Goober Pyle

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Goober Pyle last won the day on August 14 2016

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About Goober Pyle

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  1. Excellent breakdown. Just needed to add that little bit for posterity's sake........dadgum Eugene Robinson.
  2. For those who played in both the AAF and XFL, it must have felt like history was repeating itself — albeit due to a completely different set of circumstances. A year after the AAF folded after eight games, the XFL was entering its sixth week before it was forced to shut down. While the AAF ran out of money, the XFL canceled the remainder of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has put most of the world on lockdown. For linebacker Edmond Robinson, who played with the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots before joining the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, it was certainly concerning. At 28 years old, Robinson, drafted in the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2015, felt he had perhaps one more shot to get back to the NFL. And now, this? Again? “My initial thought was that it was like déjà vu all over again for me,” Robinson said. Tight end Khari Lee was also using the XFL as an opportunity to return to the NFL. During the 2018 season, Lee was cut by the Buffalo Bills and wasn’t picked up by an NFL team in 2019. But D.C. Defenders operations manager Gerald Dixon, who knew Lee from Dixon’s time as a pro scout with the Bills, reached out and asked Lee if he was interested in trying out the XFL. Lee agreed, believing if he could put together some good film, he would be able to get some NFL interest again. “It was a thing where I wanted to prove that I can still compete and make plays,” Lee said. “I think I did that.” Clearly, both Robinson and Lee did enough during their five games in the XFL to warrant another NFL opportunity. While there was some initial concern as to what would happen when the 2020 XFL season abruptly ended, both players were signed by the Falcons. For whatever reason, Atlanta didn’t sign a player from the AAF until adding place-kicker Younghoe Koo during the bye of the 2019 season. This time, the Falcons identified both Robinson and Lee as potential players who could help the roster. Once the XFL season came to a halt, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said the team identified six or seven players who deserved a closer look. From there, Atlanta narrowed it down to two or three players who had the particular traits to join the roster. “We thought if we get them here, they can develop into a role on our team,” Quinn said. “They are definitely motivated guys. They want to reconnect and recapture things. We definitely want to give them the avenue to do that.” Once the XFL canceled the remainder of its season, Robinson said it was time to put a plan together about his next step. He decided to move from Houston back home to Charleston, S.C., to keep training. In Charleston, Robinson has been able to work out at a gym his friend owns, all while it’s closed to the public. The gym contains a turf field, sleds, tires, weights and treadmills, so Robinson can get most of his needed physical activity done to stay in shape for whenever football activities are able to resume. When Robinson works out, he said only two or three people are inside with him as they adhere to social distancing guidelines. When Robinson came out of Division II program Newberry in 2015, Falcons linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich actually traveled to Robinson’s campus to work him out. After Robinson signed with Atlanta recently, Ulbrich spoke with Robinson and remembered everything about their previous encounter. While he didn’t meet Quinn as a pro prospect, Robinson received a text message from his new head coach shortly after joining the team. “This is the first time I’ve ever had a head coach text me welcoming me to the team, telling me they’re excited to have me, telling me they have a plan and how I fit into the plan — all that kind of stuff,” Robinson said. “I was definitely happy and excited to get that because I’ve never had a head coach at any level say anything like that to me. It made me feel good. It showed me what kind of guy he is. If he does that type of stuff I have to go hard for him and the whole team. I appreciated him for that.” Lee, who is from the Baltimore area and went to college at Division II program Bowie State, didn’t have to travel far once the XFL season abruptly ended since he played for the D.C. Defenders. Lee