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  1. By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Signing guard Jamon Brown to a three-year, $18.75 million contract was an expensive mistake for the Falcons, who released him Monday. “Just the fact that we met with him and said that at this point it was hard to work all of the guys through the competition,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Wednesday. “Plus, it was a chance to get him started somewhere else. We wanted to give him the opportunity to do that.” Brown, who received a $5.5 million signing bonus, will count as a $6.5 million dead cap hit in 2020 and $1.8 million in 2021. There’s offset language in the contract that could lower those amounts if Brown is signed by another team. Who were the Falcons bidding against to overpay Brown who had already been with two teams? The Rams and the Giants were rebuilding offensive lines, too. If Brown was a player, both teams had chances to keep him and the Rams had two chances. Also, letting Brown go signals that the Falcons are pleased with the work of third-round pick Matt Hennessy, James Carpenter and Justin McCray. Before getting cut, Brown missed practices due to an illness that is not related to COVID-19. Upon his return he suffered an injury and was placed in the concussion protocol. He returned to practice on Monday and was released after practice. Brown began the 2019 season as a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Vikings, he stepped into a starting role after right guard Chris Lindstrom suffered a broken toe. Brown started nine of the 10 games he appeared in last season. Brown, however, did not appear in any of the final four games of the 2019 season signaling that he was a short-term rental. The Falcons elected to play Wes Schweitzer, who was not re-signed and went to Washington in free agency.
  2. The Falcons worked on their low and high red zone offensive attack and special teams on Sunday. Here are some observations and notes from the practice: --Defensive end Takk McKinley was limited in practice. He took part in the individual drills, but did not take part in the 11-on-11 part of practice. He’s coming back from offseason shoulder surgery . --Offensive guard Jamon Brown, who was in the concussion protocol, was on the field and is in the final stages of working his way back. --Running back Qadree Ollison did not practice. --Rookie Matt Hennessy lined up at left guard with the starting unit. --With McKinley out, Allen Bailey and Dante Fowler were the first-team defensive ends. Charles Harris and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner were the second-team defensive ends. John Cominsky and Deadrin Senat were the second team defensive tackles. --Rookie Marlon Davidson (knee strain) did not practice and is expected to miss “a few more days,” according to coach Dan Quinn. --In half-speed 11-on-11, tight end Jaeden Graham had a big catch in zone coverage. --Running back Ito Smith flashed in 11-on-11 with a big run up the middle and a couple of nice catches along the sideline that he turned upfield. --Wide receivers Brandon Powell and Chris Rowland were back deep as the kickoff returners. It was interesting that rookie linebacker Mykal Walker was on the unit. “Full speed drops, no big collisions,” one coach yelled. Rowland caught the ball cleanly and flashed his speed. A few notes: Trench battles. The Falcons are counting on the defensive line to get the offensive line together. Fowler, who had a great game against the Falcons and right tackle Kaleb McGary, is getting him ready for the season. Left tackle Jake Matthews and McKinley have had some major battles. Over the offseason, the Falcons discussed the practice battles of future Hall of Famer’s, Rams tackle Jackie Slater and defensive end Kevin Greene. “That’s kind of the secret sauce beneath it all because the more you work, the more you get after it – we had just a great meeting over the spring where Kevin Greene was talking about the work that he and Jackie Slater did together,” Quinn said. “There’s two Hall of Fame players, but just that attitude, that effort of going against one another, of course it made you stronger.” Gono at tackle: Offensive lineman Matt Gono, who opened training camp at left guard, is getting more work at tackle. “We’re not sure where we’re going to go,” Quinn said. “Last block, we hit a little bit more tackle. We’ll do a little bit more of that. Nothing is decided for us in terms of where he will play yet, so having that versatility, can he play two spots?” “I think as we’re going through the roster, it’s one of the questions, what else can the player do? I can be a guard and a tackle. I can be a nickel and an outside corner. I can be a halfback or a fullback. Those are some of the questions that are coming up. So, it was good to see Matt Gono in specific answer some of those.” The Right moves: McKinley has marveled at Fowler’s moves. “That dude is amazing,” McKinley said. “He’s always got a plan on why he (does) things as far as his rushes. Even if he (does) go bull (rush), it’s to set them up for a chop, club and rip moves. I never really had that approach sometimes. I’m going bull just to see. Then I’m going bull again. I’m just bulling to bull, you feel me. He’s bulling, but now he’s going to counter off of it.” So, McKinley is to work some counter moves into his rushers. “Taking in his different approaches has been helpful for me,” McKinley said. “It’s likes chess out there or it’s like baseball. You give them fast ball, fast ball, fast ball and then your change up. Just listening to him talk. When he talks, I’m listening. The 11 sacks or however many he had last year wasn’t a fluke, you feel me.” McKinley said that Fowler has encouraged him after a bad play. He tells him to move on to the next play. “We want to go out and show that we can be the best ends in the NFL,” McKinley said. “It’s easy to talk about it, but we have to be about it.” Depth at defensive end. The battle for depth at defensive end will be fierce. Adrian Clayborn, who was not re-signed. played 439 snaps (42%) last season. “(Steven) Means was one that had a good scrimmage as well,” Quinn said. “How do you mix up those snaps. Adrian had a little bit on inside and outside flex which Means does as well.” Means, Harris and Tuioti-Mariner are battling to get those snaps. “All of those guys are getting reps as we are rolling through,” Quinn said. “I think this block, the next one and the next one, will tell a lot about the backup defensive end spot and who can be a part of that rotation and get significant reps.”
  3. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/as-roles-increase-falcons-assistant-jeff-ulbrich-remains-in-the-moment/GTOWB2GUQFHZBGJHVCX2IK5I6E/ By Jason Butt Jeff Ulbrich’s progression has placed him on a path where he could become a defensive coordinator or a head coach in the coming seasons. That is if he wants to pursue that route. Entering his sixth season as the Falcons’ linebackers coach, he added an assistant head coach title to his resume this offseason. Having played linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers from 2000-09, Ulbrich is able to relate to what his players goes through on a daily basis. Even more so, Ulbrich’s ability to communicate instructions has stood out among his position group. Last year, he was involved in play-calling, which proved to be the beginning step of a turnaround process that led the Falcons from a 1-7 start to a 6-2 finish. And as an assistant head coach, he’s now tasked with meeting with players at other positions, too. Ulbrich was asked if he has aspirations to become a defensive coordinator or head coach one day. Much like he was as a player, Ulbrich said he’s not looking too far down the road. He doesn’t even have an agent to show him what opportunities might be on the horizon. Staying in the moment has been a big part of why he’s been an effective coach. Perhaps he’ll take that step one day. It’s just not something on his mind at the present time. “I honestly don’t look at it that way,” Ulbrich said. “I’m not going to say I have any wisdom or intelligence, but I do know it’s rare to find something in life that you love to do. If that’s what the future holds, that’s what the future holds. All I know is whatever I’m asked to do, right now, I’m going to kick *** and have a blast doing it.” If he ever becomes a defensive coordinator -- again, if he chooses that route -- Ulbrich will have another year of experience with calling plays. When the Falcons turned their season around in 2019, specifically on defense, it came with Ulbrich calling plays on first and second downs, with Raheem Morris calling plays on third downs and in two-minute situations. Even with Morris assuming defensive coordinator duties this year, the Falcons will keep that same approach when it comes to the defensive play-calling. Ulbrich said last year’s setup allowed the two to focus on specific areas of the game plan. For instance, as Morris was in the process of calling a third-down play, Ulbrich would start anticipating his first-down call in the event the opposing offense converted. “I know a lot of people can’t do it because in order to do it there’s got to be this high level of trust between people,” Ulbrich said. “Some people want all the reins. But we shared duties, with us both able to compartmentalize our roles. Third down went from one of our areas we really struggled in the first eight to one of our strengths in the back eight. That was a pure byproduct of (Morris) having the opportunity to focus in on that.” In the Falcons’ first eight games of the 2019 season, they ranked last in the NFL by allowing teams to convert 53 percent of their third-down chances. Over the final eight games, the Falcons jumped to first in the NFL as offenses only converted 38 percent of their third-down plays. Given the defensive success over the latter half of last season, not much is expected to change when it comes to the basics of the defensive game plan. Ulbrich did say there will be some new wrinkles to improve what the defense does best. But one of the most important takeaways Ulbrich learned last season was not to overload the players with too much information to process on a play-by-play basis. Early on last season, that may have been the case. By the end of the year, Ulbrich said the coaching staff had adjusted accordingly. “We have to really be cognizant of what we ask our players to do,” Ulbrich said. “On the forefront of our minds, (we should) ask them to do the things they do well. We adapt to them, they don’t adapt to us. I think that’s kind of where we ended the season.” Already, rookie linebacker Mykal Walker has taken a liking to his new position coach. Thus far, Walker has been floored with the way Ulbrich has taught the Falcons’ scheme. Walker said Ulbrich’s teaching methods have helped speed his transition from college ball to the NFL. “The biggest thing is our coach,” Walker said. “It all starts with ‘Brich. The way he taught us months ago when we were doing these virtual meetings. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, this is the play, this is what you do.’ He’d teach us the scheme. So now if you know what this scheme is, you can apply that principle to every call. I think we almost think the same way. For me to pick up plays, I try to combine them as much as possible. I think ‘Brich does the same thing. He’s done a really good job of teaching me the scheme and now I can come out here and play fast.” For four of Ulbrich’s 10 years with the 49ers, Falcons coach Dan Quinn was an assistant on the staff, which is how they first connected. In 2010, which marked Quinn’s second season as a defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks, he recommended to Pete Carroll that he hire Ulbrich as an assistant special-teams coach. After two seasons with the Seahawks, Ulbrich became UCLA’s linebackers and special-teams coach from 2012-14, before rejoining Quinn with the Falcons in 2015. Quinn long has been impressed not only with Ulbrich’s football knowledge, but with how he is able to communicate his insight with the players. “He’s probably the best teacher I’ve ever been around,” Quinn said. “He’s got an ability to connect with different kinds of players. It’s the connection he’ll make and the lengths he’ll take to go to help develop a player and get their game right. It goes so much deeper than coaching. It’s his way to give back to the game he played professionally for 10 years. He’s at the very top of my list of teaching.” At its core, teaching football is what Ulbrich enjoys the most. And in the process, he’s carved out a great career that has involved additional responsibilities over the past two years. Based on reputation alone, Ulbrich is someone who easily could have been pried away for a promotional opportunity by now. But ever-present and living in the moment, Ulbrich isn’t yet searching for such a promotional opportunity. If it happens, it will happen. For now, he’s thrilled simply to coach the position he spent 10 years in the NFL playing. “It’s been a recipe, especially in my time here, to love what I’m doing,” Ulbrich said. “I love getting up in the morning to go to work.”
