Posted on: April 12, 2010 1:13 pm
We're ten days and counting from showtime. It's time for the mock drafts out there to start putting in their final entries - the ones that really matter.
The best one I've seen yet this season was in the Chicago Tribune this weekend. It's not a one-guy-picks-all deal like we'll get from the so-called gurus who don't spend more than ten minutes becoming familiar with any given team. Instead, this one is a collective effort, with the beat writers from local papers around the country representing the teams they cover.
So D-Led made the Falcons pick, Rick Stroud of the St Petersburg Times picked for Tampa, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic made the Cardinals pick, etc, etc. It was compiled by the Trib's Sam Farmer, who did NOT make a pick himself since Da Bears sent their first rounder to Denver last year.
It still has all the flaws of other mocks in that it leaves out trades, is based on voices/opinions from outside team compounds, etc. But at least the people involved are intimately familiar with the teams they are representing. That puts it a step ahead of anything we might hear from Todd McShay, Pete Prisco, Don Banks, Peter King, or Darth Helmet Hair this week.
Spoiler alert... Lindsay Jones of the Denver-Post saved us by taking D-Led's man-crush away from him at #11...
Here are the picks:
1. Rams: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. (pick by Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) "They're doing everything but stitching his name on his jersey."
2. Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska. (Nick Cotsonika, Detroit Free Press) "Suh is the smart, multidimensional and productive player the Lions want."
3. Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma. (Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times) "If McCoy or Suh is there, the Buccaneers will run to the commissioner with the card."
4. Redskins: OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State. (Rick Maese, Washington Post) " Donovan McNabb will have someone to protect his blind side, a luxury Jason Campbell didn't often have."
5. Chiefs: S Eric Berry, Tennessee. (Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star) "It's been close to 10 years since the Chiefs have had a playmaking safety in the secondary."
6. Seahawks: OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma. (Danny O'Neil, Seattle Times) "His athleticism makes him a better fit than Iowa's Brian Bulaga for Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking scheme."
7. Browns: QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame. (Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland Plain Dealer) "The Browns could try to trade the pick, draft Clausen and trade him or draft him and keep him. They also like Colt McCoy."
8. Raiders: OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland. (Jerry McDonald, Oakland Tribune) "There's a 50-50 shot they take Campbell, but they'd probably take Trent Williams over him."
9. Bills: OT Brian Bulaga, Iowa. (Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News) "The left tackle position torpedoed the entire team last year. The Bills would be happy to get any of the top guys."
10. Jaguars: ILB Rolando McClain, Alabama. (Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union) "The Jaguars are short on linebackers. Question is, is McClain better than the best defensive end on the board?"
11. Broncos: C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida. (Lindsay Jones, Denver Post) "This is a bit high for a center, but the Broncos don't have one. If they were to line up today, they'd have nobody to snap the ball."
12. Dolphins: WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State. (Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun Sentinel) "Dez Bryant is looking for a father figure, and Bill Parcells wouldn't mind being one. The Dolphins need a difference maker at receiver."
13. 49ers: CB Joe Haden, Florida. (Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) "The 49ers need help in the secondary, and their corners aren't great. Haden would be a good pick at a high-profile position of need."
14. Seahawks: RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson. (O'Neil) "Seattle is one of four teams not to have a 1,000-yard rusher in any of the past four seasons. Spiller would be an instant upgrade at the position."
15. Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida. (Ralph Vacchiano, New York Daily News) "He's a freakish athlete, and the Giants have some uncertainty at the position, especially with Osi Umenyiora unhappy."
16. Titans: DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech. (Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean) "The Titans are in desperate need of an impact player at the position after losing Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency."
17. 49ers: OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers. ( Dan Brown, San Jose Mercury News) "The 49ers sorely need offensive line help, and Mike Singletary's presence will help allay concerns about Davis' character."
18. Steelers: G Mike Iupati, Idaho. (Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) "The Steelers need to start getting some studs on their offensive line, and Iupati certainly is that. He's a safe pick for them."
19. Falcons: OLB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri. (D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) "With Mike Peterson turning 34, the Falcons need a run-and-hit linebacker who's adept in coverage."
20. Texans: S Earl Thomas, Texas. (Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle) "The Texans really need some help in the secondary, and Thomas has the type of ballhawking skills they could use."
