Atlanta Falcons Sean Weatherspoon Gone for the Year

****Breaking News: Atlanta Falcons to be Featured on HBO Hard Knocks this Summer****

What’s Next for Spoon and the 2014 LB Corps?

Tough Break for #56


After the the great injury curse of 2013, Falcons fans got their first bitter pill of the 2014 season: LB Sean Weatherspoon is out for the season. He tore his Achilles Heel in the process of healing his injured knee that kept him out for most of the 2013 season and many believed was the main reason for his ineffective play. It brings somewhat of a disappointing conclusion to a very promising career. The question now turns to: what’s next?

Early Hype and Promise, Few Results

No Injury @ Mizzou

Spoon was an immediate fan favorite when he was drafted because he brought intensity, energy, and excitement to a Falcons defense in sore need of one. He was undeniably the best linebacker coming out in the 2010 NFL Draft. If anyone would like to dump on the pick, go take a glance at his college stats (406 tackles, 44 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 21 passes defensed, 4 INTs, 2 TDs). He was a true stud coming out. As a first round draft pick, he only started 5 games and played in a total of 11 (a gloomy omen in hindsight). He made minimal impact, pulling down 42 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass defensed.

One Year a Career Doesn’t Make

Worrilow Immediately Steps In

Spoon really increased hope in his potential “breakout” season of 2011. He had 82 tackles, 4 sacks, and 8 passes defensed. Some thought he was deserving of a Pro Bowl year, but in the age of 3-4 OLB’s, the days of 4-3 OLB’s making All-Pro have seemingly come to an end. Many felt that it was the start to an amazing career, but unfortunately that was the pinnacle. His totals dropped across the board in tackles (70), sacks (3), and passes defensed (4). He did pull down his first career INT. That season saw him miss 3 more games as well. Then last year was the culmination, where he was ineffective all season even before he was shutdown for the year. 38 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 passes defensed, 1 interception for a TD.

Injury Issues from the Start

In 4 years time, the biggest complaint is the amount of time that Weatherspoon has missed due to injury, a surprise coming out of college since he played in all 52 games while at Missouri. But, for whatever reason and it happens many times, once he got to the NFL he had major injury issues. His rookie year he only started 5 games, but he missed 5 the whole season. He made all 16 starts in 2011, not coincidentally enough his best year. He missed 3 games in 2012, and then 9 games last year. Out of 64 possible starts in 4 years, Weatherspoon only started 41 games (64% starting percentage). Injuries happen, but even when Weatherspoon was fully healthy, he’s never lived up to his potential.

Probably Not the End, but…………

Dent has an Opening

Sean Weatherspoon has probably not seen the end of his chances to remain a Falcon and get his career back on track, but it’s going to obviously be much,much harder going forward. The Falcons really have no downside in bringing him back on a one year deal after his contract expires at the end of 2014. They’ve already invested a 1st round pick in him and will likely be instrumental in his rehabilitation process and it just makes too much sense. They showed they would do the right thing with Corey Peters when he suffered a crushingly late injury in game 15 right before he hit free agency. It would benefit Spoon by staying around the organization he’s most familiar with in trying to revive his career. It’s a win-win across the board. The problem, however, is Weatherspoon finding his way back in the starting lineup after two consecutive injuries and players starting in his absence (Worrilow, Bartu) and a slew of rookies looking to fill the newly created void (Prince Shembo, Yamin Smallwood).

How Much will Spoon be Missed?

Baru Might be Big Winner

Honestly, that’s a hard question to answer at the moment. He simply never became the “playmaking LB” that many were waiting for him to become. Solid? Yes. Great? Definitely not. As mentioned above, he had a stellar year, but didn’t become what many expected him to, in terms of sacks, passes defensed, or interceptions. Maybe it was a function of coaching, scheme, and strategy that hindered his NFL production. But the fact that Joplo Bartu, as an undrafted free agent, tallied almost half the sacks (3.5) in one year that Weatherspoon did in four (8) seems to say that he shouldn’t be missed as much as originally thought. If we’re talking 2011, that’s a different story, but the last two seasons he just hasn’t produced as he was projected to when taken with 19th overall draft pick.

Who Steps Up?

This may seem comically optimistic, but right now it appears the Falcons might just be OK. Weatherspoon only played 7 games in 2013 and was largely ineffective when he did play. That opened the door for Worrilow and Bartu and they took full advantage of it. While some fans don’t believe the “hype” on Worrilow, he had a pretty fantastic start for an undrafted free agent. The former Blue Hen pulled down 127 tackles, 2 sacks (should’ve been 3 with that amazing near sack he had on Cam Newton in the final game), and 1 pass defensed, and that was in 12 games. Sure, he’s got a long ways to go before he nears perfection, but for a first year player that wasn’t even worthy of a draft pick, he’s shown great promise going forward.

