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Edwards to miss preseason opener

August 10th, 2011 Comments off
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Ray Edwards

Incoming Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards will sit out the team’s first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Friday night due to a minor procedure on his knee he underwent during the off-season. Edwards was allowed to begin team practices on Friday when the new CBA was ratified, but has been held out due to the knee.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC also reports that guard Mike Johnson is expected to miss Friday night’s game due to a concussion he suffered on Sunday. Michael Turner returned to practice after undergoing off-season groin surgery and is expected to play against the Dolphins. Turner was slowed by a groin injury early last season, missing the Falcons Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

According to Atlanta Falcons.com’s Daniel Cox, the team has yet to decide how long starters will be on the field against the Dolphins, although units such as the offensive line may get more reps than other positions.

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FalcFans Podcast – Episode 1

August 8th, 2011 1 comment

We finally put together a podcast, and I have been joined by Ryan Valdez to help host it. It’s our first episode, so we hope you enjoy it as we try to work out the kinks. Hopefully next week, we’ll be coming at you with another podcast where we’ll be discussing the aftermath of the first preseason game against the Dolphins.

In this first episode, we discuss all the off-season moves including free agent signings and draft picks. We also talk a bit about predictions and expectations for this upcoming season on some of these new additions. Matt Bosher, Ray Edwards, and Kim Zolciak are three main topics of discussion, and Ryan even tricks me into talking up the Saints.

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John Abraham must be licking his chops

August 8th, 2011 Comments off

The Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice announced the starting five for the Chicago Bears today. From right to left, the Bears will start rookie first round pick Gabe Carimi at right tackle, first-time starter Lance Louis at right guard, ex-Falcon Roberto Garza at center, former first round pick Chris Williams at left guard, and most importantly last year’s right tackle J’Marcus Webb mans the left tackle position.

John Abraham should be pretty fired up to face Webb. Webb was rated as the worst pass protecting right tackle in the league last year. Ray Edwards had two of his best games last year against Webb and the Bears, so I’m sure that he can give him some helpful tips. But Edwards himself gets to give Carimi his first real NFL test.

But not to be overlooked is the fact that if Jonathan Babineaux remains at left defensive tackle, he’ll be facing Lance Louis. Louis started the first four games of last year at right guard, before his poor play got him benched. Louis didn’t qualify to be ranked by PFF for their rankings of guards pass protection efficiency, but he would have ranked 3rd worst in the league.

Garza has a been a steady guard for them ever since they left Atlanta, but filling in the shoes of potential Hall of Famer Olin Kreutz (now with the Saints) will be a tall order, and the Falcons could potentially take advantage of many communications breakdowns.

While there might be questions on how much improvement the Falcons pass rush will have in 2011, they certainly should have ample opportunity to get off to a fast start against the Bears in Week 1.

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Falcons still interested in Osi?

August 1st, 2011 Comments off

Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reports that the Falcons may be among possible suitors for New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. The Falcons were linked to Umenyiora last week by La Canfora as potential destinations, but that was potentially nixed when the team agreed to a five-year deal with free agent pass rusher Ray Edwards on Friday. But according to La Canfora, the Falcons may still pursue Umenyiora despite the addition of Edwards.

The Giants gave Umenyiora permission to seek a trade earlier today, and reports indicate that they are seeking a first round pick in exchange for the seven-year veteran. But according to La Canfora’s sources, it’s possible that asking price may be reduced to a second or third round pick. Umenyiora is seeking a new contract after signing a seven-year deal at the end of the 2005 season, leaving two remaining years left on that deal.

Umenyiora, who turns 30 in November, is a two-time Pro Bowler coming off an 11.5-sack season with the Giants.

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Falcons sign Edwards

July 29th, 2011 1 comment
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Ray Edwards

FOX Sports Jay Glazer tweets that the Falcons have agreed to a five-year deal with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards. Terms of the deal have to be disclosed. Conflicting reports over the past several weeks surrounded whether the Falcons were interested in signing Edwards. They had been linked to him since the draft, but in recent weeks, NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora and the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter cited league sources that indicated the Falcons interest had cooled on Edwards. It was also reportedthat the Falcons were keen on signing free agents Charles Johnson and Jason Babin, but likely the Falcons attention turned to Edwards when they quickly were snatched up after free agency commenced Tuesday.

Edwards played left defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, and likely will be asked to do the same, at least initially in Atlanta. He’ll likely replace Kroy Biermann in the starting lineup. The team cut one left end this morning by releasing Jamaal Anderson. It’s possible that Anderson could return to the team later at a cheaper price, although Edwards signing potentially makes that move moot.

Edwards, 26, has started for the Vikings the past four seasons. He is coming off a pair of seasons with 8 and 8.5 sacks, respectively, after 2 five sack seasons.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets the terms of the deal: five-years, $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

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Falcons to pass on signing Edwards

July 25th, 2011 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons will reportedly pass on signing Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards when free agency begins in the coming days after the end of the NFL lockout. Ledbetter cites rumors and gossip discussed among NFL beat writers that were in Atlanta during last week’s owners meetings. The Falcosn will also be unlikely to sign Carolina Panthers end Charles Johnson, as he will be the top priority for the Panthers to keep.

Ledbetter also indicates that the Falcons will prioritize re-signing their own free agents, and at the top of that list will be offensive tackle Tyson Clabo. And also that guard Harvey Dahl will take precedent over Justin Blalock, as the Falcons plan to re-sign at least two of their three starting offensive linemen.

It is also expected that linebacker Stephen Nicholas will leave for greener pastures, by joining the New York Giants.

