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Goober Pyle

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Goober Pyle last won the day on August 14 2016

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  1. https://theathletic.com/1972022/2020/08/03/todd-gurley-is-not-rushing-through-the-early-days-of-training-camp/ It might be a tad bit ironic that in the midst of a pandemic Todd Gurley’s birthday looks fairly similar to the way it always has. As the first Falcons player made available to the media following the team’s first practice Monday, Gurley was asked about six questions via a Microsoft Teams video chat before calling everyone on the call out for their lack of birthday spirit. “First of all, none of y’all have told me happy birthday yet, so I’m kinda upset with you guys,” Gurley joked. “We may be done with this interview right now.” We weren’t. Gurley answered about six more questions after that. Some media members even volunteered to sing “Happy Birthday” to the running back at the end of the call. That didn’t happen either, and that was probably for the best. We write and speak for a living. There’s a reason we aren’t paid to sing. No one wants to hear that rendition of “Happy Birthday.” But in a year in which nothing seems normal, Gurley’s birthday was. Gurley said having a birthday on Aug. 3 usually means he spends his day on a football field. Since his high school days, a practice or workout of sorts has been on the schedule for that day. Maybe that’s why he felt particularly grateful to have a practice schedule for his 26th birthday. Something finally dripped with a little bit of normalcy while everything up to this point has been saturated with change and adjustments. “A lot of people want to die to play this game so for me to be 26, and it (to) be my sixth year in the league and still get an opportunity to play running back, do something I love, do something I’ve always done, I’m always appreciative and grateful,” Gurley said. “There ain’t no better way to come back than on my birthday and be able to go back to work, having a new team, new teammates, new everything, so it’s pretty cool.” The past year for Gurley has been quite the ride as he worked through his yearly recovery process and got picked up by the Falcons. In recent weeks, he has become a source in relaying players’ feelings about playing during the pandemic. Gurley has been outspoken about his thoughts and feelings toward the league and its COVID-19 policies and procedures, wanting to make sure the players’ concerns are heard. There’s a lot of negativity that could have been swirling in his mind, but Gurley said his one positive motivation through it all was to just get back out on the field if and when he was able to. “A lot of guys would be down right now if we didn’t have a chance to play football or go out there and try to do camp because that’s kind of how we’ve always been,” Gurley said. “We’ve had a schedule our whole life, and knowing you have a job, but not being sure that it’s going to actually happen, it gets the best of people so I feel like I’ve been handling it pretty well, just staying positive.” Some of that positivity stems from the situation at hand with the Falcons with Gurley saying he could tell right away the environment was similar to the one he left with the Los Angeles Rams. He said in this business one thing can always be said about coaches: If players don’t like them, new players find that out early. In the case of Dan Quinn, Gurley said he hasn’t heard a bad word spoken about him yet. “I didn’t really have to meet him or talk to him too much to kind of already get a gist of who he is,” Gurley said. On his own call last week, Quinn said he was especially looking forward to getting to know his new running back. Quinn said Gurley was in “fantastic shape” both from a physical and mental standpoint and had a good grasp of the offense already. What Quinn was unsure about at the time, however, was Gurley’s preseason workload. He likened Gurley to Julio Jones, saying Gurley is no different than Jones in regards to making sure they are only taking the best reps, the ones they absolutely have to have. But Quinn also added that it’s not a one size fits all type of plan. “For me getting to know Todd, I’ll have a better sense after the next few weeks of us together,” Quinn said. “What’s the right amount (of reps)? How many back-to-backs? All those things we’ll take into consideration, but (we have) no process together on that yet until we spend some time together.” It’s not a process the Falcons are willing to rush. It’s not one Gurley is either. Monday’s practice was almost like the first day of a new job (which technically, it was, although his office is a bit greener than the rest of ours). It may have been his birthday, but that’s not the reason he’s not looking ahead to the season just yet. There’s a lot to do before then, and who knows what tomorrow will bring? It seems every day during this pandemic brings something new. “I just focus on the day, man,” Gurley said. “Today is Day No. 1. I’m not worried about February. I’m not worried about September. I’m just focused on getting adjusted, getting to know my new teammates, learning about everybody, the whole staff on the Falcons and then just taking it day by day. I don’t look too far in the future. I live for the day and prepare for tomorrow.”
  2. At least they're not doing this.......at least, I HOPE they're not doing this.....
  3. Explaining delay on Darqueze Dennard signing with Falcons Jason Butt It was more than just a visit for Darqueze Dennard. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting how the NFL will operate this season, reported visits on the NFL personnel notice will serve as a great indicator that a team is looking to sign a player. And given the COVID-19 protocols in place, officially signing a free agent will be a lengthier process than normal this season. Dennard popped up on the NFL personnel notice as having visited the Falcons on Thursday. However, no one can walk inside a team facility without three negative COVID-19 test results. Per an NFL official, reported visits from the personnel notice are designed to start the process of testing a free agent for COVID-19 and administering a physical, with the purpose of signing the player. In Dennard’s case, the Falcons want him to test negative for COVID-19 each time and pass a physical before signing. That’s why there has been a delay for Dennard to be officially announced as a new member of the Falcons. If everything goes well for Dennard, there is a chance he is officially with the team by Sunday or Monday. If he tests positive for COVID-19 then the Falcons are unlikely to sign him. There is a strategic reason to avoid signing Dennard until he clears the COVID-19 protocol. If Atlanta signs Dennard before the testing process begins, and Dennard tests positive, he would be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and remain there until he is cleared to return, all while his salary counts against the cap. This situation is similar to what happened with the Braves and Yasiel Puig. The Braves and Puig agreed to a deal in principle but it was contingent on Puig testing negative for COVID-19. When Puig tested positive, the deal was off. If Dennard is able to join the Falcons, it’s assumed he would step into a starting role. While parameters of a potential deal between the Falcons and Dennard are unknown, the Jaguars and Dennard initially agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million earlier this offseason. However, the deal fell through at the last moment, resulting in Dennard remaining a free agent. The Falcons are looking at Dennard to play nickel, according to a person familiar with the situation, which could shake up the rest of the cornerback group a bit. If Dennard starts at nickel, this could suggest either of two things: Kendall Sheffield would compete with Isaiah Oliver for a starting outside cornerback spot. Sheffield did finish the 2019 season as a starter in Atlanta’s base package and played outside in college at Ohio State. Therefore, this would not be a new role for Sheffield. In this scenario, first-round draft pick A.J. Terrell would be the presumed starter on the other side. In the absence of a preseason, Dennard’s presence inside could allow the Falcons to start the year with Sheffield and Oliver on the outside while easing Terrell into the defense. Of course, first-round draft picks don’t typically stay on the sideline for long. But normally, a full offseason would include rookie minicamp, organized team activities, mandatory minicamp, training camp, joint practices and preseason games. Only a scaled down training camp exists this year, which could force teams to use the beginning of the regular season as an acclimation period for rookies. Dennard’s status with the Falcons will become clearer in the next couple of days. His presence would not only bolster the cornerbacks numbers wise, but add significant experience to a young position group.
