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Thread: Big changes coming for Falcons

  1. #1
       
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    Big changes coming for Falcons

    The head coach saved his job with a playoff win.

    But the roster has important changes coming. Some important positions will need to be filled. In particular, these big names may not be around in September.

    Tight end. Tony Gonzalez will almost definitely retire. That is a huge --- I say again, huge -- hole in the offense. Gonzalez had a great year and was vital on 3rd downs. He had a great understanding with Matt Ryan. Frankly, they can't replace him. This means the offense will almost certainly not be as effective next season.

    Running back. Michael Turner is about done. They rested him a lot this season and it helped late in the year. But they need a full-time running back. If they can get a real contributor it will be a step up.

    Defensive end. This may be the end for John Abraham. Here's another aging, injury-prone player. He's been a part-timer for years. I think it's safe to say that if the Falcons had a legitimate pass rusher, they would have beaten San Francisco. This is a huge position of need.

    It may be that the Falcons will want to address linebacker/secondary, given how badly Seattle and SF gouged them in the 15-20 yard area. But the areas above would take precedence, I believe.

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    Losing key players aside, Atlanta also needs to look at themselves in the mirror and figure out of they need a culture change. They went 13-3 this season, yet not one single team in the playoffs was afraid of them. They didn't pass the eye test, and proved they're STILL not ready for prime time when they choked away two sizable leads, and found themselves eliminated one step away from playing in their second Super Bowl. Until proven differently, they aren't a team you can really take seriously when it matters.

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    From my perspective, it seems like the Falcons need to revamp their offensive line (outside of Clabo they have no real studs there) and find themselves a new feature back. I like Rodgers but I think he's limited to a complimentary role, and I don't think Snelling can be that guy for them either. Maybe a Snelling/Rodgers/Rookie RB X trio in 2013 would be the rest recipe for that problem.

    And the defense needs a superstar that will strike fear into opposing offenses, especially after the performance of the unit in the Playoffs. Now this issue could be a lot easier to fix considering some of the talent they currently have on the roster. I think Sean Weatherspoon, Brent Grimes, or possibly even William Moore (assuming he is re-signed) could develop into a superstar caliber player. They're all very solid players, and they're joined by guys like Jonathan Babineaux and Stephen Nicholas, but they don't seem to have that one singular guy that rises above it all and really imposes his will on the field at all times. Abraham is somehow still chugging along even at his age, but the Falcons have done a tremendous job of managing his snaps and allowing him to still be a very fearsome pass-rusher. The question is how much longer he can continue to be that guy for them.
    "Biggest blowout since Andy Reid vs. Skinny jeans" - Colts01

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
    Losing key players aside, Atlanta also needs to look at themselves in the mirror and figure out of they need a culture change. They went 13-3 this season, yet not one single team in the playoffs was afraid of them. They didn't pass the eye test, and proved they're STILL not ready for prime time when they choked away two sizable leads, and found themselves eliminated one step away from playing in their second Super Bowl. Until proven differently, they aren't a team you can really take seriously when it matters.
    Agreed 100%. Consistently successful teams routinely win games they're winning by more than 10pts. Atlanta has a coaching problem, in blowing all these leads. I haven't seen all their games, but in the 2 playoff games they were murdering their opponent early. Then they systematically stop doing what got them to that point, and let the team creep back in. Construct a game plan to not let that happen.

    I've watched my team for the last 2 decades jump out to 10+ point leads and win the game a remarkable 140 something times vs just 2 losses. Yes we went conservative, and relied on our defense and running game to eat clock. We had the d and run game to execute this plan. The falcons have neither, but.certainly played like they believed they did. To win, they needed to keep calling the same offense. Score more points and force the other team to gamble into making turnovers. It's what the offensive juggernauts do with mediocre defenses to win.

    I just don't get it, and I'm further confounded Smith didn't figure this out after doing so and narrowly beating the hawks. Could he have possibly thought it would work vs a very similar team to the hawks in the niners? Put that loss squarely on the coach...
    "If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler." Jack Lambert, 1990 HoF Introduction.

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    I agree about the o-line. It's not dominant. The defense survived on scheme this season. Again I agree, there is no fearsome stud. So the team isn't physically dominant or frightening.

    Their most physically dominant player is a wide receiver. Not coincidentally, their only real strength is the passing game. Mike Smith's dreams of smash-mouth running (the reason they got Turner way back when) have never really materialized. So, yeah, that probably explains why they didn't scare anybody.

    I don't think it's about culture. Culture was definitely a problem before Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith got here. They have transformed the franchise, which, you must remember, had never had back-to-back winning seasons.

    Thomas Dimitroff's record is admirable. But he has spent a lot of draft picks and free agent money on defense with mediocre returns. Only Witherspoon and a healthy William Moore are studs. Peria Jerry (#1) is shaping up as a bust.

