Jump to content

Falcons Team Report


Lowndesfalc
 Share

Recommended Posts

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/team-report-atlanta-falcons-194317990--nfl.html

Team Report - ATLANTA FALCONS

13 hours agoThe SportsXchange



INSIDE SLANT

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith thought their first losing season in six campaigns would never end.

Now, that the 4-12 injury-riddled mark is in the books, they are plotting for a quick turnaround after falling from Super Bowl contenders to tied for last-place in the NFC South.

Over the first five seasons, Dimitroff and Smith made football magic in turning around this once moribund franchise.

In 2008, nearly every move they made (selecting quarterback Matt Ryan over defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey) and free agency (signing running back Michael Turner) worked out fine.

They would follow with more strong drafts and trades (tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receiverJulio Jones) as a first-time general manager/coach partnership.

There have been some bumps along the road, such as selecting defensive tackle Peria Jerry with linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Vontae Davis still on the board and signing cornerback Dunta Robinson and defensive end Ray Edwards. Despite some missteps, they've been widely credited with the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons (2008-09) and with making trips to the playoffs four times. In 2012, the Falcons reached the NFC Championship Game.

They have a recovery plan.

"Again, my comment is that we are going to build and acquire through different approaches, and one can be solely through the draft and one could be supplementing with free agency," Dimitroff said. "We've always said that from the beginning. If the right player is there, both offensively and defensively along the front in both areas, we will consider (the options)."

The Falcons are picking sixth in the draft. They have all seven of their picks and could be awarded some compensatory choices. Dimitroff shared his philosophy on drafting in the top 10.

"We were up there that first year for Matt," Dimitroff said. "That's one of the things that we've talked about is that we've been fortunate and unfortunate with the fact that we went 11-5 that first year because we went from being a top-10 pick type team to going right back to the 20s to 32.

"So, we have not been in that area, but for moving up in the Julio (Jones) case. Honestly, those are the areas that are a lot more fun to evaluate ... it can be a little bit more definitive about the talent in the top 10 vs. trying to project more from 20 to 32."

The Falcons appear to have a glaring need for a big-time pass rusher.

"I think any NFL team needs to have a high-end pass rusher to pressure and to disrupt the quarterback," Dimitroff said. "It doesn't always mean that he has to come out with 22 sacks. It means that there could be a significant amount of sacks as well as a significant amount of pressures and disruptions. It's our goal to find the right mix of those players who can affect the passer, as we always say."

Replacing Gonzalez will be a chore. The Falcons selected Levine Toilolo in the fourth round last season.

"He progressed well," Dimitroff said. "He came in and he had an element of rawness to him. (He is) a big guy who actually has the ability to wall off and block. He continues to get better and better at blocking. He's improving in the hands area."

The Falcons are hoping they'll get a cornerstone for their revival in the draft with that top-10 pick.

"We would be extremely calculated in our decision and our contemplation of taking anyone in the top six quite honestly, because the people that land in the top six slots are difference-makers," Dimitroff said. "If we deemed a difference-maker is there at any position, we would contemplate it."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Falcons coach Mike Smith dismissed the notion that his team was widely viewed as a finesse bunch and lacked toughness.

Smith generally took umbrage with the entire notion when the subject was broached a couple of time during the 2013 season.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank addressed the issue of "toughness."

While Blank doesn't plan to stop taking character into consideration with the Falcons assess players, he wants some tougher players.

Here are his thoughts on the issue of toughness: "I want to be transparent with my answer. ... I'm going to give you a little different answer than what Smitty gave you last week. He was asked a question about how tough our team was. I read his answer. In many ways I would agree with him and in some ways I would not agree with it. I think the nature of the game is that it is a physically violent game. It is a tough game. To play football at the professional level, the college level and even the high school level, you're got to be a tough kid. A tough person.

"I think a lot of our players are certainly that. I think, at the end of the day, if I asked you as a player, to give me a brief definition of what toughness is, I think you might say something to me (like), 'It's how you control the line of scrimmage. Can you run the ball? Can you stop the run? Can you run the ball? Can you stop the run?' You've got pass to put up points in the NFL, we understand that. I don't think we did either one of those things very well this year. I would say if you look at toughness from that perspective, I don't think we were as tough as we needed to be.

"It doesn't mean that we want players that are going to end up in different sections of the newspaper other than the sports section. But I think we do want players that have the capacity to be tough and as tough as they need to be, to play right up to the line, to the edge of the line and we need coaches that are prepared to coach them that way as well."

