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TD Promised Blank In January That The OL Fiasco During the 2018 Season Would Not Happen Again


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Report: Falcons GM promised owner he’d fix OL via the draft in January

The Falcons may have landed two great offensive linemen as a result, but what sparked the promise?

By Dave Choate May 21, 2019, 8:00am EDT

 

The Falcons told us all along they were going to make the offensive line a priority. Dan Quinn even made an uncharacteristically bold and blunt statement about the line early in the offseason when he suggested the team could replace as many as three starters. The Falcons didn’t have a ton of cap space heading into the year, so it was reasonable to doub that they’d get that done, but lo and behold they’ve overhauled LG, RG, and RT in the span of a single offseason.

The challenge all along has been figuring out exactly what caused the Falcons to address the group with such urgency, given the abundance of needs. The Falcons did not address defensive end with the same ferocity we were expecting—though Tyeler Davison and Adrian Clayborn are both good fits, and John Cominsky could be interesting—and all told poured their two largest free agent contracts and two first round picks into the unit. I’m not suggesting the offensive line was great in 2019, but much of that hinged on Ryan Schraeder’s sudden (and perhaps injury-related) decline, the injuries to both Brandon Fusco and Andy Levitre that forced the Falcons to trot out the likes of Zane Beadles at guard, and therefore could have been partially addressed by glue and duct tape.

It certainly seems that both the owner and the GM arrived at the conclusion that exposing the franchise cornerstone to harm—not to mention a largely woeful rushing attack—was not something they could afford to repeat. From Albert Breer in Sports Illustrated:

Interesting backstory here—After his offensive line disappointed in 2018, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff quietly made a January promise to owner Arthur Blank that it wouldn’t happen again, and pledged that at least one, and maybe two, of his first three picks in the 2019 draft would be spent in that area. Then he did Blank one better by drafting Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom with his first pick (14th overall) before dealing back into the first round to get Washington tackle Kaleb McGary at 31, believing the two would bring a toughness and nastiness Atlanta needs. Add those moves to what the Falcons did in free agency (adding James Carpenter and Jamon Brown), and Dimitroff has followed through with his promise.

In the final analysis, the Falcons executed that plan well. Breer reiterates that Lindstrom was in play at #11 for the Bengals until Jonah Williams fell and would’ve been an option at #18, perhaps instead of Garrett Bradbury to the Vikings. The move up for Kaleb McGary may have deprived the Patriots of a target and certainly snagged him ahead of tackle-needy teams early, and both players have Pro Bowl caliber upside. Given the team’s immediate and long-term needs along the offensive line, it’s hard to argue that anything they did here was a mistake, though it would’ve been nice to have a pick on the draft’s second day.

But there’s something about this anecdote that makes me profoundly uneasy, even if the end result could be very promising. Reading between the lines here, it’s hard to avoid the impression that either Blank demanded that Dimitroff fix the offensive line or Dimitroff had already zeroed in on using significant draft capital on doing so in January, four full months before the 2019 NFL Draft. Either way, the team appears to have locked into drafting 1-2 OL in the early rounds before they could have reasonably looked over all their options in the draft, which carries a very real danger of causing you to ignore players available who can help with other needs. There’s little question the Falcons are Matt Ryan’s team and protecting him is paramount, but this team still has to play defense at a reasonably high level, and they have two safeties returning from injuries and real question marks along the defensive front, question marks that were not addressed the way I think many of us thought they would be. The team’s offense is set up to be a juggernaut for the next 3-5 years, thankfully, but if the defense scuffles again looking back isn’t going to be fun.

In the end, the results still matter most. If Lindstrom and McGary are great and the Falcons are a playoff team—and I’m still betting on that last outcome, at least—these kinds of little nagging questions about the team’s process and planning will vanish just like that. The uncomfortable thing is trying to make sense of three coordinator firings, a team locked on to offensive linemen, and a restless-or-maybe-not-that-restless owner without letting a little bit of fear slip in here in May.

