Atlanta Falcons Hard Knocks Recap

Real Action Awaits on Friday vs. Dolphins

Decent Episode

So this is what we’ve all been waiting for……… inside glimpse into the window of this Atlanta Falcons organization and how it’s run. Specifically, the interaction of Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, and Arthur Blank. Even though it will be heavily edited for the “wow factor” and TV ratings, it still should offer some insight into the inner workings at Flowery Branch. We’ve all had our guesses and there won’t likely be any “smoking gun” or lightning bolt moments, but it will still be nice to see. Here we go………….

Joe Hawley’s Definitely Got a Chip on his Shoulder

Well, we really didn’t need Hard Knocks to tell us that, but he talked about a rookie “calling him out.” Gotta love the confidence from undrafted rookie Jacques Smith not being afraid to take anyone on the team, including Hawley and got into it with Ryan Schrader.

Less than Inspirational

This won’t be a “bag on Mike Smith” article, but if you’re looking for someone to speak with purpose, passion, and intensity, Smith is not your guy. This is not to say that all coaches have to be great speakers, but in the first meeting with his coaching staff, you might as well be listening to a robot. “I don’t believe we’re not a tough football team, because anyone who plays in the NFL is tough.” Wow. Talk about setting that high expectation bar………….just getting into the league makes you tough. “Tough, Smart Football Team” is the mantra. Let’s see………..

First Cameo’s

Bear Pascoe on the Ranch. Steven Jackson making Art. Tyler Starr working hard. Harry Douglas packing pags with his wife, and of course…………Kroy and Kim Biermann watching their own damn reality show. “Who’s John Elway?” Oh no………. this could be bad.

Smitty Redeems

Talking to the rookies, Smitty asks about the rookies, their families, and tells Devonta Freeman, “well shit son, you gotta go to work.” Good stuff. And then asks Tyler Starr, “where’d you get that damn hat?” Funny.

First Team Meeting

If players are waiting on Coach Smith to get pumped and inspired from their team meetings, that just ain’t gonna happen. Mono-tone and just very “going through the motions” feel to it.

And the Roddy White Show…………

Some pretty funny banter between White and William Moore. Biermann and Jake Matthews getting into it, but honestly #71 was getting his ass whipped by the first round draft pick. And for chrissake, can we please not make this the “Kim and Kroy” show. First 20 minutes we’ve seen her all over and in the camera. This isn’t the Real Housewives of Flowery Branch.

Before and After

Coach Smith had before and after pics of when season ended and training camp begins. Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu are beasts and Peter Konz………looked about the same, as is evident by him getting beaten like a drum in training camp.  Look at Mike Smith rocking the ‘stache!. Wow. A few funny pics with Matt Bryant and Joe Hawley. Coach Smith then goes to show the difference between 2008 and 2013 training camp and how poor the quality had dropped. Shows good analytical skills and is objective about his shortcomings. Takes complete responsibility for last year’s collapse.

Mike Tice and Bryan Cox

Obviously brought in for their toughness and Tice makes a major dig at how there was spider webs growing on the offensive line sleds. It was nice to see some old school “Oklahoma” drills with one on one pure football. Bet it’s been a few years since they did those drills. Several fights blow up and Ryan Schraeder just unloads on Smith after he got in Hawley’s face. The attitude definitely seems to be where it needs to be.

Steven Jackson Gets Hurt

Coach Smith is talking with RB coach Gerald Brown about Steven Jackson getting hurt and they seem surprised. C’mon now. What are you expecting from a 31 year old running back who has over 10,000 yards on his tires. But immediately, it goes to rookie Devonta Freeman immediately heading to top of depth chart. No Antone Smith? I know you’re shocked………about the Jackson injury and the “competition.”

Jerry Retires

It came as a shock to everyone and even his teammates, but you could almost see it in his eyes that he was done. He was done and that certainly his choice and prerogative, but it was odd how seemingly detached he was from the team and how little of an impact it seemed to make.

