16-yard route. The Falcons have a true threat at tight end and when given the ball, Pitts has shown he can gain extra yards after the catch. However, where I would like to see this expanded is the use of exterior routes. Pitts has the ability to create separation as a receiver, so the addition of more outward-breaking routes would present a better chance for yards after the catch. Additionally, I would like to see Pitts used in a more vertical sense and not so much on shallow routes. Pitts' route tree is much more diverse than a traditional tight end, so more vertical or deep-breaking routes could elevate his playmaking abilities. Considering the Falcons used their fourth overall selection on a tight end many believe is destined for the Hall of Fame, we need to see him used more like Raiders TE Darren Waller. In fact, Waller is who many compared to Pitts entering the draft. Take a look at how the Raiders used Darren Waller in Week 1 against Baltimore. (NFL Next Gen Stats) 80 percent of Pitt's Week 2 targets were on inward-breaking routes right into the heart of the defense. As Darren Waller's route chart shows, his vertical routes have a much deeper stem to them on a consistent basis, unlike Pitts. However, this all could be a result of a game plan built around needing to get the ball out quickly, which Matt Ryan did on Sunday. https://sports.yahoo.com/looking-calvin-ridley-kyle-pitts-201055445.html
  2. Lee Smith/© 2021 Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons tight end Lee Smith #85 looks on during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Wednesday September 1, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta Falcons) Lee Smith will not get 100 yards or catch a few touchdowns in a game like some tight ends in the NFL. Smith describes himself as an "old school" blocking tight end and a "fat old man" compared to some of the more dynamic tight ends in the league. He loves hanging out and partying with the offensive lineman and says if he catches 10 passes, it is a career year — and he is right. Smith has caught more than 10 passes once over 10 NFL seasons and the most receiving yards he has had in a season is 78. "I'm a throwback dinosaur," Smith said. "The tight ends that make the big money and drive the Lamborghinis play on third and long and in two minutes. They make plays in the pass game — that's never been my role, and I'm fine with that. I'm built like the guys were built in the old days, and I love it." In Smith's few months with the Falcons, Kyle Pitts describes him as a "big brother," and other young players are amazed by his willingness to help them. Smith has stuck around in the league for 11 seasons because of his ability as a tight end and his reputation as a great mentor. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said he has admired Lee Smith for a long time. He had conversations about bringing in Lee Smith in his previous coaching stops, but each time he tried to make the move, another team signed the 11th-year pro. Arthur Smith finally got his guy in March, trading a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Bills. "You want to bring the right guys in here," Arthur Smith said. "He's got a great reputation. His teammates love him, and he's a great player and good at the role we ask him to do." Lee Smith's role is more than just a football player. He's also as a mentor. So when rookie outside linebacker Adetokunbo Ogundeji asked Smith about controlling edge rushers, he gave him all the advice he had. Smith knows that giving Ogundeji tips on how to get by him will make his job a lot more challenging but says he would not be able to "sleep at night" knowing that he did not help the rookie out. "I'm not just going to keep beating him up every day," Smith said. "That doesn't help him. I'll grab him after practice and say, 'Hey boss, you got your *** kicked because of this, and the other veteran tight ends are gonna use this to beat you.' It's never about me. I want him to beat me in practice. I want him to win because I got enough pride in myself to know that if he can beat me in practice, then most tight ends in this league are in trouble when his hands are in the ground." At this point in his career, Smith focuses on helping young players like Pitts and Ogundeji in whatever ways he can. He might not be able to give Pitts a tip on running a route or catching a one-handed pass, but he gives the rookie advice about blocking or being a professional and navigating the NFL. "I've always said that I will pass the torch to my young teammates," Smith said. "I've had to take people's jobs to come into this thing 11 years ago and have had to take people's jobs every year since. I can promise you that these guys will have every opportunity to take my job because I'm gonna teach them everything I know. But don't get me