Goober Pyle

Falcons Mailbag: Is it time to start trading assets for future seasons?

42 posts in this topic

https://theathletic.com/1305178/2019/10/18/falcons-mailbag-is-it-time-to-start-trading-assets-for-future-seasons/

 

With the Atlanta Falcons preparing to host the Los Angeles Rams, here is this week’s mailbag.

Hi Jason. Why? — David W.

I ask myself this question when I wake up every morning.

Are we at the “bless your heart” stage with (Dan) Quinn? — Merrill G.

This is an interesting way to put it. For me, the first “bless your heart” moment, but for the whole team, came when Deshaun Watson picked up a fumble that bounced directly to him en route to rushing for a first down. You’re just sitting there thinking, “Are you kidding me?” (Side note — crazy stat: In six games, the Falcons have forced 11 fumbles and only recovered two).

The second “bless your heart” moment was probably when Isaiah Oliver got beat by Damiere Byrd for a big gain, with Oliver recovering to force what looked to be a fumble — only for Byrd to be ruled down and upheld by replay. Then, of course, there was the Kyler Murray first-down run that appeared short on replay but stood as called. To me, for all of Atlanta’s problems, it can’t even get the little uncontrollable things to bounce its way. And then, of course, you have Matt Bryant missing the extra point to tie the game against Arizona. This was another “bless your heart” moment, simply because that just seemed implausible to happen.

As for Quinn, I don’t know if I have anything specifically relatable to him. He’s the team’s head coach. He was hired to win games. He’s not doing so right now. Back in the spring, he told me that the NFL will check you if don’t get the job done. Right now, Quinn is being checked. He’s still receiving a nice paycheck, too. That’s the reality of it, so I don’t know if I’d say Quinn himself is at this sort of stage. But that’s just my interpretation of what you’re asking. If I messed that up, feel free to ask again in the comments section.

Pretty clear that Quinn will be gone at some point, do you think Thomas Dimitroff will also be fired? — Conor H.

While Quinn is on the hot seat, I’m going to wait for information to develop as it happens. Right now, there’s nothing tangible to pass along.

While little has looked good this season, everything is still in the hypothetical stage. Will a move be made at the bye? Will it be made after the season? Can the Falcons pull some 2015 Kansas City Chiefs magic and reel off 10 consecutive wins after a 1-5 start? As a reporter, I’m forced to look at every scenario out there, even if it seems far fetched in the moment. Given that, I can’t in good faith give a prediction on any firings, which I understand is not a fun or interesting answer to provide.

DQ is just a dead man walking at this point. So …

  1. Do we move any players before the trade deadline? (Mohamed) Sanu seems to be the name on the lips of many media members, but who else makes sense to let escape?
  2. Does Arthur Blank have the stomach and the budget to get into a bidding war for Lincoln Riley this offseason?
  3. How much of the Falcons’ front office goes with DQ out the door? And is that something that will happen at midseason if DQ goes that early?
  4. How much weight do you think Blank is putting on this team in regards to the number of empty seats we’ll see in the dome this weekend, and how much weight does he put to the PSL issue? — Don P.

1) I’ll address the first question on the one below since another subscriber asked something similar.

2) Blank is a billionaire who wants to win games. He has allowed his front office to spend right up to the salary cap year after year. Whoever he wants to coach his team, he’ll do what it takes to bring him in. That stated, who’s to say Riley would be his preferred choice in the event there is an opening at head coach? I think it’s too early to presume anything at this stage.

3) In the scenario that Quinn is no longer with the Falcons, any movements made with the front office would be determined on whether Dimitroff is still the general manager. I wouldn’t think a move would be made there midseason. Plus, I wouldn’t expect any other front-office moves to take place midseason in the event the head coach is let go. Now, if both the head coach and general manager are gone after the season, I’d expect there to be a lot of housecleaning in the front office.

4) To this, I’m not exactly sure. I do know he’s bothered by the empty seats. The worry would be with season-ticket renewals and folks deciding to default on their PSLs. If this becomes a worsening trend and the bottom line is affected, then yes, I’d imagine this would factor to any decisions Blank decides to make.

Do you think we’ll be selling some of our pieces at the deadline? Would Arthur allow TD to do so even with him on the hot seat? — Lincoln W.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they do move someone. The obvious name, as Don P., mentioned, is Sanu, simply due to his contract with one year remaining. With the way the season has gone, you could probably make a case for any starter not named Matt Ryan, Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley. And in some respect, maybe shipping off someone could send a message to the rest of the locker room. That would be a way to get a lot of players’ attention.

