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  1. You know what I'm worried about the most at this point? Since our loss to the Chargers in 2016, we've literally lost every AFC game in the preseason and regular season except for the Jets on the road in 2017. Seriously. Since the 2016 Chargers, that's 10 AFC losses out of our last 11 AFC games, and if you throw in our 11 straight preseason losses (only one of those was against a NFC team) so that's 10 AFC preseason losses added on. We've lost a total of 20 of our last 21 games to AFC opponents in the preseason and regular season combined. YIKES, and the 2019 version of the AFC South will be tougher than the 2011 and 2015 AFC South divisions we faced. You already know it. Road games against the Colts and Texans will be brutal, but the Titans and Jaguars shouldn't be hard right? Oh wait, we've lost all of our home games vs AFC opponents since 2013 except for the 2015 Texans. In order for the Falcons to win the Super Bowl they have to beat an AFC opponent right?
  2. I think Center Mack is the Falcons MVP! "Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack was arguably the best free agent signing in the NFL last offseason. " http://thefalconswire.usatoday.com/2017/02/01/falcons-center-alex-mack-a-tale-of-two-cities/ Mack" he came in just asking questions like there was no tomorrow,’’ left tackle Jake Matthews said.“I was like, ‘Man, this guy has a lot of questions.’NY POST Alex Mack the Atlanta Falcons' secret weapon in Super Bowl LI http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000781706/article/alex-mack-the-atlanta-falcons-secret-weapon-in-super-bowl-li I was so excited the Day we got Pro Bowl Center Mack, especially after what we had at center before him, After the season, We all know, Mack is our Engine. Mack is definitely, the best center the Falcons ever had! Thanks, TD/Lil Shanny and Mack for coming to ATL! PS-
  3. GREG A. BEDARD SI.com To explain how center Alex Mack has become a crucial figure in the juggernaut that is the 2016 Falcons’ offense, you have to start with something surprising—something that isn’t exactly typical among the league’s top offensive line iceboxes. You have to start with ... running. In 2009, after Cleveland had made Mack the 21st pick in the NFL draft, out of Cal, teammate Joe Thomas was perplexed by Mack’s behavior during one of the team's first off-season practices. Mack’s arrival had coincided with the hiring of coach Eric Mangini, who, like his mentor, the Patriots’ Bill Belichick, made players run laps if they made simple mistakes—jumping offside, for example, or, in Mack’s case, executing a poor snap. Usually, a player would run approximately 400 yards at an even trot—especially if the offender was a bulky lineman. “Not Alex,” says Thomas. “The way he ran laps, it was like he was Michael Johnson in the Olympic final. He had to be running, like, 50-second 400s—and he ran a lot of them because he had a lot of bad snaps and a lot of offside penalties as a rookie. But he would get going, and he would only miss one play, which was just amazing. The way he’d run, with his arms flailing, his head back, bouncing side to side—it was really a sight to behold. Alex does not have very good running technique, but he definitely runs really hard.” Mack certainly made an impression on Thomas. “I used to laugh to myself, thinking, Who is this goofball? Just take your time,” Thomas says. “But he was determined to get that lap over with as quickly as he could. He didn’t want to miss any more time learning the position. He’s such a master of his craft.” Seven years later, at 30, the NFL’s Running Man hasn’t slowed down. Mack (who opted out of his Browns contract last March) was one of Atlanta coach Dan Quinn’s top targets in the off-season. The three-time Pro Bowler arrived last summer at training camp in Flowery Branch, Ga., with its brutal blend of heat, humidity and unrelenting sun, and kept his foot on the gas. “He had a number of screen plays in practice, rep after rep, and he’s hauling *** about 45 yards down the field trying to get a block in front of [running back Devonta] Freeman,” says Quinn. “Little interactions like that reaffirmed what he’s about as a competitor. You could feel his