wrong, they ain't taking it now." When Smith's playing career is over, he plans to dedicate his life to helping young men. He is not sure specifically what he will do yet, but he wants to start a program in his hometown of Powell, Tennessee, where he can train young athletes and help young men grow. "I was raised by a man with no father, so I want to help any young male out there that's never seen a real man operate," Smith said. "Helping young men grow is what warms my heart. I get more joy out of that than I do anything else at this point in my life." https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/throwback-dinosaur-lee-smith-has-become-a-strong-mentor-in-falcons-locker-room?fbclid=IwAR0pHz1ml4TIXyqXeGH22ktDtn09y9U9otV75Uq2WskC1mNe7Xs43J-pnLg
  3. Deen Worley Thu, September 2, 2021, 3:10 PM·2 min read The Falcons brought in All-Pro return man Cordarrelle Patterson over the offseason after Brandon Powell departed in free agency. Patterson, 30, is a proven kick returner but has versatility on offense that allows him to be used in a number of ways. “My mindset is to just do whatever coach needed me to,” said Patterson. “If you want me playing running back, quarterback, tight end, kick return, punt return, whatever. I’m just out there to help this team win. Whatever coach need me to do, I’m gonna do it.” Being used as a running back is new territory for the veteran. Up until last season, Patterson saw very minimal snaps at anywhere other than receiver. Then in 2020, he took 146 snaps at running back — the most he played at any position. “I’m just here to play football, to be honest. Simple as that. I’m here to help this team, do whatever I can to help them win games. No matter at running back, receiver, kick return. I’m just out here to play football.” Watch Patterson’s full press conference below, as shared by the Falcons’ YouTube channel. Going into his ninth season, Patterson will have familiarity with offensive coordinator David Ragone after working together in Chicago. Patterson also expressed excitement in playing for head coach Arthur Smith. “I’ll say this, a new coach is always a different vibe from players, trying to get used to the coach because none of us probably been coached by him before,” stated Patterson after Wednesday’s practice. “A lot of guys out here want to play for him and he brings that juice every day. He’s fired up and what guy doesn’t want to play for a coach like [Arthur Smith]. So, we come out here with a mindset that this is his first year, so we’re going to try to make our best year.” Reinforcing accountability has been a staple of Smith’s brief tenure since taking the job in January. https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-rb-cordarrelle-patterson-m-191010612.html
  4. as thin as we are at wr, i wouldn't be totally against this
  5. Matt Urben Sat, August 28, 2021, 2:10 PM It’s tough being a first-year head coach in the NFL, but it always helps to have an experienced coordinator on staff to ease the transition. Shortly after Arthur Smith was hired to lead the Atlanta Falcons, veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees came out of retirement to join Smith’s staff. Pees said he wasn’t actively seeking out coaching jobs again, but when Smith came to him, he was intrigued after their time together in Tennessee. “I got a couple of calls from a couple of people that were going to interview for jobs, and I really kind of told them I wasn’t interested,” said Pees at Thursday’s press conference. “And then it was different — when talking to Art — because I knew Art. I knew what Art’s like, our relationship and I wanted to work with someone I knew, totally trusted, believed in, and so I said yeah.” Pees was asked how the three different levels of the Falcons’ defense have performed throughout training camp. “Well, I mean, they’re all tied in,” said Pees. “In all these things everybody’s got a job to do, and, there’s multiple stuff up front that those guys got to know and there’s multiple things in the back end. What makes it really multiple is the fact that sometimes you can do the same things in the front and change — do the same things with two or three different coverages. Then, there’s also some things where you can do a bunch of things up front different, and keep the same coverage.” The ability to run different pressures up front without changing the look on the back end, and vice versa, will be a key factor for this defense. “We can run two or three different pressures up front but play the same coverage,” said Pees. “Or we can run the same pressure up front and run two to three different coverages. So, that’s what really makes the thing multiple.” Check out Pees’ full press conference, as shared by the team’s YouTube channel below. https://sports.yahoo.com/dean-pees-decision-join-arthur-181035049.html