21. Bengals: TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma. (Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer) "Tight end is a real weakness for the Bengals. They need a guy who can both block and stretch the field."
22. Patriots: OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas. (Karen Guregian, Boston Herald) "Kindle fits the physical prototype the Patriots like for an OLB/DE. They also like Michigan's Brandon Graham."
23. Packers: CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State. (Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) " Al Harris is 35 and coming off reconstructive knee surgery; Charles Woodson is 33. Robinson fills a real need."
24. Eagles: CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State. (Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer) "With Sheldon Brown gone to Cleveland, the Eagles need a cornerback who can step right into the starting lineup."
25. Ravens: DT Jared Odrick, Penn State. (Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Sun) "The Ravens need youth on the defensive line, and Odrick would fit right into their 3-4 scheme."
26. Cardinals: DT Dan Williams, Tennessee. (Kent Somers, Arizona Republic) "The Cardinals have been searching for a 3-4 nose tackle ever since Ken Whisenhunt arrived. They need somebody who can hold the middle."
27. Cowboys: OT Charles Brown, USC. (Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) "With Flozell Adams gone, the Cowboys have a hole at the position. Brown not only fills an area of need, but he fits in that draft slot."
28. Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State. (Jay Paris, North County Times) "LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, and the Chargers have a void at running back. They'll hope to get Alabama DT Terrence Cody in the second."
29. Jets: DE Brandon Graham, Michigan. (Rich Cimini, New York Daily News) "One of the problems the Jets had on defense was they had to blitz a lot of guys to get pressure. They need a pass rusher."
30. Vikings: CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers. (Judd Zulgad, Minneapolis Star Tribune) "Depth at corner is a problem for the Vikings, who have had health problems at the position. They really like McCourty."
31. Colts: DT Brian Price, UCLA. (Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star) "The Colts failed in their attempt to get better on the defensive line last offseason. The bid continues this year."
32. Saints: OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU. (Mike Triplett, New Orleans Times-Picayune) "Hughes might be a 'tweener for a 4-3 defense, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will find a way to fit him in."
Posted on: January 23, 2010 9:05 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 9:13 pm
Recap: a draft pick is an asset in itself. Each team gets seven of them per year (leaving out the compensatory picks, at least for now).
If you draft players that don't stick with the team, you have more holes to fill. You end up using picks year after year just to replace the same spots on the roster instead of improving the team.
But if you end up trading the players or receiving compensatory draft picks when they leave via free agency, you have extended the "life" of those picks. They might not be in the form of the same players, but you still have assets to show for them. That can be as good (and sometimes better) than re-signing the same players you initially drafted.
A prime Falcons example is the 2004 draft. I claim that three of the top five drafts in franchise history came in the last decade - and oddly enough, each of our three GMs of the decade had one.
Dan Reeves (counting him as a GM since he had full control over personnel as well as head coaching duties) had the 2001 draft. Thomas Dimitroff had the 2008 class, which may be remembered as the best draft in Falcons history.
And in between, Rich McKay had the forgotten gem of 2004.
Surprised to hear that draft called a "gem"? Well, first look at the players selected: DeAngelo Hall, Michael Jenkins, Matt Schaub, and Demorrio Williams. That's a two-time Pro Bowl defensive back, a starting wide receiver, a franchise quarterback, and a starting linebacker. Four starters out of seven picks is an *outstanding* draft class.
Go back through the annals of Falcons history and count how many of our draft classes produced even three guys who were still starting in the NFL after six seasons. It's an extreme rarity, at least for Atlanta. For that matter, it doesn't happen all that often for any team. Kudos to the scouting department for that one - it really was one of the best drafts the Falcons had ever had.
But the press is quick to dismiss that draft, sometimes even calling it a failure since Jenkins was the only player from that group still with the team heading into the 2008 season.
Not so fast, kemo sabe... The Falcons have a whole lot more to show for that draft class than just our #2 receiver.
DeAngelo had his famous argument with Petrino in the Panthers game in 2007 and demanded a trade rather than play for yet another rookie coach in 2008. Ultimately, new GM Dimitroff granted him his wish and dealt him to the Raiders for a pair of draft picks. (Be careful what you wish for, DeAngelo - you might just get it...)
