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Posts tagged with "Dontari Poe"

Falcons owner Arthur Blank discussing his plans before the Lions’ game on Sunday. (By D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com) 

Falcons owner Arthur Blank stood next to head coach Dan Quinn on the field during the National Anthem before Sunday’s game with the Detroit Lions.

Defensive tackles Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe elected to kneel while holding hands with defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel (standing to the right of Jarrett) and Adrian Clayborn (standing to left of Poe).

Eight members of the Detroit Lions elected to kneel also.

“It’s just a physical and symbolic representation of what I said yesterday,” Blank said before the game about standing with his team.

Blank was fine with whatever the players elected to do.

”What they do is their choice,” Blank said before the game. “I’m supportive of our players. I’m certainly supportive of their rights to express their freedom of speech. I don’t think…the people that fought for this country going back several hundred years primarily weren’t fighting for geography. They were fighting for way of life, and part of that is reflected in the freedom of speech and the ability to speak up and speak out on issues.

Blank was not pleased with the comments of President Donald Trump about players who have elected to kneel during the National Anthem.

“It’s unfortunate that the president chose to go in that direction and speak out the way he has,” Blank said. “Love conquers and that kind of divisiveness and calling out accomplishes nothing, satisfies nothing.”

Blank was not one of the seven NFL owners who dontated $1 million to Trump’s campaign. Blank was a strong supporter of  President Barack Obama.

Players around the league have been protesting social and racial injustice in the country.

“The issues that they point to are legitimate issues,” Blank said. “They need to be talked about it. We need to make progress as a country moving forward with them. We don’t do it by creating walls. We don’t build walls. That doesn’t create better listening or better responses or connections.”

Blank noted that the Falcons are one of the busiest teams when it comes to doing community service.

“I think our players love this country,” Blank said. “They not only play this game, but they work their fannies off physically and financially giving back in a variety of ways to our communities throughout the national football league. We are the first to step up and do very significant things. They do it day in and day out. I see it every day with our players.”

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At least, we think so.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I believe that most people have properly rated the Falcons offense heading into the 2017 season. The average analyst, pundit and fan is comfortable thinking of the Falcons are one of the NFL’s best, though probably slightly less effective than they were in 2016. That’s all well and good.

The defense, on the other hand? The defense appears to be underrated.

Take Football Outsiders, which does a marvelous job of building out projections for each season based on in-depth analyses of performance over the last few years, among many other variables, to try to produce a quality forecast for how each NFL team will perform and rank statistically in a given season. They’re not always right—they had the Falcons with a less than 30% chance of making the playoffs last year—but they run a much more rigorous analysis than other shops. And where do they have the 2017 Falcons defense ranking, you ask?

24th! After they were 26th overall a year ago. We’re still waiting for FO’s explainer for this, but it does underscore the fact that not everyone is seeing and forecasting the same kind of defensive improvement that bullish Falcons fans are. They may not be hyper-impressed by the addition of Dontari Poe, they may see some regression from Vic Beasley, or they might just not think this unit can gel and improve hugely. The team did get better-than-expected contributions from Deion Jones and Keanu Neal last year and still don’t have an obviously elite set of pass rushers to work with, so the skepticism is understandable to a certain extent.

Whatever the rationale, they’re being underrated. If they’re not, this season may not go the way we want it to.

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ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates a Falcons touchdown with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) in the first half of the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. The Atlanta Falcons won the game 44-21. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

TODD KIRKLAND/ICON SPORTSWIRE

So many things went right for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. With an offense that led the league by averaging more than 33 points per game, the Falcons ran and threw their way to an NFC championship and a Super Bowl appearance.

Although the Falcons fell short against the New England Patriots, they not only kept the core of their team but added some pieces they hope will take them over the top.

Different Falcons stepped up last year, making it tough to name the 10 best Falcons on the roster. Rookie Takkarist McKinley didn’t make the list. Corners Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant also fell short of the top 10.

Here are the 10 best Falcons on the roster.

  1. S Ricardo Allen

Moving from cornerback to safety, Ricardo Allen played a team-high 1,101 defensive snaps at a high level. He finished the regular season with 90 tackles and two interceptions and added two more during the team’s Super Bowl run. He is the playmaker in the secondary.

  1. DT Dontari Poe

Defensive tackle Dontari Poe wasn’t with the Falcons last year, but he gives the squad a former Pro Bowler who can not only clog the middle but get after the passer if healthy. Poe had a career-low 27 tackles last year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has a chip on his shoulder and the Falcons hope he translates that anger into prime performances.

  1. DT Grady Jarrett

A person who should benefit from having Poe beside him is Grady Jarrett. He broke out in the Super Bowl, sacking Tom Brady three times. That number equaled the amount of sacks he had in the regular season. Jarrett doubled his tackle total from his rookie season of 2015. His mixture of power and speed should help him improve in his third season.

  1. S Keanu Neal

Every team needs a hard-hitting enforcer. Safety Keanu Neal is that man for the Falcons. He doesn’t mind coming down in the box to help in the run game, but he also roams the secondary well. Neal was second on the team with 106 tackles. He forced five fumbles.

  1. C Alex Mack

There are not many offensive linemen who would be considered on a team’s 10 top players list, much alone a center. Alex Mack was the glue to the Falcons’ offensive line last year and got everything started. He was a key reason why the Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game and 120.5 yards rushing.

Atlanta Falcons' Alex Mack plays against the New England Patriots during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  1. LB Deion Jones

As a rookie last year, linebacker Deion Jones started 13 games. He led the team in tackles, had three interceptions, and led all linebackers with 11 pass breakups. Jones has shown he can play the run as well as the pass. He is the engine of the defense.

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Our staff leans toward yes.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Kendall Jackson

Yes. The Falcons need sacks.

Matt Chambers

The fans love Freeney, and he had plenty of juice down the stretch to be a worthy addition. I imagine the Falcons will want to get the higher priority Devonta Freeman deal done first, and they reportedly expect it done before camp. Camp is quickly approached, and while we would all love Freeney, I have one concern: the Falcons have made huge improvements to the defensive line. I expect the “starters” to be a rotation of Vic BeasleyBrooks Reed, and Takkarist McKinley, with DE/DT players like Adrian Clayborn, Tyson Crawford, Derrick Shelby playing end a bit more with the Dontari Poe addition. We may also see a few other guys get a chance to rush the passer, like De’Vondre Campbell. Freeney then becomes an expensive third-down specialist who may only play on half the third-and-long situations. I still want Freeney back, but I will completely understand if the Falcons move forward with their current pass rushers.

Dave Choate

I don’t see it happening, at least not to start the year. The Falcons added Takkarist McKinley in the draft class, and they have a rotation of inside/outside defensive linemen who are useful chess pieces for Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel’s defense. Freeney would be the second or third-best pass rusher once again on this defense, and

Quinn, I believe, wants to see the collection of talent he has in action during training camp and preseason before he brings Freeney on. I think if he’s satisfied, as I anticipate he will be, Freeney won’t end up joining the team. I’d love to see him come back, but at this point, I’m dubious.

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The Chris Ballard connection could be bringing a Chief to Indianapolis.

The Colts are hosting defensive tackle Dontari Poe, per multiple reports. Poe told Josina Anderson of ESPN that Colts are
trying to get something done.”

Via Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Poe plans to visit the Falcons, Dolphins, and Raiders after that. If, of course, the Colts fail in their effort to get something done.

A first-round pick in 2012, Poe has spent five years with the Chiefs, They chose not to apply the franchise tag after working out a long-term deal with safety Eric Berry.

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