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  1. There is change in the air at the Branch. It's hot. Like really hot (It's always hot, if you aren't aware of this, read a Mash training camp report.) But apparently everyone is fired up. Intensity. Noise. Toughness. Quinning. Much has been spoken of the overhaul going on at Flowery Branch under the hyper defensive mastermind. Moving from the penthouse to the outhouse would discourage many. But no, not Master Quinn. All reports coming out are glowing. Hands on, upfront, infectious personality. Zero to Fired Up in 3.2 seconds. Dan Quinn was born to coach football, and it was time for him to sit in the big seat. The kingdom he has been put in charge of is in disarray. Fires are burning all over the stat sheet. An outbreak of the black lung in defensive 3rd down %. Communist revolution rising in tackling 101. A viking hoard raping and pillaging anytime we tried to convert a 3rd and short. The sack column was a baron wasteland, with Kroy Bierman leading the team coming off major rehab with a paltry 4.5. 22.5 sacks was the mountaintop last year, and 8.5 has walked out of the door(Mass, Peters, Bobby Mac, Lowery, Osi). And 37% of not a lot is a whole lot. Worrilow admirably blew all others off the tackle sheet with a hefty 143, Kemal Ishmael leading the secondary with 98. When your backup Strong safety is second on the team, ahead of all other linebackers, you've got problems. Interceptions was the most promising of the stat line, with youthful names standing out, Notably Ish (4), Tru (3), Alf (3), and South (1). But hey, if even the bad QBs get time to slide in the pocket, look to the third read and have a cigarette, they are going to throw them up.... Stats aside, the eye test was enough. It was truly painful. Painful like an ATM surcharge painful. Painful like stubbing your toe and cracking your knee on the desk painful. Everytime you stand up. For a year. Mike Smith did a great job (for a while, sort of, not really) of convincing us that sacks were flash, and pressure mattered. Nolan wore a suit bloody well as a Niner. But when big ticket players acquired to shore up the middle (Jackson of Tyson, first of his name. Soliai of Paul, probably first of his name) offered underwhelming push, the D was back to bend but don't break, more than tipping the cap to the Pornstache VanGorder era. Brian Van F***Gorder With beautifully average big ugly play, and a "f**k it, throw him in, hopefully he'll work this week" attitude to the edge rushing, the linebackers didn't stand a chance. Lead by the big hearted, poor-backpedalling Worrilow, the undersized LB corps were terribly over-matched and taking on blocks with painful inevitability. With defensive leader, all round animal, mediocre-to-solid upside rapper, pimp my ride aficionado, mentor to the young'uns and indoor palm tree owner Will Moore sidelined yet again, it's a wonder the secondary didn't capitulate to the point of calling New Orleans to see if they had any spare brown bags. The above seems pretty gloomy, right? 32nd in all relevant categories doth not traditionally inspire hope. You've never been so gahd-dayum beautfiul out there smitty Before I turn the frowns into begrudging smirks and the occasional eyebrow raise... I for one must say that I will be forever grateful to Mike Smith for turning around the abomination that Pigtrino and Michael Vick left in their wake. But the epitomy of the 'B-' coach ran out of answers to fix the new woes, and frankly, fumbled some big, big moments. One could argue that without #2's ability to throw clutch 4th quarters, he would've been gone 2 seasons ago. Peaked right at the moment he was about to punch Meangelo. I salute you old, crotchety Smitty. Cause for hope then? Dan Quinn & The Front Seven - The master finds his 'Everest' DQ seen here fielding his first question from D-Led We know the pedigree here for the Goatee'd one. Defensive line guru. Hawksman via Florida and back again. Oversaw true defensive greatness. Uncovered greatness in simple schemes, worked tirelessly on new technique and accentuating player attributes. Strengths - Front seven, knowledge of rap music, wearing boxing pads Weaknesses - hair growth, randomly bursts into flames What he has here is the chance to step out of Carrol's shadow, and prove to the league that he is the guy responsible for the vaunted, shutdown pressure the Hawks 7 created week after week. Still skeptical? I think that's fair. Due in large part to him not taking Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner hostage by gunpoint and frogmarching them down to Blank Towers to hide in the basement till opening night. Q and The Line Yes, we are all skeptical, we too saw a D# squeak past JJ Watt's individual sack total by 2.... 2. But there is reason for hope here. Quinn built his reputation on using an individuals' best assets. I think we have a lot these on the roster, and some genuine greatness will come out. Kroy - Say what you want about Kroy, his motor never stops. I appreciate the effort level, hugely, and so do his teammates. 