First Preseason Game of DQ Era

One Fan’s Impression of Falcons vs. Titans

by Rick Woolbright (The Time is Now)

Worrilow with a TD!

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any live Falcons football. The anticipation has been building since the Falcons replaced Mike Smith with new Head Coach Dan Quinn, and then followed that up with what has generally been viewed as their best draft class in years. As many have noted, there are plenty of question marks about the new version of our Atlanta Falcons. Will a new ZBS based offense add a legitimate rushing threat to the Falcons attack? Will another defensive minded Head Coach be able to turn around our moribund defense? Do the Falcons have enough talent in the trenches, and at places like LB, FS, and TE, to win what is perceived as a weak NFC South this year?

Beasley and Co. Looked Good

While Friday night’s game mostly gave us a look at how our rookies and potential backups compare to those of the Titans, we still have been given an opportunity to see the potential of our new schemes (in their vanilla version). Surely we shouldn’t read too much into one preseason game, especially one against a team that finished near the bottom of the league in both offense and defense last year (as Cage member Arno pointed out). Nonetheless, we had a chance to see how our guys played. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what we observed in preseason game #1.

Julio = Beast!

Offense: The first team offense moved right down the field for a TD on its only possession. For the most part it was the MR2 to JJ11 show, as that combination accounted for 61 of the 91 yards on the drive. The pass protection was adequate. Hankerson made a nice read of the zone defense for a catch. DiMarco, who started at FB, had a nice catch on a swing pass. Unfortunately, the first 4 runs were underwhelming 2 yard (+/-) gains, with the ZBS producing no holes for Ward. With the exception of Antone, and a couple of runs by Ford in the 4th qtr., the lack of a running game was one of the themes for the game. DQ showed some guts/confidence by going for it on 4th and 1 (a complete Yates bootleg pass for a 1st down). The offense did manage to score two TD’s on one yard runs, but both were very close calls.

Is that Tyson Jackson?

Yates looked awful at QB on his first 2 possessions. Yates finally settled in somewhat when he completed a couple of bootleg passes on his lone TD drive in 5 possessions. Yates also “led” the team to one FG (which was actually a gift from the Falcons D) and threw one INT. Renfree looked good in the 4th qtr., with one scoring drive in 2 possessions (the second possession was exclusively running plays, as the Birds were trying to run out the clock). He threw accurate passes and displayed good decision making.

The OL backups looked terrible at run blocking (except for the right side of the line in the 4th qtr.), but decent in pass protection. Backup centers Person and Konz both had one terrible snap in the shotgun formation.

WR’s Hardy, N. Williams, and M. Clark all had some good moments. Hardy had a number of catches, a good downfield block on the final possession, but was called for holding and juggled a low throw from Yates leading to an INT. TE Toilolo caught everything thrown his way.

Collins Had an Up and Down Night

Defense: The defense looked fairly stout against the run. Unfortunately, I can only remember 5 times during the whole game that the defense got any pressure on the QB on a passing down. Those 5 times resulted in 2 sacks, a fumble returned for a TD,  and an INT (tipped by Collins, picked by Therezie). Durant had a 1st qtr. INT that was not caused by pressure, just a great read on a screen pass. Beyond those plays, the Titans QB seemed to have all the time he needed in the pocket. Beasley was made pretty much invisible by Lewan. Soliai and Babs both set up big plays with inside pressure. Worrilow scooped up the Babs strip for a score and looked decent in coverage on one pass play. The defense seemed to get better penetration on running plays than on pass plays. Ishmael, Collins, Starr, Therezie, Bradford, Magponga, and K. White all had some good moments against backups, but most of them had some not so good moments, as well. Sean Baker got beat in coverage at least twice, and also had at least one missed tackle. Southward got schooled on one play in the 2nd qtr.

Special Teams: Matt Bryant was automatic. Bosher had a good punt from backline of the end zone. Kick coverage was mostly solid. Bradford, Therezie, Weems, Josh Harris, R. Allen, and Bartu all caught my eye at least once in special teams coverage. The return game was uninspiring, though N. Williams did throw a good block on one kick return to the 22. Stupar was called for holding on the opening kickoff.

Overall Impression: A win is a win. The running game needs work, though maybe Freeman and Collins will be quick enough to find the tiny creases like Antone did. The defense is improved and working hard at takeaways, but we must find a way to put more pressure on the QB on passing downs. Even though we were playing guys late in the game who weren’t even listed on the roster I printed out from, the scrubs found a way to score the winning TD, stop the Titans, and then run the clock down under a minute and pin the Titans deep. Yates better start looking over his shoulder, Renfree looked good in the 4th qtr.

Questions for the Cage:

Now it’s time for the collective expert analysis and eagle eye insight of the Cage to weigh in on the first preseason game. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the following questions.

1) Which players caught your eye (including pleasant surprises and concerns)?

2) What are your thoughts on Shanahan’s ZBS scheme, based on the Titans game?

3) What are your thoughts on the new 4/3 under defensive scheme?

4) How do you feel about the new look Falcons now that you have seen them in live action?

5) Based on what you saw against the Titans, what will you be looking at most closely in the remainder of the preseason games?

834 thoughts on “First Preseason Game of DQ Era

  1. Dewey

    I’ve taken a deep breath, and put the first 3 pre-season game into perspective.

    Our 2014 Falcons team was full of holes, injuries or not.
    There was no way we could fix everything in 1 offseason.
    So where do we stand vs 2014?

    QB-a wash.
    FB-I believe Mooney would be an upgrade, but at worse, it’s a wash with DiMarco again.
    WR-upgrades in depth
    OL-well, it hasn’t looked good so far. The good news is they can only get better.

    DB’s-with Allen at FS, and all other positions being equal, I would call this an upgrade.

