Posted: 9:17 am Monday, January 27th, 2014

Falcons’ front office drama in Flowery Branch 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

There is some drama brewing in the Branch!

The hiring of Scott Pioli as the new assistant general manager was a sound football move by the Falcons.

But when he arrives after working the Super Bowl for NBC Sports and Sirius Radio, he comes with a checkered past that doesn’t fit the culture that’s been cultivated by owner Arthur Blank and executed by president Rich McKay, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith.

To Pioli’s credit he knows that and has said he plans to be more open minded in his return to the league. For the details, google Kent Babb’s Kansas City Star article.

His integration into the personnel meeting room will start immediately.

When asked what the changes meant to the operation, Dimitroff and Pioli weren’t forthcoming at the Senior Bowl.

It will be interesting to see how the triumvirate of Dimitroff, Pioli and Lionel Vital blend together.

It was thought that the Falcons would hire Pioli if Vital landed the Tampa Bay general manager’s job. When Vital, who was considered the front runner at one point didn’t t get the job, Pioli was hired, apparently at a level above Vital, who was second in command.

All three have worked together before and like many co-workers have had their differences.

But it appears they’ll try to smooth those old differences out and work together to get the Falcons turned around.

It’s in all of their best interests to find a common ground as “team builders.”

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44 comments
TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I say we have room for about 10 more GM's. we've gotten just about all the value (if u want to call it that) out of TD and McCay there was to get. Nobody on this staff could evaluate talent - that was so obvious. Is it any better with all these cooks in the kitchen? We'll see.

Somebody run and get Arthur a new roll of toilet paper! McCay and Dimitroff, don't kill yourselves trying to get there first running to his aide while he flushes! There's room for both of you in the boys' room.

One of you go get Matt Ryan's jock for Arthur to sniff on!

slydawg
slydawg

Like I stated before: Dimitroff has been put on notice. Pioli is simply there to inform the owner about personnel without having to depend on one set of eyes. Blank could have simply hired him as a consultant, but chose to give Pioli more rank and stature; A sleight-of hand move so to speak. Pioli does not rank above Dimitroff, but I'm willing to bet he doesn't necessarily answer to him.

JaySly
JaySly

Mark this down--with all the busts on the roster atl will not win more than 8 games in 2014,

gfw
gfw

Regarding some of the criticisms of Pioli:  Yeah, I too am bothered by some of the quotes I read about  him.  But he probably has 10x the ability to take us through the re-building than Dimitroff does.  Also, remember that it will help that he has no connection to any of the current players.  Letting these guys go (like, for example, Holmes or Baker) isn't for him what it would be for Dimitroff, namely an admission of incompetence.

JSSN
JSSN

When your Pro personnel head is not extended, then a person from outside of your organization is brought in, sorry that is "drama!" It is still an echo chamber because he's (Dimitroff) has always bounced things off of Belichick and in turn Pioli. 


This was the most revealing interview that I've heard with the Boy Genius. There's one with him and Pioli back from before the KC/Atlanta game in 2012 (haven't been able to find that bookmark) from a KC station that was just as eyeopening.


You better understand who your GM is! Moreover, you better understand Blank! He has never not doubled down on his choices, whether it be Reeves, (his GM choices), then McKay when made choices in terms of Mora or Petrino (philosophy of style), and lastly with Dimitroff and his his hire Smith.


So, if you were expecting Blank to hold the top responsible, you have to put a metaphorical knife in his back (like Mora's dream job comment) , or Reeve's who got Blank to believe his final team was deep enough to withstand Vick being out. You know how that ended up. And extension is Blank trying not to appear like a franchise with a hatchet swing over its head!

BKB
BKB

Just an fyi - the writers are usually not the people writing the headlines (although the first line in the story does say "Drama" in it.

warfalcon
warfalcon

here is the Drama--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Some owners react to a bump in the road differently than others.

The Falcons just announced that they extended the contracts of team president Rich McKay, head coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff.

McKay got a new four-year deal (allowing him to continue to oversee the construction of a new stadium), while Smith and Dimitroff got a year added onto existing deals.

Injuries were a part of a pothole of a season for the Falcons, who went 4-12 this year. But that came after five straight winning seasons, in which the Falcons averaged 11 wins a year (60-36 overall).

We are fortunate to have talented key leaders at the Falcons who are dedicated to a common goal of being a league leader on and off the field,” owner Arthur Blank said in a statement.  “I have great respect for the skills and commitment of Rich, Thomas and Smitty, and I look forward to continuing to support and work with them in the years to come.”

The Falcons hadn’t posted back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history until the current administration arrived, which is why it’s refreshing to see Blank commit to his power structure when things are at an ebb.

warfalcon
warfalcon

From NBC Sports 1:05 pm---------------------------------------Falcons announce extensions for McKay, Smith, Dimitroff----------SO where is this news in the AJC. Do not need [my] to get Atlanta Sports News.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Come on guys!  Regardless of your opinions here Ledbetter has never once insulted, demeaned, or dismissed anyone on here as a couple of other AJC writers have done. He is actually one of the nicest guys at the AJC.


Try to be respectful and diplomatic with your comments and try not to get too personal.

BobWard2770
BobWard2770

Two's company three's a crowd! Vital will be the odd man out after one season if Pioli doesn't land his next GM gig.

