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How to help turn the Falcons around

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  • How to help turn the Falcons around

    NFL Insider: How to help turn around the Falcons
    Owner Blank is 0-for-2 in making big hire in the post Petrino/McKay era

    Published on: 12/23/07

    When he sits back to reflect on how to get the franchise turned around, Blank will arrive at the conclusion that a sturdy foundation must be put in place first.

    Petrino's resignation, the stripping of Rich McKay's duties and Michael Vick's incarceration have gutted the franchise.

    The Falcons clearly need more than just a fresh coat of paint.

    "New England has given him the blueprint," said CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe. "Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick work extremely well together. Look at Mr. [Robert] Kraft, he's out of the way."

    Sharpe is advocating that the Falcons fix the football operation. Forget all of the bells and whistles and big-name hires. Get a strong personnel guy and get an NFL football coach.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are also considered a model franchise.

    "They've had three coaches in 39 years," Sharpe said. "Chuck Noll struggled. They stayed with him. Bill Cowher struggled. They stayed with him. They didn't blink."

    Here's a look at some of the front office and coaching candidates who could help Blank turn around the Falcons.


    Charlie Casserly: Looking pretty good after advising the Houston Texans to take Mario Williams over hometown favorite Vince Young and Reggie Bush.

    Floyd Reese: Spent 13 seasons as Tennessee's general manager. Nearly half of his draft picks (75) from 1999 to 2006 made the roster. Picked three rookies of the year in Eddie George, Jevon Kearse and Vince Young.

    Reggie McKenzie: Green Bay's director of pro personnel. Was a finalist in Houston and Tennessee for recent GM openings. Played at Tennessee and seven years in NFL. Has been with the Packers for 13 years and a director for last 10 years.

    Jeff Ireland: Dallas's vice president of college and pro scouting. Keen talent evaluator, who's help to rebuild the Cowboys. Was formerly their national scout.

    Scott Pioli: New England's vice president of player personnel. Started his career with Bill Belichick in 1992 with Cleveland. Three-time NFL executive of the year.

    Tom Heckert Jr.: Philadelphia's general manager. Grew up in the talent evaluation business and helped put together the Eagles' Super Bowl team.

    Scot McCloughan: San Francisco's vice president of player personnel. Has been with Green Bay and Seattle. Learned how to evaluate while working under Ron Wolf in Green Bay.


    Mike Singletary: San Francisco's assistant head coach. If the Falcons could land Scot McCloughan as GM, maybe Singletary would come in a package deal. He'd have instant respect in the locker room, but would need strong offensive coaches and quality control staff.

    Russ Grimm: Arizona's assistant head coach. The former 19-year player would instill toughness immediately. Was a member of the Hogs, the Washington Redskins line that powered to four Super Bowls berths, three titles. Twice a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Jason Garrett: Dallas' offensive coordinator. Has worked wonders blending the passing of Tony Romo with the runs of Marion Barber III and Julius Jones. Might want to stay put and take over for Wade Phillips in Dallas some day.

    Todd Haley: Arizona's offensive coordinator. "He wants what everybody else wants, he wants to win," Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "He wants us to perform at the high level. That's what we want. So if we mess up we deserved to be chewed out. He's not going to let anything slide."

    Mike Zimmer: Atlanta's defensive coordinator. Has kept the defense attacking while the offense has struggled to score points and move the ball. Prefers the 4-3 and would allow the team to maintain a level of continuity.

  • #2
    Russ Grimm and Mike Singletary are my top HC CANDIDATES at this point


    • #3
      Here's how it goes for me.

      1. Scott Pioli
      2. Reggie McKenzie
      3. Jeff Ireland


      1. Mike Singletary
      2. Mike Zimmer
      3. Jason Garrett


      • #4
        I think ATL's list is pretty much perfect...I'm not sure...I may put Zimmer > Singletary simply because people here are familiar with him and it's nice for someone to get promoted from inside the organization. *shrug* guess we'll just have to wait and see...but Scott Pioli needs to be the guy we're going after for GM, if he's the one calling the shots for NE, that's what we need. He's not afraid to make the unsexy pick and build what a franchise actually needs.


        • #5
          General Manager
          Scott Pioli
          Buddy Nix

          Head Coach
          Mike Singletary
          Marty Schottenheimer
          Virginia Tech.
          ACC Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010

          Next Up: 2012


          • #6
            If we got Scott Pioli, I would wet my pants. Chances are though, thats not going to happen.

