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Dimitroff non-committal about staffs future...


Pa_Falcon_Fan
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I saw this on CBS/Sportsline and didn't see it anywhere else. Some interesting information as to what to expect in the next year or so...

http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/teams/report/ATL/10592283

New Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was very non-committal about what he plans to do with existing personnel. Other team officials said they hope to clear enough space to leave the Falcons with roughly $20 million in cap space, which means some painful player cuts could be in order.

None of those moves will be made until the new coaching staff evaluates the existing talent and salary-cap projections.

As for Dimitroff, he clearly isn't looking for a quick fix. In using the Patriots model, he plans to re-stock heavily through the draft and build support pieces through free agency. Dimitroff also said he is a "quarterback snob," meaning that if he can't find his ideal prototype QB, he's not going to burn a high draft pick on one.

The Falcons are in desperate need of a quarterback, and although Dimitroff said he wants to build through the draft, he said there are some good quarterbacks that will be available in free agency.

Some of how the Falcons augment their roster could be determined by whether the new coach prefers to play a 3-4 defense, as Rex Ryan has with Baltimore. The Falcons have played a 4-3 for years and don't have prototype talent to immediately configure into a 3-4 -- especially with so many offensive needs. Dimitroff said -- and he used Ryan as an example -- that adjustments could be made to combine 3-4 and 4-3 packages until the proper personnel could be acquired.

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACK

Starter -- Chris Redman. Backups -- Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich. Injured reserve -- D.J. Shockley.

Redman started the final four games and showed that maybe he should have gotten a chance earlier in the season. He was far more agile than Harrington and Leftwich and showed incredible moxie and very good accuracy after spending 2006 out of football, selling insurance. Harrington started 12 games but as was the case in Detroit and Miami, he failed to generate any support from his teammates. Former coach Bobby Petrino mercilessly shamed Harrington but he showed incredible class dealing with some treatment no one deserved. Leftwich hurt his right ankle in his first start and had to have surgery. He returned after three weeks -- too soon -- then suffered a tailbone injury in his second start. Redman, who might not have made the team if Shockley had not gotten hurt in preseason, could be the only one of the quarterbacks to be retained.

RUNNING BACKS

Starters -- TB Warrick Dunn, FB Ovie Mughelli. Backups -- TB Jerious Norwood, Jason Snelling, FB Corey McIntyre.

The Falcons fell from the NFL's top rushing team from 2004-06 to No. 26 (95 yards per game) this season. Whereas inconsistent play along the offensive line and disjointed play-calling led to the woes, Dunn, 32, began to show some wear (227 carries, 720 yards). The 11-year veteran entered the season fresh off lower back surgery and it took him several games to get into prime shape. By that time, the offense was rudderless, defenses hardly feared the passing game and the ground attack suffered. Compounding the doldrums, Mughelli, who signed a five-year, $18 million free-agent deal, was hardly used as a blocker, let alone a runner. Even more befuddling was Norwood's under-utilization. He is not a great blocker but he was the team's most dangerous threat (103-613, 6.0 avg.). Equally as confusing was the placement of rookie Jason Snelling on the practice squad for nine games after he proved in the preseason that he was capable of being a vital part of the offense. The only reason he was placed on the active roster was because Dallas placed a claim to sign him off Atlanta's practice squad.

TIGHT END

Starter -- Alge Crumpler. Backups -- Dwayne Blakley, Courtney Anderson. Injured reserve -- Martrez Milner.

Crumpler's run of four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances ended in a waste bucket of frustration and health concerns. Crumpler was one of the most vocal critics of former coach Bobby Petrino, claiming that Petrino didn't run the routes that allowed him to be such a weapon in the recent past. Part of the problem, though, was Crumpler's surgically repaired left knee caused chronic discomfort. Crumpler could not cut or push like he used to and that marginalized the types of routes he could run. There are concerns that if Crumpler's knee problems are chronic, his tenure with the Falcons -- and maybe with the league -- could be shorter than expected. Blakley is a serviceable young player who still needs to get stronger in the running game but is a solid receiver. Milner, a rookie, is the most athletic of the group and is a stout blocker who could end up being more like a Chris Cooley-type H-back.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Starters -- SE Roddy White, FL Joe Horn. Backups -- Michael Jenkins, Laurent Robinson, Adam Jennings.

In his third season, White had a breakout year -- 82 catches, 1,202 yards, six touchdowns -- to emerge as arguably the offensive MVP. For two years, White struggled holding on to the ball and when he did, he rarely made plays. This season, he was the leading deep threat but he also showed great tackle-breaking strength, breakaway speed and evasiveness. If not for the team's 4-12 record, he could have received some consideration for the Pro Bowl. Jenkins (53-532) was the No. 3 receiver and was used mainly in the slot and he also had a breakout year. Though the former first-rounder may never be more than an adequate third receiver, he is a capable threat that, if used right, could be very dangerous in the red zone. Robinson should emerge as White's starting sidekick in '08. A tall, rangy speedster, he showed incredible toughness and great hands throughout the season. Horn's greatest impact was establishing a work ethic among a maligned, young group. He was hampered by hamstring injuries and had difficulties getting separation from defenders. Horn could be playing elsewhere next season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Starters -- LT Quinn Ojinnaka, LG Justin Blalock, C Todd McClure, RG Kynan Forney, RT Tyson Clabo. Backups -- T Terrance Pennington, C/G Ben Wilkerson, G D'Anthony Batiste, T Harvey Dahl. Injured starters -- OTs Todd Weiner, Wayne Gandy (injured reserve). Injured backup -- Renardo Foster (injured reserve).

