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  1. Interview almost 18 minutes long. First 10 minutes on Coronavirus with last few minutes about football.
  2. From Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback article today: I think I would say two things to Atlanta owner Arthur Blank as he decides what to do with his team as a third straight lousy season settles into the owner’s consciousness: 1) Give your front office team one more year. In 2014, GM Thomas Dimitroff did what his defensive coaches wanted—he built a strong up-the-middle run defense and relied on the coaching staff to build an outside pass rush with lesser parts. It didn’t work, and Blank and Dimitroff agreed to import pass-rush specialist Dan Quinn as the head coach. This is year one of that. Dimitroff and Quinn have great rapport. Dimitroff has had his share of draft mistakes in his eight seasons, but he’s a widely respected personnel man and independent thinker, the likes of which are not common in the NFL right now. Along with Scott Pioli, this team deserves, at minimum, one more draft and free-agency period to progress in a division that’s had every team in it win at least two division crowns since 2005. 2) Also, I wouldn’t panic about the offense, or about recently slumping quarterback Matt Ryan. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan runs a complicated scheme, and this is the first year for it, and key element Devonta Freeman—a very good, attack-the-hole back for the scheme—has been waylaid by a concussion for much of the second half of the season. Overall, I just think there’s so much new in Atlanta that I’d give it one more season to come together. Sometimes the best decision an owner can make in trying circumstances is to trust the people he put in place to get the team back on track. This is one of those times.
  3. How we view the importance of drafts It’s not altogether strange for the top of a draft to crap out. But so fast? That could be the lasting story of the 2013 first round. The first overall pick, tackle Eric Fisher, is on the bench with the Chiefs. Four players in the top half of the first round look like looming busts, and the bottom half of the round looks stronger than the top half already. Keep in mind that the 2013 class was not evaluated to be particularly strong. There wasn’t a no-doubt quarterback, and the skill positions and corners were below-average. But who’d have thought it would look this bad 34 games later? Surveying the carnage leads to one overriding conclusion: We hype drafts to a silly level of expectation. We overrate players just because of where they are picked. We don’t wait to see how they play before we rate success and failure. And then, a couple of years later, we look at a draft like 2013 and say with some incredulity,W-w-w-what happened? As one longtime scout told me Saturday: “That draft is a disaster—a total riddle. You simply can’t predict how players will do in a different environment. Everyone thought Eric Fisher would be good. Everyone. I thought Jonathan Cooper would be good. Easy pick. There is a randomness to the draft that you can’t explain.” I’m going to get to the lesson of why a volume of compensatory picks should be as valuable as first-round picks in a few moments. But first, learn a draft lesson this morning. The badness of the 2013 draft: • There is not a star among the top dozen picks of the first round. Not close. Ziggy Ansah, maybe. But if the best player in the top 12 of a draft after 2.1 years is a guy averaging half a sack per start, that’s a terrible bit of testimony to the quality of a draft. • The No. 1 overall pick, tackle Eric Fisher of the Chiefs, lost his left tackle job to the 74th pick of the 2012 draft, Donald Stephenson. And then, under cloudy circumstances, Fisher lost the right tackle job—because of an ankle sprain, or maybe poor performance—to a tackle off the street, Jah Reid, signed just seven days before the season-opener. The Chiefs will have paid Fisher $17.7 million by the end of this season, and they’ve got to be having major buyer’s remorse for a guy who, according to Pro Football Focus, was the 34th-rated right tackle in the NFL his rookie year (among 36 who played at least eight games) and the 28th-rated left tackle in 2014. • The No. 3 pick, defensive end Dion Jordan, is suspended for the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse program, his third substance suspension in three years. He has started one game and had three sacks. • The No. 9 pick, cornerback Dee Milliner of the Jets, had a poor rookie year, tore his Achilles last year, and saw the Jets sign three free-agent cornerbacks this year to play above him … then needed wrist surgery in camp (his seventh football-related surgery of his life) and will be sidelined until at least midseason. So it’s not all his fault, certainly. But he hasn’t been a profitable