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 Post subject: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:04 pm 
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http://www.profootballweekly.com/2012/0 ... -2011-form

Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
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Dan Parr
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To fill one of the most critical jobs on offense — protecting Matt Ryan’s blind side — the Falcons are expecting fifth-year veteran OLT Sam Baker to put forth one of his best seasons.

The club made it clear early this offseason that it was committed to giving Baker another chance to earn a starting job and put the injury issues that have plagued him in the past behind him after his disappointing 2011 campaign. Baker started the first six games in ’11 but struggled frequently, underwent back surgery around midseason and never regained his starting job, moving to guard late in the season.

Head coach Mike Smith would like to see competition for all the starting spots on the offensive line and Will Svitek, who started 10 games at left tackle last season, is capable of pushing Baker. The Falcons drafted OT Lamar Holmes in the third round this year, and his future could be at left tackle.

It’s Baker’s job to lose, though. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, he has said his problematic back is healthy.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:05 pm 
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Unfortunately, Baker's pre-2011 form was still a below average starting tackle. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:00 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
Unfortunately, Baker's pre-2011 form was still a below average starting tackle. :roll:

:(

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:42 pm 
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In other news I am expecting to grow 12 more inches and tryout for the Atlanta Hawks so that they can end their pursuit of Dwight Howard and I also expect to lead the Hawks to multiple NBA Championships. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:06 pm 
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I was ready to make a smart ass remark but three people beat me too. I'm happy at least the Falcon fans know what were dealing with.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:25 pm 
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I just don't get this commitment to Baker! Enough is enough!

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:33 am 
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Once you accept the possibility that the personnel evaluators on this team aren't as good as they are billed to be, then it becomes more understandable.

This team is desperately trying to recreate their 2010 success, because they believe that team was very close to winning a championship. They are of course wrong, but it's why besides swapping out a few pieces (Jenkins for Jones, Peterson for Spoon, Anderson for Edwards, Brian Williams for Samuel), and what they perceive as lateral moves at other key spots (RG, MLB, FB, KR, #2 TE), that will be enough to get this team over the hump.

Yet the elephant in the room that they are completely unaware of is that team was fatally flawed for a plethora of reasons that have been mentioned numerous times on this forum, but namely their conservative style of play/coaching. Not to mention that when you look at the 10 biggest impact players on that team, about 40% of them are not as good as they were then.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:11 am 
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Quote:
Once you accept the possibility that the personnel evaluators on this team aren't as good as they are billed to be, then it becomes more understandable.


I disagree. Everyone assumed because TD was cut from the Patriot cloth that we would instantly become New England south. We are not there yet, but have been moving in that direction. Though you may disagree, the talent level is up and FA's actually want top play here now, something that can't be said in the past. 43-21 over this regime tells me that they are doing something right talent wise.

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This team is desperately trying to recreate their 2010 success, because they believe that team was very close to winning a championship. They are of course wrong, but it's why besides swapping out a few pieces (Jenkins for Jones, Peterson for Spoon, Anderson for Edwards, Brian Williams for Samuel), and what they perceive as lateral moves at other key spots (RG, MLB, FB, KR, #2 TE), that will be enough to get this team over the hump.


I think success came a lot faster to the organization than they planned. The team they inherited was terrible. They new that. But somehow the wins just kept coming and they had to change their blueprint on the fly. They will never admit it of course, but there is no way that they could have predicted the success of this team early on. Right or wrong, they tried to "get over the hump" sooner than planned. Do you fault them for trying?

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Yet the elephant in the room that they are completely unaware of is that team was fatally flawed for a plethora of reasons that have been mentioned numerous times on this forum, but namely their conservative style of play/coaching.


No, they knew they were flawed. As I mentioned success came early and often and I will assume it caught them off guard. Bad teams play conservatively, keep it close to the vest and try and pull a few out in the end and build on it. The problem, if it is a problem is that the Falcons pulled out more than expected.
I agree, the conservative style has to stop for this team to take it to the next level. Once that happens, we will see if talent or scheme has given us this 43-21 record over the past few seasons.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:28 am 
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You're right, the team is talented. And my criticism isn't meant to suggest otherwise. But don't act like this is the first time that Atlanta has been viewed as a prime destination for prospective free agents. Players wanted to play here before. Throughout the Vick and Blank Eras, the Falcons have been able to attract top free agents with relative ease.

My point is that Dimitroff might not be all that is cracked up to be. If the proof is in the pudding, then TD is a good GM, but I don't know if he's a great GM.

Most if not all of his moves made in the first 3 years of his tenure were excellent to great moves. But since then, he has struggled. And I think he's made the same cardinal sin that previous Falcons GMs (namely Rich McKay) is that their eyes got big due to early success, and they got off the plan. The so-called "Process" that this team was undertaking at the beginning of their tenure which led to their success is not what they are doing today.

When you really take a step back and look at the over-arching picture of the past two off-seasons (which I have been critical of), then it has been built to try and get that 2010 team over the hump. My point is that there was no hump to get over to begin with. If there was, it was several humps. This team while it won 13 games and was the #1 seed in the NFC that year, was more in line in terms of overall talent to a 9-win team that was the 4th best team in the NFC.

