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Takeaways from Last Week – July 15

July 15th, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

I feel your pain

A week from today, we will be on the two-week anniversary of when the lockout ended. And now with two years of hindsight to show for it, it’s clear that the players dropped the ball.

Last week, I discussed Roger Goodell and the NFL’s corporate image in efforts to “protect the shield.” The fact that the players didn’t fight harder to have Goodell removed as the entity that disciplines players. This became a major issue last off-season with the BountyGate decisions, where Goodell clearly overstepped his limits when meting out player punishment.

The players signed a deal believing that their would be a landfall with money coming in 2014. Well, current projections indicate that at the earliest that will be coming in 2015. Until then there has been a flat cap which has led to teams spending much less money, leading some players to believe that teams are colluding with one another to keep prices down.

The players also didn’t fight hard enough to get rid of the franchise tag. Look at the number of tagged players that aren’t getting deals. Eight players got tagged this off-season. And only one of them as of this posting Monday morning, Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady, got a long-term deal. In fact, several of them such as Randy Starks and Anthony Spencer were pretty much told point-blank that their respective teams had no interest in locking them up to long-term deals.

That’s the same way that the Falcons treated Brent Grimes an off-season ago. They had no intention to really give him a long-term deal, which led to the bitterness expressed by Miko Grimes.

Look at the following table. Since 2008, 73 players have received franchise tags. Only 35 of them have gotten long-term deals from their respective teams. Even discounting this year’s group of eight, the percentage was still barely about half (52.3%). Basically when a player is tagged, it’s a 50/50 proposition that he gets a new deal from his respective team. This is why players hate the franchise tag. It’s denying them money that they should be able to get on the open market.

Year
Total
Signed
Not-Signed
Pct. Signed
TOTALS73353847.9%
201381712.5%
20121911857.9%
20111310376.9%
201064266.7%
20091541126.7%
2008125741.7%

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Opposing Camp Primer: Miami Dolphins

July 11th, 2013 Comments off
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Grimes hopes to pick up in Miami where he left off in Atlanta

After checking out the Falcons first two opponents of the year in the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams, let’s look at their Week Three opponent in the Miami Dolphins and what things will be happening in South Florida this summer.

The Dolphins are a team in flux hoping that their second year under head coach Joe Philbin will lead to greater success than the 7-9 finish in 2012. They spent quite a bit of money this off-season to bring in new starters at several positions on both sides of the ball and are hoping it pays immediate dividends. The main thing people watching Dolphins camp will be looking for this summer is how things gel with all the new faces.

Much of the focus is going to center on second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as many are expecting big things from him this season as he matures into a more consistent passer. Tannehill has skills to be a very good quarterback in the NFL, showcasing all the physical tools you want. Despite limited experience playing at both the collegiate and professional levels, he shows a relatively strong mental grasp for the position which indicates that with added experience the sky could indeed be the limit for how good a player he matures into. But there were too many times he was erratic last year. And it certainly didn’t help that there were no true weapons for him to throw to last year.

That changes with the free agent additions of Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson at wide receiver, as well as tight end Dustin Keller. Wallace had a disappointing 2012 campaign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, seemingly due to the uncertainty of his future in that city after two excellent seasons as the league’s most-feared vertical threat. The Dolphins hope that now that he has is sated contractually, he can get back to those former ways. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, history suggests that when free agent wide receivers change teams their level of success with their new teams isn’t very good. The Dolphins hope that Wallace is the exception, rather than the rule.

Gibson will be competing with Armon Binns for the third spot at wide receiver. Philbin wants to incorporate an explosive vertical attack into the Dolphins offense, akin to what he helped build in Green Bay years ago, which will make ample use of three-wide sets. Gibson is a solid possession receiver that was productive in St. Louis over the past few years. Binns has good size and many observers are suggesting his strong off-season will cause him to win the job this summer. If either one can become the underneath option for Tannehill while Wallace and Brian Hartline continue to do what they do best on the outside: stretch the field, then it should give the Dolphins a major upgrade in their passing attack.

But one of the key areas of competition this summer on offense will be at the running back position. Gone is Reggie Bush, with his backups in Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller competing for the starting job. Miller is expected to win the job and certainly will enter camp as the starter. Thomas had a few moments last year, where his size and inside rushing ability could prove to be an effective change of pace to the quicker, more explosive Miller that is better rushing on the edge. Depending on how strong a summer Miller has could determine just how much balance the Dolphins have this season. And despite roots in Green Bay, Philbin being a former offensive line coach is not going to run an offense that throws the ball every down. How much success they have on the ground will be a key factor in taking pressure off Tannehill to be able to better pick and choose his spots in 2013.