pick for the Jets. • The No. 16 pick, quarterback EJ Manuel, is the third passer on the Buffalo depth chart after 14 underwhelming starts in his first two seasons. Then there are the marginal starters: tackle Luke Joeckel of Jacksonville (second overall), defensive end Barkevious Mingo of Cleveland (sixth overall), guard Jonathan Cooper of Arizona (seventh overall), and cornerback D.J. Hayden of Oakland (12th overall). So in just 28 months, eight of the top 16 picks have raised major questions about their future. That is significantly more than the major questions in the second half of the first round. The last 16 picks, overall, are clearly better than the top 16. Compare for yourself: The Top Half of 2013 Round 1 The Bottom Half of 2013 Round 1 1. Kansas City T Eric Fisher 17. Pittsburgh LB Jarvis Jones 2. Jacksonville T Luke Joeckel 18. San Francisco S Eric Reid 3. Miami DE Dion Jordan 19. N.Y Giants T Justin Pugh 4. Philadelphia T Lane Johnson 20. Chicago G-T Kyle Long 5. Detroit DE Ziggy Ansah 21. Cincinnati TE Tyler Eifert 6. Cleveland DE Barkevious Mingo 22. Atlanta CB Desmond Trufant 7. Arizona G Jonathan Cooper 23. Minnesota DT Sharrif Floyd 8. St. Louis WR/Ret Tavon Austin 24. Indianapolis DE Bjoern Werner 9. N.Y. Jets CB Dee Milliner 25. Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes 10. Tennessee G Chance Warmack 26. Green Bay DE Datone Jones 11. San Diego T D.J. Fluker 27. Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins 12. Oakland CB D.J. Hayden 28. Denver DT Sylvester Williams 13. N.Y. Jets DT Sheldon Richardson 29. Minn. WR Cordarrelle Patterson 14. Carolina DT Star Lotulelei 30. St. Louis LB Alec Ogletree 15. New Orleans S Kenny Vaccaro 31. Dallas C Travis Frederick 16. Buffalo QB E.J. Manuel 32. Baltimore S Matt Elam * * * If I were to rank the top quarter of that draft’s first round, I’d go this way: 1. Sheldon Richardson (13th overall). 2. Travis Frederick (31st). 3. Desmond Trufant (22nd). 4. Kyle Long (20th). 5. Xavier Rhodes (25th). 6. DeAndre Hopkins (27th). 7. Sharrif Floyd (23rd). 8. Ziggy Ansah (5th). Quite an indictment of the scouting process in 2013, that six of the top eight players may have been picked from No. 20 and beyond. There are several messages here. The easy thing to say is that scouts stink, and the thought process of teams is flawed. What I would say is that scouting is an incredibly inexact science. Joeckel and Fisher have struggled with the outside speed of the pro game, though Joeckel, specifically, played against speed rushers on the outside of a spread system at Texas A&M. So how do you figure him struggling so mightily? I think it’s also the case that some years, and this one certainly appears to be one, are just not top-heavy. The strength of the draft looked to be on the outside of the offensive and defensive lines, and it’s been nothing like that. Two other points need to be made. In this draft-evaluation business, you’ve got to be careful with making absolute statements. For example, GM Scott Pioli was ridden out of Kansas City after four seasons, in early 2013. But from his four drafts come the guts of the current Chiefs defense that looks so good right now: Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey on the line, 2014 NFL sack leader Justin Houston (with the 70th pick in 2011) at outside linebacker, and Eric Berry in the defensive backfield (if he can continue his comeback from lymphoma). The left tackle, Stephenson, was a Pioli third-round pick in 2012. Pioli had his share of misses, and didn’t leave Andy Reid with a quarterback of the future. But his hits—and the team’s relative success since his dismissal—go to show you that the tar-and-feathering business in personnel evaluation can be pretty misleading. Also, I’ve become convinced—and this started with the way Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones were wheeling and dealing when Johnson got to the Cowboys—that the number of picks in a draft is far more important than the location of the picks. With lots of low-round gems, Johnson proved that collecting lots of picks was the way to go, because history says teams are bound to be wrong on even some of the seemingly surest things. Take the Ravens. They are the biggest believers in the compensatory pick system. That’s the lottery in which teams that lose pricey free agents collect picks between the third and seventh rounds in future drafts as compensation. In the past five drafts the Ravens have had 15 compensatory picks and turned them into two key pieces of the offensive line—starting tackle Ricky Wagner and third guard John Urschel—plus starting fullback Kyle Juszczyk and pass-rusher Pernell McPhee. Love this irony: McPhee could net the Ravens a pick at the end of the fourth round in 2016 after he signed a five-year, $39 million contract with the Bears last spring. That’s the kind of personnel discipline, knowing when to let good players leave because you trust you can train new players who cost much less, that consistently good teams have. * * *