  4. https://theathletic.com/1960547/2020/07/29/what-the-falcons-rookies-have-been-up-to-where-theyre-going-as-camp-begins/?source=dailyemail If you’ve been a college student within the past five years or so, or you have a college student in your home, you are likely familiar with Kahoot. If you are not familiar with the term, don’t worry; it has no foundation in any college drinking game (that I know of). What it is, however, is an online classroom of sorts that allows professors to create customized quizzes that everyone in a class can connect to for some game-based learning. Essentially, students connect via a link to the quiz from their phones or computers. Quizzes normally are timed, and students have a few seconds to read a question and choose a multiple choice answer. The answers are compiled by the service and displayed via a bar graph depicting how many students chose each answer. It’s a simple tool used by teachers everywhere. Some of the Falcons’ rookies may have thought their Kahoot days were behind them when they left their respective universities not too long ago, but the pandemic changed that as everything went remote, including the start of their professional football careers. The past few months have seen the cancellation or rearrangements of important steps rookies normally take in their first few months after the NFL Draft. In 2020, there were no mini-camps, no chances for coaches to see their new crop of players play full speed. Instead, the players were on calls learning the ins and outs of their new organizations and taking Kahoot quizzes. These video call sessions were tailored to each individual player. There was a lot of film watching, players and coaches going back and picking apart the players’ college tape. These weren’t long lectures; instead resembling 25- to 30-minute Q&A periods or film breakdowns followed by a short break and then back at it again. In his first news conference of the training camp season, Falcons coach Dan Quinn likened these rookies’ summer experiences to what the players faced in college. “They’ve been in a football class for a few months,” he said. “Now, here we are at the end of the semester, and now we are able to see what they can do.” No more Kahoot quizzes. Testing season has arrived with training camp. “We’ve done a lot of teaching,” Quinn said of the past few months. “This will be the first time moving forward that we’ll have to do some of the corrections from practice, and those are moments that you like to be in-person for so you can make some eye contact.” Falcons' 2020 draft class Up to this point, no rookie or coach in the league has had that luxury, which is why there is a lot of added stress to this year’s training camp period for these first-year players. There’s already a thought circling that 2020 is the year of the veterans because of everything stacked against rookies entering the league in the midst of a pandemic that has reshaped their first few months as pros. Even while acknowledging that notion, Quinn said he has been impressed with the background knowledge this group came in with, stating he really wanted to test these players to see exactly where they are entering training camp. He said mentally, they passed their first couple of days. But the focus now shifts from what they know to what they can do. “Now, the reaction times are the things that you haven’t had a chance to see, how quickly a player can break on a ball, how quickly they can transition and diagnose plays,” Quinn said. “It’s one thing to understand the concepts. And it’s a whole other thing to go into the format.” Doing those evaluations through practices without having preseason games or exhibitions to lean on prior to the season starting does have its added challenges for players and coaches. Quinn said he recently went back through in his mind and asked himself: “What is the typical amount of reps a rookie might have played in the preseason through the years?” The Falcons had been in talks to schedule joint practices with Buffalo and Miami during the 2020 preseason, but with those no longer available, Quinn said his goal was to give these rookies a similar number of reps that they would have gotten by that time. Those reps just have to be manufactured now where they would have happened organically before. And while there is stress on the coaching staff to be able to do that, there’s even more stress on the rookies to take these very limited chances and make them count. “It’s also a stressor for the player, too, especially the player fighting for a roster spot, you know, ‘When are my moments to prove myself? To show what I can do?'” Quinn said. “So, put yourself into that spot, as well, not just us evaluating but the stress on them. “So, we’re going to try to create some moments that are situation-specific, that will be non-scripted. We’ll do the very best we can to create a game-like situation, a scrimmage so to speak. And we’ll do as many of those leading up to the season as we can. So, that’s the first step to it — to provide moments where it’s not scripted, you don’t know the play, let’s go match up and see how we do. We’re going to try to make as many competitive moments as we can, especially for the players that need a lot of evaluations.” Just like those Kahoot quizzes, time is ticking. While Quinn knows this window of evaluation is a lot smaller than in years past, he said he’s not going to rush through it. “You’re not going to come in and go zero to 120 on the first day,” Quinn said. “We’re going to make sure it’s like climbing a ladder, you don’t skip the rungs as you’re going. Let’s make sure we hit the steps. We need to be at our best moving forward when the season goes, not on Monday, and there’s a lot of work that will go into that.”
  5. https://theathletic.com/1953310/2020/07/28/ten-things-a-football-nerds-guide-to-the-2020-atlanta-falcons/?source=dailyemail Going into the bye last season, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Atlanta Falcons announced major organizational changes. At 1-7, they were the biggest underachievers in the league. But Dan Quinn shuffled around some members of his coaching staff — most notably moving Raheem Morris from wide receivers coach to secondary coach — and the Falcons went 6-2 in the second half of the season. Owner Arthur Blank announced before Week 17 that Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff would return in 2020. Now after back-to-back 7-9 seasons, the pressure is on for a turnaround. During the offseason, Atlanta signed edge rusher Dante Fowler and running back Todd Gurley. The Falcons also traded for Hayden Hurst. And Morris officially has been elevated to defensive coordinator. So what will it take for Atlanta to get back to the postseason? Below is a preview of the Falcons’ upcoming season that includes analysis of 2019, their offseason moves and their offensive and defensive schemes. Expected points added (EPA) and coverage data is courtesy of Sports Info Solutions. You can find a primer on EPA here or just view it as a success metric that measures a play’s impact on the score of the game. All other numbers are from Sportradar, unless otherwise noted. 1. The Falcons finished 15th in offensive efficiency last season — their second-lowest ranking in Matt Ryan’s 12 seasons as the starting quarterback. And that was with the benefit of good injury luck. The Falcons ranked fifth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric. While Quinn’s big change came on defense, it’s fair to wonder whether he should have taken a closer look at Dirk Koetter’s performance as offensive coordinator. Koetter is in his second stint with Atlanta. During the first one, the Falcons finished 12th, 14th and 10th in offensive efficiency. That’s four years with Koetter calling plays for a Ryan-led offense and mostly mediocre results. The Falcons used 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs) on 59 percent of their offensive snaps last season. They were in 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs, two WRs) 15 percent of the time, 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE, two WRs) 12 percent and 22 personnel (two RBs, two TEs, one WR) 4 percent. Offense (new starters in green) POSITION PLAYER WR Julio Jones WR Calvin Ridley WR Russell Gage LT Jake Matthews LG James Carpenter/Matt Hennessy C Alex Mack RG Chris Lindstrom RT Kaleb McGary TE Hayden Hurst QB Matt Ryan RB Todd Gurley The biggest competition will come at left guard where it’ll be either veteran James Carpenter or third-round pick Matt Hennessy. The Falcons will get Chris Lindstrom back at right guard after he was limited to five games as a rookie because of a foot injury. Atlanta sent a second-round pick to the Ravens for Hurst. The Falcons let Devonta Freeman walk in free agency and signed Gurley. When Atlanta uses 21 and 22 personnel, fullback Keith Smith will get on the field. The Falcons also took a flier on wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. One way to gauge whether a team is pass heavy or run heavy is to look at what it does on early downs when games are still competitive. The Falcons ranked 15th in pass frequency. In terms of success, the Falcons ranked 18th in both EPA per dropback and EPA per rush on early downs. But since passing is more efficient than rushing (and offers more upside with Ryan at quarterback), the Falcons likely would benefit from throwing the ball more on early downs. 