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TDWII's Musing & Observations: With Petrino Out The Door, It;s Time For McKay to Follow


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With Petrino Out The Door, It;s Time For McKay to Follow

Whether one considers Bobby Petrino s exodus to Fayetteville sudden or predictable, his departure was yet another domino to fall in a season full of fallen dominos. The days of the Falcons Head Coach wishing he were at another college campus seem like nirvana compared to the current state where the Falcons Head Coach actually does something about it.

So to review:

The Falcons have no QB to build around.

The Falcons have no coach to build with.

The Falcons RB to build around, may or may not be with the club. The one that is has less than 200 carries though in close to 2 seasons.

The Falcons O-Line is in shambles.

The Falcons defense can t stop teams from scoring 30 points/game.

The Falcons fan base is dwindling rapidly.

The Falcons season ticket base has not yet had to make a yes/no decision to renew with Michael Vick no longer around

In short, the Falcons really don t have much. Technically, it s possible that the Falcons could have 3 head coaches in 2007 (Jim Mora was fired hours into 2007). In the last few years, there have been many players, coaches and front office personnel that have come and gone through Flowery Branch& but there are really 2 that matter who are still here. Arthur Blank and Rich McKay. The one with the most money gets to day not my fault .

This is not to say that Mr. Blank is not in some part responsible for the current state of the franchise. One could easily argue that his communal and coddling approach to owning a team has bred complacency instead of undying loyalty and resolve. But Blank is here to stay I mean if this year didn t see him running away from Atlanta down I-85, nothing will. Which leaves one other principle who has to answer for this mess. Mr. McKay- I m speaking to you.

Under your watch which has lasted 4 years, we have seen:

-3 coaching changes

- 3 Top 10 draft picks (I m speculating into 2008, but it s fait accompli)

- A 31-32 overall record (I m being generous in counting 2 wins at the end of 2003 when you were first hired).

- 1 playoff appearance

- A progressively worse record in each year of your tenure after Year 1.

- According to cnnsi.com, the 3rd least amount of salary cap space in the NFL.

We don t have to get into the tactical missteps of the draft and free agency. The record above says enough.

Listen, we all understand that this season was sabotaged by circumstances that were in the end unreal and surreal. We re they beyond your control? Some parts yes, but some parts no. The part that wasn t beyond your control was who you did bring on board to coach the Falcons. While speculation abounds as to who really did the hiring and firing of Mora and Petrino, public record states that 1) the owner can t be fired 2) unless he steps up, the owner won t take blame. Which leaves you to answer for what now amount to 2 questionable hires. General Managers don t often get to hire 3 coaches unless they are extremely successful. But 3 coaches in 4 years?

But the need for your departure reaches deeper than simply poor decisions and performance. Not much remains of these Falcons. In terms of a foundation and franchise building blocks, it s tough to point to anything and say let s start there. In reality, the Falcons have the chance to be a clean slate. A barren slate, but a clean one. The Falcons don t represent a rebuilding job. They qualify pretty much as new construction.

It s not that you re not capable. Maybe you are, maybe you re not. But the Falcons need to be able to consider all options when bringing in yet another Head Coach. If you are going to bring in a Bill Cowher, does the pitch include & and you ll be reporting to Rich McKay! ? Probably not& and if that s the case with potentially hiring a guy like Cowher, which may or may not be the right move, then the commitment the Falcons have to you is conditional which is a bad way to restart or continue a relationship. On Monday, Arthur Blank was referring to Bobby Petrino has his CEO. That used to be you, didn't it? Should it be you again - or maybe we should get Bob from AccountTemps.

This season the Falcons have lost everything. In a sense, it s liberating. Once you have nothing, then you can be bold and take risks without the fear of losing more. That is the current state of this franchise with one exception. Rich McKay has lots to lose. It s for the best that he lose it now.

TDWII

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grendel (12/12/2007)
Well, it depends on what parts of McKay's job we're evaluating.