The picks received were a second rounder in 2008 and a fifth rounder in 2009. Thank you ever so kindly, Mr. Davis. It was a pleasure doing business with you.
And many fans believe the Falcons made a big mistake trading Matt Schaub. It's hard to blame them, especially considering how things went in the summer of 2007. But the part of that story that gets left out is that Schaub was already a restricted free agent, and Arthur Blank's nine figure contract extension to Michael Vick made it clear that Schaub's intended role was purely as a backup. In other words, Schaub was already as good as gone the moment the 2006 season ended.
The Falcons offered him a high tender in order to talk trade and control the picks they received. While they didn't get the highest possible RFA bounty (a first and a third rounder), the Falcons did get two first day draft picks from the Texans - a second rounder in 2007 and another second rounder in 2008.
That 2007 second rounder from Schaub became starting left guard Justin Blalock.
The 2008 second rounders for Hall and Schaub were the second rounders that Atlanta sent in a draft day deal to the Redskins.
ESPN reported that the Falcons gave Washington three picks to move up to #21 to take Sam Baker. Atlanta fans were horrified by the one-sided nature of the trade, leading Dimitroff to go out of his way that night to clear the air and make sure the local media understood that those initial reports were incorrect. It was NOT a three for one deal. It was three picks for three picks, allowing the Redskins to move up with two picks while Atlanta moved up with one.
The actual trade bumped the #34 (from the Raiders for Hall) up to #21, landing Baker. The #48 (from the Texans for Schaub) dropped to #84, with Atlanta taking Harry Douglas. The other part was that the fourth round pick moved down to the fifth. I doubt many fans would object - that pick became Kroy Biermann.
And the following year, the Cowboys traded up in the fifth round. (Jerry Jones making trades on draft day? Big shock, I know.) Dallas gave us an extra seventh rounder to move down 13 spots. They acquired our DeAngelo Hall pick and used it to draft DeAngelo Smith. Atlanta used the picks from Dallas to take Garrett Reynolds in the fifth and Vance Walker in the seventh.
The bottom line... sure, DeAngelo Hall and Matt Schaub are now elsewhere.
But their draft picks ultimately became left tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, slot receiver/return man Harry Douglas, offensive tackle Garrett Reynolds and defensive tackle Vance Walker. Add in starting wide receiver Michael Jenkins, and the Falcons head into 2010 with six players on the roster that resulted from the picks of the 2004 draft.
Posted on: January 2, 2010 10:38 am
The NFLPA has always voiced strong opposition to the salary cap system, and has always insisted that the final year under each CBA be uncapped. The purpose of this is that if no new agreement is reached and a stoppage occurs, the status quo will be without a cap.
The wisdom or absurdity of the union's position is fodder for another time. For now, the key point is that when the owners brought in the cap system, the concession they offered as a trade-off was early free agency. Before the cap system, players had to have six years of service to become true (unrestricted) free agents. Until they reached six years of tenure, they could only be restricted free agents. But with the salary cap in place, unrestricted free agency began after four years of service.
The catch is that since we don't have a new CBA in place for 2011, 2010 stands to be an uncapped year. And when the cap goes, so does the early free agency. So all over the league, guys with four or five years in the league who would become free agents will find themselves RFAs (restricted free agents) rather than UFAs.
Their current teams will be able to tender (offer) them standard one year contracts. There are several levels of tenders. If the tender offer is a higher level, the team will get draft picks as compensation if another team signs that player away. At the highest tender level, the price tag is a first round AND a third round pick.
Also, the current team has the right to match any offer made to a tendered RFA to keep the player. It becomes that team's choice - match the offer and keep the player, or let the other team sign the player away and take the draft picks.
According to several reports, there are currently a total of 212 potential free agents that will be affected. These are players who would become true (unrestricted) free agents if we get a new CBA to restore the cap before March but will drop back to RFAs without a new deal.
Here's the list:
Atlanta Falcons - T/G Tyson Clabo, G/T Harvey Dahl, T/G Quinn Ojinnaka, RB Jerious Norwood, P Michael Koenen, S Charlie Peprah, S Jamaal Fudge.
Arizona Cardinals – SS Hamza Abdullah, FB Justin Green, G Duece Lutui, K Mike Nugent, WR Jerheme Urban and NT Gabe Watson.
