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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 3

June 3rd, 2013 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Could be a Make or Break year for both Dent and Spoon

We’re entering the “dark time” of the NFL calendar where there isn’t a whole lot going on. Teams are conducting minicamps and OTAs and it’s the season of hype. Media members talk up this new free agent or rookie, or that new assistant coach or coordinator, and how it’s going to pay big dividends for their respective team. Sometimes it does, but most times it does not.

Teams have got to sell tickets, and it doesn’t feel right putting down hundreds of your hard-earned dollars for an inferior product. So they have to sell you on how your team’s product is going to be superior and merit that investment. For good teams like the Falcons, that means talking up Super Bowl possibilities. For mid-level teams like say the Panthers, it means talking up playoff potential. For cellar-dwelling teams that are rebuilding like the Raiders, it’s usually about how management has things moving in the right direction.

I apologize for my cynicism, but I can’t help it. For whatever reason, it’s always the month of June where I get the most skeptical, pessimistic, and negative about the upcoming season. Maybe it’s the freshness of the draft starts to wear off, and now we sit in this lull waiting for training camp to come around. Maybe it’s just my impatience making me bitter. No different than waiting in an overly long line to get into a store or venue, and beginning to wonder if the product or event is really worth all this fuss. This is why I don’t shop on Black Friday.

I think it’s also because I have a tendency to be contrarian. Not to extreme measures, but if you have a certain viewpoint, I enjoy exploring the opposite viewpoint. I was never on the debate team in high school, but I think I probably would have enjoyed it. You think Player A is going to have a breakout year for B and C reasons, well then I’ll start to think about D and E reasons why you’re wrong.

Speaking of breakout candidates, I’m actually not sure if I can think of many for the Falcons this year. At least no one I’m really confident is poised for a big 2013 season. I’m sure there is going to be a player a lot like Robert McClain, that sort of comes out of nowhere and becomes a key contributor for the team. But I can’t really wager a guess because it really comes from nowhere.

But there are a number of Falcon players that I hope have breakout years and really become big-time contributors in 2013.

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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

OTAs: Day 1 Report

May 29th, 2013 Comments off

Technically it’s the second day, but this is the first day that media have been covering things.

  • So the biggest news from the day is that Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez were absent from these these voluntary workouts. So was Desmond Trufant, who is finishing school at the University of Washington. But he’s apparently putting in the extra work by contacting coaches via Skype. Levine Toilolo is also finishing up his schoolwork at Stanford.
  • As reported earlier, linebackers Sean Weatherspoon (knee), Stephen Nicholas (sports hernia), and rookie end Stansly Maponga (foot/ankle) were held out of practices today due to their recoveries from off-season surgeries.
  • The Falcons opened with a brand new starting 5 on their offensive line: LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Peter Konz, RG Garrett Reynolds, and RT Mike Johnson. Lamar Holmes is expected to be in the mix with Johnson at right tackle.
  • The Falcons cut UDFA Deon Goggins. Goggins played DT at Syracuse, but was being converted to fullback in Atlanta.

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

Clabo gets dumped

April 4th, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Tyson Clabo

Agent Chad Speck of Allegiant Athletic Agency tweeted this morning that the Falcons had informed him that they would be releasing his client, offensive tackle Tyson Clabo. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the move will be designated a post-June 1 release to clear more cap space.

Clabo had three years left on his contract, and was set to count $6.05 million against this year’s salary cap. He received a $4 million signing bonus as part of the five-year deal he signed back in the summer of 2011, as well as a $3 million option bonus that was paid last year. The remaining prorated part of his signing bonus counts $800,000 per season, while the option bonus was prorated over four years at $750,000 per season. Due to the post-June 1 designation, only one-year’s worth of bonus will be accelerated to this year’s cap as dead money, meaning the Falcons will only have to carry $1.55 million and save $4.5 million against the 2013 cap. The remainder of the accelerated unpaid bonus ($3.1 million) will count as dead money towards the 2014 cap next year.

With Clabo departing, 2012 third round pick Lamar Holmes and 2010 third round pick Mike Johnson become the most likely candidates to serve as his successor. Johnson took over for an injured Will Svitek last year as the team’s swing tackle and top reserve at the position. Holmes got limited reps after missing part of the off-season with a foot injury.