2. The Falcons were not a good rushing team last season, ranking 22nd in efficiency. Freeman led the team with 656 rushing yards but was among the least efficient backs in the league. Among the 50 backs who had at least 75 carries, Freeman ranked 48th in EPA per rush. He produced a positive result on just 31 percent of his attempts, which ranked last. Falcons rushing efficiency CATEGORY EPA/RUSH RANK Shotgun 0.04 15th out of 30 Under center -0.12 20th 11 personnel -0.06 23rd 12 personnel 0.01 7th out of 29 2-RB sets -0.17 N/A The one area where the Falcons had some success was running out of 12 personnel. Their projected tight ends for 2020 are Hurst, Jaeden Graham and Khari Lee. Using a fullback in 21 and 22 personnel produced terrible results for Atlanta. Football Outsiders uses a metric called adjusted line yards to measure run blocking. The Falcons ranked 24th. And their backs didn’t maximize the opportunities they had to break big runs. Atlanta ranked 25th in second-level yards and 27th in open-field yards. As for Gurley, he carried 223 times for 857 yards last season, averaging 3.8 YPC. He ranked 39th out of 50 backs in EPA per rush. There were a couple of encouraging metrics. One was that he produced a positive result on 43.9 percent of his carries, which ranked 15th. The other was that he broke a tackle on 17 percent of his attempts, which ranked 20th. The Falcons are counting on their young offensive linemen to improve and for Gurley to offer upside. But overall, this looks like a mediocre run game. 3. Here’s how Ryan’s overall 2019 performance stacked up. ATL - QB Matt Ryan 2019 QBR 57.6 14th ANY/A 6.08 19th DVOA 7.0% 14th EPA/PLAY 0.1 18th EPA/play accounts only for plays where each team had a win probability of at least 20%. He was by all accounts a mediocre starter. Next Gen Stats tracks a metric called completion percentage above expectation. It looks at the probability of a completion on every throw, based on factors like how far the throw is, how open the receiver is and how much pressure the quarterback is under. It then comes up with an expected completion percentage and compares that number to the quarterback’s actual completion percentage. Ryan ranked 11th out of 39 quarterbacks. He produced a negative result (sack, fumble or interception) on 9.9 percent of his plays, which ranked 23rd among starters. Football Outsiders uses adjusted interception rate to measure how often quarterbacks throw balls that should be picked off. They remove interceptions that can be blamed on wide receiver drops and Hail Mary attempts. But they add interceptions that are dropped by defenders. Ryan’s 2.9 percent adjusted interception rate ranked 18th among starters. He also fumbled nine times. 4. Here’s how Ryan performed in a number of different categories: Breaking down Matt Ryan CATEGORY EPA/DROPBACK RANK Vs. man 0.02 14th Vs. zone 0.11 14th 11 personnel 0.07 10th 12 personnel 0.04 15th out of 22 In pocket 0.1 10th Out of pocket -0.37 22nd out of 23 Play-action 0.03 26th He was better against zone than man, but the league-wide ranks were identical. The coverage that gave Ryan the most trouble was Cover-3 (a three-deep zone with four underneath defenders). Ryan ranked 21st among starters in EPA per dropback when facing Cover-3. The Falcons’ passing numbers were similar in both 11 and 12 personnel. Ryan got into all kinds of trouble when he left the pocket, performing as one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in those situations. Atlanta ranked 25th in play-action frequency, and those plays didn’t give them much. Ryan performed well when throwing downfield, ranking eighth in EPA per dropback on passes that traveled at least 20 yards. The problem? The Falcons didn’t throw downfield a lot. Just 3.8 percent of Ryan’s dropbacks resulted in downfield completions, and that ranked 21st. Atlanta’s lack of explosive plays reflects poorly on Koetter. Ryan produced an explosive play (20 yards or more) on just 7.9 percent of his dropbacks, which ranked 30th. How does that happen on a team that has Julio Jones? 5. Speaking of Jones, here’s a look at how the Falcons’ pass-catchers performed last season: Falcons pass-catchers in 2019 PLAYER YARDS YDS/ROUTE RANK Julio Jones 1,394 2.52 5th out of 111 Calvin Ridley 866 1.75 42nd out of 111 Austin Hooper 787 1.73 15th out of 67 Russell Gage 446 1.24 82nd out of 111 Devonta Freeman 410 1.34 26th out of 58 Mohamed Sanu 313 1.18 87th out of 111 Jones continues to be among the best — if not the best — wide receivers in the NFL. Calvin Ridley was a fine No. 2 and could see increased opportunities in 2020. Russell Gage caught 49 balls but averaged just 9.1 yards per reception and ranked 82nd in yards per route run. Hurst is the big new addition. He averaged 1.8 yards per route run last year, which was 12th among tight ends and slightly better than Austin Hooper (1.73). But Hurst had just 349 receiving yards. The best-case scenario would be him matching Hooper’s production from 2019. Up front, the Falcons ranked 29th in ESPN’s pass-block win rate metric, which measures how often protection holds up for at least 2.5 seconds. They’re counting on right tackle Kaleb McGary to take a step forward in his second season. Getting Lindstrom back healthy should help. But center Alex Mack turns 35 in November. With Jones and Ridley, Ryan has talented players to target, but it’s tough to project a big leap for the Falcons unless the offensive line is much improved. 6. It was a tale of two seasons for the Falcons’ defense. Quinn took over as defensive coordinator before the 2019 season and was a disaster. During the first half of the season, the Falcons unofficially led the NFL in coverage busts and plays when two defenders confusingly stared at each other with their arms up while opponents scampered to the end zone. According to the Football Outsiders’ Almanac, the defense ranked 29th in the first half of the season. After Quinn handed the keys over to Morris, the results were much better. Atlanta ranked 10th in the second half of the season, although it’s worth pointing out that it was facing an easier schedule. Overall, the Falcons’ defense settled in at 20th in efficiency and had just about league-average (18th) injury luck. The Falcons played nickel on 69 percent of their snaps and were in base 25 percent of the time. Defense (new starters in green) POSITION PLAYER Edge Dante Fowler DL Grady Jarrett DL Tyeler Davison Edge Takkarist McKinley LB Deion Jones LB Foye Oluokun CB Kendall Sheffield CB A.J. Terrell CB Isaiah Oliver S Ricardo Allen S Keanu Neal The big free-agent addition was Fowler. The Falcons used a second-round pick on versatile defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, who could be counted on immediately to provide some interior pass rush. Atlanta also has Allen Bailey to rotate in at defensive tackle. Foye Oluokun played 30 percent of the snaps last season and will take over for De’Vondre Campbell at linebacker. The Falcons selected cornerback A.J. Terrell with the 16th overall pick and will pair him with Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver. Safety Keanu Neal suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury last year. He has appeared in four total games during the past two seasons. 7. The Falcons ranked 14th against the run last season. Football Outsiders uses a metric called adjusted line yards to measure defensive line play against the run, and Atlanta was 19th. Falcons run defense PERSONNEL EPA/RUSH RANK Base -0.1 14th Nickel -0.02 17th Vs. 11 0.06 24th Vs. 12 -0.23 4th Vs. 2-RB sets -0.04 N/A The Falcons were mostly mediocre against the run across the board. They held up well when teams tried to run out of 12 personnel. Campbell led the Falcons with 71 tackles against the run, followed by Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones, who combined for 13 tackles for loss. Overall, Atlanta’s run defense will most likely be middle of the pack and perform similarly to last season. 8. Quinn comes from the Pete Carroll tree, which typically means a lot of Cover-3 (a three-deep zone with four underneath defenders), but the Falcons changed things up. They actually played man coverage at the fifth-highest rate of any defense. Atlanta was heavy with its single-high safety coverages (Cover-1 and Cover-3), playing them at the third-highest rate. Falcons pass defense: Man vs. zone COVERAGE EPA PER DROPBACK RANK Man 0.14 28th Zone 0.12 23rd The Falcons’ performance was similar, regardless of whether they were playing man or zone. Cover-1 (man coverage with a single deep safety) was their most popular coverage, but the Falcons ranked 26th in EPA per dropback when playing it. They ranked 19th when playing Cover-3. And they were the worst defense in the league when they tried to switch things up and play Cover-2 (a two-deep zone with five underneath defenders). Falcons pass defense by personnel PERSONNEL EPA/DROPBACK RANK Base 0.45 28th Nickel 0.07 23rd Vs. 11 0.06 23rd Vs. 12 0.3 31st The Falcons got crushed when they faced the pass out of their base defense. They also struggled against 12 personnel. Limiting explosive plays was a problem for Atlanta. The Falcons ranked 24th in EPA per attempt when opponents threw the ball 20 yards or more downfield. Overall, they gave up explosive plays (20 yards or more) 11.1 percent of the time, which ranked 25th. Here is how the Falcons performed against different positional targets: Pass defense vs. different targets TARGET DVOA/EPA WR 32nd TE 6th RB 13th Opposing wide receivers lit the Falcons up. They ranked 31st in EPA per attempt to outside wide receivers and 24th when slot receivers were targeted. The Falcons were mediocre against running backs and good against tight ends. As for personnel, Sheffield played 67 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie. Oliver was a 16-game starter. The Falcons parted ways with mainstay Desmond Trufant. Terrell almost certainly will be asked to play a big role as a rookie. 