Falcons63
Falcons63

Mummyhead and DoublEE... I'm with you on the recent turn toward the negative in Ledbetter's work.  I completely understand not sugar coating a terrible season.. but when we get the "players doing updowns" and now this?  His lack of football knowledge is bad enough(I got so sick of him not understanding what a "misfit" was on defense) but now it seems he is continually trying to stir up an already PO'd fanbase.  I saw Dimitroff/Blank interviewed at the Sr. Bowl about the hire.  I didn't see drama... I saw an owner and GM who are willing to look outside the current staff for new input.  Changes happen in team front office's all the time.  It's a fluid league. It doesn't have to mean it's some drama filled nefarious plot to out someone. Some on the blog will say "if you don't like it, don't read it" but I'm a Falcons fan.  I look for any news I can find, even if I find the writer to be Ledbetter.

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

The only darma we need is when they trade up 4 Johnny Fottball. 

MikeJoseph
MikeJoseph

Of course there is drama, but we ALL knew this 5 days ago when they hired him. The AJC's coverage of the Falcons is really poor. I read this thinking there would be some information about something specific and something that not everyone knew 5 minutes after the hire was announced

JaySly
JaySly

another bad hire by arthur---it will be more of the same next year--draft mistakes and busts. 

gfw
gfw

It's so obvious Pioli was brought in because Blank and McKay want to get it right as they assemble next season's team through the draft, trades, and free agency, and they no longer trust Dimitroff to do it.  Why they didn't let him go is kind of a mystery.  Perhaps it has to do with the way Dimitroff's contract is written, and what they'd owe him if he were fired.  You can bet the ranch that if the Falcons are not #1 or #2 in their division next year Dimitroff is out the door (probably Smith too).

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

At least you low lifes know that their now is potential for conflict in the front office. Hopefully Pioli starts hammering away with ruthlessness and absolute discipline and loyalty to him.

traderjoe9
traderjoe9

Quite an article on Pioli. He sounds certifiable. You take a personality like this, a world class control freak, and you wonder how long he's going to work well with a former subordinate. Did TD make the recommendation to hire this guy? If so, it may be a sign of desperation on his part. Given what they said about him in Kansas City, any subordinate who survived life under him must have been a yes man in NE which explains why TD has not done well on his own. Blank better get a handle on the organization before things spin out of control.

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

I like you,D-Led,but I think you are stirring things up with this story.

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

Let's just wait and see how it goes.......good grief

warfalcon
warfalcon

MummyHead I agree with you, D.L. HAS BECOME SO NEGATIVE , head line Falcons’ front office drama in Flowery Branch.

Come on man be positive or go to the Aints page.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

Find out which of the 2 Falcon front-office guys (before Pioli) that were responsible for the OLinemen getting drafted and then fire that guy and then let the "survivor" work with Pioli to re-build the team.

Hemmorid_Sufferer_2
Hemmorid_Sufferer_2

What drama? The garbage you just made up? 


Have you thought about taking over one of the light weight blogs like TV and radio? 

Dman
Dman

I have faith it will work out. They have been great since TD came into the organization. This new guy worked well with TD in the past.

DCDirtyBird
DCDirtyBird

There is no drama because if they don't get this draft right they are both gone. TD is receiving help from one of his old friends. I'm sure the title is just that; only a title.

traderjoe9
traderjoe9

@warfalcon


I'm beginning to see why the Falcons are stuck in Atlanta while the Braves are going to get rich in Cobb.

Hemmorid_Sufferer_2
Hemmorid_Sufferer_2

@warfalcon I posted a link to this an hour ago. 


My remark was if Ledbetter is the beat writer, why are his readers scooping him on breaking news on the team he covers?

Hemmorid_Sufferer_2
Hemmorid_Sufferer_2

@RangeRover Lets get something straight. Ledbetter's job is to cover and report on the Falcons in a professional manner. I would be happy for a just one of the two. 


His all too numerous spelling and discourse errors are an embarrassment to a city of this size and it's primary publication. If your physician made as many errors as Ledbetter, would you continue to see that physician? 


The issue is not if Ledbetter is a nice guy(he has banned me before), it's his lack of professionalism as a writer. Even several at Flowery Branch are disappointed in his writing skills....He is somewhat of a joke up there........This still does not cover this particular blog entry in which he claims drama in the front office, yet fails to give any details that there is any sort of drama......Just speculation. 


Still waiting on the report about Smith, McKay and Dimitroff getting contract extensions. It's what the beat writer is responsible for. 

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

ANd 4 those 2 dum 2 no Johnny Fottball is Johnny Mansell

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

@Dman How half they been grate? Dummytroff has mesed up so many drats its a joke. One misteak afther anoter and that dont include FA moves that R busts. 


U must be hi

JSSN
JSSN

@MummyHead  

"Even several at Flowery Branch are disappointed in his writing skills...(.)He is somewhat of a joke up there..."


Either "name names" or get out of the innuendo business. I've been no defender of Ledbetter when it comes to the blog, he cleans up his print columns. Mummyhead NEVER recognizes the difference. He even cleans up the stuff on the paid site. There is absolutely no site on the Internet that is practicing same time proof editing anymore. You really need to get the jest of that point.  You really need to realize that you're a "guest" on his blog (within the AJC). He could have shutdown commenting like many others did at the AJC. If you hate it (and him so much), the Birdcage is open everyday!

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

@Joe-T - Whadda you know!  All this time the media had it wrong...they mistakenly dubbed him "Johnny FOOTBALL" as I recall.  But what do I know?  Thanks for correcting those idiotic newsprint writers.

DCDirtyBird
DCDirtyBird

Joe T....TD has been good enough to assemble two 13-3 teams and two other playoff teams. I'm not singing his praises but there aren't a lot of teams that have done that in the past 5 years.

JSSN
JSSN

@MummyHead

It also means: "a ludicrous circumstance or incident." There's the relevancy.

JSSN
JSSN

@MummyHead

"jest," need a dictionary to see how to use it in "verb" form?