Ryan and I are back after a long lay-off to talk about the Atlanta Falcons chances down the stretch as they chase a wildcard spot in the NFC. A lot of frustration has been building in the weeks since we last got together to talk Falcons football, and in this extended episode we vent much of it. Topics of discussion are the recent loss to the Houston Texans as well as some of our expectations for the team’s upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers. Both of us wonder if the Falcons, particularly their offense is ready to take the next step forward. We discuss whether there should be a change at the running position, and whether certain veteran players including an unnamed Pro Bowl wide receiver might potentially be on the trading block after the season. We also discuss whether the Falcons coaches are doing everything they can to get this team playing their best as the postseason looms. I give my typical anti-Peria Jerry and Reggie Kelly rants, and Ryan voices his displeasure over many of the moves the Falcons have made in recent off-seasons. We both ponder whether the Falcons problems stem from them having too many weapons.
Ryan and I are back for another episode discussing last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers, and debate how big a win it was for the Falcons going forward. We disagree about how big a road test that the Falcons will have this week against the Detroit Lions, as Ryan is prepped to serve up a big plate of crow to me this weekend if the Falcons pull out the victory. I don’t have a lot of confidence in some of the matchups, notably Megatron and Suh going against the Falcons. Later, Ryan makes his playoff picks. We also discuss plans for the bye week, Halloween costumes, Ryan’s non-Texas leanings, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, and whether Smitty is a better coach when he’s happy or angry.
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Ryan and I are back to discuss more Atlanta Falcons football. This week, we discuss some of the issues that plagued the Falcons offense and defense during the team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, which I compare to getting a prostate exam. We also get into what twe expect with Julio Jones being injured as the Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers. This game could be a litmus test to the Falcons playoff chances and whether Cam Newton’s rookie season stacks up against that of Matt Ryan. The bulk of our discussion this week however centers on the Falcons draft picks under Thomas Dimitroff and whether they have been all that they’re cracked up to be. Ryan brings up the question of whether Mike Smith is suffering from a “Jim Mora Effect” along with other issues that plague the team’s coaching staff, such as getting other players not named Tony and Roddy getting involved on offense. And as usual we have a laundry list of players that we feel the need to rag on this week. Also we see if we can lure Carlton Powell onto the podcast, and wax nostalgic over the heyday of internet stalking.
If they are, I think we have only seen glimpses of it. I think that was on display in the first halves of each of the past two games against Seattle and Green Bay. Particularly Green Bay, where the offense looked dynamic and the defense looked stout.
Is that Falcon team going to be able to show up for more than just two quarters in any game? Are the Falcons going to make a habit of starting strong, but then at halftime when it comes to making adjustments they will struggle?
If that is the case, then it’s hard to see this team being a playoff team. The Falcons offense scored six second half points against Seattle and none against the Packers. That does not sound like a team on the verge of making the playoffs.
The season is long, and they have 11 more games to get their act together, but are they going to have to go 8-3 in those games in order to do so? I guess we will get a real measurement of where this team is at in the next few games, as we play the Panthers and Saints at home, and the Lions and Colts on the road. The Lions and Saints definitely look like teams thus far that are on the verge of the playoffs. And while the Panthers and Colts are near or at the bottom of the league, we will get a good measuring stick to see if the Falcons belong in either one of those groups by how strong they look against the latter and/or how timid they look against the former.
I believe Falcon fans have been waiting for five weeks to see the playoff-caliber football team that we were all told was in Flowery Branch. We are still waiting…
Jay Adams of Atlanta Falcons.com reports that the team has announced a three-year extension signed by Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
Smith was entering the last year on the original four-year deal he signed with the Falcons when they hired him prior to the 2008 season. In three years as the Falcons head coach, he has compiled a 33-15 record, with two playoff appearances and a division crown. A year ago, he became the first coach in the team’s 44-year history to record back to back winning seasons. And with last year’s 13-3 mark, he has extended that streak from two to three seasons. He is 17 wins away from passing Dan Reeves as the winningest coach in franchise history. Now he will have three more years to achieve such a mark.