Good Chance Spoon will Stay a Falcon in 2015

Many thought Jolpo Bartu might be vying for a job on the outside, where his athleticism could pay off. But with Spoon gone for the year and plenty of competition on the outside (Massaquoi, Biermann, Umenyiora, Starr, Spruill), Bartu likely could be moving back inside to join Worrilow as the lead candidates to fill the void, and that’s not really that bad looking forward. Bartu had more sacks in year 1 than every year of Spoon’s career except for his best year. The forgotten man is 2011 3rd round pick Akeem Dent. That’s due to the fact that he was beat out by two undrafted free agents last year and hasn’t done much of anything since being a Falcon. It doesn’t mean he can’t make the move, but most aren’t counting on it.

Should Falcons Bring in a Veteran Free Agent?

The short answer should be NO, but looking at a tweet sent out by an NFL writer, it included several LB’s that are available. That list included Desmond Bishop, Pat Angerer, Dan Connor, Stewart Bradley, Paris Lenon, and Jonathan Vilma. These guys are either washed up or never were. If they were worth much, they wouldn’t be unemployed. It’s time to roll with what the Falcons have, and the cupboard luckily isn’t bare.

188 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons Sean Weatherspoon Gone for the Year

  1. Seminole Warrior

    Fin has nothing but love and respect for the team. He does harbor elements of bitterness (Jamie Dukes) or selfishness (Deion Sanders). His insights have always been honest and for the most part, on target. This will be very interesting to watch.

  2. JB Falcon

    Monday, June 16 – Physicals.
    –Tuesday, June 17 — Day One: Mandatory minicamp (Open to Public, 3:30 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.).
    –Wednesday, June 18 – Day Two: Mandatory minicamp (Open to Public, 3:30 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.).
    –Thursday, June 19 – Day Three: Mandatory minicamp. (Offseason program ends for veterans).
    –June 22-28 – Rookie Symposium
    TBA – (Late July) – Report to Training camp.
    PRACTICES WITH TEXANS — Wednesday, August 13 and Thursday, August 14.

  3. John Waynesworld

    Thanks SW, JB.

    Finneran can be a bit grouchy at times, and he is generally honest to a fault. I think we all believe he is right about Smith and his uptightedness, and just by the age factor he’s probably correct as far as SJ39. But the way he talks about Weatherspoon you would think Brian wants him in the Falcons Hall of Fame next year. Not so fast, my Finn.

    At least Finneran has real inside info on Hawley at Center (“…Ryan likes Hawley a lot.”). That’s not news that Ledbetter could conjure up.

  4. John Waynesworld


    Tony Gwynn vs:

    Smoltz .462 (30-for-65) 1 K
    Maddux .429 (39-for-91) 0 K
    Glavine .312 (29-or-93) 2 K

    He also only had 2 Ks against Pedro Martinez & Kurt Shilling…combined.

  5. John Waynesworld

    Well it looks like I will have to put in my vacation days before the dates are announced. Bummer.

    I will put it to the FalconsCage….

    Which week would you guess for the best Falcons camp visit(s)? AUG 4-8 or AUG 11-15?

    I know the Texans are tentatively scheduled for AUG 13 & 14, but there should also be a full week before the Texans meetup that includes a week of practice that finishes up with the local Friday Night Lights. Here’s the 2013 schedule:

    I did notice that the inter-squad practices are a week off from last year, maybe because of the delayed NYC draft? Just a guess.

    Camp veterans are many here in the FalconsCage. I welcome your thoughts or advice.

  6. JB Falcon

    JW, If I had that opportunity I think I would take the 4-8th, getting to see us against another team instead of each other.

  7. Arno

    Vaughn McClure / 11-03-13 / Immediately after Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith wrapped up his postgame news conference on Sunday, a recognizable voice yelled “Smitty, Smitty,” from the back of the room.

    The fact that team owner Arthur Blank summoned Smith in such a manner made you wonder exactly what Blank had on his mind, particularly after watching his team fall to 2-6. But as a red-faced Smith turned to respond, Blank moved closer and embraced the coach like a long lost son.

    Smith needed a hug, indeed.

    For all the optimism Smith and rest of the Falcons had entering Week 9, it all seemed to go for naught following a 34-10 thumping at the hands of NFC South foe Carolina.

    The ‘uptight’ comment from Finneran, to me, is taken in the above context. Until Smith fails, the team is completely in his hands. Blank will take a hands-off but prove-it-to-me stance this year. It will be more of the same uptight coaching from Smith. As a loyal fan, I continue to hope the team outshines its coach.