The weak link to the team, but that was due in large part to misfit personnel. This group was unable to convert from a lean, zone-blocking group to a unit that beefed up at the buffet line but was still unable to drive block or pass protect. Gandy suffered a season-ending knee injury and his replacement, Foster, suffered the same fate a week later. By the end of the season, four left tackles had been used. With Gandy, 34, near the end of his career and coming off a major injury, he likely will be a salary-cap casualty -- he is owed $4 million. Blalock was initially pegged as a can't-miss player but he was unable to get away from his nice-guy personality on game days and was victimized frequently. He was benched for two games after mentally and physically tapping out but he did finish the final two games with some promise. Forney never regained his once relatively dominant form and he could be on the chopping block as well. Weiner, a tough player, had major surgery on his left knee late in the season and might not be ready for training camp. Clabo is an adequate right tackle. This will be the most revamped portion of the roster.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Starters -- LDE Jamaal Anderson, DT Jonathan Babineaux, NT Montavious Stanley, RDE Jonathan Abraham. Backups -- DE Chauncey Davis, DT Tim Anderson, DE Kevin Huntley. Injured starters -- DT Rod Coleman, NT Trey Lewis.

This unit could be re-shaped should the Falcons' incoming coach implement a 3-4 defense. The losses of Coleman and Lewis were huge. Coleman never got going after suffering a major offseason quad injury in a Jet Ski accident. That enabled offenses to double-team Anderson, until they realized they didn't need to because Anderson struggled. Lewis was an incredible find in the sixth round. He played both tackle positions but was viewed as a nose tackle long term (unless there is a move to a 3-4, where he could be moved to end). How he recovers from his knee surgery could determine his future. Abraham stayed healthy this season and had 10 sacks and at least 10 near-sacks. He was a force who could have been among the league leaders had he had some interior help to ease pressure.

LINEBACKERS

Starters -- SLB Michael Boley, MLB Keith Brooking, WLB Demorrio Williams. Backups -- SLB Marcus Wilkins, MLB Tony Taylor, WLB Stephen Nicholas.

This was the most reliable unit, in large part thanks to the multi-dimensional, highly productive Boley. The third-year player led the team with nearly 130 tackles, with two interceptions, seven passes defensed, three sacks and three forced fumbles. The Falcons are trying to lock the former fifth-round draft pick, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, long term. Brooking took one for the team by playing in the middle but he clearly was out of position and, without steady play by the defensive tackles, took a beating. He finished the season strong, showing his love of the game, but with more than $10 million due over the next two seasons, he could be a cap casualty. Williams likely will be allowed to leave via free agency to clear the path for the promising Williams. The Falcons could draft a middle linebacker relatively high.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Starters -- LCB DeAngelo Hall, RCB Chris Houston, SS Lawyer Milloy, FS Chris Crocker, Backups -- LCB David Irons, RCB Brent Grimes, SS Daren Stone, FS Antoine Harris, Jimmy Williams.

Hall drew attention for blasting Bobby Petrino and imploding against Carolina's Steve Smith, which cost the Falcons a potential victory. For Hall, those public outbursts overshadowed what may have been his best season. He had five interceptions and more than 70 tackles and showed leadership through some trying times. He is entering a contract year and would like to have an extension before next season. Trade talk is already simmering, but parting with a player like Hall could be a major risk. Houston played fairly well as a rookie but he has to make some major strides next season to earn respect. Milloy seemingly never ages. He had two interceptions and finished with more than 100 tackles again. He is a physical marvel who is absolutely invaluable. Though he is 33 and has one more year left on his contract, he is expected to return. Crocker had a solid year but he is expected to be allowed to test free agency.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Morten Andersen, P Michael Koenen, LS Mike Schneck, KOR Jerious Norwood, PR Adam Jennings/DeAngelo Hall.

Anderson, 48, was 25 of 28 and a perfect 24 of 24 on PATs. He is automatic inside of 42 and has shown no signs of falling off. Koenen is a solid young punter who is headed nowhere. The Falcons could look for a punt returner this offseason. Jennings struggled for much of the season and rarely provided a threat to break off a big return.

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scott24falcs (1/22/2008)
This is a great article. Thanks for posting. It's good to hear that Dimitroff isn't going to reach for a 1st round QB.

I agree. That's the mistake too many teams make. They need a QB so they think they HAVE to take one in the first round. The odds of a first round QB being a bust is pretty high given how many are taken each year and how many actually work out.

The list of failures is long... Couch, Akili Smith, McNown, Carr, Harrington, Ramsey, Boller, Grossman (yeah, he made it to a SB, but many feel it was in spite of him), Loseman, Alex Smith... you can start to mention Jason Campbell (if he can't get healthy and play the way he started to this season) and Matt Leinart (if he can't unseat Warner) in the mix too.

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consistentfalcon (1/22/2008)
he says its not gonna be a quick fix. at least he's straight up and dont try to blow that snake oil smoke up our rear ends like some of them other front office people do..

i can kinda respect a person like this:w00t::w00t:

It's nice to get the real deal isn't it? Instead of people blowing smoke and double-talking to avoid answers.

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Nice read, very very good. It would be hard for me to really attack anything they said. I am glad Dimitroff will not pick a QB unless they have everything needed. And we can see what Redman can do for a little while. I didn't know Snelling was on the roster because Dallas wanted him, and it's good to know. I'm glad they can point out the problems the former coach created, and his poor decision making. Such as signing Pinner and keeping Snelling on the PS. And I love Mort, and he is automatic at short distances, but we really need to draft a guy who can hit it over 45 yards.

Great write up.

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