  4. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/defaults-on-falcons-psls-near-43-million/ZGV6LF4WO5BGVOXB55EASF4TFM/ That raised the total amount of defaults on seat licenses in Mercedes-Benz Stadium to $42.9 million since 2016. The figures, provided by the Falcons to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open-records request to the GWCCA, represent the remaining amount that was owed when PSL holders quit making payments on thousands of seats. The PSLs are fees, often paid in installments over multiple years, for the right to buy Falcons season tickets in a particular seat for as long as the team plays in the stadium. When a default occurs, the fan loses whatever money has been paid on the PSL previously, and the Falcons lose a season-ticket holder. The team then can re-sell the seat. Most of the defaults in the 12-month period through June 30 occurred in January and February, before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a spokesperson for Falcons parent company AMB Sports & Entertainment. Of those who provided the team a reason for defaulting, 77% cited financial, health or relocation issues, the person said. The Falcons’ second consecutive 7-9 season presumably didn’t help, either. About 7,000 Falcons season-ticket account holders have defaulted on their seat licenses since 2016, records show, with the vast majority of those accounts representing two or more seats. About 650 of the account holders who defaulted later returned as PSL owners. Records show that seat-license purchases made before the 71,000-seat stadium opened in August 2017 totaled $299.1 million, including interest added to accounts annually. Of that, $196.5 million had been paid as of June 30, and after the $42.9 million in defaults, $59.7 million remains outstanding (plus future interest). The total “default write-off balance” of $42,933,454 as of June 30 was up from $32,001,679 as of one year earlier. Seat-license proceeds go toward the cost of building the $1.5 billion stadium. The defaults don’t affect the amount of taxpayer money committed to the stadium, but could increase the amount to be covered by the Falcons organization if the seats aren’t re-sold. The seat licenses originally went on sale in January 2016 and ranged in price from $500 to $45,000 apiece. Because of the pandemic, the Falcons in April offered PSL holders still on installment plans the option of extending their payment schedule by one year and deferring either their 2020 or 2021 payment. Holders of seat licenses have the right to sell them to other buyers, rather than defaulting and forfeiting whatever they have paid. But the defaults, which occur when holders don’t make installment payments on the licenses or don’t renew their season tickets, apparently reflect the difficulty in finding buyers. Figures aren’t available on how many new seat licenses the Falcons have sold since Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in August 2017 -- or how many defaulted licenses they have re-sold -- because the team isn’t required to submit those sales contracts to the GWCCA, a state agency. The Falcons and Atlanta United announced last week that their home games through September will be played without fans in attendance because of COVID-19, abandoning an earlier plan to have 10,000 to 20,000 fans at those games. Season-ticket holders have been offered the option of receiving refunds for 2020 payments already made or applying those payments toward 2021 tickets. A decision will be made later about whether to open the stadium to a limited number of fans for 2020 games in October and beyond.
  5. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-hofrichter-shines-in-second-scrimmage/ZCDAQI6WR5BFBCLDPM4S4YSZ6U/ The Falcons emphasized the run game and the special teams Monday in their second scrimmage of training camp. Punter Sterling Hofrichter, a seventh-round pick from Syracuse, put on a clinic, while kicker Younghoe Koo, was 2-of-3 on his field-goal attempts. The offense, which had big runs from Todd Gurley, Ito Smith and Brian Hill, continued to struggle with timing in the passing game. Backup quarterback Matt Schaub was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Delrick Abrams, an undrafted rookie from Colorado. Also, cornerback Isaiah Oliver dropped a potential interception. Later, in the two-minute drill, a Schaub pass was thrown behind the receiver and was intercepted by cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Hofrichter, who was drafted after the Falcons elected to move on from long-time punter Matt Bosher, had four (of five) very solid punts, with good hang-time and directional placement. He had hang-times of 3.32, 4.31, 4.27 and 3.91 seconds on his second, third, fourth and fifth punts. Bosher, while punting most of his games indoors, averaged 4.8 seconds on his punts in 2015. For outdoors, Hofrichter’s numbers – hand-held iPhone times -- are very good. On the fifth punt he was going for distance and boomed a 50-yarder. “I thought he’s off to a good start,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Sunday before the scrimmage. “He’s got a quick get-off, and he can directional (punt) well.” The Falcons were looking forward to seeing Hofrichter in a live situation. “We just need, over the three weeks, different moments – different times, backed up, pooch punting – all of the different scenarios that come into that, but so far he’s certainly passed all of the tests for us,” Quinn said. The Falcons discussed Hofrichter’s ability to get the ball off quickly. He got his punts off in 1.71 seconds (second punt), 1.8 (third punt) and 1.75 (fifth punt). Any time under 2.1 seconds is considered spectacular. Practice: Guard Jamon Brown was back at practice after clearing the concussion protocol. Running back Qadree Ollison did not practice for the second practice in a row. Running backs: Gurley ran the hills after practice, and Smith, Hill and Ollison all are vying to back up Gurley. “I definitely think we are going to play with more than two backs,” Hill said. Returners: In addition to wide receiver Brandon Powell and Chris Rowland, the Falcons also are considering Olamide Zaccheaus and Smith, Quinn said. Walker getting a good look: Rookie linebacker Mykal Walker, who was drafted in the fourth round of the draft, received some snaps with the first-team defense during the scrimmage. He replaced Deion Jones and later went in for Foye Oluokun. “It’s been great,” Walker said. “I got these guys out here Debo (Jones) and Foye, even the vets, you bring in LaRoy Reynolds who’s been around the block a couple of years with different teams, they have so much wisdom out there for me, it’s been really cool to be out there running around. “Running with the ones was a dream come true. It’s been really good for me.” Big hitters: Defensive end Steven Means and safety Keanu Neal had big stops in the run game. Means made a nice stop in the backfield, and Neal set the edge on an attempted outside run and appeared quick and powerful.
  6. Glad to see Jason back on the Falcons beat....even if it is with the AJC https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/how-russell-gage-emerged-as-falcons-top-slot-option/4V5UYSEWK5GOZCTDX56BGQ26P4/ Russell Gage didn’t have the luxury of being invited to the Senior Bowl. He wasn’t asked to attend the NFL scouting combine. But upon looking at his statistics at LSU, it’s understandable to see why he was passed over, as the numbers didn’t add up to much. After moving from cornerback to receiver in 2016, Gage accrued 347 receiving yards, 232 rushing yards and five total touchdowns in two seasons. Yet here Gage is, entering his third season with the Falcons and poised to be the team’s top slot receiver. Gage’s development over the past two years has more than earned the trust of his teammates and coaches. In 2019, with the majority of his production coming over the final half of the season, Gage recorded 446 receiving yards, more than he totaled during his tenure at LSU. Now, after two years spent learning the Falcons’ offense, Gage is ready for an even bigger share of the passing game in an offense that led the league in passing attempts a season ago. ExploreWith no fans expected, Falcons working hard on signals “I was able to get a lot of experience under my belt,” Gage said. “Fast forward to right now, I’m able to play a lot faster. I understand the offense. Last year really helped in that back stretch for me to get the offense under my belt, to understand what (offensive coordinator) Dirk (Koetter) wants and what (quarterback) Matt (Ryan) wants out of me in this offense.” Gage was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft, even without attending the Senior Bowl and scouting combine. The Falcons were interested in Gage but thought of him as a special-teams player first and foremost. But when the Falcons worked out Gage at LSU in the weeks after the combine, his performance caught the eye of receivers coach Dave Brock, who then was an assistant to the position group. Brock was impressed with Gage’s measurables and began to talk him up to coach Dan Quinn. “When we went down and worked him out at LSU, he just had great body movement, quickness and suddenness,” Brock said. “You could see he had some traits that could be developed. Once he got here you started to work with him, and you could see he had an awful lot of potential and ability.” Said Quinn: “I’d champion Dave to say he was the one. Our vision for (Gage) at first was as a special-teams player. He had speed, and he had toughness. OK, we knew that would be there. Then, as he started to evolve and it went into his second year, we thought there’s a lot more here offensively. “So I really credit Dave for making that vision come to life. It was part of the reason why we had such faith in him that we were able to make the trade that we did to allow him to have those opportunities.” Even after drawing rave reviews during OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Gage opened the 2019 season as a rotational receiver, with Mohamed Sanu manning the slot. But at the bye week, with the Falcons holding a 1-7 record, the Falcons traded Sanu to the New England Patriots, opening up a spot for Gage to step into. Quinn already was buying in to Gage as a legitimate option in the passing game. But it likely helped that the week before the Falcons traded Sanu, Gage was targeted nine times and caught seven passes for 58 yards in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Over the final eight games, Gage drew at least six targets five times. He posted a career-best eight catches and 76 yards in a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “He’s somebody we’re going to certainly count on in a lot of scenarios this season,” Brock said. “He’s got a ton of potential, and I don’t even think he’s come close to reaching it yet. He’s a hard-working guy who has really worked at doing the things we’ve asked him to do. He’s blessed with really good physical skills.” Ryan said he’s impressed with how Gage is able to shake defenders and create separation out of the slot. Ryan also has noticed that as Gage enters his third season, he is a bit more tactful as to when he puts these skills to use. For instance, when the Falcons are facing a zone look, Gage is looking to attack the holes opening up as opposed to worrying about the nearest defender to juke away from. “His growth week-to-week was exponential because he was having a game plan where plays were put in for him,” Ryan said. “He was having a whole week preparing as the starting slot receiver for us. Sometimes that can be overwhelming for guys. Sometimes backups and guys that are in that reserve role are good when they’re just called upon and don’t have the full week of pressure leading up to it and you see that and you regress. “Other guys, like Russ, you see them kind of step out of their shell and become an even better player and take ownership of it. I certainly have seen that with him.” Gage said he is thankful that Brock saw the potential he had as an NFL receiver. As someone who switched positions and didn’t see that many touches at LSU, it’s clear why he fell to the sixth round in the draft. But as Brock noted, the quality of Gage’s college tape was good. It’s just the limited number of chances he received didn’t result in much production. Now that he’s the top slot receiver in a pass-happy offense that threw the ball 684 times a season ago, Gage is quite excited about the opportunity placed in front of him. “The coaches put trust in my game, my progress and having me go out there and play to the best of my ability and play fast,” Gage said. “That helps me to play fast. I credit the coaches a lot for having the confidence in me.”