Baltimore Ravens – G Chris Chester, WR Mark Clayton, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, SS Dawan Landry, T Tony Moll, TE Quinn Sypnieski, T Terry Adam, CB Favian Washington and WR Demetrius Williams.
Buffalo Bills – OLB Keith Ellison, QB Gibran Hamdan, G Richie Incognito, TE Joe Klopfenstein, SS George Wilson and CB Ashton Youboty.
Carolina Panthers – OLB James Anderson, OLB Thomas Davis, TE Jeff King, CB Richard Marshall and T Rob Petitti.
Chicago Bears – DE Mark Anderson, FS Josh Bullocks, NT Dusty Dvoracek, FS Danieal Manning and OLB Jamar Williams.
Cincinnati Bengals – MLB Abdul Hodge, OLB Rashad Jeanty, LB Brandon Johnson, G Evan Mathis, and DE Frostee Rucker.
Cleveland Browns – SS Abram Elam, LB Arnold Harrison, RB James Harrison, LB D’Qwell Jackson, FS Brodney Pool, LB Matt Roth and FB Lawrence Vickers.
Dallas Cowboys – WR Miles Austin, DE Stephen Bowen, CB Cletis Gordon, DE Jason Hatcher, WR Sam Hurd, T Pat McQuistan, C Duke Preston, G Cory Procter, SS Gerald Sensabaugh, DE Marcus Spears, SS Pat Watkins and K Shaun Suisham.
Denver Broncos – LB Elvis Dumervil, G Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler and DE Le Kevin Smith.
Detroit Lions – SS Daniel Bullocks, C Dylan Gandy, DE Jason Hunter, WR Adam Jennings, G Daniel Loper, FS Ko Simpson and LB Cody Spencer.
Green Bay Packers – SS Atari Bigby, CB Will Blackmon, G Daryn Colledge, FS Nick Collins, DE Johnny Jolly, FB John Kuhn, FS Derrick Martin and C Jason Spitz.
Houston Texans – FS John Busing, T Rashad Butler, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ryan Moats, SS Bernard Pollard, LB DeMeco Ryans and C Chris White.
Indianapolis Colts – WR Hank Baskett, FS Antoine Bethea, FS Aaron Francisco, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson, CB Tim Jennings, T Charlie Johnson, LB Freddy Keiaho and CB T.J. Rushing.
Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Clint Ingram, DT Montavious Stanley and WR Troy Williamson.
Kansas City Chiefs – OB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, C Rudy Niswanger, T Ryan O’Callaghan and FS Jarrad Page.
Miami Dolphins – RB Ronnie Brown and TE Anthony Fasano.
Minnesota Vikings – T Ryan Cooke, DE Ray Edwards, NG Red Evans, QB Tarvaris Jackson, CB Karl Paymah and FB Naufahu Tahi.
New England Patriots – K Stephen Gostkowski, G Logan Mankins and LB Pierre Woods.
New Orleans Saints – RB Mike Bell, T Jammal Brown, G Jahri Evans, DT Tony Hargrove, SS Roman Harper, FS, Hernandez Jones, WR Lance Moore, WR Courtney Roby, T Zach Strief, TE David Thomas and CB Leigh Torrence.
New York Giants – LB Chase Blackburn, G Kevin Boothe, FS C.C. Brown, NT Barry Cofield, CB Kevin Dockery, WR Derek Hagan, WR Sinorice Moss, T Guy Whimper and LB Gerris Wilkinson.
New York Jets – QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, NT Howard Green, G Wayne Hunter, WR Brad Smith, SS Eric Smith, RB Leon Washington.
Oakland Raiders – LB Jon Alston, T Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, QB Charlie Frye, LB Thomas Howard, LB Kirk Morrison and CB Stanford Routt.
Philadelphia Eagles – WR Jason Avant, C Nick Cole, LB Omar Gaither, LB Chris Gocong, CB Ellis Hobbs, G Max Jean-Gilles, TE Alex Smith and RB Leonard Weaver.
Pittsburgh Steelers – T Willie Colon.
San Diego Chargers – LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, C Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DE Travis Johnson, T Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles and QB Charlie Whitehurst.