9. The advanced numbers suggest that the Falcons’ biggest issues were more in coverage than with their pass rush. Atlanta ranked second in ESPN’s pass-rush win-rate metric, which tracks how often the defense gets pressure within 2.5 seconds of the snap. But the Falcons were 28th in percentage of dropbacks with a sack or QB hit. Why the discrepancy? Opponents got rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less on 54.5 percent of their dropbacks against the Falcons. That was the highest percentage any defense faced. It signals that the coverage was leaky, and receivers were getting open quickly. The glass-half-full perspective would be that the pass rush could put up big numbers if the coverage improved to even mediocre levels. Vic Beasley had an eight-sack season but left for Tennessee in free agency. Jarrett was the Falcons’ best defensive player, producing 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. He ranked second among defensive tackles in pass-rush win rate, behind only Aaron Donald. Takk McKinley had 3.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits. The Falcons did not pick up his fifth-year option, so this could be McKinley’s final season in Atlanta. As for Fowler, he has had an up and down career but will be just 26 going into Week 1. Last offseason, Fowler had to settle for a one-year deal to return to the Los Angeles Rams. It paid off. He produced career highs with 11.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. The numbers weren’t empty either. Fowler ranked ninth among all edge rushers in pass-rush win rate. The Falcons ranked 21st in blitz frequency. They gave up a first down on 36.6 percent of the plays in which they blitzed, which ranked 22nd. Overall, this group has potential. Jarrett is one of the best defensive tackles in the league, and if Fowler can perform like he did last season, they’ll be a tough tandem to block. The Falcons could be really good if McKinley emerges or if Davidson looks good as a rookie. But again, last year showed that a strong pass rush can be negated if they can’t cover. Atlanta needs to find a way to force quarterbacks to hold on to the ball longer in 2020. 10. In terms of in-game decision-making, it’s a small sample, but Quinn has somehow not won a challenge (0-for-6) in the past two seasons. He was, however, on the aggressive end with his fourth-down decision-making. The Falcons had the fifth-best injury luck last season but ranked 24th in fumble luck. They were tied for 24th in turnover margin and ranked 28th in special teams efficiency. The Falcons went 3-4 in one-score games. Atlanta has the toughest projected strength of schedule in the league going by Vegas win totals. William Hill has them at +600 to win the NFC South, well behind the New Orleans Saints (+100) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+140). Their over/under for wins is 7.5. The Falcons have some upside. If Ryan can get hot, and if the pass rush can tee off on opposing quarterbacks, earning a playoff spot and even winning the division are realistic outcomes. If Atlanta misses the postseason for the third straight year, the organization likely will enter an offseason of significant change.
  6. https://theathletic.com/1958630/2020/07/28/schultz-dan-quinn-needs-a-turnaround-but-its-a-tough-time-to-pull-it-off/ Dan Quinn is all about positivity. This might not seem possible for someone who works in the presumed most dangerous sport during a pandemic and for a team that has failed to make the playoffs the past two years and has had declining win totals in the past three and for an owner who came this close to firing him last season. But Quinn is different. The man could be standing alone on a dusty plain, in the path of stampeding rhinos, and scream to the beasts, “I love your passion! I love your brotherhood! What a great opportunity for me to …”* (* Lost transmission.) So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as the Falcons trickle into Flowery Branch for testing and, eventually, training camp, and, hopefully, eventually, an NFL season, Quinn is oozing with confidence. He likes the NFL’s testing protocols. He likes his team. He likes what he thinks his players have accomplished in personal workouts and virtual meetings. At some point, if there’s a season, we’ll learn how much substance there is to this confidence, but in the past two seasons, against the backdrop of a similarly cheery outlook, the Falcons were playoff dead before the Thanksgiving turkey reached the table. I asked Quinn on Tuesday about being in the midst of so much uncertainty, from the pandemic to his own coaching tenure, as camp opened. His response was 100 percent pure DQ. “It’s a fair question, and I definitely get it,” he said. “Having two difficult years, it just crushes you emotionally. I just kind of make it, I’m going to have the best week here. I try to make the big things small. I’m definitely optimistic, but it’s not rose-colored glasses, either. I know where we’re at. I know what we’re doing. I know the difficult challenge ahead of us. But I guess my optimism also fires me up, thinking, I know this is something we can do after being here a while. That’s a good feeling. You’re excited because you want to prove it.” Where some see sunshine on the horizon, others see dust being kicked up by an approaching herd. It’s difficult not to like Quinn. He is as good and genuine a person as you’re going to find in professional sports, especially the NFL. It’s the reason players love him, even if last season affirmed there are limits to his personal connectivity with those players. That likability is, in part, what bought him an extra week or two with owner Arthur Blank last season. But Quinn has made mistakes, and he needs to do better or he’s going to lose his job. The Falcons started the 2018 season 1-4, then went 4-9. They started the 2019 season 1-7. There were late-season winning streaks, but, whatever. Players deserve some level of credit for not mailing it in when both seasons were lost, but there were no real stakes for the team in either second half. The victories carry little weight. All that mattered is they finished 7-9. All that mattered was how they started. That falls on Quinn. Regardless of whatever personnel shortcomings the team had — and, in the case of the 2018 season, some significant player injuries that occurred — nobody can deny that those on the field underachieved. There also were coaching mistakes, some stemming from Quinn’s staffing decisions. It’s important to bring this up now because after backsliding for the past three years — from 11 wins to 10 to 7 and 7 — Quinn and his players will face a difficult start in 2020. The first four opponents: Seattle, Dallas (road), Chicago, Green Bay (road). Quinn’s task: In the midst of COVID-19 protocols, without a normal training camp atmosphere, without an NFL preseason, without even scrimmages against other teams to use as a measuring stick, the coach needs to cultivate a strong bond with the players and correct team flaws to prevent the early-season faceplants of 2018 and 2019. How difficult will it be to build improvement in this environment? He said “a lot of” the success will stem from the individual offseason work by the players in their individualized programs, and there is some truth to that. But there were players last season who, despite their previous offseason’s work, despite singing Quinn’s praises, often came out absent in games. The Falcons are banking on the impact of second-half staff changes, including the shift of Raheem Morris to defensive coordinator, carrying over. But it’s never that simple. There’s also the pandemic factor. More than a dozen NFL players have opted out of the season, none from the Falcons, yet. Quinn’s interestingly worded statement on that: “I haven’t had those conversations (with any players) at this time.” The team is already down one player. One rookie, fourth-round pick and safety Jaylinn Hawkins, has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Teams aren’t permitted to disclose a player’s medical status, so the Falcons did not announce whether Hawkins tested positive or is merely in quarantine after being exposed to somebody with the virus. But it is known that Hawkins passed previous tests, so the exposure had to come in the previous one to two days. Either way, disruptions are possible in the coming weeks, and the core of last year’s team often did not play like a tight group. Many logically would look at the high-contact sport of football and in a non-bubble setup and think: The NFL can’t possibly get this done. But Quinn said, “I feel like their time here is the safest time in the day because they know the population here, and there’s lots of guidelines. I’m not saying it’s perfect by any means. But (the concern is more about) the time away from it.” These are not optimum conditions for a turnaround, but in Quinn’s world it just makes for a better comeback.