  7. It's a DLed artical, so take it for what's it worth.... https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/dimitroff-dealing-upside-down-2021-salary-cap/5BNKBRP6QFA45D4OT6PPE3VAQQ/ The NFLPA (the player’s union) and the NFL reached an agreement recently to set the salary cap floor at $175 million for next season. The salary cap is at 198.2 million for the 2020 season and was projected to reach $210 million in 2021. However, because of the pandemic, each NFL team is projected to lose at least $130 million in revenue this season, according to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. The Falcons are currently at $195 million for their top 51 players and are assessing the future projections with the lost cap space. “We’re in the middle of that right now,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “We are looking at so many different scenarios.” The Falcons have $220 million in contracts on the books for 2021. They are projected to be $45 million over the salary cap. “We are spending a lot of time on that, making sure that we have our ducks in line,” Dimitroff said. “You know how I am, we will never look at something as catastrophic. We will find a way to navigate through like a lot of teams out there.” The Falcons have paid market value contracts for quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, center Alex Mack, left tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. “Any team that has high-prized players, as we do, we’re going to have to be smart about how we navigate going into a season, unfortunately if the cap were to fall, we would have to make adjustments,” Dimitroff said. Last offseason, the Falcons had to get creative after they were not able to re-sign tight end Austin Hooper and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. They also cut running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Desmond Trufant, both former Pro Bowl players. Dimitroff said both of the cuts were football and salary cap related. In 2021, the Falcons may not be able to re-sign players, will have salary cap casualties and will have to possibility re-structure some of their big-money contracts with the players taking pay cuts. “I’m not worried,” Dimitroff said. “I’m only really, really focused on how we would adjust. We can only project so much. I don’t want to get caught up in worrying about it over and over and spending so much time on something that far out in the future because we really don’t know what it’s going to be.” Director of football operations Nick Polk is the team’s salary capologist and chief negotiator. He’s assisted by Kirsten Grohs, the manager of football operations. Dimitroff and president Rich McKay also get involved. “We are mindful and aware and again very, very confident with the people that we have around here,” Dimitroff said. “When we start discussing finances, we have it all laid out. It will play out the way it’s supposed to play out. I think in the end, we’ll be in a sound spot.” Polk has the cap planned out into future years, but this seismic shift downward could not have been projected. “So, we are always discussing opportunities (and) ideals,” Dimitroff said. “We mull them over all the time. We have great conversations about what the next steps are, different scenarios like we do in the draft with the personnel people. We do that on the finance side with Nick and Kirsten. “Some great ideas are thrown around. Again, I think there I some really good mental power going on there in those rooms when we are up on the board discussing scenarios. In the end, we don’t just whimsically make decisions.” Dimitroff knows that it will be difficult to get under the cap. The Saints and Eagles are in similar situations. “I think we’ll have to use all of our tools moving forward giving where we are right now,” Dimitroff said. “Again, what I’m talking about is when you have your veteran quarterback and veteran receiver and a few other players that make top dollar, upper echelon football players, an organization is going to have to use all of the tools in their bag. “The great thing here is that we have people that are very open and mindful in talking about it. I understand that it’s not easy for a player to talk about re-structuring and potentially (take a) pay reduction. That’s not ideally where we want to be, but at times those discussions can occur, of course, because they have to. That’s all of our responsibility.”
  8. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/grady-jarrett-furthers-his-focus-i-think-it-might-even-help-me-be-a-better-player/RHU5PBQHHBESREGQV73SSJUNAY/ He won’t have a choice this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced much of the U.S. either to work from home or take extra precautions when forced to go into an office. That also has been the case for the NFL. And when it comes to the Falcons, coach Dan Quinn already advised the players to be responsible once they leave the team facility. For Jarrett, being asked to stay home by his boss isn’t a problem at all. He now has a valid excuse to tell someone when turning down an invitation to an event he didn’t want to attend anyway. Seemingly a homebody throughout the fall, Jarrett said he has used the lack of normalcy since the pandemic began to further his focus on the coming season. “I don’t see people during the year anyway, I’m kind of just working,” Jarrett said. “Work is work, so I never really have much more than four to five people at my house at a time. I might be by myself most of the time, so it’s not going to be big for me. I’m kind of enjoying it. It gives me another excuse to say I can’t go out or do nothing if I’m invited somewhere. I’m enjoying it, and I think it might even help me be a better player.” Jarrett, who totaled a career-best 7.5 sacks in 2019, is coming off of his first Pro Bowl season, which came after he signed a four-year contract worth $68 million. Over time, Jarrett has earned his spot as one of the team’s go-to leaders on the roster. Considering the situation at hand, Jarrett said he’s doing his part to act as an extension to Quinn when it comes to spreading the message of staying at home when the workday is complete. “I feel like guys around here have a pretty good understanding of how important it is,” Jarrett said. “(Quinn) has done a great job of letting them know and letting us know about that. But absolutely, as a leader it’s my job to make sure guys are taking care of themselves away from the facility because we all want to have a season, and that’s going to be big on how we take care of ourselves away from the facility.” Jarrett is preparing for a season that will be like no other. But amid the uncertainty, the Falcons remained busy this offseason by adding veteran defensive linemen Dante Fowler and Charles Harris to the mix. They also signed defensive back Darqueze Dennard on Monday. The team drafted cornerback A.J. Terrell and defensive lineman Marlon Davidson in the first two rounds of the draft, and both figure to see immediate playing time. Last year, the defense finished 18th in the league in rushing yards allowed at 110.9 and 30th in sacks with 28. With the added pieces, the Falcons hope they can boost those numbers and improve their overall production. Undoubtedly, this offseason has created a challenge like no other when it comes to creating the needed chemistry during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. “You either sulk about it or just find a way to make it best,” Jarrett said. “So it’s totally different around here how you got to handle business, but it is what it is and whether it’s getting tested every morning and the way we get to the locker rooms and stuff like that, it’s all different, but it is what it is. I’m glad we are here.” Although the NFL has a protocol in place, nothing is guaranteed about the coming season. Jarrett, who looks to lead the Falcons to the postseason for the first time since the 2017 season, said all he can do is remain optimistic that the NFL will move forward with its season on schedule. “I’ve got confidence and I have faith, not fear,” Jarrett said. “And that’s in everything in my life. So I’m going to prepare to have a full season. At the end of the day, what’s going to happen is going to happen. I’m excited to go out here every day while I can and get ready for a season and focus on being in the league that I’m in, that we are going to be able to have success and be able to get all the way to February for a Super Bowl.”
  9. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/ridleys-healthy-aiming-for-elusive-1000-yard-season/MDHSBKTJ7FGTJLPDN73SVFWTD4/ “I’m 100%,” Ridley said Tuesday. “I was pretty much 100% close to the last game. I’m 100%. I have no problems right now. I’m ready to go.” Ridley will enter the 2020 season as the Falcons’ unquestioned No. 2 receiver. “Well, I guess my first year I guess I was the three,” Ridley said. “Last year, we had Mohamed Sanu and Julio. Now, I’m coming in, it’s me and Julio. I think there should be some extras balls flying and some extra yards. It should probably look a little different.” Ridley had a strong season going before he was placed on injured reserve after the 13th game. He had 63 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns over 13 games and 10 starts in his second season in the NFL. Ridley believes he’s ready to make a big leap. He purchased a football-throwing machine, which commonly is called a jugs machine, to work on his catching in his garage. “I can catch either outside of my garage or inside of my garage because I have a lot of room,” Ridley said. “It’s a pretty big garage. “I got it because there wasn’t any OTAs and I was like, I’m missing a ton of jugs right now. If we would have been in OTAs I would have been getting crazy jugs in. So, I was like, I’m going to get it. I just use it any time that I’m at home and some days off I can use it, just to keep my hands real good. I should be elite this year.” Ridley believes his path to elite status has been paved by Jones. “I just follow his steps,” Ridley said. “I want to be as good as him. That’s easy if I’m watching him and going out there with the right mindset, that’s easy. That’s all I can do.” Ridley was happy to be back on the field. “It’s tough, but I love football,” Ridley said. “I want to play. I need football. I worked out all offseason to get ready for this. I’m ready to play.” In addition to working on his hands with his jugs machine, Ridley concentrated on strengthening his legs. “My legs are for my cuts,” Ridley said. “So that my cuts are really good. I’m really strong in my legs and I want to be running through (my cuts) and that has to do with me doing it all year long. All season I have to continue squats and doing a lot of leg work to keep my legs and my cuts really crisp, so that I can run fast.” Ridley and a lot of players are adjusting to the league’s protocols. “The mask is a little hard, but the system that we have here, it really works,” Ridley said. “It seems kind of normal even though we are distancing ourselves and a lot of different things to prevent us from getting close. I like it. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m happy we are here, and I feel like it works.” Ridley was not shy about sharing some of his goals for the coming season. “I come in with a winning mindset,” Ridley said. “I want to win the Super Bowl. Help my team anyway I can. My mindset is always going to be strong and win-first.” Ridley is coming out of his shell as he’s never been this outspoken. “I’ve always had confidence,” Ridley said. “I just think that football has really slowed down for me a lot in the NFL. I ain’t going to lie, I’m real hungry to show people that I’m easily a 1,000-yard receiver. Easily and even better. “I think that’s what it is for me. I’m always confident in myself. I’m just really hungry and want to help the team win as much as I can.” Ridley thought he would amass 1,000 yards receiving last season. “Last year, I was right there,” Ridley said. “I got hurt three games out. I was going to get 1,000 yards last year. I got hurt and I’m in the hospital that same day, my agent came. I said, ‘Man, I would have got 1,000, but I’m out for the year and I don’t have that 1,000.’ Now, I have to get it.”
  10. https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-mcgary-has-better-idea-what-to-expect-physically-and-mentally/COWXF2SY25ADLNFAL4WY55LMYY/ Click on the link to give Jason some traffic. Butr yea.. This is a good article...McGary has alllll the tools to be a really good RT.. from strength to athleticism to mauler attitude... Im glad to hear he has that attitude right and has worked on that technique....... Im extra excited to see what the bash brothers can do on that right side in the run game.