238 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons Hard Knocks Recap

  1. John Waynesworld

    It’s good to get a win, even in the preseason. Gold stars go out to many players especially the ones playing in their very first NFL game. Lots of effort. Sloppy in spots but encouraging.

  2. Ken Strickland

    I’m currently watching a replay of last nights gm on I’m paying very close attention at LHolmes who started at LT, & I must say that he is huge. He also appears to be much more solid than before, & it’s obvious MTice has worked wonders with his technique & foot work because he’s more than holding his own in run & pass blocking. RBs JRogers, ASmity & DFreeman are all perfect for our new blocking scheme & emphasis on attacking the perimeter of the DEF.

    Even Stevie Wonder can see the total changes that have been made to our previous blocking scheme, as well as the total difference in how our OLinemen are now blocking & the new emphasis on running outside. It also appears that Massaquoi is ready to have a breakout season & Biermann appears to be on top of his gm as a 3-4 OLB. I’ve seen more passes to our RBs in this gm than I saw in any gm all of last yr. You can see that this yrs OFF & playbook are now total reflections of OC DKoetter, & not the mandate that was issued by Smitty when Koetter was 1st hired that stated he must utilize at least 80% of the playbook that was already being utilized.

    Our DEF gave up a TD on the 1st drive & then held them to 3 pts the rest of the gm. This was a reflection of the depth & talent we now have among our backups.

  3. Ken Strickland

    The blocking consistency we saw from our 1st, 2nd & 3rd string OLs is a testament to the overall impact OL coach MTice has had on the development of our individual OLinemen. And the same can be said for the impact DL coach BCox has had on our DLs as well. This is going to be a bigger, stronger, faster, deeper, younger & more physical & athletic version of the 2010 & 2012 Falcons.

  4. Dewey

    I understand preseason games. Don’t mean much, try not to show your hand, etc. that being said, I did have a few concerns. I know our first team O scored on their first possession. But it was with the aid of a timely penalty on a third down that we couldn’t convert. Also, even though there were backups in the game, the same old problem of not being able to convert red zone attempts into TD’s reared it’s ugly head. This has been a constant throughout the Dimitroff/Smith/Ryan era.

    The first team D was a joke. Draft/sign players whose strength seem to be based in the 3-4. Refute we are going to 3-4. Waffle back and say we will be based in 3-4. Come out first exhibition game, and instead of working on 3-4, which lets face it, that’s what exhibition games are for, we line up in a 4-2-5, and let a rather weak offensive team march right down the field on us. Bartu missed a tackle on the first play, Warrilow lost sight of a receiver to allow a very easy, long pass play, Ismael got caught inside on the goal line to allow a very easy completion for a TD. Bierman, who has been less than stellar as a DE, but who the Falcons have promised to be our savior at 3-4 OLB, was forced to line up with his hand in the dirt again. Massaquoi, who is trying to learn a new position as a 3-4 OLB, instead was regulated to playing with his hand in the dirt against 2nd and 3rd teamers.

    I just don’t understand Coach Smith. And it seems the more I pay attention, the less I understand. You can’t say the outcomes of these games are less meaningful than evaluating talent, but then coach scared and scheme to win the game. Yes, it’s nice to put a “W” on the board, especially after last years combined 4-16 including 0-4 in preseason. But with all the buzz about “toughness”, it seems the only one that didn’t get the message is Coach Smith. We had 2 opportunities to go for it on 4th down late in the game. If the outcomes are meaningless, and we’re trying to work on toughness, it seems we missed on golden opportunities to really work on toughness.

    We’ve talked about how sometimes with non-dominant teams, lucky bounces of the ball can be the difference between a “W” and an “L”, and we saw it last night. Up 16-10 late in the game, Miami was inside our 10 yard line. Thanks to a fumbled snap by the Miami QB, which had nothing to do with anything we did, we were able to keep them from scoring. Who knows, the QB handles that snap, we could be talking about a 17-16 loss. Point being, we need to be a team that buries it’s opponent so we don’t have to rely on “luck” for a “W”.