            "He's the leader of the next great class of NFL players." - John Elway on Matt Ryan


            • #7
              Do you guys think Scott Pioli would even want to leave the situation that he is in right now? Him and Belichick are good friends so I would be shocked if he do leave.


              • #8
                Originally posted by falconsrule View Post
                Do you guys think Scott Pioli would even want to leave the situation that he is in right now? Him and Belichick are good friends so I would be shocked if he do leave.

                I highly doubt he leaves. He's just obviously the best option. One can hope he enjoys a challenge.


                • #9
                  This is a good article I found on the falcons...Its a bit long though


                  Few things have changed post-Petrino, as we still have gaping holes on either side of the ball. I do think that we won’t hire a gimmick offensive coach. So don’t expect the “run and shoot” offense to appear in Atlanta. I also think that the next coach may well be a veteran coach like Cowher or Schottenheimer. If the next coach is a coordinator, he’ll be Blank’s choice—not McKay’s.

                  The same holds true with my Free Agent projections. We have holes, regardless of new coach.

                  The only current coordinators that I feel have a chance at the job would be Mike Singletary, Asst. Coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. Note I said that have a chance. Truthfully, I’m not positive that the chance actually exists. While I know Blank supposedly loved Singletary and wanted to hire him in place of Petrino, yet ceded to the wishes of McKay, you have to wonder if that was the whole story. Singletary is truly a respected NFL man, both as a player and a coach, but has his presence in San Fran really produced great results?

                  To put it in perspective for you, the 49ers finished 26th in total team defense last year. This year they drafted potential rookie of the year, linebacker Patrick Willis, signed big-time cornerback, Nate Clements to a huge contract, and added stud, safety free agent, Michael Lewis, to their defense. Guess what their ranking is? The 49ers are 22nd overall in team defense and give up over 24 points per game.

                  Guess who is in charge of the defense? You got it. Mr. Singletary. Now one could argue that they actually moved up 4 spots in the ranking. I argue that they should have with the talent drafted and the quality of free agents. Last year’s squad gave up almost 26 points a game. Again one could argue that was an improvement. Again I argue, with the type of draft and free agent signings that had a better improvement should have occurred.

                  Is it Singletary’s fault? Not all of it, I’m sure. But is he some genius coach in the making? I’m not convinced that he is—at least yet. As a linebackers’ coach, sure. As a head coach, not yet. I further support this argument by the 3-10 record the 49ers currently have. Yeah, I know the head coach is always at fault. But you gotta believe that he listens to his assistant.

                  McDaniels is certainly brilliant as a coordinator, as evidenced by the Patriots’ explosive offense. But I’m not so sure that he would even want our mess for his first time head coaching positions. And I’m fairly certain that Blank is about burnt out on high-risk/potentially low reward former coordinators and college coaches as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

                  I see experience—real NFL head coaching experience being the next hire. Additionally, I see real NFL success—wins and losses as head coach success—being the key parameter for the next hire. One last name to throw in the list might be former head coach, Dan Reeves. During his time under Blank, the two clashed, but Blank is a businessman and Reeves is a proven winner. It was Reeves who took the Falcons to their only super bowl.

                  So what was the whole point to this section, you rightfully ask? Simple, regardless of coach we will draft and sign free agents to fill holes and we’ll try to draft playmakers when possible.

                  Our offensive line is tiny, old and ravaged by injury. All aforementioned job candidates have teams that have huge offensive lines, not a roster filled with anorexic smurfs that excel in our former zone-blocking scheme. I still stand by my earlier predictions of free agent targets.

                  All of the above mentioned candidates have or either had punishing running backs that can carry every down. Note I didn’t necessarily say Jerome Bettis-type backs. What I said is every down type running backs. I think the consensus on Jerious Norwood is that he is comparable to Eric Metcalfe or Reggie Bush. Best utilized by fewer and varied types of touches that utilize his speed. Norwood will be a big part of our team, but will see a new backfield partner, as Warrick Dunn is most likely done posing as a full-time back. Under the new regime he’ll either be cut, reduced to utility (Kevin Faulk-type) or retire.

                  Lastly, we need a quarterback regardless of which coach we hire. This may be the only real need that has mutated. Originally I had Brian Brohm as our first pick, and he still could be, but depending on combine results that could change. I’m changing the pick now, based upon experts’ rankings, which I think will factor heavily in our selection at our projected draft position of #3 overall. Neither McKay, nor Blank will take chances this year, and obviously Brohm’s experience in a Petrino offensive scheme has been negated.