At the same time, Quinn is coaching for his job. He needs two wins against NFC West opponents in consecutive weeks and then for his team to somehow catch fire with the division games coming up after the bye. Dimitroff might feel the same way. If that’s the case, they may not want to move anyone, since any trades in a down year seemingly would be to acquire future picks.

I’d imagine that Blank wouldn’t have a problem with them making moves if they sold him on the reasons why. But if the team can’t get better right now, I’m not sure Quinn and Dimitroff would want to go that route given the circumstances.

Despite the tough goings for the Falcons this season, it seems like Austin Hooper is emerging as a legit star at TE. How big of a role do you think he’ll play for the rest of the season and going into the near future? — Sam P.

On Monday, Dirk Koetter mentioned that they have some plays now designed for Hooper to be the primary read. I definitely think Hooper will be a major factor moving forward in this offense. His rapport with Ryan is exceptional. In the past two offseasons, Hooper essentially met Ryan wherever and whenever to ensure they were on the same page. Hooper knows exactly where Ryan wants to go with the ball, and Ryan knows exactly where Hooper is going to be on every single play. The chemistry is great, and you’re seeing it pay off on Sundays.

The future, however, is the concern. If the Falcons are unable to lock up Hooper during the regular season, I would not expect him to be back with the team in 2020. It’s not that the team can’t afford him in 2020. And the Falcons could probably do some salary-cap maneuvering to make it work in the short term to ensure a deal gets done. But if he hits the open market, there will be a lot of teams with heavy interest in a player who is having a great season in a contract year.

Quite honestly, Atlanta should figure out a way to sign Hooper to an extension before the season is over because he has become a valuable asset this offense doesn’t want to lose.

Another question. With the Falcons dropping to 1-5 on the season, it seems like their playoff chances are shot (FiveThirtyEight puts their odds at 2 percent, just above Arizona, Cincinnati, Washington and Miami). Do you think it could be possible that the Falcons could tank and try to secure a higher draft slot? Would there be any benefit to a 7-9 season, rather than a 4-12 one? Thanks again, Jason. — Sam P.

In recent memory, this year’s Miami team is the only team I can think of that has done everything in its power from a front-office perspective to tank away a season. For the Falcons, they would have to suddenly trade a bunch of players for picks in the next two weeks with a head coach and general manager appearing to be fighting for their jobs. Therefore, I just don’t see a tanking scenario in place.

Plus, players and coaches just aren’t going to tank. You saw it last year with the Falcons. From a draft standpoint, losing out when they were 4-9 seemed like a smart idea on the outside. But no one on the roster wants to lose, even when a season is going bad. It’s just not a mentality football players and coaches have.

I’ve been (Devonta) Freeman’s biggest critic all season. I really like the guy, but he has seemed to have no burst and no ability to cut. (On Sunday), he looked pretty good. Was that because Freeman is finally rounding into shape, finally getting the right offensive calls or the Cardinals’ defense being the absolute worst we’ve seen all season? I hope it means that Freeman is finally firing on all cylinders, but I’m afraid it means we saw a broken-down jalopy of a Cardinals defense. — Quint B.

I think a little bit of everything you mentioned applies. He just did not look sharp in the opener against Minnesota. But by the Indianapolis game, it seemed like he was hitting an improved stride. He didn’t have a great game as a runner against Tennessee and Houston, but he was able to make some plays in the passing game. I also think the Houston defensive front did a good job in containing the run game, which led to Atlanta deciding to get Freeman and Ito Smith more involved as receivers in what can be considered an extension of the running game.

But you’re also right in that the Cardinals’ defense isn’t a good unit. I do think that Freeman will be used more as a receiver as the season goes along. He’s too talented to only be used in one dimension of the offense.

Please ask DQ why (Kemal Ishmael) is still playing SS instead of (Sharrod) Neasman???? He is a LB, not a SS. He is being targeted too much. Neasman should play SS and (Ricardo Allen) at FS. (Isaiah) Oliver is not playing well. Might as well have (Kendall Sheffield) play with (Desmond Trufant) and (Damontae) Kazee and bench Oliver. Thoughts? — Andy S.