Clabo first entered the league in 2004 as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos out of Wake Forest. He spent time on the practice squads of the Broncos, New York Giants, and San Diego Chargers as a rookie. When cut by the Broncos at the outset of the 2005 season, he was added to the Falcons practice squad before making the team outright in 2006. That year, he started 10 games predominantly at right guard as an injury replacement for Kynan Forney. The following season in 2007, he started 11 games at right tackle as an injury replacement for Todd Weiner. He would land the full-time starting right tackle gig in 2008 with the arrival of Mike Smith, as Weiner moved to fill in at left tackle. Since 2008, Clabo has not missed a game at the position in five seasons. Dating back to 2007, he has made 91 consecutive starts at the position. In 2010, his performance led to him being voted to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.

Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

Svitek joins the Patriots

March 17th, 2013 Comments off

Field Yates of ESPN Boston tweets that Falcons free agent offensive tackle Will Svitek has signed a deal with the New England Patriots. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.

Svitek missed all of hte 2012 season due to a triceps injury suffered during training camp. He started 10 games for the Falcons at left tackle in 2011, as a replacement for an underachieving Sam Baker. Svitek first joined the Falcons in 2009, and has primarily served as the team’s swing tackle but has logged 12 starts over the years as an injury replacement at left tackle. Prior to joining the Falcons, he spent three seasons as a reserve with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a sixth round pick in 2005. Svitek likely will act as insurance in case the Patriots are unable to re-sign right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Svitek’s role in Atlanta as swing tackle is expected to be assumed by Lamar Holmes. Mike Johnson performed the role for much of the 2012 season in Svitek’s absence, but Johnson’s immediate future may lie at right guard as competition to recently re-signed free agent Garrett Reynolds.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Falcons Needs: Offensive Tackle

February 5th, 2013 Comments off

The big question here is going to revolve around Sam Baker and whether or not the free agent left tackle will be back in Atlanta in 2013.

Baker had a solid 2012 season, good enough to merit the team bringing him back. But it will likely only come at the right price. The team drafted Lamar Holmes in the third round of last year’s draft for a reason, mainly as insurance in case Baker struggled in 2012. Will Svitek is also a free agent and coming off his triceps injury won’t command large dollars on the open market. If Baker’s camp wants too much money, then the Falcons will have no problems turning to either Holmes and/or Svitek at the position.

But it’s probably not going to come to that. The Falcons brass showed a lot of loyalty and faith in Baker when many others did not (i.e. most of the fan base including myself), and it’s likely he’ll be amenable to whatever terms the Falcons come to. Atlanta won’t lowball him by any means, but the market could possibly dictate him making quite a bit of money if he shops himself around similar to Kevin Shaffer when he left Atlanta in 2006. While there are a number of high profile free agents that could hit the market such as Jake Long, Branden Albert, and Ryan Clady, most if not all of those guys will likely receive the franchise tag. That could potentially leave Baker among the better candidates of a diminished group of free agents, thus driving up his price tag.

Svitek won’t be a slam dunk to return as he could rejoin former Falcons offensive line coach Paul Boudreau in St. Louis, potentially earning an opportunity to start which is something he won’t get in Atlanta if Baker is re-signed. But at the end of the day, the Falcons will likely re-sign one of the pair of free agents.

If not, then Holmes becomes the likeliest candidate to open 2013 as the team’s starting left tackle. And more than likely the team will look for an insurance policy via free agency that can add depth and compete there. Tyson Clabo is locked in at right tackle, and Mike Johnson represents a capable reserve behind him, but is probably a more natural guard than tackle. That’s not the type of guy you want starting sixteen games at left tackle.

It’s doubtful the Falcons seek draft options come April due to the presence of Holmes. It would be possible early if a good tackle prospect were to fall in Round 1, but that rarely happens. They could add a backup later in the draft, but that would likely only happen if Baker walks and the team wants to move Johnson back to guard.

Falcons Needs: Interior Offensive Line

February 5th, 2013 Comments off

The interior of the Falcons offensive line could definitely use an upgrade, but it’s possible that the Falcons may opt not to invest significantly at this position.

Center Todd McClure and guard Garrett Reynolds are the team’s lone free agents at the position. While McClure seems set to try and play one more year in the NFL, it remains to be seen if that place is Atlanta. The Falcons have invested draft picks in both Joe Hawley and Peter Konz for a reason, with the intent of succeeding McClure. Given that 2013 will be the final year of Hawley’s contract, it seems that now is the time to determine whether or not he is going to stick long-term in Atlanta.