  6. Matt Urben Fri, August 27, 2021, 7:45 PM·1 min read The tough thing about being an NFL cornerback is that when you do your job well, nobody talks about you. Atlanta Falcons CB A.J. Terrell was thrown into the fire as a rookie in 2020, and despite some rough patches, he’s managed to quiet a lot of the criticism the team received when drafting him 16th overall. Entering his second year, the former Clemson standout will lead a completely revamped Falcons secondary as it transitions to Dean Pees’ defensive scheme. It won’t be easy, but Terrell has yet to back down from a challenge. Check out the new mic’d up segment featuring Terrell, as shared by the team’s Twitter account below. https://sports.yahoo.com/watch-falcons-cb-j-terrell-234510880.html
  7. file this under "things not to do while bored"
  8. Steady-as-they-come franchise quarterback needs captain Arthur Smith's ship well getting offense up to speed Jul 15, 2021 at 12:06 PM Scott Bair QB Matt Ryan The Falcons have had the stability under center most NFL franchises can only dream about. They hit huge drafting franchise quarterback Matt Ryan way back in 2008, plugged him right into the starting lineup left him there without second thought. Yeah. He has been that good for that long. Ryan's stats have consistently gone off the charts. His win totals have been typically high, with a 113-92 record as a starter and six playoff appearances including a Super Bowl berth. Sailing, however, hasn't always been smooth. The Falcons have fallen on harder times and Ryan's getting up there in age, leading many to wonder whether the Falcons should pick a quarterback of the future heading into this year's NFL Draft. That didn't happen. Passers went 1, 2, 3 and then the Falcons used the fourth pick on dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts. They're ready to roll with Ryan again in 2021 and likely beyond considering his contract status, recent restructure and the simple fact that he keeps producing. A Ryan-Arthur Smith partnership could be particularly fruitful, considering the new head coach's respected and creative offensive scheme. It's also well balanced, a feature that has allowed Ryan to thrive in years past. He can put a team on his back and tally yards and points, but that doesn't always pile victories high. Last season makes that case and point. Ryan led the league in completed passes (407) and attempts (626) during a 4-12 season. He has exceeded 600 attempts the last three years, and the Falcons have finished below .500 each time. That shouldn't suggest causation. It's brought up here to suggest sole reliance on Ryan isn't a recipe for victory. Offensive balance and defensive improvement must help the overall product. Ryan can, however, captain a well-made ship. He'll helm Smith's first season, likely the second and maybe beyond, considering the Falcons don't even have a developmental prospect as his backup. A.J. McCarron's in that role with Felipe Franks behind him, though the 53-man roster might not accommodate a third quarterback. Ryan's the one constant around here, through coach and roster turnover. He has been through several scheme installations in his career. Coordinators have essentially been a revolving door with a new one coming again in 2021. Ryan learning Smith's scheme and executing it well will be key for the entire team as it tries for better. He has to be well ahead of the curve to maximize this training camp time. He'll be the offensive tone setter, someone to apply professionalism and calm in stressful situations. Getting some time to work would help him out. He has been sacked 40-plus times in each season of this three-year lull, an occurrence that only happened once in 11 years before that. Getting this line in order, especially with Matt Hennessy likely taking over at center, will be key in that effort. This camp is also important preparing for life after Julio Jones, who was traded to Tennessee last month. Ryan still has familiar, reliable options in Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. He has work to do enriching the chemistry built with Pitts during the offseason program. In general, Ryan must be a rock for a team still in some transition and inspire confidence in those around him. If he's as good as ever, gets better from those around him and rekindles his fourth-quarter magic, this Falcons team may surprise some folks. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/training-camp-preview-matt-ryan-must-be-stabilizing-force-in-new-era?fbclid=IwAR1DeNKzyq8ihnZx6-Vpzk1Ug4lEk8nsKqbQktTk51LWKBRR2YfYmVhEx9c
  9. CHARLES ODUM Fri, May 14, 2021, 5:44 PM ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Pitts did his best to sound like any other rookie just trying to fit in, even though he knows he's expected to play a high-profile role from his first game with the Atlanta Falcons. Modesty goes over well for a rookie, even one of the top selections in the NFL draft. Following Friday's rookie camp workout at the Falcons' facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Pitts said all the right things. Asked his expectations for the rookie camp, Pitts said: “Just to be the best player I can be and help this team to win in any form and fashion." Two weeks after the Falcons made Pitts the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, the rookie camp is providing the former Florida tight end his first time on the practice field. Pitts gives quarterback Matt Ryan a new playmaker in an already formidable passing game. Barring an offseason move for an Atlanta team still facing salary cap issues, Ryan's top receivers return, including Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Russell Gage and tight end Hayden Hurst. There could be times Hurst and Pitts are on the field together. Pitts (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) is a matchup nightmare for defenses. He is projected as a tight end who could line up like a wide receiver. Pitts wouldn't take part in projections on how he'll fit in with Hurst. “Hurst is a great tight end and I look forward to seeing how he does at this level to make myself kind of emulate his game and add some of his tools in my box,” Pitts said. “I’m not looking into the future right now. I’m just letting the coaches do what they do. I’m just here trying to grind every day and be the best I can be and contribute to the tight end room.” As Pitts went through his paces on the field, even his new No. 8 reflected the respect he is paying to his veteran teammates. Veteran Cordarrelle Patterson has the No. 84 that Pitts wore at Florida. Pitts settled on a new number instead of asking Patterson for the 84. “Cordarrelle Patterson is a great vet who had 84 already,” Pitts said. “So I just decided I really didn't want to try to interfere with his career or anything like that.” The rookie camp provided the opportunity for the Falcons' second-round pick, safety Richie Grant, to defend Pitts. Grant said Pitts “became my bro, just like everybody else” when they met at rookie camp. The Falcons lost safeties Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee in free agency, so Grant also will compete for a starting job. There are opportunities for other Atlanta rookies to start or earn immediate playing time. Drew Dalman, the fourth-round pick from Stanford, will push second-year player Matt Hennessy at center. Jalen Mayfield, a third-round pick from Michigan, will have an opportunity at left guard. Cornerbacks Darren Hall of San Diego State and Avery Williams of Boise State could compete for the starting job opposite 2020 first-round pick A.J. Terrell. NOTES: The rookies are being housed in apartments on the property of the Falcons practice facility. That protects the players from the gas shortages that have spread across Georgia and the South. “Actually, I got a full tank of gas right before that situation happened, so I was fortunate,” Grant said. “Then I pulled into the gate and I didn't need my car anymore.” https://www.yahoo.com/news/modest-pitts-wont-project-role-214451965.html
  10. Deen Worley Thu, March 25, 2021, 10:00 AM New Atlanta Falcons starting safety Erik Harris‘ journey to the National Football League is one that is made for theaters. The odds of making it to the NFL are already astronomical when taking the conventional route. Add in more obstacles and dead ends, those odds begin to plummet even lower. However, Harris’ perseverance and grit helped him realize his dream. After not receiving any offers to play football, Harris’ mom, Christine Higgins, took it upon herself to write a heartfelt letter to California University of Pennsylvania (CAL-PA). In an interview with The Athletic’s Vic Tafur in 2018, Higgins dove into why she sent the letter. Included with the three-page letter was Harris’ high school highlight film and clips of accolades from both track and football. CAL-PA eventually reached back out to Harris, to his mother’s shock, and while they didn’t offer him a scholarship, he was presented with the opportunity to walk on. His freshman season at CAL-PA saw Harris in a reserve role on defense but a prominent starter on special teams. His 14 tackles on special teams led the entire team. His performance in 2008 was good enough to receive a scholarship worth $1500. The scholarships didn’t stop there as each season Harris saw more and more scholarships come in due to his play on the field. Year GP TKL TFL Sacks INT PD 2008 12 15 0 0 0 2 2009 15 84 4.5 2 3 7 2010 12 61 5 1 3 6 2011 13 71 8.5 3 3 7 Total 52 231 18 6 9 22 After going undrafted in 2021, something that’s not uncommon for a vast majority of division two athletes, Harris failed to receive any camp invites. With no invites coming, Harris took up a summer job at Utz potato chip factory, the same place his mother once worked, where he worked long and grueling 11-hour days. While the new Falcons safety certainly doesn’t miss this job, he is rather thankful for it. Harris discussed his time at Utz during his introductory press conference with the Falcons Monday afternoon. Once the summer ended, Harris went back to school to finish out his degree. He took off the spring semester of his senior season to prepare for the 2012 NFL draft. Harris also took up work at a local UPS warehouse where he eventually became a belt supervisor. His first big break came after trying out for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. Harris would impress the Tiger-Cats enough to earn a three-year deal. While he began his CFL career making a difference on special teams, he eventually made his way up the depth chart into a starting role. In 2014, Erik Harris made CFL history by being the first, and only, person to register an interception, sack, special teams tackle and an offensive touchdown. This all came in a game dedicated to his late father. Despite putting up quality numbers in the CFL, his performances weren’t enough to land himself on the radar of any NFL teams. His Tiger-Cats teammate, Delvin Breaux, who was brought on to join the New Orleans Saints in 2015, lobbied for Harris at the conclusion of his CFL contract after the 2015 season. Breaux’s lobbying was deemed successful as Harris was eventually given a tryout, in which he received an offer that same day. This was also the first time Harris met former Saints scout and current Falcons general manager, Terry Fontenot. Harris saw his first ever defensive snaps in the NFL against the Falcons in relief for starting safety Jairus Byrd. Those would be the only snaps Harris took with the Saints. While Harris finally caught his lucky break that he longed for, the former Saints safety tore his ACL during a Saints practice following their Week 5 bye week. Harris posted on his Instagram following his injury. After the season, Harris was let go before eventually returning to the Saints just to be let go again before the regular season came around. However, to continue the trend, Harris was quickly picked up by the Raiders where he was once again a prominent member on special teams. It wasn’t until 2018, seven years after being undrafted, that Harris finally obtained quality playing time on defense. After playing a limited role the first three weeks of 2019, Harris was finally promoted to starting safety. While his first game as starter saw him pull down a pick-six for 30 yards, Harris’ claim to fame came against the Chargers on Thursday night. The Raiders safety recorded two interceptions for 115 return yards while taking one back to the end zone, and broke up three passes. To date, those are the only interceptions of his NFL career. After starting 12 of his 14 games played in 2020, the Raiders eventually decided not to bring back Harris but let him walk in free agency. The Falcons signed Harris to a one-year deal worth $1.35 million. While there’s no knowing how Harris will fare under Dean Pees, the journeyman will undoubtedly bring heart, perseverance, grit and ultimately leadership to this Falcons’ defense. Atlanta is a team in transition and this was something Harris acknowledged on Monday. But he doesn’t see this as a negative, more of an opputrunity. With the Falcons parting ways with all three starting safeties, it’s very likely Harris becomes a day-one starter in Atlanta. https://sports.yahoo.com/erik-harris-unlikely-journey-led-140050182.html
  11. Atlanta Falcons GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith will be in attendance for Trey Lance's Pro Day at North Dakota State on Friday Mar 11, 2021 at 08:43 PM Kelsey Conway AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn Both Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith will attend North Dakota State's Pro Day on Friday to watch top quarterback prospect Trey Lance in person, according to a tweet from Sports Illustrated senior reporter Albert Breer. The Falcons own the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft and several mock drafts have them selecting a quarterback with that pick. Lance is one of the top five prospects at his position. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Lance are the names that have been mentioned as first-round worthy quarterbacks. Lance, 20, went 17-0 during his career at North Dakota State and won an FCS national championship in 2019. North Dakota State opted to move its season to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lance declared for the NFL Draft. The dual-threat quarterback is praised for his mobility, accuracy and arm strength. Although his sample size is smaller than most prospects at his position, he's certainly made a case for himself in the games he did play in. In his one full season as the starter at North Dakota State, he threw for 28 touchdowns, zero interceptions and completed 67 percent of his passes. He also added 14 rushing touchdowns and amassed 1,100 rushing yards. His one full season as the North Dakota State starting quarterback ended with him completing 66.9 percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions in addition to 1,100 rushing yards and 14 scores in 2019. https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/report-terry-fontenot-arthur-smith-to-attend-trey-lance-s-pro-day?fbclid=IwAR0hXTl-GyxfsHTiqmo3XsrycOJsqxHoArTXHVsBWKZiNav7tiv8rdtUvfo
  12. On Thursday morning, it was reported that the Falcons had re-signed defensive lineman Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and then later in the afternoon, the team announced three more signings. Kicker Younghoe Koo, cornerback Tyler Hall and wide receiver Christian Blake have each been re-signed, the team announced via its Twitter account. Koo is fresh off a Pro Bowl campaign in 2020, his first full season as a starter. Hall was an undrafted free agent that ended up playing due to the injuries Atlanta suffered at the cornerback position. Blake got some playing time this season after Julio Jones went down with a hamstring injury. He finished with 13 catches for 141 yards (10.8 yards per reception). https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-sign-younghoe-koo-tyler-205511347.html
  13. Scott Carasik Tue, March 2, 2021, 11:00 AM·3 min read The Falcons could solve a nearly decade-long need for an elite pass rusher with the selection of Azeez Ojulari. The former Georgia Bulldog was a highly productive player and is hoping to turn a ridiculous showing in the Peach Bowl into a first-round selection. Atlanta would be a great schematic fit for Ojulari as well. EDGE Azeez Ojulari, University of Georgia 6-foot-3, 240 pounds Stats and Awards 2020: 10 Games Played, 30 Tackles, 11.5 Tackles for Loss, 8.5 Sacks, 16 QB Hurries, 3 Fumbles Forced, 2 Pass Deflections, Second Team All-SEC 2019: 14 Games Played, 36 Tackles, 6.0 Tackles for Loss, 5.5 Sacks, 18 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced 2018: 3 Games Played, 4 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, Redshirted due to injury recovery after two games Highlights: Vs. Auburn Strengths In terms of overall athleticism, Azeez Ojulari has a ton of raw explosiveness and lateral agility. He’s able to turn that, along with his ability to turn speed into power, into a ton of pressure on quarterbacks. He can beat anyone off the line and attack the quarterback with the best of them. His non-stop motor helps him create plays when he does get stone-walled initially. He also has exceptional football intelligence that allows him to make the right decision off the snap to either set the edge for a run or attack the quarterback. This helps him make plays against the run by attacking from the backside or setting the edge efficiently in the run to either force plays inside or cause short losses. Weaknesses In coverage, Ojulari is extremely raw. His lack of hip flexibility in coverage can be a bit alarming, and he shouldn’t be used as a man coverage linebacker in any way. He’s also needs to add some more pass rush moves to his game. Ojulari’s intelligence and motor will allow him to be successful in pass rushing situations, but adding some better moves would really help. Size and length are going to be considered weaknesses for him if teams are looking at him as a 4-3 defensive end. At just 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, he comes off as small for that role, but a 3-4 team might be okay with him on the edge. He may need to move to an unfamiliar role as an inside linebacker for some teams. Leadership As a redshirt sophomore, Ojulari was voted a team captain multiple times. He’s a true leader and makes the guys around him play harder. His energy in the Peach Bowl played a big part in the Bulldogs winning that game. Overview NFL Stylistic Comparison/Best Case Scenario: Shaquil Barrett Ojulari reminds me of Shaq Barrett coming out of school, but with better overall athleticism. He’s super raw as a pass rusher, but has the potential to be great for the team that drafts him as a stand up edge rusher. Worst case for him early on will be as a nickel rusher attacking from multiple angles. How he fits into the Falcons’ plans If the Falcons were to trade down in the first round, Ojulari should be one of the top targets for them in the mid-first. He’s a top-flight pass rusher that the team hasn’t had in years. Combining him with Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun and Grady Jarrett on nickel downs would give Atlanta at least four pieces of a disguised blitz package that Dean Pees likes to feature in his defenses. https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-2021-potential-draft-pick-160016671.html
