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 Post subject: Newcomer likes what he sees
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 6:06 am 
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Mark Bradley - Staff
Monday, May 15, 2006

Flowery Branch --- At 32, Lawyer Milloy wasn't looking for a fixer-upper. Lawyer Milloy was looking for a home that was pretty much fixed. In his free-agent rounds, he visited three teams --- Seattle, which won the NFC title last season; Cincinnati, which won the AFC North, and Atlanta, which won nothing of consequence. Milloy's presence in this minicamp tells us he believes the Falcons are primed to rectify that posthaste.

"I'm at the point in my career where I don't have the time or the energy to wait for a team to rebuild," he said Sunday, speaking after the morning session of minicamp. H aving won one Super Bowl, he wants another. He believes the Falcons can get him there. More to the point, the Falcons believe Milloy can help get them there.

He's a safety who hits hard and tackles expertly. The Falcons' safeties of 2005 --- Keion Carpenter and Bryan Scott --- were chief culprits in this defense's abrupt descent to being the NFL's seventh-worst against the run. "I've never heard such negative talk about what they experienced last year at this position," Milloy said. Then, pointedly: "But that's not me."

And the way of the new Falcons --- the Blank-McKay-Mora Falcons --- isn't to wallow in self-pity but to solve problems at full gallop. The Falcons hated their safeties, so they found two new ones. (Chris Crocker is the other.) The Falcons needed a pass rusher to offset Patrick Kerney, so they traded for Pro Bowler John Abraham. This organization got so much done in one inspired offseason that the disappointment of last year has given way to hope born of the realization that this franchise no longer considers 8-8 an achievement.

"It's a credit to their dedication to get this team more balanced," Milloy said. "They were really aggressive. They were able to make the necessary transactions. That tells me they want to be champions now, to win now."

Milloy is an impressive guy. Four times a Pro Bowler, he was the defensive captain on New England's first championship team. A year later, he refused to restructure his contract and was cut, a move wildly unpopular in the Patriots' locker room. He signed with Buffalo, where he spent the past three seasons, and the Patriots got over their disappointment and won the next two Super Bowls. So yes, Milloy knows better than most that, while players do the heavy lifting, the grand design for winning titles is set by the front office. Or not.

"If you build something special, and it's for real, it will last for a while," he said. "I think this organization can win now and win in the future."

Maybe the Falcons weren't quite as good as they seemed two seasons ago, when they played for the NFC title, but there's growing evidence they weren't as flimsy as they looked at the end of last season. Gifted players still dot this roster --- Vick, Dunn, Crumpler, Kerney, Brooking, Coleman, Hall --- and this offseason has yielded three (and perhaps four, depending on the rookie Jimmy Williams) more. Were there deficiencies? Sure. Have most of the areas of need --- wide receiver is still an issue --- been addressed? Absolutely.

"Some people have a knack for that," Milloy said. "They had problems and they corrected it. In this league you don't sugarcoat things. If you have problems as a player and you can't correct them, you don't last long. People want to read and hear about success."

If the weekend's work didn't exactly suggest the Falcons are bound for Super Bowl XLI --- "You don't peak in minicamp," said Milloy, who has been around long enough to know --- the conspicuous personnel upgrades were impossible to ignore. The Falcons didn't take 8-8 lying down. They roused themselves and got better.

"I've seen nothing since I got here to deter my attitude," Lawyer Milloy said. "It's all set up to win."


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 7:56 pm 
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I hate to be a Negative Nancy here, and I know a lot of people have high hopes for Lawyer Milloy, but I think when you look at Milloy objectively, you aren't really blown away.

The thing that Milloy brings to this football team is a veteran presence, that is sound in the running game. But he's a shell of his former self, and that's being polite. Potentially, you have him having a bit of resurgence since he's changed addresses like he did in 2003 when he first moved to Buffalo. But his play has truly slipped the past 2 years. And Buffalo's had a pretty solid secondary these past few years, so it's not like having DeAngelo and Crocker is going to be better than having Nate Clements and Troy Vincent beside him.

But Milloy is a significant upgrade, particularly for the qualities he does bring. So when you evaluate him in comparison to Bryan Scott & Keion Carpenter, it's a great move, and his presence should be signficant.

But his impact as a whole when you don't factor in the likelihood that we had the worst pair of starting safeties in the league a year ago, well I'm not sure what that is. He's not a player that is going to break up a lot of passes or make big plays vs. the pass. Is he going to be the great enforcer that he was during his days in New England? Probably not.

I don't expect Milloy to revolutionize our secondary. He'll be steady and unspectacular. If you look at Milloy's numbers over the past 5 years in terms of big plays (forced fumbles, INTs, sacks, and pass defended), he's averaged 6.6 per year over that span. Both Bryan Scott and Keion Carpenter over their 3 year careers with the Falcons each averaged more than 8 per year.

So he's not going to be like Rodney Harrison was in New England, which was a veteran that gave them great leadership and playmaking abilities (Harrison BTW averaged about 15 big plays in his 2 full years in New England), but Milloy will give us half of that which is veteran leadership. Something this young team needs. It will be rather up to Crocker to provide the big plays at the safety position.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 3:19 am 
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Well I do feel that Hall is as good as clements and as for vincent. You are saying Milloy is a shell of his former self. Well I would say Vincent is the same thing but to more of a degree. Honestly from what I have read about crocker, he can play just as good as vincent has. Vincent may have had a good year, but compared to how he was when he was on the Eagles, he has definitely lost a step.

I really do feel that Milloy has a few solid years left in him and our secondary should be much much better then last year(hopefully at stopping the run as well).


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 3:23 am 
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at least we know what he is capable of doing, which is a lot more than we had.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:27 am 
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Any way you slice it he's an upgrade for us. I'm hoping with the dline pressure, that all involved in the secondary will be improved. I'd like to see us draft his successor next year while he still has time to groom a young'un.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 1:33 pm 
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I don't give a damn if he doesn't intercept a single pass or cause a single fumble as long as he doesn't miss a ton of tackles. We don't need Milloy to be a playmaker, we have D Hall, Kerney, Abraham, Coleman, Brooking and DeMo to make plays (and maybe Jimmy Williams before to terribly long)...

He will fit the role of a solid leader and tackler that we need him to fill


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 3:11 pm 
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I think what you will see in Milloy is what Bennent brought us in 98. A veteran presence who will provide a steady influance on the rest of the defense. The "I know you have my back" factor will pay big dividends for our CB's and LB's.


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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 10:23 pm 
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I am less concerned with big plays than simply being where he is supposed to be and wrapping up. Our run D killed us last year and seeing Scott and Carpenter whiff so much was just painful. Was it the Panthers game where they were completely embarrassed?

Crocker will be the wild card relative to his ability to provide over the top help. That has the potential to be a big upgrade as Keion just didn't have the wheels anymore even if he knew the play.

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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 2:43 am 
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Well I am a bit concerned about big plays. Not putting all the pressure on Milloy, but our defense ranked as one of the worst teams in the league in generating big plays: turnovers, sacks, tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and breaking up passes last year. Not exaclty sure where we ranked, I can look it up, but I'm pretty sure it was in the bottom 5 of every team last year. Sure with Abraham now here and our young guys in the fornt 7 having a full year under their belts that should change, but the secondary needs to make things happen. And I'm not entirely comfortable with the fact that DeAngelo Hall is our sole playmaker back there, and despite his press clippings, he didn't do a helluva lot last year. D-Hall is yet in Ray Buchanan's class.

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