  11. https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/where-are-they-now-bryan-cox-former-falcons-defensive-line-coach/jST1VUIxSAswKeReHSix4I/ Interesting tidbits in here. Editor’s note: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution catches up with former Atlanta sports figures in this occasional series. Today: Bryan Cox Former Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox has been doing a lot of soul-searching since he was fired three days after the team’s historic collapse in Super Bowl LI. Cox, 52, who wants to get back into coaching, is still waiting for his phone to ring. Cox was credited with helping to develop defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, and he was the position coach when Vic Beasley recorded 15.5 sacks to lead the NFL. Cox, a former player and three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, went from his group playing well in the Super Bowl with five sacks and nine quarterback hits to getting fired. He said he wasn’t given an answer as to why he was fired. He pointed to an incident at the NFL scouting combine the year before, but has since looked internally for possible reasons.Cox, who was a fiery player, shoved an Arizona Cardinals scout at the combine during a disagreement over access to a prospect during the interview process. He later apologized.“ After I got released, I picked my family up and we ran out of town to Houston,” Cox said. “I ran to Houston. We stayed down in Houston for a year. My now 11-year-old daughter said I stole her life from her, took her away from her life and her friends.” That didn’t sit well with Cox. He moved the family back to metro Atlanta, settling in McDonough. “I’m just down here spending time with the family,” Cox said. “I want to get back into coaching. But the phone hasn’t rung in four years, and that’s a hard thing.” Cox, a native of East St. Louis, Illinois, was a fifth-round pick out of Western Illinois. He went on to play 12 NFL seasons and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI over the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in 2002. He retired after the 2002 season and got into coaching in 2006 with the New York Jets as their assistant defensive line coach. He worked with Dan Quinn, who was the defensive line coach for the Jets in 2007 and 2008.He went on to coach in Cleveland (2009-10), Miami (2011) and Tampa Bay (2012-13) before landing with the Falcons. Being out of the NFL, has been tough for him. “For me, it’s just a matter of doing some self-analyzing,” Cox said. “Trying to make myself better and go from there. “I’ve been looking at some of the mistakes I made and (thinking about) what I would do differently. Not putting the blame on anybody else, but trying to look at what I could have done personally differently.” Cox has come up with a few things that he believes will make him a better coach if another opportunity arises. “One of the biggest things that I think I would come up with, when people that are supposedly close to you, but don’t feel like you’re approachable, that they can talk to you,” Cox said. “You have to take a look at that. The people that said they were close to me. That I was loyal to, that I felt like I was close to them, but they were not able to have a conversation with me.” Cox said he isn’t blaming everyone else. “I must not be approachable in some situations,” Cox said. “I’m trying to work through that. I’m trying to figure out some legitimate reasons why that could have been.” When Cox was hired, the Falcons were making a big “toughness” push.“When you look at the coaching philosophy, when I came to Atlanta it was all based on getting tougher and being bigger under (defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan and (coach) Mike Smith,” Cox said. “Then I never changed my approach when Dan came in. “The philosophy didn’t change. I had my thumb on guys too hard. I didn’t let them breathe enough. I felt like that was a mistake on my part. I didn’t change my philosophy with the staff that came in. I could have changed some things, but I didn’t. I think that was on me.” Cox doesn’t believe that the players are much different today than from when he played (1991-2002).“It’s easy for people to say these are different kids,” Cox said. “But the game don’t change. For the ones that want to be great, you can push them and hold them accountable. It’s the ones that are fringe guys, whatever their reasons are for playing, or doing it, might be different from my own.” The Falcons were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in 2014, and one of the episodes showed Cox working with defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. Cox wishes that he taken a different approach with Hageman, who had legal troubles and has been out of the league since 2016. “I regret how things unfolded with Ra’Shede, with me being the teacher and me being the guy who was leader in the room,” Cox said. “I could have maybe fostered that relationship differently.”Hageman wasn’t a self-starter. The Falcons drafted him in the second round despite questions about his effort and maturity at Minnesota. “Maybe I could have done something differently, but again, I was in a place and state where I wanted to be around people that wanted to be great,” Cox said. “Not saying that he didn’t want to be great, but some things he didn’t know how to be great. “Maybe I pushed him to a point of disdain. Maybe dislike for me, dislike for how I was teaching and things of that nature. Again with hindsight being 20-20, maybe I could done something differently to make him be more successful.” Cox pushed Beasley in his third season, and that helped the Falcons reach the Super Bowl. “Vic was a guy who grew on me,” Cox said. “He was a guy that initially, I wasn’t overly jacked about, but I came to love Vic. I understood who he was. I was able to get the most out of him because I understood who he was and what he was about.” Cox described Beasley as a spiritual and very kind person. “You have to be able to get on his level and be able to understand what makes him tick,” Cox said. “If you can do that, you can get the most out of him. Fortunately, during my last year there, I was able to get him to be the NFL sack leader.” Cox also credited veterans Dwight Freeney and Jonathan Babineaux for helping with Beasley. After Cox was fired, Beasley recorded five, five and eight sacks in three subsequent seasons. Beasley was not re-signed after last season and signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. “You saw the growth that Grady made, the jump that he made,” Cox said. “So, it was a whole bunch of guys. That whole group fought and really filled in the gaps. If I was riding a guy too hard, they were able to go into the situation and really do it. “I thought Dwight Freeney really made a big impression on the group from his leadership and from his knowledge. By understanding my point of view, he was able to get some guys to understand some of things I was talking about.” In addition to being a stay-at-home dad, Cox has watched his son Bryan Cox Jr.’s NFL career. The younger Cox, a defensive end who played at Florida, is now with Buffalo after stops in Carolina and Cleveland. He’s played in 25 games and made two starts. “(Tosh Lupoi), the new defensive line coach with Atlanta, was his defensive line coach up in Cleveland,” Cox said. “So, everything is full circle. Everybody knows everybody. But he’s up in Buffalo. Hopefully, that situation will be good for him up there. ... I’m just being a father. Just being supportive and wanting him to live out his dream.” Cox plans to be ready when and if his phone rings. “It’s been hard the last four years,” Cox said. “From a mental standpoint, it’s been a climb. It’s been some struggles mentally being out of it and missing it. Hopefully, something happens.”
  12. https://www.ajc.com/blog/mark-bradley/dan-quinn-big-picture-guy-who-making-alternate-plans/RDsA9vWUBjgbmPYoZJWLUJ/ Dan Quinn might just be the right coach at … well, nobody would call this the right time. But if you’re looking for someone who can embrace enforced change and still find reasons to be cheerful, Dan’s your man. The Falcons’ coach held a 30-minute video call via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday. He seemed in his element, and not just because he was displayed at a desk beneath a mantel lined with football helmets. He was in his element because – unlike other football coaches (Dabo Swinney, Mike Gundy) who’ve spoken recently – he sees the whole field. John Prine died Tuesday night. Boris Johnson is in ICU. Our world is reeling. Quinn opened by conceding that there’s something going on that’s “way bigger” than football. Then he struck this grace note: “I know there’s a lot of uncertainty outside, but I would like to start with some things that I am totally certain about. I am certain about my appreciation and gratitude and thankfulness for all the doctors and nurses and first responders; people who work in our grocery stores and pharmacies and are helping us get through this. “I know sports personalities can be seen as heroes, and I think what this time has shown is that people are stepping up, not just here in Atlanta but all over the country and all over the world. It’s one of the coolest things to watch from afar. To know that people have that kind of grittiness and toughness and love, it’s really cool to see.” Then: “Instead of ‘social distancing,’ I wish we had called it ‘physical distancing.’ Because socially, we so need to be connected. That’s one of the most difficult spots here, that feeling of isolation. We’ve gone for it pretty hard in terms of things we wanted to do to stay connected – through phone calls and FaceTime and video conferencing. The ability to be present with somebody – it’s a big deal. I’ve enjoyed visiting with players, coaches, draft prospects. At times, it’s felt like I’m on ‘The Jetsons’ here: I’m a football coach learning how to online-teach. There have been a lot of things over the last month that have been challenging in ways that help you grow and get better.” He turned to football. He talked about the draft, about Dante Fowler, about Todd Gurley. He said what you’d expect. He also upbraided, gently, those reporters who hadn’t activated their cameras, meaning he couldn’t see his questioner. “That’s like cheating. You’ve got to be on screen if you’re on a conference call. I’ve found with the players that they’re more present on a video conference call than a phone call. You can be on a phone call and writing something down or doing something else, but on these calls it’s been good to stay connected with people, especially during this time when we’re not getting as much face time as we normally do.” Football coaches tend to hate that which they cannot control. Quinn has such a lively mind that, instead of raging against grim reality, he has taken this moment to try to make himself a better coach/communicator. (For the record, he has always been a top-shelf guy.) “I missed the locker room like ****, seeing everybody and talking to everybody … (But) one of the silver linings in being away is that, in some cases, the relationships have gotten better. The first thing we’re talking about often times isn’t the football side. You come into the building, and it’s, ‘Hey, what’s up? All right, let’s get started – this is Cover 3; that’s what we’re playing.’ Right now it’s a deeper check-in. It’s, ‘Tell me about your family. Is everybody OK? Is your grandmother able to get the medication?’ “When you start talking about the family piece first, there’s been some connections that might’ve not normally happened had we all just met at the complex and gotten going. I definitely miss seeing everybody on a regular basis, but trying to do it this way has helped. That kind of connection – it’s been important, for sure.” Then, asked about alternate plans that could be needed for OTAs and the like: “What we’ve really learned a lot and grown a lot on is, ‘How do we teach online?’ How do we teach when we share a screen and we watch tapes and we try a voice-over? What the coaches have been doing is practicing teaching each other. Is it best to have a call with one person, two people? How do you do it when there’s a group of O-linemen? Is it best to have smaller groups? How do you have a team meeting? Hopefully we won’t have to use much of that, but we’re planning that way. We can throw a **** of a virtual offseason, if that’s possible. “You can get a lot done with technology. … We’re finding better ways to teach when you’re not in the same room and you don’t have the same eye contact. We’re digging into as many resources as we can – from other sports, college professors. I’ve contacted people in the military. We’ve been on with basketball people who are right in the middle of their sport: ‘How are you staying connected?’ I’ve reached out to my former roommate who’s a college professor: ‘Tell me about these online classes, man.’ Those are fun things that we’ve grown on, and that’s how we’re practicing coach-to-coach.” At the end, someone wondered what exactly would have to happen for there to be a football season. Said Quinn: “It feels a little tricky even to have this conversation. I would say the medical people I would trust more than anything else. The safety part of it, for me, is where it’s at. If we had ways of establishing safety for fans and players, that would be some part of the discussion. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to (decide); I follow along like everyone else. There are so many different things out there, I just don’t have a good answer for you – other than player and fan safety. That would be at the top.” That’s really the only answer there is. Dan Quinn nailed that, too. Nobody could possibly have seen this coming, but the Falcons should be glad they’ve got this guy to guide them through it.
  13. https://www.ajc.com/blog/mike-check/falcons-right-let-hooper-seek-payday-elsewhere/pgzKTvj0I3DQNq8Kak2vjP/ Austin Hooper is a very good tight end who had a career season in 2019. The Falcons still decided they won’t offer Hooper a contract before he becomes a free agent next month. Salary-cap restraints may have forced their hand but, either way, the Falcons are making the right move to let Hooper reach the market. Hooper has been a very productive player for the Falcons but he’s more possession pass-catcher than big-play producer. Hooper had 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns over 13 games 2019. His yards per reception ranked 19th among tight ends with at least 50 targets. Hooper ranked tied for 22nd in explosive play rate for tight ends, according to Sharp Football. Pro Football Focus notes that Hooper’s numbers are “more a result of Atlanta’s scheme as opposed to a tight end who can single-handily win in single coverage. Over three-fourths of his total receiving yardage since 2016 has come on targets that were underneath coverages or from finding a hole in a zone.” Hooper is a nice piece to have for a team that can spare the cap space. He is not an essential player for the Falcons, who don’t have the cap space. Hooper might get a nice payday in free agency because he’s just 25-years old and still could expand his game. Even if that happens his value is limited by his position, which ranks just above running back in the pecking order. The Falcons can replace Hooper in the draft or with a lower-tier free agent. Darren Fells may be a veteran option. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Houston last year and went on to rank 29th in explosive play rate among tight ends and third with six TDs. Fells will be 34-years old in April, but he made his NFL debut at age 28 (he played pro basketball internationally) and turned a career-high number of targets in 2019 into a very productive season. Whichever No. 1 tight end the Falcons settle on for 2020 will benefit from playing with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. They are reasons why Hooper had room to work against zones and underneath coverage. The cap space Hooper is likely to demand is better used on defense. Maybe the Falcons can re-sign free agent linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a modest deal after he came on as a starter in 2019. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons still would negotiate with Hooper and other free agents. He said the team also is considering using its franchise tag. Hooper would be the only candidate for that designation, which would mean a salary of more than $10 million. The Falcons likely would be in line for a compensatory draft pick if Hooper signs elsewhere. That appears to be the most likely outcome at this point. Losing Hooper would leave the Falcons down a good player but they have more pressing roster needs and little cap space to address them.
