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Posts Tagged ‘Jones’

Training Camp: Day 10 Report

August 6th, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons will have another joint practice session today with the Cincinnati Bengals, this time in shells. Here are the media reports from Day 10 of the Falcons practice:

  • The big news from Monday was reports of injuries to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Julio Jones. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Weatherspoon suffered a badly dislocated finger on his left hand. He left practice early, and might be held out of the Falcons preseason opener. Jones got limited reps in Monday’s practice for precautionary reasons. La Canfora also discusses Brian Banks and the Falcons young corners in his write-up of the Falcons.
  • Daniel Cox’s five observations from Monday include discussion of Lamar Holmes getting reps with the first team and Desmond Trufant’s progress through the course of camp.
  • The team’s official site also has a transcript from Mike Smith’s post-practice interview.
  • The AJC has the team’s first official depth chart.
  • Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has some notes from the Bengals perspective but which also include highlighting a few individual performances from Falcons.

D. Orlando Ledbetter also tweeted some takes on the matchups between the two teams in the trenches:

 

Training Camp: Day 6 Report

July 31st, 2013 Comments off

The Falcons will have today off from practice. League rules enacted after the new CBA prohibit teams from practicing after six consecutive days of practice. But here is the buzz emerging from the Falcons on their sixth day of practice from various media outlets:

  • Julio takes on Deion. ‘Nuff said.
  • Rookie offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder has been generating some buzz as he’s worked against the backup defensive line. I should note that Schraeder is a player I pegged to make the Falcons final roster.
  • The Falcons got their first glimpse of the injury bug. Running backs Antone Smith and Bradie Ewing were held out of Tuesday’s practice and are expected to miss between five and ten days with unspecified injuries. Also cornerback Saeed Lee went down with a serious right leg injury and needed to be helped off the field. The nature of the injury also was unspecified and it’s likely more updates will come today or tomorrow.
  • Daniel Cox gives his five observations from Day 6. Among them he notes that tight ends Chase Coffman and Levine Toilolo have heeded the advice from veteran Tony Gonzalez and getting extra work after practice. Gonzalez is noted for his practice routine which includes catching passes before and after practice, and on the veteran’s instruction, Coffman has added that to his repertoire:

    “When Tony was here for the first couple of days he told us to make sure we are getting our catches in when he leaves and get in the extra work we need.”

  • Thomas Dimitroff gave folks on 790thezone an update (via the AJC) about the Falcons salary cap situation. He indicated that the team did not have any current plans to use their cap space to sign a veteran like defensive tackle Richard Seymour, instead opting to use that space in the event of injuries down the road.

Ranking the Falcons: No. 2 Julio Jones

July 27th, 2013 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Julio Jones

The second-best player on the Falcons is wide receiver Julio Jones. Click here to see how this ranking system was devised.

Total Score: 95

Player Grade: 82 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 32 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 28 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +5
Positional Bonus: +3

Jones is a special receiver, justifying why the Falcons opted to leap frog the rest of the league to draft him in the 2011 draft. He likely will take that next step this season to become the Falcons No. 1 receiver. Last year, he was ostensibly the third option of Ryan in the offense evidenced by the number of times Jones converted on third downs: 15 times last year. Tony Gonzalez (22) and Roddy White (25) outpaced him, but he will likely close the gap in 2013. And at the point where Jones surpasses them, he’ll truly be a complete No. 1 receiver. And that point should come in the very near future.

Already Jones is the Falcons’ primary asset for big plays, with a steady mix of vertical throws to him, as well as short throws designed to get him in space to make plays after the catch. Something he excelled at last season, as he alongside Michael Crabtree was the only receiver in the NFL to average 6 or more yards after the catch with at least 75 receptions (per Pro Football Focus).

