Warming Up to the Draft Picks

Introducing the 2021 Atlanta Falcons draft class, the first indication of Head Coach Arthur Smith and General Manager Terry Fontenot’s vision for the future of the team. The picks are now scrutinized with questions of “best player available,” “position of need,” “relative value,” and most hotly, “we passed over my guy for this guy?”

Here they are. First impressions? Hot or cold? As usual, time will tell.

Kyle Pitts TE Florida
Richie Grant S UCF
Jalen Mayfield OL Michigan
Darren Hall CB San Diego State
Drew Dalman OL Stanford
Ta’Quon Graham DT Texas
Adetokunbo Ogundeji DE Notre Dame
Frank Darby WR Arizona State

Atlanta Falcons 2021: Major Rebuild?

Could the Falcons Start a Major Rebuild in 2021?

By Dewey

It has been brought up by Falcons fans all over that now is the time to blow up the team and start a major reconstruction. 

Faced with a possible top 5 draft pick, many fans are dreaming of a shiny new QB to hopefully start the next decade of winning football rather than what has been endured the last 3 seasons.

This is not an exercise to say this is what needs to be done. I repeat “I’M NOT SAYING THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!”

Rather I’m just curious if it can be done.

There will be some facts thrown in (mostly numerical), there will be some speculation, a bit of guesswork, but it’s mostly “what if?”.

Of course, a lot goes into this kind of thing. Some things a lot of you won’t like. Maybe some of this will make you think in a different direction than you have. 

In the end, without a new HC or GM, most of this is just speculation. And after tearing down the old roster, new productive players would need to be brought in, which is always a crap shoot.

But here we go, into the abyss, gonna start with a few facts….

Right now, the Falcons have 31 players under contract for 2021.

It’s been widely speculated that the salary cap will fall in 2021. Currently the number being thrown around is $176 million. That is the worst-case scenario, so I’ll be using that number. (Sidenote: I once had a supervisor that told me “plan for the worst, hope for the best, usually fall somewhere in between”). So that’s what I’m doing, planning for the worst.

Given that number to work with, the Falcons are currently approximately $26.5 million dollars over the cap (more than they are allowed to spend).

Also, currently the Falcons have approximately $2 million dollars left in 2020 that they can rollover to 2021. This puts us at about $24.5 million over the cap.

So, what does a team need to start a rebuild? 


In the NFL, resources are money (room under the salary cap) and draft capital (draft picks).

Looking at draft capital first, the Falcons own 6 picks in the upcoming draft. 1 pick in each round 1-6, not currently owning a 7th rounder. There is some speculation that there will be at least a couple of complementary picks coming our way through what happened in 2020 free agency. But since those aren’t known at this time, I won’t bother counting them.

Next, we need to look at money, and as I’ve previously noted…we have none. 

I’m going to attempt to secure some money first, then see if that doesn’t open up some avenues for draft capital.

31 players, $202,500,000 in cap charges needing to get below $178,000,000 ($176,000,000 possible cap ceiling + $2,000,000 rollover).

First, I’ll start with players that will just be released, but I would absolutely try to trade all of them first, I just don’t think there would be a market for any of them.

DT Tyeler Davison

2021 cap charge-$4,663,333


New 2021 cap charge-$2,426,667

New Falcons total cap charges-$200,257,975 (30 players)

DE Allen Bailey

2021 cap charge-$6,125,000


New 2021 cap charge-$1,625,000

New Falcons total cap charges-$195,757,975 (29 players)

LG James Carpenter

2021 cap charge-$6,458,333


New 2021 cap charge-$2,416,667

New Falcons total cap charges-$191,716,309 (28 players)

FS Rico Allen

2021 cap charge-$8,375,000


New 2021 cap charge-$2,125,000

New Falcons total cap charges-$185,466,309 (27players)

This part was easy. These are the only ones I would straight release. There are a couple others that could save a million here, a million there, but I’ll hold onto them for now. 

However, I’m still about $10 million over the cap and we are down to 27 players under contract.

Here’s where I lose some of you. Just keep in mind, this isn’t what I would do, just “can it be done?”.

There is some speculation in this part, bare in mind, there is history behind all of these possible trade scenarios, not just plucking numbers out of the air…

Also, to receive any kind of compensation to help assist in a rebuild, good, popular players might need to be moved.

DT Grady Jarrett

2021 cap charge-$20,833,000


New 2021 cap charge-$11,000,000

New Falcons total cap charges-$175,633,309 (26 players)

I’ll leave it to you to decide on what we might get in compensation for Grady. 

In 2009, the Patriots traded DT Richard Seymour to the Raiders for a 1st round pick (#17 overall). Seymour was a 29-year-old pro bowler.

Grady is only 27 (28 in April) and has been named to 2 pro bowls.

Do I think we could get a 1st rounder for him?

Probably not. 

But I do think we could receive a 2nd and a 4th or 5th.

I am now officially under the cap (barely). But I only have 26 players under contract and now possibly 8 draft picks to sign. More room needs to be made, which will mean less players under contract.

WR Calvin Ridley

2021 cap charge-$3,468,415


New 2021 cap charge-$1,501,951

New Falcons total cap charges-$173,666,845 (25 players)

Once again, you can decide what you think this trade is worth.

In 2019 (not too long ago) the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr to the Browns and received a 1st, 3rd and pro bowl S Jabrill Peppers. 

I don’t think its out of the realm of possibilities to believe we could get a haul comparable to that.

2 very unpopular trades, 4 players released, only 25 players under contract, up to 10 draft picks but still only about $4.5 million under the cap, not enough to even sign our draft class, never mind fill out the roster.

LS Josh Harris

2021 cap charge-$1,075,000


New 2021 cap charge-$0

New Falcons total cap charges-$172,591,845 (24 players)

With now $5.5 million, I should be able to sign my rookie class, maybe need to trim another couple of million, but I can do that when the time comes.

I’m going to miss out on the first wave of free agency, but hopefully I can grab a few good players in phase 2 of free agency (after the June 1st cuts)

Speaking of June 1st cuts, I wasn’t finished. I still need money to fill out the rest of the roster….

But before I get started, a little update on the total cap charges….

