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Here’s what I like about the 2017 Falcons – and, alas, what I don’t - Mark Bradley


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I’m paid to have an opinion. Steely Dan’s (Walter Becker, R.I.P.) best song: “Doctor Wu.” Best Bond: Sean Connery, forever and ever. Best French fries: Still McDonald’s. See?

Regarding the 2017 Atlanta Falcons, I hold two opinions. This embarrasses me. I hate fence-straddling even more than I hate soggy fries. But I see a way this season will go very, very well, and I also see a way it could go … less well. I’ve tried to reconcile this, but no luck. I’m picking the Falcons to have a rather nice record and win the NFC South – that effort should be available in this space soon – because that’s how the majority of me is leaning. But it is, I confess, a majority of 51 percent.

But enough. Here’s what I like about this team – and what I don’t.

Like: Matt Ryan (duh). He’s good. He’s better than good. He’s coming off what was, by 10 miles, his best season.
Don’t like: Matt Ryan. He was 31 when he had that best-by-10-miles season. He’s 32 now, which isn’t old by quarterback standards, but still: When your breakout season comes in Year 9 of an NFL career, is a regression to the mean – not that Ryan’s mean is terrible – imminent?

Like: Vic Beasley Jr., the NFL’s leading sack man. He had 15 ½ sacks for a team that went whole seasons – slight exaggeration, but only slight – without getting 15 ½ sacks from its entire roster. He learned a new position and made the Pro Bowl. He’s 25. He should get better.

Don’t like: Vic Beasley Jr. as a bringer of constant pressure. As Bill Barnwell of ESPN has noted, those 15 ½ sacks came on 16 quarterback knockdowns. (Some sacks were strips, meaning he didn’t deck the passer.) That would seem the football equivalent of a .383 BABIP (batting average on balls in play.) The league average for BABIP is roughly .300. If you’re that far above the mean, you’re also a candidate for slippage. Note that Dansby Swanson’s BABIP was .383 in 38 big-league games last season.

Like: Desmond Trufant. He’s back. He might be the NFL’s best coverage cornerback.

Don’t like: Devonta Freeman, the NFL’s highest-paid running back. He’s good, but let’s face it – running backs in today’s football are kind of interchangeable. So are wideouts, unless you’re Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman is not Julio Jones. Two Septembers ago, he started the season as Tevin Coleman’s backup.

Like: Dan Quinn, fount of positivity. Were I an NFL player, I’d want to play for Quinn. He’s fun to be around. He’s adept with X’s and O’s. (He took over the Falcons’ defense late last season, to impressive results.) He’s almost everything you’d want in a head coach.

Don’t like: Dan Quinn, calming influence. Here’s where the “almost” comes in. Quinn’s first team fell apart after a 6-1 start, a slide he appeared powerless to arrest. The Falcons lost their final game of last season – a big game, if memory serves – because Quinn allowed his players and his offensive coordinator to get ahead of themselves. Aggression begat error which begat outright panic. He’s smart enough to learn from that, but what a lesson to have to absorb.

Like: The continuity of the Falcons’ roster. Most everybody who contributed to last season is back. This roster has been adjudged by Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s best. On paper, this team should be better than last season’s.

Don’t like: The lack of continuity in the Falcons’ coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel could be an upgrade over Richard Smith, who was nothing special, but that can’t yet be known: Manuel hasn’t called a defense before. And there’s no way – none, zero, zilch – the offense will be as good under Steve Sarkisian. With the exception of a couple of calls in NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, Kyle Shanahan had a dream season. There’s no replacing him.

Like: Julio Jones running and leaping and catching. If you care to dub him the NFL’s best player at any position, I won’t argue.

Don’t like: Julio Jones getting injured. And it happens most every year. And he’s coming off foot surgery, his feet having been an issue since he was an undergrad in Tuscaloosa.

Like: The Falcons, defending NFC champs. They’ve proved they can play at the highest level. There should be no game too big for them.