I adhered to your request Friday and got Quinn’s rationale. He believes Neasman is strictly a free safety for this defense and prefers to keep him in that spot. In this particular scheme, the strong safety plays near the line of scrimmage in run situations, and therefore needs to be a sound in this area. With that in mind, Quinn said Jamal Carter, who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster after Keanu Neal’s Achilles injury, has progressed nicely and could get a look at strong safety.

If a move occurs with Ishmael, it would be Carter moving into that spot.

How cheap will tickets be by the end of the season? — Brad H.

I’m no expert in economics. But if the season continues the way it has, the secondary market probably won’t be asking for a whole lot. Right now, you can get a ticket for the Falcons-Rams game on StubHub for $39.

Jason,

It behooves me as a PSL holder to get you to ask the questions we need from Arthur Blank: What is he going to do for us, making us pay for lousy football (post the worst loss professional sports has ever seen)? This has to be embarrassing for a guy who I know wants a championship and a city that deserves one. The sheer fact we are wasting a year of Matt & Julio’s prime is nauseating. — Matthew E.

I’m not sure what Blank plans to do in the short term. I do feel like he is probably embarrassed at the way this season has gone. Most billionaires who have competitive personalities are embarrassed when their entities lose and/or fail. Considering what the trajectory looked like just three years ago, this can’t be sitting well.

What are the chances of us winning the division and sliding in the playoffs? 9-7, 8-8? Can we give some love to the great William Andrews? — Naqam W.

Since 1970, only three teams have overcome starting 1-5 to reach the playoffs — the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals, the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs and the 2018 Indianapolis Colts. Therefore, the odds are slim. But hey, there is a precedent in place so it is still possible.

 

virginiafalcon and Ergo Proxy like this

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29 minutes ago, Goober Pyle said:

In recent memory, this year’s Miami team is the only team I can think of that has done everything in its power from a front-office perspective to tank away a season. For the Falcons, they would have to suddenly trade a bunch of players for picks in the next two weeks with a head coach and general manager appearing to be fighting for their jobs. Therefore, I just don’t see a tanking scenario in place.

Plus, players and coaches just aren’t going to tank. You saw it last year with the Falcons. From a draft standpoint, losing out when they were 4-9 seemed like a smart idea on the outside. But no one on the roster wants to lose, even when a season is going bad. It’s just not a mentality football players and coaches have.

Only TATF Tanker Boys, Mocker Fockers and losers want to tank.

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4 minutes ago, FalconFanSince1970 said:

Only TATF Tanker Boys, Mocker Fockers and losers want to tank.

Being happy with winding up with a high draft pick is one thing, but expecting a team to just lose?

Teams that tank in the NFL start before week 1; like MIA this year or OAK last year. Doesn’t mean players on the field try to lose.

I mean, we’ve fought back or around .500 under DQ before to go on a run.

We all know all this team needs is competent D and the O can go off to carry it... could be too little too late.

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1 hour ago, Ergo Proxy said:

Being happy with winding up with a high draft pick is one thing, but expecting a team to just lose?

Teams that tank in the NFL start before week 1; like MIA this year or OAK last year. Doesn’t mean players on the field try to lose.

I mean, we’ve fought back or around .500 under DQ before to go on a run.

We all know all this team needs is competent D and the O can go off to carry it... could be too little too late.

OAK hasn’t recovered from tanking. I don’t want any tankers left in the building. 

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1 hour ago, falcons007 said:

OAK hasn’t recovered from tanking. I don’t want any tankers left in the building. 

:golfclap:And again....org strategy vs players trying to W/L...

Simple reason why tanking by players never happens for draft pick purposes.

Quit on a coach? Sure. Even that hasn’t happened in Atlanta. We just suck. No tank required. Doesn’t mean you can’t improve and win games.

I want the HC that can stabilize the OC and DC roles with genuine results toward SB runs >>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

Any 1 draft pick.

Unless you have generational talent like AD etc.

Coaching is way more important.

Just look at this offense under Kyle vs since he left.

Meanwhile, DC has not been stable since DQ got here...

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15 hours ago, Ergo Proxy said:

Being happy with winding up with a high draft pick is one thing, but expecting a team to just lose?

Teams that tank in the NFL start before week 1; like MIA this year or OAK last year. Doesn’t mean players on the field try to lose.

I mean, we’ve fought back or around .500 under DQ before to go on a run.