--Smith and the Falcons' coaching staff were selected by the NFL to coach at the Senior Bowl the week of Jan. 20-25 in Mobile, Ala.

Smith has never coached in the game, but defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has been on a Senior Bowl staff nine times. The Falcons see it as an opportunity to study prospects that will be available in the draft, scheduled for May 8-10.

The Falcons will coach the North team, and the Jacksonville Jaguars staff will coach the South. It's the third time the Falcons have coached in the game (1967, 1978).

"The week of practice provides a great opportunity to get to know these players on a personal level," Smith said. "Being able to coach these young men will give us the ability to work hands-on with them and evaluate them."

--The Falcons defense was ranked 32nd overall on third-down conversions and were also last in the NFL on third-and-long.

On third-and-8 plus, they allowed offenses to convert 43 percent of those plays. The league average on third-and-8 plus was 23.5 percent.

Also, the Falcons had the most imbalanced offense in the NFL. The Falcons passed 68.7 percent, and ran just 31.3 percent.

--Cornerback Jordan Mabin, wide receiver Dominique Croom and tight end Mickey Shuler were signed by the Falcons to contracts for 2014. Mabin, Croom and Shuler spent part of last season on the practice squad.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Mike Tice, former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, who spent seven of his 17 years in the NFL as an offensive line coach, will be charged with whipping the offensive line into shape.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank restated the team's commitment to power football.

That failure contributed heavily to the Falcons' descent from Super Bowl contender to finishing tied for last place in the NFC South. Offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn were terminated after the season.

"I think that (Coach Mike Smith) is looking for coaches that reflect his intensity," Blank said. "Smitty is a very thoughtful guy ... and feels that when he came to the Falcons in 2008, he was committed to playing a certain brand of (power) football, controlling the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively. To some extent, we've gotten away from that for a variety of reasons.

"He wants to recommit himself and recommit the team to that. He felt that the coaching changes would give him an opportunity to do that as well as any appropriate changes (to) the roster."

Like Smith's other recent hires, Tice has worked with him in the past. He was assistant head coach/offense on the Jacksonville staff in 2006 and was the assistant head coach/tight ends from 2007-09, while Smith served as the defensive coordinator until joining the Falcons in 2008.

Tice, 54, who went to Maryland, played in the league as a tight end for Seattle (1981-1988), Washington (1989), Seattle (1990-91) and Minnesota (1992-93, 95) after going undrafted.

He coached with the Vikings as the tight ends coach (1996), the offensive line coach (1997-2001) and served as the interim head coach (2001) before becoming the head coach (2002-2005).

After his Jacksonville stint, Tice was the offensive line coach for the Bears, who struggled in pass protection, in part because of Mike Martz' passing system. He was the Bears offensive coordinator in 2012 and was terminated when they hired Marc Trestman last January.

Tice has a monumental task to reshape the Falcons offensive line.

The unit allowed 44 sacks, 100 quarterback hits and allowed quarterbacks Matt Ryan andDominique Davis to be hurried on 206 plays. On 38.4 percent of the pass attempts last season, the pocket was compromised.

However, Tice's lines have had trouble protecting the passer, too.

In his seven seasons as an offensive line coach, his unit was ranked in the bottom 10 in sacks allowed three times. In 2010, his Chicago Bears line led the league with 56 sacks allowed. In 2011, his Chicago line gave up 49 sacks, fifth-worst in the league. In 2001, his Minnesota line gave up 47 sacks, which ranked seventh-worst in the league.

In 1998, Tice had his best pass-protecting unit with Minnesota. They gave up 25 sacks and ranked 25th in the league.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE

Scheduled to be unrestricted in March

--DL Jonathan Babineaux

--DT Peria Jerry

--DT Corey Peters

--C/GJoe Hawley

--T Mike Johnson

--TE Chase Coffman

--CB Dominique Franks

--T Jeremy Trueblood

--LB Omar Gaither

--T Sean Locklear

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Matt Ryan. Backup - Dominique Davis.

Ryan completed 439 of 651 passes (67.4 percent) for 4,515 yards and 26 touchdowns. He became the team's all-time leading passer, while playing behind a makeshift offensive line. He was sacked 44 times, hit 100 times and hurried on 206 plays. On 38.4 percent of the pass attempts, his pocket was broken. He threw a career-high 17 interceptions and had four of them returned for touchdowns. Backup Davis played 12 snaps against Tampa Bay before he was knocked out of the game and Ryan had to return. Ryan played 1,088 snaps, mostly under great duress, and performed admirably considering the circumstances.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters - Steven Jackson, FB Patrick DiMarco. Backups - Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, Josh Vaughan.

