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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 71 “All About the Roster”

July 28th, 2014 No comments

FalcFans.comAllen and I are back to discuss the state of the Atlanta Falcons roster, including recent changes involving Pat Angerer and Darius Johnson. Then we compare notes with Vaughn McClure of ESPN’s projection of the Falcons final roster before discussing upcoming ideas about future podcast episodes, the Falcons Mount Rushmore and Jevon Kearse.

Episode 71: All About the Roster [Download]

Duration: 1 hour

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. You can check out Allen’s Mount Rushmore article here.

Vaughn’s roster projection discussed in the podcast can be found clicking here. Since recording the episode however, Vaughn has released an updated roster projection here.

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! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons 2014 Training Camp: Day 3 Report

July 27th, 2014 No comments

From AtlantaFalcons.com

Julio Jones. From AtlantaFalcons.com

Let’s take a look at the various tweets, articles, reports, news and rumors that surfaced from the third day of Atlanta Falcons training camp:

  • It was a scorcher at practice today, with temperatures north of 90 degrees, and it was clear the Falcons players felt it. The high temperatures may have gotten the better of cornerback Josh Wilson, who had to get his hamstring worked on midway through practice.
  • As usual, Jay Adams provides us with five things we learned from practice today. Included are running back Antone Smith’s role with the team, the majesty of wide receiver Julio Jones, the battles in the trenches, and the play of linebackers Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo.
  • The competition at cornerback seemed to heat up a bit, as Robert McClain was taking first-team reps at nickel cornerback. That should be no surprise given that head coach Mike Smith indicated that McClain, Wilson, and Javier Arenas would all have opportunities this summer. Wilson had worked as the starting nickel the first two days of practice. Desmond Trufant, who has spent the bulk of the first two days of practice at right cornerback, made the switch to the left side today.
  • The Falcons cross-trained a few of their blockers today. Guard Harland Gunn took snaps at center, while guard Gabe Carimi got some work at right tackle.
  • But the star of today was Jones, who caught a lot of eyeballs as he showed no ill signs from his day off yesterday.
    Read more…

Falcons Have Open Competition For Nickel Cornerback

July 27th, 2014 No comments

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Wilson

Following yesterday’s second practice of training camp, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith elaborated on the team’s competition for the nickel cornerback spot. Through the first two days of practices, free-agent signee Josh Wilson has worked primarily with the first team at the position. However, Smith indicated that Wilson, incumbent Robert McClain and newcomer Javier Arenas will get equal work at the position. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes:

Veteran newcomer Josh Wilson continued to work as the primary nickel back ahead of incumbent Robert McClain and Javier Arenas. Don’t read too much into yet, however. Smith said all three players should get a chance to be the primary nickel during the exhibition games, so it’s an open competition now. It also makes sense to get Wilson more work because he’s not as familiar with the defense as McClain.

“It’s a competitive situation,” Smith said of the nickel spot. “We’re going to give about three guys the same amount of reps. … It’s tough because 65, 67 percent is going to be your sub and the other 35, 33 are going to be base. Those guys are going to have to show what they can do in a little different situation. It’s not like they’re going out there and getting all the snaps that we’re going to run in our training camp.”

After being one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league in 2012, McClain is coming off a subpar 2013 campaign. The team signed Wilson and Arenas to push him in the competition, and it appears that the Falcons will let the competition play out over the next several weeks before making a decision.

With the Washington Redskins last season, Wilson served as a starting cornerback outside but moved to the slot when the team utilized their nickel sub-package. In the first four years of his career (2007-10), Wilson served primarily as a nickel cornerback with both the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. With the Arizona Cardinals, Arenas served primarily as a safety in dime sub-packages. However, prior to his arrival in Arizona last season, Arenas served as the nickel cornerback of the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons.

The nickel sub-package refers to the defensive alignment that features five defensive backs, typically used in obvious passing situations. The dime refers to an alignment with six defensive backs and is less commonly used.

Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Cornerback

July 23rd, 2014 No comments
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Alford (left) and Desmond Trufant

The Atlanta Falcons seem pretty secure as far as their starting cornerbacks go heading into the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of questions surrounding the position.

The first questions do center on their starters and how effective they’ll be now that the team lacks a true safety net at the position. A year ago, the team had long-time veteran Asante Samuel in that role. Now Samuel is gone and the team will be reliant upon starters Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford to rise to the occasion.

There is less question on whether Trufant can accomplish that task. Trufant is coming off a very promising rookie season where his play particularly down the stretch has many considering him one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Trufant regularly displayed his ball skills and disruptive capabilities at the cornerback position, breaking up or intercepting a pass in 13 out of 16 games last season including nine consecutive games to open the season.

If there is any concern, it’s the fear against a sophomore slump for Trufant. Such slumps can be precarious because they typically are not caused by a significant downturn in play, but by the much higher expectations placed on a player after a successful rookie season. There’s no doubt that expectations are high for Trufant this year, and his play in camp will likely determine whether or not he’s set to meet them.