  8. Ken Strickland

    Damn SEMINOLE WARRIOR-The same thing happened to me. I looked it up on SB Nation & saw where he succumbed to cancer after a long battle. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, that killer has already invaded my body & could just as easily take me out. I couln’t hold back my emotions. And as far as Walter Payton is concern, I cried like a baby while watching a tribute to him held at Soldier Field. Friends, teammates & foe all spoke to what they thought of him. What was most touching to me was how everyone spent their time at the podium talking about Walter Payton the MAN, the father the person rather than the football player.

    When one of his teammates said he told his son he wanted him to be better than he was, he wanted him to be just like Walter Payton. I fell apart at that point because that to me was the ultimate tribute to the ultimate man, human being, father & success businessman we all knew as “SWEETNESS.” What hurts the most is how the same pride that drove him to become so great in so many ways, also shortened his life by making him keep his condition hidden from the public until it was too late for him to ask for & receive the new kidney he needed.

    It was a great loss that didn’t have to happen, at least as soon as it did. I go back to the Oncologist next Monday for tests to see if I still have cancer. The closer that date comes, the more I seem to be affect by the death of someone from cancer. I’ve never smoked, done any type of illegal drugs, or touched alcohol in over 31yrs, but obviously that doesn’t matter at this point in my life. My grandfather was a devout Braves fan who didn’t live to see them win their 1st World Series. If I die before the Falcons win a Super Bowl, I’m going to haunt them in the after life.

  9. Ken Strickland


    CAGERS-this is a very interesting article that gives some insight into the limitless possibilities for this DEF. It lets you know the potential impact NT Soliai & DE Jackson can & will likely have on the ability & success of our entire DEF, especially our pass rush. I just can’t help but believe DTs Peters, Babineaux & Hageman will be more productive using their inside moves & techniques as 3/4 DEs where they’ll play very close to where they’d play as 4/3 DTs, but with far more room to operate outside.

    Peters & Babs have both proven to be decent penetrators as DTs, so they should be even more capable penetrators as 3/4 DEs. If LBs Massaquoi, Shembo, Bartu & Starr, along with DEs Goodman, Babineaux & Peters, prove to be solid pass rushers, will that mean Osi might be cut?

  10. JB Falcon

    JJ “6:02 GOAL!” So I change over there, not knowing a thing about soccer. Still waiting………

  11. JB Falcon

    So, I watch for an hour and a half, nothing. Go do an errand for 20 minutes and now it’s 2-1!!
    Evidently I can stop the scoring by watching.

  12. JB Falcon

    I’m guessing the game ended at 8 pm and we won. What now? Maaybe I should just stick to football.

  13. Arno


    As it may be tough for some of us to even know where to begin to appreciate soccer, here’s one place to start: A World Cup ‘pitch’ can measure 120 x 80 yards. The athleticism and fitness required to play 45 minutes continuously, sprinting to the ball and then to make quality moves, lungs bursting, is impressive. In the USA’s win over Ghana, fatigue was a huge factor– our guys tiring under relentless pressure from them. You could see how our possessions were more and more fragmented as the game wore on. But thanks to excellent defensive work by midfielder Jermaine Jones and others, their attacks weren’t enough.

  14. JB Falcon

    Based on the last twelve hours of comments and posts I’d have to assume that soccer is not as totally understood as football, especially on this blog. I will be the first to admit that I have not had enough interest in the game to bother even learning the details of the game. Looks a little like basketball with a lot less scoring and way too much running around. I’m glad the USA won!
    Anyway, there will the an “open to the public” OTA at 2:30 this afternoon and we should start hearing some football feedback. Maybe it’s just me but it seems like the new NFLPA rules have really cut back on what we can and can’t do in order to prepare for a football season. Of course, all teams must play under the same rules.

  15. Arno

    JB– While soccer is my other-than-Falcons passion, I don’t understand one molecule’s worth of motorsports. After an in-depth convo with an owner/racer/mechanic, the main thing I got was his love for the machines. If there’s a motorsports for dummys introduction, I’d take a look at it.

  16. Ken Strickland

    CAGERS-If you’ll just read the 1st paragraph you’ll see a perfect example of the stupid bias that’s constantly leveled at the Falcons & no one else.
    This clown claims the Saints have solidified & upgraded their OFF & DEF, but he can’t say how. Have they replaced their most versatile & productive OFF players, RB/KR/PR DSproles? They’ll replace WR Moore with a rookie, & as you would expect, there’s no doubt whatsoever about him making an instant adjustment to the NFL & becoming an immediate success.

    Do this dunce really think CB CBailey is an upgrade over JGreer, who was their best CB? While FS JByrd is an upgrade over RHarper, what about the distinct possibility of him having difficultly getting up to par after coming off back surgery & having to adjust to a new DEF system & teammates? I guess since he’s not associated with the Falcons, he’s expected to jump off the operating table suit up & play at a Pro Bowl level from day 1. And who will replace the starting LB they lost? This fool somehow sees all of this as upgrading & solidifying their OFF & DEF.

