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Found 10 results

  1. Paying a QB $30 Million Is No Longer a Risky Bet—It’s a Bargain Matt Ryan’s contract extension last year set a new milestone for QB salaries. The Falcons were delighted with the deal at the time. They’re even happier after seeing that threshold surpassed so many times since. Is the NFL in a QB salary bubble? As the most important position in sports becomes more expensive, teams have to decide when it makes sense to pay their quarterback big money, and when it’s time to move on. On Wednesday, The Ringer examines the decisions a team faces as its rookie quarterback approaches free agency, how a $30 million QB has become a bargain, and what the next big-money deal might look like. In the spring of 2018, the Atlanta Falcons signed Matt Ryan to a long-term extension which made him the first NFL player to average $30 million per season. It was a milestone salary for a quarterback—the top end of the market had been set at around $25 million for much of the decade. (Ryan was also the first to receive $100 million in guaranteed money.) Once the $30 million threshold had been crossed, it started to be crossed a lot. Ryan’s deal has since been surpassed by deals for Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Ben Roethlisberger, with more likely to follow, including Dak Prescott. Ryan’s deal established the cost of doing business with productive veteran quarterbacks. In a conversation with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, I mentioned that because quarterback pay is always rising, any good quarterback under contract becomes a bargain so quickly that in a few years … ah, wait. “How many years did you say?” Dimitroff said with a slight chuckle. “Well, maybe now,” I said. “You may be looking at it right now, honestly,” Dimitroff said. I’ve written plenty about what teams can do if they have a cheap quarterback. I’ve talked to the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs this month, specifically, about their timetables to build around Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, respectively, while they’re on their rookie contracts. It’s sort of a sandcastle: nice but temporary. A good, cheap quarterback becomes expensive overnight, and so those plans have an expiration date. Dimitroff has an interesting perspective on how to negotiate with a quarterback: He’s paid Ryan three times, including a first-round rookie deal (back when those were far more expensive), plus two lucrative extensions. Only Pittsburgh’s front office, with Roethlisberger, has been intact long enough to go through each of those negotiations with one quarterback. This experience leads Dimitroff to bring up a semi-popular thought experiment that arises in the football world every few months: What if a team never signed a quarterback to an extension and simply kept finding cheap quarterbacks forever? “I was literally moved to say ‘That’s asinine,’” Dimitroff said of the first time he heard of it. “I understand the idea. But when you’re sitting on this side of the desk, and you think about the precariousness of churning a quarterback out like that, going through a few years, and saying, ‘OK, go, time to find the next one.’ You want to talk about unnerving and unsettling and staying up all night? That’s what a lot of people do who don’t have a quarterback in this league.” Dimitroff has a quarterback, one he drafted with the third overall pick in 2008, and he makes it clear that he enjoys having him. The Falcons had a disappointing season last year, partly due to injuries, and partly due to an offensive line that Dimitroff addressed in this year’s draft. But it was through no fault of Ryan’s: The Falcons ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per play with 6.2, and scored on 43 percent of their drives, fourth best in the league. With the 34-year-old Ryan under contract through 2023, Dimitroff is locking into place the pieces around him. The team re-signed linebacker Deion Jones to a four-year extension worth $57 million, and inked defensive lineman Grady Jarrett to a four-year, $68 million deal. The Falcons are also discussing an extension with receiver Julio Jones just one year after renegotiating his contract. “Yes, of course, you need the proper backups and rounded talent, but I truly believe you win with pillar players,” Dimitroff said. “If you are not taking care of your pillar players, there’s a degradation of your organization, not only on the field, but off the field. So I, humbly, believe we’ve picked our players well, and they are legitimate leaders for us. We’ll look at those players who are our pillar players, and will be dedicated, financially, to taking care of them.” Investing heavily in “pillar players” is made easier by the rising salary cap, which has gone up about $10 million each year, with a total rise of $65 million, since 2013. Ryan and Julio Jones combined for nearly 25 percent of the Falcons’ cap in 2016, a season in which they were just a quarter-and-a-half away from winning the Super Bowl. That would have been by far the highest percentage for the two highest-paid players on a title team since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Most successful teams resemble the Eagles, whose top salary on their Super Bowl–winning team in 2017 accounted for 6 percent of their cap. Luckily for the Falcons, it’s become easier to build a team around a rich quarterback: Ryan accounts for just 8.3 percent of the cap this year. He’s making $44 million in salary this season, the most in his career, but his long-term deal allows the Falcons to lower his cap number to a reasonable $15.8 million. “There has never been one person in this organization—at least to me—I’ve never heard moaning about the payment of Matt Ryan and how it affects not paying other people. Everyone realizes the benefits of having an upper-echelon quarterback,” he said. “There were people out there who said ‘Oh, you can get him for 29-and-a-quarter.’ And I just simply said ‘What are we doing here?’” Dimitroff said. “He’s going to be the top-paid quarterback, and before you know it, he’s not going to be the top-paid quarterback because that’s the way it goes.” That last part is quite important. I wrote earlier this year about the phenomenon of overpaying bad quarterbacks. It’s easy to think about there being two groups: cheap quarterbacks and expensive ones. Notably, a third group has developed: quarterbacks with mega extensions whose deals became cheap as time elapsed. Before his retirement, Andrew Luck, who signed a record-setting deal in 2016, had an average annual salary of $24.6 million—far behind every major quarterback who signed after him, including Wilson ($35 million), Roethlisberger ($34 million), and Rodgers ($33.5 million). Ryan has made $179 million in his career. By the time his contract is due to expire in 2023, he’ll have eclipsed $300 million—it will not have been an overpay. Dimitroff loves athleticism. He believes, along with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, that “if you’re 10 pounds lighter than most players, but you have a badass persona, you can thrive in this league,” which is true for athletic defenders like Deion Jones. When Dimitroff got the job in 2008, and was facing his first big decision, he wondered whether he should value that in a quarterback, too. “I thought ‘Do I build a quarterback on what I really love? Athleticism?’” he said. Then he thought back to his days in the personnel department in New England. “I grew up in this league being around Tom Brady. How could you want anything different?” That, he said, is why he decided to commit to Ryan, the prototypical passer. He mentions having respect for Bill Polian’s team-building model with the Colts, which basically comprised of getting a franchise player, Peyton Manning, and building everything around him. (Dimitroff jokes that he knows this is heretical coming from a former Patriots employee.) After watching DeSean Jackson destroy the Falcons early in Ryan’s career, Dimitroff told me he realized he needed to find a similar offensive weapon for his quarterback. In 2011, he traded a haul of draft picks to acquire Julio Jones, and is committed to keeping the All-Pro receiver. Jones is the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game with 96.7, and will be paid like it soon. “You go as your quarterback goes. I’ve seen the ups and downs of franchises who banked on a quarterback and it not working. I’ve seen the deleterious effects across the organization—not just the offensive side, but the defensive side, the morale of the organization,” he said. “It is so important to build through your quarterback.” The Falcons are doing that, and at $30 million, they think it is a bargain.
  2. The Falcons have only had two top 10 defenses since 1998 Expecting the Falcons to take a leap this year? Beware history. By Dave Choate May 18, 2019, 3:00pm EDT Having a good Saturday? Well, time to talk about the Falcons defense! There has been a lot of discussion about this Falcons defense and what we might reasonably expect from it. With better health and some key additions like Adrian Clayborn, Tyeler Davison, and depth in the secondary, it seems reasonable to expect it will not be a massive liability the way it was throughout much of the first half of the 2018 season, but can it be the (at least on paper) top ten unit it was in 2017? The chief reason to be skeptical (and I am) hinges on history. Here is the complete list of defenses that have been top ten in points and yards allowed since 1998. 2017: Points: 8, Yards: 9 1998: Points: 4, Yards: 8 Here’s the complete list of Falcons defenses that have been top ten in either points or yards allowed since 1998. 2012: Points: 5, Yards: 24 2010: Points: 5, Yards: 16 2002: Points: 8, Yards: 19 That’s it! That’s the list. This tells a pretty somber story, but not one that is going to surprise the bulk of Falcons fans. This team has had some superlative talent on defense over the years, but rarely enough to push them into being what we would consider a good defense. The 1998 Super Bowl team boasted a phenomenal unit, that 2017 team was stingy and dangerous and nearly smothered the Eagles in the playoffs, and the team was opportunistic enough to hold teams in check in 2010 and 2012. But that really has been about it, and any chance of the team repeating their success in 2017 was destroyed by the cumulative loss of Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and Deion Jones, plus injuries and ineffectiveness for key players like Robert Alford and Vic Beasley. This is why the Falcons, despite their evident talent and Dan Quinn’s hands-onedness, shouldn’t be counted on to take a major leap on that side of the ball in 2019. I’m confident they’ll be much better than they were a year ago, and I’m equally confident that being top ten in points and yards isn’t the end-all, be-all story for a defense. But I’m also pretty hard-pressed to be confident that the team will reach those lofty heights given that they’ve done so just twice in 1998, and they’ve only been top ten in points five times and yards just the two times in that span. With the offense in place, even modest improvement will do the trick, but the grandest surprise would be one of the league’s best rankings for a unit that could do it despite the weight of history.