Because the team may want to give Hawley an opportunity to start at center and earn a long-term contract a year from now, it may mean that Peter Konz will return to start at right guard next year. The Falcons will have to determine whether they consider Konz a better candidate at that position versus a free agent or draft pick. Konz struggled throughout much of the 2012 season but played relatively well in the playoffs, potentially giving the team some hope that he could make significant improvement next year. If that proves to be the case, then the Falcons will likely only be looking for a backup to bolster depth and to compete in camp as opposed to a starter that will supplant Konz.

But if the Falcons do decide to sign/draft someone to be the starter, it will then likely move Konz to center so that he and Hawley compete for that vacant position.

The Falcons will need to decide what to do with Garrett Reynolds. While Reynolds was a serviceable starter this year before he was injured, he has not played well enough to stick in the starting lineup, and thus will likely be viewed as a backup going forward. If he’s willing to stay in Atlanta for the modest price of a reserve then he should be back. If not, then it will mean the team will probably add a veteran or draft pick to replace him. While youngsters like Phillipkeith Manley, Jacques McClendon, and Harland Gunn will be expected to compete for reserve roles next year, it would be a tall order to ask any of them to be a play away from being the Falcons starter at right guard, especially considering how much turnover has been there recently. Only once in the last four years did the opening day starter at right guard end the year in that same position. It’s possible the Falcons could move Mike Johnson back to guard, but that may be dependent on what moves if any the Falcons make at the tackle position. If Sam Baker is re-signed, it increases the chances that Johnson could be competing for a starting guard spot next year. If not, then the Falcons may need him more as a depth option at tackle than they do at guard.

Justin Blalock is coming off a subpar season at left guard, but due to the big contract the team gave him in 2011, he’s not going anywhere.

Falcons drop one against rival Saints

November 11th, 2012 Comments off
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Saints defender knocks away pass to Gonzalez

The Falcons suffered their first loss of the 2012 season at the hands of NFC South divisional rival the New Orleans Saints. In a 31-27 loss on the road, the Falcons got off to a quick start, but then struggled to get stops as the Saints were then able to take a lead. But the Falcons got their act together and had two opportunities in the final minutes of the game to pull out the win, but fell short both times. The Falcons record moves to 8-1.

Matt Ryan set a career high with 411 yards passing. He also completed 34 of 52 passes, had 3 touchdown passes, and an interception. On the ground the Falcons got very little. Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing with 29 yards on 3 carries, most of that coming on an 18-yard run. Michael Turner had only 15 yards on 13 carries with most of that coming on a 9-yard run. Tony Gonzalez had a big day, catching 11 passes for 122 yards and a pair of touchdown catches. He would get his 100th and 101st career touchdown catches in the contest. He passed Steve Largent and Tim Brown with those plays to move up to 6th all-time in career touchdown catches. Roddy White (7 catches, 114 yards), Julio Jones (4 catches, 75 yards), Harry Douglas (4 catches, 49 yards), and Rodgers (4 catches, 33 yards) would also make contributions in the air. Offensive lineman Mike Johnson caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass, on his lone reception for a single yard. Matt Bryant hit on both of his field goal tries of 37 and 20 yards. Matt Bosher had three punts for an average of 46.7 yards, with one placed inside the 20-yard line. Dominique Franks had a pair of punt returns for 9 total yards, while Douglas had one return for no gain. The Falcons got no opportunities to return kickoffs, as all were touchbacks. Throughout the game, the Falcons really struggled to run the ball in short-yardage situations and near the goalline. They had 6 tries inside the redzone, and scored touchdowns on half of them.

Defensively, the Falcons struggled to slow down the Saints offense in the first half. They gave up 440 total yards on the day, with 268 coming in the first half. Akeem Dent led defenders with 9 tackles. Kroy Biermann (3 tackles); Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles), Robert McClain (4 tackles, 1 pass deflection); William Moore (6 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (7 tackles, 1 sack); Mike Peterson (5 tackles); Dunta Robinson (7 tackles,  1 pass deflection); Asante Samuel (2 tackles, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections); and Vance Walker (4 tackles) had noteworthy games. The defense stepped up in the second half, limiting the Saints to convert on 2 of 7 third down attempts and holding them to 172 total yards. The Saints had 116 rushing yards on 13 carries (8.9 avg) in the first half, but gained just 32 on 16 carries (2.0 avg) in the second half.

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