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Posts tagged with "offseason"

The Falcons dealt with this the whole offseason, and you saw it, because it was impossible to miss it—28–3, 28–3, 28–3. And riding shotgun to all the taunting was the idea that the mother of all Super Bowl hangovers was coming as a result of the mother of all Super Bowl collapses.

Two weeks in, not so much. And the Falcons have handled all of this so well, because they haven’t run from it. As recently as last week, players—all the way up the chain to Matt Ryan—were speaking freely about overcoming the past. There wasn’t a ceremonial burial of a football, or an embargo on talking about 2016. Instead, the players and coaches have hit what they had coming right between the eyes.

And the reason why is simple. They did what few NFL teams have the stomach to when things go sideways—behind the GM they’ve stuck with for a decade and a head coach they’ve invested in, they believed in their course and stuck to it.

You can start, too, with one thing that actually changed. Atlanta handled its biggest offseason defection—Kyle Shanahan leaving to coach the Niners—by asking every candidate they interviewed, “can you run his offense?” In essence, screaming to the players, stay the course. The man Quinn found, Steve Sarkisian, has background with Pete Carroll, another sign of how Atlanta was building on the program, not tearing it down. So while the pilot was different, the script wasn’t and, at least on Sunday, neither was the result. Matt Ryan and company rolled up 257 yards and 24 points in the first half alone against Green Bay.

If they looked unaffected by all the noise, that makes sense too, because it had been impressed on the players that they’d been through a smaller version of this before. During Dan Quinn’s first season with the Falcons, the team saw a 6–1 start evaporate into an 8–8 finish—and that loomed over the 2016 offseason. The same way 28–3 will come up this year every time Atlanta has a lead, the 2–7 meltdown served as a caveat to every early-season win they had last year. And the Falcons were able to plow through all of that on their way to the Super Bowl.

And then, finally, there’s Quinn himself, a coach who was the king of the 2015 coaching carousel in large part because of his ability to reach players and lead, qualities that equipped him for the aftermath of the letdowns of both the ’15 season, and Super Bowl LI.

We don’t know yet whether or not the Falcons are going to be where they were last year, with a shot to win the franchise’s first world title. But what we should’ve known all along was simple—they most certainly were equipped to handle all that was coming their way.

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What are the keys to the game and who will win Sunday’s Week 1 showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks?

Some story lines for today’s Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks showdown:

– The NFC arms race has continued into this week. Seattle signed Sheldon Richardson and Green Bay added three more players after a rare, active offseason. “It’s different. Obviously, there’s some aggressiveness there,” outside linebacker Nick Perry said. “I’m not making the calls, I’m not calling the shots, but you’ve seen new guys and guys that will be able to contribute and help. I think that’s all that everybody wants is for everybody to do a great job — not just a good job. The guys they’ve brought in here, it’s going to truly help this team in the long run.”

– With Richardson, Seattle has the best pass rush in the NFL. How will the Packers counter?

– Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made his NFL debut against Seattle in the 2014 opener. “It actually feels like yesterday,” Clinton-Dix said. He struggled in that game, has become a star since, and wants to show how good he is against Seattle’s elite tandem of safeties.

– Seattle shopped star cornerback Richard Sherman during the offseason. He’s back, but will the Packers even test him given the uncertainty at the other corner spots?

– Aaron Rodgers could make some NFL history with a milestone that quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said, “I don’t know if it’ll ever be touched.”

– History says today’s game is huge.

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Buffalo Bills' Anquan Boldin warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Bills’ Anquan Boldin warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)(Jeffrey T. Barnes)
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Anquan Boldin promised that his retirement had nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills.

The wide receiver told SiriusXM that the events of Charlottesvilleprompted his retirement. The receiver seemed genuine about his intention to leave the game to do social advocacy work, but the timing was peculiar. Boldin’s decision to retire came shortly after the Bills traded away Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby in separate deals and after he appeared in one sloppy preseason game.