Jones is the complete package, and thus will draw the majority of the attention from opposing defenses. Gonzalez and White are both very steady receivers, but they are largely possession guys. Evidenced by their third down conversions, they fit the bill more as chain movers, although White made his fair share of big plays last year. Jones being the playmaker will draw more of the coverages because of the fear he instills in defense. But that will lead to continued success by Gonzalez and White, alongside Matt Ryan who will continue to be efficient.

If there is any weakness to Jones, it is the fact that he has yet to stay healthy for an entire season. While he missed no games in 2012, he was limited in roughly a quarter of the Falcons games due to nicks and scrapes. A key to Jones’ ascension in 2013 will be staying healthy for the entire season, something that White has done to great success. Jones has changed up his diet, taking some tips from Gonzalez to potentially impart some of his teammates’ trademark longevity.

Categories: Features Tags: ,

Ryan Has His Money, Now He Needs More Help

July 27th, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan got paid, and deservedly so. While he may not have the accomplishments that put him on par with the other most highly-paid quarterbacks in the league, it certainly doesn’t make him any less deserving of being in that peer group.

And by accomplishments, we’re talking about playoff wins and Super Bowls.

Now that Ryan is being paid handsomely for his services with the Falcons, more scrutiny is going to come towards him even if he doesn’t feel it. Rightly or wrongly, quarterbacks are largely judged by how many playoff wins and Super Bowl rings they have.

I personally believe those things often get overrated when assessing individual quarterbacks. Postseason success is largely billed as reflective of quarterbacks, but it is in fact reflective of the entire team that he plays on. Teams win games, not necessarily quarterbacks. While quarterbacks are the most important aspect of a team, football is not like basketball where you can be a championship contender by having one transcendent player. Just look at Drew Brees in New Orleans, who by the way had zero playoff wins in his first five seasons (one less than Ryan). Brees has helmed the Saints for seven seasons, and three of those seasons the Saints did not finish with a record above .500. Their lack of success in those seasons was largely because of their poor defensive play which ranked among the ten worst teams in the league in all three seasons. Brees will ultimately be enshrined in Canton for his tenure with the Saints, but it’s clear that even a quarterback of his caliber can’t do it all on his own.

And that’s the point I’m getting to with Ryan. While the Falcons have rewarded Ryan with a resplendent contract, they need to get him more help if they hope that he ultimately will have greater postseason success moving forward.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 33 “The One About Fantasy Football”

July 26th, 2013 7 comments

Allen and I are back with Dave Wasniski, the commish of the FalcFans fantasy league to talk all things fantasy football. We discuss which players we like and don’t like at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end, including discussions of some of the Falcons own players such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Steven Jackson and where they should rank this year. You’ll also hear our thoughts on what to do about playing or sitting Falcons opponents as well as our thoughts on what new NFL rule changes could affect the game this year.

Ep. 33: The One About Fantasy Football [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 23 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, 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

Camp Battles 2013: Wide Receiver

July 14th, 2013 Comments off
 Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Is 2013 the year Kevin Cone finally emerges?

Like many of the Falcons offensive starting positions, they are locked in at the wide receiver position. Thomas Dimitroff envisioned the possibility of having a No. 1 and No. 1-A receiver when he moved up in the 2011 draft to add Julio Jones to a receiver corps that already had Roddy White. It seems that vision will come true in 2013, as it’s hard to figure which player will be the preferred weapon of Ryan in the regular season. Based off last year, technically the honor of being the top option will probably fall on Jones. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones saw a pass from Ryan once every 4.56 snaps where he ran a route. White on the other hand was slightly less used with a target for ever 4.70 snaps. That gap could widen as the Falcons look to better take advantage of Jones’ elite physical tools.

Behind both starters is Harry Douglas, who in this day and age of a passing league is also technically a starter. Douglas appeared in 58.8% of the Falcons offensive snaps last year (per Pro Football Focus) and will once again resume his duties in the slot. But the Falcons managed to mix Roddy White more in the slot last year, and might continue to expand his role there.