    Special Teams:
    Same kickers, same return men, plus a lot of guys who seem to take pride in their craft.

    Yes, our o-line is abysmal and we’re risking another year of Matt Ryans prime.

    A few of our 1 year FA signings will need to keep playing the way they have, stay healthy, and be re-signed to longer, yet still cap friendly contracts (Clayborne, Durant, Hankerson).

    Overall, I see our team being a better team. Whether or not that translates into more wins remains to be seen.

    1. Paddy O

      if the O line had played marginally last week. I’d still feel confident. They laid an egg bigger than Blank’s bankroll. Makes me very worried about this year.

    2. medallion

      Durant might be on 3 year contract even though many reported it was a 1 year prove it type contract. Some site – think it might be – that supposedly gets its info from the NFL shows it as a 3 year contract and, if he stays healthy, very nice deal and, if he doesn’t, not a large cap hit because guaranteed amount not big.
      I agree with your assessments of the various groups except I have uncertainties about RBs and DBs.
      With respect to RBs, we don’t have a power back for short yardage (unless Jerome Smith shows more) and pass blocking is a concern to me. On the other hand, faster group and, if Coleman can catch, we have three that can cause Sprole like problems.
      With respect to DBs, the FS position (starter and back-up) really worries me.

  2. SG


    Just wanted to thank the league for letting my son, my hero, Andrew come on board. Much to the chagrin of his mom and sister, he discussed, in-depth – his strategy and rationale while the family had Sunday breakfast. He was texting me his selections while I was en-route to Illinois, (his mom had the pleasure of relaying the messages as I was driving – she was thrilled 😉

    Thanks again. He’s very excited.

    1. JJ

      SG, He did very well. If Murray stays healthy, he will lead the league in TD’s. Andrew also outplayed SW and myself in the final rd. We were both gunning for DeVante Parker (WR, MIA), he’s the biggest sleeper in this draft. Foster was a great value pick if he comes back healthy in a few weeks. Overall, a very strong team, especially his 2 RB’s, AP and Murray.

  3. Grits Blitz

    A few defensive bright spots observed to date:
    1-Believe we just may have our new “Abe” in Clayborne. He seems to be a more prototypical DE and appears he can really make a difference. We need him desperately and…to stay healthy all season long. Has shown he, for one, knows how to “man up” to opponents and can bring the heat!
    2-LB, Bradford, may not be starter material but the guy can hit and seems to exhibit some positive leadership qualities. Appears to me to ideally be an adequate back-up for Worrilow.

    For the no surprise dept.:
    Believed all along it is the player with football smarts and NFL talent that makes the difference. Never believed in “plug & play” w/ mediocre players as a formula for success with…any scheme.

    -As bad as the woe line looks, predict – in desperation alone – they sign Jake Long.
    (Looks like they’ll also have no choice but to sign approx. 3 more O linemen from the last waivers to “try” and upgrade.)
    Anything that can possibly work at this point would be welcome. (T.D., thanks again.)

  4. Arno

    RT Ryan Schraeder -5.8 Pierce Burton +2.4
    RG Jon Asamoah +0.3
    C Joe Hawley -2.0
    LG Mike Person -0.6 James Stone -3.8
    LT Jake Matthews +0.8 Tyler Polumbus +1.7

    Here are some Pro Football Focus scores for our o-line (+2.0 = great / -2.0 = fail) confirming the weak links that were so disastrously exposed. After Monday’s practice Quinn confidently talked about improving technique and reemphasized the running game as foundational to what they want to do. And from Stone: “Just the lapses in technique, I felt like that’s everything we’ve focused on and harped on. And when you don’t go out there and translate to the field, those are the things that irritate you. That’s why you have to get back and just continue to work at it even harder.” So can improved technique with our current o-line roster deliver a 4 yards per carry running game? It’s great Quinn’s so clear about stating goals, but how far off are they? BTW, Quinn mentioned that he’s not settled on the final five.

    1. SG

      I thought Person held up pretty well against Suh
      I’ve liked Stone since he stepped in out of nowhere last year. On Saturday, he disappeared back into nowhere.
      And for the most part, Schraeder looked like he was playing in his first game.
      I love Hawley’s attitude and commitment but he just doesn’t have the size / strength for a Center IMO.

  5. Arno

    I wrote a recap of Falcons @ Miami on Sunday. D3 is super busy right now (hope and pray it’s nothing more that that) and hasn’t been able to get it posted. I thought I’d go ahead and paste the article here in case there’re some game discussion points that haven’t already been covered. Let’s see if the whole thing will fit in…

    1. Arno

      Dolphins School Falcons’ Offense

      Is rookie HC Dan Quinn too optimistic as the Atlanta Falcons undergo a total revamp of scheme, roster, and culture? Compare the more realistic view of fourth year HC Joe Philbin’s Miami Dolphins. The Fins were the better team in 2014, and with the maturation of QB Ryan Tannehill and the acquisition of DL Ndamukong Suh, they’re now viewed as a squad primed to unseat New England for the AFC East title. How did these two teams, at such different points in their development, fare against each other in the regular season’s touted dress rehearsal?

      First, labeling Quinn optimistic is inaccurate. Much better to call him opportunistic. DE Clayborn, WR Hankerson, OLBs Durant and Schofield, are some of the free agent signings making the best of their opportunity. DE Hageman and LB Worrilow are two who’ve responded well to Quinn’s challenge to up their game. And WR Williams is an example of an unheralded player allowed to demonstrate his worth. A telling demonstration of Quinn’s opportunism came in his post-game interview when he lamented the team’s failure to finish, a quality he wishes to instill in preseason. A botched snap by QB Yates and a fumble by RB Smith spoiled excellent opportunities our defense provided in getting Miami’s offense off the field.

