SFTB: Thoughts on Keanu Neal, bold predictions, Vic Beasley, Michael Vick, Adrian Clayborn, more

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We’re just 11 days away from the Falcons’ 2019 training camp. How pumped are you guys right now? Who (or what) are you looking forward to seeing the most? I want to see these rebuilt offensive line – and the different combinations of players – in action with the pads on most. And then I can’t wait to see what wrinkles Dan Quinn is bringing to this defense. Should be fun. So, let’s get to your questions. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And we’re off.

Robert from Leesburg, FL
Beek, I’m a big fan of your column. I have had season tickets for 42 years this year and live about 15 miles from one of our great young Falcons, Keanu Neal. I had the honor and privilege to be a title sponsor of his football camp and golf tournament this past weekend. I know these days, negative stories are the norm but I feel the Falcon Nation should know what a wonderful young man Keanu is. He raised over $32,000 for his high school and youth football programs this weekend in only the second year of his camp. He gives his time and support for his community and especially to the benefit of the children which in my opinion can make a life-changing impact on some of these youngsters. He is the definition of what a role model should be. Everyone should know as great a player Keke is; he’s a much better person. The Brotherhood is Strong!

Matt: Thanks for sharing that, Robert. That is just awesome to hear. Let me just add this much about Keanu Neal … every single time I’ve seen him, passed him in a hallway or crossed paths with him in the cafeteria, he’s always been extremely cordial and polite. And it’s one thing to just say, “Hey” as you’re passing someone and another thing to be completely genuine. He’s always been the latter. It doesn’t surprise me at all to hear about the money he raised for his high school and youth football programs, either. And, oh by the way, he’s a tremendous football player on top of it all. Good stuff, Robert. Thanks for writing in.

Scott from Albany, GA
Matty Beek! How are you my brother? Some people want predictions? Here's a prediction that they can take to the bank. We will go 12-4. We will go to the Super Bowl. We will be Super Bowl champs. No doubt! It's our time! Rise up!

Matt: Alrighty, Scott. Well, you are officially on the record. I’ll stick with 10-6. For now. As I’ve said all along, I want to wait and see what this team looks like after 4-5 preseason games first – and also see how some other teams on their schedule come together. We shall see, but that’s an ambitious prediction, Scott.

Nate from Philadelphia, PA
Did we trade Vic Beasley?

Matt: I paused when I first read this, wondering if there was a hint of sarcasm here … but I think you’re being serious. No, Vic Beasley has not been traded and is under contract, Nate. He’s playing in the final year of his current deal, in fact.

Peron from Eatonton, GA
Can the offense average 28 to 35 points per game?

Matt: Loving these short, to-the-point questions, by the way. Well, Peron, the Falcons scored 414 points in 2018 and averaged 25.9 points per game. Granted, the offense was clicking more in the first half of the season compared to the final eight games, but the Falcons still ended up ranked 10th in the league. So, to answer your question, yes. They can. Now, if the defense can do a better job shutting down teams … that’ll be big, obviously.

Robert from Jasper, VA
I was reminded by the article about Michael Vick that he is not in the Ring of Honor. We all remember that he was involved in the dog-fighting ring in Virginia, mainly by association. He stood up and took responsibility for his action, went to prison for it and then further atoned for those mistakes by throwing his support into stopping this cruelty to animals. We could all stand to show a little humility and be responsible for our actions It would serve the Falcons to recognize Mike's talent and dedication to an honorable cause, both on and off the field. I THOUGHT THIS NATION TO A FORGIVING ONE!

Matt: Thanks for writing in, Robert. If you recall that special ceremony the Falcons held in honor of Michael Vick and Roddy White back in June of 2017, it was very much about second chances and redemption. I had just started with the Falcons the month before that, but from my vantage point, I think the team has been terrific with those two players. They say time helps in healing wounds, and hopefully it continues.

Lee from Jacksonville, FL
Greetings, Beek. Your opening disclaimer about your opinion only is a necessary evil I understand, but what I want fellow Falcons Fanatics to understand is the time, thoughtfulness, research, due diligence and pure love of our Birds and our beloved game that goes into every single word you write and speak. As a former award-winning newspaper sports editor and columnist hailing originally from the ATL, thanks each and every day for what you do. Never tire of the compliments, you earn every word.

Defense wins championships and, today, my thoughts turn to the return of Adrian Clayborn. Three things stick out when I think of him; six sacks against Dallas, nastiness and New England. The record is straight on his year with the Patriots and the school of fresh start thoughts with DQ, but what really happened up in NE and should we have any reason to have concerns about his triumphant return to the edge, where we all know the margin of error with our defensive roster has a tiny mosquito fuze? Rock on, Beekman.

Matt: Wow, appreciate the kind words, Lee. Means a lot, too, coming from a fellow scribe. I thought bring Adrian Clayborn back into the fold, especially considering where this unit is right now, was a fantastic move by Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn. Clayborn is great locker room guy; he commands respect and the players respond to him. Coming in from New England and that culture is also a boost for this team, too. I think Clayborn certainly picked up some things while playing in New England and winning a Super Bowl. If you’re a player on this team and the ultimate goal is a Lombardi Trophy, you’re going to listen when Clayborn speaks – and you’re going to emulate him whenever possible, too. With Dan Quinn calling the defense this season, I think it’ll help him, as well, having a veteran like Clayborn, especially in big moments. Now, I still think the Falcons could add some players before Week 1 (and I think if an edge rusher becomes available, they’ll look hard at him), but I think the Clayborn addition was huge. Thanks again, Lee.

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