Atlanta Falcons blog 

Atlanta Falcons blog by the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons owner Arthur Blank reveals plan to get tougher

  • 2:38 pm Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons owner Arthur Blank spoke before the Rotary Club of Marietta and the Marietta Kiwanis Club at the Marietta City Conference Center on Wednesday.

Afterwards, we talked him about his comments on 680 The Fan concerning his displeasure that players didn’t rush to quarterback Matt Ryan’s defense after he was walloped by New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro last season.

(He seemed to get a kick of my new camera phone stand! Check the video!)

The comments to the radio station were not necessarily new, but they continued a theme the team has been ringing all offseason, but in more veiled terms.

Nov. 21, [More]

Julio Jones is running, ahead of schedule

  • 8:13 am Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter
Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones, injuries

Falcons coach Mike Smith said wide receiver Julio Jones is running and is ahead of schedule at the owner’s meeting in Orlando today, the team said.

“He’s doing a great job with (trainers) Marty (Lauzon) and AJ (Neibel),” Falcons coach Mike Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by phone on Wednesday. “He’s continuing to progress.”

What’s his timetable for a full return?

“That’s a decision that’s going to be made by the doctors who did the procedure on his return to play,” Smith said. “I know that he’ll get out there as soon as the doctors give him the OK. But he’s progressing very well through his rehab. [More]

Falcons are not ‘switching’ to the 3-4

  • 9:13 am Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

We just had to get this blog out there as a public service. Psst, the Falcons have been running the 3-4 for two seasons!!!

We understand the confusion because every time the media brought the subject up, Falcons coach Mike Smith, a staunch 4-3 man, wouldn’t own up to the shift or I think he felt that telling the opposition that they were using a 3-4 is strategy. He may have been counting on us not being able to count the linemen and the linebackers.

So, basically the Falcons are not “switching” to the 3-4 defense this offseason, because they’ve been running [More]

Falcons promote Mark Collins to OLB post

  • 2:07 pm Monday, March 10th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH — Mark Collins, who has been a defensive assistant for the past four seasons, was promoted to outside linebackers coach, the team announced on Monday.

The Falcons also added Andrew Thacker as a defensive assistant.

“We are pleased to promote Mark to outside linebacker coach,” said Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith in a statement released by the team. “He has proved to be a valuable part of our coaching staff the last four seasons and we are confident that he will continue to help develop our outside linebackers. Andrew is a young coach who has experience in major college football [More]

VIDEO: Plus Mike Smith’s full transcript of NFL combine session

  • 12:49 pm Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

(UPDATE: FULL EDITED TRANSCRIPT BELOW — 8:25 P.M)

Falcons coach Mike Smith spoke to the media for 14 minutes, 36 seconds at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday.

Here are 6 quick takeaways from his talk:

1. He was non-committal about the team bringing back defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

2. The team was comfortable with letting Asante Samuel because of the strong play of rookies Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant.

3. He was pleased with how Steven Jackson finished the season, but noted the poor stats and how the offensive line must improve.

4. Peter Konz will get a chance to compete for the starting center spot [More]

Tony Gonzalez expects Falcons to rebound in 2014

  • 6:00 am Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he felt the Falcons would rebound from their last-place finish in 2014.

After winning his first playoff game and reaching the NFC championship game, he returned to play one more season in 2013, but the Falcons finished 4-12.

“This year’s team, it was just a matter or injuries,” said Gonzalez after talking about his new CBS Sports gig. “I said it during the season. When you lose Julio Jones that’s a huge part of your offense. When he got hurt, he was the best receiver in the league statistically. Then with Roddy [More]

Falcons entourage set to leave for NFL combine

  • 6:00 am Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith will head up the team’s entourage that’s headed to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, which starts on Wednesday and runs through Tuesday, Feb. 25.

More than 300 players are set to participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 19-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium. There’s a group of 24 players with Georgia connections who were invited to the combine. 

The players well start to arrive on Wednesday for medical exams, psychological testing and interviews with teams.

They will start working out on Saturday.

The Saturday group – Placekickers, special teamers, offensive linemen and tight [More]

Falcons climb out of basement will be tough in 2014

  • 6:00 am Monday, February 17th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons will have an arduous climb out of the basement of the NFC South in 2014.

After going from the No. 1 seed in the conference to last place in the division, the Falcons will have the 11th toughest schedule in the league next season and play one of their home games on the road at a neutral site in London.

The 2014 strength of schedule is based on the 2013 winning percentage of all the clubs on a team’s 2014 schedule.

With two games each against Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa, the 2013 winning percentage of Atlanta’s 2014 opponents is .512, [More]

Should the Atlanta Falcons draft Michael Sam?

  • 1:55 pm Monday, February 10th, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Missouri defensive end/linebacker Michael Sam, who came out as an openly gay football player over the weekend, was coached by the Atlanta Falcons staff in the Senior Bowl in January.

A lot was made about how much of advantage teams get by coaching in the game. They get inside information on players from spending the week with them.

Right now, the Falcons know Sam better than the rest of the 31 NFL teams. During the practices, Sam, who was the SEC’s defensive player of the year, excelled when rushing the passer, but struggled when dropping in coverage.

At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, [More]

VIDEO: What the Falcons are learning at Senior Bowl

  • 9:49 pm Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 by D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter joins CineSport’s Brian Clark from the Senior Bowl to discuss Scott Pioli being named Assistant GM, the disappointing 2013 season and Mike Smith’s role in Mobile, Ala.