Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The second block of training camp wraps up Saturday, and you’ve got plenty of questions – so let’s get right to them.
If you want to talk about some topics that we haven’t covered or just have some general thoughts you want to get off your chest, submit those right here. Remember, all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And we’ll begin with some, uh, rather ambitious predictions.
Mazzi from Fairburn, GA
Really, my only question is this: Do you agree with these bold predictions I am about to make?
- Takk and Vic both get 10-plus sacks and Jarret gets five-plus sacks
- Matt Ryan compiles 4,700-plus yards, 35 TDs, six INTs
- Freeman and Coleman combine for 3,000-plus scrimmage yards, 20 TDs
- Ridley's receiving yards are more than Sanu's 750-plus yards, seven TDs
- Julio eight TDs, 1,500-plus yards
- Will have top-five defense in points allowed and total yards per game, top 10 in sacks and turnover margin. Also, will adopt the nickname "ANGRY BIRDZ" based on their passion and playing style. The run-and-hit factor will have them playing angry and aggressive, flying to the ball.
- Ryan, Mack, Julio get Pro Bowl bids on offense and Jones, Neal, Jarrett, and Trufant get bids for defense.
- Be the first to play and win a Super Bowl in our own house, and add it will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers (a rematch of the game earlier in the season)
So, what do you think, Beek?
Matt: Like I wrote up top, I think those are ambitious, to say the least. But since you’re asking my honest opinion here … no, I don’t see all every one of those predictions coming true. If all of that should happen, Mazzi, go ahead and pencil in 19-0. And, really, let’s be honest here: the only one that matters is the last one. And Falcons fans everywhere hope you hit on that one.
Ronnie from Jackson, GA
Thanks for your column, Beek! I'm hearing no one talk about what seems to be a lack of depth at linebacker – a sixth-round draft choice and all others are non-drafted free agents. Scares me that Vic Beasley might be called on again to fill in. Would like to hear your thoughts and concerns. I've been a fan since Tommy Nobis years! Love my Birds!!!
Matt: Look, in the age of the salary cap, teams aren’t going to be stacked at every single position, Ronnie. It’s not going to happen because you’ve got to try and keep your core players and draft well to be successful. It’s hard to argue with how well general manager Thomas Dimitroff has drafted. Right now it looks like the starting three linebackers will be Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell and Duke Riley. And as you noted, they drafted Foyesade Oluokun in the sixth round – a player, so far, the players seem to be pretty excited about because of what he’s shown in rookie minicamp, OTAs, minicamp and training camp so far. Will he blossom into a regular contributor? No one knows right now, Ronnie. The Falcons haven’t even played a single preseason game yet. I’ll be watching Oluokun closely as well as some of the other younger players at that position. And remember there are 31 other teams who will be auditioning players and making roster moves – and the Falcons could always make a move. But, again, it’s early. Let’s see how these players perform throughout camp and into the preseason games before making any snap judgments.
Jordan from Victoria, Australia
Hey Beek, it's Jordan from down under Australia again. I don't really have a question this time it's more of a statement. I'm looking forward to seeing Vic Beasley move back to his original position. It's gonna be sack city, baby! I am expecting 20-plus sacks this year from the machine. Anyway, peace out, brother.
Matt: Whoa. And I thought Mazzi (above) was being overly ambitious. I don’t know about 20-plus sacks, Jordan. I think the Falcons would be thrilled with double-digits from Vic Beasley.
Dwain from Palm Coast, FL
Is it possible for the Falcons defense to get more turnovers with all the talent that they have during the 2018 season?
Matt: Absolutely, and that’s the expectation Dwain. That’s an area where the Falcons definitely came up short in 2017 – and one that coach Dan Quinn has repeatedly mentioned when asked about where the Falcons need to get better in 2018.
Charlie from Louisville, CO
Ito Smith is probably going to get every chance to win the third running back position. How does the competition look so far in training camp? I have read that Justin Crawford has had some impressive runs in training camp. Does he have a chance to compete for the third running back position?
Matt: The competition is very good and it’s also very early in camp, Charlie. Let’s wait and see how these guys perform in the preseason games. But I definitely like what I’m seeing from Justin Crawford.
Jared from Canton, GA
Hey, Beek! Lifelong Falcons fan and Georgia native. Love the Q&A here and decided to get involved! The fullback position is becoming more of a diminished role throughout the NFL and I think many people fail to realize what an impact a talented player can have at that position. I think Patrick DiMarco was sorely missed last year. He could absolutely blow up line ’backers and defensive ends, creating running lanes that allowed our backs to do their thing (if you don't believe me watch some of Shady McCoy's runs last year and you will see DiMarco thumping linebackers all year.) He was also a pretty decent receiver out of the backfield. I am not knocking Derrick Coleman by any means, but he seemed to be more of a receiving fullback that was never used properly. Which fullback do you see fitting the scheme better between Luke McNitt and Ricky Ortiz? Or do you see a move more to a single back, two tight end set with the emergence of Eric Saubert?
