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 Post subject: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:35 am 
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By Jeff Schultz
In his five seasons since being handed a sledgehammer and a paint brush, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has turned over close to 90 percent of the roster and benefitted with five winning seasons and four playoff berths. And as he knows, that’s still not good enough.
Sports franchises are measured by championships, and Dimitroff worked for one of the greatest in New England. He works for an owner, Arthur Blank, who dreams of Super Bowl trophies. The fact that the Falcons won a playoff game this season and came to within 10 yards of playing on the NFL’s final Sunday was progress, but not nearly the finish line.
“It was an emotional ending to the season, as close as we were,” Dimitroff said during Super Bowl week in New Orleans. “But we have a number of areas to focus on, and that’s what’s driving us to move forward. We have decisions to make, some financial and some talent-wise, so we can make this team better and win those big games down the stretch.”
At the end of the season, only eight players from before Dimitroff’s arrival in 2008 remained among the 70 on the active roster, injured reserve and practice squad. The Falcons don’t need a wrecking ball, but they do need some help. They need a few pieces on both sides of the ball to win those aforementioned games down the stretch. Dimitroff has made significant moves every offseason: drafting Matt Ryan and signing Michael Turner in 2008; trading for Tony Gonzalez in 2009; signing Dunta Robinson in 2010; trading up for Julio Jones and signing Ray Edwards in 2011; acquiring Asante Samuel in 2012.
Not all of those worked out. If there was a Mount Rushmore of free-agent busts, Edwards would be on it -- modeling underwear.
What's not known is how much money the team is willing to spend, given the need to re-sign safety William Moore, Gonzalez's potential return and the anticipation of a new contract for Ryan. But there will be a number of intriguing players on the open market. Here's a few who could help the Falcons:

1. Reggie Bush, RB, Miami (or Steven Jackson, St. Louis): Most expect Michael Turner will be released. Bush would be a significant upgrade, and he fits the Falcons’ offense perfectly. He can run, catch and is terrific in the open field. Two potential issues are salary demands (his 2012 base salary was $4.5 million) and his desire for more total touches (he prefers being a featured back to being one in a rotation). Can he be satisfied? Jackson is another interesting option. He's expected to void a player option and become a free agent. Retirement seems unlikely (he'll be 30 in July). He might be the banger the Falcons need in short yardage, and there's no need for him to carry the ball 250 times.

2. Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Baltimore: He was undrafted out of Georgia, but ascended into a solid regular on the Ravens' defense, next to Ray Lewis. Now he's looking to cash in. When I mentioned the Falcons’ possible interest to Ellerbe during Super Bowl week, he smiled and said, “Whoever offers the best contract.” The Ravens have to re-sign Joe Flacco and others. They may not be able to keep him.

3. Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati: The Falcons need a young pass rusher, even if they bring back John Abraham. The best one on the market is Dallas outside linebacker/end Anthony Spencer, but he'll likely be kept. The same could be said for Johnson, formerly of Georgia Tech, who is coming off an 11½-sack season. But the Bengals have a history of being cheap with players, and Johnson’s market value is high. He’s from the South and probably wouldn’t mind coming back to Atlanta.
4. James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh: It’s a little outside the box, but hear me out. Mike Peterson won’t be back. The Falcons' need Harrison's presence on the field (even in a part-time role) and in the locker room. The Steelers have cap issues, and Harrison might be sacrificed.

5. Offensive line (tackle/guard): There likely will be changes. Center Todd McClure’s future is uncertain, and left tackle Sam Baker’s contract is up (he rebounded with a strong season, but his contract value is uncertain). Guard Peter Konz could replace McClure at center. The market will be flooded with tackles. The best options may be Kansas City’s Branden Albert (left tackle, but he also projects to guard) and New Orleans left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

Dimitroff always makes at least one significant move. This year likely won't be any different.

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:38 am 
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I will prolly get roasted over this, but I have faith that Snelling and Quizz will only continue getting better, and that we just need a complementary RB to fill out the roster. Say goodbye to A Smith and Turner, bring in through the draft or FA a third RB, and if we need any further 'depth' it can be found on the roster or the trasdh heap.