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"Either way, the team appears to have locked into drafting 1-2 OL in the early rounds before they could have reasonably looked over all their options in the draft, which carries a very real danger of causing you to ignore players available who can help with other needs."

Just no. I do not think it went down that way.

They got exactly who they wanted 1 and 2 to help this team going forward.

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Some of us have tired of our interior OL being unable to hold a pocket for Ryan for years, unable to impose its will on defenses in short yardage when we just need a freaking yard for Gods sake.

Tired of seeing our OL get abused for years, blown back off the ball and thrown around like rag dolls in critical game situations.

Ryan has helped cover up a lot of the issues, but he’s been taking a pounding with many fans not giving a dam he’s taking a pounding or making excuses for an OL that had inherent  weaknesses.

Well, we finally added size, power, mass, youth, talent, strength and attitude to the OL and the additions are still athletic and mobile. We will now be able to impose our will at the LOS.

 

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39 minutes ago, Tim Mazetti said:

"Either way, the team appears to have locked into drafting 1-2 OL in the early rounds before they could have reasonably looked over all their options in the draft, which carries a very real danger of causing you to ignore players available who can help with other needs."

Just no. I do not think it went down that way.

They got exactly who they wanted 1 and 2 to help this team going forward.

Yeah, I don't think the Lindstrom and McGary selections were as desperate or hasty as Choate implies in that statement. Especially the McGary selection. They saw an opportunity and pounced on it, and they still got a good haul in the rest of the draft.

It's hard to find NFL-ready OL talent straight out of college nowadays, especially past the first two rounds. TD has echoed that time and again, so double-dipping at OL in the first round shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise. I'd call it more of a preemptive move than a desperate one, but time will tell if TD made the right choices.

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4 minutes ago, rcky_mtn_falcon said:

Dimitroff sits in Arthur's booth during the games. I'm sure after the injuries and Schraders decline they discussed during games that Matt is taking to many hits, and the patch work needs to end. If we want Matt to be able to play as long as possible we've got to stop letting him get hit 100 times a year.

Ryan had a bad injury to his left wrist last seas9n that dogged him, but he’s tough as nails and would play with a broken leg if he had to.

Problem is, if that had been his throwing arm he wouldn’t have been able to throw the ball. I think that woke Blank up, realizing Ryan is at an age where we can’t let him keep getting pounded on by defenses.

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1 hour ago, OilFuturesTrader19 said:

End of season meeting in Blank's office.

Arthur  standing behind his desk, Quinn and Dimi seated facing him. Blank staring down at his desk....Dimi and Quinn nervously awaiting his first words......

Arthur speaks, "Fix the mutherf*kin offensive line!!!. Any questions?"

Arthur Blank takes care of his Quarterbacks!

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1 hour ago, Tim Mazetti said:

"Either way, the team appears to have locked into drafting 1-2 OL in the early rounds before they could have reasonably looked over all their options in the draft, which carries a very real danger of causing you to ignore players available who can help with other needs."

Just no. I do not think it went down that way.

They got exactly who they wanted 1 and 2 to help this team going forward.

Yeah that's a really stupid thing for that writer to say. Very uninformed, with no more insight than the average fan who watches maybe five or six games per season. These front offices prepare for drafts like medical students prepare to take exams in school. Well, the Smart Ones do anyway.

Every time I read this dude, I'll find something very amateurish in his preparation.

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9 minutes ago, gazoo said:

Ryan had a bad injury to his left wrist last seas9n that dogged him, but he’s tough as nails and would play with a broken leg if he had to.

Problem is, if that had been his throwing arm he wouldn’t have been able to throw the ball. I think that woke Blank up, realizing Ryan is at an age where we can’t let him keep getting pounded on by defenses.

Wow! I didn't know that. Maybe that's why we scored less than 20 points during that stretch. Must have happened during the Brown's game.

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I think some are reaching because they would have done things different....

 

TD said last year that they were eyeing an O-Lineman ( I think it was wynn) but that run on OLINE happen.