But this team has gone about it's business then as if it was indeed that elite team, and that their disappointment in 2010 was a mere hiccup as opposed to an indicator that this team wasn't as good as its record said it was. That is a problem that Rich McKay made during his run. He looked upon that 2004 season/team as one that was 1 game within a Super Bowl, then when 2006 rolled around tried to go out and get the veteran players needed to push that team over the top. But in reality those Falcons teams were much closer to being mediocre 8-8 than it was being a 13-3 Super Bowl contender. And when Vick went to jail, those decisions blew up in their face, leading to the debacle that was 2007.

Now, Dimitroff's short-sightedness won't lead to such a debacle in all likelihood because Ryan isn't going to go away. And even if he does (due to injury), this team has established a foundation and enough pieces that they should be better able to tread water.

This is a mistake I've seen made time and time again throughout the league. Teams have some early success and suddenly they think they are better than they are. We saw this recently with the Bucs. This is what happened with the Dolphins a few years back. And it happened with the Browns in the Phil Savage/Crennel era. This could be happening in San Francisco currently.

At the end of 2010, the Falcons were probably 2 or so really strong off-seasons away from being in the position that they already thought they were in. Those off-seasons needed to be building via the draft, surrounding Ryan with the sort of talent that suits his game, and building up the defense. Yet the Falcons threw that away. Championship teams aren't built in 3 years. History tells us that it takes 7, 8, 9 years of steady building before that can happen.

Yet this team tried to take a shortcut, and ultimately I believe they will pay for it. Not in the sense that we will suddenly become a 6-win team by any means. But this team won't make significant strides to becoming a championship contender over the next 3 years, at least not any more so than they are today. They are stagnating, and what people are unaware of is that stagnation is due in large part because of poor decision-making by people like Dimitroff. Despite the number of games they've won over the past 4 years, this team is more on a level with teams like the Bears, Chiefs, etc. than teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Saints, and Packers that are legit contenders pretty much every year.

When you look back at the McKay Era, the decision to pay Michael Vick was essentially the move that broke that Era. But putting yourself in McKay's shoes back in 2004, it was a deal that had to be done. And what people don't yet realize, and a great many probably will never realize because they will be distracted by the wins, yards, and SportsCenter highlights is that the Julio Jones trade will be the move that breaks the Dimitroff Era. And unlike McKay, that was a move that did not have to happen.

The Falcons only salvation is if Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter & Co. can make Julio Jones into a Larry Fitzgerald-caliber of player. Jones has that sort of talent level. But there has been absolutely nothing over the past four years to suggest that Smith is capable of that, and very little to suggest Koetter is either. And part of me can't blame Mike Smith for being himself. Smitty is basically put in this position where he has to be a better coach than he's shown to date (and he's been one of the better coaches in the league, so its hard to expect more) to make up for Dimitroff's mistake. He has to pull a Tom Coughlin. But at the same time, Smitty isn't completely left off the hook because he was also in those meeting rooms making those decisions. So he's partially culpable for the mistake that was the Jones trade.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:30 pm 
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Quote:
My point is that Dimitroff might not be all that is cracked up to be. If the proof is in the pudding, then TD is a good GM, but I don't know if he's a great GM.


I agree, but it's still a little early to judge everything he's done. He's definitely had more hits than strikeouts IMO.

Quote:
When you really take a step back and look at the over-arching picture of the past two off-seasons (which I have been critical of), then it has been built to try and get that 2010 team over the hump. My point is that there was no hump to get over to begin with. If there was, it was several humps. This team while it won 13 games and was the #1 seed in the NFC that year, was more in line in terms of overall talent to a 9-win team that was the 4th best team in the NFC.


Once again, I agree. the success came much sooner than was expected. A watered down NFC helped, so I can see the temptation they had to stray from the blueprint to get us over the top. It didn't work, but I do understand and appreciate the "try".

Quote:
Now, Dimitroff's short-sightedness won't lead to such a debacle in all likelihood because Ryan isn't going to go away. And even if he does (due to injury), this team has established a foundation and enough pieces that they should be better able to tread water.


And TD deserves some credit for that.

Quote:
Championship teams aren't built in 3 years. History tells us that it takes 7, 8, 9 years of steady building before that can happen.


Absolutely agree. But, the early success changed that thinking. The fans included. People still complain that we aren't adding FA pieces fast enough....and that gets away from the building. It's a catch 22.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons expecting Baker to return to pre-2011 form
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:06 pm 
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Another piece of the puzzle that gets constantly overlooked is the Falcons drafting under Dimitroff over the past 4 or so drafts. In a good draft, you're going to find at least 3 starters in your 7 picks. Ideally, one of those starters (#1 pick) will be an "A-level" player, which is a guy that is a perennial Pro Bowl-caliber player, i.e. an impact player. They impact games on a weekly basis. Another starter (#2 pick) will be a "plus-starter" which is basically an above average starter. A player that is going to be an impact player from time to time, but more often than not he has a positive influence on your offense/defense and is rarely a liability. Then another starter will be a "C-level" player, which is a guy that is a solid starter. He probably wouldn't start on most teams around the league, but he is functional for your team and while he almost never has impact performances, he isn't an liability. Then ideally the majority of the remainder of your draft you will find "D-level" players which are role players that provide good value off the bench such as being good special teams players, solid backups, and if need be can be functional starters in a pinch.