Opposite him will be Alford, who has a few more questions to answer. Alford supplanted Samuel down the stretch last year thanks to the team’s abysmal record leading the coaching staff to install a youth movement on defense. Alford had his fair share of bright spots, but also several head-scratching ones. A talented athlete, Alford still needs to refine the technical aspects of playing the cornerback position. He certainly has the talent to impact this year, particularly if he can balance some of his inevitable mistakes with big plays.

Read more…

Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 26 Robert McClain

July 17th, 2014 No comments

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Robert McClain

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 26th-ranked player: cornerback Robert McClain.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 50/100

Last year’s rank: 21
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 7 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 30 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +4

Unlike other players that fell in this year’s rankings, it’s probably fair to say McClain’s drop from a year ago has a lot to do with his play in 2013. As one of the pleasant surprises from 2012, McClain fell back to Earth last season.

But despite this, McClain will still be counted upon to be the team’s nickel cornerback. However, now he will face stiff competition from Josh Wilson and Javier Arenas, free-agent pickups this offseason.

McClain has an edge in the competition simply because he’s a more known commodity to this coaching staff. He’s also a more effective corner when it comes to matchups against size and is probably the team’s best corner in run support. That latter ability is important for a nickel cornerback since he functionally replaces a linebacker on the field, making a team playing nickel a bit more vulnerable against the run.

Also despite a disappointing 2013, McClain also showcased his versatility particularly on special teams. After Harry Douglas was removed from punt returns and Robert Alford botched his first fielded return, McClain emerged as a breath of fresh air. He averaged 10.2 yards on 19 returns, a mark on par with the likes of Eric Weems and Tim Dwight from Falcons history.

Even if McClain loses the nickel job this summer, it’s still very likely that he’ll make the team given his versatility. Thus far in Atlanta, whatever the coaching staff has asked McClain to do: cover, tackle, play special teams, etc., he has done so with some gusto.

Those are the types of players that carve out long careers in the pros, even if they are considered nothing more than role players.

But obviously McClain hopes to be a little more year. Last year, there were dreams that he, Alford and Desmond Trufant could be solidified as the team’s long-term trio of corners. Those dreams are still alive, but they need to be reinvigorated by better play from McClain in 2014. Given that this season will also be a contract year for him suggests the odds are good that he will rebound.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Ricardo Allen

May 26th, 2014 Comments off

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Allen

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 fifth-round selection, former Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen.

BIO

Height: 5’9″
Weight: 187
College: Purdue
40 Time: 4.61 (Combine)
Three-Cone: 6.90 (Campus)

Ricardo Jamal Allen was born on December 18, 1991 and attended Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He immediately earned playing time as a true freshman at Purdue with 12 starts as a freshman. He recorded 73 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions and four pass breakups. Two of his interceptions went back for scores, helping him earn second team All-Big Ten honors. He followed that up with honorable mention honors as a sophomore, starting 13 games with 81 tackles, three for loss, 3 interceptions, four pass breakups and a blocked field goal. He had another interception returned for a touchdown that year as well. He would once again be considered an all-conference honorable mention player as a junior with 11 starts in 13 appearances. He finished that year with 45 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception returned for a touchdown and four pass breakups. As a senior he started all 12 games with 53 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He also earned second team All-Big Ten honors for the second time in his career. During his career at Purdue, he also returned a pair of punts for a combined 32 yards. He finished his career second in school history with 13 career interceptions and tied for Big Ten record with four interceptions returned for a touchdown.

Noted as a hard working, football-first player that was without a doubt the best defensive player on Purdue’s defense last year. He played in East-West Shrine All-Star Game this past January and fared relatively well. Also had an impressive 37-inch vertical at his pro day.

2013 GAMES WATCHED

Date
Opponent
TFL
Stop
FF
Press
Miss Tkl
Key Blkd
Pen
Pen. Type
Sep-14Notre Dame11.500100N/A
Sep-21Wisconsin0000110N/A
Nov-02Ohio State0001000N/A
Date
Opponent
Tgt
Rec.
Yds
YAC
TD
UC
YPT
INT
PD
Sep-14Notre Dame32109441136.3301
Sep-21Wisconsin31120004.0010
Nov-02Ohio State2120101.0010
UC- Uncatchable Pass

SKILLS
The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Speed (5.5) – Allen is by no means a blazer and will have difficulty keeping up with the fastest NFL receivers, but his speed is more than a capable of making him a competitive player at the next level. He can get beat on the deep pass, but less due to being slow rather because his technique can be shoddy when trying to turn and run.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 66 “Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams”

May 13th, 2014 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic contributor, Murf Baldwin, to discuss our thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft class. Murf gives a less than glowing assessment of the Falcons picks, including whether or not Ra’Shede Hageman and Dezmen Southward offered good value in the second and third rounds. We wonder whether or not the Falcons pass rush has been significantly improved and break down whether Devonta Freeman and their late-round picks add anything to the roster that wasn’t already there. Allen and I finish with a brief discussion of our hopes for the NBA playoffs, our usual around the league segment, as well as Allen’s explanation on why he could not make a triumphant return to Radio City Music Hall to witness the draft.