strain and effort.” “Offensive linemen just don’t do that,” says right tackle Ryan Schraeder. “And when he does that every play? It makes me feel like I have to do that every play. Before I know it, I’m running downfield, trying to pick guys off. Stuff like that rubs off.” “Our receivers see that, our running backs see it, I see it,” says quarterback Matt Ryan, a nine-year veteran. “The more guys you have doing that, the better off you’re going to be.” It’s not just his hustle that is rubbing off on his teammates. Left tackle Jake Matthews is the son of Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews and the nephew of retired linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., so not much surprises the third-year pro. But observing Mack in his first positional meeting with the Falcons caused Matthews to alter what even he expected of himself. “You think: He’s an older guy, probably gets it all, has all the answers,” says Matthews. “But it wasn’t that way. He was firing questions nonstop. And I think it’s influencing the line a lot. He wants to pinpoint every little thing that can possibly happen and make sure we’re prepared for it. That’s been really refreshing and has helped a lot of the linemen grow and think about things in a different way. I’m trying to follow his lead because I want to get where he is.” Mack got where he is a long time ago—he has been an excellent player for years. Before the 2014 season Cleveland placed the transition tag on him, allowing the market to determine his compensation. The Jaguars offered him a five-year, $42 million contract, and the Browns exercised their right and matched the offer. Through the first five games of 2014, with Mack in the middle and a trio of no-name running backs behind him, Cleveland averaged 26.8 points and 146.4 rushing yards per game. But in the second quarter of a 31–10 dismantling of the rival Steelers in Week 6, Mack fractured his left fibula and was lost for the rest of the season, breaking a streak of 5,279 straight snaps. The Browns averaged 15.0 points and 90.5 rushing yards per game the rest of the way. “That shows his value right there,” says Thomas. “Losing him really hurt.” Coming back from injury and with his offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Kyle Shanahan, now relocated to Atlanta, Mack had a 2015 season that was good for most centers but not for him. In 2016 he's healthy and playing for Shanahan again. ProFootballFocus.com rates him as the No. 3 center this season. Shanahan employs a run-based scheme similar to what his father, Mike, ran in Denver and Washington. The inside- and outside-zone running system is demanding for a center. On an inside-zone run, Mack and a guard will usually double-team a defensive tackle and then scoot quickly to block a linebacker. Late in the first quarter of a 48–33 victory over the Panthers, Mack blasted standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with his right shoulder, directing him into the block of right guard Chris Chester. Mack then kept moving to hit All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Mack squared up Kuechly and turned to the right to form a wall that Freeman could run behind. Kuechly, the best middle linebacker in the game, was rendered helpless for one of the few times in his career, as Freeman scored from 13 yards out. The key block in Shanahan’s outside-zone runs is the reach block. When the move is not well executed, the result is often a tackle for a loss. There’s nothing misleading about the terminology: The block calls for the center to reach a player beyond arm’s length and control him, either by running him to the sideline or turning him back toward the play. Centers are usually at a size, strength and speed disadvantage against defensive tackles. It’s like a brown bear trying to take down a larger grizzly, and the brown bear has to snap a football first. With 4:52 left in the second quarter in the Falcons’ 23–16 road upset of the defending champion Broncos, Mack had nosetackle Sylvester Williams off his left shoulder in the A gap between him and left guard Andy Levitre. Freeman was to go in the B gap to the left of Levitre. So for the play to work, Mack had to push Williams past the B gap, or somehow