  4. http://mmqb.si.com/2014/05/13/nfl-draft-johnny-manziel-teddy-bridgewater/ The Draft’s Catch-22 We pretty much know we was that team.. TD basically said it... I guess that why Smitty seemed a animated about couldnt find a "**** dance partner"... Ford was picked with the next pick. I wanted Ford bad but i Like Hageman and his potential as a 2nd rounder with a 1st round talent ... We will also see what Southward can do (i think he will be our starting FS eventually)
  5. I Same info, just written differently.... http://mmqb.si.com/2014/03/07/atlanta-falcons-free-agency/ n 2011, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff made the stunning decision to trade five picks in order to draft receiver Julio Jones. For the first two seasons, it looked like the right move. Two years after the trade, the Falcons led the 49ers at halftime of the NFC Championship Game, 24-14, and looked to be headed to the Super Bowl. But San Francisco scored the game’s final 14 points, and the next season Atlanta succumbed to a rash of injuries and poor depth and finished 4-12. With hindsight, the argument can be made that going all in for Jones was not the right move. Placing that emphasis on one player took away from other areas of the team, and that ended up costing the Falcons. Now, there doesn’t appear to be a quick fix. This at least is certain: when free agency kicks off at 4 p.m. on Monday, Dimitroff is very much on the clock. This is an extremely pivotal moment for the franchise, and the moves he makes could determine if 2013 was the beginning of the end for this regime, or a needed lesson on the way to something greater. Dimitroff seemed to acknowledge that when he hired two former general managers, Scott Pioli (Chiefs) and Billy Devaney (Rams), and long-time scout Russ Bolinger. “We really believe that with a young group of personnel people, who are really good researchers and budding evaluators, that we needed some experience on the personnel side,” Dimitroff said at the combine. “I think our young staff will benefit greatly.” It’s all hands on deck in Flowery Branch at this juncture, and Dimitroff is going to need the help. Fixing the Falcons will be a massive undertaking. For starters, Atlanta needs a massive amount of improvement on both sides of the line. Everyone, save left guard Justin Blalock, needs to improve his play, and the team doesn’t have a right guard at this time. On defense, starters Jonathan Babineaux (free agent) and Corey Peters (one-year contract after Achilles surgery in January) are question marks without much depth behind them. On either end of the line, Kory Biermann (Achilles surgery) and Osi Umenyiora (7.5 sacks; has reportedly been asked to take a pay cut) have been average. To get better on offense and defense, the Falcons hired Mike Tice and Bryan Cox, respectively, to bring some toughness to the units. “We have some work to do to get ourselves back there, we understand that,” Dimitroff said. “There is an element of ruggedness that we know we need to ramp up to get it back to the next level and take it to another level. I want to be very clear about that.” The Falcons also need a starting free safety, a bona fide pass rusher at the end/outside linebacker hybrid position (assuming Umenyiora isn’t the answer), a starting tight end after losing Tony Gonzalez to retirement, and a younger running back if Steven Jackson can’t stay healthy again. The Falcons currently have around $26 million in cap space, with the ability to create a little more. They have all of their draft picks, and will likely pick up a few compensatory picks. Expect the Falcons to be active in free agency right away. It will be interesting to see which position they address first. Do they go for a free safety, perhaps Jairus Byrd, or an edge pass rusher, perhaps Michael Bennett or Michael Johnson? One possible avenue for the Falcons: go after Byrd with the big money, then Vikings free-agent end Everson Griffen as a less expensive edge rusher, and a cheaper tight end down the line like Garrett Graham from Houston. In the draft, go for best available player at sixth overall if you can’t trade back (preferable) with an offensive tackle or edge rusher. Try to find a tight end in the second round, although those players usually have a rough transition in the league. Target a guard in the third round and a running back at some point. Finally, address depth concerns later in the draft. The Falcons are in a tough spot right now, at least partly because of Dimitroff’s decision with the Jones trade. But there’s a way out, and the Falcons could be back into serious contention in no time at all if Dimitroff and his new consiglieri can execute their plan.
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