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Found 6 results

  1. The Falcons sit at 6-4 and are still in the playoff race, but this season has definitely felt like a series of underwhelming performances. For many fans, it was even more frustrating because they would argue that the Falcons have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Well, according to PFF and their latest power rankings, that belief is justified. For those who don’t know, PFF (Pro Football Focus) is an advanced stats site that covers the NFL and college football. Their statistics are used all over the league and are heavily referenced during Sunday Night Football games. They aren’t perfect (no statistics are), but they do give a pretty good idea of how guys performed and the quality of players over the course of a season. In their latest power rankings (Falcons are ranked 5th), they dropped this gem that caught the eye of yours truly: For those who don’t know, PFF (Pro Football Focus) is an advanced stats site that covers the NFL and college football. Their statistics are used all over the league and are heavily referenced during Sunday Night Football games. They aren’t perfect (no statistics are), but they do give a pretty good idea of how guys performed and the quality of players over the course of a season. In their latest power rankings (Falcons are ranked 5th), they dropped this gem that caught the eye of yours truly: It certainly helps that you have perennial pro-bowlers like Julio Jones and Matt Ryan on the field, but second year starters Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell have all graded out very well this year. When you add in players like Grady Jarrett, Adrian Clayborn, Alex Mackand Devonta Freeman to the mix, it’s easy to see how this roster does “grade” highly. So why the struggles this year? Special teams can certainly be considered a factor, as well as some fluky as **** turnovers. In fact, even though he has 8 interceptions on the year, PFF has said that Ryan leads the league in fewest interceptable passes. His luck with tips and drops this year has been mind-blowing. We’ve often said this roster is too talented to struggle for too long, and recent games give us reason to believe they may be turning the corner. This is a roster that can compete with any in the league and these PFF rankings only cement that belief further.
  2. The Falcons’ most underrated defender is... All of our staff picks are from the team’s secondary. by Jeanna Thomas@jeannathomas Nov 16, 2017, 4:04pm EST Matt Chambers: Atlanta’s most underrated defender is Ricardo Allen. Atlanta’s secondary has gotten a whole lot of flak this season, which is crazy because there are playmakers at each position. The most underrated here is definitely Allen. We saw what the defense looked like when he was hurt, and I don’t want to see that ever again. He’s a tough hitter with great speed to patrol the center of the field, and does not get enough credit. Jeanna Thomas: Ricardo Allen doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Look no farther than the defensive lapses while Allen was out with a concussion. His role at free safety is more than just playing the position. The team relies on him to be that big-play eraser, but also keep the rest of the defense on track. Don’t underestimate the respect Allen has earned from his teammates and what his leadership means in that locker room, either. He’s fundamentally important to the Falcons defense. DW: Stop hating on Robert Alford ya losers Of all the players on this defense, Alford seems to get an inordinate amount of hate. His season started poorly for certain, but he has gotten better with each game played. He was a key factor in shutting down the Cowboys passing offense and is regularly in a position to make plays on the ball. His penalties always seem to get the most attention, but he regularly shuts down receivers for large stretches of the game. He’s not a perfect player, but he’s far better than most fans give him credit for. Dave Choate: It’s Desmond Trufant, somehow. Trufant regularly gets ripped for his mistakes, which are often minor, and I’ve seen suggestions that he be demoted/traded/released/fired into the sun this year. It boggles my mind, because Tru is simply one of the better cornerbacks in football, same as he has always been. As long as that misguided vitriol keeps up, he’ll be one of the most underrated Falcons.