get his helmet between Williams and the B gap, and control him long enough for Freeman to get by. And Mack had no idea where Williams intended to go. It’s all reaction, and executing counter moves with feet and hands in two seconds. Mack is one of the best reach blockers among centers, which is due to his wrestling background (at San Marcos High in Santa Barbara, Calif.), height (6' 4") and strong hands. “He has the size of a guard but the quickness of a center, and that’s pretty rare,” says Quinn. Mack stayed low to get under Williams’s pads and gain leverage. He was then able to move his feet between Williams and Freeman. Williams didn’t allow himself to get turned, but Mack was able to control Williams enough that Freeman ran for a nine-yard gain. Mack is stellar in pass protection too, and his experience allows him to recognize the schemes he sees and communicate them to his linemates. He’s had a calming effect on passing downs. Atlanta has gone from averaging 21.2 points per game in 2015 to 32.8 this season. Total yards have increased by 50.9 yards per game. The running game has gone from averaging 3.82 yards per attempt to 4.41, and yards per pass attempt has increased from 7.41 to 9.45, despite playing the second-toughest schedule (including back-to-back road games against stingy defenses in Denver and Seattle), according to FootballOutsiders.com. “It’s hard to quantify the impact of an offensive lineman,” says Quinn. “It’s been deeper than the numbers for us. It’s been the communication at the line, leading the front in the run game. It’s been allowing the protections from him and Matt to be totally on the same page. He has a real standard in how he likes to play and how he likes to prepare. Honestly, he’s been a really good addition for us.” Mack did not run away from Cleveland—even though the team was a combined 33–79 during his time with the Browns. “There was a sense of unfinished business,” says Mack. “I was drafted there, and I would have liked to have left the team better off than when I found it. I don’t regret any of my time there. I liked the coaches they brought in. Hue [Jackson] had a great attitude. It was more the fact that it was just another reset. It was frustrating to have another new coach, another new GM, and there was still the question of the quarterback. On the other hand, it was a great opportunity [in Atlanta]. Your career is only so long, and I was excited to get a fresh start.” Mack’s contract with the Browns included an option for him to void the final three years of the deal and become a free agent, if he were willing to give up the $8 million he was guaranteed in ’16. Once owner Jimmy Haslam hired former Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta (as chief strategy officer) and Sashi Brown (as executive vice president of football operations) in January, with their Moneyball approach, Mack’s departure seemed inevitable. “The new analytics people didn’t really value the center position very much,” says Thomas. “They much more strongly value the outside players. They feel like building a team from the outside in is how you do it. You value your tackles to some level, but they really value receivers and cornerbacks and DBs. For Alex, I’m guessing it was, I’m the best player in the NFL at my position. Somebody’s going to pay me to be the best player in the NFL at my position. Why would I stay in Cleveland for somebody who doesn’t want me that much, for a team that doesn’t seem to be making progress? I want to go somewhere that’s got a quarterback, a lot of pieces in place, and maybe I can be the final piece of that puzzle.” Atlanta did make Mack the highest paid player at his position in terms of guaranteed money ($28.5 million), giving him a five-year, $45 million deal on the first day of free agency. The Browns are rebuilding again, with a focus away from the ball, while the Falcons believe they have found the final piece of their puzzle. http://www.si.com/nfl/2016/11/08/alex-mack-atlanta-falcons-center
  4. Just wanna show some love to the OL. Completely owning the LOS for the most part on both runs and pass protection. A few too many holding calls today but it seems those always get called to slow the offense's momentum! Lets go Denver and SD.