    As far as stand out individual performances go, I thought A Smith, Reedy, Freeman and Shembo all looked good, though A Smith was the only one who did it against 1st stringers. Would like to see Reedy, Freeman and Shembo get in against some 1st team talent. Also, I thought Mathews looked solid, but he’d better get ready, still being a rookie, that’s where opponents will attack until he proves inpenetrable.

  5. The Time is NOW

    Here are a few guys who caught my eye last night:

    Javier Arenas (28) – It was refreshing to see #28 wrapping up on tackles.
    Tim Dobbins (52) – Yes, he’s a 9 year vet and was playing with the scrubs in the 2nd half, but he may have earned a look earlier in the game.
    Devonta Freeman (33)
    Maurice Hagens (45) – Looked good catching the ball. Would like to see him get some earlier snaps.
    Jordan Mabin (24) – Made some plays at CB, as JB noted during the game.
    Bernard Reedy (89) – Whether he opens the season on the 53 man roster or the practice squad probably depends on his special teams play.
    Sean Renfree (12) – Impressive in his first action. May give Yates a run for #2 QB.
    Prince Shembo (53)
    Mickey Shuler (82) – Part of a 3-headed TE?
    Antone Smith (35)

    As marko hoped before the game, it was a positive sign that our backups looked better than their backups for a change. Maybe our depth will be better this year. While it is unfair to judge a unit based on 1 preseason series, I was disappointed in the play of the 1st team defense.

  6. darrell starks

    Dewey – I totally agree with you, Falcons now have the man power 2 play a 3 – 4 defense, why your not doing the things that fit your personal and players you drafted, what is this stupid 4 -2 -5 is ?

    Sometime you have wonder do Mike Smith no what he is doing.

    GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Arno

    I agree, TIME: “Maurice Hagens (45) [FB] – Looked good catching the ball. Would like to see him get some earlier snaps.” You beat me to it!

    My highlights were individual performances and overall intensity. My concerns involve the units as a whole- O,D, and ST- but that’s preseason for you.

    One comment on our first team O: I was not impressed with the touchdown drive, except that we ran it in. Unlike Tannehill who stayed completely clean, Ryan was mauled twice, though not much was made of it because of penalties on those plays. And converting those third and longs to White does not show us anything new. Of course, Ryan to White is brilliant- but I actually winced to see us have to resort to it. Not a good indicator that we are breaking new ground (yet).

    Still- getting the W was critical. If we had let Miami come from behind to win it like last year? Deflating to say the least.

  8. darrell starks





    Shembo should be starting and move Arenas to play safety.

    GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. darrell starks

    The Time is NOW – Bernard Reedy look real good out there he could be that Diamond in Ruff, hopefully Mike Smith recognize that and Reedy make the roster as a number 5WR.


    JULIO, RODDY, HD, HESTER, REEDY Should be that next guy.

    GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. JB Falcon

    The stats show A Smith had 3 runs for 5 yards, that counted. I see the 76 & 34 yarders that were called back and get 5 – 115. I’d say a 23 yard average is pretty sweet. If MS is really dumb enough not to use Antone, someone needs to deliver him a burning bag of poop in his front porch.
    As for the rookies, it’s going to be wait and see who he keeps. I’m already dreading the cut downs. I have at least five that I would call “must keep.” I don’t know if we drafted them or they were walk-ons, it doesn’t matter. You can play, or you can’t.

  11. dawsondevitt Post author

    Happy Saturday Cage Brethren!! — Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. Was going to head to Dome last night but the torrential downpour yesterday caused a sinkhole to open up on Indian Trail and that caused all the buses coming to my school to be delayed. By the time I got home, it just wasn’t worth it. Working on new post now. Always like to tape and go back and watch analytically, because I’m always raising too much hell and yelling during the game.

    darrell — Great to see you man!!!! Been wondering where you been and if you made it over to our new “home” away from that sorry piece of sh*t newspaper. Glad to have you back.