  3. Falcons post-draft roster review: Defensive Line by EricJRobinson May 24, 2017, 8:00am EDT Since day one of the Dan Quinn era, the mantra of “Fast and Physical” Falcons football was destined to be seen vividly on the defensive side. More in particular, the defensive line. Going back to those Seattle Seahawks defenses in 2013-14 that were ran by Quinn, while the “Legion of Boom” secondary bathed in the limelight, the defensive line was more of the engine of the entire defense. The same goes for the current day Falcons. Quinn’s vision is to implement that mentality across the entire defense but the defensive line is where all the attention goes to. This past season, the defense racked up 34 sacks, which was a significant jump from the lackluster 19 sacks in 2015. The Falcoholic roster review now turns its pages to the talented and deep defensive line. Current Depth Chart Starters: Brooks Reed, Dontari Poe, Grady Jarrett, Ra’Shede Hageman Reserves: Takkarist McKinley (R), Derrick Shelby, Courtney Upshaw, Jack Crawford, Adrian Clayborn Special Packages: Vic Beasley Jr. After the establishment of Quinn as head coach, he has acquired or drafted nine of the 10 players listed above. Which goes to show the amount of work has been done to this unit since early 2015. Now the group as a whole has depth, girth, speed, and finally, versatility. A vital component to the unit’s effectiveness. In 2016, the team was led in sacks by strong side linebacker Vic Beasley Jr, who also led the league in the same category with 15.5. His progression this upcoming season will firmly establish Beasley as one of the league’s premier pass rushers. While listed as a linebacker on the depth chart, he does join the defensive line on pass rushing situations as a nickel defensive end. Offenses are now focused on stopping Beasley which makes the addition of Takkarist McKinley, 2017 26th overall pick, even more complicated for opponents. The 265-lb defensive end is a bolt of lightning on the field and on the microphone. His attributes matches the “Fast and Physical” perception the team is painting. The Falcons also received a gift in free agency this offseason by signing 346-lb defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The two-time Pro Bowler makes the defensive line even more scarier especially when you pair him alongside the quick Grady Jarrett, who posted three sacks in Super Bowl LI. Poe was promised to see a step back in game snaps during negotiations and that will save some wear on the massive defender, resulting in fresh legs for late game scenarios. Both Derrick Shelby and Adrian Clayborn suffered key injuries last season at various points which made them spectators during the Super Bowl. But both also have important roles going forward as the Falcons have a tendency to slide defensive ends into the interior on pass rushing downs to provide a little more quickness closer to the quarterback. The two also showed flashes during the season of being relied on the create pressure. Former Dallas Cowboy Jack Crawford fits that same formula as he was signed to a three-year deal this offseason. Late in the season, the team got a boost from 2014 draftee Ra’Shede Hageman. The scheme favors Hageman as it allows him to focus on gap penetration and attacking from the interior. All in all, there are enough ingredients here to make what was once an eyesore of a unit to one this is a concern to opposing coaches. 2017 outlook Versatility. The first thing that comes to mind when speaking on the Falcons defensive line. The missed opportunity in the Super Bowl sparked Quinn and the front office to be aggressive this offseason, especially when it comes to the defensive line. Veterans such as Brooks Reed and Courtney Upshaw help fill out the group entirely and will give the unit more chess pieces to disrupt. There is a clear emphasis within this group. That is to attack offensive lines with speed and athleticism (Beasley, McKinley), versatility and strength (Shelby, Clayborn, Crawford) and power with unique nimbleness (Jarrett, Poe, Hageman, Upshaw). Health is a factor here also and if all are relatively healthy, there is potential that this unit alone can be one of the more impressive groups in the league. On the result of the Falcons improving greatly as a defensive unit, the line may have great influence on that success.