  3. This is my first ever video of anything related to sports. I've been wanting to do this for awhile. I know I'm late for this, and I know I have a lot to work on. I went detailed into every team on our schedule. Tell me what you think.
  4. Three years ago this grand of an overhaul for one position in a single offseason wouldn'thave worked for the Falcons. Let me explain.... Not because I didn't think we needed a better OL Not because I didn't think we needed to protect Matt Ryan at all cost. But because in all my love for Matt Ryan he would have moments of inconsistency that would let me know we needed a more complete team around him to win a SB. But since 2016, Matt Ryan has been the most consistent and dialed in that I've ever seen him. This has without a doubt been his best 3 consecutive seasons ever and that's been with or without an OL that can protect him. I personally think last year was his best year yet and for me now looking back that makes it easier to say "Matt take us to the promise land." As always it takes a team to win and defense wins championships, but now more than anytime in his career Matt can put the team on his shoulders (whatever that means ) with the best of them. And giving him an OL that can keep him upright and allow him to do it is our quickest path to success. Go Falcons! What do you guys think? Do you think Matt could have lifted us up prior to 2016? Do you think these are Matt's best 3 seasons in his career? Do you think this is the mindset of the Falcons? Did 2018 prove this to us above all of Maty Ryan's years?
  5. When reading the comments and the reaction of the fans, one couldn’t help seeing tthe shortsightedness of the fans. The Falcons had a pool of players to go after and this based on their research and resources. This process starts weeks before the draft starts—this is not like an overnight and on the go process. The fans are always dramatic and want the big names that get hyped up by the media and within NFL circles. Some of this hype is well-deserved based on the talent, but many times it is like steroids for hype and national attention. When you peel the process, the best teams go for pragmatic solutions. You invest in players that fit your style and believes. The Falcons KPI (Kep Performance Index/marketing world will know what I mean) or benchmarks are based on this: Character Athletism Data/Analytics Agility Smartness Expert Take-Scouting Coaches After using your benchmarks, you come up with a pool of players that fits those KPI’s or benchmarks. The Falcons selected those players based on data, analytics, and scouting take. This has nothing to do with TD making the decision over DQ or DQ taking the lead. The decisions are based on a cumulative basis. The Falcons knew that rhe OL was a major obstacle for the team. What is your biggest investment and your most important asset? It is Matt Ryan and protecting him was the main priority. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if you protect Matty Ice, you will get an offense that is going to be deadly and scoring points. The Falcons running game was affected by the shortfalls within the OL trenches. Finally, I bet Arthur Blank advised TD and DQ to make the OL a priority based on his take. The Falcons decided that protecting Matt Ryan and the running game needed a major facelift. The Falcons added two smart big guys to help that cause. Strategically, this makes sense in the long run. If you have a great offense, you can win many games with an average defense. The Falcons don’t need to be a Top 10 defense to win the Super Bowl, but a Top 15 will suffice. The fans need to realize that the Falcons added two major pieces to the offense that will be cost-effective and with the option of a 5-year contract. Tom Brady always excelled because it was hard to get to him and he had a great pocket protection. Matt Ryan needs pocket protection to be a great QB. The Falcons don’t have that many holes and some of the fans exaggerate the situation. The Defense will improve dramatically with DQ on the helm. He is going to push players like VIC and Tak. We will add couple of more pieces to the defense via the draft to solidify the team. In summary, The Falcons got bigger and beefy in the trenches which is something we haven’t seen in a longtime. The OL should become one of the Falcons most improved unit and it will help the Offense to be a Top 5 offense with weapons like MR, Julio, Freeman, Sani, Hooper and Calvin. We need to believe in the process by logic and not emotions. The Falcons are primed to be one of the best team in the NFC next year and a team that is one of the most talented. Keep the faith and #RiseUp...
  6. I've contended with people I know that Matt Ryan’s 2016 was one of the 5 or 6 best passing seasons of all time, but according to this metric it may be THE best of all time.
  7. I had no idea that out of the top 5 richest QBs NONE of them will be in the playoffs this year! Minnesota Qb ranked #6 could possibly make it in. Drew Brees ranked 7th highest paid is definitely in. So basically every time Ryan is re-signed to another top deal we have to wait another 2-3 years for the cap to catch up. This is crazy and it's hard to not imagine bringing in a young QB to come and compete. This franchise doesn't seem to project future success very well outside of signings and future cap rises. Any opinions/facts on this?