  12. darrell starks

    D3 – LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AJC is a joke brother, I just had get away for while, I miss you guys and glad to be back.

    GO CAGE FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Ken Strickland

    Why complain about how we scored on our 1st drive, or that we were aided by 2 major pass interference penalties? Our WRs obviously did such a good job of beating their defenders they were forced to commit those penalties. The Falcons don’t have to be perfect to win, especially when it involves the very 1st drive of the very 1st PRESEASON GM. And where is it written that the Falcons are required to start the preseason off playing a 3/4 DEF?

    We’ve all been told all along that we’ll use multiple DEF formations & this was just an example of that philosophy. Due to the abundance of individual talent on this yrs preseason roster our coaching staff will definitely have the toughest roster decisions in I don’t know how long. With RBs like ASmith, DFreeman & JRogers, who are all capable of breaking off a big run or taking it to the house on any run or reception, DEFs will have to account for each of them on every play. I still can’t get over how impressed I was with the drastic improvement of LHolmes at LT.

    The new blocking scheme obviously includes more ZBS principles that features footwork, technique & movement, rather than having them rely almost exclusively on brute strength & leverage like we did before this yr. It also seems to be a perfect fit for the majority of our Olinemen. With OC DKoetter finally directing the OFF, we effectively used our RBs as weapons in our passing OFF rather than as blockers the way we did in the past.

  14. Big Ray

    I think the entire OL looked a good bit better, except one guy – Hawley. He is good at pulling, but he got his ass kicked most of the time he was in there.

    Prince Shembo is a friggin’ beast. Just nasty.

    Antone Smith needs to touch the ball 10 times a game.

    Freeman is better than Quizz. Quizz is the new Jason Snelling (role-wise).

    Bernard Reedy better be on the 53 man roster.

    Our 1st string DL wasn’t really trying. It was obvious.

    Our backup defenders are better than anything I’ve seen from this team in years. They didn’t let the Dolphins get the win back.

    Sean Renfree doesn’t have much of an arm, but he’s got a whole lotta brain.

  15. dawsondevitt Post author

    BR — And remember, we had plenty of money (still do) to go out and get a stud center in Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency. But we instead decide to give almost the same amount of money to Joe Hawley’s ragdoll ass. Who signed him after all? Oh yeah, that’s right, our effin’ rivals the Bucs. 👿 I’d much rather have had Smith than Devin Hester.

  16. Arno

    Trufant and Alford picks continue look like great foresight considering this do-not-breath-hard-on-receivers rule.

  17. falcon21

    Big Ray, I agree with most of what you said but Antone Smith should get more than 10 touches a game, the man is a beast and has proven it time and time again. The man has earned his time to shine.

  18. JB Falcon

    21, Antone’s yards per carry, for the Falcons, is actually slipping. He had 29 ypc before this game and has now slipped down to 26 ypc. (That’s including the 110 yards that were nullified by our penalties.) Maybe MS & TD can put their spikey and grey little heads together and figure that out.
    Must agree on Reedy. The last I heard, a cow cannot catch a rabbit!

  19. dawsondevitt Post author

    JB — Absolutely. I mean, it was only one preseason game, but gimme a center over a “specialty player over 30” any day of the week.

    Arno — You got that right. I was a little pissed when we followed up Trufant with Alford after giving away our 3rd round, but we got our starting CB’s for awhile assuming no injuries. I always loved the Trufant pick, as many of us Cagers know……………

    It pains me to include the sh*tty rag newspaper in our new home, but still, I have to toot my own horn a touch on Trufant.

    falcon21 — As SW says, and the congregation stands up and says Amen, Amen, Amen…………. It’s way cooler when he does it though 😀

  20. JB Falcon

    Hawley. Him, and his many fights/attention getters, remind me of 100 years ago when I used to play a musical instrument. When one would try out, and couldn’t play worth anything, he would always turn the volume way up. Hence the saying, “If you can’t play good, play loud”.