  14. One NFL Beat Reporter Had The Worst Mason Rudolph-Myles Garrett Take: TRAINA THOUGHTS BY JIMMY TRAINA , NOV 15, 2019 1. We now live in a world where it's completely routine for people to tell you that you didn't see something that you actually saw with your own two eyes. What happened last night was as simple and as straight-forward as it gets. Myles Garrett took a football helmet and tried to slam it on top of Mason Rudolph's head. Nothing else needs to be explained. Nothing else needs to be said. Nothing else matters. Naturally, fans will try to spin it. Players will try to spin it. People who know Garrett will try to spin it. However, you'd expect an NFL beat reporter to be above it all. So it was stunning, to me at least, to see Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionFalcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter die on the hill that Mason Rudolph was just as much to blame for what happened last night as Myles Garret. Again, as you read these absurd tweets, keep in mind that this take isn't coming from some wack-job fan. This is an actual NFL beat reporter. Congrats to Ledbetter. With just six weeks remaining in 2019, he has clearly wrapped up the "Dumbest Sports Take of the Year" award. It's actually a tie, but Lebetter is responsible for both winners with "Mason Rudolph should get suspended" and "Mason Rudolph should get the same suspension as Myles Garrett." https://www.si.com/.amp/extra-mustard/2019/11/15/myles-garrett-mason-rudolph-helmet-swinging-reaction
  15. https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/mack-looks-help-falcons-get-back-track/6EAirS1PMCacPDRne4moVP/ FLOWERY BRANCH — Alex Mack has played in more NFL games than every Falcon other than Matt Ryan and lived more losses than most could stomach, but even with all that, the center hasn’t enough knowledge to offer post-graduate level advice for teammates carrying a six-game losing streak to New Orleans. That’s because when you’re on a 1-7 team that kicked off with high expectations, all the losing is so confusing. The Saints (7-1) will greet a team dropping from a cloud of questions. You might think a season like this feels longer because of the way it’s going. Mack only sort of agrees. “I would say it’s definitely harder,” he said. “I don’t know about longer or shorter. I know it’s more difficult because if you’re winning, what you’re doing is right and you’re being rewarded for your actions with that good, winning feeling. You’re like, ‘I did this last week, I’ll do it again.’ “When you’re losing, it’s tough because maybe you are doing the right thing and you should keep doing it, but maybe you need to change something, so you don’t really know. “Do you second-guess, or is it whatever I’m doing is not working? Do we need to change something or do we need to do whatever we’re doing more? Do we need to do less? It’s uncertain because whatever your payoff is, it is not producing the outcome you want.” Mack is a smart guy. He won scores of academic awards on the way to graduating from Cal with a 3.61 GPA in legal studies. Then, the Browns drafted him No. 21 overall in 2009. And in seven years by Cleveland’s lake, his teams lost double-digit games five times. The Browns were 33-68 in his time. He went through five head coaches and six offensive coordinators, so Mack knows churn. After spending some time in his native California during last week’s bye, the fourth-year Falcon is back to work and trying to figure out what’s what. That’s not easy. “I can see guys that enjoy the time to sit and watch a game or do something like that. I like to get away, refresh the mind,” Mack said. “I like how it breaks up the monotony; each week’s the same. Middle of the year is a really good time, kind of freshen up, catch up on sleep, because it’s hard. “The season’s long. It’s tough. It’s long hours. You’re up early, you’re staying up late, you’re playing games. So, just to have a chance for your body to recover is a big deal.” The NFL season is not year-round, although players spend 11 months or so in the calendar year either in the game or preparing physically for it. And when the season hits, the work becomes repetitive and over-constant. Teams prepare for different opponents each week, sure, but the weekly routine is, other than game-planning, the same every time. It’s like factory work with the background knowledge that at the end of the week you’re going to be in the coliseum, competing, with hundreds of thousands or millions judging in person or while watching on TV. Most weekdays start around 7 a.m. with meetings and more meetings and end around 5 or 6 after practice and then more meetings. If you want to make a difference as a Falcon, you probably need to put in more time than that, at least on Wednesdays and Thursdays. And that is the undergraduate-level advice Mack is offering teammates, particularly younger lads like rookie right tackle Kaleb McGary and rookie right guard Chris Lindstrom, who may return from a foot injury soon. Always, there are questions. “The other thing that’s tough is when you’re winning and you’re staying after and watching film (you think), ‘Oh, it’s totally worth it because it will let me win again,’” Mack said. “When you’re losing, it’s time to stay after and watch film, and it’s like, ‘Oh, God, it’s really tough. Maybe I should just go home and get some sleep.’ “You’re not ever certain of what you need to do, or what your path is, so you second-guess there. You’re not getting the payout of your work.” And there can be self-doubt. “There’s a bit of that. It’s also a matter of not knowing what to do different, what to fix, what’s wrong,” Mack explained. “On the other hand, the sunny side of that, and unfortunately I have some experience of not the best teams, is that the only way forward is to work harder and do better. “If I play a better game and it’s going to help myself and it’s going to help my team. So, every action I do should be towards that goal. If you’re unsuccessful, you need to work harder and get better.” In times like these, human beings – whether they’re six-time Pro Bowlers such as Mack or not – may struggle. There are wrestling matches in the brain. There are battles against doubt, and questions about methods. Offering advice to others may be more difficult for intelligent people when they can’t in the first place put their finger on what’s happening. Mack has played 157 NFL games, starting every one. Other than 11 games missed with the Browns in 2014 when he broke a fibula, he’s always started. He played every snap for Cleveland in five seasons before that. With one more season under his NFL belt, Ryan has played in 181. Mack hyperextended his left elbow earlier this season and is wearing a sturdy brace now to keep him from doing it again. He said it doesn’t affect his ability to do his job, but who knows about that? “It’s still attached,” he said. Alex wishes he knew more about why what’s happening to the Falcons is happening. All he really knows, deep down, is that, “It’s really hard to win games in the NFL and you need to be working really hard every day or your opponent is going to be working harder. You need to be working hard. You can take it as you need to be working harder for the team’s sake, or for your own sake. “But the better you play, the better the team plays. That’s all the team wants from you. That’s all anybody, any fan, any coach, owner wants is for you to play the best you can. That’s your job and should be your goal.”
  16. https://www.ajc.com/blog/further-review/falcons-sink-further-their-owner-says-changes-coming-for-now/jUDGLiKXPpJ98vAadq0PQL/ The Falcons’ Arthur Blank had just experienced his second-worst-ever moment here inside NRG Stadium. And when the team you own just had more points scored on it than in any game since 2004, when the defense “coordinated” by your head coach couldn’t have stopped a grandfather clock this day much less Deshaun Watson, that says something about just how miserable the No. 1 ordeal was. But we’ll not dredge up that 2017 Super Bowl again. That’s unnecessarily rough. There are far more current events on the autopsy table. There come certain moments in certain seasons when it is required to ask a team owner if his finger rests upon the button that opens the trap door always beneath the feet of his coach and his executive branch. A moment such as Sunday, for instance, when a team with playoff aspirations loses the fourth of its first five games, and does so in spectacularly defenseless fashion, 53-32 to the Houston Texans. Blank was not prepared to entertain any nuclear option Sunday. Not publicly. Asked if was contemplating any big changes at the top of the Falcons org chart, Blank answered, “No. There are a lot of games left in this season. The staff has performed at a much higher level in the past — and these players have, too. My hope and my belief is that they can find a way to re-mix the puzzle and have a different answer in terms of results.” So, he was asked, you still have faith in those in charge? “Obviously, the faith is being rattled right now and I’m sure our fans feel that way,” Blank said minutes after the Houston loss. “This is an organization starting with the head coach and the general manager who know how to fight and know how to fight back. They don’t know how to lose. They know how to win. They are tenacious, they are not going to lay down. Hopefully it will be good enough to have a respectable performance the rest of the season.” Respectability would be a huge step up from what Sunday delivered. After the Falcons accidentally stopped Houston on its first possession on a three-and-out, the Texans scored on every other possession that wasn’t interrupted by the end of the half. There were no cheapies among any of their six touchdown drives — travelling anywhere between 60 and 88 yards. Throw in a pick-six at the end, and it turns out you can get to 50 points and more with surprising ease. Will Fuller V, the Texans’ second option, had himself quite a season Sunday at the Falcons’ expense, with 14 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. On many of his multitude of receptions he was sprinting clear of a confused secondary, the Falcons running what could only be described as a Cover None zone. Watson — 28-of-33 for 426 yards and five touchdowns — put up the third best-possible quarterback rating in the NFL this season. That number is 158.3, which I could explain in detail or just leave it at the fact Watson flew as close to the sun of quarterbacking perfection as any man is allowed. And the Falcons were the wind beneath his wings. Oh, and he also ran for 47 yards. If the NFL had a Heisman, Watson would have won it Sunday. So, they certainly were tickled in this part of Texas, having been gifted a nice diversion until the Astros’ next game. On the Atlanta side, not so much. Afterward you heard about this being a “100 percent gut-check time” (from Quinn). And about the need for more accountability from players that seem to know what they’re doing in practice but then get all dizzy at game time (from safety Ricardo Allen). And the owner spoke of the depth of his disappointment. It seldom is a good sign when the owner is plumbing those depths. To be precise, the level of his disappointment is “extraordinarily high, just like all of our fans,” Blank said. “It’s not the start we envisioned and it’s not the way we’re capable of playing. But as Bill Parcells says, ‘You are what your record says you are.’ ” He continued: “Players, coaches, we’re just not putting it together the way we’re capable of doing. We do have more talent on this team than what we’re showing right now, I don’t think there’s any question about that. The mix isn’t working, apparently, and I feel deeply for our fans. As I know the coach does and the players do. “They’re working their [butts] off, they’re trying to figure out the right solution, the right mix, the adjustments they have to make. That’s really all you can ask them to do, work as hard as they know how to work. We have four head coaches — one head coach and three previous head coaches — so we have a lot of experience. And we have some players who have been in the league for a long time and have played at real high levels for a long time. The capabilities are there but it’s just not coming together the way it should and the way it needs to.” Blank did express a measure of hope when asked what he thought could be salvaged from this season, pointing to another team’s example from a year ago. Can this be fixed this season? “They can turn it around,” the owner said. “The Colts last year started 1-5 and ended up in the playoffs (winning a wild card game). It can happen. We haven’t played a single divisional game yet, that’s obviously an opportunity.” “But,” he added realistically, “we have to play better than we have been playing, that’s for sure. No matter who we’re playing we’re not going to be successful unless we do that.” As Blank Sunday resisted the urge to immediately fire everyone in sight, does that, I wondered, amount to a vote of confidence in this staff? We’re big on votes of confidence in this business. Assume nothing, not with a season so off kilter as this. “It’s not a vote of anything,” Blank said. “I’m sharing my feelings. It’s not a vote of anything.”
