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Posts Tagged ‘Peterson’

What Did the Falcons See in Akeem Dent?

May 17th, 2011 Comments off
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LB Akeem Dent

While much of the post-draft debate has centered on whether the Julio Jones trade-up was a good move or not, the biggest question mark of the Falcons 2011 draft class is arguably the next player they took off the board: Georgia linebacker Akeem Dent.

There is very little question of Jones’ skills. The only question there is whether the Falcons gave up too much to acquire those skills and only time will tell. But one wonders whether Dent has the skills that merited the Falcons taking him with a late third round pick.

My initial reaction was that Dent was not worth that high a pick, particularly for a 4-3 team like the Falcons. Dent fits best as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. That is the best scheme and role where he can maximize his skills at the NFL level. Playing in a 4-3 is not likely to maximize his skillset, which leaves questions of what the Falcons saw in Dent that many others, including myself did not see.

So I went back and watched some more tape on Dent to see if I could figure it out. Here is what I saw…

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Week 13 Stock Report

December 1st, 2010 Comments off

There was no stock report last year because I was too focused on deep-fried turkey, greens, stuffing, and mac and cheese than which Falcon players had gotten better or worse over the last week. So enjoy this stock report and some left overs if you still got any left.

Stock Up

 

Harvey Dahl – While Tyson Clabo probably wins the award for Mr. Consistency as far as the five starters go, typically Dahl gets the award for Mr. Impact. If and when Dahl blocks well, the Falcons ground game usually follows. Dahl’s play while not stellar, has been consistently at a higher level in recent weeks than earlier in the season.

Peria Jerry – Jerry has put together some fairly solid performances in recent weeks, at least relative to him providing very little in the first few weeks of the season. He’s shown improvement as a pass rusher, and has been able to get penetration at times vs. the run. If the Falcons were looking for another disruptive presence in the middle to team with Babineaux, then Jerry probably is their best option today.

Matt Bryant – Bryant has been money all year long, perfect 12 of 12 on field goals in the dome including several game winners. The Falcons can be very confident down the stretch that if they need a clutch field goal made at home, Bryant will come through.

Mike Peterson – Peterson  still has his struggles in coverage and the Falcons have done their best this season to try and disguise those issues. When Weatherspoon was sidelined, that was much harder to do with Peterson logging many more reps on passing downs. But now that Weatherspoon is back, Peterson can get back to what he does best which is play the run and be a tough presence inside. And he’s done exactly that in recent weeks.

 

 

Stock Down

Corey Peters – In my praise of Vance Walker two weeks ago, I mentioned that Peters has struggled against the run. Those struggles have continued, although not as glaringly so as they were about a month ago. But Peters remains the starter, and I’m not exactly sure why. It appears the Falcons have settled into a rotation where Walker gets a lot of snaps on run downs, and Jerry gets snaps on passing downs. And I guess Peters gets snaps on both because he’s not really excelling anywhere. And while Peters is still a rookie, and prone to rookie mistakes, he just isn’t making an impact when he’s on the field. I’m just not sold at this point in the year if the Falcons want a rotation that features its best interior defenders, he is really in the conversation.

Justin Blalock – Blalock did not play well vs. the Green Bay Packers. And while Sam Baker has merited much of the ire from Falcon fans this season, I think Blalock is more of a problem child on the Falcons weak left side. McClure, Clabo, and Dahl are fairly consistent with their level of play from week to week. The same can be said of Baker. And while that level of play is arguably mediocre most weeks, that’s at least consistently mediocre. Blalock is the blocker that is prone to the most wild swings from week to week and really from snap to snap. He has plenty of good moments, but seemingly just as many if not more more bad ones. And unless he can play at a consistently higher level down the stretch, he seems like the most likely candidate between himself, Dahl, and Clabo to get left out in the cold when the Falcons talk turkey (yes, pun intended!) about contracts after the season.

Falcons can’t afford to keep Spoon waiting

August 5th, 2010 Comments off

When the Falcons took outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon with the nineteenth overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, it was a move deemed to help in the future.

More than likely, Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff looked at tape of the teams 2009 season back in February and deemed that their pass coverage was the weakest part of their defense. So when free agency rolled around in March, they made their first big splash with signing cornerback Dunta Robinson. Robinson would bring a swagger to the defense and secondary that was sorely lacking, and provide the team with a cover man that can go up against the Steve Smiths, Larry Fitzgeralds, Marques Colstons, and Greg Jennings that they would face in the 2010 season.

But the Falcons did not stop there, and many expected them to target one of the premier pass rushers when the draft rolled around in April to help improve a meager pass defense. When Brandon Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Derrick Morgan went off the board only minutes before the Falcons were set to pick, many fans panicked. But the Falcons brass did not because Weatherspoon was still available.

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Camp Battles ’10: Linebacker

July 23rd, 2010 Comments off
Sean Weatherspoon

Sean Weatherspoon

The brunt of the camp conflict at this position will come from Falcons top pick Sean Weatherspoon.

The Falcons drafted Weatherspoon to be an upgrade in speed and coverage abilities on defense. Thus far, they have cross-trained him at both outside spots, but it remains to be seen which position he will primarily play at this summer.

It would seem that strongside linebacker Stephen Nicholas is the likeliest of the starting trio to lose his spot in the starting lineup. Nicholas is a capable blitzer and able run defender, but is a liability in coverage. But at the same time, throughout last year weakside linebacker Mike Peterson also struggled in coverage. Peterson got off to a fast start last season but his played tailed off after the first month. One presumes that Weatherspoon is considered the long-term option to replace Peterson, so it would make sense if the Falcons tried to have him push there immediately, rather than facing the potential of shuffling the linebackers down the road.