For Drafts, I'd give him a B+, and an A for this last draft. Seriously, if you look at the drafts from the Reeves era, that's the reason we're in so much trouble, 'cause basically ALL of those guys are gone. McKay's drafts have been very good by comparison.

For Free Agents, I'd give him a C+. I'm not a big fan of free agents, myself, because I think you usually are overpaying for the value you get. Some of our FA pickups have turned out worse than anyone could have predicted (Hurtwell), while others were predictably bad (Peerless Price), but Abe has been worth the 1st round pick IMO, so...

For contracts, I'd give him a B-. It's tough to keep the salary cap down when your coaching staff has fooled itself into thinking it's only one or two key pieces away from being a contender. That's where all the big FA money came in, and it was all based on Mora's false premise that he knew what he was doing. The Mike Vick contract, while huge, was a model for NFL contracts and let us spread the pain and shuffle the cap around, at least. Realizing now that we're rebuilding, I expect our cap number to drop a lot and to see a renewed focus on the draft rather than FA signings to fill starter roles. That will keep our salary cap situation under control.

Overall? I guess I'd give him a B, but his grade has been on the upswing this year since we got rid of Mora and company.

I really think you are overvaluing his drafting ability. If you look at his drafts, the onyl player who has come close to being a breakout star has been DeAngelo Hall. And even that is debatable. Roddy White has certainly turned a corner this year, but I'm still reserving judgement on his final grade for at least another year to make sure this isn't an aberration.

But these are the rest of his Day 1 picks...

1 8 Jamaal Anderson

1 29 Michael Jenkins

2 39 Justin Blalock

2 41 Chris Houston

2 37 Jimmy Williams

2 59 Jonathan Babineaux

3 75 Laurent Robinson

3 79 Jerious Norwood

3 90 Jordan Beck

3 90 Matt Schaub

Of those, Norwood has probably been the most impactful to date. The 2007 draft looked and stills looks good on paper, but noone with the possible exception of Houston has started to really step up their game.

As for Day 2 picks, Boley is the only real breakout star from this group in 4 years. Honestly, I look at this list and it IMO reflects the failure of McKay more than anything.

4 109 Stephen Nicholas

4 133 Martrez Milner

4 128 Chauncey Davis

4 101 Demorrio Williams

5 139 Quinn Ojinnaka

5 160 Michael Boley

5 163 Frank Omiyale

5 142 Chad Lavalais

6 185 Trey Lewis

6 194 David Irons

6 198 Doug Datish

6 203 Daren Stone

6 184 Adam Jennings

6 201 DeAndra Cobb

6 186 Etric Pruitt

7 244 Jason Snelling

7 223 D.J. Shockley

7 241 Darrell Shropshire

7 219 Quincy Wilson

As for the notion that the coaching staff has 'fooled' itself and in turn McKay into thinking we were something we were not, that falls on McKay. To me, he needs to be able to make his own assessments to make those determinations.

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grendel (12/12/2007)
Are you kidding me? What do you want from drafts? You don't draft 4 pro-bowlers every draft. Compared to other teams drafts, and especially compared to Falcon's drafts before he got here, these are very good drafts.

The GMs job is not to set the direction or the type of players, but to get what the coaches say they want. If the coach is delusional and makes bad choices about the types of players (only wanting late-round small OL for example) then that's not on McKay.

That's the list - who has been a good pick?

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grendel (12/12/2007)
Well, it depends on what parts of McKay's job we're evaluating.

For Drafts, I'd give him a B+, and an A for this last draft. Seriously, if you look at the drafts from the Reeves era, that's the reason we're in so much trouble, 'cause basically ALL of those guys are gone. McKay's drafts have been very good by comparison.

For Free Agents, I'd give him a C+. I'm not a big fan of free agents, myself, because I think you usually are overpaying for the value you get. Some of our FA pickups have turned out worse than anyone could have predicted (Hurtwell), while others were predictably bad (Peerless Price), but Abe has been worth the 1st round pick IMO, so...

