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Dwight Freeney could give Falcons additional boost with leadership


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Dwight Freeney could give Falcons additional boost with leadership

Vaughn McClure

Dwight Freeney has been there before.

The seven-time Pro Bowler experienced the ultimate high of winning Super Bowl XLI while with the Indianapolis Colts. He also went through an extreme low as a part of the Colts' 2-14 implosion in 2011 without the injured Peyton Manning.

Such experiences are part of the reason why the 36-year-old Freeney was such a valuable addition to a young Atlanta Falcons defense -- and to the team, period. With the Falcons off to a 4-1 start and riding a four-game winning streak into Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, Freeney surely can offer his own perspective on why how you finish is much more important than how you start.

Remember, the Falcons were 5-0 last season but finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs.

"Last year was a different team, and I wasn't here," Freeney said. "And I'm not saying I'm here to change everything. All I know is I have a lot of experience with over 300 games played. I understand what it takes to win every week and focus in every week.

"Come Mondays, I don't care what we did on Sunday. We're 0-0. We haven't won a game yet, in my mind. I try to talk to the guys about that all the time. At halftime, if we're winning, it's 'Guys, it's 0-0. We haven't done anything yet.' Keep that mentality. Then at the end of the year, you add it all up and it's like, 'We had a great year. We won the Super Bowl.'"

The Falcons need a strong voice to emerge in the locker room, and maybe Freeney can be that guy. The team lost its most vocal leader when linebacker Sean Weatherspoon went down with a season-ending Achilles tear. Then the Falcons' decision to re-sign then cut O'Brien Schofield was just a tease of having Schofield's leadership to fall back on.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has a leadership role, of course, but he's not one you expect to raise his voice often. The team's top player, wide receiver Julio Jones, leads by example. The same has been said about unheralded safety/linebacker Kemal Ishmael.

But Freeney is the one guy in the group with a Super Bowl ring to back his talk.

"In Indianapolis, I think we made it to the playoffs [nine] straight years and [nine] straight years of 10-plus wins. That means at some point, something had to sink in for me,'' Freeney said. "The biggest thing Tony Dungy and those guys instilled was taking things one week at a time. That's all you worry about."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn offered his take on Freeney filling a leadership role.

"It's nice to have a person who has experience, who has had real success, and to go through the process they do to get ready," Quinn said. "One of the things that everybody is just so impressed with Dwight is the process he goes through to get ready. He has relentless film study getting ready for a game. It's very contagious. A player may look and say, 'OK, that's what it looks like,' which is nice not coming from a coach.

"If you know you're really working, you're really battling for it to try and find any edge that you can. And I think that's really what describes Dwight. For sure, that can be an impact on any team, especially a young one."

Not to mention Freeney has started to make a noticeable impact on the field with a sack in each of the last three games. We'll see if he keeps the streak going against the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, who has been sacked nine times this season.

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3 minutes ago, DawnOfThemBirds said:

Let's hope Freeney continues to turn back time and Beasley continues to build off of a career high. Love how they have been getting pressure the past few games.

 

Both could reach double digit sacks.

We are witnessing what we all hoped could happen - a Horn/White situation - where a wily vet comes in and shows the up and comer how to roll.

Beasley could be a future HoF'er if he takes in all Freeney has to offer and humbles himself 

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17 minutes ago, theProf said:

"Come Mondays, I don't care what we did on Sunday. We're 0-0. We haven't won a game yet, in my mind. I try to talk to the guys about that all the time. At halftime, if we're winning, it's 'Guys, it's 0-0. We haven't done anything yet.' Keep that mentality. Then at the end of the year, you add it all up and it's like, 'We had a great year. We won the Super Bowl.'"

This.

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29 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

Freeney is so good at rushing the passer, the young guys just need to watch him prepare and then do his thing on the field. But it's nice we get the bonus of his leadership from a SB team. Another incredible addition in an off-season that was among the best the franchise has ever had.

All that Freeney brings to the table and for only a guaranteed base salary of just $1,000,000 for 2016. Hope there are incentives in his contract for sacks, hurries, and QB hits, because he is definitely worth more than $1 million to the Falcons.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons/dwight-freeney-5013/

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2 minutes ago, theProf said:

All that Freeney brings to the table and for only a guaranteed base salary of just $1,000,000 for 2016. Hope there are incentives in his contract for sacks, hurries, and QB hits, because he is definitely worth more than $1 million to the Falcons.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons/dwight-freeney-5013/

A million for Freeney? Wow. Best value for the money spent of any player on this team. Yeah they better have that contract loaded with incentives.

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1 hour ago, FalconAge said:

Stash his old a** in mothballs and bring him back next year too.

I want next year's first round LEO to get time with him.

Well the way Freeney is playing this year, I would love to see the Falcons bring him back next year too. However, I think they should keep him in the Fountain of Youth rather than stashing him in mothballs.

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