  17. Interesting article in the local "rag" today by Sierra Webster. I knew that our short yardage offense wasn't stout the last 3 seasons, but I didn't realize that the Falcons couldn't convert on 3rd and 1 seven times in Super Bowl LI. Forgive me for saying that things might have been different if we had converted just 1 of those! Hopefully, it's now fixed. GO FALCONS!!!!
  18. If DOL put it in print, it's got to be true. Seriously though, what DQ says here makes sense, but it's probably not the total truth. I'm not sure we'll see the "true" Falcons defense until we play Minnesota Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the defense is not switching to a 3-4 alignment. There has been a lot of conjecture in cyberspace – from the self-anointed Twitter coordinators – that the team is switching to a 3-4 because Quinn has been experimenting with standing up the defensive ends. When asked if he was switching to the 3-4 on Thursday, Quinn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “No.” What Quinn is doing is getting the defense ready for eight games where they play mobile quarterbacks who run read-option packages or zone-read running quarterbacks. The Falcons play the Eagles (Carson Wentz) on Sept. 15, the Titans (Marcus Mariota) on Sept. 22, the Texans (Deshaun Watson) on Oct. 6, the Cardinals (Kyler Murray) on Oct. 13, the Seahawks (Russell Wilson) on Oct. 27, the Panthers twice (Cam Newton) of Nov. 17 and Dec 8) and Jacksonville (Nick Foles) on Dec. 22. ‘”What’s happening so much more from the (late 90s and early 2000s) is that the tight ends move so much,” Quinn said. “Then with the element of some of the teams that are going to do zone-read with the mobile quarterbacks, it’s easier to play them up than from down.” Quinn, who will call the defense this season, plans to continue to look at the tweak of the 4-3 alignment over the exhibition season. “I want them to see some things with all of this movement as opposed to being down and the crack (back) blocks with people trying to get the ball on the edge,” Quinn said. “We are going to try it and I’m not sure where I’m all the way at with it until I go through some (exhibition) season games.”
  19. https://www.ajc.com/sports/falcons-ring-honor-bartkowski-resets-very-good-life-montana/brfAxs7JWIC1qR7ZTlTh5N/ The Big Hole River wends 150 miles through southwest Montana without a single dam to stop it. Left purely to its own imagination, it cleaves the land whimsically, in random twists and bends, as if its course were drawn in finger paint at the pre-K stage of creation. It is one of the world’s great water features, its banks giving way to copses of willow and cottonwood, wispy fields of wild grass, rocky outcrops that appear almost in ambush around the next turn of the river. At the most memorable places, the scenery comes with the distant backdrop of mountain peaks, here in July still wearing traces of the snow that feeds the river’s flow. Steve Bartkowski, he with an everlasting place on the Falcons’ Ring of Honor, the franchise’s first quarterback who left a mark, was at the moment concerned with a very small, very specific section of the Big Hole. His son Pete worked the oars of the drift boat, keeping Pops in range of where they figured the fish were. They figured correctly. For suddenly, Bartkowski’s flyrod was bent and shivering with a fish just realizing that the presumed insect it attacked had other plans. Bartkowski held the rod high, keeping the pressure on, while retrieving line by hand and closing the gap between fisherman and fish a few inches at a time. He’d not take much credit in the brief post-catch review – “I did everything I could to lose it,” Bartkowski would say. But proof otherwise was soon beside the boat, and officially netted. A fine brown trout, whose name does no service to the iridescent gold of its belly nor the pointillist display of red and black on its flanks. It is like naming a ruby a “red rock.” Posing unwillingly for a few photos, and measured at 19-1/2 inches – “It’s 20 inches, we round up,” Bartkowski insisted with a smile – the beautiful fish was then given back to the water. Bartkowski tries hard to explain the draw of this part of the world, the attraction that ultimately has won him over from the big city where he could have just spent the rest of his life comfortably wrapped in the shawl of his football fame. A man seldom at a loss for something to say, he finds that words can fail him on this subject. “People all want to know what it’s like, they say, tell me what it’s like out there. What’s the attraction?” he said. “I start to try to describe it and I just can’t come up with the words. I tell them you just got to come out here and see it, come out here and experience it. It’s like trying to describe a sunset to a blind man.” The better explanation comes in the snapshot of Bartkowski and a brown trout meeting on the Big Hole River, the kind of moment of natural simplicity that makes him most happy. It’s not all lazy days of fishing and hunting, because this also is a working life out here for the Bartkowskis – Steve, his wife, Sandee, and son Pete. They run the Ruby Drake Lodge, a compound consisting of a main lodge building and five tidy cabins, all of a pine-paneled, mounted-animals-on-the-wall theme. It’s an enterprise built on sharing wilderness with the paying guests, many of them on retreat from the corporate world and many coming from the Southeast, where Bartkowski built so many ties. Pete’s the guide, the one responsible for navigating the five trout rivers within range of the lodge and the wide valleys when it turns hunting season. “Pete has taught me so much about fly-fishing that I could have never learned on my own,” his dad said. “He’s the teacher, and I’m the student now.” Sandee brought the necessary style and taste when it came to revitalizing a lodge that had fallen into grimy disrepair. Steve is the CEO in charge of public relations, a good name and a big personality that comes in handy when fishing for customers. You need someone to maybe scramble an egg in the morning, drag a dead, decomposing skunk out from beneath one of the cabins (that really happened) or wash and dry the dishes, he’ll do that, too. They all are a very long way from Buckhead, indeed. As a young man Bartkowski came to Atlanta as the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in 1975, a big, blond promise of better days for a franchise that had spent the previous nine seasons of its existence on the outside of the playoffs. He played 11 seasons in Atlanta and lived to tell about it. Cultivated for a town hungry for a hip sporting personality was the persona of “Peachtree Bart.” As a 66-year-old, Bartkowski is the antithesis of all things urban and slick. Peachtree Bart now lives off a dusty gravel road, the view out his front door an alfalfa field, that when newly mown draws herds of deer and squadrons of hungry hawks looking for the varmints flushed from cover. Welcome to one of those where-are-they-now stories that always seem to surprise fans who have frozen a favorite player in another time, another place, another image, another body. He has taken many forms in his 66 years. He was the dashing two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who took the Falcons to their first three playoff appearances and led the NFL in touchdown passes in 1980. He has produced outdoors TV programming that showed up on The Nashville Network and ESPN. He invented a $3 million made-for-TV golf tournament that had a very brief run. He has survived colon cancer and potentially fatal blood clots after a dual knee transplant. He made a career for himself with the Atlanta firm, DPR Construction, with which he still has ties. And, now, here he is, in a place where the nearest town – Twin Bridges – contains 300 souls and where a traffic jam is defined as waiting for a rancher to move his herd to the other side of the road. This is a place where you can’t throw an elkwing caddis brown dry fly without hitting a Lewis and Clark historical marker, and still maintains just a hint of frontier. This is the setting of his last act, Bartkowski figures. “There is no question about it, my ashes will be dumped right out there in the Ruby River,” he said, nodding toward the gentle stream that runs directly behind the lodge. “I’ve already requested that of Pete, and he said, Dad, no time soon, please.” It was Pete who led the way west. Both he and Bartkowski’s eldest son Phil had followed their father into jobs with the construction company. By 2014, though, Pete was growing increasingly dissatisfied, to the point that he abruptly called an audible at 31. He’d finish one last big job, then pack what he could in his car and head to Montana. “I didn’t have a plan. My plan was to keep driving that way,” Pete said. The family dream of owning a little piece of Montana had gotten as far as buying some riverfront land. But finding the money to actually build on it was proving difficult. That’s where Pete headed, pitching a tent on the property in April and freezing his ideals off. The morning a moose poked its head through the tent flaps was a sign that he might need something more permanent. Pete supported himself working construction in Montana, but events were lining up to push him outdoors. His godmother died and unexpectedly left him $10,000, money he could have used in any number of practical ways. Or just enough to buy a drift boat and scratch an itch he had to become a fly-fishing guide. He got the drift boat. And enter Jim Cox Kennedy, the Chairman of Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He’s a friend of the Bartkowskis, a big outdoorsman and Montana-phile. Kennedy had another vision of Pete. There was this lodge on his property that needed resurrecting, and Pete might be just the fellow to give it new energy and new purpose. Leading Pete to ask, um, mom and dad, could you come help? “I’d never run a lodge either,” Steve said. “I do know what hospitality is, and I do know a lot about lodges. I think we put together a pretty good team. Give people a nice destination where they feel comfortable. At the end of the day those are the things you can control. Whether or not the fish bite on any given day, you’re at the mercy of the fish.” He was an easy sell, for his son’s plea to come west was like an answered prayer. “I would sneak out here as much as I possibly could (through the years) and every time I got on the plane to go back to Atlanta or wherever I had to go, I would beat myself up. Why are you leaving? Why are you going back?” Bartkowski said. “You can only take so many years of that self-peppering before you finally say this is where I need to be. “Here we are through a series of just-short-of-miraculous events. I’m living the dream.” Sandee, a native Atlantan, had to go a few rounds with the idea. This man she met at an Atlanta racquetball club (remember those?) in the late 1970s was all these years later asking her to move somewhere so remote and far away that it could be another country. A photographer and graphic artist, she was going to have to put all that largely on simmer while renovating a lodge, re-branding the whole business and then giving full attention to running an outdoorsy B&B. “I wondered, oh, gosh, can I do this?” Sandee said. The answer came on an October visit to Montana. “The Aspens were shimmering. The sky was blue. The air was crisp. It was like I heard the voice of God saying, ‘You got a problem with this?” Leasing the lodge and renting a home from Kennedy, the Bartkowskis are in their third summer in Montana (while Pete wintered, his parents can escape to a Hawaiian condo or, like this year, hang around Atlanta and a Super Bowl scene). Montana is a stoic, broad-shouldered place, slow to accept outsiders. But, as Sandee said, “We’ve found something here, a real solitude, a real community.” “I’ve never seen Steve so happy,” she added. “He cooks and cleans and loves it.” (Fixing a brisket for the next night’s meal, the former Pro Bowl quarterback found himself up at 3 in the morning, preparing it for the smoker). For all his medical mishaps, the old football player said he is in surprisingly good health now. Although, with fingers that had been regularly stomped and otherwise displaced, it can be difficult to thread line through the opening on a fly that is about as minute as the commas in this sentence. And out here, so far away from the source of his football fame, a man almost never has to think about January 1981, and what was the Falcons’ most painful playoff loss until a certain blown 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Almost. Of the day that Dallas scored 20 in the fourth quarter to beat the Falcons 30-27 in the NFC playoffs, Bartkowski said, “I’m miles away from it, but that’s one of those scabs I’ve got still. That was our chance. We had the best team in the NFL that year.” He’ll still follow certain Atlanta favorites. He loves the Braves and believes his old NFL team is poised to make some serious noise this season. But closer to his current home – the place he chose, not the one that chose him – they play a little ball, too. And on fall Fridays, he might be found on the sideline cheering. It’s high school football to scale, where because of the lack of bodies, they play eight-on-eight. Sometimes, big changes can come with little, almost snickering hints of the familiar. Sometimes, a sign that you might just be where you’re meant to be is posted on a road leading into a Montana mapspeck. Because, like the sign says, this place that Bartkowski now calls home also is home to the Twin Bridges Falcons.