  7. https://www.espn.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/35447/what-kind-of-impact-can-falcons-rookie-corner-a-j-terrell-have It didn't take long for A.J. Terrell to impress new Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Morris knew their 2020 first-round pick had the measurables, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 190 pounds with length. Terrell’s speed and athleticism speak for themselves with his 4.42-second time in the 40 and 34.5-inch vertical. But what really caught Morris’ attention was the intelligence his new young cornerback displayed during the virtual offseason, when COVID-19 prevented in-person interaction between rookies such as Terrell and the coaching staff. “Going through a couple of weeks with us and listening to him talk to either [secondary coach] Joe Whitt or [defensive assistant] Chad Walker, he was able to teach back the defense, whichever one was asked of him,” Morris said. “I think A.J.’s attention to detail, his ability to listen and retain information and being able to spit it back out to coaches is what impresses us probably the most already. We all had tests. We all had different online things. We all had different ventures and different avenues of ways to test a guy, and his attention to detail was excellent. “I think by us setting his goals and his roles going into the 2020 season of playing hard, of being able to be an outside vertical controller and being able to really lock in on his fundamentals and techniques when he’s coached, I think those things will give him the confidence to be a really good player in this league." Morris and the Falcons are counting on Terrell being an integral part of a defense that struggled at times last season. The Falcons allowed 9.5 yards per attempt on passes to wide receivers last season, second worst in the NFL behind the Raiders (9.6). The Falcons hope the addition of Terrell -- along with beefing up the defensive line with Dante Fowler Jr. and Marlon Davidson -- will help those numbers. The Falcons cut ties with oft-injured cornerback Desmond Trufant, leaving 2018 second-round pick Isaiah Oliver and 2019 fourth-round draft pick Kendall Sheffield as the primary cornerbacks. Oliver and Sheffield, with 46 combined games and 1,767 combined defensive snaps, are still relatively inexperienced, although they’ll both be counted upon to make major strides this season. Then, in steps Terrell, a guy who played a major role for a winning program at Clemson yet slipped up in last year’s national championship game against No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow and LSU's array of talented targets. “Yeah, that was the game that he got criticized for the most and the one that we ended up talking about a lot,” Morris said of Terrell. “It was good because we had a good chance to go watch it with him, a good chance to go talk to him, evaluate and figure out what went wrong, why some techniques changed, what were the reasons. But it was a great learning lesson for him. He played at a high level in the championship game the year before with a pick-six. And this year, he didn’t play as well as he wanted to. He’s got both walks of life, and it’s helped him out a lot. “His resiliency -- in the game he did not play well, he kept fighting. And that’s a staple in our league. You watch every week. You see corners go out and sometimes you’re just outmatched and outplayed and outgunned, but that won’t define you." As the Falcons prepare for what is sure to be an unusual season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Terrell’s development will be storyline to watch. You don’t draft a cornerback in the first round without the expectation that he’ll make an immediate contribution as a starter. The Falcons have touted Sheffield, with his speed and change of direction, as the corner they might rely on the most. And with so much nickel defense played these days, it would make sense for Sheffield to cover a lot in the slot, as he did last season, which would leave Terrell and Oliver outside. The one unknown is what the Falcons will do in their base defense -- will it be Sheffield and Terrell outside, Sheffield and Oliver outside or even Oliver and Terrell -- although it would be hard to imagine Sheffield off the field, considering how much he has been touted. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was a little hard on the Falcons for selecting Terrell 16th overall, saying, “The Falcons reached for a need, plain and simple. ... He was way too inconsistent throughout the season, and he didn't play well down the stretch. He has a tendency to get grabby.” Fellow ESPN draft guru Todd McShay was much more positive in assessing what type of impact Terrell could have. “He's fluid in coverage, and he has the height and frame to help match up in that division,” McShay said, referring to wide receivers such as New Orleans' Michael Thomas and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans, among others. “Terrell had some mental breakdowns at times, and he can be more consistent in run support. But he is a ball hawk when he is in position with his head around in time. Like many rookies, A.J. might hit some bumps in the road as he's fine-tuning his recognition skills and technique, but he absolutely has the tools to develop into a good starter.” ESPN analyst Matt Bowen, a former NFL defensive back, also sees the upside in Terrell as the youngster prepares for a division that also includes wide receivers such as Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin, Carolina's DJ Moore and New Orleans' Emmanuel Sanders. “If I’m defensive backs coach, I want him matched up against the best because that’s the fastest path to development in the National Football League -- to practice and play against the best,” Bowen said. “Now in practice, he’s going to get a ton of reps against top-tier guys in Atlanta [Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley]. “In terms of positioning, I want to see him up in a press position. I want to see him use his length. I want to see him use his physical hands at the line of scrimmage to impact the release and try to stick to the hips of wide receivers. It’s going to be a transition for him and every rookie this season because they haven’t been able to compete during OTAs and minicamp [due to the pandemic].” Morris fully understands how much of a challenge it will be due to the lack of on-field work, but he’s ready to get Terrell up to speed. Terrell already has gotten in some reps with a group of Falcons on a field in the Atlanta area, and one teammate said, “Looking good for sure, from what I saw.” Morris is eager to see more. “He wants to get on the field, where we’re able to touch [receivers], get our hands on them,” Morris said of Terrell. “To be able to go through those situations, I think, will only help him get better. “Overall, I’m really confident with our evaluation from our scouting department; from our GM Thomas Dimitroff; from Rich McKay, our president; from [head coach] Dan Quinn; from our coaching staff -- Joe Whitt, Chad Walker, Doug Mallory, Lance Schulters -- to myself, that we did a really good job of going out and seeking [Terrell] out in the draft and having him come to us when he did and being able to have a chance to develop him as a man -- and as a football player.”
  8. https://theathletic.com/1958278/2020/07/28/dan-quinn-breaks-down-policies-and-procedures-as-falcons-return-to-work/ On a video call Tuesday morning, Falcons coach Dan Quinn joked with the 2020 rookies that they weren’t even born when driving laws didn’t mandate seat belts be worn at all times like they are today. “When I was a kid,” Quinn said, “you were climbing from the front to the back, you didn’t need a seat belt. But now, you wouldn’t even think about going anywhere without a seat belt. “Wearing a mask? That’s our seat belt.” Tuesday marked the official return of the final wave of veteran players to the Falcons’ practice facility in Flowery Branch to get its first of two COVID-19 tests done before strength and conditioning workouts begin next week (players being tested must be negative for two tests before being allowed entrance into the facility). Rookies, quarterbacks, injured players and coaches were all tested last week, and the rookies began walkthroughs with the staff on Monday and Tuesday. But Tuesday afternoon, the Falcons announced rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The organization is not permitted to comment on a player’s medical status and may not disclose whether a player on the list is in quarantine or has tested positive for COVID-19. Quinn spoke Tuesday afternoon before the news about Hawkins was released and broke down some of the protocols that have been set in place for the start of training camp. Logistics for better social distancing practices In a quick note, Quinn joked that the past few days have almost felt like moving old furniture into a new house as the staff works to figure out the best way to socially distance during in-person meetings throughout the next few weeks of training camp. With some meetings now moving to a face-to-face setting instead of via Zoom or Microsoft Teams video calls, various position groups had to move out of their original meeting rooms to places with more space. For example, the offensive line will meet in the team’s draft room while wide receivers will meet in the team room. “The position groups that had more players, you needed bigger spaces to do that,” Quinn said. He said scheduled full team meetings will be held in the indoor practice facility. “I think (it will be) like a clinic setting where we have some chairs out and do it in the indoor field,” Quinn said. “That way we will put a screen up there and do some of it that way.” How practices change with no preseason games and exhibitions Quinn said he had not had any conversations with players about opting out of the 2020 season, so with that in mind, he and his staff will have a slew of decisions to make regarding roster construction once training camp begins. Without preseason games and exhibitions, Quinn said there will be changes to the way the coaching staff and players attack training camp and the way coaches evaluate the players. He explained that with preseason games coaches get to see the unscripted moments, a luxury teams do not have this year after the NFL canceled preseason games. The staff is going to have to replicate that as much as it can in practices and scrimmages so it can get the full picture of a players’ potential. “Those scrimmage days, I think, are going to be an important part of the evaluation because that’s the very best that we can do at the moment,” Quinn said. “We’re gonna try and create those opportunities and moments to let those players do their thing and get a real chance to evaluate.” Quinn said these will be meticulously planned moments to evaluate specific players because those will be the only chances this staff will see players against players. They will be player-specific matchups, so coaches can answer the question of what happens, for example, when a running back faces off with a linebacker. “We’ll do a little setup. Let’s put runners on second and third and put the guy at the plate at practice, so to speak,” he said. Questions regarding roster construction In a memo sent to clubs obtained by The Athletic, teams may begin training camp with 90 players on their active list as has been the rule in years past. But if they so choose to keep 90 players, they must split the team into two groups: rookie and first-year players in one group and veterans in another. Clubs must reduce that number to 80 on or before Aug. 16. If a team chooses to reduce its roster to 80 before Aug. 16, players can practice together. When asked about this new rule, Quinn said this is a decision the Falcons are weighing. “If you split, there’s a good chance your rookie players wouldn’t know a veteran player because they wouldn’t be there together,” Quinn said. “So, how quickly do you want to act on that, (adding someone like) A.J. (Terrell) and Marlon (Davidson) to the group?” Where the hole in protocols can be found Quinn said he felt that when the players are at the facility that time will be the safest part of their day. The players know the people they are around, they know everyone in the building has received two negative tests, and they know there are protocols and guidelines everyone must follow. He said it’s not a perfect situation, but having safety protocols in place is something that can’t be said for everywhere these players can go once they leave the facility. That is where the questions arise because without a bubble protocol like in the NBA, MLS, NHL or WNBA, it falls on the players to make a conscious decision to limit their circle. “It’s been helpful to know that there’s lots of space, lots of testing, lots of protocols, meals separated. Coming in, you just have to follow the rules. You know, you put your mask on and follow the rules, and everything kind of takes care of itself,” Quinn said. “Away is where I think it’ll feel different.” And this leads to an important note Quinn had for the team during this time … “Be the best teammate you’ve ever been” There is a certain responsibility every player and coach have to one another now that training camp is set to begin. Quinn said that he has learned the past few months that you can do all of the right things, take all of the right steps and still have a positive test. The team has protocols in place and should be ready for when that moment comes, but it’s important everyone is on the same page in the meantime. And that page is everyone being disciplined even when the players and coaches leave the facilities. “A lot of us are going to have to be the best teammates we have ever been because we’re not only trying to take care of one another but we’re looking after our families, too,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to make the best decisions off the field.”