Currently stand at $172,591,845, with 10 (hopefully) draft picks it should cost between $7-8 million. I’m going to round that off and put our total liabilities at $180,000,000 with 34 players on board (includes the 10 draft picks)

Now on with the show…

DE-Dante Fowler

2021 cap charge-$18,666,666

Released post June 1st

New 2021 cap charge-$10,666,666

New Falcons cap charges-$169,333,334 (33 players)

WR-Julio Jones

2021 cap charge-$23,050,000

Traded post June 1st

New 2021 cap charge-$7,750,000

New Falcons cap charges-$154,033,334 (32 players)

QB-Matt Ryan

2021 cap charge-$40,912,000

Released post June 1st

New 2021 cap charge-$23,412,500

New Falcons cap charges-$136,533,834 (31 players)

That should do it. Heading into secondary free agency (where some bargains can be found) I have about $40 million to add 20+ players to get up to the requisite 53. Off course I need to add about 40 additional players to get to a full camp roster, but then you get the “51 rule” and there’s no need to worry about cap numbers then.

A couple of notes…

1-the only way to move on from Julio in 2021 AND gain any cap relief is through a post June 1st trade. Releasing him post June 1st saves you nothing against the cap because Thomas Dimitroff made his entire 2021 base salary guaranteed. Guaranteed base salaries go with the player if you trade them, but if you just release them, it counts against you. 

2-I really hated treating Ryan like that. Of course, I will release him earlier and designate him as a June 1st cut, so he has a better chance to sign on with someone else. I would have liked to have traded him, try to get something out of it, but a trade couldn’t be consummated (to save money) until June 1st, meaning Ryan wouldn’t be able to work out with his new team until then. No one would want that if they were looking at Ryan as a possible 1-year starter. 

Once again, in no way am I advocating this. I think other moves can (and will need to) be made. I think Ryan can still win for us for at least another year or 2. 

But anyone interested in a re-build, this could very well be what it looks like. 

For those wondering what all these moves do to the future cap (2022)….

As of right now, making no moves, our 2022 cap liabilities are $172,742,084.

With these moves (not counting drafted players, free agents that might get signed to multi-year contracts) our total cap liabilities for 2022 are $122,799,916, a savings of $50 million for 2022.

Season’s Predictions – 2020


It’s anybody’s guess.

By Coop

Hello once again from my home in the Alamo City.  I hope you have all had an amazing 2020… what… um… yeah… oh???  You say the world turned to crap?  A global pandemic shut down travel, commerce, and entertainment???  You say that you have been stuck with family at home for months?  Like you are living the longest Thanksgiving Day of all time without the good food, football, and you’re low on toilet paper???  What’s that?  Rioters, I mean “peaceful protestors”, are burning down businesses and demanding we abolish the police???  You feel like you are in the prequel to “The Walking Dead”?

Holy shnikies!!!  Well, rest easy my friends.  Things are gonna get better.  This virus will eventually pass, and we will get a vaccine and life will finally return to normal.  We will survive the election, no matter the result and sometime in the near future the rioters/protestors will go home.  We will rebuild.  We will be healthy again.

But, if you are an anarchist… SCREW YOU!  Damn Saints fan!

OK, enough of that.  I am back for my 8th annual installment of, “Your guess is as good as mine” where I tell you all the juicy details of what will occur in the Falcons season.  Then declare all the times I was right and blame TD for all the times I was wrong.

Yes, we have returned from Germany.  My wife successfully completed battalion command, was promoted to Colonel (I am so proud) and we were reassigned to San Antonio.  We left Europe on the 1st of  February.  I swear we did not bring this virus with us.  Europe was fun for a couple years, but so far, I only miss the beer.

All joking aside and with my deepest sincerity, I pray each and every member of the Cage and their families are and remain healthy.  God bless you all.


The longest Thanksgiving of all time.

Breaking it DOWN!

Let’s look at some interesting facts about the schedule.

  1. The Falcons play 2 nationally televised games this year. Last year we also played 2 games, the Sunday night win against Philly, and the Thanksgiving loss to the Saints.  This year we travel to Green Bay for MNF in early October (thank God) and to Carolina for TNF in late October.  You may hate playing on the road for these, but keep in mind we went 3-5 at home last year.  The bigger concern is 5 games in 25 day (Oct 5th to Oct 29th).  Also, interesting here, 3 against the NFC North and the other 2 games against Carolina.  Finally, Away, Home, Away, Home, Away.  October is going to be a big month for this team.
  2. Last year we had back-to-back road games twice and back-to-back home games once and back-to-back-to-back home games once.  This year, the entire year is Home, Away, Home Away except for 1 2-game home stand and 1 2-game road trip both very late in the season.
  3. The Birds only have one short week this season, which is great news.  They travel to Carolina to end that 5 games in 25 day stretch after playing Detroit at home.
  4. Travel is about the same this year.  We travel to San Diego for the only west coast trip.  West coast trips are always a challenge, but we fared well last year against San Francisco.  We also go north to Green Bay and Minnesota (both in Oct and Minnesota in a dome).  There is a trip to Dallas in week 2 which will be hot.  Then… there it is… the defending Superbowl Champs welcome us to Arrowhead right after Christmas.  I have been in Kansas City after Christmas.  Let me tell you how cold it was.  I went to crank my car and the engine block cracked.  So, that should be an all-around terrible day for us.   We do get a visit from the Seahawks and the Raiders for a 1 pm kick off, so we may also benefit from the West teams traveling East (though LA and Seattle both beat us last year traveling east).
  5. The Falcons will again play a total of 11 games inside (I have no idea how to predict when our stadium will be open or closed, but I assume it will be closed in bad weather, so I chose to assume we are inside at home or at least in good conditions).  We play the Packers, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, and Bucs outside for sure.

Path to the Playoffs

Next, let’s examine how the games are arrayed in terms of trying to map a way to the playoffs.  Though recent history has shown that you can make the playoffs with 9 or even 8 wins, most hold to the belief that 10 wins pretty much guarantees you a spot and 11 or 12 should lock up the division.  Of the 16 games, the Falcons play 6 in their own division (2 each against the Saints, Panthers, and Bucs).  If you win all 6, you can take the division to the bank.  At a minimum, you better win 3 and more likely 4 to have decent playoff hopes.

