Now that the dust has cleared from the March 1st Falcon release of three starters, a move for youth and cap space into the 2014 season, the waiting and wondering of what will come next will have center stage for another week until free agency hit’s the spotlight. The Antone Smith signing not exactly a news flash but more a roster stabilizer although I hope he moves ahead of Snelling in the depth ranks.
Of the three ageing casualties released it is my opinion that Dunta will be the hardest to replace. First, I know Abraham was the most valuable defensive pass rusher on the team, and he will be missed on the field and in the clubhouse, but I have no doubt that the Birds brass will fill this void with a solid upgrade because it is all to well documented that the defensive line and opposing quarterback harassment was weak and a number one priority . Mike Smith and Mike Nolan will definitely better this area either in the draft, free agency or perhaps both. I’m led to believe that the release of Robinson has the birds looking at Grimes, and this is where I get nervous. Although Robinson did not live up to his contract, he was a tough nose cornerback and solid hitter defending the rush of the opposition. It’s hard to know if some of the missed coverage was partly the pass rush fault, for no corner can cover receivers for extended periods. Brent Grimes is an elite cover corner, and I know the Falcons will make sure he is one hundred percent healthy, but even in his best year he was not a tough hitter, and being out of football and the contact for a year leaves him somewhat open for another possible stint on the injury report. Deion Sanders was a great cover guy, but teams learned to run at him and I fear Atlanta may see similar strategy and I just hope that Dunta’s replacement can stay healthy the year long. Cornerback is a vital position and can easily be exposed.
In hearing the release of Abraham and Robinson I thought it a wise business move but also wish and hope, as the coaches probably do, that the 3M ‘fix’ of Matthews, McClain and Massaquoi fill the holes as they all rise up to a higher playing level and make the departures seem distant and another brilliant move by T.D.
I am also waiting and wondering how the 2013 schedule will unfold. Schedules have a huge roll in a season’s success if you rate the opponent, weather, travel as in cross country, back to back road games, or shortened week because of Monday or Thursday night games. The opponents are set, but I doubt Atlanta will ever get the 2012 Home and Away swap each week again. In 2013 the birds, as every team strives to, must take care of the division rivals, especially at the nest. Going to San Francisco is the toughest game no matter what week it falls in, but don’t think the Falcons don’t enjoy having Seattle come into the dome rather than going cross country to Centurylink field. There are visits to Green Bay and Buffalo, and if after Thanksgiving will be tougher matches than if scheduled earlier. I’ll never forget growing up watching good solid Dallas teams go into Lambeau field at season‘s end. The players and coaches won’t say, but we all know there is no place like home. I think it much better to have the Patriots come south and the Saints and Buccaneers visit New England than turned around. It will be interesting how any prime time games are slated. Atlanta played a Monday, a Thursday and a Saturday night game in 2012, and won all three, and the success last year will no doubt bring some nationally televised spots in 2013. Where the bye week falls is also big, week eight would be nice. Just waiting and wondering if the Birds can come close to the 13 – 3 record of last year, because the Dome showed it’s a nice place to play in January.
Waiting and Wondering on Tony G. Hasn’t said good bye and it’s March, that is a Positive sign.