  9. Came across this Bill Barnwell article on the trade. Take it for what it's worth. And before @ya_boi_j says it, PLEASE don't quote the entire post......he can only take so much folks. Jamal Adams trade grades for Seahawks and Jets: Can a safety really be worth this much? For the fourth time in three years, an NFL team hoping to make a leap to the next level has traded away two first-round picks to acquire a young superstar. In some ways, the Seahawks' unexpected decision to trade three picks and safety Bradley McDougald to the Jets for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams is the riskiest of the four. Adams is a great player, but by making this trade, the Seahawks are saying that they think Adams makes them Super Bowl contenders. Is that likely to be true? Here's my grade and analysis for the deal: Is it worth going all-in for a safety? The first thing that stands out in comparing this trade to the three others of its kind is the position. When teams make these trades, it's almost always for a player at a critical position. The Bears kicked off this trend by trading two first-rounders for edge rusher Khalil Mack. Bill O'Brien followed with a similar move in acquiring left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills for the Texans. The Rams finished up by sending two first-rounders to the Jaguars for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. All of those deals have one thing in common: Those players line up at places in which the NFL pays a premium for transcendent players. If you look at the 10 largest multiyear deals at each position to get a sense of how the NFL values those different positions, quarterbacks are unsurprisingly in a tier of their own. The second tier consists of pass-rushers and wide receivers, where the top 10 deals are commanding about $18 million or more across the first three years of their extensions. There's a drop-off from there to the third tier, which consists of tackles and cornerbacks, where the top 10 players are at about $15 million per season. After that, it's only once you get to the fourth tier that you see off-ball linebackers, running backs, safeties and interior linemen. The top 10 safety deals average a little over $12 million per season, and that's after a robust free-agent period in 2019. The safety market was dead two years ago; teams were spoiled by choice, and talented players such as Tyrann Mathieu and Kenny Vaccaro were forced to settle for one-year deals. While I had my questions about each of those trades, in each case, the acquiring team was getting a young superstar at what the league deems to be a critical position. In this case, the Seahawks are making the same sort of move for a player the league typically doesn't value at that same level. In that sense, they're taking a bigger risk than those other teams did in going after Mack, Tunsil and Ramsey. Under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, Seattle hasn't cared much about what the rest of the league thinks when it comes to positional value or efficiency. Those moves have had mixed results. The Seahawks have used first-round picks and free-agent dollars on physical linemen with pass-protection issues, such as James Carpenter, Germain Ifedi and Luke Joeckel, and spent their 2018 first-rounder on running back Rashaad Penny. Their espoused organizational philosophy about running the football is at odds with analytics. exas by the name of Earl Thomas, and that move worked out fine. Two years later, they went against the grain and used their third-round pick on Russell Wilson, who was supposedly too short to be an NFL quarterback. They landed two likely Hall of Famers by taking shots where other teams feared to tread. Since Wilson arrived in town, the only team to win more games than the Seahawks is the Patriots. These guys might deserve some benefit of the doubt at this point, no? In a vacuum, trading this sort of haul for a safety -- even one as talented as Adams -- is a bad idea. Let's see if we can play devil's advocate and get a sense of why the Seahawks might be correct to think otherwise. Argument No. 1: Could Adams make an impact like Tyrann Mathieu? If the Seahawks want evidence that a safety can help push a team over the top and propel them from a perennial playoff contender into a Super Bowl winner, they don't have to look far. The Chiefs' offense was absolutely devastating after Patrick Mahomes took over as the starter in 2018, but a defense ranked 26th in DVOA couldn't hold up its end of the bargain. Specifically, you could argue that Kansas City didn't make it to the Super Bowl that season because it was tormented by Rob Gronkowski. In its 43-40 regular-season loss to the Patriots, Gronkowski had two huge catches in the fourth quarter, with the biggest coming against third-string defensive back Josh Shaw. In the AFC Championship Game, Gronk had two more key catches in the fourth quarter while going past Eric Berry, who was injured for most of the year and limited upon his return. Both Shaw and Berry were out of the league in 2019. The Chiefs didn't have to worry about Gronkowski in 2019, but in replacing Berry with Mathieu, they wanted a safety who could serve as a team leader and playmaker. They jumped from 26th to 14th in defensive DVOA, and Mathieu's instincts and versatility were a key reason. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac 2020, Mathieu ranked in the top 15 in both target rate and average yards per attempt allowed. Kansas City's run defense wasn't effective, but he also made life easier for rookie safety Juan Thornhill, who had an impressive campaign before tearing his ACL. Mathieu's three-year, $42 million deal was one of the most expensive deals in the league for a safety, but nobody in the organization regrets that move right now. The healthy version of Mathieu is the closest comparable I can think of for Adams, although Adams is more productive as a blitzer, and Mathieu is better in coverage. If you don't believe me, you can ask Mathieu himself, who called Adams "a bigger version of me" before the Super Bowl. The Seahawks obviously hope they can get the same sort of boost from their own former LSU star after trading for Adams. Argument No. 2: Maybe Carroll is that good of a coach? If there's any coach in the league who knows how to get the most out of pieces in the secondary, it's Carroll. A longtime defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator before moving into a head-coaching role, Carroll's work with the Seahawks alone has been remarkable. While Thomas was a college star who profiled as an impact pro, the Legion of Boom wasn't filled with players perceived to be blue-chippers. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were fifth-round picks. Byron Maxwell was a sixth-round pick. Brandon Browner went undrafted and spent four years playing for the Calgary Stampeders before signing with Seattle. All of those guys vastly outplayed their pedigree after landing with the Seahawks. While it hasn't been to the same degree, Carroll also has built a new crop of talent after breaking up his legendary secondary. Shaquill Griffin, a third-rounder in 2017, is already one of the league's best cornerbacks. Justin Coleman impressed as a slot corner before leaving for a big deal with the Lions. At safety, Carroll bought low on a pair of veterans in McDougald and Quandre Diggs and turned them into one of the better safety pairings in football when both were healthy last season. If Carroll can make Adams that much better, it would be a scary proposition for Seattle's opponents. To get a sense of where Adams fits in, though, you have to take a step back and think about how the Seahawks have changed. During the Legion of Boom era, they were primarily a Cover 3 team. While they had a lockdown corner on one side of the field in Sherman and a devastating hitter at the second level in Chancellor, the reason Seattle was able to run so much Cover 3 and run it effectively was Thomas. Carroll asks the deep center-field safety in his defense to be able to defend against both the post and seam routes. When it came to taking away the deep middle of the field, nobody was better than Thomas. Thomas' last healthy-ish season in Seattle was 2017, when he played 84% of the defensive snaps. Unsurprisingly, he was used a lot as a single-high safety. According to ESPN's automated coverage analysis, the Seahawks played single-safety coverages 81.9% of the time, which was the highest rate in the league. To flip this, they used split-safety coverages like Cover 2 or Cover 4 just 18.1% of the time. Without Thomas, things have changed. They inserted Diggs into that role after he was acquired from the Lions last season; but even with that in mind, Seattle used two deep safeties 38.5% of the time last season, which was right about league average and more than double their rate from two years prior. Diggs was an underrated player and a canny trade for the Seahawks, but the reality is that there just aren't many people on the planet who can do what Thomas did snap after snap at the same level. Adams is an incredible player, but he's also not that guy. He is a capable free safety when asked to play that role, but Seattle isn't acquiring him to be the new Thomas. Last season, under Gregg Williams, the Jets typically lined up Marcus Maye as a (very) deep safety and used Adams around the