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New Falcons regime has a lot of questions to answer


bossFALCON™
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2007 season recap

Doomed from the start: When starting quarterback Michael Vick was imprisoned on a dogfighting conviction prior to the season, the Falcons' hopes went with him. The ordeal served as a major distraction for the team and proved to be too much for rookie head coach Bobby Petrino to handle. Several of the team's veterans, including TE Alge Crumpler and CB DeAngelo Hall (both since departed) were outspoken in their criticisms of the franchise and Petrino left for Arkansas with three games left in the season. All in all, it was a lost season for the Falcons as they finished 4-12.

Key camp questions

Can coach Mike Smith get all the new players to gel?

The 2008 Falcons could have a new starting quarterback, a new running back, a new tight end and a new starting receiver to start the season. Last year's QB to start the season, Joey Harrington, will likely be a backup, last year's RB to start the season, Warrick Dunn, is in Tampa, last year's tight end to start the season, Alge Crumpler, is in Tennessee and one of last year's starting receivers to begin 2007 has demanded a trade (Joe Horn). And that's just on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, the Falcons could also have a number of new starters. New general manager Thomas Dimitroff has worked quickly to remake the roster and it is up to Smith to get this group to come together in training camp.

How quickly will Matt Ryan pick up the offense?

Atlanta used the third overall selection in the draft to pick Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and then lavished a six-year, $72 million contract on him. He is clearly the quarterback of the future, if not the present. Whether or not he is named the starter to begin the season depends on how he performs in training camp and throughout the preseason. Harrington and veteran Chris Redman are the other signal callers competing for the starting job.

Who will replace DeAngelo Hall?

For four years the Falcons could be comforted by the fact that they had one of the league's best shut-down corners to man one side of the field. With Hall now in Oakland, that is no longer the case. Coach Smith did not like to blitz his defenses a lot in Jacksonville, putting more pressure on the corners. The Falcons have a host of corners that will compete for both starting jobs, but none of current players on the roster has the proven track record of Hall. Atlanta will try and use training camp to cultivate a suitable replacement.

Key position battle

LT Renardo Foster vs. LT Sam Baker: The position responsible for protecting the blindside of a right-handed quarterback (which every QB on the roster is) falls to a second-year undrafted player (Foster) and a rookie first-rounder (Baker). That is a major responsibility for two players with so little experience. Throw Ryan potentially starting at quarterback as a rookie and that is a significant amount of pressure on a trio of young players. The Falcons will face a huge task in getting Foster or Baker ready to handle the duty in training camp and it will also be one of the most important long-term projects for a franchise rebuilding.

Rookie spotlight

LB Curtis Lofton: Known as a run-stuffer in college, Lofton will have to prove he can go sideline-to-sideline from the middle linebacker position and make plays at the next level. He will start as a backup, but will be given an opportunity to earn playing time with second-year player Tony Taylor ahead of him. Flanked by experienced outside linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, Lofton will have a good unit supporting his transition to the pros.

Player on the spot

DE Jamaal Anderson: In his rookie season, Anderson showed he was durable. He also showed that he has plenty of room for improvement. Taken eighth overall in the 2007 draft, Anderson was expected to be an impact playmaker and pass rusher. In his rookie season, he impressively started all 16 games, but finished with just 30 tackles and failed to record a sack. In his second training camp, Anderson needs to demonstrate that he can be a solid bookend to veteran John Abraham on the other side.

Fantasy focus

RB Michael Turner: Turner's move to Atlanta makes him a legitimate No. 2 fantasy back. He'll be the centerpiece of the offense and has eight games against teams that ranked 18th or worse against the run last season. Turner has a terrific shot to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2008.

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bossFALCON"! (7/19/2008)
2007 season recap

Doomed from the start: When starting quarterback Michael Vick was imprisoned on a dogfighting conviction prior to the season, the Falcons' hopes went with him. The ordeal served as a major distraction for the team and proved to be too much for rookie head coach Bobby Petrino to handle. Several of the team's veterans, including TE Alge Crumpler and CB DeAngelo Hall (both since departed) were outspoken in their criticisms of the franchise and Petrino left for Arkansas with three games left in the season. All in all, it was a lost season for the Falcons as they finished 4-12.

Key camp questions

Can coach Mike Smith get all the new players to gel?

The 2008 Falcons could have a new starting quarterback, a new running back, a new tight end and a new starting receiver to start the season. Last year's QB to start the season, Joey Harrington, will likely be a backup, last year's RB to start the season, Warrick Dunn, is in Tampa, last year's tight end to start the season, Alge Crumpler, is in Tennessee and one of last year's starting receivers to begin 2007 has demanded a trade (Joe Horn). And that's just on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, the Falcons could also have a number of new starters. New general manager Thomas Dimitroff has worked quickly to remake the roster and it is up to Smith to get this group to come together in training camp.

How quickly will Matt Ryan pick up the offense?