      Quinn’s opportunism is unflappable. While the rest of the world saw an o-line swallowed by a South Florida sink hole, he said, “Let’s go back and take a look at it and go back and see all the areas that we can improve, and that’s going to be the sole focus heading into practice on Monday.” He makes you want to believe the improvements will take place. But watching the performance of Falcons’s starting o-line of LT Matthews, LG Stone, C Person, RG Chester, and RT Schraeder, we saw a unit overwhelmed by Miami’s athleticism. Not since last year’s humiliation by the Bengals has the o-line been so dominated, and in that game Ryan was ‘only’ sacked twice. Last night’s damage, three sacks in four series, required his removal for personal safety. In addition to the shortfall in athleticism, the o-line’s lack of focus was evident in our tackles’ missed assignments– an echo of last week’s loss. Give credit to rookie RB Tevin Coleman, though. He showed good blocking would be optional for him: he can still make positive yards when swamped four yards deep in the backfield.

      With the Falcons’ offense neutralized, we fans were astonished to see our team behind but one point at the half. Our two field goals were aided by a Miami fumbled snap and a OLB Schofield sack for fumble. Miami’s score came on a Tannehill drive consisting of well blocked quick outs and quick slants in zone coverage. Miami’s patched together o-line put Tannehill at risk, and necessitated the quick throws. Compare Ryan’s lone outstanding throw to Hankerson on a fake to Ward. For the most part, Ryan’s patched together o-line gave him so little time, he couldn’t set his feet.

      After Ryan suffered a crushing punch to the flack jacket at the end of the first quarter, he was relieved by Yates who played three quarters. With Grossman upping the competion for the back-up QB role, Yates was given full opportunity to make his case. While Yates’ play at the Jets was challenged by repeated run game failures that put him in unfavorable down and distance situations, his failure to find the end zone in Miami was his own doing. Repeatedly high on his throws, unforced errors, and a slow release showed a lack of consistency necessary for the job.

      Interviewed post game, Matt Ryan stayed positive, saying progress is all about how the team responds to adversity. Quinn will no doubt use the failings as an opportunity to learn and improve. The defensive side of the Falcons’ revamp demonstrates the culture is working. The emphasis on tackling, for example, is definitely heard: LB Worrilow on multiple tackles for loss, FS Allen delivering hits, SS Ishmael stepping up for injured Moore, DT Hageman shrugging off holds, and OLB Durant just killing it.

      An unsportsmanlike, an illegal touching penalty, and a Williams-Hester collision will grant special teams coach Armstrong some blistering commentary for his unit, but strong play from Bradford, Weems, Stupar, and especially our kickers Bryant and Bosher, suggest special teams will be a strength of the Falcons this year. Hester had an aggressive game, fielding punts inside the five yard line, moves our previous head coach would have prohibited.

      In a pregame interview, Miami HC Philbin said he looked for polish in the third preseason game. He also said, concerning the vulnerability Tannehill faced with a patched together o-line, that the first team needs enough snaps to prepare itself for the four quarters of a regular season game. The Falcons defense did much to warn Philbin of a lack of polish. The Miami defense did much to warn Quinn of a lack of survivability.


      What’s happened to DE Tyson Jackson and RG Jon Asamoah? Any others you think are MIA?

      Some are saying QB Yates helped his case. Agree?

      How would you break down the o-line woes? Scheme? Talent? Needs more time?

      Who do the Falcons snag as other teams make roster cuts?

      What’s left to learn for the last preseason matchup with the Ravens?

      1. JB Falcon

        Good write up Arno. Maybe D3 will still put it up along with an e-mail to the cage members. This post is going on 800 replies and comments. I, like you, hope D3 is simply too busy at this time. Anyway, you have brought up some interesting ideas and views on our last game and, to say the least, it was one of our most controversial games so far this season.

      2. Paddy O

        I think our defense has shown tremendous improvement. I like Nick Williams. Our O line – across the boards – was destroyed – and I saw no adjustment from Shanahan in attempting to defend MR2 – I realize it was only a few series – but, you could tell quickly the O line was being overwhelmed. NONE of our guys held their blocks. MR2 – at least twice – was essentially gang tackled – that makes life as a QB very short.

  6. John Waynesworld

    From Rotoworld…

    “The No. 55 overall pick of the 2012, Konz was highly ineffective his first two years on the job before tearing his ACL last October. He still isn’t back to 100 percent health. He’s just one of GM Thomas Dimitroff’s legion draft misses. Dimitroff no longer has final say over the Falcons’ draft board. Konz is only 25, but teams won’t be lining up to give him a second chance.”

      1. JB Falcon

        BM, that was a darn good piece and Prisco knows his stuff. He brings up a pet peeve of mine that I have harped on in the past. The NFLPA crapped in their bed when they came out with the new no contact rules and cut the practice time to 2 hrs. It seems like the only requirement to play either side of the line now days is to weigh over 300 lbs. That is pure BS. I was a RB in school and know what it’s like trying to find a hole to run through if all you see is a bunched up group of 300 lbs asses staring you in the face. When you pit two 300 pounders against one another one of them has be know how to move the other. You cannot learn how to do that in 2 hrs a day.
        Sure, the players like the light duty practices but it is very detrimental to the league overall. The fans pay to see professionals who are good at what they do, not a bunch of elephants scratching each others back. It takes time to train an elephant to sit down, roll over, stand up, etc. and lack of time to practice and teach is ruining football as we know it.

  7. Greg Mendel

    I’ve been off in California, relaxing at Donner Lake and Sea Ranch on the north coast. Have barely kept up with the Falcons. I’m just waiting for the first regular season game. Nothing really matters ’till then. I gather, though, that the O-line collapsed in the last game like it has done for some time. Until we can keep Ryan upright and out of the hospital, we’re going backwards. Until he can stand upright and have two more seconds to throw, we aren’t going anywhere except farther down the toilet.