Matt: I think that fullback battle between Luke McNitt and Ricky Ortiz is going to play out through the preseason, and Dan Quinn said as much prior to camp. Right now I’d say that race is neck and neck, and that’s a good thing. They’ll separate themselves during the preseason – playing fullback and special teams. That’s going to be fun to watch. As far as the second part of your question, I think they’ll go into the season with one fullback. I’d be surprised if they didn’t; but you never know how they might feel about another player at another position – and that could affect some of the roster moves.
Spencer from Mount Dora, FL
Thanks for the time and dedication you put into your work and keeping us fans well informed of the facts and not to get worked up over the rumors. When naming a Falcons defense, we need to look at the characteristics of an actual falcon. Falcons are birds of prey and are therefore known for their incredible hunting skills and being a ruthless, dominant predator within their environment. Some suggestions may include:
- Birds of Prey
- Sky Stalkers
- Winged Maniacs
Or how about mixing the old school Dirty Birds with a twist. I like the Hurty Birds? I also think this should be an official contest where Arthur Blank pays $10,000 for the winning name. What do you think?
Matt: Thanks for the suggestions, Spencer. I’ve been getting a ton of them, and I’m starting to see some redundancy and favorites emerge. But there’s plenty of time. I will say that the Winged Maniacs is one I haven’t seen yet – and it did make me laugh and almost spit out my coffee. I don’t know about the $10,000 prize – really, dude? – but I do like the idea of the contest.
Phil from Smyrna, GA
Hey, Beek. No question really. I just want to toss in a nickname. I personally like Red Line Defense. Seems to fit well and would be awesome to hear an engine revving up the stadium just before a defensive snap.
Matt: Hmmm, now that’s an original concept – a nickname with an accompanying sound effect. I like it the creativity.
Larry from Dalton, GA
Hello again, Matthew. I'm hopping on the name train again for the Falcons defense nickname and I have some more suggestions:
- The Shutdown Club
- Disruptors of the Hood
- The Brothers of Disruption
- The Club of Disruption
- Eruption of Disruption
- The Smack Attack
- Shock and Awe
- Flying Fortress
- The Stop Shop
OK, I'm done for now. I hope this sparks more ideas.
Matt: Larry, we haven’t had any problems whatsoever sparking ideas, as you can see and read here. But you’ve got a couple of good ones in there. However, Flying Fortress has me a bit stumped. You need to explain that one.
Justin from Newton, IA
My top four nicknames:
- Gritz Blitz
- Red & Black Defensive Attack
- Dirty Bird Gang
- Falcon Brigade
Matt: I think any usage of the Gritz Blitz or Grits Blitz must have the Roman numeral II accompanying it. Just my two cents, but there are your suggestions.
Spencer from Bountiful, UT
What about The Block Flock?
Matt: Well, I think we’d need to see some blocks in 2018 for that one to work, Spencer.
Alex from Hamburg, Germany
Hi, Beek. Your blog is really the shining star in the never-ending offseason, love it! Many years ago, I played fullback. We had an amateur team in my German hometown. What you think about our two choices at fullback on the roster? Will the Falcons keep one of them at all? By the way: What about the nickname Falcons Fury?
Matt: See my answer above on the fullbacks, Alex, and I do think they’ll keep at least one. Too early to tell who that is going to be yet.
Alan from Tucker, GA
Name suggestions: Birds of Prey, The Talons, Predators or Southern Raptors (meaning to seize or take by force).
Matt: Southern Raptors kinda reminds me of the Atlanta United’s slogan Kings of South.
Joseph from Atlanta, GA
My suggestions for a name for the defense:
- Brothers of Pain
- Pain Brothers
- Fierce Flock
- Damage Control
Matt: Hmm, not sure if Damage Control is what we’re aiming for here. I’m also seeing a lot of “flock” in these suggestions, too.
Ronald from Virginia Beach, VA
Why don't we call our defense Ferocious Flock?
Matt: See? Lots of flock. I’m not saying I don’t like it though.
Jerry from Mobile, AL
I'd like to submit the name The Red Rovers. These dawgs just dare an offense over.
Matt: How about Dawgs? Or has that been taken by another team around these parts? Wait, never mind.
Jonathan from New Castle, PA
No question, but just a suggestion for our defensive name. I hope you like it: Well, seeing that our head coach had formed The Legion of Boom in Seattle and he is now making our defense similar to that great D, we should just call ours just The Legion. What do you think?
Matt: It could be something, but it reminds me of Seattle too much. And I don’t think anyone here wants that.
Barry from Rex, GA
Go with the Flock. Sort of like the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” That was scary.
Matt: There we go again with the flock. What do you guys and gals think about that?
Bill from Richmond, IN
Hi Beek. I am a longtime Falcons fan from Indiana and when the Grits Blitz was the defining phrase for our defense. I would propose a new name to bring despair to all that enter Dominion of Destruction. Not only will the defense stop you in your game plan, but the offense will attack your every weakness and the fans … forget about it! You won’t even be able to hear the QB at the line of scrimmage.
Matt: The Dominion of Destruction ... well, that’s intense.