The Falcons ran the ball only 31.3 percent of the time, which was a league low for the most imbalanced offense in the league. Jackson, who was supposed to replace Michael Turner, never got going and dropped too many passes. He was hailed as a pass-catching threat, but he showed that only sporadically. Jackson, who missed four games with a hamstring injury, rushed 157 times for 543 yards and six touchdowns. He turns 31 in July. The Falcons finished last in the NFL in rushing, averaging 77.9 yards per game. Rodgers and Snelling were steady in reserve roles. Antone Smith was dazzling when he got touches. Vaughan played on specials when he was active.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Tony Gonzalez. Backups - Levine Toilolo, Chase Coffman.

After missing training camp to be with his family, Gonzalez got into a groove with a 12-catch game vs. New England in Game 4. He finished his 17th season in the league with 83 catches for 859 yards and eight touchdowns. Toilolo, who was a little stiff and raw, saw limited action. He has a future as a Y (blocking) tight end. Coffman battled a knee injury and wasn't really a factor.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Roddy White, Harry Douglas. Backups - Darius Johnson, Drew Davis, Kevin Cone. Injured reserve: Julio Jones.

The unit's production was compromised as they never worked together during training camp. Jones had a hamstring injury during training camp. When Jones got healthy, White went down with a high ankle sprain. Instead of going with Douglas and Davis, the Falcons used a hobbled White as a decoy. White, who suffered a subsequent hamstring injury favoring the ankle, didn't get healthy until the Falcons' record was 2-9. Douglas posted his first 1,000-yard season and led the team with 85 catches and nine drops. Johnson, an undrafted rookie, pitched in with 22 catches.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Lamar Holmes, LG Justin Blalock, C Joe Hawley, RG Peter Konz, RT Ryan Schraeder. Backups - T Jeremy Trueblood, T Terren Jones, G Harland Gunn, G Garrett Reynolds. Injured reserve: LT Sam Baker, RT Mike Johnson.

Konz and Holmes, the central figures in the line rebuild, had tough years. Konz, a second-round pick in 2012, gave up six sacks, three hits and 33 hurries, according to profootballfocus.com. Holmes, a third-round pick in 2012, gave up 10 sacks, 13 hits and 53 hurries. Left guard Justin Blalock was the only player with a stable grade in pass protection. The entire unit struggled with run blocking. Schraeder, an undrafted rookie from Valdosta State, got some valuable experience late in the season and looks like a keeper. Experienced line coach Mike Tice was added to whip this unit into shape. A top draft pick and/or strategic free-agent signing will add to the competition.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Jonathan Massaquoi, DT Peria Jerry, DT Jonathan Babineaux, RDE Osi Umenyiora. Backups -- DE Malliciah Goodman, DE Stansly Maponga, DT Travian Robertson. Injured reserve: DT Corey Peters, DE Kroy Biermann.

The unit lost high-energy producer Biermann (Achilles) in the second game of the season. Umenyiora finished the season as a designated pass rusher. That left plenty of time to develop Massaquoi, Goodman and Maponga. Massaquoi started to come on down the stretch. All of the tackles are prospective unrestricted free agents. Peters (Achilles) ended up the season on injured reserve along with Biermann. The unit ranked 31st against the run giving up 135.8 yards per game. The Falcons had only 32 sacks, tied for 30th with Houston. Only Jacksonville (31) and Chicago (31) had fewer. Biermann could be ready by May, while Peters may not be ready until training camp.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB Joplo Bartu, MLB Paul Worrilow, WLB Sean Weatherspoon. Backups - Stephen Nicholas, SLB Akeem Dent, MLB Omar Gaither.

Weatherspoon, the unit's top defender, played in only seven games after suffering foot, knee and shoulder injuries. Undrafted rookies Bartu (789 snaps) and Worrilow contributed heavily. Bartu was strong against the run and has enough speed to improve in coverage. Veterans Dent and Nicholas were demoted and may not figure in the team's future plans. Worrilow played 790 snaps and led the team in tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: LCB Robert Alford, RCB Desmond Trufant, SS William Moore, FS Thomas DeCoud. Backups -- CB Robert McClain, CB Asante Samuel, CB Dominique Franks, S Kemal Ishmael, S Zeke Motta.

The play of rookie Trufant was one of the bright spots. He was one of 10 rookies picked in the first round to play more than 1,000 snaps. Alford, the team's second-round pick, showed flashes. Moore kept things together, while DeCoud's level of play dipped. McClain finished strong at nickel back after a bumpy start to the season. The enigmatic Samuel ended the season on the bench.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Matt Bryant, P Matt Bosher, KOR Jacquizz Rodgers, PR Robert McClain, LS Josh Harris.