    1. Greg Mendel

      To elaborate…

      I’m still optimistic about the season. We may have fundamental flaws that Quinn can’t fix, but I trust him to make the most of what we do have. Win or lose, I’m curious to see how he manages the team. I’m guessing that he will have to do a lot of improvising, but that could be fun to watch. If he improvises well, and we get some talent next spring, things could change in a big way. I just don’t see Quinn being satisfied with going through the motions. I think he wants to win.

      1. JB Falcon

        GM, I was trying to drop a left handed hint to D3. He hasn’t shown up for over a week and Arno sent his post to D3’s personal e-mail address. He hasn’t even bothered to make a new post out of it after promising the cage that he would post photos etc if we would write something. Arno did, D3 didn’t. I know D3 moved, got a new job, and is very busy but it seems to me that he would leave his password to wordpress, etc. so that the cage could continue. So far, it looks like we, the true fans, will stay have to continue our conversations indefinitely.

        1. Greg Mendel

          I dunno. I appreciate D3’s past efforts to the extent that I don’t even wonder, much less question. Heaven knows, I couldn’t handle any job in public education.

          If we’re on autopilot, I figure we can sort it out if we have to.

  8. medallion

    Great piece of writing there Arno!
    I was so distressed the with O line issues, I completely forgot about the ST gaffes.
    There was also a defensive gaffe (or more likely gaffes) on the long pass play that led to Miami’s only touchdown (and against mostly first/second string defensive players).
    Miami lined up with 4 WRs (3 to QBs left side). We had only 3 CBs on the field (gaffe number one maybe on coaches), with Allen at FS and Godfrey at SS. Durant was at LB on that side watching for anything breaking towards the middle out of the group, but was smart enough to spot it was a 4 deep vertical attack and really did a good job covering the inside and faster WR down the field, but pass was perfect. Where was Allen? I fully understand that the FS has to usually stay deeper than any WR until the ball is thrown, but once the ball is in the air, the FS has to know that and it is time to go to the ball. Allen seemed frozen while the ball was in the air at first (gaffe number two probably). Then, Allen whiffed on the tackle (definitely a gaffe). Finally, Godfrey (in at SS on the play) shows up. His arrival seemed tardy when others made it there sooner, but perhaps he got held, blocked, slipped, etc. So, not sure if additional gaffe.

    1. JB Falcon

      Med, I appreciate your analysis but the fact is we got our azz kicked. I’m sure our first game will be worth watching because DQ is not following the “procedure” the NFL has dictated. Our OL, during the past five years has ranked at the bottom and our Offense has carried us, just like most teams in the NFL. We’re going to be worth watching and just might surprise some folks. I’ll wait and see. I love surprises.

  9. Seminole Warrior

    What’s Up Cage

    Another one bites the dust as we said good bye and happy trails to Peter Konz today. Enuf said on that one.

    But it is this report from Yahoo Sports that has me sitting on the edge of my seat as it relates to the first party. The second, well, I consider that move another in the continuing series of failed free agent moves by an increasingly lost front office. At least now we know the REAL reason why the conversations with Jake Long have resumed. There is concern and there should be.

    “Left tackle Jake Matthews and linebacker Brooks Reed have been ruled out for Thursday’s preseason finale against Baltimore, and the team has parted ways Tuesday with injured guard-center Peter Konz. Matthews, the No. 6 overall draft choice last year, is sidelined with a sore back. His offseason was slowed considerably after he underwent left foot surgery in January. Meanwhile, Reed, Atlanta’s top free agent signee with $9 million guaranteed, is nursing a groin injury and will get a second medical opinion. Quinn said it’s too early to know if surgery is a possibility.”

  10. Hamad Meander

    I think we can finally shut the door on the argument that the Julio Jones trade doomed our depth or our team in any way. There’s no reason to assume Dimitroff would have drafted any better than the Browns did. We won the trade and I’m happy for Julio!

    Still can’t believe the lack of good drafting and quantity of drafting for OL. Wow. Konz (2nd rounder) and Baker (1st rounder) gone. Holmes (3rd round reach) PUP (he’s been unable to perform when not on the Physically Unable to Perform list), Mike Johnson (3rd rounder) gone. It’s pretty ugly.

    If we don’t draft (3) OL next year, I’ll pull my hair out.

  11. Seminole Warrior

    Arno….great questions my brother.

    How would you break down the o-line woes? Scheme? Talent? Needs more time?

    The offensive line issues are a direct result of a misconceived approach that will take a few years to come out from under. The “cross-training” regiment of the prior regiment, supplemented by poor drafting and free agency, along with a relentless assault of injuries have derailed any and all attempts to put forward a quality OL. We can only pray that something happens to align the stars so that the front office is equipped to find a couple of building block in the 2016 draft class.

    Who do the Falcons snag as other teams make roster cuts?

    With potentially $16 million in cap space once the final cuts are done, it will be very interesting to see where the Falcons go if they do anything in FA. One would think that they MUST do something. But in all honesty, I think that we will once again find ourselves at Fred’s junk yard with yet another castaway.

    What’s left to learn for the last preseason matchup with the Ravens?

    A lot. A hell of a lot. We have seen flashes of new found energy from the team. But we have yet to see consistency on both sides of the ball.
    Ryan, Jones, and a few others are what we thought they were. There at TOO many unknowns so we simply have to sit in these comfy seats on the Show Me Express, have a cup of patience, and see where this goes.

    NOTE: Having a cup of patience does not preclude on from voice opinions.

    1. JB Falcon

      SW, I started to post the same thoughts but didn’t, so I agree. I’ve decided to wait until our first game against the Eagles to do any serious analysis. I think DQ has done a good job of tackling a big job and I think the Falcons have presented a good core to start with. Hurry up and wait!