The Falcons have a total of 12 conference games in the NFC.  The 6 we just talked about plus 4 from the NFC North (Packers, Vikings, Bears, and Lions). If you can win 3 of 4 here, to go with 4 of 6 from above, you have 7 of the 10 wins you need.  I think we beat the Packers, Bears, and Lions.

The NFC South also matches up with the AFC West this year.  So, we all get to play the Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos.  Win 2 or 3 of these and you now have 10 wins. I like us against the Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders.

So that brings you to the last two games to make up the 12 from the NFC.  These are the only games that will differ on our rival’s schedules.  We get the Seahawks and Cowboys while the Saints drew the Niners, and Eagles.  The Bucs got the Giants and Rams while the Panthers drew the Cardinals and Redskins (Look, I get they caved and are not the Redskins anymore.  But what the hell are they gonna be?  The season starts next week.  Are we really gonna call them the Washington Football Team all year???).  At first glance, I think we have similar SOS here with New Orleans.  Niners shouldn’t scare the Saints, but I don’t think Seattle is all that hard either.  The Panthers and Bucs have harder games than last year.  The Cardinals should be better this year and the Rams aren’t too far removed from the Superbowl… then again, neither were we last year when we started 1-7.  

The point I leave you with is this: winning 4 of 6 in the division is a must.  If the Falcons can grab 3 of 4 from the NFC North and 3 of 4 from the AFC West, then split the Seahawks and Cowboys, you have 11 wins and possibly a bye.  Now… with these birds, things rarely go as planned.   Right now, I think the Chargers, Bears, Lions, Raiders, and Broncos should be 5 easy wins… I bet we lose at least 2.

Of special note, we often debate in the Cage about “this game is huge” vs. others who say, “It’s just a game, they all count the same”.  Actually, they don’t all count the same.  Without going through every procedure (http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakingprocedures), the basic order for tie-breakers is head-to-head, games within the division, games in common, and games within the conference.  So, in terms of tiebreakers, all the games within the conference are more important than the AFC games.  In other words, if I can go 12-4 let me win all NFC games at the cost of the AFC games. 