For contracts, I'd give him a B-. It's tough to keep the salary cap down when your coaching staff has fooled itself into thinking it's only one or two key pieces away from being a contender. That's where all the big FA money came in, and it was all based on Mora's false premise that he knew what he was doing. The Mike Vick contract, while huge, was a model for NFL contracts and let us spread the pain and shuffle the cap around, at least. Realizing now that we're rebuilding, I expect our cap number to drop a lot and to see a renewed focus on the draft rather than FA signings to fill starter roles. That will keep our salary cap situation under control.

Overall? I guess I'd give him a B, but his grade has been on the upswing this year since we got rid of Mora and company.

Agreed.

Those of you who think McKay is the big problem here are wrong. SUre, he is culpable for some bad choices, but what other GM hasn't in the past? You can't predict injuries and in certain cases, you can't predict that the face of your franchise will spend two years in jail. You can criticize him for giving Vick that big contract, but I challenge anyone to give me another GM that would not have done the same thing.

Making choices in the NFL is not a pure science. Things are bound to go bad once in awhile. We do have the Schaub deal from last year to help us next year. We have Boley the take over as the next face of the franchise. This years draft was rather good, we just need to be patient as the jump to the NFL is tough. Do you really think that if McKay had any inclination that Petrino would bolt, he would have still hired him?

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Do you really think that if McKay had any inclination that Petrino would bolt, he would have still hired him?

He bolted Louisville to come here...he had the clandestine dealings with Auburn that blew up in his face.

If he didn't have an inclination, then for a guy who had a lot riding on this coaching hire, he wasn't paying attention.

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1 8 Jamaal Anderson

He certainly might pan out. He's had a tough rookie year though.

2 39 Justin Blalock

He was just benched in favor on D'Anthony Batiste. I still like his potential, but like Anderson, he's had a tough rookie year.

2 41 Chris Houston

Probably shown the most of any rookie we drafted in '07. But has still had more issues than highlights.

2 59 Jonathan Babineaux

He's finally ascended to the starting line-up this year in large part because of Rod Coleman's injuries. To me, as a 2nd rounder - this is either 1) too long or 2) we should have addressed another area with an established vet entrenched in the position.

3 75 Laurent Robinson

Shown flashes, but has a ways to go.

3 79 Jerious Norwood

Why can't he get more carries? I like Norwood, but his production is still limited.

3 90 Matt Schaub

For us, he didn't do much. he got us 2 2nd rounder and I'll evaluate his impact based on the two players acquired (Blalock & 2008 2nd rounder)

4 109 Stephen Nicholas

Again, he's a first year guy who we have high hopes for. but we had high hopes for Jimmy Williams too.

4 133 Martrez Milner

We're getting to pure speculation here. He really had no impact this year.

4 128 Chauncey Davis

He's averaging 1 sack/season.

4 101 Demorrio Williams

He'll make some money in FA, but IMO has really not improved or raised his game level since year 2.

5 160 Michael Boley

No doubt.

6 185 Trey Lewis
6 194 David Irons

Solid special teamer, but he hasn't proven he can cover anyone yet.

6 198 Doug Datish

Shouldn't we wait until a player plays in a pre-season game first before classifying him as a good pick?

6 203 Daren Stone

Who knows? I wouldn't classify him as a good pick yet...

7 244 Jason Snelling

Who knows? I wouldn't classify him as a good pick yet...

7 223 D.J. Shockley

What has he done?

Overall

1) This years draft is too early to evaluate. I liked it just as much as a lot of people, but evaluating a draft after one year is not much more insightful than evaluating it one the Monday after. That said, even if McKay winds up hitting well with this one, which we may not know until 2009...its not

2) You included all 11 2007 picks...the other 3 years you included 7 of which I have some serious reservation about a few of them in terms of their inclusion on the good picks list.