Most of the competition will come in camp at the position behind Douglas at the No. 4 wideout spot. That role primarily will be used on special teams rather than offense. Drew Davis is the incumbent there. Outside some of the Falcons blowouts and games in which Julio Jones was injured, he saw little more than two dozen snaps on offense last year. Davis managed to make the most of what few opportunities he did have, showing good speed and quickness to catch 4 passes and a touchdown last year. Davis flashed good ability as a cover guy on special teams, but was inconsistent at times. The key for him to maintain his current position on the depth chart is to make strides both on offense and special teams. Offensively, refining his route-running should help.

But in reality the competition for the fourth wide receiver spot is fairly wide open. Kevin Cone spent last year as the team’s fifth wideout. Cone had a bit of a disappointing preseason last summer. Among the potential candidates, he may possess the best physical tools due to his size and speed combination. But his hands were inconsistent and he hasn’t quite refined his route-running to a high level. Coming out of an option offense at Georgia Tech in 2011 explains his slow progress somewhat, but 2013 needs to be the year that he puts it all together.

Tim Toone was a late summer addition last year that showcased some ability as a punt returner and speed on offense. He finished the year with the team, although he did not suit up for game. Toone’s best avenue to making the roster will be showing he can be a contributor on special teams, most likely as a punt returner.

Also competing for a shot at the return gig is James Rodgers, the older brother of Jacquizz. Rodgers spent the year on the practice squad. He had a solid summer last year, coming fairly close to locking down one of the return spots. He’s an undersized offensive player, but if he can regain the explosiveness he lost due to an ACL tear in 2010, it should aid him greatly.

Marcus Jackson may be the most polished receiver of the group of last year’s practice squad players. Jackson was able to showcase solid hands last summer and an ability to get open, a necessary trait to be a productive NFL receiver. But the key for him will be to not only continue to make strides offensively, but also show he offers value on special teams. Otherwise, he’s looking at another year on the practice squad.

The Falcons also have three undrafted rookies in the mix in Darius Johnson, Rashad Evans, and Martel Moore. Johnson and Evans are helped by the fact that they have return experience while at SMU and Fresno State, respectively. They will hope to do what Rodgers couldn’t last summer and steal one of those jobs. Both are undersized but possess speed that could be assets on special teams. Moore offers a bit more potential as a wide receiver on offense due to his superior size and capable speed. Like Jackson before him, he’ll likely be pushing for a chance to earn a practice squad spot with a good summer.

2013 Key Player: Julio Jones

June 27th, 2013 Comments off
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Jones runs by defenders for TD

For the Falcons offense to take the next step offensively, they may need wide receiver Julio Jones to take his game to new heights.

Jones marveled folks, including myself, in the NFC Championship game, catching 11 passes for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns. All the while playing hurt, as Jones suffered some sort of injury during the second series when he took out a security guard along the sideline. But he didn’t miss a snap, and still proceeded to catch 7 more passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.

That sort of dominance is why the Falcons moved up to draft him. And myself being originally critic of that trade, it also compelled me to change my mind.

The Falcons offense looks like it should be able to provide a bit more balance on the ground with the addition of Steven Jackson this year. But the Falcons passing attack still doesn’t have a consistent vertical element to the offense. Due to the inability to run the ball effectively, the team had to trade off big plays for consistency trying to move the ball through the air. They finished last year ranked 29th in the league in terms of generating 20+ yard plays per pass attempt, not far removed from where they were in 2010 prior to the Jones when they were dead last in the league. If Jackson can help take pressure off the passing game to constantly be looking to move the chains, it should open more big play opportunities for Jones and the rest of the receivers.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 30 “Norv Turner’s Neck Meat”

June 15th, 2013 Comments off

This week, Allen and I are joined by Rashad James to talk about the latest happenings with the Falcons. Those include discussion of changes to the right side of the line and whether it will work in the Falcons favor … Addressing the depth and rotation at defensive end and which players might step up opposite Osi Umenyiora to help the Falcons pass rush … Concern over depth at linebacker and which young players might step up including Pat Schiller and Brian Banks … Falcons depth at safety and whether or not more usage of Mike Nolan’s Big Nickel is on the horizon … Roddy White’s future in Atlanta … Revisiting the Julio Jones trade and other potential options … NFC South Division Race talk … Offseason Grades … Falcons Mount Rushmore … Are the Houston Texans for real?