Bryant made 34 of his 35 field-goal attempts. Bosher averaged 41.1 net yards on his punts. The kickoff-return team averaged 24.4 yards per game. The team went through three punt returners before going with the steady McClain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

good read, thanks.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE

Scheduled to be unrestricted in March

--DL Jonathan Babineaux - I would move on, but TD wants to keep

--DT Peria Jerry - gone

--DT Corey Peters - keep

--C/GJoe Hawley - keep

--T Mike Johnson - gone

--TE Chase Coffman - gone

--CB Dominique Franks - gone

--T Jeremy Trueblood - gone

--LB Omar Gaither - gone

--T Sean Locklear - gone

That tells you about the strength of our roster. Honestly there isnt a player on that list that would break my heart if we let walk. I like Babs, but his age says he wont get any better, which means he can be upgraded moving forward. Peters has talent for sure, but his injury makes me non-committal on bringing him back. When we ranked near the bottom in all defensive catagories, it is hard to say any player is a musthave going forward.

I could also see us parting ways with:

Samuel

Nicholas

Umenyiora

DeCoud

Reynolds

Robertson

Snelling

Ewing

Link to comment
Share on other sites

good read, thanks.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE

Scheduled to be unrestricted in March

--DL Jonathan Babineaux - I would move on, but TD wants to keep

--DT Peria Jerry - gone

--DT Corey Peters - keep

--C/GJoe Hawley - keep

--T Mike Johnson - gone

--TE Chase Coffman - gone

--CB Dominique Franks - gone

--T Jeremy Trueblood - gone

--LB Omar Gaither - gone

--T Sean Locklear - gone

That tells you about the strength of our roster. Honestly there isnt a player on that list that would break my heart if we let walk. I like Babs, but his age says he wont get any better, which means he can be upgraded moving forward. Peters has talent for sure, but his injury makes me non-committal on bringing him back. When we ranked near the bottom in all defensive catagories, it is hard to say any player is a musthave going forward.

I could also see us parting ways with:

Samuel

Nicholas

Umenyiora

DeCoud

Reynolds

Robertson

Snelling

Ewing

I think we should definitely resign Peters. Yes he got injured, but he knows the system and he will not be getting a big contract from anybody while injured. At worst, he's great depth. At best, he continues to improve and is an impact NT. The guy quietly had 5 sacks and 2 PD's this season, which is outstanding for a NT. If we don't resign him, that would be a mistake.

Jerry and Babs are the only other 2 on that list that we should even consider. That would be based more on contract demands than anything else. Babs is 32 and coming off a down year statistically, he would not get paid much in the open market. If we can get him at a bargain, we should bring him back, even if his role diminishes to passing downs. I'd make the same argument for Jerry. He quietly had 3.5 sacks this season, but seemed a lot more mobile than he has in year's past. If he's cheap, it would be good to have him here for depth and competition.

I don't want to see us with the same DL next season, so don't take this post as me thinking we should head into 2014 depending on these 3 guys. I'm just saying that they could be "good value" signings. We can't go into next season with all rookies on the DT depth chart...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we should definitely resign Peters. Yes he got injured, but he knows the system and he will not be getting a big contract from anybody while injured. At worst, he's great depth. At best, he continues to improve and is an impact NT. The guy quietly had 5 sacks and 2 PD's this season, which is outstanding for a NT. If we don't resign him, that would be a mistake.

Jerry and Babs are the only other 2 on that list that we should even consider. That would be based more on contract demands than anything else. Babs is 32 and coming off a down year statistically, he would not get paid much in the open market. If we can get him at a bargain, we should bring him back, even if his role diminishes to passing downs. I'd make the same argument for Jerry. He quietly had 3.5 sacks this season, but seemed a lot more mobile than he has in year's past. If he's cheap, it would be good to have him here for depth and competition.

I don't want to see us with the same DL next season, so don't take this post as me thinking we should head into 2014 depending on these 3 guys. I'm just saying that they could be "good value" signings. We can't go into next season with all rookies on the DT depth chart...

I agree w everything you said, especially on Peters. I could see signing him to a 3 year deal or so.

