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Atlanta Falcons season preview

 
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TheBigE


Joined: 21 Jan 2005
Posts: 1239
Location: Bay Area
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 5:22 pm    Post subject: Atlanta Falcons season preview Reply with quote

My latest in a line that will include every team in the league. Feedback is a appreciated.

Atlanta Falcons

If one thing has been proven about the Falcons over the last 3 years, itís that they live and die by Michael Vick. Or more specifically, they live with Michael Vick and die without him. Since Vick took over the starting job in 2002, the Falcons are 22-9-1 in games that he was healthy and 3-12 when he was injured. Vick is the face of the franchise and the most dynamic playmaker in the league and while he still has a long ways to go before he reaches his full potential, the Falcons are a contender to go the distance as long as he is on the field. Both years that Vick was able to stay healthy the Falcons made the playoffs and advanced 1 round before being eliminated by the Eagles. The Falcons have been knocking on the door but wonít be a superbowl team until Vick becomes a better passer and his blockers and receivers play better. Besides Vick staying healthy, Vickís development as a passer is the biggest key to victory for the Falcons.
Last year, the Falcons had a strong running game with the running back tandem of speedy Warrick Dunn and powerful TJ Duckett. Including Vickís rushing yards, they were easily the leagueís top-ranked rushing offense, rushing for 600 more yards than the next team. And even without Vick, they had a strong running game, which would have ranked 8th in the league. Their running game and Vickís playmaking ability made it a powerful offense, but the passing offense was nonexistent at times. Part of it was because of how unreliable their receivers were, but part of it was because Michael Vick often didnít wait in the pocket long enough for routes to develop. He too often took the superman approach and tried to do everything himself. However, his receivers did play at an extremely low level last year. His TE, Alge Crumpler, was the only consistent receiver and he became Vickís go-to guy. Crumpler can be expected to play the same role this coming year. Peerless Price, who has been a major disappointment, has been suffering from a retina disorder that is making it hard for him to look the ball into his hands. He has struggled as a result, and there has been no indication that heís found a cure for the problem. Dez White was a starter last year but he was unproductive and will likely play a smaller role this year. Brian Finneran is another receiver who will probably see a reduced role this year, as he is only effective as a possession receiver.
Hopefully, things will be better this year. Michael Jenkins has a year under his belt now and hopefully will be ready to be a productive starter. With his big frame and route-running ability, he could quickly become one of Vickís favorite targets. Rookie WR Roddy White is expected to provide the downfield threat the Falcons lacked last year. He has a great combination of size and speed and was a highly productive college career that is expected to make a quick transition to the NFL. I donít really know what to expect from Price. How much of his problems can we attribute to his strange retina disorder and will he find a cure for it. Either way, Price does have deadly speed and once the ball is in his hands he can make the big play. Now that he wonít be expected to be the teamís featured receiver, he might do better. And also, to the defense of Vick, he just finished his second full year starting and last year was his first in the West Coast Offense. Itís not exactly easy for a young QB to immediately learn a new system and succeed in it. Another year in it should do him good. Also, the Falcons line is coming together with some improving players like LT Kevin Shaffer and G Mookie Moore. And O-line guru Alex Gibbs is shaping the line, which means that the fact that the line doesnít have high draft picks on it isnít a concern because Gibbs is known for taking unknown players and making great lines out of them. Between those 3 things, Vick should be able to lead a more formidable passing attack this year.
The reason besides Vick that the Falcons have been successful is their strong defense, led by standout LB Keith brooking and DE Patrick Kerney. Brooking is a perennial pro-bowler who excels in almost every of the game. Kerney is a high-motor DE that never quits and is great at both putting heat on QBs and stopping the run. His 13 sacks was the 4th highest of all players last year. Also on the defense is DT Rod Coleman, who is coming off the best year of his career. For most of his career, Coleman was used as a situational interior pass-rusher, and excelled in that role. But when the Falcons signed him and made him a full-time starter, he showed he was capable of being much more than a situational player and had a pro-bowl caliber year. The defense was not great by any means and finished right in the middle of the league in nearly every statistic, but they were overwhelming at times and made plays when they needed to for the team to win games.
The defense should actually be an improved last year because of new additions and young players that will play a bigger role this year. The addition of Edgerton Hartwell was key, as he is a major upgrade over the departed Chris Draft. Hartwell learned from the best in Baltimore when he teamed up with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to make arguably the best linebacker core in the league. Hartwell should be an enforcer inside for the Falcons, which could turn the Falcons into an elite rush defense. Brooking plays the strongside, and youngster Demorrio Williams is expected to round out their linebacker core as the starting weakside linebacker. Williams is great runner and can make plays in space which is why the Falcons have decided to make him the starter. Considering the players that are on the Falcons front 7, Williams shouldnít get too much attention from opposing offenses and will have free reign to run around and make plays, which could lead to him having a big year. Also, DeAngelo Hallís development will be key to the Falconsí success. Hall, who the Falcons top pick last year, has all the tools to be a star CB in this league, but he missed much of his rookie year due to injuries and did not play very well when he got back on the field. If he could start to play up to his ability and be the playmaker corner Atlanta hopes he can be, it would add another dimension to the defense because they lack a playmaker in their secondary.
Besides Hall, their secondary is made up of solid but unspectacular players. Bryan Scott, their starting free safety, is an active player and a good tackler. Jason Webster, their second starting corner, is an adequate second CB, but heís not much to get excited about. They still have question at the SS position. Keion Carpenter is penciled in as the starter but he has had a hard time staying healthy in the past and isnít a player the team to count on. Carpenter could give the team an upgrade from last year in coverage but thereís also a good chance the team has to find a new starting SS before the season is over. Ronnie Heard and Rich Coady could both be decent stand-ins neither are the type of player you want starting all year long. Also at CB, the Falcons have Kevin Mathis, who isnít starting material but is a productive nickel back and played decent when filling in for DeAngelo Hall. Their dime back is Allen Rossum, a pro-bowl kick returner who has playmaking ability but is undersized and not a very good CB.
Another question that the Falcons will have to answer is who will replace the departed Ed Jasper as the shaded nose tackle in Atlantaís 3-4 scheme. Jasperís presence was key to Atlantaís defense because he took pressure off Rod Coleman and helped stop the run. Chad Lavalais is penciled in as the starter right now, but Antwan Lake and rookie Darrell Shropshire, who the Falcons stole in the 7th round, could both give help in that area. Also, rookie Jonathan Babineaux could be used in certain situations and team up with Rod Coleman to be an extremely disruptive pair of DTs. Brady Smith, who mans the DE spot opposite Kerney, is a solid player and is expected to start again for the season. Smith has been very consistent, registering 4 or more sacks and 14 or more starts each of the last 6 years. Depth is a bit of an issue at DE for the Falcons. They do have an exciting rookie, Chauncey Davis, who is a high-motor player who could be very disruptive. After Davis, they have no good backup DEs to speak off, but they should get away with that because Kerney and Smith are both workhorses.
As far as depth goes, the Falcons look pretty good across the board. Backing up Vick is Matt Schaub, who the Falcons think could stop the team from completely falling apart should Vick miss some time to injury. At LB, they have Ike Reese, who got pro-bowl honors for his special teams play last year for the Eagles, and now he wants a crack at starting at LB. But he isnít expected to start. They also added depth at LB in the draft by drafting Jordan Beck and Michael Boley. Both are quality players and are expected to play OLB, although there is talk of Beck playing MLB. Boley is an extremely solid player who is NFL-ready while Beck is a small-school standout with great potential that will need time to develop. At HB, they have two excellent players who both get a lot of carries, plus an exciting rookie, TA McClendon. They are good at FB with Justin Griffith, a FB with running skills. Their O-line is a little thin but they have some decent backups like Matt Lehr, Barry Stokes and rookie Frank Omiyale.
Their special teams looks to be in good shape. They already have one of the best return games in the league with Allen Rossum, and by adding guys like Ike Reese and Jordan Beck, their coverage teams should be much improved. Their kicker and punter, Todd Peterson and Toby Gowin, arenít very good but they get the job done.
The Falcons have made improvements on a team that had a bye week clinched by week 15 last year, which means we should expect to see them in the playoffs again this year, especially considering theyíre a pretty young team with guys who are expected to improve. But the Falcons are in for a tough fight for the NFC South crown because of the much-improved Panthers. Whether or not they beat out the Panthers, I expect to see them in the playoffs, but because the NFC is a tougher conference than it was a year ago, it will not be as easy at it was last year.
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scar988