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Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 29 “The Ryan Fitzpatrick of Left Tackles”

May 31st, 2013 2 comments

Allen and I are joined by Steve Cohen, another die-hard Falcon fan to talk some of the latest news surrounding the Falcons, including the potential signing of free agent defensive tackle Richard Seymour. We also discuss whether that move and other recent moves signal the Falcons will be moving more towards a 3-4 defense in 2013. We each share our concerns about the battles along the offensive line, and discuss our disappointment with some of the contracts given to some of those blockers recently. We go in-depth on what sort of effect Steven Jackson will have on the Falcons offense and whether or not it could have a huge impact on the outcome of the 2013 season and discuss what if any changes defensively could also make a huge difference. Our conversation then swings towards whether the Falcons are now the top team in the NFC in the wake of Michael Crabtree’s injury, and give our thoughts on what other teams in the conference could be contenders this year. Of course no FalcFans podcast can go without some discussion of Brent Grimes, and the we opine on what was really the reason behind Tyson Clabo’s release. We wrap things up with a discussion on how geography affects our fanhood.

Ep. 29: The Ryan Fitzpatrick of Left Tackles [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Steve can be found on twitter: @SteveInBrooklyn

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 28 “2013 Schedule Breakdown” Parts 1 & 2

May 14th, 2013 1 comment

Allen and I take part in another two-part episode in which we go week by week, breaking down the Falcons 2013 schedule. We look at favorable matchups that the Falcons can exploit along with our thoughts on how good the Falcons 2013 opponents will be this upcoming fall. In the first part, we look at the first half of the season culminating in our analysis of the Falcons Week 10 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. You’ll hear our thoughts on each of the Falcons first nine opponents, as well as insights on how the Falcons defensive line and offensive lines will look in 2013 and odds that the Falcons pick up a veteran free agent such as John Abraham, Richard Seymour, or Karlos Dansby before the summer starts. You’ll also hear our breakdown of how Darrelle Revis stacks up against Julio Jones, and Ron Rivera in comparison to Mike Smith.

In the second part of our schedule breakdown extravanganza, Allen and I take a look at the Falcons final seven opponents beginning in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We talk about how good a year Steven Jackson might have, along with whether or not the Falcons have made enough improvements on defense to handle the New Orleans Saints. You’ll also hear our thoughts on how the division race in the NFC East may shake out as well as some of the other NFC squads that could be wildcard contenders. We cap things off with our insights on how the 2013 season as a whole should play out for the Falcons.

Part 1:

Ep. 28: 2013 Schedule Breakdown Part 1 [Download]

Duration: 51 minutes

Part 2:

Ep. 28: 2013 Schedule Breakdown Part 2 [Download]

Duration: 55 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Takeaways From Last Week – April 1

April 1st, 2013 Comments off
Andrew Weber- US PRESSWIRE

Brent Grimes

Brent Grimes is gone. Falcon fans should lament, although I’ve seen quite a few that are not. Are the Falcons defense doomed without Grimes? No. But they will miss him. How much remains to be seen. It seems very likely that cornerback will be one of the team’s top two picks in this year’s draft.

Will that mean that the Falcons won’t sign another player between now and then to help them at cornerback? No. I think it is possible, although I’m not sure I’d say it’s a likelihood. What is a likelihood is that the Falcons will let the market come to them. We haven’t received the details of Osi Umenyiora’s contract yet. But it was reported that $5 million of his deal was guaranteed, and according to other reports that encompassed his first-year salary. Given the way that the Falcons usually negotiate their contracts, it’s likely that guaranteed money includes his first-year base salary as well as an initial signing bonus. How that breaks up is unknown, but more than likely it will result in a cap hit in 2013 that is between $3 and $4 million. Regardless of where it falls on that spectrum, it means that the Falcons cap situation is relatively tight. I’ve calculated that if the Falcons don’t trade any of their picks, they will need roughly $5.65 million to sign all of them. From the cap numbers I have, if Umenyiora’s 2013 cap hit is $3.5 million, that gives the Falcons roughly $3.5 million in cap space for the season. Not enough to sign the rookies.