My point was only to say that basically every guy on that list could be upgraded. But for value, I think we need to keep Peters. Babs would have to be cheap IMO. Same goes for Jerry. I would only want 1 of those 2 for depth, with Peters and a new face starting and another new guy as the #4 DT. Honestly w Jerry only being a few years younger than Babs, and basically more damaged, Babs may hold up longer. He is a machine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanna keep jerry and peters, babineaux is washed up and no longer good. Add an f.a or draft pick dt and our dts might be decent again. Ill also keep hawley and coffmann.

Babs was our best lineman, wasn't he? So I don't agree he's washed up.

Keep Babs, Peters, Hawley and Coffman.

Everyone else can get lost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Babs was our best lineman, wasn't he? So I don't agree he's washed up.

Keep Babs, Peters, Hawley and Coffman.

Everyone else can get lost.

One sack like 14 missed tackles and is 31, definitely should be let go. If dimmi bothers with him like I think he will (sjax), its going to backfire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope the following comment was a smokescreen:

"We would be extremely calculated in our decision and our contemplation of taking anyone in the top six quite honestly, because the people that land in the top six slots are difference-makers," Dimitroff said. "If we deemed a difference-maker is there at any position, we would contemplate it."

There will be offensive skills players available who are "difference makers." If they waste any amount of time in their draft prep "contemplating" an offensive player who is not OL, they should all be fired. There is no QB, WR, RB, or TE who can make a difference on this team until the OL gets fixed. And the D is just as big a weakness...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One sack like 14 missed tackles and is 31, definitely should be let go. If dimmi bothers with him like I think he will (sjax), its going to backfire.

He was the only one of our linemen to actually get in the back field. I don't really look at sacks as a determining factor for a DT. As for missed tackles.....less than once a game??? I'll take that! At least hes not blown out on the play. Most of the other linemen aren't even on the screen while the play is going on. They are being Oher'd like in The Blind Side. <-- That was a horrible joke...... Edited by Krammmit
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He was the only one of our linemen to actually get in the back field. I don't really look at sacks as a determining factor for a DT. As for missed tackles.....less than once a game??? I'll take that! At least hes not blown out on the play. Most of the other linemen aren't even on the screen while the play is going on. They are being Oher'd like in The Blind Side.

Peters ended up with 5 sacks. That's great production from a NT.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

good read, thanks.

FREE-AGENT UPDATE

Scheduled to be unrestricted in March

--DL Jonathan Babineaux - I would move on, but TD wants to keep

--DT Peria Jerry - gone

--DT Corey Peters - keep

--C/GJoe Hawley - keep

--T Mike Johnson - gone

--TE Chase Coffman - gone

--CB Dominique Franks - gone

--T Jeremy Trueblood - gone

--LB Omar Gaither - gone

--T Sean Locklear - gone

That tells you about the strength of our roster. Honestly there isnt a player on that list that would break my heart if we let walk. I like Babs, but his age says he wont get any better, which means he can be upgraded moving forward. Peters has talent for sure, but his injury makes me non-committal on bringing him back. When we ranked near the bottom in all defensive catagories, it is hard to say any player is a musthave going forward.

I could also see us parting ways with:

Samuel

Nicholas

Umenyiora

DeCoud

Reynolds

Robertson

Snelling

Ewing

I think we could get Peters back quite cheaply due to his injury. I also think we should make every effort to bring back Babs so long as he doesn't demand an outrageous contract.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want Babineaux, Peters, Hawley, Coffman, and Franks back. Hawley can compete for a starting job at C/RG. Coffman and Franks are nice players to have in the #2/#3 TE and #4/#5 CB role. Franks is a very serviceable CB, he just needs to stay away from the return game.

Samuel, Nicholas, DeCoud, Reynolds, and Matthews should all be cut. And possibly Jackson (or Snelling) as well. Doing so would save between $10 and $13 in cap space, and most of those players could be replaced by rookie draft picks or players already on the roster.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can someone tell me where we ranked in the KR & PR department? There is plenty where we are ranked in the other stats here! I feel there are plenty better Special Team Coaches than Armstrong...I mean, he had how many PR before stickiing with one?

Edited by Club212
Link to comment
Share on other sites

see I am torn. I like Babs and Peters, but the bottom line is with this duo we were 3rd to last in sacks, and one of the worst in the NFL stopping the run. That alone makes it hard for me to say bring them both back. I would guess they are both 3-5M a season guys in a new deal, so we should be aiming to upgrade the spots. Not getting either of these guys at vet minimum, and both will want to start, and be paid accordingly.

If I were to keep one, it would likely be Peters. Babs had a good career here, but he was outplayed by Peters this season, and Babs arrow is pointing down, or level at best, while Peters (when healthy) is still improving.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...