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Fixing Falcons not as easy as heads or tails


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Fixing Falcons not as easy as heads or tails

By Jeff Schultz | Friday, February 22, 2008, 07:54 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jeff Schultz

Given all the missteps the Falcons organization has made the past few years, it seemed strange that the first major decision facing the team s new architect was whether to call heads or tails. (For this, Arthur Blank had to go through a search process?)

Amazingly, Thomas Dimitroff guessed right Friday. He called tails. Tails came up. Brilliant! The rest should be easy. Draft the right guys. Sign the right guys. Cut the right guys. Alter the course of history for a franchise that hasn t made the playoffs in three years and has never had consecutive winning seasons.

Should be easy. Just keep flipping coins.

Two weeks ago, I said, It s a done deal tails, the Falcons general manager said by phone from Indianapolis. Then [Thursday] night at dinner, I was sitting there with Mr. Blank and [coach] Mike Smith, and they said, What s the call? and I said, Tails. But I thought I was actually supposed to flip the coin. So I went back to the room, and I was practicing flipping things. Sugar packs. Tea bags. Hotel room key cards. Anything.

As long as Dimitroff doesn t start testing schemes on an electronic vibrating football game, he should be fine.

The fact is, nothing can be left to chance. The Falcons can t afford a lot of mistakes. The next two months will be the most important period of Dimitroff s tenure, regardless of how long that tenure ends up being. This is when blueprint, structure and direction are set. These, sorry to say, are not coin-flip decisions.

This is a very significant time for us, he said. This is when you start sending the right messages, not just to people in the organization, but to the support staff, personnel staff and most importantly to the players. You re telling everybody, This is what we re doing. The tone and the culture are established here. You can t be flippant. The decisions can t be emotionally driven.

No. Let s leave that to DeAngelo Hall.

It s unfortunate when an athlete s talent comes with so little forethought or leadership. Hall, despite having a pretty good season amid the Falcons collapse last year, flashed his shortcomings often last season. He said the wrong things at the wrong time instead of doing what a veteran should do to hold a fractured team together. When others talked about ways to turn things around, Hall asked for a new contract. Often. Loudly. Obnoxiously.

Hall s impeccable timing continued Friday. On the same day of a rare Falcons highlight, he was a walking, talking blast furnace, telling reporters to forget about a new contract he just wanted out.

No need to flip a coin on this one. Hall likely was going to be dropkicked to the highest bidder anyway. This merely will add to the trajectory. The Falcons need to start over. If next year s team ends up being young and hungry but fairly average, the last thing you want as a general manager or coach is to have a blowhard cornerback whining about his contract leading the charge, no matter how good he is.

This team suddenly is in the best of situations. If Dimitroff acquires a first-round pick for Hall as expected, the Falcons will have four selections in the first two rounds, pending other deals. With their first pick, there is a pretty good chance they will be staring at defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, running back Darren McFadden or both. (Forget quarterback Matt Ryan. Remember where Dimitroff came from: New England, which took a future Hall of Fame QB with the 199th pick.)

Dimitroff also knows there are advantages to trading down to accumulate more picks. If you look at my past in New England, I m preconditioned to certain things, and I realize that trading down for added commodities is an effective way to build a roster, he said. If there s not a player there at three we really like, I would definitely consider it.

Now he starts playing the game. He ll have conversations with other GMs. He ll express interest in one player while preferring another. He ll be coy in the media. It s that time of year.

Does he see a clear definition among the top three players?

No, not yet. But I will. (Pause) That s where I m going to be a little evasive, he said with a laugh.

Does he have a philosophy on what type of player or position should be drafted early?

Yes. But I don t want to play that hand yet.

He s learning. He knows. He has to be careful. The man was practicing flipping sugar packets in a hotel room. How much room for error do you think he has?

1.i love how our new gm tried to "fix" the coin flip...thats the Patriot way...lol

2.i like d-hall alot but no way do we need a guy like that around our young guys....this attitude can become contagious to other young players...I like d-hall was a player and i wanted to keep him but this is the side of him that is unacceptable when you are rebuilding with young guys.....He want the coach to treat him like a Vet, He need to start acting like one then

3.I have a Feeling that we will trade out of that 3rd pick...I'm paying attention to our new gm and it seem like he wants to build the Cor of our team with this draft .. My boy from draft daddy told me yester that if Sedrick Ellis comes to the combine and run that late 4.8- early 4.9, that the Bengals would do whatever they have to trade to get him...There coach and gm loves Sedrick Ellis..Im telling you guys...its a good chance we trade out of that 3rd pick

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