It's officially game week! The Falcons continued preparing for Friday's preseason game against the Titans on Monday morning during 2015 XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.
Andrew Hirsh: Thanks for taking the time to chat. I'd like to talk about Atlanta's work during the offseason. As a former executive, how do you feel about the Falcons' approach to free agency?
Gil Brandt: Free agency is a little bit—I don't want to use the word crapshoot—but there are a lot of uncertainties. And I think the guys they signed will help their team. Overall, we criticize a lot of people that make decisions, but I think they're good at what they do here.
AH:The sport is now more specialized than ever. Do you believe an NFL team needs to have a lot of different voices in the front office?
GB: Yes. First of all, I think you have to have a vision. 'What am I going to do two years from now? Three years from now?' It's so much more planning than ever before.
AH:Lots of fans wanted to see the Falcons sign a household name to the mix. While star power is important, a lot of those monster deals have backfired across the league in recent history. Do you think it's wise to avoid those high-risk moves?
GB:I think you have to ask Tampa that question. Two years ago they spent a lot of money on two guys. They were there for one year and gone and Tampa still drafted first.
I think people are doing a much better job of signing their own now. Like the car industry, not too many people are trading in their car if its running well. If I buy a used car, I'm usually buying someone else's troubles. In most cases, when I sign a big free agent, he won't do what he did originally.
And a good case is Brandon Carr in Dallas. They gave him $10 million a year for five years. Last year he didn't have an interception or a turnover. And I think he's a good player, but (if they didn't keep him) they could have kept Justin Durant, who signed here. If they didn't have money tied up in Carr, they could have kept Durant, and he's a good player.
Durant's never going to be a Pro Bowler or anything like that, but he's been a good player everywhere. When we talk about guys like Jacob Tamme and Durant—Tamme will probably have 30 catches for you. Durant will probably have four interceptions. Those are solid players that you didn't overpay for.
AH:Just about every free agent acquisition appears to be a scheme fit. Chris Chester and Leonard Hankerson have played in Shanahan's offense before. O'Brien Schofield played with Quinn in Seattle. Then you have guys like Durant and Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn—all of whom mesh with Atlanta's style of football. How important is it for executives to know what the coaches want?
GB:We used to ask Coach Landry, 'What do you see us doing two years from now?' Because what you're trying to do is plan for guys that are going to fit your system in the future. For example, in our system, Paul Hornung would have never been successful. So you have to find somebody—whether it's a wide receiver, defensive back—that fits. Dan Quinn is an excellent guy, great guy to get along with. You want to find out what Quinn wants to do. And that's what they've done.
AH:It's still early, but what do you think the Falcons are capable of in 2015?
GB:This is a team that could win six games or 10 games. I think there are two things to watch: If the offensive line does well, and if the defense does anything at all to stop people, they have a chance to win 10 games.