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Falcons not expected to make splash in free agency

July 13th, 2011 Comments off

NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora cited league sources indicating that the Falcons have contingency plans in place to deal with the potential departures of free agent offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo, who are expected to be hot commodities on the open market if/when free agency occurs after the end of the lockout. LaCanfora also writes that the Falcons may not be big players in free agency as some sources expect with the pursuit of either Nnamdi Asomugha or top defensive ends like Ray Edwards or Charles Johnson.

Per LaCanfora, the Falcons brass may opt to play a wait and see game in regards to free agency, letting this year’s market play itself out in order to get a better foothold and grip on what to expect next off-season when things should return to normal.

It has been previously mentioned that the Falcons’ contingency plans along the offensive line include the possibility of replacing starters like Dahl and Clabo with current backups like Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson. Also players such as veteran tackle Will Svitek and Jose Valdez might also be in the mix to replace Clabo at right tackle.

The Ray Edwards Debate

June 30th, 2011 1 comment

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Ray Edwards

It’s been no secret that Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards has been the radar of at least the Falcons fandom for quite some time, and according to some sources the Falcons brass themselves.

We first broached the topic of Ray Edwards back in late January. At the time I was non-committal about the prospect of signing Edwards. I have a much more firm opinion about the prospect of the Falcons adding Edwards now, which I will share in a moment.

But first, I want to cite the discussion that has picked up in recent weeks about the possibility of signing Edwards. And I think that discussion is largely linked to the optimism that is emerging about the potential for there to be some semblance of free agency before the start of the season and a relative return to normalcy for the NFL off-season after the lockout ends.

The AJC’s Dawson Devitt wrote a very detailed piece discussing whether Edwards is a good fit or not in Atlanta. He raised a good point about the fact that Edwards is not just a third wheel, but a fourth wheel on the Vikings defensive line, playing opposite Jared Allen, and beside Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Does this make Edwards look better than he actually is because of the talent around him? This issue is important, because the Falcons have made this mistake before. It happened in 2005 when the team signed Ed Hartwell. A young and upcoming linebacker that played beside the likes of Ray Lewis, Adalius Thomas, and Terrell Suggs in Baltimore. Injuries definitely limited Hartwell while he was in Atlanta, but even the rare times when he was healthy, he was fairly non-descript. The Falcons bounced him after the 2006 season, and he has yet to catch on with another NFL team since.

After Devitt’s article, danzinski, a writer for the fan-blog The Viking Age wrote a not so complementary response about Edwards. Here is the noteworthy excerpt:
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Falcons need to find help at defensive end

January 25th, 2011 Comments off

It seems most everyone can agree that a major area of weakness for the Falcons team and defense is their pass rush. The Falcons inability to provide adequate pressure on Aaron Rodgers was a big reason why the Falcons defense was embarrassed in its poorest showing of the year, giving up 48 points in a postseason loss.

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Ray Edwards: The New John Abraham?

John Abraham had a resurgent year, going from 5.5 sacks in 2009 to 13 in 2010. But I would argue that overall, while Abe’s production improved in the sack department, his ability to get to the quarterback wasn’t significantly better. As many may have noticed by looking at the final regular season stats for Moneyball, Abraham was credited with 6.5 quarterback pressures and 5.5 quarterback hits in addition to his 12 sacks (one of his official sacks was credited as a hit under Moneyball rules). A year ago, he had 3.5 Moneyball-credited sacks along with 18 pressures and 3 hits. For those unfamiliar with the Moneyball concept, a QB pressure is considered when a defender’s pressure on a QB results in an incomplete pass. So if one were to add up sacks, pressures, and hits all as positive pass rushes (PPRs), then in 2009, Abe had 24.5 and this past year 24 PPRs.

Now I’m not quite sure how to quantify the net difference between having 7.5 more sacks in one year and 9 less pressures/hits. I’d certainly argue that a sack should count a bit more because it results in a loss of yardage, which is probably better for a defense than an incompletion. But I don’t know quite how much better, and figuring that out might be best left to other experts.

But the bigger story from 2009 to 2010 may not be how much or little Abraham improved, but the significant dropoff from other members of the Falcons front. Most notably Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux. Biermann went from 27 PPRs in 2009 to 14 this past year. Babineaux dropped from 26 PPRs last year to 15.5. The combination of Thomas Johnson, Peria Jerry, and Vance Walker a year ago combined for 10 PPRs. This year with Jerry, Walker, and Corey Peters running the show that number was roughly the same at 10.5. But Jamaal Anderson, Chauncey Davis, and Lawrence Sidbury combined for 21.5 PPRs in 2009. But this year, the Falcons only got 11 from those same players, including no production from Sidbury.

It’s clear that the Falcons probably need to work on getting more pressure from the outside for next year. Who knows what sort of changes could occur with Abraham being a year older. Will Biermann and Babineaux bounce back to their previous 2009 form? How much improvement can Jerry and Peters show? All questions that won’t be answered until the 2011 season begins. But in the meantime the Falcons would be smart to try and improve the area so that there isn’t even more decline next season.

Now getting to free agency, who knows if there will be free agency this off-season. Most signs seem to point to a protracted lockout this off-season, which will preclude any form of free agency from occurring. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume (although it might be more along the lines of pretending) that free agency does occur this off-season. But we still won’t be even sure what type of free agency occurs. Will it be the free agency of a year ago where only players with six or more years of experience were allowed to test the open market as unrestricted free agents? Or will it feature like it has for most of the past with fourth-year players allowed to hit the market? I don’t know, but I present two possible options in either case.

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