  4. UDFAs to watch during the Falcons’ rookie minicamp There are a lot of relatively unknown players participating in the Falcons’ rookie minicamp this weekend. Here are a few interesting names to keep an eye on. by Kevin Knight@FalcoholicKevin May 12, 2017, 12:00pm EDT We’ve, unfortunately, reached the relatively quiet time of year between the conclusion of the NFL draft and the beginning of training camp. News and topics of interest are few and far between throughout these dark times. Luckily for us, there are a few diversions scattered here and there. One of those is rookie minicamp. For those who aren’t aware, rookie minicamp is the first opportunity for rookies (and UDFAs, along with tryout players) to work with their new team’s coaching staff. It’s not incredibly meaningful in the grand scheme of things, but occasionally there are interesting tidbits of information that come out of the practices. Namely, you’d like to see your drafted rookies impress early. They’re going up against practice squad-caliber competition (or worse) for the most part, so they should be looking pretty good. However, there are always UDFA “diamonds-in-the-rough” that emerge each offseason, and rookie minicamp is their chance to stand-out from the rest of the crop before going up against seasoned NFL players. Here are a few of the UDFA players that I’ve found interesting. Keep an eye out for their names among the reports coming out this weekend. G/T Robert Leff - Auburn Leff was a late bloomer at Auburn that didn’t make a name for himself until his senior year, where he started all 13 games at right tackle. At 6’6, 299, he’s big enough to play on the outside, but his best fit in the NFL is likely at guard. PFF listed him as their #3 overall UDFA, and have lauded his run-blocking abilities as among the best in the class. He struggles in pass protection at times, particularly with length and power, but those weaknesses will be mitigated if he moves inside to guard. Leff may be the most polished UDFA offensive lineman the Falcons have, and with few veteran options available, he could sneak onto the roster as a back-up with G/T flexibility. OT Andreas Knappe - UConn If Leff is a polished prospect with limited physical upside, Knappe is the opposite. At 6’8, 311, Knappe is a monster of a man. He played three seasons at right tackle for UConn, starting every game in the final two. Knappe has all the traits you look for in an offensive tackle, but he’s extremely raw at this point. He’s also apparently the first Danish player to join the NFL since Morten Andersen. His physical gifts make him an intriguing fit for this offense. The Falcons have shown they’re patient enough to develop massive offensive linemen into capable starters (Ryan Schraeder, anyone?) and Knappe fits that profile perfectly. He’s a long-shot to make the 53-man roster, but Knappe should be a favorite for a practice squad spot. FB Tyler Renew - Citadel With the Falcons moving on from Patrick DiMarco this offseason, the team has been bringing in players to compete for the FB vacancy. Renew is an intriguing player that mostly played a halfback or “up-back” position in Citadel’s triple-option offense. At 5’11, 231, he’s certainly large enough to make the transition to a blocking role. He also ran a 4.57-forty, which is pretty impressive for such a large back. He had some impressive stats his senior year, including 1086 yards and 4 TDs. While he didn’t catch the ball often, he did make the most of his opportunities: his 5 receptions in 2016 went for 120 yards and 2 TDs—a whopping 24.0 yards per catch. Renew actually reminds me quite a bit of DiMarco, and I think he’s got a legitimate chance to wind up as the Falcons’ FB in 2017. QB Alek Torgerson - Penn It seems like the Falcons add a developmental QB from an Ivy League school almost every offseason. This year is no different, with the physically impressive Alek Torgerson from Penn. Torgerson (6’3, 230) has the ideal build for an NFL QB, with very impressive arm strength and a productive college career. He’s also athletic enough to make plays on the run, and is by all accounts a very hard worker in the film room. That’s good, because he’ll need to work very hard this offseason to have a shot at sticking around. Penn ran a simplified system with very little put on the QB’s shoulders—which means a serious adjustment for Torgerson to a pro-style system. Still, he’s got genuine arm talent, and his physical traits make him an ideal guy to stash