 

This year we was picling earlier so we was at the beginning of the run.

 

I do think Mr.Blank said we can't have what happen last year happen again.... So we grabbed our guy but I don't think it was desperation.

 

 

 

Sidenote: my gawd Ryan Schraeder was badddd last year... He looked stiff like he couldn't move like he had a back injury... I thought he just struggled at the end of the year.... Mannnnn he was getting beat alllllll year 

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8 minutes ago, Falcons Fan MVP said:

Wow! I didn't know that. Maybe that's why we scored less than 20 points during that stretch. Must have happened during the Brown's game.

Yeah, you’ll never hear Ryan complain about anything, except in Super Bowl when he screamed “RUN THE FING BALL”

Ryan also had a foot injury last year he refused to complain about. 

I think Blank realized the importance of keeping Ice Man healthy if we want any chance at winning a Super Bowl.

Another part of the calculus of grabbing 2 OL this year, was it was a good year for OL, and next year is supposed to be a weak class for seniors. If juniors come out early, they are much bigger gambles and take longer to develop anyway, so we went for two highly talented OL who had played a ton of college snaps against top competition, virtually ready to plug and play. 

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2 hours ago, Monoxide said:

I love both Blank and Dimitroff more than words. However, if Dimitroff truly based his entire draft strategy (including a 1st round trade-up) on the owner griping, that’s bothersome to me. In the grand scheme of things, AB is no different than you and I when it comes to watching from the comfort of a couch/press box. Arthur Blank is a businessman, not a talent evaluator.

Agree 100%....let the GM do his job. It seems things don’t go well when owners are to hands on.

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4 hours ago, Monoxide said:

I love both Blank and Dimitroff more than words. However, if Dimitroff truly based his entire draft strategy (including a 1st round trade-up) on the owner griping, that’s bothersome to me. In the grand scheme of things, AB is no different than you and I when it comes to watching from the comfort of a couch/press box. Arthur Blank is a businessman, not a talent evaluator.

 

1 hour ago, Atl Falcon said:

Agree 100%....let the GM do his job. It seems things don’t go well when owners are to hands on.

Blank probably just demanded improvement from the offensive line. That could mean through the draft, free agency or trying to coach up the guys they had last year. I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Ryan said something to the coaching staff and front office about protection needing to improve for the offense to live up to it's full potential. 

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6 hours ago, OilFuturesTrader19 said:

End of season meeting in Blank's office.

Arthur  standing behind his desk, Quinn and Dimi seated facing him. Blank staring down at his desk....Dimi and Quinn nervously awaiting his first words......

Arthur speaks, "Fix the mutherf*kin offensive line!!!. Any questions?"

I have said it many times, this feels like the offseason of Blank more than anyone else.  He mandated Quinn be the DC and Ryan remain upright.  If you don’t like it, visit HR on the way out

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8 hours ago, atljbo said:

I think some are reaching because they would have done things different....

 

TD said last year that they were eyeing an O-Lineman ( I think it was wynn) but that run on OLINE happen.

 

This year we was picling earlier so we was at the beginning of the run.

 

I do think Mr.Blank said we can't have what happen last year happen again.... So we grabbed our guy but I don't think it was desperation.

 

 

 

Sidenote: my gawd Ryan Schraeder was badddd last year... He looked stiff like he couldn't move like he had a back injury... I thought he just struggled at the end of the year.... Mannnnn he was getting beat alllllll year 

schrader was always just avg to below avg TE play helped him A LOT

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9 hours ago, Monoxide said:

I love both Blank and Dimitroff more than words. However, if Dimitroff truly based his entire draft strategy (including a 1st round trade-up) on the owner griping, that’s bothersome to me. In the grand scheme of things, AB is no different than you and I when it comes to watching from the comfort of a couch/press box. Arthur Blank is a businessman, not a talent evaluator.

You don’t have to be a talent evaluator to realize that your $100 million qb is getting creamed week in and week out. 

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