  8. Matt Ryan will be joining the NFL Live team today. I'll try to take notes and give you guys a summary.
  9. Okay, been meaning to get this one for a while. About a month or so ago after our first game I made a thread pointing out how Matt missed a couple of gimmies that could have changed the outcome by not going through his pre-snap reads and I think what I was saying might have went over a few folks' head. Well as I suspected, he quickly got the problem ironed out and has been playing light's out the past few games. And when I say "lights out", I mean he's putting up another MVP caliber season that I fear is going to waste. But that's neither here nor there today. I wanna talk about the good. PRE-SNAP READ (PSR): first off, what is a pre-snap read? Glad you asked. It's exactly what it sounds like. The QB steps to the line and he's going to get a read on the defense before the ball is snapped. He's looking for every little clue that's going to if not completely give away the exact coverage, narrow it down to one or two possibilities. Now every QB, every system has its own "ritual" if you will, but generall speaking QB breaks the huddle, ideally with around 16-15 seconds on the playclock. He's wants to get everyone lined up so he can take his time looking over the defensive alignment. He's looking at the safeties. This is a big one because corners can lie, linebackers can lie but safeties will tell you the truth. Their alignment will usually give away the coverage. Are there two high safeties, or one high? Two high, it's cover-2, man under, or quarters. One high, it's cover-1, or cover-3. Are there two high safeties but they are both sitting really shallow, like under 10 yards? That's an oh **** moment. That's cover-0. You know the defense is bringing the house and the ball's gotta come out quick. What's the depth of the safeties and width? If there are two safeties sitting at around 10-12 yards and they are split kind of wide of the hash, then that's some sort of Cover-2. Are there two safeties sitting a little more shallow, say around 10 yards and they're tucked in a little tighter than normal, sort of hovering over the #2 receiver, that's quarters. Then you move to your corners. Are they pressed or playing off? Are they looking at the QB or the receiver -- that's a big clue man or zone. If they're looking at the QB almost 100% zone. Is one pressed and the other playing off? That's a clue that you're gonna get some sort of split field coverage like Cover-6. If you are in a 3 receiver set what's the slot corner doing? Is he directly over the slot receiver or is he cheating over close to the LOS? If he is and the safety to that side is sitting shallow and playing closer to the LOS than normal, that's a slot corner blitz. What's the linebacker's doing? Are they aligned over their normal gaps or are they maybe stepped over kind of funny? That could tip a blitz, etc. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Every single snap of the game the QB is taking seconds right before the snap to gather as much information as possible. And that information is going to tell him where his first look is on the play. Every play has a progression, 1 to 2, to 3. But who the first look is on the play is determined by the PSR. That's the point I think a few people were missing on the thread I'm referring to. Now I want to first take a look at what it looks like when it's done wrong. This play right here the Eagles are in Cover-0. No doubt about it, the alignment of the safeties gives it away. Instead of taking Sanu right there in the slot who was uncovered, Matt forces the ball to Julio on a 7 route. Wrong read. This is the stuff that keeps points off the board and gets you beat. The PSR should have taken him to Sanu as the first look. Now here's what it looks like when it's done right. I'm gonna throw up a couple of plays... not all in order but (I think) but bear with me. Play #1 - 1st quarter, we're looking at 2nd and 4. You can't see it from the tv copy but it looks like the Bucs were in 3-Cloud (could have also been Cover-6) with a safety over the top to help the underneath corner on Julio to the top of the screen. Good anticipation on this call because we aren't even gonna keep Julio on that side and make it easy for the D. Julio motions across the formation, turning it from a trips look to a trey y-flex. As you can see, the corner does not follow Julio, confirming that this is zone. And here's our new formation. Now what have we learned that we can add to our PSR info? Corner stayed to the top of the screen and didn't follow Julio so we know it's zone. Julio is uncovered in that #3 position and the safety to his side of the formation is still sitting at 12 plus yards so a pressure is unlikely. So we've narrowed the defense down to a zone, most likely a split field coverage based off the corner and safety. Matt pretty much knows right now what side of the field he's going to read first. Quick look at the routes we got Julio running sticks, Sanu clearing out the underneath stuff on a vertical, Ridley a speed out. To the top of the screen Hooper running a hook, Coleman leaking out to the flat. And here we go. Safetys bail and the flat defender follows Coleman, which makes it look to me like the may have checked the coverage to Mable, but whatever the case that's curl/flat concept to that side of the field. Bucs have no chance. As soon as the flat defender follows Coleman the ball comes out right now to Hooper. Hooper didn't quite get deep enough so it's 3rd and 1, but you can see the principles at work. 2nd and 4 just gone get the easy throw. Pass rush has no chance. Matt stays clean.