  20. @Vandy This regarding our conversation earlier. I feel you. And the more I read about Oliver and Q. Williams....well. A look at Dimitroff’s draft-day trading record 2008, Round 1, Pick 3: Matt Ryan, quarterback, became the starter as a rookie and has set franchise marks for yards and touchdowns. Where is he now? In 2018, Ryan became the first NFL player to earn $30 million per year. Ryan - who hasn't missed a start since December 2009 - is the only remaining member of Dimitroff's first draft class still on the active roster. Falcons March 22, 2019 By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution When the Falcons are on the clock, you have to keep your head on a draft-day swivel. In each of the past 11 drafts, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made a trade. It could be a big trade (Julio Jones deal) or it could be a small one (moving up to get Russell Gage in the sixth round last year). But there’s going to be a trade. Here’s a look at Dimitroff’s draft-day trades over the years. 2018: The Falcons traded with the Rams to move up to get a sixth-round pick No. 194 (Russell Gage) and gave up two seventh-round picks, 244 (Justin Lawler, DE, SMU) and 256 (traded to Redskins). 2017: The Falcons traded up with Seattle to get the 26th pick overall (Takkarist McKinley) and gave up the 31st pick (traded to 49ers), third round No. 95 (Delano Hill, S, Michigan), seventh round No. 249 (Chris Carson, RB, Oklahoma State, Parkview High). The Falcons traded down with the Buffalo Bills, dealing their No. 63 overall pick (Deion Dawkins, G, Temple) for Buffalo’s No. 75 (Duke Riley, LB, LSU), No. 149 (Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State) and No. 156 picks (Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming). 2016: The Falcons traded back into the second round with the Texans. The moved from 50 to 52 (Deion Jones) and picked up a sixth-round pick (195th), which turned into Wes Schweitzer. The Texans took offensive lineman Nick Martin with the 50th pick. The Falcons gave up their sixth-round pick to Tennessee as part of the Andy Levitre trade. 2015: The Falcons traded up nine spots to land defensive tackle Grady Jarrett in the fifth round with the 137th overall pick. They traded with the Minnesota Vikings and gave up their fifth-round pick (146) and sixth-round pick (185). The Vikings used the 146th pick to select wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the 185rh pick to select Oklahoma tackle Tyrus Thompson. Diggs made the PFWA All-Rookie team. 2014: The Falcons traded their sixth-round pick (182 overall) and one of their three seventh-round picks (220) for the Vikings’ fifth-round pick (168). They selected Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill with the pick. 2013: The Falcons traded from 30 to 22 in the first round to land cornerback Desmond Trufant. The Falcons traded with the St. Louis Rams They gave up a third- and a sixth-round pick. In the fifth round, the Falcons traded up 10 picks to get TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga. They sent a seventh-round pick (236) to the Chicago Bears. 2012: The Falcons made a trade with Baltimore to move down seven spots in the third round to take tackle Lamar Holmes. They picked up a fifth-round pick and selected defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi with the 164th overall pick. The Ravens picked up running back Bernard Pierce with the 84th pick, which the Falcons sent them. The Falcons gave up a seventh-rounder (229 overall) to the Eagles in the Asante Samuel trade. The Eagles used that pick to select running back Bryce Brown. 2011: There was the 5-for-1 mega-deal with Cleveland to move up 21 spots to land wide receiver Julio Jones. Later, in the fifth round after the spotlight was off the Falcons, Dimitroff sent two picks to St. Louis to move up 10 spots to scoop up running back Jacquizz Rodgers. 2010: Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks, who left school a year early, was slipping in the draft. Dimitroff sent two picks to St. Louis to move up 14 spots to acquire Franks. 2009: Dimitroff felt he could get his guy by going back 13 spots in the fifth round. The Falcons made a deal to send their fifth-round pick to Dallas. They moved back 13 spots and picked up a seventh-round pick for their troubles. They drafted offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds in the fifth and Vance Walker in the seventh. 2008: There was a run on left tackles. With the Falcons needing protection for Matt Ryan, Dimitroff sent two second-round picks and a fourth-round pick to Washington to move back into the first round and pick Sam Baker with the 21st overall pick. They also received third- and fifth-round picks. The Falcons used those picks to select wide receiver Harry Douglas (84th overall) and defensive end Kroy Biermann (154th).
  21. https://www.ajc.com/blog/mark-bradley/this-not-just-matt-ryan-top-shelf-quarterback/ZsYTDXVP6f7vrtGfiE7jGK/ This NOT just in: Matt Ryan is a top-shelf quarterback Nov 16, 2018 By Mark Bradley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Nov 16, 2018 The odds are against the Falcons making the playoffs, but let’s say they do. (They’ll need to beat Dallas here Sunday; let’s say they do that, too.) Should they qualify, it would mark their third consecutive postseason appearance. Know how many times in their history they’ve done that? Once – from 2010 through 2012. The quarterback then was Matt Ryan, who’s also the quarterback now. Wait. I’m not done. Know how many times the Falcons had reached the playoffs in consecutive years before Ryan showed up? Never. Over the 42 seasons predating the Matty Ice Age, this franchise reached the postseason eight times. Since he got here in 2008, they’ve done it six times. If we add the playoff runs of the second-, third- and fourth-best quarterbacks in Falcons annals – Steve Bartkowski, Michael Vick and Chris Chandler – we get six. The point being: We around here have gotten to know Matthew Thomas Ryan very well – of the Falcons’ past 179 games (counting playoffs), he has started 177, which is flat-out ridiculous – but rarely do we say out loud what’s indisputably the truth. Namely, that he’s the best player (not just the best quarterback) in franchise history. We were conditioned early to regard Ryan as what he was not. He was drafted to replace the franchise quarterback who’d gone to prison, and there were those who insisted he would never be better than Vick. (Wrong.) Then we doubted if he could lead this team to the Super Bowl. (He did.) Even now, in Year 11, we tune in ESPN and get caught up in the E-word debate – I will not type the silly word itself, but it rhymes with “petite” – and we take as gospel that Ryan, as grand as he has been, is somehow not grand enough. Meaning: He’s not Brady/Rodgers/Brees/Roethlisberger. I won’t argue that any of those four is anything less than an all-timer. Tom Brady: best ever. Aaron Rodgers: most talented QB ever. Drew Brees: apt to win his first MVP trophy at 39. Ben Roethlisberger: consummate winner. But at this moment, what is there about Ryan that relegates him, just below the favored four? You don’t need to shout. All together now: “He hasn’t won a Super Bowl.” And he hasn’t. That’s the fact, Jack. But here, not to get all Kellyanne on you, is where we offer alternative facts. In Ryan’s one Super Bowl, he was better than Brady/Rodgers/Brees/Roethlisberger were in any of theirs, and they’ve been in 13. Ryan’s passer rating Feb. 5, 2017, was 144.1, fourth-best in Super annals, trailing only Phil Simms, Joe Montana and Jim Plunkett. Those three quarterbacks saw their teams win big. Ryan’s team should have. If they played that game again, the Falcons would be more likely to prevail 42-10 than lose in overtime. That losing was some fault of Ryan’s is a big fat lie. (He didn’t touch the ball in OT, you’ll recall.) Ryan in that Super Bowl – 284 yards on 23 passes. His yards-per-attempt average was 12.3, also fourth-best in Super history. His completion percentage was 73.9, sixth-best. Brady threw for 466 yards that day, but – this remains incredible – had nearly as many incompletions (21) as Ryan did passes. Brady eventually dinked and dunked the Falcons into submission, but his passer rating (95.5) was the second-lowest of his five Super wins, and Robert Alford’s pick-6 was a big reason the Patriots trailed 28-3. Put it this way: In the biggest game of his life, Mr. Tier 2 was statistically superior to the greatest ever. And we hold that AGAINST him? This year, Ryan leads the NFL in passing yards per game. (He’s 46 YPG ahead of Brees, FYI.) Ryan is fourth in passer rating and completion percentage, tied for fourth in touchdowns. He’s not the reason the Falcons are 4-5; he’s the reason they aren’t 1-8. We once regarded his MVP season as a career year, but this one is of a piece: Yards per game and completion percentage are better; touchdowns per game are roughly the same; yards per attempt, while down from that peak, is still the second-best of his career. Career passing numbers are problematic, given how skewed the modern game is toward slinging the pig. (Fran Tarkenton retired as the career leader in passing yards; he’s not in the top 10 today.) But here, for comparative purposes, we go: Ryan is fifth in yards per game, ahead of Brady, Rodgers and Roethlisberger; he’s fifth in completion percentage, ahead of Rodgers and Brady; he’s 10th in passer rating, ahead of Roethlisberger; he’s ninth in interception percentage, ahead of Brees. Again, this isn’t to say that the Tier 1 guys don’t belong. This is only to suggest that Ryan does, too – and has for a while. This is his 11th NFL season. (That’s another thing: At 33, he’s younger than Brady/Rodgers/et al.) Ryan has worked under four offensive coordinators; should he make the Pro Bowl this season, he’ll have done it under all four. He has spent 10 years and nine games trying to outscore his own defense, which over the past decade never finished among the league’s top 10 in yards against and is third-worst now. Brady and Roethlisberger have won seven Super Bowls between them. How many would they won have won with Falcons-like defenses? And really, isn’t the issue of Super Bowl “wins” for a quarterback something a faux stat, like wins for a pitcher have become? (Jacob deGrom just took the Cy Young with 10.) The only reason Ryan isn’t a Tier 1 fixture is the lack of a Super Bowl “win” – and had his team held on that day, he’d have been the game’s MVP. (And he didn’t call the overtime coin toss wrong; the Pats called it right.) Ryan was the reason the Falcons made the Super Bowl. He’s the reason they’ve been a very good team for the better part of the past 10 years, and he’s the reason they still could make something of this one. He’s not just the best quarterback this team has had; he’s among the best there has ever been. There, I’ve said it.
