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Falcons O-linemen Turkeys No More


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Falcon offensive linemen are turkeys no more

By Terence Moore | Monday, November 24, 2008, 05:03 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Nobody involved with Atlanta sports got ripped more often in recent years than Falcons offensive linemen, and there was a reason for this: They were awful.

Only six NFL teams allowed more sacks than the Falcons’ silly total of 133 during the previous three seasons.

Now get this when it comes to what essentially is that same group of offensive linemen: They are awesome. They rank as the hidden reason for all that is good for the 7-4 Falcons right now. Matt Ryan’s veteran play as a rookie. The splendid pounding of Michael Turner in his first season as a featured NFL running back. An opportunistic defense that is rested for long stretches courtesy of the offense’s sustained drives. The explosion at wide receiver, particularly that of Roddy White.

After allowing 47 sacks last year, the Falcons offensive line is on pace for barely 19 this season. That means Ryan has time to throw, which gives White and others chances to catch and shine. Plus, only the New York Giants rush for more yards per game than the Falcons.

What’s up with this? “I think it’s the new coaching staff, and just the climate around the facility has been completely different than before,” said guard Justin Blalock, the epitome of it all. He is prospering in his second NFL season after having “bust” as his middle name as a rookie. As for that new coaching staff and climate, Blalock was referring to head coach Mike Smith in general and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau in particular.

While Smith has brought professionalism to the Falcons after a year with overmatched college guy Bobby Petrino and Jim Mora’s buddy approach with players before that, Boudreau has brought two decades of NFL competence. He was inheriting incompetence with the Falcons offensive line, or so it seemed.

Nice-guy tackle Todd Weiner bit his lip, before saying, “Yeah, I mean, it’s hard for me to say we were bad, because we led the league in rushing (for three straight years through 2006). Then all of a sudden we had this negative press.” Weiner thought about Boudreau, before chuckling, “He heard all that stuff that was said about us too. I don’t know how he took it.”

Well, Boudreau heard it, studied it, and then forgot about it. He held an open competition. He also implemented more than a few X’s and O’s.

“What I tried to do on my first day on the job was to say, ‘Hey, listen,’ ” said Boudreau, whose lines have helped the likes of Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and Fred Taylor. “I told them, ‘Some of you guys are set in your ways. Hey, Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, and he has a coach. So I might not be here to change everything about you, but if it’s working, I’m going to leave you alone. If it’s not working, we’re going to change it. And if you start to stray off and go back to bad habits, we’re going to get it corrected.’

“With their hand placement, with their foot work, with their stances, they’ve really jumped on board.”

So much so that they’ve bonded on and off the field. Rookie tackle Sam Baker has this deal on Friday mornings, when he provides breakfasts for the group during its weekly chitchat before coaches arrive. Veteran center Todd McClure just fried a turkey for everybody at his home.

The biggest thing: Falcons offensive linemen aren’t turkeys by Thanksgiving for the first time in years.

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TM is just suking up tho the AFMB's.

He will stab us in the back the first chance he gets.

Always has and always will.

On the flip side TM is decent on Nat Broadcast, and that is

because his comments have to get prior approval.

True to the Falcons:

Ledbetter AJC

Adam Krohn Dalton




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