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The Falcoholic - All Posts Falcons News, Analysis & Tomfoolery For and By Fans

  • The Falcoholic Live: Ep108 - Will Training Camp Happen?
    by Kevin Knight on July 8, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    Join the crew of The Falcoholic Live at 8:10 PM ET as they tackle the biggest question on every fan’s mind: will training camp (and the NFL season) actually happen? We’ll also discuss Patrick Mahomes’ mega deal and answer your Falcons questions. Watch the stream below or on YouTube beginning at 8:10 PM ET Fellow Falcoholics, welcome to Episode 108 of The Falcoholic Live! We’re back after a slight hiatus to try and tackle the biggest question on every fan’s mind this month: will Falcons training camp—and the NFL season as a whole—actually happen? Other topics include Patrick Mahomes’ mega deal and it’s implications for other QBs, and plenty of Falcons-related Q&A. You can watch the show on the site, but we recommend watching on YouTube for the best experience, including full 1080p HD video and access to the live Q&A. You can also access the show on your smart TV or device using the YouTube app for the big-screen experience! As always, we’ll also be taking your questions throughout the show. If you’d like to ask a question, there are two ways to do so: Ask your question in advance by tweeting it to the show @FalcoholicLive. Ask your question live by sending it in the comments on YouTube. We hope you enjoy the show! If you have comments, we’d love to hear them. Send them to us on Twitter (@FalcoholicLive), leave them below, or e-mail us at falcoholiclive@gmail.com. Thanks for watching!

  • Falcons player profile: LB Mykal Walker
    by Kevin Knight on July 8, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Photo by David Dennis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images We’re kicking off our Falcons player profile series with a look at the projected starters. We continue our LB preview with fourth-round rookie Mykal Walker, who has big shoes to fill as De’Vondre Campbell’s potential successor. We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons. We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The third group I’ll be examining is LB, where the Falcons lost starter De’Vondre Campbell to free agency and drafted Mykal Walker in the fourth round. Just how good can the LB corps be without Campbell in 2020? Today, we take a closer look at the Falcons’ fourth-round draft pick and potential successor to De’Vondre Campbell in 2020: Mykal Walker. LB Mykal Walker Age: 22 (23 during 2020 season) Contract: $796K cap hit in 2020 (projected), rookie contract through 2023 ($1M APY) Career Production: 26 games played | 182 total tackles, 22.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, 10 PD, 3 FF (College) 2019 Production: 12 games played | 96 total tackles, 9.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 4 PD, 1 FF (College) Previous Teams: Drafted 4th round (#119 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2020) Measurables: After losing veteran and long-time starter De’Vondre Campbell in free agency—which was a foregone conclusion after Deion Jones got his mega-deal—the Falcons needed to find a way to replace Campbell’s role in the defense. Due to their extremely tight cap situation, they also needed to find a way to do it for a low cost. If you’re looking for upside and a low cap hit, there’s no better place to find it than the NFL draft, which is where Atlanta found Mykal Walker. The team’s fourth-round pick, Walker is similar to Campbell in many ways. Both are big-bodied athletes at the LB position coming from smaller programs, and both look like prototypical 4-3 SAM types. While Campbell has slightly better size and athleticism, Walker is a more polished player who has experience playing at several spots in the front seven. Walker actually began his career as an EDGE player, and transitioned to a primary role at LB during the 2019 season. In terms of playstyle and fit in the Falcons defense, Walker should be able to assume the role vacated by Campbell pretty early in his career. His experience at EDGE could make him a more effective SAM than Campbell, who primarily played WILL during his time in Atlanta. Walker’s versatility also gives him depth potential for multiple spots on the defense: he has the range to play MIKE/WILL, and also the size and pass rushing chops to play SAM. Just like Campbell, Walker has the potential to step into an impact role early in his NFL career—particularly with a strong LB coach like Jeff Ulbrich showing him the ropes. Assuming Foyesade Oluokun can take a step forward in 2020, Walker probably doesn’t need to play more than a rotational role in his rookie season. But there’s no question that Walker might wind up being Atlanta’s best option to cover TEs due to his size and athleticism, and his versatility and experience could lead to early production in his career. Projection: Mykal Walker is slated to be the third LB in the Falcons rotation, and will probably be the primary option at SAM in base packages. Expect to see him spell Foyesade Oluokun in TE coverage situations, too. How effective Walker is in limited action early in the season will likely determine how big of a role he earns throughout 2020.