  • Sunday, Sep 13th vs. Seattle 1:00 pm: It all begins this Sunday.  This first game will be a strong test right out of the gate.  How can we possibly predict what we will see?  No preseason games.  Limited training camps.  Little or no OTAs.  I’m telling you; this is gonna be remembered as the weirdest year in sports ever.  So, what do I think?  First, let’s talk virus.  Friends, they are going to get it.  Not all of them, but you need to be prepared and expect that players, coaches, and staffs will contract the virus.  Heck, some already have.  We have at least 2 players on the COVID list now.  Baseball has had cases but play continued and things seem to have settled down.  The NBA is making its way as well.  So, expect it, but don’t fret.  As for the game itself, Russell Wilson is always a dangerous QB.  The Falcons and Seahawks have really had some epic battles the last 10 years with our birds beating theirs 5-3 including 2 playoff wins. I like our birds again for 2 reasons.  No preseason games and the travel to the East for a 1 pm game.  If you are going to be rusty, do it at home without having to travel across time zones in the middle of a pandemic.  Falcons 20 – Seahawks 13 (1-0)
  • Sunday, Sep 20th @ Dallas 1:00 pm:  The Dallas Cowboys host our team for week 2 action.  The Boys have had plenty to worry about this offseason at the QB1 position.  I believe that Dak is a good QB.  He is solid, not great.  Maybe better than Romo… maybe not.  But he isn’t worth the money he wants.  I think Jerry feels the same way and actually may have done something smart with the franchise tag.  He gave Dak a prove it year.  We have played well against the Cowboys in the past, though they edged us in our last battle in 2018.  Remember the game before that where Clayborn sacked Dak like 27 times?  I feel another game like that.  Dak does have a better receiver now with Cooper and a much better head coach.  But I like the additions to the DL with Fowler and Davidson.  I also saw several clips of Terrell guarding Julio and I was impressed.  If this D doesn’t step up this year, then Dan Quinn is through.  I think they do on this day.   Falcons 27 – Cowboys 9 (2-0)
  • Sunday, Sep 27th vs. Chicago 1:00 pm:  I would feel sad for Chicago fans, but… well, I just don’t.  Mitch Trubisky?  Again?  That was a stupid draft pick to start with.  Anyway, thankfully this game is in Atlanta so our players don’t have to worry about getting shot during the game.  Damn, Chicago!  The Bears are no pushover.  They will bring a stout defense and Matt better be using short drops and quick releases.  We will need to see our new TE, Hurst, convert several crucial 3rd downs to keep the chains moving.  I would love to see a breakout day from Gurley, but I expect he will find little success running in any of the first 3 games.  sp4This is 100% the type of games the birds lose every stinking year.  However, I think the 1-7 start last year and blow torch under Dan Quinn’s ass will have the team more focused.  They win here and make a statement that folks might need to take notice.  Falcons 33 – Bears 10 (3-0) 
  • Monday, Oct 5th @ Green Bay 8:20pm:   Like the Seahawks, here is another perennial competitor in the NFC that we actually play fairly well against.  We are 4-4 over the last 10 years but 3-1 in the last 4 including the epic playoff beat down on our way to the Superbowl.  I’ll give it to Green Bay, they aren’t afraid of QB controversy when it comes to the draft.  It will be interesting to see if A-A-Rod is fired up by all of this or mails it in this year.  Don’t get me wrong, he is a competitor, but he does have a tendency to be moody and sulk.  I can definitely see him less than 100% mentally.  Think about it, do you think even if he has a bad season, some  team won’t still break the bank for him next year?  Like, say… the Cowboys?  What’s that?  Oh yeah… the whole coach thing… right!  But you get my point. Rodgers doesn’t need to prove himself on the field this year.  He is a sure fire HOFer and there will be multiple teams wanting to sign him.  Aside from the discount douchebag, I am not impressed with the Pack.  I think we have a solid day running the ball and win a close game because the Packers can’t find an offense.   Falcons 21 – Packers 17 (4-0)
  • Sunday, Oct 11th vs. Carolina 1:00 pm:  I finally get to say it.  I called it.  Go back and look at last year’s prediction.  I said Cam Newton would not be a Carolina Panther in 2020.  I also said Winston and Brees would be gone.  Though Brees got hurt last year, he did come back, so I went 2 for 3.  I will cover Brees and Brady later, but for now the Panthers.  This is your NFC South last place team folks.  They will be terrible.  A train wreck.  Horrific.  I am not joking.  If this team wins 4 games, it will be a miracle.  The game plan is to target McCaffrey and contain Bridgewater.  The only concern is that this is a rivalry game and the Birds are 4-0 right now.  We will be riding high and looking at playoff tickets and a vaccine by now… and our birds will pay us off.  You will get the high-flying offense with Gurley running for over 100 for the first time and Matt will throw 5 TDs to JJ, Hurst, and Ridley.  The defense will dominate and create multiple turnovers. This will be the best game of the year for you.  Enjoy it.  Falcons 45 – Panthers 6 (5-0)
  • Sunday, Oct 18th @ Minnesota 1:00 pm: Did you enjoy that ass-whoopin’?  Yeah?  Good.  Cause it’s over.  Minnesota beat the absolute breaks off us last year.  It was one of the most embarrassing performances of the Matt Ryan tenure.  The playoff loss to the Giants is the only other one that comes to mind as worse.  No, not the Superbowl… we actually played well for a half in that game.  We could do ZERO last year.  That won’t happen this year as the team will have pride on their mind.  But they will also have undefeated on their mind.  Remember, this is the 3rd of 5 games in 25 days.  Further, as much as I love this team, I will never pick them to go undefeated.  They will play ok today, but they won’t be crisp… and they will lose.  Vikings 24 – Falcons 20 (5-1)
  • Sunday, Oct 25th vs. Detroit 1:00 pm:  The Lions are another team I should feel sorry for… and I do more so than the Bears.  But that is mainly due to Stafford.  What do we get here?  Do the Falcons bounce back and beat a team you expect them to beat and make the playoffs, or does the grind start to wear on this aging team?  It will be interesting to see the battle of former UGA RB1’s.  In fact, that will be the difference.  Swift will add the run game that Stafford has not consistently had during his career while Gurley will show that injuries have taken their toll.  Gurley will never be what he was again, and the Falcons will continue to lament paying that overpriced loudmouth Devonta Freeman.  That move single-handedly destroyed the running game for a decade.  The Falcons lose… and that awesome feeling we had for 5 weeks starts to fade. Lions 28 – Falcons 24 (5-2)
  • Thursday, Oct 29th @ Carolina 8:20 pm:  Man, I’m tired already.  With only 3 days to recover, we take the short trip to Charlotte.  Just 11 days before we were undefeated and ready for playoff hype.  We were pumping our chests and telling our wives to “you betta’ put some respect on my name” (yeah, it didn’t go well for me either). sp5 Look, I obviously have no idea how any of this will go.  But if you don’t think our team can go 5-2 after starting last year 1-7 and then lose 2 straight after starting undefeated… well brother, you don’t know this team.  Go check your history and you will find Falcon’s lore littered with crazy starts and finishes.  The one mainstay is they always bring the hype and hope before the soul crushing let down.  This Thursday night we will want to pull our hair out once again.  Bridgewater will make just enough adjustments and our LB corps will be terrible tacklers and we will see the 3rd straight loss.  And yes… we will all start to panic.   Panthers 24 – Falcons 17 (5-3)
  • Sunday, Nov 8th vs. Denver 1:00 pm:  Finally!  We have made it to November.  The election is over (we probably won’t know who won yet), we are halfway through the season, and I predict fans will be sitting in the stands again.  No packed house… but 15,000 or so.  So, we started 5-0 and have lost the last 3.  This will truly be a defining game.  Another season without the playoffs will mean no DQ, no TD, and frankly… I wouldn’t be shocked to see everyone on the trade block (Matt, Julio, Jarrett).  This team has to win in the next 3 years or rebuild completely.  Even if they do win in the next 3 years, they MUST get younger everywhere.  I think they know that.  I think Matt knows that.  And Mr. Ice has the sand to make another stand.  Matt and Julio lead this team to a great offensive performance that inspires the rest of the squad.  The birds notch a convincing win that stops the panic for a bit and restores hope leading into the BYE.  Falcons 38 – Broncos 20 (6-3)
  • BYE – Great timing.
  • Sunday, Nov 22nd @ New Orleans 1:00 pm We get our old nemesis late this year.  We played them late last year as well with the 1st game on 10 November.  I won’t rehash it.  You know I hate this team.  You know I hate this city.  You know I hate their fans.  I would rather see the Gators win the national championship than see the Saints win at bingo.  sp6But I respect the voodoo they have on us.  You all know this will be anything from an absolute war to a one-sided blowout that either team could win.  It is Falcons/Saints and you NEVER know what is gonna happen.   I renew my prediction from 2019 and say, Drew Bress is injured, out, and we NEVER see him play the Falcons again.  The facts that he is older and this game is late in the season gives me even more reason to predict his downfall.  But don’t rejoice just yet.  Cue Mr. Winston.  Oh HELL!  Wouldn’t it just be our boys to see our archrival lose their signal caller only to see us lose to that idiot.  Yep!  He has been under the tutelage of the master and outgrown the mistakes he left in Tamps.  Ha!  Not today my friends.  I see Brees going out around game 6 and Winston playing well in 3 replacement games.  Until our Birds remind him how poor of a decision maker he is with Grady in his face.  Defense sets the stage with our DL terrorizing Winston into multiple picks and a sack fumble.  Birds win a game that is close early but gets out of hand late.  Falcons 31 – Saints 20 (7-3)
  • Sunday, Nov 29th vs. Las Vegas 1:00 pm: I had to stop myself from writing Oakland.  I guess I really don’t care that they moved to Vegas.  Are they any scarier in one city over the other?  Pundits love to talk about the Raaaaaiiiiddddeerrrzzzz.  But they haven’t been that team in decades.  Even the last time Chucky coached them, they weren’t mean.  They aren’t particularly good either.  They lost Marriota, leaving them Carr and Peterman at the helm.  I do like Ruggs as the RB this year.  I think we will see a team trying to establish the run game and hit play action off that success.  Inexplicably, they will.  Look, I hate predicting it too.  But read your Falcon’s history.  This coaching staff (just like the last) cannot sustain success.  They cannot out scheme nor outcoach anyone.  Today, chucky is the difference.  Raiders 20 – Falcons 17 (7-4)
  • Sunday, Dec 6th vs. New Orleans 1:00 pm: The Saints come to town still missing Mr. Brees.  It was just 2 weeks ago that we taught Mr. Winston a lesson and he followed that up with a second straight loss.  Sean Payton is also a better coach than Dan Quinn.  In fact, I will say he has easily been the best coach in the NFC South for at least the last 10 years.  He brings a Saints team desperate to keep playoff hope alive to our fair city and once again, shoves it straight up our arse.  Damnit!  I hate that guy.  Matt will be terrible and throw 3 picks and we also lose Gurley to injury for the rest of the season.  Winston scores 2 TDs throwing and 1 running and we get to witness his buffoonery on our field.   Saints 31 – Falcons 13 (7-5)
  • Sunday, Dec 13th @ San Diego 4:25 pm:  It is weird to have this meaningless game deep into the season.  We have finished with the Panthers and Saints already, and with just 4 games remaining, we fly to San Diego hoping to stay focused.  Even more, Mr. Brady is waiting for the last 2 of 3 after this game.  Finally, a flight to the west coast makes this the least disguised trap game in the history of football.  We might as well be the ACME Coyote chasing the San Diego Roadruners (side note, my step-daughter started at UTSA this fall and so I am a proud Roadrunner parent).sp8  Remember 2 games ago when I said Matt and Julio would not let this team down?  And then I predicted they would lose the next 2 games?  I have zero doubt in their talent.  I do, however, sometimes doubt their fire.  I don’t think they lack grit, but I think they defer to our coaches instead of being demonstrative likely a Brees, Brady, or Rodgers.  There is good and bad there.  Great leaders are good followers, but I think if Matt ever wins a Superbowl it will be because he takes over the whole team… coaches and all.  Maybe this game will show that.  San Diego is bad, so it shouldn’t matter.  If they can protect Matt from Bosa, we win.  I think we do enough in a bland kinda game.   Falcons 17 – Chargers 13 (8-5)
  • Sunday, Dec 20th vs. Tampa Bay 1:00 pm:  What do you think the odds are that Tom Brady plays in this game?  I’ll give you this, he knows how to keep from getting hit… on a Belichek team in a McDaniels’ offense.  I like the Bruce Arians hire.  He is a very good coach.  But I don’t believe in Brady’s arm anymore.  He has the mind still, but I don’t think he can get his body to put the ball where it needs to be.  Tampa has the skilled players, but if Tom can’t throw the ball accurately down the field 30-plus yard, who cares?  Their offense will be playing like they are in the redzone all year.  Everything will be within 30 yards.  Safeties will play up and it won’t matter how fast their WRs are.  The Falcons are aging, but this game will be about watching the “ageless” QB look old (if he is even playing this late in the season).   Falcons 27 – Bucs 16 (9-5)
  • Sunday, Dec 27th @ Kansas City 1:00 pm: Hey Kansas City…  Do you guys remember the movie, “The Rundown”.  It stars the Rock who is some type of bounty hunter.  He goes to the jungles of Brazil to bring back Sean William Scott (Stifler from American Pie).  Remember?  Well there is a scene where they come across the local resistance movement.  They are all small but ripped martial artists (think Brazilian tree ninjas) who want to fight the Rock.  It starts with the leader ripping off his shirt, looking at the Rock, and saying, “Hey Kansas City”.  If you haven’t seen the movie, about 4 or 5 of them beat the crap out of the Rock until he remembers that he IS the people’s champ and lays the smack down on their candy asses. sp7 In today’s game, we are the little rebel guys.  This will be a scary week to wait for.  Thankfully, Christmas will distract us and we will miss much of the prognosticating about our demise.  Then the game will start and for some reason, we will play like crazy for 3 quarters.  Then Patty Mahomes will remember who he is and whoop our candy ass.  This won’t be 28-3 bad, but it will conjure some memories… it will also lead to speculations about a rematch in this year’s Superbowl.  Don’t worry though.  Neither team makes the big game.  Chiefs 38 – Falcons 36 (9-6)
  • Sunday, Jan 3rd @ Tampa Bay 1:00 pm: Finally, the year comes to an end.  When it is all said and done, I think we will have had a pretty good time.  Hopefully, we have a vaccine, the election is done and not still in court, and fans are back in the stands in growing numbers.  Believe it or not, we won’t even need this game.  I predict the Panthers to be very bad (like I said, 4 wins maybe).  The Saints will lose Brees and Winston won’t be enough, and I don’t think the Bucs can win 8 games.  They will have success early, but teams will realize Brady is limited and adjust their defenses accordingly.  The Falcons will be stuck in the 4 seed with this game meaning nothing one way or the other.  We will win this game and face the 5 seed (the Lions… who will have a better record) in the first round of the playoffs.  Brady will later retire (as will Gronk) and the Bucs will look to draft a QB… or sign Aaron Rodgers!   Falcons 27 – Bucs 17 (10-6)