has continued to work out at home while getting cardio in by running around his neighborhood. While Lee was a small-school prospect who went undrafted in 2015, he was able to hang around on NFL rosters for almost four years. When it suddenly came to an end, it was a bit of a surprise. Taking the XFL opportunity served as a chance to prove he still belonged on an NFL roster. “Being not on an NFL team was a shock to me,” Lee said. “For the greater part of four years I’d been playing (professional) football — dating back to college, I played football for the last 20-something-odd years. It was definitely a different feeling. I felt I had the résumé and the tape to be on a ballclub. You just have to put your head down and grind.” At 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds, Lee will compete for a spot as a blocking tight end with the Falcons. But in the XFL, he also showed he has the ability as a receiver, evidenced by a 39-yard touchdown reception he had in the season opener against the Seattle Dragons. If Lee learned everything from getting cut by the Bills and seeing the XFL season end prematurely, it’s to not assume anyone’s job security is safe as a professional athlete. “I think it’s really never taking a snap for granted,” Lee said. “Playing this game, there’s a 100 percent injury rate. There’s guys who make it to their pension, there’s guys who don’t make it to their pension. There’s guys who play a year and who go to a training camp and never play a down again. I was blessed to play my four years and follow it up with my XFL experience. I think it’s cherishing every moment. It sounds cliché, but it can all be taken away from you so fast. We got a call, and our whole league was over, XFL-wise. It’s really to play every play like it’s your last because it really could be.” In five games, Robinson totaled 22 tackles and two sacks for Houston — the XFL’s best team with a 5-0 record. Robinson, who has the kind of speed the Falcons love their linebackers to possess, could earn a special teams role if he makes the 53-man roster. For Robinson and Lee, they will look to make the most of their second — and possibly final — opportunities to make it in the NFL. “Everything just worked out,” Robinson said. “I’m definitely grateful for the Falcons organization that they were that one team, or if there were others, but they were one who said they were going to give this kid a chance, not knowing that it could be my last chance or whatever the case may be. They gave me a chance, and I’m going to make the most of it.”
  3. Dan Quinn might just be the right coach at … well, nobody would call this the right time. But if you’re looking for someone who can embrace enforced change and still find reasons to be cheerful, Dan’s your man. The Falcons’ coach held a 30-minute video call via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday. He seemed in his element, and not just because he was displayed at a desk beneath a mantel lined with football helmets. He was in his element because – unlike other football coaches (Dabo Swinney, Mike Gundy) who’ve spoken recently – he sees the whole field. John Prine died Tuesday night. Boris Johnson is in ICU. Our world is reeling. Quinn opened by conceding that there’s something going on that’s “way bigger” than football. Then he struck this grace note: “I know there’s a lot of uncertainty outside, but I would like to start with some things that I am totally certain about. I am certain about my appreciation and gratitude and thankfulness for all the doctors and nurses and first responders; people who work in our grocery stores and pharmacies and are helping us get through this. “I know sports personalities can be seen as heroes, and I think what this time has shown is that people are stepping up, not just here in Atlanta but all over the country and all over the world. It’s one of the coolest things to watch from afar. To know that people have that kind of grittiness and toughness and love, it’s really cool to see.” Then: “Instead of ‘social distancing,’ I wish we had called it ‘physical distancing.’ Because socially, we so need to be connected. That’s one of the most difficult spots here, that feeling of isolation. We’ve gone for it pretty hard in terms of things we wanted to do to stay connected – through phone calls and FaceTime and video conferencing. The ability to be present with somebody – it’s a big deal. I’ve enjoyed visiting with players, coaches, draft prospects. At times, it’s felt like I’m on ‘The Jetsons’ here: I’m a football coach learning how to online-teach. There have been a lot of things over the last month that have been challenging in ways that help you grow and get better.” He turned to football. He talked about the draft, about Dante Fowler, about Todd Gurley. He said what you’d expect. He also upbraided, gently, those reporters who hadn’t activated their cameras, meaning he couldn’t see his questioner. “That’s like cheating. You’ve got to be on screen if you’re on a conference call. I’ve found with the players that they’re more present on a video conference call than a phone call. You can be on a phone call and writing something down or doing something else, but on these calls it’s been good to stay connected with people, especially during this time when we’re not getting as much face time as we normally do.” Football coaches tend to hate that which they cannot control. Quinn has such a lively mind that, instead of raging against grim reality, he has taken this moment to try to make himself a better coach/communicator. (For the record, he has always been a top-shelf guy.) “I missed the locker room like ****, seeing everybody and talking to everybody … (But) one of the silver linings in being away is that, in some cases, the relationships have gotten better. The first thing we’re talking about often times isn’t the football side. You come into the building, and it’s, ‘Hey, what’s up? All right, let’s get started – this is Cover 3; that’s what we’re playing.’ Right now it’s a deeper check-in. It’s, ‘Tell me about your family. Is everybody OK? Is your grandmother able to get the medication?’ “When you start talking about the family piece first, there’s been some connections that might’ve not normally happened had we all just met at the complex and gotten going. I definitely miss seeing everybody on a regular basis, but trying to do it this way has helped. That kind of connection – it’s been important, for sure.” Then, asked about alternate plans that could be needed for OTAs and the like: “What we’ve really learned a lot and grown a lot on is, ‘How do we teach online?’ How do we teach when we share a screen and we watch tapes and we try a voice-over? What the coaches have been doing is practicing teaching each other. Is it best to have a call with one person, two people? How do you do it when there’s a group of O-linemen? Is it best to have smaller groups? How do you have a team meeting? Hopefully we won’t have to use much of that, but we’re planning that way. We can throw a **** of a virtual offseason, if that’s possible. “You can get a lot done with technology. … We’re finding better ways to teach when you’re not in the same room and you don’t have the same eye contact. We’re digging into as many resources as we can – from other sports, college professors. I’ve contacted people in the military. We’ve been on with basketball people who are right in the middle of their sport: ‘How are you staying connected?’ I’ve reached out to my former roommate who’s a college professor: ‘Tell me about these online classes, man.’ Those are fun things that we’ve grown on, and that’s how we’re practicing coach-to-coach.” At the end, someone wondered what exactly would have to happen for there to be a football season. Said Quinn: “It feels a little tricky even to have this conversation. I would say the medical people I would trust more than anything else. The safety part of it, for me, is where it’s at. If we had ways of establishing safety for fans and players, that would be some part of the discussion. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to (decide); I follow along like everyone else. There are so many different things out there, I just don’t have a good answer for you – other than player and fan safety. That would be at the top.” That’s really the only answer there is. Dan Quinn nailed that, too. Nobody could possibly have seen this coming, but the Falcons should be glad they’ve got this guy to guide them through it.
  4. Quinn - no go on the gradient until he saw “Grady in it”
  5. If you look closely, it looks like a third guy is dressed in the new black jersey wearing black pants with the red stripe. If so, my "assumption" would be no gray/silver pants and possibly just the white and black pants. You can see that the black pants have the same red stripe as the white....hmmmm.
  6. Again, not too crazy about the red fading to black with the black pants, but it could look different in better lighting. With the chrome facemask, silver/gray pants could look good with the black jersey.
  7. So far, we're not seeing what pants are being worn with the black jersey.
  8. Love the helmet! Not too sure about the red fading to black, though. Have to see it all together. I do like the all white uni...