  • Pivotal moments in Falcons history: the decision to let Prime Time walk
    by James Rael on July 8, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images Fact: Deion Sanders invented shoelaces Welcome to “Pivotal moments in Falcons history,” a new series examining the most important moments in Atlanta Falcons history. This team has experienced its fair share of ups, downs, and embarrassing moments. Let’s re-live the mediocrity. The year is 1989. The Falcons use the 5th overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Deion Sanders. Sanders is a dynamic Florida State product that plays both baseball and football. He has wowed scouts with his speed and athleticism, running a record-breaking 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine (4.27 seconds). The future looks bright for the Falcons secondary. But 5 years later, Sanders left the Falcons via free agency. What happened? And what was the long-term impact, if any? Following the 1993 season, Sanders just decided his time in Atlanta was over. After 5 seasons of mediocrity, he wanted to win a championship, and from his perspective, the Falcons weren’t equipped to offer him that opportunity. The Falcons allowed the 49ers to sign him away on a 1-year, $1.2 million deal, which was dirt cheap, even back then. You can’t really blame him. The Falcons had gone 6-10 in back to back seasons (1992-1993). The frustration was real. During his only season in San Francisco, Sanders intercepted 6 passes, returning 3 for touchdowns. The 49ers would go 13-3 and go on to win the Super Bowl, making them the first NFL franchise to win 5 Super Bowls. Did Sanders leave Atlanta just so he could win a championship? Probably. But there are a couple of alternative theories worth considering. Week 7 saw Sanders make his return to Atlanta. And Falcons WR Andre Rison didn’t waste any time setting the tone. During their second matchup in Week 14, they effectively squashed whatever beef they had. Here’s what Sanders said after that game: “We talked before the game and all during the game,” San Francisco’s Sanders said after the 49ers’ 50-14 victory. “You know, how’s the family and all that stuff. That’s the way rivalries between great athletes should be.” In short, I doubt Sanders left Atlanta to get away from Rison. That’s a farfetched explanation, at best. But it’s a theory some Falcons fans have floated over the years and it’s worth addressing. So what about the money? Well, the fact that Sanders signed for only $1.2 million in 1994 speaks volumes. He could’ve signed for more and he could’ve secured a long-term deal, but he chose not to go that route. Rankin Smith publicly expressing concern about Sanders playing both football and baseball likely had something to do with it as well. So what could the Falcons have done differently? That’s hard to say. Winning some football games would’ve helped. And again, it doesn’t seem like Sanders’ decision to leave had anything to do with money. The best explanation I can concoct is that he didn’t feel like he had an opportunity to win. What’s more, he didn’t feel like he had to stay. Had the Falcons committed to surrounding him with the kind of talent you need to win championships, things might’ve been different. (The Falcons played in a single playoff game during Sanders’ tenure in Atlanta. They also had losing seasons in 4 of the 5 years he was with the team.) Had Smith shown unconditional support of his desire to play two sports professionally, things might’ve been different. Ultimately the impact of Sanders’ departure is debatable. He played on some bad defenses in Atlanta. In fact, while he was with the team, the Falcons never ranked better than 20th in points allowed and never ranked better than 19th in yards allowed. The situation didn’t improve after he left. Between 1994 and 1997 (the year before the Falcons went to the Super Bowl), the Falcons never ranked better than 19th in points allowed and never ranked better than 20th in yards allowed. Could the Falcons have been a better football team with Sanders still in the mix? Yes, especially if they were willing to invest draft capital and open their pocketbooks in free agency to make it happen. But hindsight is 20/20, and it’s impossible to quantify his potential impact had the Falcons signed him to a long-term deal before he hit free agency. Your thoughts about the decision to let Prime Time walk, Falcoholics?