There is also the possibility that Weatherspoon could become the starting weakside linebacker, and the team move Peterson to the strongside. But regardless of how the team shuffles the linebacker position, it must start with Weatherspoon having a strong summer. But his draft status gives him a leg up in competition. The Falcons haven’t had a first round pick not start the season opener under MIke Smith and Thomas Dimitroff.

Curtis Lofton is locked in the middle, and the team will be looking to see him make some improvements in coverage this summer.

Coy Wire may lose his status as the top reserve to either Weatherspoon, or whichever incumbent starter is benched. But he still has a firm grasp on a roster spot. He can play all three positions and is a valuable special teams performer.

Because of the versatility of Wire, Weatherspoon, and Peterson, the Falcons presumably can get away with keeping six linebackers on the roster. But normally 4-3 teams keep seven. So that means that there should be two more roster positions left available. The front runner for one of those spots would appear to be Spencer Adkins. Adkins only appeared in five games last year, but the team is looking to see him make further strides this summer. Also in the mix is Robert James, but due to a four-game suspension to open the regular season, he’ll have to have a really strong showing this summer for the team to keep him on. That looming suspension opens greater opportunities for undrafted rookies like Weston Johnson and Bear Woods. Both players will have to shine on special teams, as well as make some impact plays defensively in the preseason.

Anderson and Peterson get raises

April 5th, 2010 Comments off

According to Brian McIntyre of Mac’s Football Blog, two Falcon players will see their base salaries increase this year due to incentive clauses in their contract. Jamaal Anderson will see his base salary increase by $2 million to $3.1625 million, and Mike Peterson will get a $600,000 raise to have a base salary of $3.1 million.

Peterson is entering the final deal of the two-year contract he signed with the Falcons last off-season. Anderson is signed through 2012, although the final year of his rookie deal is voidable.

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Mid-Preseason Stock Exchange

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Re-assessing which players have raised and lowered their stock after two preseason games.

STOCK UP

Thomas Johnson – He started the first preseason game and has added some size. It remains to be seen if Johnson will be the opening day starter, but he’s made an impression that he should at least land a reserve spot in the rotation.

Chris Owens – He’s given up two touchdown passes in the preseason, but Owens has impressed the coaches throughout the summer with his speed and instincts. While he’s probably not in the hunt for a starting position with Brent Grimes taking the lead there, he still stands a good shot of landing the nickel back spot by opening day.

Michael Turner – There was no doubt that Turner is the man. But he’s looked very strong in his two preseason performances so far.  Questions still remain whether Turner’s workload last year will have a detriment later in the season, but just like in 2008, Turner seems poised for a strong start in 2009.

Eric Weems – He seems almost a lock to make the final roster because he’s been the most consistent return threat, and has shown an ability to contribute somewhat on offense as a potential slot receiver. Weems isn’t the player that Harry Douglas is, but if he continues to play like he’s done, the team’s need to find that player elsewhere will be less by the end of the preseason.

STOCK DOWN

Peria Jerry – He is still in the hunt for the starting position, and the coaches will give him plenty of chances to win it. But Jerry hasn’t done much in the first two preseason games, suggesting that he may be better off working off the bench as the season starts.

Mike Peterson – Peterson hasn’t had great days in the first two preseason games. While he’s no threat to lose his starting job, don’t be surprised if he loses a lot of reps to Coy Wire or Jamie Winborn once the regular season starts.

D.J. Shockley – Shockley hasn’t been overly impressive in his two preseason performances, and may need a strong finish to salvage his roster spot. He just hasn’t shown the mastery of running an NFL offense that one should seem coming from a fourth-year veteran and a guy with a year’s experience in this offense. Comparing him to John Parker Wilson right now, it’s hard telling who’s the rookie and who’s the fourth-year veteran.

Peterson signs with Falcons

March 10th, 2009 Comments off

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports that the Falcons signed free agent linebacker Mike Peterson on Monday night, after he visited the team earlier that day. Wyche reports that Peterson agreed to a three-year deal, while the AJC and ESPN report that it was a two-year deal.

Peterson is expected to play one of the outside linebacker spots. Earlier in his career with the Indianapolis Colts he played on the weakside. For the past six seasons in Jacksonville with the Jaguars he manned the middle linebacker position, although the Falcons already have promising second-year player Curtis Lofton there. Peterson was benched last year due to some conflicts with the coaching staff. When he returned the lineup later in the year, he did play some on the strongside. Peterson’s experience, versatility, and his experience with many of the Falcons coaching staff is likely what attracted the two parties.

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Jags’ Peterson will visit Falcons

March 9th, 2009 Comments off

The AJC reports that free agent linebacker Mike Peterson, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is set to visit the Falcons later this week, with no specific date. Peterson is an experienced veteran that has a connection to the current Falcons coaching staff since head coach Mike Smith and several assistants were assistants in Jacksonville from five seasons prior to landing in Atlanta in 2008.

Peterson, 32, has served as the Jaguars starting linebacker for the past six seasons. His production has declined sharply in the past three seasons. During his first three seasons (2003-05) in Jacksonville, he averaged 120 tackles annually, and totaled 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 16 passes defended, and 6 interceptions. In the past three seasons (2006-08), he has averaged 62 tackles annually, total 3 sacks, no forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 4 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. Part of the decline in production has come from injuries, having missed a combined 17 games in 2006 and 2007. He was also benched for a time last season for clashing with the Jaguars coaching staff.

Prior to joining Jacksonville, he played four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, serving as an outside linebacker. Due to the strong play of rookie Curtis Lofton last year, it would seem likely that the Falcons are looking for Peterson to return to his former position on the outside. The Falcons have lost both starting outside linebackers, Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, this off-season and looking for replacements. Peterson spent most of his Colt career playing the weakside, just like Brooking.

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