Ep. 30: Norv Turner’s Neck Meat [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes

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

Rashad can be found on twitter: @SaucedUp_Boss

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

Takeaways from Last Week – June 10

June 10th, 2013 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is on the verge of making himself a lot of money. He showed significant improvement last year, as statistically he ranked highly in a number of advanced metrics.

Unfortunately for Ryan, the pressure on him is only likely to increase, particularly from the fan base.

But I honestly don’t expect Ryan to put together a better season than he did in 2012. Looking at advanced metrics such as expected points added (EPA) by Advanced NFL Stats, the Falcons three receivers graded very highly last season. Roddy White’s EPA of 71.2 was the fourth highest in the league during the regular season behind only Calvin Johnson (107.3), Demaryius Thomas (85.9), and Andre Johnson (83.4). Julio Jones ranked 8th with a EPA of 64.2 last year, and Tony Gonzalez was the top-ranked tight end with an EPA of 59.7. Among all receivers (tight ends included), that would have ranked 12th, ahead of receivers like Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree, Jordy Nelson, and Brandon Marshall.

That’s a rare combination. There were three other teams that have three receivers ranked in the Top 32: the Patriots, Cowboys, and Broncos. But when you average their ranking, the Falcons finished with an average rank of 8th for their Big Three, while the Broncos (13.7), Patriots (18.7), and Cowboys (22.0) were well behind the Falcons.

The point is to suggest that 2012 likely represents a statistical peak for the Falcons top wideouts and quarterback. A repeat performance in 2013 would be welcomed, but not likely. The last time I think a team had that caliber of performance was in 2008 with the Arizona Cardinals, as Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Anquan Boldin all ranked in the Top 13 that year in terms of EPA. The following season, all three ranked between spots 35th and 41st among wide receivers. In 2008, Kurt Warner’s EPA was 6th highest in the league but slipped to 14th the following year.

Thus why it’s probably a shame the Falcons didn’t take advantage of that production and ride it all the way to the Super Bowl. They got close, but it’s likely there will be a step back in 2013 for the passing attack.

And if the Falcons expect to have a repeat of the 2012 season and make a deep run in the playoffs, they are probably going to be much more reliant on the other aspects of the team to step up. But outside the secondary, the Falcons really got minimal production from the rest of their roster last year. Their running game was among the worst in the league. They couldn’t sack the quarterback and they couldn’t stop the run, putting them near the bottom of the league in those areas as well. Their offensive line was average at best for the majority of the season.

Ryan and the receivers essentially carried the team last year. And I hope many fans won’t get down on him or them if that doesn’t happen again this year or in future years. But the focus and scrutiny often falls on the quarterback, especially if he makes over $100 million.

I just hope for Ryan’s sake, that after he gets his new contract he won’t be held to an impossible standard by all parties.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Falcons Super Bowl Window is Small

June 7th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

White hopes his next big celebration includes a Lombardi Trophy

Falcons receiver Roddy White made recent headlines with comments that the time is now for the Falcons to win a Super Bowl. I for one am not a person that typically agrees with many of the public utterings made by White, but in this case he’s 100% correct.

The Falcons do have a small window of opportunity to “get over the hump” and try and win a Super Bowl. While the powers that be in Flowery Branch probably won’t say as much publicly, the truth is in their actions.

And by actions, just look at the team they’ve constructued. While it wouldn’t be accurate to say the Falcons are “all in” for a Super Bowl in 2013, they certainly are for the next two seasons.

Don’t agree? Well, here’s a thinking exercise… Name the Falcons current ten best players. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.

Okay done? Here’s probably the list you came up with, or very close to it…

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