  9. Having gotten through the first wave of free agency, the Falcons are now less than a month away from the NFL Draft. That makes this a good time for a good old fashioned mailbag. As always, thanks for the questions. I hope everyone is remaining safe and at home during this troubling time. What’s the likelihood that the Falcons will trade up in the draft as they have done in the past? — Michael M. Do you think it’s more likely that (Thomas Dimitroff) trades up or down in the first? — Devin C. At this time, I wouldn’t rule out anything. But history would indicate the greater chance lies with Dimitroff trading up in the first round of the upcoming draft. Since he took over as the Falcons’ general manager in 2008, Dimitroff has not once moved back in the opening round. In comparison, he used the team’s original first-round selections to move up to take Julio Jones (2011) and Takk McKinley (2017). Dimitroff also made moves to acquire additional first-round picks twice, which were used on Sam Baker (2008) and Kaleb McGary (2019). But given the number of needs to address, it would not be surprising to see Dimitroff trade back in the first round. It could be seen as a wise idea to trade back and acquire additional selections since the odds of hitting on players increases with volume. But as it is with anything, the past is often the best way to judge the present. So while I wouldn’t rule out a trade back, the odds have to favor moving up. Jason, do you still think the Falcons will target DL early in the draft? Cornerback is a need, too, but (Jeff) Okudah won’t be there, and the better value seems to be going with someone like Damon Arnette or Bryce Hall in the second/third rounds as opposed to taking CJ Henderson 10 spots too early in the first. — David A. One thing that has been glossed over when discussing Atlanta’s need at cornerback is Kendall Sheffield’s standing with the team. By the end of the 2019 season, and with Desmond Trufant’s injury knocking him out for the final three games, Sheffield was the top corner in Atlanta’s base coverage. He also happened to defend the slot when the team was in nickel. With this in mind, it comes down to how the coaches view Sheffield moving forward. If they believe Sheffield is a true No. 1 cornerback, they may not feel like they have to take one early. Corner is still an obvious need even if they are high on Sheffield’s potential. After all, there are only four cornerbacks on Atlanta’s roster — Sheffield, Isaiah Oliver, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Jordan Miller. And Miller will be suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season. Therefore, you can bet the team will take a cornerback or two in the draft. But when they decide to take a cornerback could depend a lot on how they view Sheffield. With that in mind, to answer your question, I can only say that it remains possible for the Falcons to target a defensive lineman early. The link to Javon Kinlaw is obvious, although I just don’t see him falling to No. 16 overall. Derrick Brown’s ability to move linemen back with power would be an appealing fit, as well, although he also will be off the board early. TCU’s Ross Blacklock is an intriguing prospect, and he should be there at No. 16 overall. But linebacker is the other position the Falcons could focus on early in the draft, too. The Todd Gurley signing seems to shore up RB as much as the Vic Beasley fifth-year (option) shored up the pass rush last year — even if it works, he’ll demand too much money, and the Falcons will move on next offseason. With that in mind, do you expect the team to try and draft a replacement now and possibly cut someone at the position? Or do you think the team enters training camp with the current group and looks to add someone again this time next year? — Mark H. Signing Gurley to a one-year deal is most certainly a win-now move. The worst-case scenario is that he’s a third-down back in the passing game. The best-case is his knee holds up and he returns to his 2018 form. Regardless, the option of retaining Gurley past 2020 does seem slim for the reasons you outlined. I do expect the Falcons to address running back in this year’s draft. As it stands, if Gurley can’t handle the entire load, it will be on either Brian Hill, Ito Smith or Qadree Ollison to work in tandem with him. The Falcons would need to be very confident in one of those three players to step up alongside Gurley to help improve a running game that struggled throughout the 2019 season. But assuming Gurley is one and done with Atlanta, it would be wise for Atlanta to have another running back ready to go for 2021. Still expecting the Falcons’ first two picks to be on defense for sure … while A.J. Epenesa does not fulfill many Falcons fan fantasies of flying around the edge to get to the QB, he still would bring a lot of value — setting the edge and also providing some pressure inside with his power. Don’t see a LB value at No. 16 and only Henderson as a CB if he’s still there … and I really think (K’Lavon) Chaisson could be a bust. Do you think the Falcons might do as the Oakland Raiders did last season with Clelin Ferrell … just draft a good solid football player like Epenesa and move forward? — James F. The Raiders were high on Ferrell the whole time. The Falcons would have to feel that way about Epenesa while also believing he would be a good fit for their scheme. This front office has shown that it will go after the players it wants, regardless of where the outsiders project them