What’s your Predictions???

The New Atlanta Falcons


The Draft
Random Rambling Thoughts

by Med

Some common themes:

After our picks were made in the fourth round, Arno noted a common theme about the picks: “work ethic is high … They learned their lesson with Beasley.” Let’s hope so.

All the draftees were starters for at least two years and some much more than that.

No one was from UGA. To quote Gomer Pyle, “Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.”

There wasn’t any major trade down. Side note: I have to give TD credit that he did trade down 2 spots about 4 or 5 years ago. Maybe he’ll get really adventurous one day and move down 3 or 4 spots.

Some uncommon themes:

TD didn’t trade up anywhere.

No one was drafted from LSU.

Despite the approximately 4 year average (over the last 8 years) of drafting a TE from Stanford, no TE from Stanford was drafted. Side note: some might have wondered why I picked a Stanford TE in the mock draft contest. Now you know why.

Very little noise about any of the draftees being team captains.


We didn’t trade up? Shazam!

Positional Changes that might occur – training camp watch type things – that tie into the draftees.

Who will be the primary nickel CB and the primary outside CBs in nickel defenses? There are things about Terrell that make me think he could well be the best of Oliver, Sheffield, and Terrell for that position, but perhaps better to keep Terrell at outside CB and have one of the others be the primary nickel CB. I don’t lean one way or another at this time. Based on some recent piece by the folk spin company man “Beek”, maybe we can get the dreaded “small nickel” featuring two small free safeties, a SS, two CBs, and two small DEs for nickel and base defenses. You thought I was kidding? In the last few days, I’ve seen some writings that 2 FS and 1 SS is a “big nickel” package.