:ninja:

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:12 am 
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fun gus wrote:
I will prolly get roasted over this, but I have faith that Snelling and Quizz will only continue getting better, and that we just need a complementary RB to fill out the roster. Say goodbye to A Smith and Turner, bring in through the draft or FA a third RB, and if we need any further 'depth' it can be found on the roster or the trasdh heap.

:ninja:

I won't roast you. ;) I've said it before, I think the key to improving our run game is to improve the lines. I don't think anyone is going to be effective running the ball for us if the defense's front 7 is in our backfield at the snap every play.


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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:18 am 
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RobertAP wrote:
fun gus wrote:
I will prolly get roasted over this, but I have faith that Snelling and Quizz will only continue getting better, and that we just need a complementary RB to fill out the roster. Say goodbye to A Smith and Turner, bring in through the draft or FA a third RB, and if we need any further 'depth' it can be found on the roster or the trasdh heap.

:ninja:

I won't roast you. ;) I've said it before, I think the key to improving our run game is to improve the lines. I don't think anyone is going to be effective running the ball for us if the defense's front 7 is in our backfield at the snap every play.



which is where most of my questions lie. Lets think about this for a second.

My personal preference is this: keep McClure for depth, and put Konz in at center. Sam Baker is coming back, and there will be no real 'competition' for LT. Clabo goes to RG, and hopefully Holmes can contirbute at RT, then we need to pick up a OL in the later rounds ( 3rd ,4th?) and I think we can get by on that..... :|

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:30 am 
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There's some potential there. However, I don't know if I'm sold at Clabo holding down the RG spot... We know that's his "natural," position, but the Falcons haven't seemed to be in any hurry to play him in his natural position. Why is that? We've had a number of tackles that should be able to hold down the RT spot, but they've always gone with Clabo over there. It's like moving him inside has never even been a consideration.


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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:30 pm 
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The only reason to move Clabo inside is if you have a better RT. Let's say you move Clabo inside, and Holmes plays RT. But what happens if Holmes is J'Marcus Webb v2.0 at right tackle? How has moving Clabo inside helped you? Sure, you shored up that spot, but you also weakened right tackle. It's a wash.

And I'm not sure I buy any longer that RG is Clabo's "natural" position. He's been the starting RT for 5 years now, right? And for probably 3 or 4 of those years, if not all 5, you could argue that he's been our best O-linemen. Given his relative good play and consistency, why is RT not his natural position?

Secondly, I'm not going to roast you for the Quizz/Snelling comment because there was a point in time when I was trumping that (a year ago). But I no longer believe it. Quizz has always been a player that would work best in a zone blocking scheme. That is not the scheem the Falcons run. In order to become a really good ZBS team, you'd have to make guys like Clabo, Blalock, and even Konz lose weight. They don't have the lateral quickness with their heavier frames to really get the sort movement that the ZBS requires. The Falcons are also losing their best player for that scheme in McClure in all likelihood. One of the weaknesses of Konz this past year was his inability to block effectively on the 2nd level. In a ZBS, it is very important that your center can get downfield and block. That is still one of the strengths of McClure, as there is nobody better on the roster that can hit more assignments downfield than him. If you move Konz to center, and adopt more ZBS-heavy system in order to try and feature Quizz, it might not work out. Konz comes from the power scheme of Wisconsin that was similar to what Boudreau ran here in Atlanta. It's why Konz's former teammates like JOhn Moffitt has struggled in Seattle, who run a ZBS, while guys like Kevin Zeitler have excelled in Cincy, because of the power scheme they run.

And then the question is well maybe Quizz will do fine as the lead back with only slight modifications to the scheme. But what people forget because they are only remembering the highlights of Quizz's running (i.e. the highlight vs. SEA or the key runs at the ends of a few games midseason) is that he was not very productive this year. He was about as productive as Turner, if not slightly more. But remember, Turner was arguably the league's worst starting RB in the league. If Quizz is slightly better, then he's just Darren McFadden/Mikel Leshoure good. You still have a team that is likely going to be one of the worst rushing teams in the league. That's why I think it's important that the Falcons target a lead back. Ideally, you get a Doug Martin who can take over as a sustaining lead back that can get 250+ touches next year and be highly productive. At the least you want to find someone that is worthy of 150 touches and split reps similar to Bernard Pierce/Mark Ingram.

