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: June 24, 2008, 11:31:57 AM

Who gives a crap about the dirty birds, we don't!






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John Galt?

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#1 : June 24, 2008, 11:20:21 AM

This actually should be on the Red Board.  It would get more discussion there.


Yakuza Rich

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#2 : June 24, 2008, 10:17:10 AM



ATLANTA FALCONS
YR’S PREDICTED 2007 RECORD: 3-13
ACTUAL 2007 RECORD: 4-12


Suzy Kolber asked newly drafted Quarterback Matt Ryan “what do you think when I say Atlanta?” and while Ryan came up with the appropriate answer (something I would not have done), the correct answer is “Michael Vick.”

He’s dominated the city since being drafted in 2001 as he was a tremendous boost to increasing their fanbase. The Georgia Dome would still be empty or filled with other teams’ fans when he was injured for an extended period of time, but if there was a chance Michael Vick was going to play on Sunday, Falcons fans came out to see the Falcons. Something that couldn’t be said before Vick came into town.

Regardless of what one may think of Vick’s skills as a Quarterback, his imprisonment was the equivalent of Larry Bird going to jail in Boston, Derek Jeter going to jail in New York or Tiger Woods going to jail for Falcons fans. And when something like that happens, it’s just going to be a tough year for any team no matter how strong the organization and coach staff is. To compound matters, the Falcons had Bobby Petrino as their head coach, the exact opposite of a strong and stable head coach.

One thing that went unnoticed here was that owner Arthur Blank’s first love is actually southern college football. That’s why he hired Petrino, drafted Vick and made a lot of the personnel decisions he did because he figured if it can work in college football, it can work for the Falcons. But after the Vick and Petrino fiascos he decided to hire an NFL man in Thomas Demitroff, a long time employee of the Patriots organization, to make the personnel decisions. And not only did the Falcons go after an “NFL guy” in head coach Mike Smith, but they even went away from drafting SEC stud Glenn Dorsey in order to get Matt Ryan. So to Blank’s credit it appears that he has learned from his mistakes and times are a changin’ in the Falcons organization.


OFFENSE

QB: Chris Redman, Joey Harrington
RB: Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood
FB: Ovie Mughelli
WR: Roddy White
WR: Michael Jenkins, Laurent Robinson, Harry Douglas
TE: Ben Hartsock, Martrez Milner
LT: Sam Baker (17th – Ojinnaka, Foster & Gandy)
LG: Justin Blaylock (31st)
C: Todd McClure (27th)
RG: Kynan Forney (32nd)
RT: Todd Weiner (16th – Clabo)

The Falcons brought in Mike Mularkey to run the offense. Even with Mularkey running the offense, I expect the Falcons offense to look a bit like the Jaguars offense. Mularkey does run a West Coast offense and likes to keep his pass patterns short. He also likes to run a lot of trick/gadget plays. The Jags like to use a power running attack in their offense instead of the typical stretch running plays that are prevalent in most west coast offenses. And it’s probably no surprise that the Falcons went out and got power runner Michael Turner in the offseason.

This will probably take some time because during the Mora, Jr. era they used a Denver style attack which calls for smaller, more mobile O-Linemen. For example, under former O-Line coach Alex Gibbs, the Falcons O-Linemen usually didn’t get anything over 300 pounds. The Jaguars starting O-Line last year weighed an average of 322 pounds. Fortunately the Falcons have already started getting bigger O-Linemen with drafting Justin Blaylock from last year and getting Sam Baker this year. Unfortunately, they’ll be very young on the Quarterback’s blindside and this is a team that gave up 47 sacks last year. Expect Mularkey to be very conservative in 2008.

Roddy White had a terrific year and may have been the most underrated wide receiver in the league last year. He simply owned most of the corners he faced last year with Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich throwing to him. I’m not a fan of Mularkey, so I’m a bit concerned he could ruin the momentum that White was building for his career, especially because White is a deep ball threat and Mularkey is a dink and dunk coach. On the opposite side I believe they are sick of Michael Jenkins who hasn’t done squat and averaged a whopping 10 yards a catch last year. I think they want Laurent Robinson to take over, who has potential. Harry Douglas is likely to be a slot wide receiver, in the Wes Welker mode. Mularkey isn’t a big fan of using the TE and prefers to use 3 WR sets instead, so that’s one reason why they let Alge Crumpler go and didn’t really go out and find a replacement.


