Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Up To Speed- Atlanta Falcons
I can't think of one team for whom what happened in the 2006 season has less relevance than the Atlanta Falcons.
The reason for that, of course, is that Ron Mexico, aka Michael Vick, aka The Dog Whisperer, is under federal indictment for crimes against caninity, is going to miss this NFL season, and has a 99% chance of going away for a while. In the shadow of that, really nothing else concerning the Falcons seems to mean anything.
In the interest of completeness, the Falcons probably would have gone undefeated last year, if last year was 1918 and the forward pass had not yet been invented. No NFL team was more prolific in rushing offense last year, and few were harder to run against.
The problem was, that in this era of plastic helmets, it is essential that you not only be able to gain yardage by throwing the ball forward from one player to another, but also to prevent the other team from doing so. The Falcons struggled with both of those concepts last year, ranking 29th in pass defense, and dead last in passing offense. The end result was that the Falcons won only 2 out of their last 9 games, and head coach Jim Mora Jr. got the ax.
Mora's replacement is former University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino. The Falcons are hoping that Petrino can replicate the success of other college coaches who have made the jump to the pros, like Jimmy Johnson, and....uh.....you know...that guy...uhh...help me out here Midge.
Petrino brings a virtual wonderland of offensive trickery and doo-dads that are sure to work as great against NFL defenses as they did against Conference USA, or whatever conference Louisville is now in.
Petrino's star protege in Vick's absence will be former Lions failed savior Joey Harrington. Harrington did the impossible and was actually WORSE last year in Miami than he had been in Detroit, posting a 68.2 passer rating after being in the 70's the last 2 years. Harrington is just as lousy a passer as Vick is, only he can't run either.
Harrington will have the usual assortment of bad wide receivers to work with that Vick always had. The only change will be that the Falcons have said goodbye to perennial disappointment Ashley Lelie, who continues to struggle with having a very girly name. He'll be replaced by former Saints WR Joe Horn, who hasn't had a 1000 yard season since 2004.
You can tell a lot about where the Falcons are talent wise right now by the fact that they plan on starting three rookies in Week 1. First round pick Jamaal Anderson is a towering defensive end who the Falcons hope will boost their anemic pass rush. Anderson will replace free agent loss Patrick Kerney, who has been injured and/or ineffective for most of the last two seasons.
Second round pick Justin Blalock is expected to start at guard, and the team hopes that third round pick Chris Houston will be able to beat out journeyman Lewis Sanders for a starting corner job.
Louisville QB Brian Brohm is an early favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2008 draft. As I enthusiastically rub my crystal ball, I see a distinct possibility that he and Petrino could be re-united in Atlanta. Of course, that means the Falcons would have to be horrible this year, which they will be. Now you're up to speed on the Falcons.
Posted by GRRM Jr. at 1:17 PM