Once again recapping the highlights that was the past week of the Atlanta Falcons.
- Atlanta Falcons.com’s Reid Ferrin writes about five things one needs to know about the Falcons upcoming appearance on HBO’s documentary series, Hard Knocks.
- The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter in his preview of the Falcons linebackers writes that rookie Prince Shembo has a shock to crack the team’s starting lineup, unseating Joplo Bartu.
- Claude Humphrey will become the third Hall of Fame enshrinee to be presented by his daughter. The Enshrinement Ceremony takes place on Saturday, August 2 in Canton, Ohio.
- Football Outsiders’ Scott Kacsmar discusses the catch radius of some of the NFC’s top wide receivers including Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Kacsmar is not too praiseworthy of the Falcons usage of Jones, yet does not deny his enviable talent level.
- Jones received an experimental stem cell treatment to heal his injured foot per Ledbetter, and the Falcoholic has a good recap of the article’s highlights.
- Steven Jackson also praises Jones in a recent interview with TDdaily.com, and indicates he’s also looking forward to the Falcons upcoming appearance on Hard Knocks.
- ESPN’s Vaughn McClure gives his projection of the Falcons final roster, albeit with 54 players listed instead of 53. There are few surprises, notably with wide receiver Darius Johnson, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes and linebacker Yawin Smallwood not making the cut, while offensive tackle Terren Jones and linebacker Jacques Smith do.
- McClure also makes the case for why the Falcons would be wise to extend wide receiver Roddy White’s contract before the start of camp.
- As any father should be, Bruce Matthews is very optimistic of his son, Jake’s ability to transition into a very good NFL player.
- Cover32′s Jason Brooks opines that Falcons head coach Mike Smith will be the fall guy if the team fails to meet expectations in 2014. Like Brooks, I’m wondering what exactly those expectations are? 8 wins? More? Playoffs? Super Bowl?
- Scott Carasik of Bleacher Report writes about the five biggest areas of concern heading into training camp, and it’s hard to disagree with the five he picked.
- Spencer Harrison of Bleacher Report ranks quarterback Matt Ryan’s top 10 most memorable moments since joining the Falcons. I had honestly forgotten about Roddy White’s 90-yard touchdown catch and run from 2009 against the San Francisco 49ers. In case you also needed a refresher, here’s a highlight.
- Allen Strk of Pro Football Spot gives his four choices of current and former Falcons that belong on the team’s Mount Rushmore.
- Former Falcon guard Garrett Reynolds finally landed with a team, signing with the Detroit Lions on Thursday.
In case you missed anything on FalcFans.com this past week, here are all the links to catch you up:
Categories: Features contract, Hard Knocks, honors, Jones, Matthews, Reynolds, roster, Ryan, Shembo, Steven Jackson, training camp, weekly, White
I know I have not done much of these weekly recaps since the spring but given the dearth of football-related events at this point in the calendar year, it would be a good idea to bring it back. Here’s recapping some interesting Atlanta Falcons-related reads (and listens) I found this week:
In case you were wondering what Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters has been up recently, I conducted an interview of him on Falcons Central Radio on Pro Football Central.com.
Grantland’s Robert Mays wrote a preview of the Falcons this year, with a focus on the 2011 draft-day trade for wide receiver Julio Jones. Mays states what I currently think about that trade, a change from a previous opinion, in that the trade had both a positive and negative impact on the team. Basically the Falcons would not have gotten as far as they did in 2012 without the trade, but also would not have sunk as low in 2013. It’s worth a read and also makes a key point towards the end, which is the Falcons’ success in 2014 seems to be firmly fixed on the health of Jones.
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure assesses that the Falcons’ biggest key to success in 2014 is returning to being an offensive juggernaut. McClure writes that will be the team’s key to success for the upcoming seasons. And similarly, the health of Jones will matter there, but McClure also points out the offensive line upgrades made by the team this offseason in acquiring guard Jon Asamoah and tackle Jake Matthews will be key. Hard to argue against McClure’s conclusions. The Falcons defense isn’t poised to be anything more than above average this year (at best) and until the team makes a similar investment in upgrading their pass rush, it’s unlikely that will be the case in any season in the near future.