and develop on the practice squad. LB Jermaine Grace - Miami Grace is an interesting story: he led the Hurricanes in tackles during the 2015 season, and was then dismissed for NCAA rules violations in 2016. Instead of trying to play again in 2017, Grace declared for the NFL draft. That’s an interesting strategy, but it appears the Falcons found his skillset intriguing enough to give him a shot as an UDFA. That aforementioned skillset is pretty impressive. He’s very good in coverage, and was an impressive athlete for Miami in 2015. The primary knock on him is size: Grace is listed at 5’11, 209. However, the Falcons have shown that they aren’t afraid to play “undersized” LBs. If Grace can bulk up into the 220s, he has a legitimate shot to earn a back-up spot at LB. He’s also shown himself to be capable on special teams, which helps his chances of sticking around. DE/LB Darius English - South Carolina English is a player that I expected to be drafted late on Day 3, but wound up falling out entirely. I’m surprised, as English has real potential as a pass rushing specialist with pretty good length (6’6, 245). However, he’s atrocious against the run and unrefined in his technique. His weight has also been a consistent problem throughout his career, and he’ll likely need to bulk up to survive in the NFL. Despite all that, English has a potential future in the NFL in a LEO-type role. He’s got the athleticism to succeed in space, and has shown flashes of coverage ability during his career. With some development and time in the weight room, English could become a rotational pass rusher in the NFL. He’s got a legitimate chance at the practice squad if he proves he’s willing to work hard. WR Garrett Scantling - Georgia Perhaps the biggest wild-card in the entire UDFA crop, Garrett Scantling hasn’t even played football since high school. He was a member of the Georgia track and field team from 2012-2016, and came extremely close to qualifying for the Rio Olympics. Scantling is a pure athlete at this point in his career, but Quinn has clearly seen something in him that piqued his interest. Scantling is coming into camp as a WR (the position he played—to some success—in high school), but it is expected that he will be a major player in the competition for punt and/or kick returner. It’s pretty unlikely Scantling goes directly from track and field to an NFL roster, but he has a real chance at sticking on the practice squad if he shows potential during training camp. What do you think about these particular UDFAs? Do you have any players that you’re keeping an eye on during rookie minicamp? Who do you think has the best shot of making the roster this offseason?
  5. Will the Falcons use Brooks Reed more as a linebacker in 2017? The roster, as currently constructed, suggests that outcome. by Dave Choate Mar 21, 2017 Let’s take a brief look at the Falcons roster and see how many players will be logging time at defensive end in 2017, shall we? Vic Beasley Adrian Clayborn Derrick Shelby Jack Crawford Courtney Upshaw Probably an early round rookie draft pick Brooks Reed That’s likely seven names. Out of all of those players, only Beasley and perhaps the rookie in question are going to be able to log time at linebacker, as the other guys figure to be more inside-out defensive linemen who are options at defensive tackle. Now let’s look at the list of players who figure to be featured at linebacker. Deion Jones De’Vondre Campbell LaRoy Reynolds Kemal Ishmael Josh Keyes That grouping is considerably less deep. Reynolds is a solid linebacker and special teams asset, Ishmael looked interesting at linebacker last year, and Keyes has some promise. That group is missing a clear cut third starter for when the Falcons have three linebackers at the field at once, and could use more depth. Enter Brooks Reed. He spent much of last year playing defensive end, occasionally excelling and mostly just playing solid football there. He’s going to get snaps regardless at end, but he’s got a ton of experience at linebacker, and there’s a clearer path to playing time available to him there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, and Brooks Reed on the field together on obvious run downs, and it might be the optimal situation unless the Falcons land a linebacker on Day 1 or Day 2 in April. If Reed can’t get on the field at linebacker, chances are he’ll be lightly used, and probably on the chopping block this time next season. We’ll see what his summer brings.
