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"Falcons choice could be up the middle" article by Steve Wyche


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Falcons' choice could be up the middle

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 02/06/08

The re-construction of a reeling Falcons franchise continues. Here's what you need to know about the process:

" A decision on who to draft or sign in free agency hasn't been made. However, the Falcons want to be strong up the middle.

After 42 years, we have finally decided to get BIG and PHYSICAL about **** time!

" The addition of a quarterback to build around is a priority. Building for a quarterback is paramount.

Got to have a good QB at least has to be in top 15 in the league - eventually

" To free up at least $23 million in salary-cap space, there could be some painful player cuts.

Good bye, Warrick! Good bye Joe!

" A philosophy change from the previous regime will be used to build a roster.

YES!!!!!!!!!!

New general manager Thomas Dimitroff and new head coach Mike Smith have determined the new offensive and defensive systems. Now they must adjust the roster to implement the schemes.

IN OTHER WORDS, THEY ARE BLOWING UP THE ROSTER OF UNTALENTED PLAYERS&

"Right now we have not concluded if we need to go for a left tackle, running back, safety or whatever in the draft and free agency," Dimitroff said last week in an exclusive interview with the Journal-Constitution. "We're bringing it all together, see where our strengths are, see where the money is, examine the [salary] cap ramifications and move forward."

The Falcons will draft third, fourth or fifth overall, depending on a coin-flip that will be held this month at the NFL scouting combine. Though specific personnel might not be determined at this point, the type of player has.

"We are very particular about keeping things stout and strong up the middle," Dimitroff said.

OK, HERE WE GO& ..THE MEAT& .WE ARE DRAFTING AT LEAST 2 OFFENSIVE LINEMAN AND 2 DEFENSIVE LINEMAN MINIMUM&

It starts with the offensive and defensive lines and continues on offense at tailback and quarterback and on defense, linebacker and both safety spots. Quarterback is a major need, but not necessarily one that requires a first-round draft pick.

WE ARE NOT TAKING MATT RYAN UNLESS HE BLOWS US AWAY AS A CAN T MISS PROSPECT WHICH HE WON T& .MATT RYAN WILL NOT BE AN ATLANTA FALCON&

The strong-up-the-middle formula worked in New England, where Dimitroff spent seven years scouting collegiate players. It worked for Smith in Baltimore and Jacksonville, were he was defensive line coach and defensive coordinator, respectively.

FIRST ROUND PICK WILL BE EITHER JAKE LONG, SEDRICK ELLIS OR GLEN DORSEY I THINK ITS GONNA BE ONE OF THOSE THREE WITH THE MOST LIKELY BEING JAKE LONG OR SEDRICK ELLIS. IF YOU LOOK AT PATRIOTS, THEY TOOK MORE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN IN 1ST ROUND THAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN RICHARD SEYMOUR, VINCE WILFORK AND TY WARREN WERE ALL 1ST ROUNDERS. THE ONLY OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TAKEN IN 1ST ROUND WAS LOGAN MANKINS.

The stocking of offensive linemen could come mainly through the draft. The free-agent price tag at those positions escalated for top-shelf guards and tackles last summer.

WE WILL SIGN ONE OFFENSIVE TACKLE IN FREE AGENCY AND THAT WILL BE IT.

"I understand that drafting a [quarterback] in the first five picks is an option, but historically it has not been that successful," Dimitroff said. "It's not like I have a strong belief or philosophy with the top-5 picks. If the right player, a quarterback, offensive lineman, linebacker, running back, if that player truly fits and we're ready to go forward, then we will.

"Quarterback is a unique position though because you need a supporting cast to be successful in this league. We're going to have to do a lot of work evaluating quarterbacks that are coming out in the draft."

AGAIN, DIMITROFF IS SAYING, WE ARE NOT TAKING MATT RYAN HE S VIRTUALLY SCREAMING IT RIGHT NOW OW! MY EARS ARE BLEEDING& ..HE S WHISPERING, WE ARE TAKING CHAD HENNE IN 2ND ROUND - BE VERY STILL AND YOU CAN HEAR IT& .SHHHHHHH!!!!

What Atlanta does in the draft also will be dictated by which current players it chooses to build around.

Smith and Dimitroff, as well as the new coaching staff, have broken down the roster. There are some building blocks outside linebacker Michael Boley is expected to reach terms on an extension any day but some pieces will have to be replaced.

DIMITROFF IS SAYING THIS: MICHAEL BOLEY IS THE ONLY DECENT PLAYER ON THE ENTIRE TEAM **** YEAH, WE ARE RE-SIGNING HIM.

Some players could be asked to take pay cuts, but there also could be some painful roster cuts. High-salaried players like tailback Warrick Dunn, linebacker Keith Brooking, wide receiver Joe Horn, offensive tackle Wayne Gandy, defensive tackle Rod Coleman and tight end Alge Crumpler could be on unsettled ground.

DIMITROFF HUDDLES WITH THESE PLAYERS AND SAYS: YOU ARE DEAD TO ME AND I NEVER KNEW YOU & & & TAKE YOUR THIEVING CHECKBOOKS AND FLEE FROM ME!

"I don't know if it will be what you would call 'salary-cap casualties' but I think they'll look at guys and see if the talent is still there and is it worth what we're paying them," Falcons owner Arthur Blank told the AJC. "If somebody can't play, it doesn't matter if he's young or old. Then you have to make a decision if a guy can play, how much do you want to pay for that level of productivity. If it makes sense, you keep them."

BLANK IS TELLING WARRICK DUNN TO START SAVING HIS MONEY IT MAY HAVE TO LAST YOU 40 MORE YEARS&

Dimitroff said he and Smith share philosophies of examining the strengths of a player or unit. Emphasizing weakness leads to acquiring players to fill voids instead of just adding talent, Dimitroff said.

In finalizing their decisions, Dimitroff said he would scale back the number of opinions by compartmentalizing meetings with scouts, position coaches and coordinators. Their views will be expressed to Dimitroff and Smith in small gatherings instead of having 20 voices debating in a conference room.

In the end, Dimitroff and Smith will make the final call.

ON DRAFT DAY AT 12NOON THEY WILL ALL BE IN THE HALLWAY AT FLOWERY BRANCH& & DIMITROFF SUGGESTS TO ARTHUR BLANK TO GO UP TO THE TOP OF THE STAIRS AND GET SOME COOKIES& & MEANWHILE, DIMITROFF, MIKE SMITH AND THE SCOUTS WILL RUN INTO THE WARROOM AND WILL LOCK THE DOOR FOR THE NEXT 6 HOURS.

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