Base 5-Tech LDE/base 3-Tech DT rotation/nickel DT/1-Tech DT/dog walking or coffee serving duties. Questions include:

Will Marlon Davidson (1) play mostly a nickel DT and play some 5-Tech LDE in his rookie year or (2) be converted to strictly a 3-Tech DT for base defenses (spelling Jarret in base some) while also playing nickel DT?

Will Allen Bailey be told to gain some weight to be the primary back-up at 1-Tech DT, play the same roles as last year, or lose weight to be a better 5-Tech LDE? The Falcons have some history of trying similar things after all.

Where does Cominsky fit into everything? Is he going to be a 5-Tech LDE/nickel DT or be told to gain weight so he can play 3-Tech DT in base defenses?

Will Senat be released from the player protection program and at least be a dog walker or coffee server? Side note: inspired by Water Boy jokes. If something more, is he going to be a base 3-Tech DT or a base 1-Tech DT? I still have some hope for our prior 3rd round pick because he wasn’t cut last year or, so far, this year.

As the master of the obvious, I also note that Hennessey will compete to start at LG.


Who was in charge of the fourth round picks?

Seems like it might have been a door #1, door # 2, or door #3 scenario.

Behind door #1, TD was blindfolded and using a dartboard listing only 6th/7th/UDFA prospects.

Behind door #2, TD was supposed to be there, but it turned out to be TD’s bicycle repair guy. Here’s how that happened: somebody finally let TD know that the Falcons had a hole at SSLB and there were significant concerns about Neal’s health for SS resulting in TD turned to his previously always reliable bicycle repair guy about who to pick in the fourth round to try to address those concerns and TD then shoved him behind door #2.

Behind door #3, TD was sitting on a glamorous chair with a crown on his head, two ladies were fanning him and feeding him grapes, and TD was bellowing he had been betrayed by his subjects with no one following his orders to trade up and then saying: “I’ll show those peons why it would have been better if I had used the fourth round picks to trade up”.

Now back to the originally scheduled random rambling program of — well, mostly random ramblings.


Round One: CB A.J. Terrell

Played as a true freshman at Clemson and then was a 2 year starter including on the 2018 National Champion team and the 2019 runner-up National Champion.
6’1”, 195 lbs. – nice height and weight for an outside CB battling the bigger WRs. His weight is probably enough to let him hold up as a nickel CB – even though I think 200+ would be better.

Long speed based on Combine testing was an unofficial 4.42 (whatever unofficial means). That is faster than Oliver’s test score at the Combine. Whether Sheffield might be slower or faster than Terrell is unknown to me. Sheffield didn’t test at the Combine because he was coming off an injury and I couldn’t find anything about his speed after his college injury.

While Terrell didn’t have a good game against LSU and I am suspicious of the 103 degree fever excuse, many have pointed out you can’t judge based on just one bad game in a career. Heck, I average probably 2 or more bad posts per week and hope I am not entirely judged by those.

From a sketchy look at Terrell’s past, I thought the following might be of some relevance from the 2018 National Championship game when Clemson beat Alabama. Bear in mind that Mullen (a second round pick at #40 overall in 2019’s draft) was the other outside CB on that team and Clemson had a great college defensive line that year. Alabama had two WRs that ended up being drafted in the first round this year. Ruggs might have been hurt or something, but he had only 3 yards receiving and Jeudy had a lot at 139 yards receiving. So, combined they had under 150 yards receiving. In contrast, in the 2019 national championship game, Clemson didn’t have much of a pass rush besides Simmons and, when Simmons didn’t blitz or was controlled on a blitz, LSU’s passing offense was unstoppable by anyone Clemson had. Some other worthy stats from the 2018 National Championship Game, Terrell did pick off Tua once, had 6 unassisted tackles, and 2 assisted tackles. So, at least Terrell isn’t afraid to tackle.

NFL.com had Terrell ranked as 6th best CB and 40th best overall prospect When he was drafted, I thought the Falcons reached for Terrell merely because of him being the perceived best fit for the Falcons’ defensive scheme. I still think that, but there is no doubt the Falcons had a need for some type of additional CB in the draft. I would have preferred a trade down and gone for a hybrid nickel CB/SS (or even two of them) later in the draft, but, if you don’t get a reasonable offer on trading down, no GM is going to do it because they will get eaten up by the press and the fans.

Will Terrell likely play at least 80% of the defensive snaps in his rookie year? I think the answer to that is “yes”.


Round Two: 5-Tech DE/nickel DT Marlon Davidson who NFL.com designated as an “edge” defender.

Marlon Davidson is 6’3”, 303 pounds, ran a 5.04 in the 40 at the Combine (which seems decent, but not stunning for a 303 pound guy), only did 21 in the bench press (which seems low for a man claimed to have great upper body strength), and did not participate in anything else at the Combine testing.

Anyone wonder why I don’t like the use of “edge” to define a player’s position?

Four year starter at Auburn (or, as Flo so cutely nicknamed it, “Aubarn”), with everything I have found indicating he was a strong side DE and nickel DT.

I have to admit I didn’t carefully look at many of the D line prospects for 2nd round picks because I thought the Falcons would almost certainly have to go SSLB in the 2nd. Nonetheless, despite my disappointment at not drafting a SSLB in the 2nd, I liked the pick of Davidson when it happened. Some more research and thinking led to me like the pick even more.

I ran across some posts that claimed Davidson only played 51% of the defensive snaps when teams ran against Auburn. I have no idea if that is true, but, even if it is, the following stats get even more impressive. Davidson had 29 solo tackles, 19 assisted tackles, and 12.5 TFL or 11.5 TFL (depends on the source as to which). Not too shabby since the widely acclaimed DT Brown had 12.5 TFL.

While Brown probably got double teamed more than Davidson, Davidson did lead Auburn with 7.5 sacks. Very nice sack number for a big guy. That works out to more than one every other game.