  6. I posted the entire article for anyone who may have trouble getting the link to work. If you can, go to the article to give them their "clicks". - Goober The Falcons had a historic offensive season in 2016, capped off by a Super Bowl berth and an MVP trophy for QB Matt Ryan. There were numerous contributors to that unprecedented level of success: a very good offensive line, a dangerous two-headed backfield, and a quartet of capable TEs. But perhaps the most important factor in that offensive explosion was the deep and talented WR corps. For a unit led by All-Universe WR Julio Jones, it’s hard to be “under-the-radar”. But that’s exactly what they were before the season began. Outside of Jones and big free agent pick-up Mohamed Sanu (who was referred to as a “bust” by members of the media), the Falcons didn’t possess any well-known talent at the position. That all changed during the season. Now this rag-tag group of misfits is in contention for the best WR corps in the NFL. Let’s take a closer look each receiver’s contributions. Julio Jones 83 catches, 1409 yards, 17.0 yards/catch, 6 TD Julio needs no introduction, and I’m sure we’re all very familiar with his game. He’s an incredible player and, in my mind, is by far the best receiver in the NFL today. We’re all thankful that he’s on our side. Julio’s under contract next season and hopefully will be until the end of time. Mohamed Sanu 59 catches, 653 yards, 11.1 yards/catch, 4 TD While most fans considered Sanu to be overpaid, he certainly played a very important role for the Falcons offense in 2016. A player with great size, strength, and under-valued route running ability, Sanu was a reliable third-down target for Ryan. He also provided a big body in the red zone, and he was occasionally useful as a “gadget” player on trick plays. He’s under contract next season. Taylor Gabriel 35 catches, 579 yards, 16.5 yards/catch, 6 TD The real surprise player this season was Gabriel, who was cut by the Browns prior to the start of the season and claimed off waivers by Atlanta. Gabriel was a blazing fast deep threat with uncanny agility and vision. He demonstrated rare ability in the open field and excellent route running ability. He’s a restricted free agent, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in Atlanta next year. Aldrick Robinson 20 catches, 323 yards, 16.2 yards/catch, 2 TD Robinson was a player that Shanahan had worked with during his time with Washington. He was very effective as a rotational receiver, filling a similar role to Gabriel as a deep threat. Robinson showed off good hands and an ability to make plays down the field when called upon. He’s a free agent, though, and I’ll bet that Shanahan would love to bring him to the dumpster fire San Francisco. Justin Hardy 21 catches, 203 yards, 9.7 yards/catch, 4 TD Hardy was drafted in 2015 to help bolster the receiving corps, but he got off to a slow start. This season, Ryan was clearly more comfortable with him, and Hardy began to show flashes of why the Falcons drafted him: savvy route running and amazing hands. He developed into one of Ryan’s favorite red-zone targets towards the end of the season. Hardy remains on his rookie contract in 2017. Nick Williams 5 catches, 59 yards, 11.8 yards/catch, 0 TD Williams was on and off the practice squad after being a rotational WR for the Falcons in 2015. He performed a similar role this year, coming in for about one clutch catch a game when he was active. He’s a free agent and will likely be brought into training camp to compete unless he receives a better offer. Eric Weems 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD Weems didn’t contribute much as a receiver this year, which is probably a good thing for the Falcons. Where he did contribute was as a kick and punt returner, where he was average at best, and as a special teams ace, where he performed well as always. He’s a free agent this year. The Future Atlanta’s WR corps seems to be in excellent shape heading into the 2017 season. Julio and Sanu are under contract for the next several years and should provide a stable pairing for the Falcons to build around. Gabriel is a restricted free agent, and Atlanta should be able to keep him with a second-round tender. Hardy is likely to take on an increased role next season, allowing the Falcons to return their top-4 WRs in 2017. The question marks are Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams, and Eric Weems. Robinson is likely gone, as he’s put out enough good tape that some team will make him an offer that the Falcons are unlikely to match. Williams is a depth player, and while he’s solid, I’m not sure the Falcons will go out of their way to bring him back. Weems is likely gone, as he offers little to nothing outside of special teams and his return skills are average at best. In short, Atlanta is in a great spot with their WRs for the foreseeable future. They also have last year’s seventh-round pick, Devin Fuller, hopefully returning healthy from injury. He’s likely to become the team’s new returner, and the hope is that he can also offer something in the passing game. What do you think about the Falcons’ situation at WR? Are you hopeful that they will continue to be one of the deepest units in the league in 2017?