      1. Seminole Warrior

        Same here,brother. Careful analysis but just bringing some things to light as I see them. September 14, 2015 is going to be very telling. And I am hoping for a decent showing since the entire football world will be watching.

        At least the blimp will capture plenty clips of the world’s largest luxury car dealership going up next to the Ga. Dome.

  12. Seminole Warrior

    HM / JBF

    Many would look at that article and laugh. Cleveland certainly screwed it up in a historic fashion. But…

    Atlanta does not have a lot to celebrate there as well. We absolutely came out of that draft with only one player worth note, JJ11. The trade did not give Atlanta the depth that the sought; actually Cleveland, as big a mess as they were, ACTUALLY, got more play and production from their failures than Atlanta got from the group we assembled from the classes of 2011 and 2012. Take a look at the class compositions. As a matter of fact, many of the Cleveland grouping have actually found second life in very interesting places.

    A few examples of what was could have been if we played it out without the trade: C Mike Pouncey, DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, WR Randall Cobb, WR Torrey Smith, WR Leonard Hankerson, DE JJ Watt, DE/OLB Justin Houston, C/G Rodney Hudson, G Clint Boling, CB Richard Sherman, DE Pernell McPhee, and OLB KJ Wright.

    In the end, as of this moment, Atlanta got two starters out of the entire deal; Matt Bosher and Julio Jones.

    In the same time frame, Cleveland got one: Mitchell Schwartz.

    Neither side really has much to celebrate given the price surrendered. IMHO.

    1. JB Falcon

      “A few examples of what was could have been if we played it out without the trade: C Mike Pouncey, DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, WR Randall Cobb, WR Torrey Smith, WR Leonard Hankerson, DE JJ Watt, DE/OLB Justin Houston, C/G Rodney Hudson, G Clint Boling, CB Richard Sherman, DE Pernell McPhee, and OLB KJ Wright.” SW

      I kind of like “could have been” but it is what it is.

      1. Seminole Warrior

        Fair point, my brother.

        Just showing the masses the various options that were available during the process. You are absolutely correct; there were and are not any absolutes.

  13. Grits Blitz

    SW & All Other Faithful Cagers,
    Before the last, woebegone Ravens preseason game, have got to hope everything we’ve seen so far has been a DQ smokescreen w/ overdoses of “vanilla” extract all around – with the goal of keeping “starters” (whoever that will be) healthy and identifying suitable back-ups for depth. Hope.

    If not, then I am preparing now for many, many consecutive losses to follow. Looks like we’ve been positioned, mainly by T.D. (w/ Arthur’s blessing of complicity) to have reached the bottom of Fred’s junkyard with imposters posing as NFL O linemen. (Truthfully, this has been a devastation in the making for at least 2 years and some of us saw it coming long ago.)
    At this time, it appears we’re going to have to crawl before we walk and, later, run.
    (Said all along it’s 2016, this same time NEXT year, when we’ll really see more clearly where DQ will be taking this team and NOT this year. NEXT year it will truly be his team, imo.)
    Sounds like it’s all going to take time to me. The sooner we must house those “chickens that have come home to roost”, the better to pay T.D./Smitty/Arthur’s dues for their sins of the past. Prepare now to let the long, slow marathon begin.

  14. Arno

    A snapshot look at where our o-line was drafted:

    Tyson Clabo undrafted
    Harvey Dahl undrafted
    Todd McClure 7th round

    Ryan Schraeder undrafted
    Jake Rodgers 7th round
    Jon Asamoah 3rd round
    Joe Hawley 4th round
    James Stone undrafted
    Jake Matthews 1st round

    Chris Chester 2nd round
    Mike Person 7th round
    Tyler Polumbus undrafted

    O-line quote for the day:
    ““It’s so close (to breaking loose). The combo blocks are such a team-work thing. We have to work well together. If it’s not one guy one play, it’s the next guy. It’s just hard to get everybody on the same page. On a lot of those plays we are just one block away. A guy is too tight on his angle or he’s too loose. A guy is getting up field and getting penetration.” –Joe Hawley

  15. Flo-Ri-Duh

    My My My the moaning and groaning on here about the OL. The biggest improvement to the OL in 2015? The release of Holmes and Konz. The 2nd best improvement? Relegating Dimwitroff’s influence on the 2015 and future drafts to near ZERO. Obviously Dan Quinn was brought here to build a defense and it “appears” to be better so far in preseason. They can’t improve every area and sign JJ at the same time. JJ + MR are now 25% (nearly) of the total cap space. That’s not a typo friends. I don’t see many FA vet OL stars signed in the Falcons near future either. So it will be the 2016 draft, 2nd tier vets and castoffs for the OL development the next 2 or 3 years.

    I still see defense as being DQ’s priority #1 in the next draft but with at least some interest in improving the OL with a 2nd and possibly 3rd Rd pick. I like the DT/NT from Bama, A’Shawn Robinson. Then release Soliai and his fat contract along with the oft injured William Moore (SS) in 2016 to create cap to spend on ONE starting quality vet FA OL.

    1. Paddy O

      in reality, if MR2 is injured this year, the 2015 draft is a gigantic bust. The BIG problem was the O line, and it was NOT addressed whatsoever. MR2 is the key to our success.

  16. Flo-Ri-Duh

    D3 will be back. Moving and new job, family. That has to be his top priorities and we understand. He’s getting settled in now and when the season starts he will be here for us. Keep the faith.