71 struggles with finishing and and converting pressure into sacks. Under Quinn, I believe he will preach the tenacious first step, and getting as close as possilble to get in the eye line of the QB. Make the QB hesitate. Stop him from getting to his second read. Make him step up into the DTs. May make the switch to maroon contacts, red weren't working out. Hageman - There was great expectation for the young man. Admitteding to the press that his pad level 'sucks' and that he's his own biggest critic were refereshingly honest sentiments, not what we are used to hearing from the press-trained rookies. Enter Coach Cox, cigars at the ready... right? We are on to a winner here, we all thought. What we were treated to was underwhelming, both from an attitude and production standpoint. He is the dictionary definition of 'worthwhile project'. Cut out the immaturity, college attitude and enhance his strengths. We saw flashes. We all saw flashes. We got 1 sack and 2 TFLs in limited playing time. But if he gets his head right and becomes a pro? What you are left with is a 6'7 wrecking ball with a mean streak. An athletically gifted, penetrating D Tackle. Break out the cubans, Shede has turned up in great shape. Color me very optimistic. As optimistic as man can be who just re-watched hardknocks and had to fast forward his 'conditioning sprints'. I aged. Babs - the crafty veteran. Our shining light throughout some atricious play. What we want from Babs is simple. Set the tone on the sidelines. And in limited playing time, play like your head is on fire. The man still grabbed 2 sacks and 3 TFLs last year. He can contribute in more ways than one. Just keep him and Shede apart. Soliai - Paul has struggled with injury and father time in his Atlanta tenure. He is the only genuine big man on the line, so we need him to be stout on 1st down. Nothing more, nothing less. What exactly is the plan if he goes down? I assume we would have to bring someone else in, I don't see another guy on the roster that does what he does. Hopefully a healthy Soliai is an invigorated Soliai. I'm certain he can give us that 1st down effort if he is truly healthy. We need that. Badly. His success is going to be a big part of our ability to stop the run. He has the talent, no doubt. Is it a year too far? Still leads the league power rankings in tribal tattoo/hairstyle combos Jarrett - Tuggle Jnr has got it all, and probably goes in the 2nd round if he knew where to buy some fine cuban heels. Remember Jerry's reports? Bowling ball of butcher knives? I give you the Grady Jarett recipe Take one Peria JerryAdd some hot sauceGarnish with explosive technique and penetration ability (gigidy)Remove dreams of fishing all dayInvite him to a BBQTell him to skip lunchLet him close enough to smell the ribsDon't let him inAllow to simmer for 35-40 minsOffer him some QuinoaServe with a side order of stats : 144 tacklers, 29.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FFAnd there you have it, one Grady Jarett. He will be special people, and at some point the league will learn you don't have to be 6'7 to be effective on the line.O'Brien Schofield - He was a priority signing for Quinn. A terrific player for an Irish Bar. Plays with angry hands and a quick first step. Knows Quinn's system inside out. Wes Durham, learn the name, you're going to get to know him really well. Definitely allowed to call him Q. Adrian Clayborn - 1 of 382 different ways to spell Clayborn, he is unique in the sense that his version is simplest yet most butchered. Off the chart intangible. Working with Chuck Smith Looked dayum good when he blew the iceman up early doors. in theory, coming into his prime strong enough to play inside a bit Will lead the team in 'michael bennett role' proclamations from TATF Beasley - Ah, Victor/Vicky/Vicquan... You fill us all with so much hope. It's easy to blinded by stats, because they are unbelievable. He is as tall as as six foot, three inch tree. Weighs as much as a 246lb Boulder. I know right. Impressive. Combine numbers (Some of us don't have these memorized yet(we're getting there Falcan Moore)) Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP 6 ft 3 in 246 lb 4.53 s 1.59 s 2.65 s 4.15 s 6.91 s 41 in 10 ft 10 in 35 reps Are you KIDDING ME? Workout warrior He could've called it a day and declared in '13, and likely gone in the second. Instead, he backed himself, finished his education and took the Clemson Sack Record 52.5 Tackles for Loss 33.0 Sacks 7 Forced Fumbles 2 Touchdowns 2x all American Shut. The. Front. Door. This is genuine athletic freakazoid stuff. For years, we have not been able to point to a superstar candidate on the F7(frankly, we were all ready to hit F5). Abe and his baggage left some time ago. Enter Vic. No pressure kid. Justin Durant, after stealing Weatherspoon's spoon. Clay Matthews Brooks Reed, not deadlifting for once Reed - Brooks Reed has a been a good pro. The signing doesn't create Vic-level excitement, rightly so, but we should be very happy about the signing. Absolute physical animal who you have to throw out of the gym. He was drafted as a 3-4 OLB, seen as a bit of a project. After a slow start and a slew of injuries to his compadres, he has been incorrectly used for the majority of his career. Expect him to be allowed to get at the QB from LB. A really solid addition to a bad LB corps, and absoultely has the kind of attitude we want in the building. One of my favourite pickups of the entire offseason. Durant - My favourite non-draft signing. A quote from Dave Campo, asisstant HC of the Jags when they drafted him. "Athletic, plays hard, great leader." He left such an impression on his teammates that they elected him Captain in his first year. Why should you care about Durant? There is no way the cowboys let him walk if his Bicep wasn't on the mend. This may come as a shock, but this is a Linebacker that is actually comfortable in space. Watch this video for the Campo Quote and a rather satisfying film breakdown will make you feel the right feels. This guy will not leave the field for us. Huge signing. Worrilow - Our defensive captain, tone setter and champion try hard guy has finally got some promise in front of him, and some dependability alongside him. A great year for the Corps would see PW & Durant's tackle totals within a badger's nadger of one another.
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