On ESPN, voters also expressed their opinion that Morten Andersen’s game-winning kick against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFC Championship Game that sent the Falcons to their first (and only) Super Bowl appearance is the greatest play in team history. It edged out Michael Vick’s impressive overtime run against the same team in 2002.
Here are some of the more interesting reads from the past week involving the Atlanta Falcons:
Dave Choate writes about making peace with the draft class. I agree, serenity is the path to salvation. I may not ultimately agree with every selection the Falcons make come draft day, but I still tend to give them all the benefit of the doubt. The draft is such a crapshoot, and which players actually work out versus those that don’t is too much of an unknown to be overly positive or negative towards the picks.
Generally, my reaction to every pick is one of the following three:
- “Wow, I love this player! I hope he lives up to his potential.”
- “Alright, he’s a decent player. I hope he lives up to his potential.”
- “Meh, I’m not in love with this player. I hope he lives up to his potential.”
Notice the common thread in all of those reactions, since those things are really unknown. But all that is involved is the hope that a player stays healthy and goes on to have a successful NFL career.
Now that Julio Jones is locked up through 2015, the next step is getting a contract extension signed according to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. McClure writes that it’s possible that a long-term deal for Jones could average around $11-12 million per year. I think that is very much an underestimation when all things are said and done. If Jones signs for less than $14 million/yr, I will be shocked. It might even exceed $16 million annually, matching the two biggest contracts for wide receivers currently in the league: Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Much of the news surrounding the Atlanta Falcons this week centered on rumors about whether the team would trade up for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Reports swarmed that the Falcons could swap picks with the Houston Texans, who hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 draft.
On Friday, Clowney worked out for the team in what wasn’t quite a normal workout, rather a biomechanical “force plate” test. Pro Football Talk has the scoop on what exactly went down. It appears that the test used on Clowney is far from a new development with the Falcons.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN indicates that the Falcons won’t make the trade up. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC is also suggesting that a trade up isn’t smart on the Falcons behalf as it may be a smokescreen.
In a related article, CBS Sports’ Will Brinson writes about the economics of trading up for the No. 1 pick.
The 2014 regular season schedule was also announced this week, and the Falcons are set to open up the season at home against their biggest rival, the New Orleans Saints. The war of words has already begun as Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan had some choice words for the Falcons offensive line.
When it comes to the Falcons-Saints matchup on September 7, in the immortal worlds of Bart Scott, “Can’t wait!”
Podcast co-host Allen Strk analyzes the schedule for Pro Football Spot.
The Falcons offseason program began this week. Mike Smith, Matt Ryan, Sean Weatherspoon and William Moore all spoke to the media on Tuesday and Wednesday and the official site provides the video.
Categories: Features Allen Strk, Baker, draft, Matt Chambers, Mike Smith, Moore, roster, Ryan, schedule, trade, Weatherspoon, weekly
On this fine Easter Sunday, let’s recap some of the news and stories surrounding the Atlanta Falcons over the past week:
The subject of fifth-year options for 2011 first-round picks became a popular subject this week. The Falcons have yet to exercise their option on wide receiver Julio Jones, and have until May 3 to do so.
The fifth-year option will be equivalent to the top 10 salaries for his position group in 2015, which according to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure will give Jones a salary of $10.176 million next year. That money will be guaranteed, but for injury only.
It is very likely that the Falcons will exercise that option. The only reason not to is because they want to sign Jones to an extension before the start of the 2014 regular season. That certainly is a possibility, but unless progress on talks are pretty far along, it really doesn’t hurt the team to still exercise the option in the meantime.
Jones has a cap hit of roughly $5.15 million in 2014, which means that if the option is exercised, he will make around $15.3 million over the next two years, with roughly-two thirds of it guaranteed.
