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Takeaways from Last Week – August 12

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Is Vick the one to lead the Eagles in 2013?

I don’t feel the need to really discuss the Falcons preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. I spent 4,300 words breaking down nearly every player on the roster on both offense and defense, an hour-long podcast, as well as seeing which players’ stock is up and down following the game.

But the one thing I do think is worthwhile mentioning about the preseason opener is just many of the reactions I’ve seen and read about it. For whatever reason, people seem to have what I believe to be an overreaction to preseason games in general, but particularly the first one. If I am to wager a guess as to why that is, it’d be that since it’s really the first real football action we’ve seen in six months, people tend to probably overrate it. Similar to if you’re on a diet and you’ve decided to cut out soda or pizza. If you were to a regular consumer of either and then went six months without it, you might think that first sip of cola or slice of pepperoni is among the greatest thing you’ve ever eaten. Even if it is just the generic brand you bought for $0.89 at the local grocery store, or the crappy pizza from your local parlor that makes Pizza Hut look like gourmet stuff.

It’s not surprising that many fans do this. They are probably just aping what the media is doing, whose job it seems to be only about overreacting to things.

Take for instance the happenings in Philadelphia. First, Riley Cooper mouths off and says a racial slur. This might be a controversial viewpoint to some, but I don’t get what the big deal is. Cooper did what tens (if not hundreds) of millions of (white) Americans have done in the past, especially when they have imbibed alcohol. The only difference is that Cooper is semi-famous and it was posted on YouTube. I’m certainly not trying to condone what Cooper said, but why is the media coverage of this incident to the degree like he is/was the first person to use a racial slur. If you just paid attention to television, you would think Cooper and Paula Deen were the only people to use a racial slur in the past twenty years.

The other thing in Philly is how quickly everyone seems to be slamming the door on the quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. I don’t deny that Vick’s performance against the New England Patriots likely means he’s the front-runner and likely winner of the job going into the regular season. In fact, it’s not really the notion that people believe the competition is over since I’m fairly confident that it is over as well. But it’s the notion that Vick’s performance in the preseason opener means that all the question marks that the Eagles have at that position are answered.

Vick threw an extremely pretty pass to DeSean Jackson for a score against New England. But hitting deep passes to Jackson really hasn’t been Vick’s problem over the years. It’s been managing games and limited turnovers. His performance against New England did nothing to indicate those won’t continue to be issues for Chip Kelly and the Eagles to try and overcome this season.

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Overall, I did enjoy the first real weekend of football that we’ve had in six months. I watched several preseason games and will continue to do so in the coming weeks until the regular season begins.

The main reason for that is to keep filling the mental coffers in regards to what other players out there. It’s very likely that the Falcons are going to make a couple of moves once cuts are made, whether that’s adding players to their roster or picking up a couple of cast-offs for their practice squad.

Also watching other teams I think makes a better-informed Falcon fan because it gives you a lot more perspective than you would receive from just watching and judging the Falcons.

It’s a common accusation I throw around, but I think a lot of people tend to judge the Falcons in a vacuum. It’s hard to make an accurate assessment of a player or an entire team if you don’t have any context from which to evaluate.

I think some of the Falcons issues with their depth become apparent when you compare them against other teams. There are a number of areas on the roster that I think the Falcons would be smart to address at the end of camp if the right players become available after teams make cuts. But in truth, the majority of those spots the team won’t really address.

The Falcons could use an upgrade in their depth at wide receiver by adding a fourth receiver option that can add more value to the offense than Drew Davis does. Ideally that would be an outside threat that can help stretch defenses vertically. But given the fact that the Falcons rarely use four-wide sets offensively due to the presence of Tony Gonzalez, they don’t see it as a need and thus are unlikely to address it.

The injury to Mike Johnson opens up the probability that the Falcons add an offensive tackle to function as the swing tackle. Undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder is competing for that role right now, but based off his play against Cincinnati he may not be quite ready for that. Thus if the team can find a more experience tackle that can play both sides, it would make sense to pick them up.

Johnson’s injury also means that the depth at guard isn’t as strong since Johnson could have potentially played that position in the event of an injury. The Falcons could pick up a player that is an upgrade over Phillipkeith Manley, their top guard option currently.

The Falcons need to find an upgrade over Peria Jerry to fill in their depth at defensive tackle rather than overly relying on Malliciah Goodman, Cliff Matthews, and Travian Robertson to fill the spots behind Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters.

The depth at linebacker and safety is suspect due to the lack of experience there. The Falcons could definitely add more experience players that can also contribute on special teams.

One aspect of the preseason that gets me going is the fact that trades tend to occur in much greater frequency than any other point in the year besides the draft. Trades are a rarity in the NFL, and frankly they don’t happen enough. The Falcons have been part of several trades under Thomas Dimitroff, notably in the weeks leading up to the draft where they have swung deals for veterans Gonzalez and Asante Samuel. But they’ve also made deals in the summer, acquiring Domonique Foxworth and Tye Hill in past years. Sometimes I look at a team like the Indianapolis Colts, who dealt for cornerback Vontae Davis last August. The Colts wound up dealing a second round pick for the talented, but inconsistent Davis, then aged 24.

Couldn’t the Falcons make a similar trade for a somewhat disappointing, but talented young player at a position of need? For example, might it make sense for the Falcons to call up the Seahawks and deal for guard John Moffitt to be brought in and push Garrett Reynolds. Moffitt hasn’t had great success in Seattle, and is on the verge of losing his starting right guard job to J.R. Sweezy. But Moffitt started next to Peter Konz for two seasons at Wisconsin, and in fact proceeded him at center when Konz was redshirting. I’m not suggesting the Falcons give up a ton for Moffitt, but a fifth round pick for the former third-round pick in 2011. If he can be “reclaimed,” it would make sense that Atlanta could be the potential place to do it.

That might not be the best possible example of a potential trade, but what is stopping the Falcons from making a significant move besides the normal waiver wire pickups?

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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