We all know all this team needs is competent D and the O can go off to carry it... could be too little too late.

it is too late though 

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Changes are coming. But DAM, doesn't all of this make you want to scratch your head? It has a deliberate feel to it doesn't it? 

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14 hours ago, falcons007 said:

OAK hasn’t recovered from tanking

Hmmmm their record and their play on the field is a whole lot better than ours!

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It depends if we think a new GM is coming. A new GM candidate would be attracted to the wealth of picks and cap freedom. If that’s the case I would be open to trading away some guys IF the value is right. And I realize some of these will have cap implications making it difficult, but focusing on the players and future cap.

Now is the time to get better Value w draft capital. The closer to the draft you get the more stingy teams become with draft picks!

- Sanu (He will be cut anyways)

- Matthews (can Gono go back and compete at RT. Big pay for a down year here)

- Brown OR Carpenter (Lindstrom will be back soon, and Wes or Gono can fill in for now)

- Freeman 

- Beasley (can we find a single jet to cough up a 3-4? Better than a come pick we would get now)

- Campbell (even a late rounder?) not gonna be re-signed)

- Tru (dude seems like he doesn’t have it upstairs anymore)

- Takk (only if we can get a good pick back. Potential and value in his cheap contract still)

really on the D any player not named Jarrett and Jones would be available.

On offense I would be sure to keep Ryan, Jones, Ridley, Hooper, McGary, Lindstrom and that’s about it. The offense has a good core, albeit and expensive one.

not looking to tank, but give a clean slate IF a new GM is coming.

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4 hours ago, caponine said:

it is too late though 

I’m one. Tanking is _Easy _. You just player the younger folks “to see what we have for the future.”

 They will play their azzes off and most likely still lose. But it improves the team because they get experience.

 If they happen to win anyway against all odds, then you know you got some dogs.

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31 minutes ago, DriveHomeSafelyAtlantaWins said:

I’m one. Tanking is _Easy _. You just player the younger folks “to see what we have for the future.”

 They will play their azzes off and most likely still lose. But it improves the team because they get experience.

 If they happen to win anyway against all odds, then you know you got some dogs.

True I get what you saying and I hope so but the team is already 1-5. 2 more losses and that all but kills any lingering playoff hopes. They still have to play the NFC south and they're definitely not sweeping them 

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56 minutes ago, Ezekiel 25:17 said:

Yeah, because winning the last three games last year and not evaluating the remainder of your roster has worked out so well for us this year.

Keep waiting for Falcon players and coaches to tank. You do you. Tank on tanker.

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22 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

 

Do you think we’ll be selling some of our pieces at the deadline? Would Arthur allow TD to do so even with him on the hot seat? — Lincoln W.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they do move someone. The obvious name, as Don P., mentioned, is Sanu, simply due to his contract with one year remaining. With the way the season has gone, you could probably make a case for any starter not named Matt Ryan, Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley. And in some respect, maybe shipping off someone could send a message to the rest of the locker room. That would be a way to get a lot of players’ attention.

At the same time, Quinn is coaching for his job. He needs two wins against NFC West opponents in consecutive weeks and then for his team to somehow catch fire with the division games coming up after the bye. Dimitroff might feel the same way. If that’s the case, they may not want to move anyone, since any trades in a down year seemingly would be to acquire future picks.

I’d imagine that Blank wouldn’t have a problem with them making moves if they sold him on the reasons why. But if the team can’t get better right now, I’m not sure Quinn and Dimitroff would want to go that route given the circumstances.

 

The Falcons will need to have some consistency in the FO, if they are going to succeed next year. That is one of the reasons a very mediocre or less GM has stuck around as long as he has. However, it would be relatively easy to make a Coaching change. Would not be surprised if Koetter does not stay on, again adding some consistency to the organization. Been saying for several weeks that he could become the interim/permanent Coach.

In that light TD will want to give Blank the impression that it is business as usual vs. trying to win worthless games to save his job. In other words if it is in the best interest of the team long-term to make trades, then trades will be made. 

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2 minutes ago, Ezekiel 25:17 said:

At least he didn’t bring up Pass Rush winning percentages. :lol:

Yeah bringing facts into a conversation can really screw things up

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3 minutes ago, LouDog said:

Yeah bringing facts into a conversation can really screw things up

Yeah and getting an actual sack is overrated, I know. Lol

 

Sorry, I couldn’t resist! I swear I won’t bring it up again. lol 

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