    And haven’t the Bucs done a good job in FA & the draft the past 2yrs, & to no avail? Didn’t they just fire their coaching staff after finishing 4-12? And don’t they have the same QB that led their dead last rated OFF?

    QB CNewton & the Panthers finished 29th in passing OFF even with their top 3 WRs & top 2 OLinemen. Apparently CNewton & their passing OFF are expected to do just as well without them. It appears there’s no doubt about rookie WRs & OLinemen being able to succeed immediately as long as they’re not playing for the Falcons. There are those who actually question OT JMathews’ ability to have an immediate impact & add improvement to the OL, & he’s rated the best OT in this draft. Asomoah is a proven commodity, yet people are questioning his ability to add improvement to the OL. And even with the solid job OC JHawley did last yr with absolutely no help at RG or RT, there are questions about his ability to add improvement to the OL.

    1. bangkapi ajarn

      Ken – I think this says it all regards their expertise in evaluating the Falcons – “Will Weatherspoon”????????????

      Who replaces Will Weatherspoon?

      The loss of Weatherspoon is not as shocking as it could have been since he has missed 12 games over the last two seasons, but he is still an important part of the defense. There is no player listed as his replacement on the depth chart. It is possible Akeem Dent will move into that role.

  17. Hamad Meander

    I’m totally not interested in seeing Brandon Flowers in a Falcons uniform. Seems to me we have the cornerback position wrapped up and full, to the point of surprise we drafted one at all. Evidently Ricardo Allen is a quality CB, and Josh Wilson is supposed to be pretty good too. I think with Trufant, Alford, McClain (?), Wilson, Allen, and Javier Arenas, we should be just fine. No way we carry (6) CBs on the final 53 roster anyway.

  18. Seminole Warrior

    K Strick

    As that old classic hymn goes, I had a little talk with Jesus. And I told him about the troubles my friend is having with his battle and fear of cancer.
    I was left assured that everything is going to be alright. And I promise, friend, this Warrior is always at your side in faith and confidence that we will emerge with THE victory over this dreaded foe.


    Concur with the Flowers assessment.


    Like you, I remain loyal but cautious. Been left at the alter a little too much lately.

  19. Seminole Warrior

    JB F

    The Tee Pee would like to see us work out against the Texans for two reasons; it is a solid defensive unit and it will give us a solid assessment of how our revamped line stands up against a premier pass rush. Romeo Crennel is in his first year at the controls of the defense and he is well known for his 3-4 units.

    Secondly, we will get a chance to see how our run defense may look against a team that is solid in its rushing attack.

  20. Ken Strickland

    BANGKAPI AJARN-That says it all doesn’t it? We just drafted 4 LBs, plus the same LB that replaced Spoon last yr after suffering a season ending injury is still on the roster. How hard is it to figure out how we’re going to replace him again this yr?

    HAMAD MEANDER-The reason we’re considering adding Flowers is to add more leadership & veteran presence, plus we’ll be running a lot of 4 & 5 CB formations in our nickel, big nickel & dime packages. What we’ll need fewer of are DTs, since we’ll be running a lot more 3/4 DEF sets. We have several 3/4 DEs that can play DT & several 3/4 LBs that can play DE.

    With our change to the 3/4 DEF scheme, which moves Massaquoi to 3/4 rush LB, I’m expecting him to have a season similar to what former Falcon 4/3 DE JAbraham & Saints 4/3 DE CJordan had last yr after both were switched to 3/4 rush OLBs. As far as being an edge pass rusher, I seriously believe OLB Starr will prove to be far superior to Biermann, & will likely take over his starting spot at some point in the future. Bartu also seems to be a better cover LB than Biermann as well, which means the emergence of those 2 could signal the end of Biermann’s career as a Falcon.

  21. Hamad Meander

    Ken – I didn’t understand the drafting of (4) linebackers, but I sure feel better about it now. I believe the two 7th rounders are going to both make the team and be significant contributors. I can’t believe we got Smallwood in the 7th still……

    I think that Biermann, Umenyiora, and Weatherspoon are all gone by next year, and possibly sooner.

    I can’t express how excited I am that we are running the 3-4 too. I can’t wait to tell Mike Smith.

  22. Paddy O

    SW: I felt the same exact way about Tony Gwynn. He was not only a terrific player who seemed to play way better than he should have, he had such a compelling voice and a decency about him. You really want those folks to live long, happy and prosperous lives. His death really hit me hard – plus, he is only 5 years older than I.

  23. Paddy O

    Gwynn appeared to be a disciple of Walt Hriniak and hit a lot like Rod Carew. I was stunned when Walter Payton got sick. I was also heavily depressed when Kirby Puckett – at a VERY young age passed. You hope decent people are blessed with a peaceful long life. Wish news had notified the public about Gwynn being sick. I honestly thought he was still coaching college baseball.


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