After thinking to look at some history on Terrell and having some memory that Auburn gave LSU quite a fight in 2019, I took a look at some LSU scores for the 2019 season to maybe make a random rambling guess about the combined effect of Brown, Davidson, and other Auburn defenders and came away very impressed. Auburn held LSU to only 23 points (least amount scored by LSU) and narrowly lost 23-20. The next best three teams in defending LSU’s incredible offense during the regular season were Mississippi State (which only gave up 36 points), Georgia (which only gave up 37 points), and Alabama (which only gave up 46 points – twice what Auburn allowed). While not even close to being scientific or supported by data tied to Davidson in that game, my gut tells me that Davidson was a key part of what Auburn did.

Will Davidson play at least 70% of the defensive snaps in his rookie year? Unless there is some sort of injury, I doubt it due to the common use of many different players along the defensive line and Davidson being a rookie whose best NFL positions(s) are not clear at this time. So many options exist for what might be the best NFL position(s) for Davidson. As sort of an outside the box thought, I compared Davidson’s final college year stats at an SEC school against the Saints’ pro bowler left DE Cam Jordan final college year at California in the PAC 12. Cam Jordan (who was a first rounder in his draft class) weighed less (287 pounds), had a 4.78 in the 40, and did 25 in the bench press at the Combine. Cam Jordan had 33 solo tackles, 29 assisted tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 5.5 sacks in his final college year. The SEC has been tougher than the PAC 12 for a lot of years. Could the Falcons decide to get Davidson to lose some weight which should automatically turn into some increase in speed and become a base 5-Tech LDE/nickel DT in the NFL? Could the Falcons instead work to have Davidson increase lower body strength and mass for becoming strictly a 3-Tech/sometimes 1-Tech DT similar to Jarrett?


Round Three: C/maybe OG Matt Hennessy

First off, there’s no doubt the Falcons had to draft a Matt. We were down to just one.

Three year starter.

I won’t be having nightmares (mostly caused by flashbacks to Mike Person and others about 5 years ago) about who plays C if Mack gets hurt. Big bonus points for that.

Satisfies a Dewey Principle. If Hennessey ends up being good enough to win the starting LG spot this year, bonus points for that also. Even if Hennessey doesn’t, a good C for the future seems to be in hand.

I took a quick look at some pay figures at OTC about what NFL teams pay veteran starting Cs, LGs, and RGs. While I was too lazy to do precise math to be completely mathematical about the following, my averaging numbers at a glance is usually pretty good (but didn’t go bet money I did well that time). It looked to me like the top veteran centers averaged more pay per year than the top veteran LGS and veteran RGs did. To me, that makes sense for several reasons. One is that the C actually has to hike the ball correctly. Another is that the C is in the best position to make offensive line calls (unless a QB is doing that). Another is that a C is usually in position to help the weakest OG or double team with either OG. I could go on, but then this might turn into a ramble.

Will Hennessey play even significant snaps this year (assuming no injury to Mack)? I asked my sometimes malfunctioning crystal ball and got the answer of “why are you asking me when the answer is so obvious even you could figure it out – duhhh, only if he wins the LG spot.” I wonder if I can get a nicer crystal ball? Anyone know of a good shop with a used crystal ball that maybe has a nice personality? Just networking of course.

Round Four:

You held your breath expecting and hoping for more?

More likely, you were just happy it was over for a while.

Signing off for now. To sort of quote a famous guy I had the pleasure of meeting for a few minutes many years ago: “ know when to fold the cards.” RIP Kenny Rogers.








Time to Reset




Wes Schweitzer OG to Redskins


De’Vondre Campbell LB to Cardinals


Desmond Trufant CB to Lions


Vic Beasley DE to Titans


Devonta Freeman RB free agent


Austin Hooper TE to Browns


Ty Sambrailo OT free agent


Luke Stocker TE free agent



Todd Gurley RB from Rams


Hayden Hurst TE from Ravens


Dante Fowler OLB from Rams


Justin McCray OG from Browns


Laquon Treadwell WR from Vikings


Edmund Robnson LB from XFL


Khari Lee TE from XFL


Josh Hawkins CB from XFL


28 – 3 : Beyond Kyle Shanahan


It wore us out. We tried to get past it. But like a zombie that refuses to go down, in today’s Super Bowl coverage the story lurches upright again.

In 2015 we called him arrogant, stubborn, Shanacant, an ego maniac. And remember those three straight passes to Roddy White? They sure appeared to be an attempt to humiliate the Ring of Honor wide receiver and mock the fans.

Here’s a lenghty quote from a Matthew Chambers article which echoes the criticisms then current in the Cage:

‘After Shanahan forced his way out of Cleveland, Tom Reed of Cleveland.com got the following quote regarding friction throughout the team.

“Kyle knows ball, but he is just so petty and he picks fights and holds grudges over small stuff,” the source said. “He’s a mountain out of a molehill guy, and he’s got entitlement syndrome. That’s why we ended up hiring all of his close friends and buddies, so no one can challenge him. But it makes you worse in the long run, because there is no accountability.”

Shanahan of course, asked to be let out of his contract after only one season with the Browns. Shanahan appears to have had a toxic impact in both Washington and Cleveland, and things are off to a stumbling start in Atlanta. If we are debating whether the problem is either Matt Ryan or Kyle Shanahan, I think Shanahan’s prior stops should be considered. Shanahan trying to make Ryan fit into his offensive scheme and running into trouble would make much more sense than Matt Ryan forgetting how to play quarterback at a high level.

What is Shanahan’s plan? To at some point get a quarterback to act like 2010 Matt Schaub? He seems to outright refuse to correctly utilize Ryan, and is wasting away prime years for Ryan and Julio Jones. Based on his history, the only fix can be made by Dan Quinn. Will he get rid of Shanahan? He appears to have turned the offense entirely over to someone who refuses to adjust his scheme to the team’s veteran quarterback. This looks to be a bad hire, and Quinn needs to fix this sooner rather than later. With the early returns on Shanahan, Quinn may still be in the learning process as a rookie head coach.

If Quinn has got what it takes to win over the long-term, he will jettison Shanahan.’

Then Kyle Shanahan proceeded to craft the Falcons offense into one of the top five in NFL history.

Fans begrudgingly accepted, and finally applauded the run… until 28-3.

Here’s what Roddy White had to say about it: “I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that team because I probably literally would’ve fought him. You destroyed a dream for a city. … It’s bigger than me. The city of Atlanta needed that championship, and you had it.”


