Welcome to Straight from the Beek! Your place to ask questions about the Falcons or anything NFL-related. The Falcons are away on break and return toward the end of July to kickoff training camp. In the meantime, you've got plenty of questions – so let's get to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And away we go.
Ray from Roanoke, VA
Hey Beek. I'm a die-hard Atlanta fan. I just got one question. Do you think our roster is good enough to get back to the Super Bowl?
Matt: Hey Ray. Yes.
Don from Middletown, OH
I became a Falcons fan as a kid when my dad gave me some football cards. I pulled out a Deion Sanders card and recognized him from being a baseball player (I was a huge baseball guy). Anyway, just trying to lend some credibility to my fan status. My question is, has Austin Hooper taken a leadership role with the TEs? He has been around awhile now and has really evolved into a solid TE. Bonus question: Does he hold a stiff-arm clinic?
Matt: Austin Hooper is one of those players who has improved every single season he's been in the league. For three consecutive seasons Hooper's statistics have been pointing up and, because of that, he's become an integral part of an already-dynamic offense. Hooper has worked closely with Matt Ryan on improving his route-running and developing a better chemistry. It's clearly paid off, and Hooper was named to his first Pro Bowl following the 2018 season (as an alternate). Hooper has certainly gained (and earned) respect because of his play on the field. When tight ends coach Mike Mularkey joined me on Falcons Audible podcast, I asked him about Hooper (through a game of word association). Mularkey said Hooper is one of those players with a "high ceiling" and that bodes well for the young tight end. Does Hooper hold a stiff-arm clinic? Not that I'm aware of, but the one he used against the Bears in the 2017 season-opener (see video above) was one of the nastiest ones I've ever seen.
John from Vermillion, SD
Just wanted to thank Stan from Sandersville, Ga., for his post!! He completely put things into perspective. Matt Ryan is the best QB we ever had. I understand the Mike Vick love and he deserves his props as well but didn't have the longevity. Was he as amazing? "Yes!!" And I think some of the bad vibes Ryan gets are stylistically from his differences to Vick. Let's face it people, there is only one Mike Vick, and there will be only one Mike Vick. We can't hate on people for not being someone who can never be recreated athletically ever again. It was fun to watch. But Stan put everything into perspective with his post. I hope both QBs are in the Falcons Ring of Honor someday!!!
Matt: There's no denying that Michael Vick was a one-of-a-kind talent who thrilled Falcons fans during his six seasons in Atlanta. There's also denying that Matt Ryan is the best quarterback in franchise history and will go down as one of the all-time greats when it's all said and done. Anyone who wants to say Vick was better than Ryan isn't being objective. It's easy to see why both are fan favorites, John.
AtlantaFalcons.com's Matt Tabeek ranks the 10 best quarterbacks the Falcons' defense will face during the 2019 season.
Chase from Clinton, ME
Hey Beek. I saw your QB rankings in terms of Falcons 2019 opponents. While I don't dispute that Brees tops the list – he has been a phenomenal QB over the years – I did notice the significant drop-off in numbers over his last five games last season. I find it funny that mainstream media fails to recognize this (at least, publicly). In his first 10 games, his numbers look like this:
- 296.4 yards per game; 2.5 TD passes per game; 123.5 QBR; 1 Interception
His last five:
- 205.6 Yards per game; 1.6 TD passes per game; 89.34 QBR; 4 Interceptions
Also, the TD passes in his last five are a little skewed because he threw four TDs in the 11th game (against us), but only had four total TDs in his last four games, which would give him an average of just .75 TDs/game). He didn't play in week 17 and also had the bye week to rest. He posted solid, but unspectacular numbers in the playoffs (275 YPG; 2 TDs/G; 95.75 QBR; 1 Int per game), but, again, it was after two weeks rest. I'm just not sold that Brees can play a full season at a high level anymore. He made it to game 10 last season, but he may not even last that long this season. This bodes well for us since we don't play the Saints until week 10 (I think). Do you believe Drew will bounce back and play at a high level for a full season, or is he on the decline, like I believe he is?
Matt: If completing 74.4 percent of your passes (364 of 489 attempts) for 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns and five interceptions with a final QB rating of 115.7 – oh, while leading your team to a 13-2 record and the top seed in the playoffs – is in need of a "bounce back," I think just about every single quarterback in the league would sign up for that, Chase. I think Brees will continue to be a tough out in 2019. One other thought about those last five games. The Saints had to play some pretty good defenses during that stretch, including the Cowboys, Steelers and the Panthers twice.
Ronnie from Jackson, GA
Thanks, Beek for supporting Matt Ryan, not because you write this column, but because it's the right thing to do! Matt deserves all the love he can get. All of your points about him have been very sound. Now here comes Stan from Sandersville adding more valuable ingredients to the pie!! I coached there for 14 years and moved to Jackson in 1986, so I don't know Stan personally; but I do know that we are both, die-hard Falcons fans and huge supporters of Matt Ryan. Thank you, Stan for getting on your soapbox! Beek, can you name any potential players that might be let go by other teams that we might be interested in?
Matt: You're turning into an SFTB favorite with the Beekers here, Stan! Again, if you missed Stan's original post on Steve Bartkowski, you may read it here – and his second post on Matt Ryan is right here. As far as players who might be on the bubble, I still think it's a tad early, Ronnie. I can tell you this much, though. Dan Quinn has said repeatedly that the Falcons are not done when it comes to adding players – meaning, if a player becomes available due to numbers (roster or salary cap, etc.), he fits, fills a need and is an upgrade, the Falcons will consider adding them. I just think it's way too early to start speculating who'll be cut when they haven't even started training camps yet.
Bud from Milton, FL
When is Julio, Jarrett, and Jones going to get signed? Every time Thomas Dimitroff speaks on the matter it seems he is blowing smoke. I'm a Dimitroff supporter but it seems like he is failing this time. I know Jarret signed his franchise tag but that is usually a bad sign for next season.
Matt: Tap the brakes, Bud. There's really nothing to get worked up over. Not yet, anyway. All three players you just referenced – Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones – were here for minicamp and in good spirits. The Falcons are said heading into the offseason that they are committed to working out long-term deals for Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett. They also know how valuable Deion Jones is to the defense. Look at their track record in taking care of the players they've identified as core players. There's no rush to get a deal done until training camp begins – and that's not until the third week of July. The deadline for players who've been franchise tagged to work out long-term deals is July 15. So, again, there's time.
Kevin from Conyers, GA
Hey Matt, after exhaustive research (with some creative guesswork) I've compiled a list of what topics are most important to Beekers.
- Wins and losses
- Uniform pants
- Wins and losses
- Helmet colors
- Matt Ryan
- Offensive line
- Throwback uniforms
- Dan Quinn
- Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
Not a complete list but since I only type with my thumb this is all I'm posting. Oh, I almost forgot, my question. What color socks do you think we should wear?
Matt: Plain white socks work for me, Kevin. Now go rest that thumb of yours.