Episode 66 – Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Murf writes for The Falcoholic, Roll Bama Roll and can be found on twitter: @MurfBaldwin.

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 2014 NFL Draft – May 12, 2014

May 12th, 2014 1 comment
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons 2014 Top Selection: Jake Matthews

Normally I write my weekly takeaways column on Sunday afternoon or evening with the intention of it being posted first thing Monday morning around 8:00 a.m. This week, that was no the case.

That’s partly to blame for the fact that it was Mother Day’s weekend, and instead of doing all the things I normally would have done on a Sunday afternoon/evening to get this weekly column posted, I decided to spend time with my mother, who had driven four hors from Virginia to North Carolina to witness my sister-in-law’s graduation from grad school. In the interest of being a good son, my mother took precedent over this column.

Secondly, I had not watched all of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft picks play yet. And the column after the draft is the one devoted to my thoughts on whether I believe the Falcons’ draft was a good one or not.

Because unlike most people, I try to be informed before giving my opinions. If you want to know my take on any of the Falcons undrafted free agents, I don’t have one because I haven’t seen any of them play. Until I do, which will be in the first preseason game, my opinion on them will remain largely non-existent.

I was born in 1983, so I spent a significant portion existing in a world without the internet. That was a world where people couldn’t post their opinions, thoughts or insights with the click of a button on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or in Yahoo! News comments.

Back in those times, the only people that were given a platform to express opinions were people that had earned that right to be called experts in their give fields. There was a filter, and it was one that you had to work hard to break through.

The idea that Courtney Love could be involved in finding a missing plane in that time was laughable at best. Instead of social media, people expressed their opinions to companions and family members in their respective living rooms, kitchen dinner tables or bars.

But that age doesn’t exist anymore, and now people are free to give their opinions with no filter. Today, everything is thrown at the wall, and it’s only a matter of what sticks.

Why am I telling you this? Because one of the things I find fascinating is how everybody, including those least informed, will give their opinions on the draft. Besides watching a YouTube highlight clip and reading a bunch of online scouting reports, most people aren’t informed about most of these players with their own eyes.

It often leads to people have overly optimistic expectations about a particular draft prospect, or overly pessimistic ones. There is no longer a middle ground. And people should know that most things fall into that middle area.

I’m saying all this because I believe it will take time to see how these draft prospects develop. Patience is really the key, and while it won’t stop me from having an opinion today, I’m at least aware of the fact that what my opinion today is relatively meaningless in the big picture. That big picture will be determined by where the Falcons 2014 draft picks are three to five years from now.

What will this column will entail from this point is my best guess on where those players will be at that point. While that guess is an educated one based off informed analysis from watching these guys play a handful of collegiate games, it is still a guess nonetheless.

Read more…

Draft Needs: Is Dwight Lowery Enough for Falcons at Safety?

May 2nd, 2014 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Lowery

When the Atlanta Falcons decided to cut long-time free safety Thomas DeCoud in March, it created a void at the position. But the thinking may have been that DeCoud’s play in 2013 had slipped so considerably that such a void would be relatively easy to fill.

And while the Falcons made quick moves to help address their weaknesses along the line of scrimmage at the outset of free agency, they stood quiet when it came to concerns in the secondary. But eventually the Falcons addressed their need at the position by signing Dwight Lowery, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lowery was a forgotten man, having missed most of 2013 nursing a concussion. He was released by the Jaguars midseason after being placed on injured reserve due to that head injury, his second in six years in the NFL. But his inconspicuous exit from Jacksonville should not diminish what he had done for three years, where he was second only to linebacker Daryl Smith as the team’s most consistent defender. And one certainly saw what Smith did in Baltimore last year after leaving behind obscurity in Jacksonville.

Lowery began his career at cornerback, playing three seasons with the New York Jets playing mainly in the slot. That should give him an edge over DeCoud in terms of coverage on the back-end, an area that has been sorely lacking for the team in recent years. Man coverage is anything but a strength for strong safety William Moore (as Jimmy Graham can attest). Not to mention, Lowery should be a vast improvement over DeCoud in run support as he is much less prone to missing tackles. Over the past three years in Jacksonville, Lowery missed a combined 10 tackles (per premium website Pro Football Focus). In 2013 alone, DeCoud missed 12 and combined for 43 over the past three seasons.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 62 “What’s Gonna Happen with the Pass Rush?”

March 31st, 2014 Comments off

Allen and I are back to discuss some of the most intriguing moves made in free agency by the other 31 NFL teams not named the Atlanta Falcons. But before we dive deep into DeSean Jackson’s future and the horror that is the Oakland Raiders offseason, we invited the Falcoholic Dave Choate to share his thoughts on the Falcons offseason moves. Dave and I discuss whether the Falcons pass rush will be improved with the moves so far, as well as what the Falcons can do in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft to fix that problem. We also invite Macon-area Falcon fan Dylan Hoyt to describe an interesting week that saw him embroiled with a controversy on Twitter involving wide receiver Roddy White.

Episode 62: What’s Gonna Happen with the Pass Rush? [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Dave writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @TheFalcoholic.

Dylan can be found on twitter: @DHoyt77

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