box. Courtesy of NFL Next Gen Stats, take a look at Adams' heat map, which shows where he was lined up before each of his snaps in 2019. Red spots mean Adams lined up in those areas more frequently: Compare that to Chancellor's heat map from 2016: Nominally, it seems likely that the Seahawks will line up Adams in a similar way to how they used Chancellor. It's the best place for Adams, who is an excellent hitter, a strong run defender and a devastating blitzer off the edge. According to Football Outsiders data, only two safeties made run stops more frequently than Adams did a year ago. Chancellor was stretched in coverage and was often targeted by teams when they wanted to try to go after somebody in the Legion of Boom at its peak, but Adams is better in coverage than Chancellor was. "Kam Chancellor but better in coverage" sounds like a really talented player, but it's not worth two first-round picks and some more. It's just not that difficult to find useful box safeties, especially when you have a coach as talented as Carroll to help mold players at the position. McDougald, who is going the other way in this deal, is a classic example. The former Bucs safety isn't as good as Chancellor or Adams, but he has been an above-average player at the position over the past three years while making just under $3.5 million per season. The difference between McDougald at $3.5 million per year and Adams on what is likely to become a much larger salary isn't worth it to me. On the other hand, though, what if we're underestimating Adams' role? Argument No. 3: What if Adams isn't really a safety? Given that the Seahawks aren't running the same scheme they ran during the Chancellor days and probably wouldn't pay this much for a Chancellor replacement, we have to believe that they see Adams in a different sort of role and doing different sorts of things. "Positionless football" has become a buzzy phrase in recent years, but it's easy to see how teams are benefiting from players with diverse skill sets. It's easier to see that shift on the offensive side of the ball. The reigning league MVP is a quarterback who ran the ball 176 times last season. The Seahawks' fiercest rivals have a wide receiver who lines up in the backfield in Deebo Samuel and a fullback who can split out and catch passes in Kyle Juszczyk; they also have a guy who does everything in George Kittle. The Cardinals have a devastating run-pass threat in Kyler Murray. The Seahawks had to deal with Todd Gurley at his peak and go up against a coach who loves play-action and exploiting box players in the passing game in Sean McVay. Adams, like Mathieu, is an example of how that positionless revolution also applies to defense. As ESPN's Mina Kimes noted on Twitter, Adams was credited as a linebacker or a defensive lineman more frequently than he was a safety before the snap since the start of his career. Adams is better in coverage than any linebacker and better against the run than just about any safety. He has the ability and frame to compete with guys such as Kittle and Murray, and there aren't many players in the league who can do that. The Seahawks already have one elite second-level player in Bobby Wagner. With all due respect to K.J. Wright, Adams gives them a second player in that space. Young players such as Deone Bucannon and Johnathan Cyprien have come into the league with the hopes of serving as that prototypical hybrid defender, but they weren't able to deliver on that promise. Adams has a better shot of being that sort of player. Adams also should be able to make an impact in a place most safeties typically don't: as a pass-rusher. Since entering the league, he has 12 sacks and 23 knockdowns, the most of any defensive back over that time frame. He racked up 6.5 sacks and 13 hits last season, which is something defensive backs just don't do. You might remember him ripping the ball out of Daniel Jones' hands last season before taking the ball to the house for a touchdown. As a designated blitzer or by coming late in plays as a spy or a "green dog" rusher, Adams is an impactful pass-rusher. For a team that didn't have a player top more than four sacks last season and hasn't replaced Jadeveon Clowney, getting that sort of pass production out of a defensive back would be remarkable. I would argue it's tough to count on it happening again. Since the league started officially tracking sacks in 1982, just two defensive backs have racked up five sacks in a season more than once. Those two players were Carnell Lake and Adrian Wilson, who each did it twice across 24 combined seasons. Adams is still going to be better as a rusher than the vast majority of defensive backs, but unless he truly becomes a full-time linebacker or edge rusher, the Seahawks probably can't count on him for more than three sacks most years. I can see the argument that Adams is more than just Chancellor or a traditional strong safety. When you look at his performance, though, Adams stands out as a special run defender and a great pass-rusher for his position. I'm not sure the pass-rushing production will stick, and while he could continue to be great against the run, the Seahawks are likely focused too much on the running game as an organization. In modern football, teams don't win by running and stopping the run. They win by throwing the ball and stopping the pass. The best example of that model, of course, would be last season's Chiefs. Can the Seahawks make the cost work? Let's assume that Adams is an absolutely transcendent talent and the best safety in football. Can the Seahawks make this trade work? When you get into the finances, it becomes extremely difficult to justify giving up this sort of haul for one player unless he's a quarterback. It's a story I've had to bring up with each of these players, and while I went into detail with Mack's contract, Justis Mosqueda did a better job of summing it up in one tweet: I'm still going to try anyway. When they've made these trades, the acquiring team has been forced to hand out massive contract extensions as part of the process. Mack signed a six-year, $141 million deal with the Bears; his $23.5 million average salary topped the previous record for an edge rusher by more than $4 million. Tunsil played out his first season with the Texans, then inked a three-year, $66 million extension. At $22 million per year, it's $4 million more than the paper extension signed by Lane Johnson with the Eagles, which doesn't even kick in until 2024. Adams still has a year left on his rookie deal and a fifth-year option, but an extension making him the NFL's highest-paid safety is inevitable. The Seahawks tend to prefer shorter contracts and waiting until there's one year left before negotiating an extension. But if they didn't get an extension done with him as part of this trade, it'll only cost them more and make things more difficult for them down the line. If he were to get that same $4 million annual trade premium that Mack and Tunsil received, Adams would be looking at a four-year, $74.4 million extension. I don't think that's a realistic number, but at the very least, he will become the first safety in the league to make $15 million per year on a new deal. The Seahawks have nearly $17 million in cap room, so getting an extension done shouldn't be a problem. The short-term cap decrease to $175 million in 2021 also shouldn't be an issue when they can be flexible in how they structure the deal. Let's say Adams signs a four-year, $64 million extension. That would be a record extension for a safety in terms of average salary, but he has earned that sort of deal. With two years to go before free agency, there would be no issue with the Seahawks handing him that deal in terms of expected production or cap concerns. Every contract has risks involved, but that would be a risk worth taking. The issue is that Adams really costs a lot more. For one, the Seahawks dealt away McDougald, whose one-year, $3.6 million deal was an asset. My guess is that if McDougald had hit the market in March and been locked into a one-year contract, he would have received something in the $6 million range. Seattle is giving up $2.5 million of surplus value by making this trade, so you have to throw that on the Adams tab. More significantly, it is giving up two first-round picks and swapping a 2021 third-round pick for a 2022 fourth-rounder. When you trade away those picks, you're incurring an opportunity cost and forgoing an opportunity to acquire a player for less than his market value. The Seahawks haven't done much in the first round in recent years, but they used their first-round pick last year to trade down and eventually draft DK Metcalf in Round 2. At a position where someone like Sammy Watkins can take down a three-year, $48 million deal in free agency, Metcalf will make about $3.8 million over the next three years of his deal in total. Draft picks aren't guaranteed, but even the possibility of landing someone like Metcalf at that rate some of the time makes them incredibly valuable. We don't know where those picks will land, and while the Seahawks would like to believe that they'll land in the mid-20s after years of sustained success, remember that the Texans were picking in the back half of the first round for most of the past decade when they traded two first-rounders to the Browns for Deshaun Watson and then collapsed the following year. They