Seattle Seahawks – LB Lance Laury, P Jon Ryan, G Rob Sims, C Chris Spencer and DE Darryl Tapp.
San Francisco 49ers – G David Baas, LB Ahmad Brooks and CB Marcus Hudson.
St. Louis Rams – DE Victor Adeyanju, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, T Alex Barron, RB Sam Gado, DT Gary Gibson, WR Ruvell Martin and G Mark Setterstrom.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mark Bradley, WR Brian Clark, LB Matt McCoy, T Donald Penn, LB Barrett Ruud, WR Maurice Stovall, T Jeremy Trueblood, RB Carnell Williams and LB Rod Wilson.
Tennessee Titans - DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson and RB LenDale White.
Washington Redskins – QB Jason Campbell, SS Reed Doughty, DT Kedric Golston, LB Rocky McIntosh, DT Anthony Montgomery, C Will Montgomery and CB Carlos Rogers.
Tags: Ashton Youboty, Atlanta, Bears, Bills, Braylon Edwards, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Carlos Rogers, Carnell Williams, Chargers, Charlie Peprah, Chiefs, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Danieal Manning, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Gerald Sensabaugh, Giants, Harvey Dahl, Jamaal Fudge, Jerious Norwood, Jets, Kevin Dockery, LenDale White, Lions, Michael Kownwn, Miles Austin, Packers, Panthers, Quinn Ojinnaka, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Ronnie Brown, Saints, Seahawks, Shawne Merriman, Texans, Titans, Tyson Clabo, Vikings
Posted on: November 2, 2008 9:05 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2008 1:05 pm
It's official. The Falcons have surpassed all expectations.
No preview out there had projected a record better than 4-12 for the Atlanta Falcons. I have been picking on The Sporting News a lot for their UTTERLY MORONIC 1-15 call ever since their publication hit the newsstands. (And they truly deserve it - all you had to do was look at their projected depth chart to see that these idiots either didn't have a clue or simply weren't paying attention. Ojinnaka as the starting left guard? FRASER as the starting nose tackle????)
But they weren't alone. Athlon, Pro Football Weekly, Lindy's, ESPN, CBS, FOX, etc, etc, etc all said the team would end the year 3-13 or 4-12, listed them #31 or #32 in power rankings, named them as the team on the clock for the first pick of the 2009 draft, etc.
Well, after eight games, these same Falcons are 5-3. That's five wins - more than any publication had projected, and the season is only half over.
Today they did it in convincing fashion. They won on the road for the second time this season. They held their opponents to a shutout. It was the first shutout for Atlanta since they held Carolina scoreless in both games of the 2002 season. They set a franchise record by limiting the opposition to just three first downs for the game. By contrast, the Falcons had 12 first downs in the first quarter alone. They held their opponents to -2 total yards in the first half. It was the first time in 16 years that any team had negative yardage for an entire half.
That's not just a win. That's a statement. These New Birds aren't among the league elite, but they are a legitimate NFL team. They aren't the patsies that the national media thought they would be. Any team playing them needs to be prepared for an all-out war, because that's exactly what the Falcons will bring to the field.
I won't go into the video review in detail this week. General notes will suffice.
The offensive line dominated their direct opponents. The defensive line didn't get overpowered and consistently got penetration. Ryan was accurate, going 17 of 22 for 220 yards, with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.
With Sam Baker out, Weiner got the start at LT. But for Norwood's TD run on the second drive, Tyson Clabo lined up on the left side - they're still trying to do unbalanced lines and other combinations to get extra power advantages for their special package formations. Also, the recently re-signed Wayne Gandy got some playing time in the final two minutes of the first half and then again in the second half.
Domonique Foxworth got his second game of full time experience with the Falcon defense. Grimes was named as the starter before the game, but Foxworth was out there from the beginning to the end.
The team's OTHER power running back, Jason Snelling, got some action too. He picked up 47 yards on 8 carries during the clock-killing part of the game when everyone on the field KNEW the handoff was coming. He simply ran over people in impressive fashion. He also had a 12 yard gain on a screen pass.
The first time Ryan was sacked, it was an optional thing. The Falcons had a 21-0 lead and were in field goal range. Ryan had escaped the pressure. He could have scrambled or thrown the ball away. Instead, he went directly to the middle of the field (where Elam would have a straight shot on the field goal attempt) and went to the ground without even being touched. He essentially gave himself up and guaranteed the best possible situation for the kick rather than risk turning the ball over while trying to make a play.