Don’t like: The Falcons, Super Bowl losers. There’s much more pressure on them to prove the blown lead in Houston won’t Define Them than for the Patriots to repeat as champions. All Quinn’s happy talk can’t erase cold reality. When Texas A&M lost to UCLA after leading 44-10, your first though was, “Kind of like the Falcons.” When Georgia Tech lost a game it dominated to Tennessee, your first though was, “Kind of like the Falcons.” They’ve become a trope, a meme, an examplar of epic failure. That’s a lot to get past. Maybe too much.

http://markbradley.blog.myajc.com/2017/09/06/8181/

 
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Just now, JayOzOne said:

I'm okay with everything but the Freeman mention. If running backs are interchangeable, every team would have a 1,000 yard/10 touchdown running back. Some are simply much better than others.

you beat me to it. he says that like running for 2000 yards, getting another 1200 yards receiving and scoring 25 TDs in 2 seasons is easy.

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Quote

 He’s good, but let’s face it – running backs in today’s football are kind of interchangeable.

Let's face it - Bradley likes to repeat platitudes which he doesn't understand and can't properly apply.   The average NFL RB might not change a game significantly.  Devonta Freeman?  not your average NFL RB.

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5 minutes ago, falcoatlantae said:

Let's face it - Bradley likes to repeat platitudes which he doesn't understand and can't properly apply.   The average NFL RB might not change a game significantly.  Devonta Freeman?  not your average NFL RB.

This. It's true that you can find a great running back after the first round (read: Freeman, DeVonta) but it's not a fact that you WILL find a great running back in later rounds. Once you have one, you have to keep him at least for his second contract because drafting them is less science than it is luck.

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12 minutes ago, R_The_Great said:

I like everything about her , she is perfect, great face, body, personality.

I don't like she takes a shower .5 minutes to long

I don't like her anymore

-Bradley

The proper analogy would be:

2016:  I love my girlfriend because she is great in bed.

2017: My girlfriend is soon to be my wife and I'm worried about how she got to be so good in bed.

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thing is Mark, the best QBs of this era-Peyton, Brady, Brees- all took a huge leap in years 8-9, no reason Ryan can't do the same. One of the things that makes me upset with Smith is not putting Ryan in this offense second year.

 

Yes, it's possible to find a 1000 yard rusher, but a 1000 yard rusher who also runs routes like a WR? not so easy.

So, how come Shanahan never had a season like last year before? Doesn't that indicate that Ryan helped KS as much as KS helped him?

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2 hours ago, JayOzOne said:

I'm okay with everything but the Freeman mention. If running backs are interchangeable, every team would have a 1,000 yard/10 touchdown running back. Some are simply much better than others.

throw in that 2 years ago he was injured to start the season and that's why he didn't 'start' .....

 

just another typical lazy Bradley article IMO

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1 hour ago, falconidae said:

thing is Mark, the best QBs of this era-Peyton, Brady, Brees- all took a huge leap in years 8-9, no reason Ryan can't do the same. One of the things that makes me upset with Smith is not putting Ryan in this offense second year.

 

Yes, it's possible to find a 1000 yard rusher, but a 1000 yard rusher who also runs routes like a WR? not so easy.

So, how come Shanahan never had a season like last year before? Doesn't that indicate that Ryan helped KS as much as KS helped him?

:golfclap::golfclap:

 

:tiphat::tiphat:

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2 hours ago, RYNE said:

Running backs are not interchangeable. I hate that stupid notion that people created when Alfred Morris came into the league. 

The notion was created before then.  The Broncos had to start 6 different RB's in one season.  2008.  Worst injury bug I've ever seen at one position for any NFL team.  They were starting guys they picked up off of the street midseason.  And the RB's they were picking up were still averaging over 4 yards per carry.

Edit:  I don't agree with the notion.  That team had a ridiculous OL, system, and they were so dangerous through the air that nobody could stack the box.  Franchise RB's that have the right balance of skill and durability are extremely hard to find.  

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54 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

Compared to Bradley morons look like Pulitzer Prize-winning nuclear physicists.

Bradley was the $@&&@ who was mocking and eviscerating Blank for several weeks during the last head coaching search. 

Bradley portrayed Blank as a bumbling, incompetent owner scaring off all the good coaching candidates. He posted one hate filled piece after another ridiculing Blank when the truth was Blank had his guy in DQ the entire time. 

Bradley never admitted how epically wrong he was for such vitriolic reporting that ended up with egg all over his face. Blank the bumbling owner completely humiliated Bradley by way outsmarting him. 

 

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