  17. Hamad Meander

    On a side note, the Mercedes naming deal for the new stadium is a 27 year deal. Anyone want to guess what’s going to happen in 27 years? Yep, we’re going to be talking about tearing this b#tch down and building a new stadium. What kind of world would we live in if we tore down every structure after 27 years to build new? Crazy. Oh, and BTW, Arthur Blank will be 99 years old when he pitches for the new digs……..

    R.I.P. Georgia Dome – many wonderful times had there.

    1. Paddy O

      construction in GA appears similar to NJ – tied to financial interests ability to make $$ off the bonds. Giants stadium was torn down – only about 30 years old – the sports authority STILL owed over 50 million in bond payments. Govt should NOT be involved in this type of transaction.

    2. Seminole Warrior


      Totally agree. And like you, I do not think it (the new digs) will make it to 27 years. I’m done after this season as a season ticket holder anyways. No way that I am going to pay that kind of money to the Falcons when I can contribute more to the development of student-athletes in Tallahassee and secure their places in the future. Not to mention the all important tax benefit that Tallahassee provides me as a booster instead of just giving money to the Falcons.

      4 game packages here I come starting in 2016. Besides, the grand opening of the world’s largest luxury car dealership will feature my Seminoles the Crimson Tide. It simply does not get better than that!!!

  18. Grits Blitz

    FLO – Sorry, but lost traction with some of your assertions. (You can stick with your contentions and I’ll keep mine.) If, as I see things (and call them as such), are “moaning and groaning” to you, so be it. Obviously we have different interpretations of what we perceive as…current reality.
    I do think, on the flip-side, you have an oversimplified perspective to project DQ was mainly brought here to construct a defense. Any new HC that begins by merely building one unit to the detriment/non-prioritizing of the other is going to reap the expected, unsuccessful results, imo.
    A wise HC will take every unit, coach, GM, and owner into account to maximize potential, expectations, and talent. To do less would likely mean and invite job insecurity, second-guessing, and dismissal. Can’t envision DQ as being so foolish to just focus on defense – ever. His expertise in the past
    is no longer limited and his responsibilities to build a winner are now expanded exponentially to every consideration, unit, or level.

    To remotely suggest there were scant little problems on offense to address – knowing (in advance) how important and undervalued the O line was for years (and now relegated to castoffs and “never-weres” ), I doubt was ever his perception. Surely he knew the likelihood of what he inherited when or shortly thereafter accepting the job. His only questionable action to date, imo, was to align himself so closely to T.D. but perhaps that is a mistake a rookie HC may be entitled to make – once. Predict he’ll soon privately rue the day he did so as time and records will soon be “on the clock” and, no, I don’t believe for one minute T.D. is as far back in the decision-making shadows as we’re led to believe. I think he and DQ are very close, DQ is naturally leaning/relying on T.D. and T.D. is very much still “in the mix”! (When was the last time anybody even heard of Pioli – much less together w/ DQ discussing personnel matters?)

    In today’s NFL – by league design/changes, if you’re not scoring often, your team is just not going to win regularly and w/o a capable O line, the trench warfare is already a …done deal. Of course, all remains to be seen. Our defense was a given to be improved over last year with virtually ANY new HC, but it won’t carry the team alone. Those days are GWTW.

    1. Paddy O

      to, the purpose is to win games and get into the playoffs. Many Cinderella teams have proven just getting into the post season, you can write your own ticket. Ignoring the O line may turn out to be the death knell for Quinn. I could see MR2 getting injury knocked out in the Miami game, and as I have previously stated – and from Shanahans own words about Grossman – Shanahan does NOT do a good job of protecting his QB.

      1. Grits Blitz

        Paddy O – Could be…and if Shan doesn’t learn to protect his new QB soon and very soon, perhaps he may be a 1-year, “1-hit wonder” as OC on DQ bus!
        (If that does happen, doubt Shan would ever get another OC position anytime soon – if ever – with any NFL team.)

  19. PoolerSpirit

    I’m still holding out hope that the starting Offensive Line will gel before mid-season. I know Stone was horrible in the Miami game, and Person wasn’t very good at Center. (That’s Center, not OC, which has always been the Offensive Coordinator, and was never used to refer to the Center position in the past.) Hopefully they’ll surprise us and start Asamoah at one of the Guard positions, and have Stone back to being Hawley’s backup at Center. One bad preseason game shouldn’t have us worried that the Falcons will be a bust this year.
    And the complaints about Dimitroff… You know it wasn’t too long ago that everyone on here was raving about the draft we had this year. TD was involved in all of those decisions, along with Pioli and Quinn. How soon we forget!
    And finally, while I’m raving, how can anyone on here have a problem with D3?!!! He started The Cage, and after the AJC booted us off their site with no warning, Dawson’s the guy that got The Cage restarted with a WordPress website! I think the guy belongs in the Falcons Ring of Honor for what he’s done for Atlanta Falcon fans. If he’s busy with his new position at work, for which he should be congratulated, we’ll survive and get by. I’m still clicking on here four or five times a day to see the latest from fellow Falcon fans. What’s the problem?!!!

    1. Arno

      Hold on a sec! No need to start a controversy where there is none. I think we’re unanimous in our support of D3 and extremely grateful for the community he started. Any hint of a rumble is generated by our sense of group ownership in this blog, which is a healthy thing, and something that D3 has repeatedly said he values. If D3 needs to step back for a while he’ll say so. I trust there will be others, myself included, who’ll gladly do the admin duties for the site if he so wishes.

      1. Hamad Meander

        I come here for the lively discussions, which I haven’t seen wane. We all mostly have occupations, family, hobbies, and other things to do. Having the Falcons Cage is a blessing and cream on top of my coffee. Thanks D3 for everything!