  • NFLPA President: NFL is putting players at risk by ignoring the league’s own experts
    by Matthew Chambers on July 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports JC Tretter warns the season is on the line. Only a few months ago, the NFL said the coronavirus will not impact the season. Surely, with plenty of time to prepare, things will all blow over. The conoravirus has since blown through every single NFL plan like Michael Turner running over defensive backs, and has thrown wrenches in their plans like Michael Turner tossing Eric Weems into oncoming defenders. The early March timeline has changed a lot, with the Annual League Meeting canceled, offseason workouts moved to virtual meetings, the NFL Draft festivities in Las Vegas canceled for a virtual draft, rookie minicamps moving virtual, two preseason games canceled (so far), and training camp only about three weeks away. We have not heard much of the league’s actual plans. The clearest rumors, under two months from the start of the regular season, is that teams will follow local guidelines. What those mean, and if those will be safe for players, coaches, or fans is still undetermined. The player association’s president, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, had some harsh words for the league and it could cost everyone the season. As a preventative measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFLPA and NFL formed a Joint Committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches to develop protocols designed to bring players up to full speed in a healthy way when they return. The NFL initially accepted and implemented the Joint Committee’s suggestions, including items like no joint practices and no fans at training camp. However, the NFL was unwilling to follow the Joint Committee’s recommendation of a 48-day training camp schedule. Despite these experts’ assessment that teams face a serious risk of player-injury spikes this year (based on past NFL data and recent findings from sports leagues that have already returned to play this year), the NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football. Tretter wrote on the NFLPA’s website likely because the NFL remains steadfastly dedicated to pretending things will not be impacted. Now he is forced to spread the NFLPA’s thoughts on a blog post to hopefully provide some player safety. The league has yet to make any truly important decisions while the NBA, MLB, and US Soccer have dealt with expanding COVID-19 spread before a single game is even played. Like so many sports leagues, and even nations, states, and people, the NFL is hoping to ignore the pandemic and hopes it will all goes away. None of those bets have paid off quite yet. Tretter thinks the NFL is dedicated to ignoring everything. Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season. Tretter has some intriguing points. The NFL is clearly not following the expertise of medical professionals when fan participation will be based on whatever the local rules currently are. The initial problems with every other professional league in the United States guarantee the NFL cannot run unimpeded for 5+ months, not without risking the virus running rampant through the league. The lack of any actual plans, outside of pretty solid testing, shows the NFL is not up to take on the challenge the coronavirus presents, at least as things stand today. The NFLPA agrees, and without the players on board, it’s going to be hard to approach anything like business as normal come September.

  • Where do Falcons past and present rank on the all-time punting leaderboards?
    by Dave Choate on July 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Matt Bosher is one of the most efficient punters in NFL history, to the surprise of few. We’re on to punting! How fun. You would likely expect the Falcons to have some punters on the all-time list, for reasons that range from the positive (Matt Bosher is really good) to the negative (the Falcons were really bad for a long time). You would be absolutely correct in that assumption, but maybe some of the names will surprise you. Let’s get to it! Punts #10: Chris Mohr, 1,152 #17: John James, 1,083 #20: Dan Styzinski, 1,055 #56: Michael Koenen, 748 #91: Billy Lothridge, 532 Punt Yards #17: Chris Mohr, 46,570 #21: John James, 43,992 #26: Dan Stryzinski, 42,072 #92: Matt Bosher, 22,346 #98: Billy Lothridge, 21,792 Yards Per Punt Average #12: Matt Bosher, 45.7 #67: Michael Koenen, 42.7 #89: Rick Donnelly, 42.1 Punts Blocked #10: Matt Bosher, 9 #20: Michael Koenen, 8 #37: John James, 6 #83: Scott Fulhage, 4 #83: Chris Mohr, 4 This is an interesting one. Mohr was a well-traveled punter who is on top of the leaderboards for volume, and in light of that it’s remarkable he only had four punts blocked in his long career. At the same time, he was not an efficient punter, averaging just 40.4 yards per punt, good for 152nd all-time. James was the team’s longest tenured punter, meanwhile, and has some ranks that will never be broken in Atlanta. He’s also one of the volume leaders all-time in the NFL and is slightly ahead of Mohr for efficiency (144th overall). Bosher had a very strange career in Atlanta. He’s just outside the top 50 in terms of total punts, close to #100 in terms of total yards, and top 10 all-time in terms of the number of punts he had blocked, all of which suggests a less than stellar place on the career leaderboard. Yet anyone who saw him in Atlanta can attest he was a pretty terrific punter, and his position on the all-time yards per punt leaderboard (#12) supports that completely. He was underrated by fans while he was here, especially when you throw in his fine work on kickoffs and as a tackler.

 

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