Consistency and reliability are the #1 and #2 factors you look for in a RB. You want a guy that can give you the same thing for 16 games. That's what separates the good backs from the not so good ones. Otherwise, you're basically making the same mistake that teams like CAR did with DeShaun Foster as their lead back, or the Falcons have had with Turner the past 2 years, or McFadden in Oakland etc. You don't want a starting tailback that over 16 games is only going to give you 4 or 5 good games. That's basically the type of player that Quizz has thus far shown himself to be.

As for Schultz's suggestion of Bush. He's a bad fit. Bush is not a sustaining runner. He's basically a 3rd down back that doesn't block particularly well (and thus is a downgrade to Quizz in that regard). Like Turner, Bush has a ton of 1 and 2 yard runs. It's why Daniel Thomas passed him on their depth chart as the lead back, and why the Dolphins have next to zero interest in bringing him back. That's why they drafted Lamar Miller, to provide that speedy 1-2 punch. Bush like Turner of 2011 is a guy that his production thrives on big plays. But he lacks the toughness or vision as a runner to think he can be the guy the Falcons need. Especially behind our O-line. It's different in Miami, when you have one of the better run-blocking LTs in the game in Jake Long, a physical pile mover like John Jerry (which Blalock is not), Mike Pouncey who could be a Top 5 OG if not playing center, Richie Incognito, who isn't the biggest guy but is Harvey Dahl-esque. We don't have that sort of talent up front to make Bush work.

Ellerbe? I liked Ellerbe at Georgia, but what makes anybody think he's not just Ed Hartwell v2.0? He's a run-defending MLB that doesn't have great coverage abilities.

Harrison? Really Jeff? What position is he going to play for the Falcons. He's a 6-0/235 pass-rushing 3-4 OLB that has lost a step. Are we going to be matching him up against Vernon Davis and Rob Gronkowski next year?

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:53 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
But what people forget because they are only remembering the highlights of Quizz's running (i.e. the highlight vs. SEA or the key runs at the ends of a few games midseason) is that he was not very productive this year. He was about as productive as Turner, if not slightly more. But remember, Turner was arguably the league's worst starting RB in the league. If Quizz is slightly better, then he's just Darren McFadden/Mikel Leshoure good. You still have a team that is likely going to be one of the worst rushing teams in the league. That's why I think it's important that the Falcons target a lead back.


good points, Pudge. But in 'defense' of Quizz, if the argument is that he 'was about as productive as Turner', by getting 2/3rd less snaps, then how can this be? It's not like they used him alot..I feel the same way about Snelling. For years we heard how he would always be a 'backup' and would never be an impact player. Yet, he does what we ask him to time and time again. Im not sure Quizz couldn't turn out to be a poor mans Sproles..He just hasn't been given the chance. But, again, he does what you ask him to.

Which is why I feel that a platoon of Snelling, Quizz and a 3rd RB ic better because we can then focus on getting line help. just my 2 cents..

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:42 pm 
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I just think the platoon system is the minimum of what the Falcons should do. The goal isn't to get "better," the goal should be to get "good." Better is being the 24th best team in the league, which IMO is still not good enough.

I really think getting the running game back to a level where it's among the Top 15 in the league is the next "progression" of the Falcons offense. And I just don't see Quizz or Snelling helming a group of RBs that is that good. Clearly as evidenced this past year that the Falcons don't need a good running game to be successful. But i think all would agree that it would be much more beneficial if the Falcons could do both at a high level. Throw in the eventual departure of Gonzo and the likelihood his comparison doesn't come close to his ability, whether that comes in 2013 or 2014 doesn't really matter, the best way to avoid the net loss in the passing game is by balancing it with a stronger running attack.

I can live with the Falcons drafting a godo young RB but he doesn't quite hit the ground running (like say David Wilson with NYG), and thus the Falcons are forced to use more Quizz/Snelling. But IMO that should not be the plan. Instead the plan should be to get a guy like Doug Martin that can come in right away and be the lead back, which probably means a significant investment. People can point to Alfred Morris as a late round success story, but let's not forget he's playing in the Shanahan offense (another zone blocking scheme) which has made lesser RBs look great. Not a slight to MOrris who is a very good RB, but it's highly doubtful he hits the ground running if he goes to any of the 31 other NFL teams.

I don't disagree on the Sproles comparison with Quizz. But let's not forget that in NO, Sproles has averaged about 4.6 carries per game (Quizz averaged 5.9 last year). His primary value in NO is as a 3rd down back, as a receiver (5.6 receptions per game) and blocker. Quizz already serves that role.