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I really think you are overvaluing his drafting ability. If you look at his drafts, the onyl player who has come close to being a breakout star has been DeAngelo Hall. And even that is debatable. Roddy White has certainly turned a corner this year, but I'm still reserving judgement on his final grade for at least another year to make sure this isn't an aberration.

But these are the rest of his Day 1 picks...

1 8 Jamaal Anderson (too early to tell if this is a bust or not)

1 29 Michael Jenkins (Not good, but not bad, needs maybe another year)

2 39 Justin Blalock (Will be an anchor on the OL)

2 41 Chris Houston (Good CB in the making)

2 37 Jimmy Williams (Jury still out. Only 2nd year)

2 59 Jonathan Babineaux (good backup)

3 75 Laurent Robinson (Future starter at WR)

3 79 Jerious Norwood (Explosive RB)

3 90 Jordan Beck (Bad draft choice)

3 90 Matt Schaub (Was able to get draft picks)

Of those, Norwood has probably been the most impactful to date. The 2007 draft looked and stills looks good on paper, but no one with the possible exception of Houston has started to really step up their game, yet. The real value will not be determined until 2 to 3 years from now. Not everyone will be a star or starter. Some will just provide good depth

or a foundation to build on,

As for Day 2 picks, Boley is the only real breakout star from this group in 4 years.

4 109 Stephen Nicholas (Future WLB)

4 133 Martrez Milner ( jury still out)

4 128 Chauncey Davis (good backup)

4 101 Demorrio Williams (WLB starter for last 2 years)

5 139 Quinn Ojinnaka (maybe a bad draft choice, too light)

5 160 Michael Boley (Future Pro Bowler)

5 163 Frank Omiyale (Gone)

5 142 Chad Lavalais (Gone)

6 185 Trey Lewis (NT starter)

6 194 David Irons (Good future nickel back)

6 198 Doug Datish (Possible future starter)

6 203 Daren Stone (High potential at saftey)

6 184 Adam Jennings (Has not lived up to potential so far)

6 201 DeAndra Cobb (Gone)

6 186 Etric Pruitt (Gone)

7 244 Jason Snelling (Have not seen enough of)

7 223 D.J. Shockley (Have not seen enough of, could be a diamond in the rough)

7 241 Darrell Shropshire (Gone)

7 219 Quincy Wilson (Gone)

As a whole not bad, could be better, but also could be a lot worse.

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You have to look at where the players are picked. Any pick in the 6th or 7th round that makes the team and gets on the field was a good pick.

I disagree with this. While not much is expected of these rounds, the differences between the top teams are the ones that find contributors most frequently from this draft territory. To me, just making the team isn't enough because of the admission that a player drafted here is they are going to have any type of impact needs to be developed. I do think Trey Lewis has potential as does David Irons, but production is the bottomline.

Chauncey Davis is a good example of this. He's a 4th round pick who's panned out to be a very solid backup DE and got starting reps when we had injuries. You can't expect 4th round picks to be starters or pro-bowlers. If they are, then great, that's gravy, but if they stick with the team and are solid backups, that's a good pick.

DE's picked within 20 picks after Davis: Trent Cole and Chris Canty.

If you want to see bad drafts, look at the drafts run by Reeves. I'd be surprised if you remember 6 of the names from all of his drafts. Most of them are out of the league.

I don't think Reeves was a very good drafter either. But why should he be the measuring stick?

It's too soon to go judging this year's class, but the fact that they all made the team and about half of them have started is a good sign.

Like I said, I did like this draft. I felt better about this draft than any of his other 3. But to allow him to wait around to see if it develops is the wrong move.

My original statement said that I thought you overvalued his drafting performance. You classified it as a B+. If I'm grading I say B-/C+. But if that's been the area that he's excelled in, and that's his grade and the Falcons are amongst the 5 worst teams in the NFL...McKay has to go.

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