Comparatively, Mike Wallace signed a five-year contract worth $60 million last offseason, with a $27 million payout in his first two seasons, all of which was guaranteed (according to Spotrac.com). It’s certainly possible that Jones could receive substantially more money in his eventual extension from the Falcons. Through the first five games of the 2013 season before his season-ending foot injury, Jones was leading the league in receptions (41) and second in yards (580) behind only tight end Jimmy Graham (593).
One of the big stories of the week came when Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank appeared on 680 the Fan on Tuesday morning and spoke candidly about how he perceived the team lacking toughness. Blank highlighted the hit that New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro put on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the season-opener as a play that bothered him:
“And that play really bothered me, sincerely. It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything.”
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure has a good recap of Blank’s interview as well as a follow-up piece praising Blank’s candidness. Blank’s comments echoed earlier ones made immediately following the 2013 regular season in which he expressed his desire to toughen up the Falcons.
Blank’s comments were followed up on Friday with a radio appearance by Ryan himself, who was diplomatic in defending his teammates’ inaction while also expressing his own praise for Blank for “having his back.”
Potential Atlanta Falcons newcomer and safety Rafael Bush appears very keen on joining the team. The Falcons signed Bush to an offer sheet this week as a restricted free agent, giving his former team, the New Orleans Saints until April 8 to match or let him become a Falcon. Bush is still friends with Falcons safety William Moore, from their days with the team back in 2010-11, and is the strongest candidate should he join the Falcons to replace Thomas DeCoud at free safety.
Blogging Dirty’s Jake Bennett has a nice write-up about how Bush’s addition can benefit the Falcons.
And speaking of Moore, he apparently now has a chip on his shoulder in regards to the contract the Saints gave Jairus Byrd this offseason.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN has an excellent piece on how defensive tackle Paul Soliai’s contract came to be in Atlanta with a candid discussion with his agent David Canter.
McClure also shares insights into center Peter Konz, who has been working hard to improve this offseason. Konz has added some muscle and took to heart the final words of tight end Tony Gonzalez, when he addressed the team before the regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers.
Categories: Features Babineaux, contract, draft, free agency, Konz, Moore, Soliai, trade, Trufant, Weatherspoon, weekly
Julio Jones celebrates after a TD
D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that in speaking with Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons will not be shifting strictly to a 3-4 defense as many suspected based off their offseason moves. However, the Falcons will instead opt to retain the “multiple” defense that employs both 3-4 and 4-3 looks as they have done consistently under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan since 2012. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure follows up that regardless of a shift in the defensive scheme, improvement on that side of the ball will be a key factor in the team improving upon their 4-12 record from 2013.
Dave Choate of the Falcoholic was inspired by a conversation that we had this weekend to write this piece: Breaking Down Two Likely 2014 NFL Draft Scenarios For The Falcons
Choate also contributes this one on the unlikelihood that Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson joins the Falcons.
Daniel Cox of team’s official site highlights some of general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s comments involving the team’s compensatory picks from his radio appearance this past week.
There is at least one proponent of the Falcons signing former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Saturday afternoon, and Pro Football Talk has a pretty good summary of what was said with quotes. In it, he revealed that he’s off crutches in the midst of his rehab from a torn Achilles tendon. Earlier this month, it was reported that Peters was still in a walking boot when he was re-signed by the team.
Former Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker discusses “political” reasons that drove him out of Atlanta a year ago. Here’s an interesting quote:
I’d say, it wasn’t necessarily the scheme; it was probably a little more political from the Falcons to the Raiders. The Falcons had a decent roster of D tackles, and even though I was showing and proving that I could rush the passer, I never really got the opportunity. That’s what they promised I would be able to do out in Oakland. It kind of freed me up and let me show my abilities. Obviously, I know I would be a lot better, I could still be a lot better and learn from my mistakes and learn from others. I think (it was just) a personnel type of thing, with me being younger, with the Falcons; I guess they weren’t ready to give me that role just yet.
Malliciah Goodman has reportedly packed on some muscle this offseason in advance of his expected role as a defensive end in the 3-man front the Falcons are likely to feature more this season.
One young Panthers fan did not react well to news of Steve Smith’s departure from Carolina. I understand your pain, young man. I’m a Falcon fan and I felt the same.