                  #3 Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan QB, Boston College 6'4" 224 lbs.

                  DIFFERENT PICK & DRAFT ORDER (5 to 3
                  Has there ever been a tougher year to project a top 3 pick? I can’t think of it. As stated before, the only way that the Falcons don't draft Brohm is if Petrino returns back to the collegiate ranks. Well guess what happened…
                  Matt Ryan, right now, is the top projected QB prospect and the most NFL ready. The most NFL ready belonged to Brohm with Petrino here, but again the Falcons aren’t taking risk, and go with the highest projected QB. And Ryan is most NFL ready when you look at his ability to distribute the ball to multiple wide receivers and read defense. There are 5 BC players with at least 40-70 catches and averaging between 500 and 800 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. That’s Brady-like distribution.
                  Matt Ryan is special. While I think Brohm is the better technical quarterback, Ryan is a bit of a gambler and a much more charismatic leader. Ryan averaged over 45 pass attempts per game this year, and put up over 4000 yds and 28 touchdowns and completed over 60% of his passes in a very talent-deficient offense.
                  Some will point out the disappoint loss to Virginia Tech in the championship game. Ryan still kept an overmatched team in the game. I point to the two comeback touchdowns that he threw in the first game. Additionally, McKay and Petrino have to establish a new face for the franchise post Vick.
                  I still like Brohm as well, and I really think Petrino leaving has not hurt his rankings with the Falcons, I just believe that he was not higher ranked than Ryan at all, and that they would have reached to put Brohm into Petrino’s offense.
                  Keep in Mind the combine could change everything. Regardless, I’m sticking w/ either Brohm or Ryan as our pick, and I’m going with Ryan as of now based upon better arm strength, charisma and mobility. I’d be happy with either pick.
                  FALCON PICKS:

                  Round 1: Mat Ryan QB, Boston College

                  Currently ranked #1 QB by both Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock
                  Round 2: Michael Oher OT, Ole Miss 6'6"325

                  · SAME PICK


                  If he comes out, I think Oher is this draft's Justin Blalock. An accomplished OG and OT with athleticism and bulk. And like Blalock, a lot of teams will project him as OG so he'll slip due to prospects like Jake Long, Sam Baker, Ryan Clady, and Jeff Otah who are more the traditional NFL OT types. His slipping is our gain. We get a prospect who can start at RG, in place of Forney, if we sign Adams like I suggested and go with Weiner another year. Or he could be our RT. Hell it's possible that Renardo Foster, who looked very good prior to season-ending surgery, is our starting RT. Either way he gives us bang for our bucks as he is versatile, huge and mean.
                  If Oher doesn’t come out, I still see us drafting a versatile OLmen in the second and making a splash in Free agency.
                  Round 2: Ray Rice RB, Rutgers


                  · SAME PICK

                  With Dunn certain to be a goner, and the coaching staff's apparent belief that Norwood is not an every down back, look for us to draft a rb. In the first round look for McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones (if he declares) and Steve Slaton all to go before the 5'9" 200 lbs Rice. We'll snatch him early. While smallish he's powerfully built, and if you all remember Emmitt Smith was his size--he did ok, don't you think? Rice is also durable having carried the ball 335 times last year and 345 times this year. Rice also has nice hands and is very good at the goal line amassing 20 TDs each of the last year. And Petrino knows all about him, having played in the Big East. A running back tandem of Norwood and Rice would solidify the Falcons for the next four years.
                  Additionally, regardless of coach, the Falcons invested large free agent dollars in run-blocking specialist, Ovie Mughelli, and expect an upgrade at the running back position to occur. Dunn is not your optimal I-formation type back.
                  Stud back for nice price. Mike Hart could be other option if Rice is gone. But, regardless, both backs have exhibited the capability to carry the load at the collegiate level and should carry that ability to the professional level.
                  Round 3 Craig Steltz, 6’2’’ 204 lbs SS, LSU

                  · ORIGINAL PICK : Jacob Tamme TE, Kentucky

                  I had Tamme as the selection based upon his pass-catching ability, and Petrino’s ongoing feud with starting tight end, Algae Crumpler. But Petrino is gone, and I’m pretty sure Algae will be back and we have needs on both sides of the ball. Lawyer Milloy is getting long in the tooth, and could be a cap hit. Defensive Coordinator, Mike Zimmer, will love this kid.
                  Despite finishing with 97 tackles and six interceptions, tops in the Southeastern Conference, recording five tackles for losses and seven pass breakups, being one of 3 finalists for the Thorpe award, Steltz will be a 3rd rounder at best thanks to his pedestrian 40 yard dash times (4.59 projected). The NFL’s infatuation with measurables will be our 3rd round gain. Steltz possesses excellent quickness is great in coverage and hits hard and comes from a winning college program and is a high character prospect. Exactly the type of guys that you build a team around.
                  This pick is dependent on combine 40 times. Could rise higher, or fall lower in draft.
                  Round 4: Jonathan Goff ILB, Vanderbilt