  20. waynester

    The “chicken or egg” question about whether it’s the scheme or the personnell looks like an easy one to me. It’s the Players! Hawley was quoted above saying that the O-Line was “one block away” From what we’ve seen so far, I’d say they’re at least a CITY BLOCK away. Yes, the scheme is new, difficult, etc. but each guy has to execute and (as Jo H said) on almost every play, we have someone failing the guys on either side of them. Since it’s a new offensive plan we’re implementing, I expect it to take time for the Line to operate as a unit. These fellas have been playing together for several months now and( I believe ) should be a LOT further along by this point in the pre-season. I’m like a lot of ya’ll–watching the list of players available after the cut-down and hoping a good scheme fit will get let go by somebody…..

    1. Paddy O

      on at least 1 (I think 2) of the Miami sacks, 3 guys were hitting MR2, and the O line guys were standing around picking up their knickers. That was horrific play. It appears NONE Of them know what they are doing.

    1. Grits Blitz

      JWW – Must admit I was pulling for Reedy to make it. Maybe I was all wrong about him. Maybe he just never did have the pass catching skills needed at the NFL level but his speed was awesome. Too bad the fit could not have been better. Just dreaming about that speed as a WR and Ice dropping bombs to him (as if he’d ever have the time to launch)! Maybe he could make it to the practice squad and if his skills can be “coached up”, who knows. (We both know some skills, or the lack thereof, just can’t be coached.) Wish him well anyway.

  21. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Grits Blitz (9/2 @ 11:59 am) – Grits I’m moaning and groaning too (quietly). Would have gone OL (G or C) in 2nd Rd rather than CB. DQ’s reason for being brought to the Falcons was DEFENSE. I don’t believe the “O” will be totally ignored. That said, the top priority for years (and spending) has gone to the offense. Building the defense (and spending – other than re-signing JJ) will now be priority #1. Following that theory, I see the 1st pick being another pass rusher – either DE or LB. All depends on who is available on The Board of course.

    I see Dimwitroff as being one step closer to the back door and Quinn gaining influence in 2016. The Dimwitroff / Quinn “closeness” is a smokescreen for public viewing. Reality is that Quinn’s influence is all over this draft. That’s just my take and you are welcome to yours. No problem.

    On a different subject: I have indeed seen OC on occasion when referring to the center position. Agree that most often it is “C” but “OC” is also used. I kind of like “OC” but have also used “C”.

  22. Grits Blitz

    FLO – Fair enough. Think w/ any of us it’s okay to view things differently as we should all be entitled to our own vantage points. We all want our team to do and be the best and it indeed hurts when we see, for now, it just isn’t so and doesn’t look like it will be for a long time!
    (Perhaps I misinterpreted your post. My eldest brother just passed and I may have been a bit sensitive. Please forgive as I’m not back on my game yet. It’s all good, FLO.)

    I fully agree with you that, unless there was overwhelming evidence to scream for THAT CB in 2nd rd. was a must, so far, it certainly appears that was a pure mistake. Period. (I was supportive of even going for OT in rd. 1 but we both know NOBODY is a sure thing once they hit NFL competition.)
    I “hope” getting Vic in rd. 1 was THE smart move but, after merely 3 no-count, vanilla games, I must confess as yet I am not overly impressed he’s a full-time DE. (Clayborne, though, is another story!) Hope Vic turns into the next L. Taylor. TIme will tell all. (Just hope he plays full-time as we don’t have the personnel/luxury to have a part-time specialist. His physique appears better suited to OLB, to me. We’ll soon see…on the clock soon.)

    Would “like” to believe DQ selected all the players in the draft and called all the shots. We can only hope at this point and for the future.

  23. Seminole Warrior


    Thomas D. is not going anywhere….and contrary to what we THINK we heard, he is still a very powerful figure in the Process (or lack thereof) that is Flowery Branch. DQ has reminded you (us) of that every step of the way since his arrival in Atlanta.

    Let me be crystal clear here: This is NOT an attack. I am simply asking a very serious question as the season is about to start.

    My question is simple: What has Dan Quinn REALLY SHOWN to give such a STRONG feeling that he has the ability to yield considerable influence of the drafting of players as a first year head coach? Recall, there is a heck of a lot that we are still learning about this coach. Sure, he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle and it would appear that he did a fine job.

    But I remind you that he hardly stepped into a situation where he had to really influence the composition of the team especially the defense.

    Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley laid the foundation for the success that would become the Seattle defense. Quinn would actually leave the team to head to college (Florida) where he, once again, was paired with a stellar defensive mind in head coach Will Muschamp. After Bradley departed for the Jacksonville job, Quinn returned to Seattle. AMAZING success would follow him there in his first year back but again the foundation was in place courtesy of the work of Bradley and Carroll. It reminds me of the situation in Tallahassee when Jeremy Pruitt stepped into the DC seat at FSU after Mark Stoops, a well-respected DC, left to take the HC job at Kentucky.

    Am I saying that Quinn is not a good coach? NO I AM NOT. He represents the perfect profile of a young, high-energy coach that has significant potential. I am simply saying that there is a hell of a lot we still have to learn about the man and what he is capable of.

    I would remind my fellow fans that the Falcons have been down this road two other times; a high respected defensive coordinator who succeeded with existing talent or benefited significantly from the success of a veteran defensive presence. I would remind those same fans that we heard the same stories about high energy, good relationships with players, etc. in each of those hires as well. Tread carefully, friends. Especially when the strengths you felt were in place turn out to become varying degrees of liability.

    Remember Jim Mora Jr. (SF) & Mike Smith (Jacksonville)

    1. Grits Blitz

      Warrior – Hello! Yes, I have 20-20 hearing with what you are saying. I hear you and amen, amen. Come game #1, no more talk. Evaluations begin for … everybody … as it should be. Now is his time in the crucible, the wheelhouse. We all wish him the best (having inherited what he’s got to deal with, inc. T.D.)! Ready or not.
      We’ve been here before, haven’t we?
      Ready to board the MO. RR but not expecting the train to run “on time” just yet!