An example of an A-level player is Sean Weatherspoon, Roddy White, and Matt Ryan. Curtis Lofton and William Moore would be a B-level players. And Thomas DeCoud, Corey Peters would be C-level players. D-level would include Jacquizz Rodgers, Matt Bosher, Harry Douglas.

But when you look at the Falcons drafts since 2009, they have not drafted well. Out of the 2009, the only player they got was William Moore. No one else outside him is anything more than a D-level player. There is hope that Sidbury can emerge as a C-level player but currently he's a D-level player. That is not a good draft. In 2010, Weatherspoon is an A so far, and while I'd consider Peters to be just an average starter, there is the hope/potential that he will improve this year and/or next to become a good B-level player. Johnson? Hawley? Franks? We're hoping that all 3 will become at least C-level players, but that remains to be seen. And if none of them do, then that is also not a good draft.

And you look at 2011, we all hope and believe Jones will at some point be that A+ level player, but what about the rest of the class? Dent, looks like a potential C guy. Rodgers has the potential to be more, but a lot depends on the scheme around him and it doesn't look like this team is ready to make that commitment. We hope Jackson and Matthews become D-level players in the future, but that's probably all they'll be.

And we look at this year's draft, we have high hopes for Konz being at least a B-level player. And we also hope that HOlmes, Massaquoi can at least be Cs. Ewing probably can only be a C. Robertson might surprise and become a C, but he and Mitchell are proabbly more likely to become Ds.

But even so, when all tallied up, Dimitroff's drafting over the past 4 drafts should have tallied at least 4 As, 4 Bs, 4 Cs, and probably 8 Ds.

But he only has 2 As (Weatherspoon and Jones). And even if you consider Konz, Peters, and Moore, you're still shy 1 B. And the fact of the matter is that in terms of Cs, we have zero currently. Again the hope is that players like Sidbury, Rodgers, Dent, Holmes, Massaquoi, Ewing, Franks might fill that void. But even if they all do, having 2 extra Cs, doesn't make up for missing 2 As and a B.

And because of the Jones trade, the margin for error has shrunk considerably for the Falcons. Between Dent, Holmes, Massaquoi, someone has to emerge and fill the void at least of being a B player. Peters has to continue to improve. Guys like Franks, Rodgers, and Sidbury have to be better players than what they are today.

You're right, we aren't an untalented team. But the talent level of this team has been significantly undermined because this team's drafting has been pretty mundane.

The only good draft Dimitroff has had since being here in Atlanta is 2008, when they got an A (Ryan), B (Lofton), C (DeCoud), and between Baker, Douglas, and Biermann got either C/D/D or C/C/D depending on your preference.

You compare that to say Ted Thompson with the Packers, and you see between 2005 and 2009, they got 4 As (Rodgers, Jennings, Nick Collins, and Matthews), 5 Bs (Raji, Sitton, Finley, Hawk, and Jordy Nelson), and 7 Cs (TJ Lang, James Jones, Desmond Bishop, Colledge, Jason Spitz, Poppinga, Johnny Jolly). And that level of drafting coupled with being able to mine undrafted talent like Tramon Williams (B-level player), Ryan Grant (C), and Atari Bigby (C) is IMHO a huge reason why the Packers won a championship in 2010.

And again, we are not untalented, but the talent level of this team is not nearly as much as people think it is. Most of the talent that TD has gotten has come via free agency. And everybody knows that there is not a strong correlation between "winning" in free agency and winning championships. The correlation comes from drafting. Because if you're lucky, you might get 2, 3, maybe 4 good years out of a free agent. But if you draft well, you can get 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 years from a drafted player.

The "Process" understands that it is smarter and better to build to be strong for 5-10 years as opposed to be strong for 2-3 years. But the Falcons quickly abandoned that process after 2010, just like they did after 2004, and the results aren't going to be substantially different in terms of that Trophy Case in Flowery Branch is going to remain empty.

AngryJohnny51 wrote:
And TD deserves some credit for that.

Sure, some credit. But I give most of that credit (if it were to happen) to Mike Smith being a good enough coach that the team won't implode like it did in 2003 and 2007.

I don't think TD is a bad GM. But I think gets a lot more leeway and essentially is given a pass because he will always be measured against 2007 and the preceding mediocrity/ineptitude. And up until 2010, I too gave him that pass. But IMHO, at this point, everything he does has to be now compared with 2010. At a certain point, he cannot be allowed to rest on those laurels.

If Dimitroff is a good/great GM then he must be held to that standard. He has to be compared with other good/great GMs, as opposed to constantly being compared to average/mediocre ones. And if he cannot live up to that higher standard, then he should not be viewed as a good/great GM.

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