to fall. In 2016, the Falcons took Keanu Neal 16th overall, with analysts grading him as a late-first and early second round prospect. Last year, Atlanta took Chris Lindstrom 14th overall, with most of the Monday morning quarterbacking suggesting the team should have traded back if they were to take a guard that high. The point is, when Dimitroff has identified a particular player, he has moved forward with the plan. I could see that being the case this year. I don’t know if Epenesa would be that particular player, but there are probably several prospects who would fit the scenario you outlined. Jason, hope you are staying well throughout this crazy time. What second-wave free agents (if any) do you see the Falcons targeting? I hear a lot of speculation on Michael Bennett, but I’d love to see Nigel Bradham shore up the LB spot and draft along the D-line. — Ryan M. Thanks, Ryan. I hope you’re staying safe, as well. I’m not expecting anything major in the second wave. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’d think the next round of players for Atlanta would continue to address special teams and depth for training camp. Someone like Kenjon Barner comes to mind since the Falcons still need a return specialist. Now, if the Falcons were able to add a player like Bradham, that certainly would allow them a little more freedom in the draft. I also think the Falcons could benefit from adding a veteran presence to their locker room. What are your thoughts on (Russell) Gage? Will he be a reliable slot guy or do you think he ends up as more of a depth player? — Dario B. I definitely expect Gage to open offseason activities — whenever those do begin — as the team’s top slot option. I thought his play down the stretch warrants the extra playing time, and it’s apparent the coaching staff believes in his abilities. Of course, the draft could change things if Atlanta ends up taking a receiver in a middle round of what appears to be one of the deepest classes in history at that position. I don’t think the Falcons will let Gage enter the preseason without competition. But I do expect Gage to open as the top slot option for the 2020 season. Are there any uniform updates or dates for when they will be revealed? Have you seen or heard any details on them? — Parker C. The team originally had a uniform reveal slated for the middle of April. With current events what they are, it is obvious this reveal will not happen as planned. It may be a little while longer before we find out. And no, I have unfortunately not heard any details on what they look like. I definitely think the Falcons should send me an advance photo so I give our subscribers a first look. Right? Sensing a lot less skepticism from the local fan base after the flurry of moves by the front office in free agency — but have seen little from (Dan Quinn) and TD about the outlook for the team. — David H. Seeing as the spring meetings were virtual, will you be able to speak with DQ and TD post-first wave free agency and pre-draft? Love to hear TD talk about the “group chat” 2020 NFL Draft with trades (up or down). — Andy S. Skepticism from the Atlanta fan base? You don’t say! OK, in all seriousness, I think it’s understandable and reasonable for any Falcons fan to be cynical after the way the past two seasons have gone. Going 7-9 in consecutive seasons is unacceptable when you take into account the talent on the roster, specifically on offense. As for why you haven’t seen comments from Quinn and Dimitroff, they haven’t been made available to the media since the NFL Scouting Combine. But that has to do with the coronavirus pandemic locking things down. The media would have had a chance to interview Quinn at the annual league meeting, but that was canceled. Whenever Gurley’s contract is finalized — which could happen as soon as Thursday — the plan is to make Quinn and Dimitroff available via conference call. When that occurs we can ask them those questions about the outlook of the team following those free-agent acquisitions. And Andy, I actually hope to have a story in the coming weeks that will touch on the adjustments the front office and coaching staff have had to make this offseason. Does coaching staff and ownership give off the vibe of a team that has turned the corner and has what is needed to field a playoff team in 2020? — David H. That has certainly been the perception the team has wanted to put out there thus far — that the way things finished during the final eight games in 2019 is more indicative of where this team is going. Arthur Blank has stated that reaching the postseason is the expectation for the 2020 season. From there, it’s easy to connect the dots on what needs to happen for everyone involved on this coaching staff and front office. Any rumors on what contingency plans the Falcons’ brass is bracing for in regards to the upcoming season? Games with no fans, shortened season, no season, etc? — David G. I imagine there’s some sort of contingency plan in place that the NFL won’t reveal unless it gets to that point. From the Falcons’ side of things, they’re at the NFL’s mercy. While the league is keeping the business side of things moving, everything remains up in the air when it comes to the upcoming season. We just don’t know what will happen over the next few months. Do you think the Falcons have a plan for the post-June 1 cut of Trufant ? — Andre P. Yes, the plan is to use that money — $10.75 million — to sign draft picks and to have an emergency allotment for in-season signings.