  14. The Falcons have a new General Manager and new head coach tasked with turning around a team that finished 4-12 in 2020. That’s not going to be the easiest task, especially as Atlanta is one of the teams currently slated to be over the projected 2021 salary cap. But earlier this week, G.M. Terry Fontenot talked about how the Falcons’ personnel staff will have to be at its best to make the most of the team’s roster. “We’re going to have to find players because you can’t just build your roster with overpaid players in free agency or top draft picks. We have to really dig and find value in free agency,” Fontenot said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s working with the coaches and finding exactly what they need and going and finding the players that they need. That’s throughout the entire draft and that’s in undrafted free agency. So, we have to be scouts and go find good players that can really fit the make-up and profile that we are looking for.” The Falcons have already released safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey, and Fontenot said the club will have more difficult decisions to make over the coming weeks. They do, however, own the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft. And for a team with a new staff and limited cap space, younger players may have a better shot at solidifying themselves as a hidden gem in Atlanta than in other spots. Terry Fontenot: We have to really dig and find value in free agency originally appeared on Pro Football Talk https://sports.yahoo.com/terry-fontenot-really-dig-value-134833686.html
  15. Longtime NFL defensive assistant Dean Pees retired for the second time following the 2019 season. This retirement lasted a year, rather than just a few weeks like in 2018. But Pees said late last month that he un-retired to work with new Falcons head coach Arthur Smith. Smith and Pees worked together on the Titans’ staff from 2018-2019, the latter year serving as offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively. So there’s familiarity and trust between the two men, which is critical for Smith as a first-year head coach. “Dean’s body of work kind of speaks for itself. But is Dean is also somebody that is not set in his ways. Dean is very flexible. He’s adaptable,” Smith said this week, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I feel really good about the entire staff, but on the defensive side we got some really good experience over there. Combining that with some young guys, it’s a good mix. Dean and I have a shared vision. We’ll play to our strengths. We’ll be multiple. “It was really beneficial for me, being a first time head coach and I’m still going to call the plays, is that you have somebody with that kind of experience that you can lean on especially on that side of the ball.” Pees has coordinated six top-10 defenses, including Tennessee’s 2018 team that ranked No. 3 in points allowed and No. 8 in yards allowed. Though the Titans were 12th in points allowed and 21st in yards allowed in 2019, the club advanced to the AFC Championship Game. And Tennessee took a clear step back defensively in 2020, ranking No. 24 in points allowed and No. 28 in yards allowed. Given the Falcons’ perilous salary cap situation, Smith will likely need Pees to come up with creative ways to make the most out of the team’s defensive personnel in 2021. https://sports.yahoo.com/arthur-smith-plans-lean-dean-223242485.html
  16. if he comes cheap i wouldn't hate it. not a great starter but could be a decent backup, granted matt has been one of the most durable qb's in the nfl during his career.
  17. solid contributor and decent leader of the secondary. wish him well.
  18. Matt Urben Wed, February 17, 2021, 2:11 PM·1 min read Despite addressing the position in the first round of the 2020 draft, the Atlanta Falcons still have a need at the cornerback spot. According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the Falcons were one of six teams to hold a virtual meeting with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. Analysts expect Samuel Jr. to be drafted somewhere between the second and third rounds. In 2020, he finished with 22 tackles, three interceptions, six passes defended, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He’s also the son of former NFL CB Asante Samuel. Scouts believe Samuel Jr. is best suited to play in a man coverage scheme, which the Falcons played a lot of last season and could do so again in Dean Pees’ defense. Here’s Samuel Jr. going up against Georgia Tech. https://sports.yahoo.com/falcons-held-virtual-meeting-cb-191133564.html
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