    Basically, they need talent. They're good but not great. For great, we have to look at two coaches, Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter.

    Good column in the local paper on what they need.

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    Column in the local speculating that the Falcons will cut Turner and Abraham to save around $10 million in cap space.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/footb...ary-cap/nWFsr/

    Still waiting for the formal word that Gonzalez has retired. If he's going to, he should say so soon. The longer it drags out, the more likely he is to come back, I think.

  7. #7
    The Falcons scare DBs, but that's about it. They aren't a physical team on either line. I still think Gonzalez is coming back. If he doesn't, they're a different team. He was the leading receiver and allowed Jones and White to do what they did on the outside. If Gonzalez comes back I would work on the defensive front 7, how they let Curtis Lofton get away is beyond me. If he doesn't come back, then the passing game is significantly weakened, they'll have to concentrate on o-line and RB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post
    The Falcons scare DBs, but that's about it. They aren't a physical team on either line. I still think Gonzalez is coming back. If he doesn't, they're a different team. He was the leading receiver and allowed Jones and White to do what they did on the outside. If Gonzalez comes back I would work on the defensive front 7, how they let Curtis Lofton get away is beyond me. If he doesn't come back, then the passing game is significantly weakened, they'll have to concentrate on o-line and RB.
    Yeah, watching the Super Bowl it was clear to me that either team would have pushed the Falcons around. Mike Smith has always wanted them to be physical but he just doesn't have the bodies. I agree, losing Gonzalez would be a serious blow to that offense. I see the Falcons making the playoffs as a wildcard next season. They're not winning the division unless they have a miraculous draft.

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    For anyone interested, the AJC blogger's unofficial depth chart. His take on right tackle is interesting. 2nd year man Konz is the presumed center.





    OFFENSE
    WR11 Julio Jones, 19 Drew Davis, 12 Kevin Cone, 80 Kerry Meier
    LT 72 Sam Baker, 79 Mike Johnson
    LG 63 Justin Blalock, 68 Phillipkeith Manley, 69 Harland Gunn
    C 66 Peter Konz, 61 Joe Hawley
    RG 75 Garrett Reynolds, 65 Jacques McClendon
    RT 76 Lamar Holmes, 79 Mike Johnson
    TE 88 Tony Gonzalez, 86 Chase Coffman, 87 Tommy Gallarda, 86 Adam Nissley, 85 Andrew Szczerba
    WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, 16 Marcus Jackson, 18 James Rodgers, 17 Tim Toone
    QB 2 Matt Ryan, 14 Dominique Davis
    RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 40 Josh Vaughan
    FB 44 Jason Snelling, 34 Bradie Ewing

    DEFENSE
    RE 90 Osi Umenyiora, 98 Cliff Matthews
    DT 91 Corey Peters, 92 Travian Robertson
    DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 94 Peria Jerry, 67 Micanor Regis
    LE 71 Kroy Biermann, 96 Jonathan Massaquoi
    OLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 51 Robert James
    MLB 52 Akeem Dent, 50 Pat Schiller, 53 Brian Banks
    OLB 54 Stephen Nicholas, 51 Robert James
    RCB 27 Robert McClain, 37 Peyton Thompson
    NB 24 Dominique Franks, 30 Terrence Johnson
    LCB 22 Asante Samuel 24 Dominique Franks
    SS 25 William Moore, 26 Charles Mitchell
    FS 28 Thomas DeCoud, 39 Shann Schillinger

    SPECIALISTS
    K 3 Matt Bryant
    KO 5 Matt Bosher
    P 5 Matt Bosher
    KR 32 Jacquizz Rodgers
    PR 83 Harry Douglas
    LS 47 Josh Harris
    H 5 Matt Bosher

    2013 TRANSACTIONS
    04/04/2013 Released OT Tyson Clabo
    04/03/2013 Signed LB Brian Banks
    03/27/2013 Agreed to terms with DE Osi Umenyiora
    03/14/2013 Agreed to terms on a three-year contract with RB Steven Jackson
    03/12/2013 Agreed to terms with LT Sam Baker on a six-year deal
    03/09/2013 Agreed to terms with OG Garrett Reynolds on a two-year contract
    03/09/2013 Agreed to terms with S William Moore on a five-year contract
    03/05/2013 Signed RB Antone Smith to a two-year extension
    03/01/2013 Released RB Michael Turner, DE John Abraham and CB Dunta Robinson
    01/21/2013 Signed WRMarcus Jackson, GJacques McClendon, DT Micanor Regis, WR James Rodgers, LB Pat Schiller, TE Andrew Szczerba, CBPeyton Thompson and RB Josh Vaughan to reserve/future contracts

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    That offensive line doesn't inspire me to believe in it.

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