D. Orlando Ledbetter has two great interview recaps of Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff discussing the evaluations of last years team, preparations for this years draft, and preparations for free agency. These were conducted at this years Scouting Combine.
Here are some bullet points from the Mike Smith interview:
"Q: Could you talk about your evaluation of the defense, by front line, linebackers and secondary groups?We did not play the pass as well as we’d like. It’s something that we definitely have to address. Statistically we were not close to where we need to be or want to be. I think that’s twofold. One, we address the pass rush and number two, is that we improve our secondary play. Those are areas that we definitely will want to address. I’m pleased with our young corners. Brent Grimes had six interceptions this season. Christopher Owens had an opportunity to play when our starter went down. I think that we have three young corners that can play and can continue to grow, but they are very, very young."
So really not an answer in there as to what they will be looking for in the first round of the upcoming draft. Although he did praise the Corners that we already have.
"Q: In your division, it looks like Carolina is losing Julius Peppers. Could you talk about how it will be facing Carolina without him? And whether he might be a candidate to help your own pass rush?A: Well, I can tell you this. Having Julius Peppers out of the NFC South will be a good thing. He’s been an outstanding player for a number of years. He’s a guy that you always have to be aware of and where he’s aligned. You always have to scheme to try to protect your quarterback.Q: As far as, will you guys look at him?A: (Smitty can’t answer and risk a tampering fine, but does a nice side-step). As far as this year’s free agent class, it is not as deep as usual.. There are not as many numbers. We’ll do our due diligence on every free agent that is available. We’ve been spending a lot of our offseason, not only on the personnel side but also with the coaching staff watching tape."
Obviously Smith can’t answer a direct question involving Peppers. It does sound as though they will be evaluating every possibility although Dimitroff’s answer on this question is a lot more detailed.
Now a couple of points from Thomas Dimitroff:
"OPENING STATEMENT: How is everyone doing? This is my 21st combine and honestly I never get tired and continue to be ramped up by the thought of new and improving additions to our team. Going into 2010 for Atlanta, (there is) no question that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of . . . actually I think where we need the most improvement is in the side of consistency. We talked about that last year. That was the one element that I think was lacking across the board. There’s room for evaluation at every level. Myself included and we are looking forward to continuing to improve and this is a great place for us to start. So, with that, any questions? I’ll be happy to try to answer."
I like the fact that he sees consistency as one of this teams big issues as I think it has been a big problem.
"Q: Are you all in a position to go after Julius Peppers?"
"A: When the 5th comes around and we’re ready to focus on free agency, we’ll can really focus on it, we’ll be open to considering any possibilities. We’ll research it hard. That’s part of our jobs. We’ll look at all of the players that are of interest to us and who we deem as good fiscally responsible moves. That will be an important thing for us as a team."
Again kind of reiterates that they will concentrate on free agency once that period begins and evaluate everyone that they might be interested in. Being fiscally responsible has been a trademark of Dimitroff since he came to the Falcons and it will continue. When it comes to Peppers they will see what kind of offers get thrown his way.