Although Boldin claimed his retirement had nothing to do with the Bills, a report from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says that Boldin is willing to play again this season for a more competitive team. According to Volin, Boldin has interest in coming out of retirement to play for the New England Patriots.c

“In light of Edelman’s injury, a league source said the Patriots and recently retired Anquan Boldin had mutual interest in bringing Boldin to New England this offseason, and he remains intrigued by the possibility,” Volin said. “But the point is likely moot. Boldin signed with the Bills, and was placed on Buffalo’s reserve/retired list Aug. 22. That means the Bills retain his rights, and they would need to release him in order to let him sign with the Patriots. That sort of cooperation from a division rival doesn’t seem likely.”

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Everything is still to play for in the Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver battle, and tight end Richard Rodgers has a broken finger.

Good morning and welcome to the Titletown Report for Monday, August 14.

We’re inching closer towards the start of the regular season. The first preseason game is in the bag and Green Bay’s attention is now on the Washington Redskins, who they meet at FedExField on Saturday night.

GREEN BAY, WI – NOVEMBER 26: Jeff Janis #83 of the Green Bay Packers carries the football in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

The regular season opener against Seattle is under four weeks away, just 27 more days. As is always the case this time of year, there’s plenty to talk about.

Let’s dive into the Titletown Report.

Packers complete best offseason yet under Ted Thompson — Evan Siegel

A great read by Lombardi Ave’s own Evan Siegel. He breaks down Green Bay’s offseason, and explains why it’s Ted Thompson’s finest yet as general manager.

Packers wide receiver battle heating up — Chris Peterson of Cheesehead TV

The battle for roster spots at the wide receiver position is no more settled than it was at the start of training camp. It could go in a number of directions. Will Trevor Davis make the team? If so, does Jeff Janis miss out? What about the rookies? There’s a lot to play for in the next month.

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There’s a lot of guys battling, but who emerges triumphant?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve said throughout the offseason that the swing tackle battle should be an interesting one, given the lack of established options on the roster. Short of the Falcons shrugging, jettisoning the six or so contenders currently on the 90 man and snagging a veteran, someone has to win this thing. The tricky thing is figuring out who.

So here’s tonight’s question: Who is going to win that swing tackle job? Is the man in question even on the roster right now?

I predicted Andreas Knappe over the last couple of months and I’m going to stick with that, because I think it’s unfair to read too much into the fact that he received fewer snaps than other contenders in the first week of preseason. Do keep an eye on DJ Tialavea and Daniel Brunskill, however, as both held their own against the Dolphins.

Give us your prediction, and then use this as your open thread for the evening.

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Coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have made a strong team in the Falcons’ front office, and there’s no reason to believe the team can’t make it back to the Super Bowl. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Sports executives are not unfamiliar with being thrown under a bus, but it was a departure for Thomas Dimitroff last week when he found himself under an RV. Literally.

The return leg of a cross-country trip in a camper with his 10-year-old son hit a horrible pothole, or more accurately a large, indecipherable mangled piece of metal, that sat in the middle of a highway in St. Louis. Dimitroff was sandwiched between two cars. He couldn’t avoid it. So, as he frantically tried to calculate the camper’s clearance level in his head – answer: not high enough – he ran over the object.

“I see this thing, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t think I can avoid it,’” he said. “And then I go over it and it tears the entire 10-foot pipe from the chassis. And there’s this crazy noise. It’s like a horrible clunk, clunk. And then there’s a loud scraping sound coming from underneath. Fortunately, I was near an exit.”

From the Super Bowl to National Lampoon’s Vacation.

What a poetic mutation.

There were several moments early this offseason when Dimitroff, the Falcons’ general manager, struggled to pull himself out of the funk of the team’s Super Bowl loss last season. But one of those times wasn’t last week, when the man more accustomed to repairing football rosters attempted to bring his damaged and traumatized camper back to life. There he was late Saturday afternoon, under his vehicle, holding a sawzall and some wire, taking direction from a mechanic he was communicating with via Facetime, and using the assistance of a car salesman dressed in a white shirt who had been deputized for just this moment.