Now after the draft the Falcons will almost certainly get to work on extending Matt Ryan’s contract. When that deal is done, that should give the team at least $5-6 million in cap space, giving them them enough to sign their rookies and also have some room left over as insurance in the event of injuries. But in the mean time, the Falcons will likely be frugal with their spending. And that will likely result in the Falcons letting the cornerback market come to them. They probably won’t make huge efforts to pursue any free agent corners between now and the draft. But if some come to them at the right terms, then I believe we should see the Falcons add a veteran stopgap at cornerback before the draft. The right terms likely will be a one-year, veteran minimum deal that will include a very modest signing bonus (less than $100,000). If a veteran corner is willing to accept such terms, then he may be a Falcon. If not, then the Falcons will be content to try and answer their problems at the position solely via the draft.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 26 “IHateDuntaRobinson.com”

March 30th, 2013 Comments off

On this week’s episode, I am joined by Allen Strk and Tom Melton to recap the Falcons free agent moves as well as look forward to what the team could do in April’s draft. You’ll hear our thoughts on the acquisitions of Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson, as well as the team re-signing players like Sam Baker and William Moore. You’ll also hear our opinions on what are the chances that Brent Grimes and John Abraham suit up for the team in 2013. As we venture into the draft, you’ll hear opinions on whether the Falcons should prioritize improving the pass rush or their coverage on the back-end. You’re hear opinions on a couple of first round targets such as Datone Jones, Desmond Trufant, and Johnthan Banks. The conversation then returns back to the Falcons, and whether players like Tyson Clabo, Jonathan Babineaux, and Stephen Nicholas’s days as Falcons might be numbered. We debate whether Peria Jerry or Jamaal Anderson proved to be a better pick. Thoughts about what options the Falcons may have at improving their linebacker and wide receiver play will also be discussed. We pine over the memories of Eric Weems, and shed no tears for the departed Dunta Robinson.

Ep. 26: IHateDuntaRobinson.com [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Tom Melton writes for his own blog at Tom Melton Scouting, as well as NFL Draft Monsters and the newly formed DraftFalcons.com. You can find him on twitter: @TMeltonScouting

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Takeaways from Last Week – March 25

March 25th, 2013 Comments off
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Osi Umenyiora

Reports on Saturday indicated that the Falcons signing Osi Umenyiora was very imminent. Not sure if by the time this posts Monday morning if that deal will be official, but given the sources (Pro Football Talk and Adam Schefter), I trust them.

I don’t have a problem with that move. The problem with the move is that it is at best a lateral move for a team that struggled with their pass rush throughout 2012. It’s a toss-up between the lack of pass rush and the run defense as to what was the Achilles heel of the Falcons defense last year. At least for the run defense, there were some strong performances down the stretch. Not sure, if I can say the same for the pass rush.

I don’t think Osi is better than John Abraham, but the dropoff is not huge. If you asked me who I would rather have for one season, my answer is definitely Abraham. If you’re asking me who I would rather have for three seasons, then I’d probably choose Osi just because he is a few years younger. But I definitely don’t think Osi is going to be as good or better than Abraham is at age 34.

This is why I think adding pass rush help will remain a priority for the Falcons going into the draft. I think there is a strong possibility that the Falcons will use their top pick to help there.

Once Osi signs, the focus will shift firmly to cornerback as the Falcons top need. While I won’t say that the team won’t draft a corner with their top pick, there is still a lot of time left before the draft (31 days to be exact). There are just too many good veteran corners available, that I’d be surprised if the Falcons didn’t try and pursue one in that time span. It seems inevitable that Brent Grimes won’t be returning to the Falcons at this point, despite my overwhelming desires. So if not Grimes, then the Falcons still have options. Antoine Winfield is probably the best, but he’s 36 and at that age is really only a one-year stopgap. But Winfield would be a good player to pair with Asante Samuel for a season. Winfield still played at a high level last year, and is one of the league’s most consistent run-defending corners in the league. You could possibly make the argument that Winfield is one of the best run-support corners in the last twenty years. Terence Newman brings many of the physical traits to the table that Robinson did that had Falcons officials gushing over him three years ago. He was decent last year in Cincinnati, but it’s hard not to forget his struggles in Dallas the previous two years. Quentin Jammer is another corner with a reputation for physicality, but I’m not sure he can really run anymore, which is the same complaint about Nnamdi Asomugha. Rashean Mathis is a guy that Mike Smith is very familiar with, but he’s struggled with injuries the past two years, so may not be a reliable starter. There are other players such as DeAngelo Hall, Mike Jenkins, Kelvin Hayden, Marcus Trufant, Stanford Routt, Cedric Griffin, and Tracy Porter that will also potentially be in the mix. And I can’t forget about Charles Woodson either.