IMO, the ideal Falcons RB is a guy that can add similar value on 3rd downs as Quizz. But also add significant value on 1st & 2nd down. That way at the end of games when the Falcons and Ryan are driving, you're not pulling your best RB off the field as we often did with Turner. But that means he's not only playing in the 4th quarter when we have leads, but he's also playing in the 4th quarter when we're behind.

That's why I like Bradshaw. IMO, he is just as capable on 3rd downs potentially as Quizz because he is an excellent pass protector and can be a dynamic weapon on screens. And he also has the combo of power and speed to be an impact runner on 1st & 2nd down. Now, I get that people are tentative about Bradshaw given his age and injury history, but ultimately IMO the player that is the prototype for what the Falcons are looking for is Ahmad Bradshaw. Whether they get Bradshaw himself or the "next Bradshaw" remains to be seen. But you want a player that is powerful enough to run between the tackles and break tackles (which Quizz is not), but explosive enough that when he gets to the 2nd level he can take it to the distance (which Snelling is not). Now Bradshaw is not quite the latter player anymore either, but he's closer than what we have.

So that instead of constantly rotating in Quizz and Snelling based around the situation, you have 1 guy that can do it ALL.

There is no Carl Nicks this off-season that is going to be added and suddenly the Falcons are going to be a Top 10 rushing unit IMO outside maybe Warmack who the Falcons aren't going to draft. So while I want to invest in the O-line, I think the better strategy is to invest in a RB. We know that a good RB will make his blocking better.

And if you're asking me would I rather roll the dice on a RB platoon that is helmed by Quizz/Snelling, or rolling the dice on a front 5 that is composed of some combination of Baker, Holmes, Clabo, Blalock, Konz, Hawley, and Johnson, I'm going to go with the OL.

Without a major shift in the blocking scheme, I just don't see the Falcons sporting a good running game if Quizz and Snelling are the 1-2 punch.

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:36 am 
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Former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore insisted last month that he would be recovered from his devastating knee injury in time for the start of the 2013 NFL season.

Mayock has compared Lattimore's prospects to those of Willis McGahee (2003, 23rd overall pick), Bruce Carter (2011, 40th pick) and Ryan Broyles (2012, 54th pick). McGahee's injury was the most similar, and he spent his entire rookie season on the PUP list before breaking out for 1,128 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in his second season.

After raising eyebrows over the weekend by ranking Lattimore as a top-five prospect at his position, Mayock told reporters the former Gamecocks star will likely be drafted somewhere in the third round. Viewed as a potential early first-round pick prior to a 2011 ACL injury, Lattimore was believed to be drawing late first- or early second-round grades before tearing his right anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in October.

Since teams shouldn't expect an NFL impact from Lattimore for two years, Mayock believes the third-round tag is "fair for him."

What's worrisome about Lattimore compared to McGahee is that the former had already shown a loss of explosiveness -- particularly as a receiver out of the backfield -- before his latest knee reconstruction.

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:07 pm 
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I wouldn't use any more than a 4th on him. RB's with bad knees are like QB's with bad elbows.


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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:33 pm 
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RobertAP wrote:
I wouldn't use any more than a 4th on him. RB's with bad knees are like QB's with bad elbows.



Aside from Adrian Peterson, bum knees are bad for hookers and running backs.

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:53 pm 
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The "scary" thing about Lattimore is the multiple torn ligaments. If had just been an ACL, it wouldn't be that big an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:11 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
The "scary" thing about Lattimore is the multiple torn ligaments. If had just been an ACL, it wouldn't be that big an issue.



Pudge worried about injuries? Rub some dirt on that and Walk It Off! :P

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 Post subject: Re: Reggie over Lattimore or Bradshaw?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:11 pm 
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Just say no to Reggie Bush, In 2011 he was mediocre in four games and had four outstanding games against some bad defenses. Then last year outside of a game against Oakland and Jacksonville he was invisible. I really hope the Falcons dont make the same mistake I did in my fantasty league by aquiring Reggie Bush :oops:. Best bet is to see how much it would cost to get Bradshaw here if he wants to much then just draft a RB and roll with Quizz, Snelling, and a RB to be named.

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