DEFENSE

Projected Starters

RDE: John Abraham
DT: Jonathan Babineaux
DT: Trey Lewis, Montavious Stanley
LDE: Jammal Anderson
ROLB: Keith Brooking
MLB: Curtis Lofton
LOLB: Michael Boley
CB: Chris Houston
CB: Antoine Harris, David Irons
SS: Lawyer Milloy
FS: Jimmy Williams

Falcons fans had the unpleasant experience of having Mike Zimmer run their defense for a year. In typical Zimmer fashion they wound up with an anemic 25 sacks and their first round pick, Jammal Anderson, went the entire season without recording a sack. Mike Smith’s defense won’t be more aggressive as he runs a 4-3, Cover 2 which is pretty passive from a blitz standpoint. But you can rest assured that the blitzes will be better and unlike Zimmer, he’ll use some stunts and let the D-Line go after the QB a bit more than Zimmer who wants to stop the run first and foremost on defense.

Because of the Michael Vick situation, the Falcons went away from Glenn Dorsey. Jonathan Babineaux is pretty decent, but they don’t have anything beside him as Trey Lewis has a good motor, but is small (274 pounds) and Montavious Stanley has never lived up to expectations. They may have Stanley play 2 gap and eat up blocks and have Babineaux go after the QB. I wouldn’t get down on Anderson just yet. Zimmer was notorious for killing pass rushers in Dallas and the only reason why DeMarcus Ware got sacks is because he’s so ungodly talented. In Greg Ellis’ 7 years under Zimmer he never recorded more than 9.5 sacks in a season. In one year under Wade Phillips where he only played 10 games, Ellis had 12.5 sacks. John Abraham had 10 sacks last year, but like Ware he’s a great talent. Unlike Ware Abraham will play the run if he wants to and probably didn’t care to listen to Zimmer that much.

Anyway, I expect Lofton to play the MIKE spot since that’s what he played in college and the weakside linebacker spot is Keith Brooking’s natural position. Brooking can still play and is great in coverage. Michael Boley will play the strongside as long as his arrest doesn’t turn out too bad, which it shouldn’t. This has the makings of a pretty solid front seven.

But while the front seven looks promising, the secondary looks atrocious. Thankfully, they play a Cover 2 which usually can help hide a crappy secondary. It wasn’t like DeAngelo Hall was shutting down wide receivers. Hall is loved because his athletic skill is outstanding and when he’s on, he’s a dynamic player. Problem is he’s off as much as he’s on, he’s a headache, and he’s pricey. So they can go very cheap at corner and Chris Houston is a promising talent. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they cut Lawyer Milloy, but I don’t know who they’ll put at strong safety. Jimmy Williams has talent, but a ten cent head.

With their secondary the way it is, there’s two lines of thinking. One is to be very aggressive. The Falcons may not blitz a lot, but they may stunt a lot and sort of neglect the run and allow their D-Line to shoot upfield and get after the QB. The other is to play very conservative and try to do what they can to not give up the big play. I expect the latter given how Smith coached the Jags’ defense over the years.


SPECIAL TEAMS

KR: Jerious Norwood
PR: Adam Jennings
K: Jason Elam
P: Michael Koenen (6th)

Jerious Norwood is electric on the field and should continue his role as a backup tailback who does kickoff returns. He average 25.6 yards per return last year which is decent. Adam Jennings averaged 6.2 yards per punt return which is weak, but I don’t know of anybody that will replace him.

Michael Koenen is one of the underappreciated punters in the league because a couple of years ago they gave him all of the kicking duties and he’s just not a full time place kicker and more importantly, he started to wear down his leg. Thus, his stats suffered and he was missing field goals and he got the “he sucks” label. Instead, he’s quite valuable because he’s a quality punter and a great kickoff guy who can also do long field goals. That gives the Falcons a ton of flexibility as they can just get somebody like Elam who is dead accurate from 45 yards in and have Koenen do kickoffs and anything over 50 yards plus.


OUTLOOK

The Falcons don’t fit into the Fab Four profile because of their lack of a QB. And as former Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville once said, “I feel confident in my team if I’m confident in my Quarterback and cornerbacks.” I don’t feel confident in either spots as the corner situation may be worse off than their Quarterback situation. If there’s one thing that can get a losing team to the playoffs, it’s sacks and under Smith the Jags averaged 35.6 sacks a year and that isn’t enough for a team on the rebound. I see the Falcons probably getting around 32 sacks, but this is a rebuilding year for the team and allowing Smith to find out who he wants to keep around and whom he needs to get rid of. That and a year for Matt Ryan to sit and learn on the bench.


YR’S PREDICTED 2008 RECORD: 5-11


Ericsbucs371

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#3 : June 24, 2008, 12:11:40 PM

Who gives a crap about the dirty birds, we don't!






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um we play them 2 times a year and they are in our divison........I DO!

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