Shanahan defends his culpability with, “…the whole narrative of: if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case.” You can read what he will admit to here.

As far a Quinn goes on Shan’s playcalling, he’s never backed off the adage, ya gotta dance with the one who brung ya: “I won’t apologize for how aggressive we play.” He blames the collapse on the number of plays his D had to withstand.

Now we’re three years out and it appears that Shanahan’s stint with the Falcons provided the perfect training for his HC position with the 49ers: Can you say, “Stress the run game?”

I thought his mannerisms would prevent him from team building as a head coach. Interesting he admitted learning from Quinn in that regard. The 49ers players love him.

Now we see a team poised to take the Lombardi that isn’t necessarily QB driven like the Chiefs are with Mahomes. And we can see star players in various roles, for example Kittle getting receiving targets to beat the Saints, and then Kittle blocking the hail out of the Green Bay defense. Or Garoppolo throwing 35 passes one week to beat the Saints, and then 8 (!) passes to beat Green Bay.

No doubt the 49ers have earned this opportunity in part through Shanahan’s schooling with the Falcons. Any satisfaction in that knowledge, Cagers? For me, the Shanahan wound lingers. And I am not a little satisfied that Shanahan is 0-1 against the humbled Falcons beating them in their house with playoff seeding on the line.

28-3? I’ll take 29-22. Associated Press: Matt Ryan outshined his former offensive coordinator in an MVP-type fashion Kyle Shanahan knows oh so well.


Quinn Scoops Gold from 49ers


They were coming off a 4-12 season, and now ready to finally clinch their first playoff spot in years. Here’s the 49ers, with a great chance to secure the #1 seed in the NFC, looking pumped, jacked, and ready to battle against our Atlanta Falcons. Shan’s guys had just shocked the 10-2 Saints on their own turf, and now, after the gratuitous “this is the Falcons’ super bowl” warning to his complacent (unlikely) squad, it was time to take care of business.

True to form, the Falcons mistakes began to overwhelm their promise. Matt Ryan was clearly frustrated with the repeated offensive holding penalties, dooming drive after drive to desperate down and distances. George Kittle demonstrated a Herculean version of Christian McCaffrey, bulldozing yards at will. Our return specialist, Kenjon Barner, probably frustrated with a previous holding penalty that nullified a great runback, tried to do too much, coughing up the ball for an easy 49ers score. Though the Falcons pass rush scored some hits, those hits were deemed personal fouls, giving QB Jimmy Garoppolo extra chances. If this team wanted to play well enough to save the HC’s job, the effort was, shall we say, less than convincing.


And there stood Kyle Shanahan, plotting inscrutable strategies. How in Freddy Falcon’s name could Dirk Koetter even try to match his offensive genius? Shan’s crew ran a balanced pass/run game, exactly what the Falcons needed but couldn’t themselves achieve.

So, as we all figured, the Falcons’ 2019 collapse met its final horrific crescendo on this gloomy day in San Francisco. Dan Quinn would start penciling in his vacation plans. Thomas Dimitroff would start assembling the staff for his new position as Falcons stationary bicycle coordinator (SBC).

Except we won.


With both Lindstrom and McGary on the field, perhaps making the o-line just that necessary (if tiny) bit better, does this make a case for Dimitroff’s managerial savvy? With Shanahan now looking like he’s still learning the ropes, does that make a case for Quinn’s experience and leadership?

Two questions for the Cage:

Will this win save their jobs?

Should this win save their jobs?

Olamide Zaccheaus


Jackson, who was beaten on the long touchdown play, blamed the coaches for calling an all-out blitz that left the cornerbacks on their own.
“We sent everybody,” he griped. “Zero coverage. No help. Backed up. With a quarterback like that? I don’t care if you’re Champ Bailey or any of those cornerbacks on the 100 (greatest players in NFL history) list, that’s a play that’s hard to make for any guy. Especially with a quarterback like Matt Ryan.”

Kelsey Conway:

“I was trying to track the ball and couldn’t see until the last second. I’m just grateful I found it and just made a play for the team,” Zaccheaus said.

According to Julio Jones: “I’m very, very happy for him. His first catch, a touchdown, it’s amazing,” Jones said. “He’s been working tremendously hard, giving the defense looks at practice and then having a shot in the game when his number is called to produce, it’s amazing.”

“It’s just been a grind, really,” Zaccheaus said. “Undrafted, overlooked, a lot of things not going my way, but I just know I’m confident in what I can do and I just feel like I can help the team in any way I can.”

Dirk Takes Bucs Bullet


After the Panthers game, Dirk Koetter was asked if he anticipated ’emotions’ on meeting his former team the Bucs on Sunday. He said: “I’m sure there will be at the end of the week…. You’ll see some people you’re fond of, and some that you’re not.” He said it with a chuckle, but you know there’s got to be some history.

Back in 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as their new head coach. The Bucs promptly beat the Falcons three straight times. Then Koetter’s Bucs lost the next five. Yet Dan Quinn said he hired Koetter because his teams were difficult to defend. What gives?

To be fair, in the last three contests the Bucs lost to the Falcons by only five points or fewer. Still, that’s no great endorsement for the hire, especially since Tampa Bay went on to sack the man after another 5-11 season.

So, what’s the explanation for Quinn’s favorable take in the face of Koetter’s poor record? Maybe Koetter actually did pretty good given the guys he had to work with?

One might cite the fact that in nfl.com’s team-by-team breakdown of Top 100 Players of 2018, the Bucs landed not a single player. Umm, not Mike Evans? Jason Pierre-Paul? Or one could take the easy route and blame Jameis Winston’s interception rate.

At this point last year, the Bucs quarterback had played in five games, recording just one win. In those five games, he’d already thrown eleven interceptions. Chalk that up for lack of playing time? Sure, why not. Then this year, after ten games, Winston has proceeded to toss eighteen INTs (compared to opponents’ six).

So their record stands at 3-7 now, exactly the same as last year. Alas– this is with replacing Koetter with the new and improved coaching staff. Now Bruce Arians is under fire– as he should be.

Just like Koetter was under fire, justifiably. But you just can’t help wondering if certain players make things a little more difficult.

The end of last years’ game was bizarre. That’s better than nightmarish, which it very well could have been.