                  · SAME PICK

                  One thing that GM Rich McKay excels at it is drafting excellent LBs in the rounds 4 and later. And it seems like every year someone slips and he nabs them (think Boley) Goff is 6'4 230 and runs around a 4.79--ample speed for MLB. There are some concerns about his coverage skills, but the Falcons have Boley and Nicholas and potentially DMO who are all ball hawks. This kid is a player and he's smart. What will be interesting is what the Falcons do with Keith Brooking. If Brooking stays look for Goff to play STs and be in the rotation; if Brooking is cut—he could compete for a starting job.
                  Round 4 (Kerney compensation) : Eddie Royal WR/PR, Va Tech. 5'10" 184

                  · SAME PICK

                  Game breaking returner, and WR who can make the big plays. However he has an injury history and with his small frame projects to a #3 wr in the NFL. Good bye current ineffective returner, Adam Jennings. Royal in the right offense, could evolve into an Az Hakim type WR (the Rams’ days).
                  Round 5: Nick Hayden DT, Wisconsin:

                  SAME PICK

                  At 6’5” and 301 lbs., with the frame to add 10 more pounds, Hayden is the right size for our 4-3 base defensive tackle. He also uses excellent technique and has some pass-rushing abilities. Excellent against the run and smart. Will be in the rotation immediately.
                  Round 6 : Brandon Coutu, K Georgia

                  Those of you that have been on the boards awhile know I hate drafting Kickers, but the Morton Anderson experiment has to end. Lest any of you think we draft Art Carmody chew on this : he's only hit 2 of 5 beyond 40 yds. Morten is accurate until about 45-47, why draft in that case?
                  Coutu also has a powerful leg making a long of 58 yds and can handle kickoff duties, which could save the leg of current kick-off specialist, who also doubles as the starting punter, Michael Koenen.
                  Coutu is the type kicker that we lack--one that we can line up with 2 seconds from 52 yds; and he has played at a big time school so pressure is not a problem.
                  Round 6 (Rossum) : Fernando Velasco OG/C, UGA

                  · SAME PICK

                  At 6'3" 318 lbs Velasco is huge and can play either OG or C. Provides immediate depth to the rotation. He stout at the Point of attack and won’t be bowled over by larger NFL defensive tackles. Could compete with last year’s sixth round draft pick, Doug Datish and/or incumbent starter, Todd McClure for starting position or provide a very versatile backup. McClure, by the way, who is only 6’2” and 290 lbs most likely will be cut or traded to a team that runs a zone blocking offense. McClure is not a good fit in any offensive line that runs any scheme other than zone blocking.
                  Round 7: Breno Giacomini OT/TE

                  He is a 6'7" 300 lb athlete who has experience at both TE and OT. Might be more of a project than anything else. But if he sticks to the roster could prove to be a great asset from purposes of both depth and versatility. Could be very useful in 2 TE sets in red zone situations as both blocker and eligible WR.
                  One last thing to note, remember when the Buffalo Bills drafted a late round “tweener” OT/TE, named Jason Peters a few years back? Well that “tweener” has evolved into one of the better OTs in the NFL. Prospects like Giacomini, who possesses size and athleticism, are great late round picks as they cost nothing. Despite Petrino moving on, I personally love this type of pick. Low risk-high reward. Gotta love it!
                  This pick is definitely my wish list pick


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by falconsrule View Post

                    All aforementioned job candidates have teams that have huge offensive lines, not a roster filled with anorexic smurfs that excel in our former zone-blocking scheme.

                    Not a fan of the draft, although Oher would be nice.
                    Virginia Tech.
                    ACC Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010

                    Next Up: 2012


                    • #11
                      I actually might not mind keeping around the current coaching staff. The players seem to love Emmitt and he has experience in this league. He's respected and it would avoid turnover.

                      I would love Buddy Nix from San Diego as General Manager. Their roster is almost all draft picks rather than free agents.
                      Virginia Tech.
                      ACC Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010

                      Next Up: 2012



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