    2. Grits Blitz

      Won’t it be a great day when we actually have another HC (maybe it’s Quinn) that will be one of the best in the business!
      (Can’t think of anyone remotely coming close for us other than L. Bennett and D. Reeves.)
      Hope Quinn makes it. Plan to give him the customary 3 years. Sink or swim. (Doesn’t that apply to all of us who are/were employed?)

    3. JB Falcon

      SW, you are correct as far as DQ stepping into the results previously drafted players with Seattle, and Florida for that matter. The only thing he has shown, draft wise, is this years draft which has yet to be graded, but it does look like he did a pretty good job of it. So, in that respect he has shown us nothing…yet.
      However, I am a firm believer in a Positive Mental Attitude, known as PMA in my business. Secret to success, we were taught, PMA and OPM (Other Peoples Money). Anyway, yes Mora and MS both preached high energy, etc., but neither of them could convey it to the players. No matter how many times I tell my dog to “sit”, he’s not going to sit until I can get him to “want” to sit. DQ has brought that intrinsic value to the players and that, to me, is invaluable.

      1. Seminole Warrior

        My Brother

        Totally concur with every word of your reply’s second paragraph. Again, I am not attacking the man. I am wishing him good luck. He was not my choice but he is now the leader of my team. Until he gives me reason to change course, at this time, I am cautiously watching the evolution of his plan.

        The lack of temperance is what concerns me from where I sit here in middle GA and listening to a lot of fans here in my immediate area. They seem to not understand that there will be growing pains (possibly significant ones) in many areas that must be dealt with here in Atlanta.

        I am constantly reminding them; marathon not a sprint.

  24. John Waynesworld

    JB, it is certainly a telling number especially for an O Lineman. However, I have given up on guessing Quinnahan’s idea of good O Linemen. I will say it right now, Polumbus is a QB killer. Fast DEs go by him like he is frozen in time. He can’t possibly be good enough to be on this roster.

    Gritz, I absolutely agree. If a player isn’t called out for their good play on the field in games, they will be pushed down the chart and eventually out of the building. I liked what Reedy did last year but haven’t seen or heard much from him this year. Time to go and good luck to him for sure, as long as he is not on an NFC South roster.

    If you like numbers, here are some from Over the Cap on Julio…

    Good for the goose and the gander, on paper at least.

  25. Grits Blitz

    Time is winding down…
    It doesn’t matter in the least to me if DQ never raises his voice to his players when they screw up. But, am hoping he will convey, in no uncertain terms, what is and is not acceptable performance and then enforces it by showing those who can’t or(worse), won’t the door.
    He’s been around the block and has got to know if acceptable expectations are not met, he may eventually be the next to go. Players have GOT to respect him and if he hasn’t/doesn’t set the bar high to BEGIN with, “the cat will be out of the bag”.
    Hope, hope, hope he’s got… “the right stuff”. (I’m playing “the back nine” now so I’m pulling for you, Dan. Wishing you and all of us the best. Life is indeed short. We don’t expect miracles but consistent progress in the right direction. Get the right players and then coach ’em up!)

  26. Seminole Warrior


    A seriously front loaded deal.

    The 2016 numbers as they stand right now will be very interesting. Your thoughts?

    But between MR2 and JJ11, $39.6 million of the 2016 salary cap is already gone. That represents 28% of the team’s cap. Throw in the next FIVE players (Soliai, Moore, Jackson, White, & Asamoah) with an additional $31.4 million.

    $71 million dollars – nearly HALF of your cap space among seven players. That’s where 2016 will begin.

    Meanwhile, for example, we could release Devin Hester, Justin Durant, Matt Bryant, and Babs for a “temporary cap savings” of $10.1 million dollars. But wait!!

    Of that $10.1 million in savings, immediately, $6.4 million is lost due to the residual on the balance owed to Sam Baker.

    And all this is before we begin the process of replacing the one year rentals that seem to be key to the “defensive” resurrection many are seeing in Atlanta.

    Going to be very interesting to monitor for sure…..

    1. Grits Blitz

      Warrior – Will be very surprised if ANY of your 5 mentioned for 31.4 mill. are kept in 2016, as well as Hester and Babs in 2016.
      Then, the question of “owed” money to any of them (and Baker) enters the arena for adding any potential, 1st-tier FAs in 2016!
      2016 viewed as THE crucial turnaround year, imo.

  27. Grits Blitz

    Meant Quinn doesn’t have to be an old-school Lombardi type to me, but hopefully will NOT hesitate to meet with players in private to point-bland, it’s a business, either shape up or prepare to ship out as opposed to public ridicule.

  28. medallion

    Like pretty much everybody, I am very concerned about the O line being bad for a 3rd straight year after the whupping Miami’s first team defense put on our OL and anybody else that was suppose to block on pass plays in particular. Somehow and perhaps strangely, we managed a top 10 offense with last year’s OL and we were at least in the top 15 in 2013 (too lazy at the moment to go look whether maybe 9th -12th that year).
    Am I overreacting to one preseason game in the rain with Stone being tried at LG and Person at C (instead of playing their normal positions of C and LG) and fears of conversion to ZBS being a poor plan? I don’t know.
    What I do know is that both ZBS and PBS have to be able to usually protect the QB on passing plays and that schemes can be devised to help one weak pass blocking OLer (Sean Payton has many times), but trying to help two weak pass blocking OLers is a very bad recipe. Besides Stone looking bad at pass blocking (usually isolated because Suh being double teamed), Schraeder looked very bad (although Miami did blitz from that side and no good help from a FB/RB appeared) and Matthews had problems also.
    Here’s to hoping pass blocking gets figured out first and fast.


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