  21. dawsondevitt Post author

    JB —- Funny reference. Me and my brothers were always sports oriented. And I remember trying out for band in elementary school and they said, “yeah, music and band aren’t for you.” 😀

  22. Arno

    My son is a musician. Looks at my Falcons passion with patience and charity, bless him. Do we see a pattern here?

  23. medallion8

    The running back group: I think we will carry only 4 TBs and 1 FB on 53 man roster and either a big TB or a FB that can carry the ball some on practice squad because we have to have some backup plan for short yardage situations if S. Jackson ends up on IR. None of Quizz, Antone, or Freeman are big enough to be the backup plan for short yardage situations on anything longer than a short term basis.
    Antone Smith – Like many Cagers, I want to see him get more touches on offense. Home run hitters need some at bats so to speak. It was a hopeful sign that Coach Smith played him some at TB with the first team offense. However, Antone proved he is not much of a pass blocker last night since what would have been a sack of Matty Ice without the offsetting penalty was because Antone was terrible on the blitz pick-up. Even if one assumes Antone couldn’t block to save his own life – call me stupid if you want, but – I think there are schematic things that could be done to both protect Matty Ice, utilize Antone’s home run skills, and keep defenses unsure what might be about to occur when Antone is in the game at TB. They include: (1) if it is a really long passing situation, don’t have Antone in the backfield anyway unless he is going into the passing pattern from near the line of scrimmage and someone else that can block will be involved in blitz pick-up and (2) for some intermediate down and distance situations, pair Antone in the backfield with a fullback who can lead block or pass protect against blitzer if the play ends up as a draw, outside run, screen, or something else that isolates Antone on some LB/SS/NCB or make sure Matty Ice protected for some much longer developing routes for our WRs.

  24. JB Falcon

    M8, very goods points. MS has kept Antone in his back pocket for the simple reason that he sucks at pass protection, ignoring the fact that he is the best RB we have. There’s more than one way to skin a cat but MS has no creativity whatsoever. If it is not written in Mike’s little book of “perfect football players” he will not use them because he doesn’t know how.
    Ovie used to could protect Matt or open a hole. Do we even have a FB on the squad?

  25. medallion8

    Just read some other comments after I composed my little opus. When I was about 9 or 10, the Director of our children’s church choir politely suggested I could probably have more fun doing something besides the choir. My great and wonderful father (who had been on a college traveling singing group and church choir Director for the adults at several churches as work caused moves to different places) didn’t even give me some speach about “keep trying – you will get better”. At least I got a good joke out of my bad singing: ” My singing is so bad my shower turns off.”

  26. PoolerSpirit

    JB…. I thought the guy we had playing fullback last night did a pretty good job… caught at least one pass… can’t remember his name… and not talking about DiMarco…

  27. Ken Strickland

    MEDALLION8-I’ve always believed that having a RB take a defender out of the area of the play is far more effective than trying to block him. A RB with ASmith’s speed, quickness, athleticism, running & receiving ability means he has to be accounted for on every play. If he drifts into the flat or goes down field, a defender will have to go with him. To me it’s far more effective to force a LB to try & cover the RB away from the QB than having the RB near the QB trying to block a blitzing LB.

  28. medallion8

    Ovie did do really well during his time with the Falcons. Last year’s FB DiMarco has some good skills. UDFA FB Hagens from Miami really surprised me last night with both blocking and catching a pass after all the negative reports the internet draft sites had about him for how he played in college. But, Hagens’ work was against Miamis’ back-ups. So, I really have no idea how to answer about the FB position yet.

  29. medallion8

    KS – I like your eternal optimism and you have written some good thinking thoughts not totally blinded by your optimism. I will pose this question for you: If the Falcons were on defense and it was 3rd and 8 or longer for the other team, would you want to pass rush or take away a pass rusher to go cover some player out of the backfield? I would personally hope the Falcons front goes for pressure/sack and trust the others behind them to stop a first down or worse from some TB sliding out into the flat, curl, go, etc. if the QB does get the ball out accurately with pressure.


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