  5. http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/football/falcons-reed-find-his-way-at-the-leo-position/nr69H/ Falcons Reed finds his way at the LEO position Things are starting to come around for Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed at the coveted LEO (hybrid/defense end) position. The sixth-year athlete, out of Arizona, is making the transition to the spot after primarily being an outside linebacker most of his career. At Friday’s training camp practice, he said that the process is getting smoother and that he is picking up on the defensive schematics. “I am just focusing on the (defensive) keys and the strength at the point of attack and that has helped me a lot,” Reed said. “Just knowing the offensive and defensive tendencies is important for the LEO position. You get a bead on the tight end or where the ball is going, you can beat the ball to the gap.” Last season, Reed recorded 17 tackles in 13 games. He missed a couple of games due to a groin injury that lingered throughout the season. This year, he says that he is feeling better and ready to improve at his new position. “It is just baby steps and I plan to keep getting better, stronger and faster to continue developing skills at that position,” Reed said. Reed lined up with the first team defense at the LEO position during Friday’s camp. http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/football/falcons-finally-centered-on-their-real-problem/nr6jG/?icmp=ajc_internallink_referralbox_free-to-premium-referral Falcons finally centered on their real problem By Jeff Schultz - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Posted: 5:28 p.m. Thursday, July 28, 2016 If football positions were ranked by degree of glamour, center would sit somewhere between last and the laundry room. Even on a good day, the center plays in the middle of the offensive line. Amid a mass of thundering blubber. Far from the unobstructed view on the outside, where blockers can bulldoze pretty-boy cornerbacks. There’s also the indignity of having to bend over every play and knowing the play won’t start until the quarterback puts his hands … there. “In college I used to just tell people I played football and then hope they didn’t know enough about the sport to ask me what position,” said Randy Cross, a former Pro Bowl center and guard with San Francisco. “Besides, I played at UCLA. If I told them I played center, they would think I was Bill Walton.” The Falcons haven’t made the playoffs in three years, but it’s not because they’ve lacked glitz. They’ve lacked the requisite number of competent uglies. They’ve lacked a center who knew how to make pre-snap reads, hit like cinder block and not make snapping the ball look like it requires a degree in astrophysics. They’ve needed Alex Mack. (He doesn’t have a degree in astrophysics, but he did win the “Draddy” while at Cal, the equivalent of the academic Heisman.) Mack is this team’s most important addition since Julio Jones. Maybe more important. Doubt that? We’ve seen what happens to the offense, and Matt Ryan, when the Falcons’ weekly flotsam at center is getting steamrolled or boat-raced. The offensive line has been one of the Falcons’ weaknesses. It may now be one of their strengths. Why is the center position so important? “It’s important to have a guy in there who sees the whole defense, can make the right points and tries to get the whole offense on the same page so you can run the play efficiently,” Mack said. “You try to take the pressure off the quarterback position so all he has to do is throw the ball and read the coverages, not that that’s easy.” Pushing veteran center Todd McClure through the exit door after the 2012 season ranks as one of the worst personnel decisions in franchise history. General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith believed draft pick Peter Konz was ready to take over. They were wrong — about Konz and every misfit or spare part that followed him. McClure “literally fixed everything,”former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said. “Todd always made sure somebody was on a body, which alleviated pressure on Matt.” Is there an echo in here? Cross said a good center “creates calm for an offense, especially if things aren’t going well. I liken the position to an old-school coffee cup. If you turn it upside down and pour something on it, everything just spills off to the side. That’s what you want because the middle doesn’t move, and it gives the quarterback an area to step into. He makes everybody else’s job easier.” The calm works both ways. The Falcons are providing Mack with needed serenity after he was subjected to seven years in Cleveland, over which time the Browns had 13 starting quarterbacks, from Brady Quinn to Seneca Wallace to Brandon Weeden to Jason Campbell to Johnny Manziel. You think that didn’t have anything to do with his decision to exercise the escape option in his contract and come south? “It was enticing to come here knowing they had a quarterback,” Mack said of the Falcons. Would he have stayed in Cleveland if the position wasn’t such a mutant circus? “I like the way I answered the question,” Mack said, smiling. The Falcons gave him a $45 million contract, with $28.5 million guaranteed. That also helped. Liking coach Dan Quinn and being familiar with the scheme and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan from Cleveland also were factors. “This offense has a chance to be really good,” he said. We’ve thought that before. Then the middle collapsed. This might be the smartest money the Falcons have ever