ended up sending the Nos. 4 and 25 picks to the Browns for the 12th selection. While the Texans are obviously happy with Watson, I don't think they anticipated one of their first-rounders would be a top-five pick. Different organizations have different models for what each pick is worth in terms of surplus value. In recent years, we've seen teams basically buy picks by giving away cap space or absorbing contracts. The Browns essentially paid about $16 million to acquire a second-round pick from the Texans as part of the Brock Osweiler trade, which they used on Nick Chubb. The Dolphins ate $5 million of Ryan Tannehill's contract to net a fourth-rounder in their trade with the Titans, a move that worked out well for Tennessee. If I'm being conservative and assuming that there's a modest market for draft picks and the Seahawks are giving away two first-round picks 26th or later, my guess is that the two first-round picks are worth about $40 million in surplus value. Swapping the third-round pick for a fourth-round pick one year later is maybe $2 million or so given that teams typically pay a premium in draft capital to get a pick a year earlier, although the Jets are likely to be toward the top of the round. Factor in the cost of acquiring Adams and that four-year, $64 million extension suddenly becomes a four-year, $108.5 million contract. Instead of paying Adams $16 million per year, now he has cost the Seahawks more than $27 million per season, which is more than anybody in the league who isn't a quarterback. If their picks end up being juicier than they were expecting, that price goes up. Adams has to be the best non-quarterback in the league to make the math work. Seattle will never know who it would have actually drafted in making this trade, but the price usually isn't pretty. The Browns got Denzel Ward and Jabrill Peppers out of the Watson trade, using the latter to help acquire Odell Beckham Jr. The Raiders got Josh Jacobs and Damon Arnette. Those returns aren't enormous, but if we go back further to deals where a team gave up two first-rounders for a veteran, the Broncos turned Jay Cutler into Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. The Jets used a first-rounder from the Keyshawn Johnson trade to draft John Abraham. The Colts dealt away Jeff George and eventually drafted Marvin Harrison. The Seahawks themselves traded away Joey Galloway and used one of the picks on future MVP Shaun Alexander; in a prior deal, they shipped off Fredd Young for two first-rounders, then used one of those picks to move up and draft franchise icon Cortez Kennedy. We can look at those recent trades and see where they haven't worked out ideally for the acquiring teams. The Bears got a dominant season out of Mack in 2018 and won the NFC North, but their offense couldn't get the job done in their playoff loss to the Eagles. With Mitchell Trubisky struggling, the Bears didn't have the cap space or the draft capital to address quarterback this offseason, forcing them to trade for a Band-Aid (and absorb more money) in Nick Foles. Tunsil led the league in penalties for a Texans team that still has holes across the roster. They won a home playoff game, but they were very clearly not on the Chiefs' level in a brutal divisional-round loss, and the Texans don't have the draft picks to address their weaknesses in the years to come. The Rams essentially swapped Ramsey for Marcus Peters and paid two first-round picks to do so, but Peters was the much better player after his arrival in Baltimore. The Rams still haven't paid Ramsey, and they won't be able to address their flailing offensive line anytime soon. Is Seattle really Super Bowl-bound? For this trade to work for the Seahawks, they have to feel as though they're capable of doing what the Chiefs did and winning a Super Bowl by adding a star safety. It's not out of the question. DVOA thinks the Seahawks were the eighth-best team in football in 2019, with their offense ranking fifth and their defense 18th. They were a half-inch away from winning the NFC West. ESPN's Football Power Index gave them a 3% chance of winning the Super Bowl in 2020 before the Adams trade, which was the 10th highest for any team in football. Adams could be a dramatic difference-maker. I don't think the Seahawks are as close as they might think. They went 11-5 last season, but they outscored opposing teams by only seven points. That narrow loss to the 49ers in Week 17 lingers in the mind, but Seattle was fortunate in close games. It went 9-2 in games decided by seven points or fewer, including two games in which its opponent missed a winning field goal attempt in the final minute or overtime. I like Russell Wilson's chances in close games, but even the incredible Seahawks quarterback was 29-29-1 in those same seven-point games before 2019. While there are exceptions, the vast majority of teams that have that sort of performance in close games decline the following season. The Seahawks were healthier than league average on both sides of the ball; they have rebuilt their offensive line on the fly without any time to practice; and they won't have the sort of deafening noise we associate with their fans at home this season, reducing their home-field advantage. There's much more evidence suggesting they are likely to decline in 2020 than there is implying they'll improve and take a step forward. Adams obviously improves the Seahawks at safety, which helps, but they also downgraded on the edge by replacing Clowney with Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa. L.J. Collier, a first-round pick last year, deserves more time, but he was a total nonfactor as a rookie. Adams will help the pass rush, but Seattle has less edge-rushing talent on paper than it did last season, when it ranked 30th in both sack rate and pressure rate. I don't think the Seahawks are in great position to win a Super Bowl, even after adding Adams. It's too late now since they wouldn't be able to sign him to an extension, but I wonder if the Seahawks would have been better off trying to send a first-round pick to the Jaguars for Yannick Ngakoue. They could still re-sign Clowney to a one-year deal and try to maximize their chances of winning a Super Bowl this season, but that doesn't really change the calculus of the Adams deal. The idea that they need to make this deal to maximize their championship window while Wilson is at his peak makes sense to me, but it doesn't really fit their year-to-year logic. If that's the case, why did they trade Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a first-round pick last season? Why let Sherman and Thomas leave in recent years? Why haven't they done more to address the pass rush before today? Most important, why not let Wilson take the reins of the offense and throw the ball more frequently before the fourth quarter? If anything, this feels like Seattle is trying to win a Super Bowl while the 68-year-old Carroll is still the coach and around to get the most out of his defensive backs. Adding a young star is never a terrible idea, and I think Adams is going to be a key contributor to the Seahawks for a long time. At this price tag and given their likely output in 2020, though, it's difficult to make this look favorable for Seattle. Why the Jets made this deal I prefer the Jets' side of this deal, although it's also a depressing side to take for fans of that team. This is an organization that has done a horrific job of drafting and developing young talent over the past decade. Adams was one of the few exceptions to that rule and one of the few bright spots in a frustrating, often-bizarre 2019 season. Getting rid of Adams and continuing on yet another rebuild in search of a functional core isn't going to feel very good in the short term. Realistically, I'm not sure they had much of a choice. In the past week, Adams had criticized ownership and fired a shot at coach Adam Gase in the media. I don't think Adams was wrong about either issue, and he was much more important to the Jets' chances of winning over the next few years than Gase will be, but that's the sort of thing you do when you're ready to get traded. Given the on-again, off-again relationship between these two sides, a clean break was probably best for both. The sad truth is that the Jets probably weren't going to be contending in the recent future, with or without Adams. This is an organization that is likely to have two players on its active roster in 2020 who were drafted by the organization before 2018 in Maye and Brian Winters. The Bills have undergone a similar churn by drafting well, hiring the right coach and investing in bulk through free agency. The Jets have shopped at the top of the market and gotten pennies on the dollar for their investments in players such as Trumaine Johnson, C.J. Mosley and Le'Veon Bell. There is no infrastructure in place for the Jets to succeed, and there has not been for nearly a decade. They have one winning season since 2010, and that was in 2015, when they signed a bunch of free agents and got a one-year boost. It wasn't enough to make the playoffs, let alone go anywhere once they got there. Getting two extra first-round picks and building through the draft is still the best way to develop a long-term winner, and while it cost them their best player, it was the right thing for this team to do.
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