That’s just too many serviceable to good starters out there for the Falcons to stand pat at cornerback. Right now, there cornerback position consists of Samuel and Robert McClain, and that’s about it. Dominique Franks is on the roster bubble. He didn’t contribute anything as a returner last year, and has not contributed anything on special teams coverage, making his hold on a reserve spot tenuous at best. Backup defensive backs have to contribute on special teams, and Franks does not. So unless the Falcons really like Terrence Johnson and/or Peyton Thompson, you can be fairly confident that at least two significant additions will be made at the position. Probably one on the first two days of the draft, and likely one in free agency.

Read more…

Chris Owens heads to Cleveland

March 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Chris Owens

The Cleveland Browns announced the signing of cornerback Chris Owens today. Owens, a former Falcon, was an unrestricted free agent. Fellow free agent Brent Grimes visited the Browns this past weekend. Owens signed a one-year deal with the Browns, with undisclosed terms.

Owens was drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2009 draft out of San Jose State. He played late in his rookie season as a replacement for an injured Chris Houston, and performed well in six starts with 26 tackles and 2 interceptions. The following season, he lost a camp competition to Grimes for the starting position and was moved into the slot as the nickel back. He struggled that year and was eventually benched in favor of Brian Williams. He then replaced an injured Williams in the Falcons playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and struggled in the loss. In 2011, he showed up late in the season as an injury fill-in for Grimes on the outside, where he was more respectable. This past year, he once again got reps as an injury fill-in with starters Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel nursing some injuries. Owens also proved to be a valuable special teams player over his time in Atlanta, tallying 26 stops on special teams.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Falcons Gearing Up to Take Pass Rusher Atop Draft

March 15th, 2013 Comments off
Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

Bjoern Werner

The Falcons primary needs heading into this offseason were upgrading their running game, replacing/retaining Tony Gonzalez at tight end, securing the cornerback spot opposite Asante Samuel, and improving the pass rush. While there were certainly other areas of the roster that could be improved, those four spots seemed to be the primary needs where the Falcons couldn’t afford to stand pat upon.

Well after the first few days of the off-season, it seems that the Falcons have already addressed the majority of them except for the pass rush.

Steven Jackson was added to replace Michael Turner as the starting running back. While Jackson won’t fix the Falcons running ailments, he certainly should provide a short-term boost. He’ll also give the team another year to evaluate Jacquizz Rodgers to determine if he will have a say in the Falcons long-term answers at the position.

Tony Gonzalez was retained for at least one more year. While the Falcons certainly could be in the market for drafting his heir apparent this April, Gonzalez’s presence means it ceases to be a priority.

While the cornerback spot remains open, the market has been flooded with so many good veteran corners such as Antoine Winfield and Nnamdi Asomugha to join free agents like Brent Grimes, Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, etc. that it seems impossible at this point that the Falcons won’t find someone competent to man the starting spot at least short-term. Worst-case scenario is the Falcons find a veteran seat warmer that at least prevents the Falcons need to use a very high pick looking for an immediate starter.

That just leaves the pass rush, which hasn’t been addressed yet following the release of John Abraham, by far the team’s best player in that category last season. And the market as of this writing doesn’t appear to be as favorable as the Falcons potential options in the secondary.

At this point, the best case scenario for the Falcons may be a lateral move in replacing Abraham with a similarly aged veteran like Dwight Freeney or Osi Umenyiora. The Falcons could also choose to address their pass rush with a quick, interior presence but aren’t likely to find much help on the open market. Quality pass rushers like Henry Melton, Jason Jones, Desmond Bryant, Chris Canty, and Cullen Jenkins have already worked out deals elsewhere.

Given Thomas Dimitroff’s proclivities for needs-based drafting, it would seem likely that the Falcons’ off-season is setting them up to address that key need with their top pick. Whether that happens to be an edge rusher or interior disruptor remains to be seen, but it would be a major upset at this point if the Falcons top pick six weeks from now won’t be playing a position that makes it living chasing down quarterbacks.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 25 “Free Agency Preview” Part 1

March 11th, 2013 1 comment

I am joined once again by Allen Strk, to preview and discuss free agency. In this first of three-part episode, we discussed the Falcons free agent moves made on Saturday with the re-signings of William Moore and Garrett Reynolds. We also discuss the cuts the Falcons made a week ago by parting ways with Dunta Robinson, Michael Turner, and John Abraham. There is also discussion of impending free agents Sam Baker, Brent Grimes, among other Falcons that are set to hit the market.

Ep. 25: Free Agency Preview Part 1 [Download]

Duration: 30 minutes

Click here to listen to Parts 2 and 3.

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt