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Falcons Weekly Round-Up 7/1

July 1st, 2011 Comments off

Recapping news and headlines involving the Falcons from the week of June 26…

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Stephen Nicholas

‘Big’ Chance Nicholas returns

The Florida Times-Union visited Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas at his youth football camp last weekend to discuss the possibility of what he might do this season. Nicholas is a prospective free agent. Nicholas indicated that he wants to test the market, but also said there is a “big” chance that he will return to Atlanta. The Falcons tagged Nicholas with a restricted free agent tender, which he did not sign. But if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is made before the start of the 2011 season, then Nicholas due to having four years of experience should become an unrestricted free agent. Nicholas was a regular attendee of the Falcons player-organized “Camp Exile” during the month of June. (Source: Tania Ganguli, Florida Times-Union)

Schillinger at around 85 percent

Writing up some observations from the Falcons player-organized “Camp Exile,” D. Orlando Ledbetter indicates that free safety Shann Schillinger, who is coming off a broken ankle he suffered in the penultimate game of last season is around 85 percent recovered. Schillinger indicated that he is making steady progress daily on his recovery and can participate in football-related drills, including 7-on-7 drills at Camp Exile. He appeared with a notable limp during the final practice. Schillinger is expected to have a bigger role this year on defense, as he will be tasked with replacing veteran Erik Coleman. (Source: D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta-Journal Constitution)

Mularkey excited about the upcoming year

Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was enjoying some vacationing time in Cherrokee County, North Carolina when the Andrews Journal caught up with him to discuss the upcoming season. Mularkey spoke on his desire to try and keep the Falcons offensive line intact, due to three of the team’s five starter being impending free agents.

We had five fantastic guys last season. They are a special group, and I wish we could keep them together forever. They are one of the most physical offensive lines in the league. If we don’t sign them back up, it will be disappointing … but that is just business in the NFL.

Mularkey also broached the topic of the Falcons incoming rookie class, praising wideout Julio Jones. He also expressed confidence that even without contact with the coaches, those rookies would be getting a lot of help from Matt Ryan during player-organized workouts, calling the team’s fourth-year quarterback a “coach on the field.” (Source: Robert Horne, Andrews Journal)

Falcons ‘not panicked’ about O-line

On the subject of the potential impending shakeup of the Falcons offensive line, Dan Pompei writes that the Falcons wont’ be too worried if they lose multiple starters via free agency. Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, and guards Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are potential free agents. Per Pompei, the team is confident that three of the linemen they have drafted over the past three drafts: Garrett Reynolds, Mike Johnson, and Joe Hawley, can potentially fill the voids left by any of those players. Reynolds has worked primarily as a reserve at right guard behind Dahl, but played right tackle while in college, making him a possible candidate to replace Clabo. Johnson played left guard last season behind Blalock. Hawley has worked primarily as the backup center behind Todd McClure, but has also gotten reps at the guard spots as well. (Source: Dan Pompei, National Football Post)

Jackson working out on his own

Falcons took Fresno State guard Andrew Jackson in the seventh round of this year’s draft. And while he did not attend any of the team’s player-organized workouts since being drafted, or will be attending along with some of his other new teammates at the NFLPA-organized rookie symposium this week, Jackson has been keeping busy. He has been staying in shape and working out at facilities at his alma mater. He also has spent time visiting local high school football camps to talk to the kids about football. (Source: Anthony Barstow, Grass Valley Union)

Dahl vs. Blalock: Who Stays, Who Goes

June 15th, 2011 Comments off
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Harvey Dahl

On Monday, I stated that the team’s first priority when it comes to free agency if and when it begins was re-signing tackle Tyson Clabo. But shortly after, the Falcons are going to be in a situation where they are asked to prioritize one of their guards.

 

Ideally, the Falcons can bring back both left guard Justin Blalock and right guard Harvey Dahl. But they may be put in a situation where they have to push for one to stay, and be willing to let the other walk when it comes to negotiatons.

And there is certainly is a worthwhile debate on either side when deciding which of the two players should be kept first.

PRODUCTION

First, let’s start break down their 2010 seasons statistically. I’ll be using Moneyball for this. Over the course of the entire 2010 season they were about even, winding up with $24 earned for Blalock and $25 for Dahl.

Blalock’s production was fairly consistent throughout the entire season, earning $5, $7, $5.5, and $6.5 in each respective quarter. Dahl’s spiked in the middle of the season, starting with a $4.5 over the first quarter, then $10.5, $10, and finishing with $0 earned in the final quarter of the season. Clearly we can see that Blalock ended the season relatively strong in comparison to Dahl.

Blalock did get better as the year went on. In the first half of the season, he tallied 10 missed blocks and 5 pressures allowed. In the final 8 games, he had only 3.5 missed blocks and no pressures allowed. That dichotomy was not seen with Dahl, as he had 5 missed blocks in each half of the season, and allowed 3 pressures in the first half and 4.5 in the second half of the year.
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Clabo should be top priority

June 13th, 2011 Comments off

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Tyson Clabo

Apparently, there is reason to be optimistic about the end of the lockout. Whispers of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming to fruition seems to be growing into a low murmur. That is a good sign.

What all that means if that potentially within a month or so, free agency may finally hit in 2011. And not the odd 2010 version of it, where only players with six or more years of experience were allowed to hit the market. Instead, it may be the glorious, old system were players with four or more years of experience were allowed to test the open market.

You know, that great system that caused so many NFL teams to overpay above average players like they were going to be the ones to fix their franchises. The one where teams would hand out 8-figure signing bonuses like they were going out of style to players that would be replaced before their five and six-year deals were halfway done.

Yep, those were the good ole days.

And if those days return, then the Falcons will have to make some quick decisions. First and foremost should be locking up right tackle Tyson Clabo.

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Wire and Clabo organize team workouts

April 11th, 2011 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Falcons players have taken it upon themselves to start their own off-season conditioning program. Falcons linebacker Coy Wire and offensive tackle Tyson Clabo organized the event that featured around 30 players. Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players, teams are unable to conduct their regular off-season conditioning and training programs.

They are working out at the Ignite training facility in Atlanta under the supervision of trainer Jim Launer, using the program designed by the teams strength & conditioning coach Jeff Fish.

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Should the Falcons draft an Offensive Lineman?

March 9th, 2011 Comments off
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OT Sam Baker

I keep seeing a bunch of mocks having the Falcons take an offensive linemen in the first round of the draft, and frankly from where I’m sitting, I think the odds are very, very, very low that happens. In fact, I think the odds are fairly low that the Falcons will take an offensive lineman at any point in the draft, let alone the first round. And I’ll explain why, and much of it has to do with the labor strife the league is currently undergoing.

I’m not certain what is going to become of the CBA labor situation the rest of this week or going forward. But let’s look at both scenarios: (1) the pessimistic one where a lockout occurs and there is essentially no player movement between now and the draft and afterwards. And (2) the optimistic one in that a new CBA gets hammered out at some point in the next seven weeks before the draft and that we get some semblance of free agency and a relatively normal off-season. How does either scenario affect the Falcons offensive line situation?

We know that Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock all had their contracts expire at the end of the 2010 season. The Falcons quickly were able to re-sign reserve Will Svitek last week, getting him locked up for two more seasons as a Falcon. But those three players that aren’t yet signed represent 60% of the Falcons starting lineup, and arguably the best 60%. Clabo landed a Pro Bowl bid this year, and Harvey Dahl quietly had a second solid year in a Falcon uniform. And even Justin Blalock, the player I thought going into this season was the weakest link of the front five improved his play, and arguably was our most consistent blocker over the second half of the season.

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Four Falcons honored with All-Pro selections

January 24th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons continued to garner postseason honors with four members being named to the Associated Press’s All-Pro team. Wide receiver Roddy White and defensive end John Abraham were both named first team All-Pros, while running back Michael Turner and fullback Ovie Mughelli earned second team honors.

White was also named to the PFW/PFWA All-NFL team earlier this month. This is the first time White has been honored by the Associated Press. He held the most votes among the wide receivers with 47 out of 50 AP voters casting him on their ballots. Abraham earned his 2nd 1st-team All-Pro honors, last receiving it in 2001. He received 21 votes for second most among defensive ends.

Turner had the third most votes among running backs with 8, but also received one vote as a fullback. Mughelli had 13 votes, second most among fullbacks.

Also receiving votes from the Falcons were kicker Matt Bryant, running back Jason Snelling, offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Sam Baker, as well as defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and cornerback Brent Grimes. Bryant received 4 votes out of 50 AP voters, fifth-most among kickers. Snelling received 1 vote, placing him seventh among fullbacks. Both Clabo and Baker received a vote each, with twelve other offensive tackles receiving more votes. Babineaux also had a single vote, placing him tied for sixth among defensive tackles. Grimes had 3 votes, seventh-most among cornerbacks.

Clabo headed to Hawaii

January 20th, 2011 Comments off

Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo has been added to the NFC’s Pro Bowl team since Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters pulled out of the game. Clabo was the first alternate for offensive tackles.

He will be the eighth Falcons player to play on the squad, as well as joining the team’s coaching staff in the all-star game that will be played later this month.

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What to look for this weekend vs. Cardinals

September 18th, 2010 Comments off
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Babineaux: A Difference Maker in Week 2?

I certainly know a lot of Falcon fans were disappointed with the outcome of last week’s game. I was too, but if you had read my preview of the game then you knew exactly what was coming. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I think I pretty much nailed that matchup. I’m trying for two in a row.

I watched the Cardinals-Rams game from last week to get prepped for my analysis of this game. And after seeing that game, I have to say that the Rams should have won that game. The Cardinals truly got outplayed, but if not for three interceptions by Sam Bradford, they probably would have lost.

That being said, I don’t expect the Cardinals to lay down for the Falcons. But I don’t see them as nearly a formidable matchup as the Steelers were.

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Matching Up With the Steelers

September 9th, 2010 Comments off

I’m not sure how regular this will be as the season unfolds, but I’ll try to do one each week if I can. Since this is the first game of the season, I really don’t have any excuses not to do it. But I’m going to be looking at the different matchups that I like and don’t like as the Falcons prepare for the Steelers.

Matchups I Like

Dennis Dixon vs. the Falcons defense

I know many Falcon fans were worried about the possibility of Dixon starting this week instead of Byron Leftwich. They’d rather face the statue of Leftwich rather than the mobile Dixon.

I’m not too worried. Dixon will likely be able to make some plays with his legs, but his accuracy and decision making are the biggest areas of concerns for the Steelers offense. He has only had limited work with the first team offense, so he isn’t likely to be on the same page with most of his receivers. He is only making his second NFL start, so he will also be prone to making a lot of rookie mistakes. How he recognizes defense, how he sees the field, and whether he can make good decisions and put the ball on the money with accuracy to his receivers must be a major concern for the Steelers brass, otherwise they would not have been so reluctant to start him.

The Falcons will likely look to confine him to the pocket where he is going to be less dangerous. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and Erik Coleman will likely be a big reason why if the Falcons are able to take advantage, sitting back and reading Dixon’s eyes and breaking plays on the ball. The hallmark of young quarterbacks is a tendency to stare down his targets, which allows defensive backs, especially safeties a greater opportunity to jump routes and break up plays.

Steelers Right OL vs. Falcons Left DL

This matchup features rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard Trai Essex, and right tackle Flozell Adams versus the Falcons left side of their line which will feature mainly Kroy Biermann at left end, Peria Jerry at left tackle, and Jamaal Anderson splitting time at both spots.

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Falcons keep restricted free agents

April 15th, 2010 Comments off

The Falcons announced today that four of their restricted free agents signed their one-year tenders today. Those players that signed their tenders were offensive linemen Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Quinn Ojinnaka, and running back Jason Snelling.

Today was the last day that restricted free agents could sign offer sheets with other teams. No word on whether or not punter Michael Koenen or running back Jerious Norwood signed their tenders, but since they did not sign offer sheets with other teams, they aren’t going anywhere.

Clabo and Dahl will earn $2.521 million in base salary this year. Snelling will make $1.684 million and Ojinnaka $1.176 million. When Koenen and Norwood sign, they will be set to earn $2.73 million and $1.759 million, respectively.