Atlanta used the third overall selection in the draft to pick Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and then lavished a six-year, $72 million contract on him. He is clearly the quarterback of the future, if not the present. Whether or not he is named the starter to begin the season depends on how he performs in training camp and throughout the preseason. Harrington and veteran Chris Redman are the other signal callers competing for the starting job.

Who will replace DeAngelo Hall?

For four years the Falcons could be comforted by the fact that they had one of the league's best shut-down corners to man one side of the field. With Hall now in Oakland, that is no longer the case. Coach Smith did not like to blitz his defenses a lot in Jacksonville, putting more pressure on the corners. The Falcons have a host of corners that will compete for both starting jobs, but none of current players on the roster has the proven track record of Hall. Atlanta will try and use training camp to cultivate a suitable replacement.

Key position battle

LT Renardo Foster vs. LT Sam Baker: The position responsible for protecting the blindside of a right-handed quarterback (which every QB on the roster is) falls to a second-year undrafted player (Foster) and a rookie first-rounder (Baker). That is a major responsibility for two players with so little experience. Throw Ryan potentially starting at quarterback as a rookie and that is a significant amount of pressure on a trio of young players. The Falcons will face a huge task in getting Foster or Baker ready to handle the duty in training camp and it will also be one of the most important long-term projects for a franchise rebuilding.

Rookie spotlight

LB Curtis Lofton: Known as a run-stuffer in college, Lofton will have to prove he can go sideline-to-sideline from the middle linebacker position and make plays at the next level. He will start as a backup, but will be given an opportunity to earn playing time with second-year player Tony Taylor ahead of him. Flanked by experienced outside linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, Lofton will have a good unit supporting his transition to the pros.

Player on the spot

DE Jamaal Anderson: In his rookie season, Anderson showed he was durable. He also showed that he has plenty of room for improvement. Taken eighth overall in the 2007 draft, Anderson was expected to be an impact playmaker and pass rusher. In his rookie season, he impressively started all 16 games, but finished with just 30 tackles and failed to record a sack. In his second training camp, Anderson needs to demonstrate that he can be a solid bookend to veteran John Abraham on the other side.

Fantasy focus

RB Michael Turner: Turner's move to Atlanta makes him a legitimate No. 2 fantasy back. He'll be the centerpiece of the offense and has eight games against teams that ranked 18th or worse against the run last season. Turner has a terrific shot to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2008.

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I think that about sums it up in a nutshell.:exclamationmark:

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LB Curtis Lofton: Known as a run-stuffer in college, Lofton will have to prove he can go sideline-to-sideline from the middle linebacker position and make plays at the next level. He will start as a backup, but will be given an opportunity to earn playing time with second-year player Tony Taylor ahead of him. Flanked by experienced outside linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, Lofton will have a good unit supporting his transition to the pros.
Yeah right. I think he should beat out Taylor with ease.
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We are not the only team with questions to be answered. In fact, most teams have some question marks at important positions. Every year guys retire or are out of the league for one reason or another. Whoever takes their place is pretty much a question mark.

That said, the only ones who can answer those questions are the players themselves. If everyone buys into the new system, we should do better. Eliminating mistakes and constantly trying to get better is how teams win championships.

GO FALCONS.

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I am still amazed by how MeANgelo has snowed so many folks.  He was an average corner, with a massive ego.  He was burned by every top flight receiver.  HE had one DECENT game against T.O. and Steve Smith.  But Smith exposed him for what he was, a punk b**ch.  So good riddance to MeAngelo.  I'd rather take a kid playing his heart out for the fans, than a big headed ego maniac any day.

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First paragraph fixed:

bossFALCON"! (7/19/2008)
2007 season recap

Challenges from the start: When the previous starting quarterback was imprisoned prior to the season, so did the Falcons' hopes went with him. The ordeal served as a major distraction for the team not to mention that a college level head coach that was hired during last year's postseason turned in his last second notice and vanished off in the middle of the night to Arkansas for a job there leaving only a note behind stating his intentions.  All in all, it was a lost season for the Falcons but they have made great strides by hiring coaches with NFL level experience.

Well, at least that's the way I think we should start seeing it.

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herr doktor (7/20/2008)
I am still amazed by how MeANgelo has snowed so many folks. He was an average corner, with a massive ego. He was burned by every top flight receiver. HE had one DECENT game against T.O. and Steve Smith. But Smith exposed him for what he was, a punk b**ch. So good riddance to MeAngelo. I'd rather take a kid playing his heart out for the fans, than a big headed ego maniac any day.

Posts like this really annoy me...

DLo did have a mouth on him, but there is no denying he has all the talent in the world either. You say he is an AVERAGE corner, yet the Raiders shell out 70M for his services lol... Mind you, he is only 24 too, so i suspect that wont be the biggest contract he ever signs.

If he can check his ego in Oakland, and just play the game... I suspect he will be a premier CB in the NFL within 2 years... JMO He is part of an all world secondary, with 25% off the Raiders cap being tied up by it but i fear he will be earning his paycheck with the lack of pass rush that will be generated...

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