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Falcons Ready To Face The ‘Dream Team' : Ajc Article


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Falcons ready to face the ‘Dream Team'

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FLOWERY BRANCH — When considering the full assemblage of talent, newly signed quarterback Vince Young dubbed the Philadelphia Eagles the “Dream Team” of the NFL.

  • “Vince kind of said it jokingly,” Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. “He’s now been introduced to the Philadelphia media. We can’t get caught up in all of that stuff.”

The Falcons and Eagles both had made splashes in the offseason, where bold personnel moves were the order of the day. They will meet at 8:20 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome in a nationally televised game.

While Reid wants to run from the label, it appears that it’s sticking.

“I’m sure they are tired of the whole ‘Dream Team’ phrase, but they put it on themselves,” Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli said. “They have a lot of good players, which is why people throw that [term] around.”

Both teams were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs and knew they needed to upgrade in order to keep up with Packers, who won the Super Bowl with 16 players on injured reserve. The Falcons and Eagles thought they had to close the talent gap.

“That’s the goal of our entire organization, to be the best that we can be,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “There are different situations and scenarios that every team is going through to be able to do the moves that they feel will make them better.”

The Eagles were knocked out by the Packers 21-16 in the wild-card round. The Falcons lost 48-21 in the divisional round.

In April, the Falcons consummated a 5-for-1 trade with the Cleveland Browns to move up 21 spots in the NFL draft to select wide receiver Julio Jones.

Once the lockout was lifted, the Falcons went to work signing 37 players — including defensive end Ray Edwards, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety James Sanders — and spent more than $127 million. They also released two former first-round draft picks in defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson and wide receiver Michael Jenkins. When the dust settled, they had spent 98.35 percent of their $120.375 million salary cap.

The Eagles were quiet during the draft, but when the lockout was lifted they signed a dazzling array of veteran free agents and spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

They signed quarterback Michael Vick to a $100 million contract extension. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was the star of their free-agent class. He inked a five-year, $60 million deal.

They also signed former Pro Bowl running back Ronnie Brown, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, defensive end Jason Babin, wide receiver Steve Smith and offensive lineman Evan Mathis and Young. When the Eagles were done, they had used 94.92 percent of their salary-cap allotment for 2011.

The Eagles also made a blockbuster trade with Arizona that landed them former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

“I’ll tell you what,” Reid said. “It was awesome to watch.”

He credited general manager Howie Roseman and president Joe Banner with making their personnel moves.

“They brought in some good football players, and we’ve had some good football players here,” Reid said. “It was not necessarily new players. It was how it all happened so quick with the lockout. They had a great plan, and they stuck to it.”

He also credited owner Jeffrey Lurie for his willingness to spend. “He allowed us to go out and do it,” Reid said.

The Eagles already had one of the top cornerbacks in the league in Asante Samuel. Now, with Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, the secondary figures to be tough against the pass.

“Their defense looks good,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Then you look at Nnamdi on the outside, he’s a talented corner. We played against Asante last year. It’s a talented group of guys, that’s for sure.”

The Falcons don’t plan to let the “name” players the Eagles have on their roster intimidate them.

“We can’t focus on that,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “It was a wild and crazy offseason. A lot of moves were made. People were doing a lot of things in free agency. We can’t bother ourselves with that. We have to recognize the level of talent of the guys they have and plan accordingly.”

" Beating Vick would be biggest win of Matt Ryan’s career

8:42 am September 15, 2011, by Jeff Schultz

It may sound strange considering Matt Ryan won 33 games in his first three seasons, won games that got the Falcons into the playoffs, won games in the fourth quarter and has beaten Green Bay (twice), New Orleans (twice) Baltimore and the New York Jets, among others.

But a win Sunday would be the biggest of Ryan’s career.

The Falcons play Philadelphia, a potential Super Bowl team. More importantly, the game is the first meeting between Ryan and Michael Vick as starters. (Ryan was injured during the first meeting between the teams with Vick coming off the bench; Ryan started the second meeting but Vick was injured.)

Regardless of who wins this game, there still will be Ryan fans and Vick fans, Falcons fans and anti-Falcons fans. But this will be Ryan’s first chance to win a game over Vick, who at his peak probably had a bigger hold on this city than any athlete in history.

Vick’s post-prison rebirth has been an amazing story, and the fact he is playing for one of the NFL’s premier teams makes it even bigger. For those who’ve held a grudge against Vick since he was instrumental in trainwrecking the Falcons franchise, that has been difficult to take.

There is no question the Falcons made the right call on Vick. He had inflicted too much damage on the franchise, betrayed trusts and burned bridges. Beyond the fact that there were no guarantees he ever would be a premier player again – and the odds certainly were against it — the team couldn’t wait around for two or three years without a starting quarterback. Going after Ryan was the absolute correct move.

But Vick hangover still exists, and this is Ryan’s opportunity to ease that.

It’s only the second game of the season. But if the Falcons win, Ryan won’t have a bigger one on his resume."

By Jeff Schultz

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Jeff Schultz

" Beating Vick would be biggest win of Matt Ryan’s career

8:42 am September 15, 2011, by Jeff Schultz

It may sound strange considering Matt Ryan won 33 games in his first three seasons, won games that got the Falcons into the playoffs, won games in the fourth quarter and has beaten Green Bay (twice), New Orleans (twice) Baltimore and the New York Jets, among others.

But a win Sunday would be the biggest of Ryan’s career.

The Falcons play Philadelphia, a potential Super Bowl team. More importantly, the game is the first meeting between Ryan and Michael Vick as starters. (Ryan was injured during the first meeting between the teams with Vick coming off the bench; Ryan started the second meeting but Vick was injured.)

Regardless of who wins this game, there still will be Ryan fans and Vick fans, Falcons fans and anti-Falcons fans. But this will be Ryan’s first chance to win a game over Vick, who at his peak probably had a bigger hold on this city than any athlete in history.

Vick’s post-prison rebirth has been an amazing story, and the fact he is playing for one of the NFL’s premier teams makes it even bigger. For those who’ve held a grudge against Vick since he was instrumental in trainwrecking the Falcons franchise, that has been difficult to take.

There is no question the Falcons made the right call on Vick. He had inflicted too much damage on the franchise, betrayed trusts and burned bridges. Beyond the fact that there were no guarantees he ever would be a premier player again – and the odds certainly were against it — the team couldn’t wait around for two or three years without a starting quarterback. Going after Ryan was the absolute correct move.

But Vick hangover still exists, and this is Ryan’s opportunity to ease that.

It’s only the second game of the season. But if the Falcons win, Ryan won’t have a bigger one on his resume."

By Jeff Schultz

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