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New England filled one of its open roster spots today.

Following the injury-related release of offensive lineman Chase Farris last week and yesterday’s unexpected retirement announcement by veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, the New England Patriots had two open spots on their 90-man offseason roster with training camp on the horizon. Earlier today, the team filled one of the vacancies.

According to his agency, rookie defensive edge Caleb Kidder has signed with New England:

Congrats to @ckidder_37 signing with the New England Patriots today! @UMGRIZZLIES @Patriots

Despite a productive five-year collegiate career at the University of Montana, Kidder went unselected during this year’s NFL draft. Instead, the two-time All-Big Sky defensive lineman signed a free agency contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Kidder spent the entire offseason with the Vikings until he was released last week.

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Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary (65) during the NFL preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After failing to make the playoffs following a Super Bowl victory the year prior, the Denver Broncos had plenty to do this offseason in terms of evaluating the roster.

John Elway did just that, making calculated moves on the free agent market and bringing in some solid players through the NFL draft. But which move was the best?

Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson were signed as free agents to help improve what was easily one of the league’s worst offensive lines last year.

The defensive line struggled as well and while former first-round pick Sylvester Williams was not re-signed, Domata Peko and Zach Kerr were brought in for some extra beef in the middle.

Through the draft, Elway added offensive tackle Garett Bolles in the first round and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker in the second, sticking with the approach of addressing the offensive and defensive lines. But was there a better pick than tight end Jake Butt in the fifth round?

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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This is an offseason topic, clearly, but a fun one.

I’d like to compile a list, so answer in one comment then talk in the other so it is a bit easier for me to identify.

The question, which player is your least favorite in Arizona Cardinals history?

I am guessing a lot of picks will be Daryl Washington because of the off field stuff, but I am going to limit my choice to being based on someone who didn’t have a gross incident off the field, but instead was just lazy and overall a bad player and a worse investment for a team.

My least favorite is Wendell Bryant.

Bryant started nine games in his career, he recorded 1.5 sacks as a rookie and never recorded another.

Yes, he was suspended indefinitely in 2005 for his third strike in the substance abuse policy, but he was already a bust of which legends are made.

Remember, the Cardinals had virtually nothing on the defensive line and took the back to back defensive lineman of the year out of the Big Ten, getting rave reviews from Mel Kiper:

Bryant is an immediate hole-filler. He gives Arizona some versatility because he can play both tackle or end, even though he will play tackle for the Cardinals. At 305 pounds, he can run a 4.7 40. Bryant has natural pass-rush ability and increased his sack total ever year. At Wisconsin, he received no help and had to constantly fight through double teams. But Bryant remained a destructive force, getting after quarterbacks like Antwaan Randle El, Drew Brees and Joey Harrington.

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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief (10) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Intro: Donte Moncrief was a definite highlight for the Indianapolis Colts during their 2017 offseason program for the Indianapolis Colts. How different does Moncrief look going into his fourth NFL season?

INDIANAPOLIS – Stakes aren’t very high when NFL teams hit the practice field in June.

But the competitive juices were evident in Donte Moncrief.

With T.Y. Hilton sidelined during the team’s minicamp last month, Moncrief did what the Colts have been longing for in finding a complement to The Ghost.

Moncrief came up with big catch after big catch, oftentimes in traffic, serving as a playmaker while the most dangerous Colts’ weapon was just a spectator.

“T.Y. is down right now so we had to have somebody step up,” Moncrief said after his highlight-filled minicamp practice.

“It’s time for us to step up. When he’s out or double teamed, somebody else has to step up and make plays.”

The last part of Moncrief’s statement will once again hold true this fall.

The double teams are undoubtedly coming for the league’s leading receiver.

It’s up to other Colts receivers, especially Moncrief, to keep the pass catching options open for Andrew Luck.

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