The Falcons have been actively working to get general manager Thomas Dimitroff an extension as well according to reports.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports that the Falcons head coach Mike Smith was spotted at Georgia Tech’s pro day on Tuesday. Smith joined Carolina’s John Fox as the lone head coaches to be seen at the pro day. The AJC reports that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff was in attendance as well.
Among the prominent prospects working out at the pro day were Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson, defensive tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker, offensive tackle Andrew Gardner, and cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels.
Johnson ran 40 times of 4.61 and 4.64 per Brandt, although the AJC reports a fastest time of 4.59. The 6’7″ 266-pound pass rusher also did 23 bench reps of 225 pounds.
According to NFL.com’s results, Richard (6’3″ 297) had a 26-inch vertical leap and did 19 bench reps. Vance Walker (6’2″ 304) didn’t participate in drills due to a hamstring injury. Gardner (6’6″ 305) ran 40 times of 4.96 and 4.99 with a 30.5-inch vertical leap. Word-Daniels (6′ 191) had 40 times of 4.59 and 4.64 seconds with a 38-inch vertical.
Another Falcon earned an illustrious season honor with head coach Mike Smith earning the Associated Press’s Coach of the Year award by a single vote over Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano.
Smith received 23.5 votes over Sparano’s 22.5 votes for the honor. Smith helped improve the Falcons from a 4-12 to an 11-5 record this season. Sparano helped the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and AFC East title after a 1-15 season in 2007.
Smith and Sparano shared USA Today’s Coach of the Year honors, both garnering 30 votes, although Smith received one more first place vote than Sparano.
Head coach Mike Smith decided to forgo the three-day mini-camp next week and gave the Falcons team time off until they resume workouts on July 26 for training camp. Players will report on July 25.
ESPN reports that leagues sources have indicated that the Falcons have chosen Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as the person to become the sixteenth coach in franchise history. Previous reports indicated that the Falcons may have have been willing to wait until after the Super Bowl to make this decision. Smith was considered one of the four finalists for the position as well.
ESPN indicates that the Falcons had narrowed down their choices even further, with Smith coming out on top and Leslie Frazier being considered the second best candidate. Per ESPN, Smith “won over the Falcons with his combination of intelligence, communication and organizational skills, and strong knowledge of personnel. Most important, the team believes Smith to be the most professionally compatible with [Falcons GM Thomas] Dimitroff.”
According to ESPN, the Falcons opted not to wait another week for fear that Steve Spagnuolo would spurn their advances and the new coach’s ability to assemble a staff would be diminished.
The AP reports that the team is currently engaged in contract talks with Smith and that a press conference is possibly set for tomorrow.
UPDATE: The hiring of Smith is now official. The AJC is reporting that Smith is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal worth between $8 and $10 million.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Falcons new general manager Thomas Dimitroff has narrowed down the coaching search to four candidates. Among them is New York Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo who has yet to interview with the team. Any interview involving Spagnuolo will have to wait until after the Giants season concludes after the Super Bowl on February 3. Filling out of the list are three defensive coordinators that interviewed last week: Rex Ryan, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings. Both Ryan and Smith have interviewed twice for the job, while Frazier sat for his first interview this past Saturday.
Ryan remains hopeful that he receives the Falcons position per the AJC, but in the mean time is considered to be candidates to remain in Baltimore as the defensive coordinator under new coach Jim Harbaugh, and also as a potential candidate to hold the same position in Washington with the Redskins according to NFL.com’s Adam Schefter.
In other coaching-related news, the Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday that Falcons strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus will be joining their staff in the same capacity. Marcus only served one season with the Falcons in the capacity. He is one of several assistants under former head coach Bobby Petrino to successfully find jobs elsewhere.