  22. https://www.ajc.com/blog/mike-check/falcons-not-half-bad-defense-and-getting-better/vHQhGn6nkqrHO8I7PHZXwI/ Falcons not half bad on defense, and getting better 1 hour ago By Michael Cunningham FLOWERY BRANCH — Halfway through the season the Falcons aren’t half bad on defense. If that seems like faint praise, you should have seen them before. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel warned us after two Pro Bowl starters from last season, linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, went to injured reserve after the first game. “Next man up” sounds nice in theory. Manuel offered a dose of reality. “I sat here after that first Philly game and I said we had some devastating blows, and that’s what they were,” Manuel said. “I don’t think that anyone really listened to me when I said we are going back to training-camp mode. I said that, (took) a lot of heat for it. But it was not just that we had young guys, but we had new guys. “New voices. Guys that weren’t even in our training camp.” The second training camp seems to be over for Manuel’s charges. After a month of bad defense, the Falcons (4-4) go to Cleveland on Sunday with a unit that no longer is a liability. It’s doubtful that will change against Cleveland’s poor offense, quarterbacked by rookie Baker Mayfield. There’s renewed optimism surrounding the Falcons’ defense. That’s not just because it’s playing better, with Sunday’s 38-14 victory at Washington as the high point. It’s also because reinforcements are arriving. Last week the Falcons saw defensive tackle Grady Jarrett return from injury and wreck Washington’s interior line. This week they added free agent Bruce Irvin. According to Pro Football Focus, Irwin was a more efficient pass rusher in eight games with the Raiders than any of his new teammates. Jones has returned to practice and is eligible to play next week against the Cowboys. The Falcons usually can depend on their offense to play at a high level. Now they can legitimately expect their defense to carry its weight, which isn’t as heavy. “We are starting to come together as a unit,” said veteran defensive tackle Jack Crawford, among the defenders to raise their play. “We are coming together more in practice. Grady coming back helped. We’ve peaked as far as where we were at (earlier) this year. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go.” At least the Falcons can see a path to being good on defense. The Falcons were adequate on defense in a victory over the Panthers in Week 2, then struggled to get any stops while losing their next three games. Excluding kneel-downs, the Saints, Bengals and Steelers combined to score on 19 of 30 drives, including 15 touchdowns. During that span the Falcons forced only eight punts and two turnovers. It seemed the story of the 2018 Falcons would be injuries derailing a potentially promising season. The Falcons were undermanned and some of their veterans were in disarray. Defensive backs Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Brian Poole weren’t playing up to their usual standards. The pass rush was inconsistent, with Vic Beasley Jr. gone missing. Things began to change against Tampa Bay. The Falcons were very good on defense through three quarters as the offense sputtered. The Falcons hung on because the defense made key stops -- if just barely -- and it was the first time you could say that unit won a game. The defense was better against the Giants: four punts forced in eight full New York possessions, plus a goal-line stand. The Falcons shut down Washington early, then went wild once they got a big lead. “You see the Tampa game, boom, that happened,” Manuel said. “You watched New York — told you about red-zone defense. And then you go consistently stop Adrian Peterson to two yards per carry, when we couldn’t stop the run (before). You take your hat off to the guys.” Even with Irwin and their improving health, the Falcons aren’t likely to be great on defense over a long period. They don’t have to be. The defense must be considered as part of a whole, working in concert with the offense and special teams to produce winning football. We’ve seen how that works. It’s easy to forget that the 2016 Falcons, the NFC champions, weren’t great on defense. That season the Falcons ranked 25th in yards allowed per game, 27th in points and tied for fourth in takeaways. After eight games the 2018 Falcons ranked 28th in yards allowed, 29th in points and tied for 13th in takeaways. You can draw a line from the lack of turnovers this season to Neal and Jones playing in one game each. The Falcons have forced one fumble in eight games. Neal, a punishing tackler, forced five in 2016. Passes defended are a good proxy for interception chances. Jones had 11 passes defended in 2016, second-most on the team. He had two in this season’s opener, which still is tied for the most among the team’s linebackers, though Jones hasn’t played in seven weeks. By the end of the 2016 season, the Falcons had improved enough on defense to support a great offense on the way to the Super Bowl. That’s not likely to happen again this season. This offense can’t match that all-time great production, and the defense won’t be getting back Neal or safety Ricardo Allen. Then again, after those first five weeks, who thought the Falcons had a chance to play halfway good defense this season? It should only get better from here.
  23. https://www.myajc.com/sports/football/beasley-plotting-with-quinn-get-back-the-sack-attack-train/SGmbI0oI9sFoageWUBXwpI/ I really hope this helps because Beasley talent wise is one of the most talented rushers the NFL has had .... More active hands alone would be HUGE to his game. Co,e on Coach... We need Vic more consistent
  24. https://www.ajc.com/blog/mike-check/pass-rush-wasn-really-the-problem-for-falcons-against-saints/YLBIyHoxIKWeZjmpIWNQWM/ Im glad some one pointed this out... This is what i was trying to point out last night when i was getting hit with..... Everybody gets hit with injuries..... Man this scheme depends on Deion Jones soooooooooo much tho... Its just not the same... Thats no excuse but its not the same The saints did not do anyyyything special.... The LBs and Dbs just does not have the instincts to read thru the play like Deion Jones Without Deion Jones Just for example.... With Deion jones Just examples... Deion Jones sniffed thru the BS with the WRs and sniffed out the plays..... So a 3 or 4 yard gain was just that .... But yesterday.. a 3 or 4 yard catch was a 12-15 yard gain
  25. Full disclosure.....it’s a bedwetter article. Skim the Falcons’ roster, and note where your eyes stall. While searching for the staples and prominent newcomers, it’s possible to overlook someone such as Richard “Dewey” Jarvis, an undrafted free agent out of Brown. Even diehard football fans might have missed out on Jarvis’ collegiate performance. This isn’t surprising, given that Brown is far more known for turning out neurosurgeons and Nobel Prize winners than linebackers. Only 28 players from the eight teams in the Ivy League are active in the NFL. But the NFL was not at the top of Jarvis’ priorities when he accepted an offer to play football and attend college in Providence, Rhode Island. The Watertown, Massachusetts, native felt the school gave him an opportunity to excel in academics and athletics. He wanted to play his favorite sport while working toward a biology degree that would eventually lead to medical school. So even though Brown football doesn't get the same reaction as other Division I schools, Jarvis felt it was the perfect outlet for his abilities. While his mother, Karla Jarvis, shared the sentiment, she celebrated her son’s decision for a slightly different reason. There aren’t any athletic scholarships at Brown, and Jarvis thought she might be able to “pressure” her son into walking away from the sport. The hope of Dewey Jarvis abandoning football stemmed from concerns that date to his childhood. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker was born with Hirschsprung's disease, a developmental disorder that affects the colon. Roughly one in 5,000 infants are born with it, and while treatments have become more advanced in recent years, little was known about the condition when Jarvis was young. Like any parent, Karla Jarvis wanted to protect her child from anything that could negatively affect his health. After spending the first two years of his life in and out of the hospital, she was adamant that he wouldn’t play football. But Jarvis fell in love with the sport while watching on Sundays with his grandfather, and his mom’s refusal didn’t stop him from asking again and again, even if he did “miss sign-ups” every season. “He wanted to play Pop Warner football, and I thought that was too physical,” Karla Jarvis remembered. “There was too much risk for him, so we always found an excuse to not register him. He was away at camp or we missed the deadline or, ‘Really, there’s a Pop Warner? What is that?’” she laughed. Eventually, Jarvis wised up to his mom’s tactics and got some help from Chris Butler, the head football coach at Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Massachusetts, who convinced Jarvis’ mom to let Dewey play with the promise that “not a hair on his head” would get hurt. As a freshman in high school, Jarvis joined the ninth-grade team and was a natural. As a tight end and a defensive end, he played nearly every down and rarely left the field. “He was one of those kids who never realized when he was playing how good he really was. He was so humble about his abilities,” Butler said. The gridiron wasn’t the only place Jarvis excelled. He played basketball, ran track, played piano, took advanced-placement courses and was a member of the National Honor Society. He was the total package, and recruiters at Brown knew they had found someone special. Defensive coordinator, Michael Kelleher, and linebackers coach, Neil McGrath worked closely with Jarvis during his collegiate career. He initially was brought in as a linebacker and received playing time on special teams as a freshman, but a nagging knee injury resulted in a redshirt his second season. After undergoing a tibial tubercle osteotomy to improve kneecap stability, Jarvis continued to progress and had a breakout season in 2016. Playing at defensive end after a position change, he led the Ivy League and ranked ninth nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss. He returned in 2017 to take advantage of the redshirt season and finished his collegiate run with 17.5 sacks to rank second all-time at Brown. “There was no more dominating player who played every snap (and) not only dominated his position but dominated the defense in the Ivy League,” Kelleher said. “He plays every play like it’s his last.” That work ethic combined with steady improvement on every rep earned Jarvis an invite to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, alongside players from some of the top FBS teams. “It was a completely different world going and playing with SEC players and Pac-12 players,” he said. “It was an awesome introduction into what I’m doing now because I got to see those guys that were getting selected first round, second round.” During the draft, Jarvis and his mother watched as some of his Senior Bowl teammates were selected. When his name wasn’t called, she thought her son was headed to medical school, but a call from his agent meant there was a choice to be made. Despite his mom’s preference for stethoscopes over shoulder pads, Jarvis decided to continue his athletic career, and the pursuit of playing football professionally led him to the Falcons. But even if more extraordinary achievements lie ahead for Jarvis, his mother remains firm in her stance on the sport. “I just want to be clear. My position about football has not changed at all,” she said. “But I have from Day 1 always been a Dewey Jarvis fan. In fact, I think I’m his No. 1 fan, so no matter what he does, I would give him my full support. Football is what he wants to do. He’s happy doing it. I’m all for it. But I am not a football mom. I am Dewey’s mom.” As far as the opinions of the rest of the Jarvis household, Karla Jarvis says she is on an island by herself. She looks forward to the day her son turns his attention to medicine, but she will be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium at least once a year. “I will absolutely be there at one game,” she said. “That’s our deal. I have to go to one game a season. I can’t watch it. Whenever someone tackles him or touches him, I’m ready to run onto the field and say, ‘Hey! That’s my son!’ We’ve agreed to one game a season, and I’ll settle for my one game.” Of course, the deal only applies if Jarvis remains with the team into the regular season, and though he is focusing solely on improving his game at this point, his other option isn’t necessarily a downgrade. Dewey Jarvis, MD has a nice ring to it, too.
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