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Joined: 05 Apr 2005
Posts: 29499
Location: Marietta, GA
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you have some good parts but soem mistakes. like Atlanta doesn't run a 3-4. we run a one gap 4-3. Brooking is Weakside and Demo is strongside. a few other things but those stood out the most. Hall was pretty good last year when he was on the field the last 9 games Atlanta's passing yardage against average was under 200 yards. before it was over 200 yards. also about the DE's there is a guy named Brandon Mitchell who will play DE in some situations and Babineaux will even play there in some situations. also BEck is a MLB. his frame will be able to hold another 15-20 pounds and he will eb the MLB once HArtwell leaves town and even in soem 3-4 looks that the team will throw out occasionally
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TheBigE


Joined: 21 Jan 2005
Posts: 1239
Location: Bay Area
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, about the 3-4, thats just a typo. I had already said that Rod Coleman was a starting DT and that they needed the shaded nose tackle, which refers to the 4-3 NT. Anyways, thats just a typo. Beck was considered an OLB coming out of the draft but theyre talking about making him a MLB, like I said. And also Hartwell just signed a deal with the team that should last a while(I think it was 4 or 5 years), so good chance Beck might end up at OLB if an opening should come up. And I'll fix that about Brooking and Williams, I was wrong on that.
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scar988


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Joined: 05 Apr 2005
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Location: Marietta, GA
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheBigE wrote:
Well, about the 3-4, thats just a typo. I had already said that Rod Coleman was a starting DT and that they needed the shaded nose tackle, which refers to the 4-3 NT. Anyways, thats just a typo. Beck was considered an OLB coming out of the draft but theyre talking about making him a MLB, like I said. And also Hartwell just signed a deal with the team that should last a while(I think it was 4 or 5 years), so good chance Beck might end up at OLB if an opening should come up. And I'll fix that about Brooking and Williams, I was wrong on that.

true. there were other thing that were more minor than that bnut they are just a difference of opinion
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