spent. http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/football/obadas-rugged-life-journey-aided-by-falcons/nr7Cd/?ecmp=ajc_social_twitter_2014_falcons_sfp Obada’s rugged life journey aided by Falcons If this football deal works out for Efe Obada, there’s going to be a movie telling his life story. Obada, who was signed by the Falcons on Thursday, incredibly was trafficked at age 10 from Nigeria to the Netherlands before landing in London, where he and sister were homeless. They later lived with a friend of his mother, but she had five children of her own. The Obadas ended up in the London’s social services system and moved from house to house. “I learned a lot and I encountered a lot of obstacles,” Obada said. “I went through a lot of adversity, but it’s what you make of it. How you overcome these adversities and how you let them affect you.” Obada had trust issues and felt that people were just being paid to look after him and his sister. “I was forced to grow up early,” Obada said. “I had to become the man for my sister and provide and stuff.” Obada found himself involved in seedy side of London’s gang set before landing a job as a security guard. The drudgery of that job working in a warehouse was necessary and help him maintain. “I just learned that in life, sometimes things are not going to be given to you the way that you think they are going to be given to you,” Obada said. “Sometimes you have to go and take it.” Obada discovered football when a friend invited him to play for the London Warriors. It’s a club team that has teams of all ages. He started work at his job at 6 a.m. and played for the Warriors in his spare time. Obada, who didn’t attend college, was a tight end and defensive end for the Warriors and helped them to win a national championship. He played all of five organized games before the Dallas Cowboys gave him a workout while they were in London to play Jacksonville. Warriors defensive coordinator Arden Durde was a former intern with the Cowboys and recommended Obada to the team. When Obada signed with Dallas he became the first British player signed by the NFL to have never played professional or a college level sport. “Prior to Dallas, I didn’t really know much about football,” Obada said. “I did play some football with the London Warriors. Everybody does play soccer or rugby in London, but I wasn’t really a sports person.” After two stints on Dallas practice squad and a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, Obada wants to make the most of his chance with the Falcons. “I was very anxious because training camp was fastly approaching,” Obaba said. “I had a workout with the Vikings and it didn’t go as well as planned. They didn’t make the decision that I wanted, so I was a bit anxious. Getting a call from the Falcons was amazing. I know it’s another opportunity to try and get myself out on the field.” The Falcons are leaving no stone unturned in trying to improve their pass rush. They like Obada’s size and speed. He’s 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds. “He doesn’t have an extensive football background,” Quinn said. “He played a little bit last year with Dallas in the (exhibition) season. I had a chance to watch that tape. In the workout, he really looked good. He’s a 6-5 guy who’s 250 pounds and he can move.” The Falcons had only 19 sacks last season, which was last in the league. “He’s definitely worth looking at as a possible project,” Quinn said. “Is there a rusher out there who doesn’t have the experience of being on the edge? Can we teach him the hands? The get-off, you have to have that as part of your talent.” Obaba thinks that discovering football has changed his life. “Prior to that I was doing all that I could do,” Obada said. “But when I found football it changed my mentality. It changed my perspective of who I was and what I wanted to be as a man.” Obada was unaware of Quinn’s history as a defensive line coach, who’s worked with some of the NFL’s top rushers. “I’m told a lot of positive things about him,” Obada said.
  6. It's kind of gone unmentioned with all the Clowney rumors swirling around, maybe for good reason. It does seem strange to me however that we're already hearing a lot of noise about who we really want to draft/trade up for. Obviously it's a no-brainer that we're interested in Clowney, who isn't? I'm here to question just how interested though. In the past Dimitroff has drafted in majority players that played all four years of college, and were team leaders/captains on their respective teams. Mack and Matthews fit that mold while Clowney and Robinson don't. Not saying this makes it a lock by any means, Julio was neither and we sold the ship for him, just saying a lot of times that's what he's looking for. I'm sure most of you are aware of this also and I hadn't really seen it brought up.
  7. Bench came through for us big time today. Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack are my MVPs for this game.
  8. So in a recent discussion with co-workers I posed a generic question. Who do you see the Falcons drafting in May? Some said it didn't' matter because we still have Smitty, some said Matthews, and he would be so, so...Ryan will still get his backside busted like a dude going to the proctologist when they play us. However, the majority which seemed evenly split is hoping both Clowney and Mack are gone by the time the Falcons draft. Main point is Clowney they fear mostly, would cause Drew's int rate to increase exponentially...or, that Clowney would hurt him in an uncontrollable fit of rage....lol ! Reason enough for me to support a "Killer Clown" sporting red and black!
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