Ironically, on the very next drive (at the end of the first half) he had another chance to do the same thing but instead tried to make a play. As he scrambled, the ball was knocked away from him, and the Raiders recovered the fumble. The fumble also counts as a sack - the second of the afternoon for Ryan.
Falcon fans have been brutal on Adam Jennings for letting punts bounce rather than making fair catches - including the one that was botched by the refs last week. Jennings was put on the inactive list this week. Instead, Harry Douglas started out as the punt returner. And in the first half, he let two of them bounce rather than making fair catches. Both ended up costing Atlanta significant yardage. Late in the first half, Brian Finneran was given a shot at it. He was backed up near his 10 yard line (closer to the 15, actually) so he let his punt go too. It bounced and rolled inside the 10.
Bottom line - it's not just Jennings. Unfortunately, Brent Grimes is still banged up with the knee injury he got late in the game against Chicago. If the Falcons are going to have open tryouts for the punt return position, I'd like to see what he can do. He returned punts and kicks in college and also in NFL-Europa.
(There's also one other guy from NFL-E that I'd like to see get a shot at it down the road, but he's not eligible until next season. That would be Noriaki Kinoshita, the Japanese wide receiver who became a sort of fan favorite in camp last season. He's on our practice squad this year under the league's international player development program. That makes him a free extra man for the practice squad, but he can't be promoted to the active roster or signed by another team for the 2008 season. But if PR/KR is still a need, he really might have a shot at it next year. He has great hands. He's fearless. And he has experience, having played NFL-E for three years. The main downside is that his English is still extremely limited.)
I'm glad to see the coaches exploring their options and getting several guys some experience - that's always important in case of injuries. But in minicamp, camp, preseason, and this game I have yet to see anyone do the job any better than Jennings. Might as well stick with him and let him get the experience.
The one thing I didn't care for in this game was some unnecessary aggressiveness by the coaching staff. I know it's easy to say that in hindsight, since both of the questionable decisions backfired. But even if they had both been successful and had created 10 more points for Atlanta, I still wouldn't like those calls in those situations. Both of them can be taken the wrong way and misinterpreted as unnecessary attempts by our coaching staff to run up the score.
The first was near the end of the third quarter. Atlanta had a 3rd and 1 inside Oakland's 10 yard line. They went for the QB sneak, but it was stuffed. No problem there. But then they went for it on 4th down.
What the heck was that about?? If the score is 24-0 and you have the ball at the 9 yard line, just kick the freaking field goal and take the easy three points. You don't need the touchdown anyway. Why try to rub it in? That's the message that a move like that sends - the nearly automatic field goal isn't enough, and you want to put up seven on your opponents. No matter how much you want to give your young line the extra experience in a short yardage situation, that's not a good time to do it.
After the Raiders went three and out, the third sack (and first "real" sack of the afternoon, as the other two were the self-sacrifice job and the fumble) killed the ensuing Falcon drive, leaving Atlanta with 4th and 16 from Oakland's 34 yard line. Atlanta opted to go for a 51 yard field goal attempt. Elam's longest of the season was 50 yards.
This call didn't bother me as much, but I still disagree with it. With 14:25 left in the game, a 24 point lead, and an opposing offense that had managed just one first down in three quarters of play, the situation was just begging for a punt out of bounds inside the ten yard line. At that point of the game, killing the clock is a much higher priority than scoring three points. The best thing Atlanta could do is bury Oakland deep and make them play the long field for the rest of the game.
I also thought the coaches made a mistake in leaving Ryan in for the entire game. They made sure Gandy, Foxworth, and Snelling got valuable playing time, as well as plenty of reps for the young guys in the front seven on defense. I had hoped they'd do the same for third QB D.J. Shockley or second QB Chris Redman, but that didn't happen. Now I can only hope the lost opportunity doesn't cost them later on down the road.
In the meantime, the Falcons suffered no significant injuries today. They will likely be healthier next week than they were this week. At this time of the year, that's a luxury. Baker will be out, and that's a HUGE loss for the offense, but the roster is otherwise intact.