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 Post subject: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterback
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:55 pm 
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Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterback

January 27th, 2014
Aaron Freeman

If polled, a majority Atlanta Falcons fans would probably tell you that it was by some miracle that quarterback Matt Ryan made it through the entire 2013 season healthy. According to Advanced NFL Stats, Ryan was hit 90 times, the fifth most allowed of any team in the NFL this past season. That was up from 83 hits he suffered in 2012 over 18 games, and continued the now six-year trend of ever-increasing punishment suffered by Ryan. When Ryan first arrived in Atlanta in 2008, he was hit just 43 times, which was the second lowest number allowed in the league that season. In the time since, Ryan has been put on the turf more with each subsequent season.

The time when a quarterback takes a hit that prompts an injury is essentially random. That’s illustrated by the fact that Ryan managed to absorb 90 hits during the course of the 2013 season without being forced to leave the field, while Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo injured his ribs upon taking his first hit of the season in Week 1. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the more shots you take, the more exposed you are to injury.

Obviously, the best way to protect Ryan is to improve the blocking up front. But the Falcons as an organization aren’t just tasked with protecting Ryan to the best of their abilities, but also protecting themselves by solidifying their depth at quarterback. Even if the team dramatically decreases the number of hits Ryan takes next season, any one of those shots could be the one that puts him out of the game for an extended period of time.

As it stands, Dominique Davis and Sean Renfree are the team’s lone backup quarterbacks. Davis showed promise as an undrafted rookie in 2012, but showed little progress in his second training camp. Renfree struggled after missing much of the offseason recovering from a chest injury, and then promptly suffered a shoulder injury at the end of the summer which forced him to miss the entire season. That is now three major injuries that Renfree has suffered to his throwing arm in the 12 months: elbow, torn pectoral and now shoulder. One of my major concerns with Renfree when I scouted him last year was his durability. Coupled with a subpar first preseason, it doesn’t bode well for him developing into the sort of competent backup quarterback the Falcons need.

The Falcons let Seth Doege walk after the season, after spending the entire year on the practice squad. It was no surprise, since Doege took zero snaps during the preseason to prompt his retention on the practice squad to begin with. His departure opens the door for the Falcons to bring in another quarterback at some point this offseason. However, the big question becomes when that addition will be made. Given the youth of both Davis and Renfree, it is unlikely the Falcons will draft another quarterback unless they absolutely fall in love with a guy and he falls into the late rounds. Instead, the Falcons will likely either turn to a veteran quarterback or another undrafted rookie free agent like Doege to fill the void.

How they feel about Davis likely will determine that decision to go with youth or experience. If the team is still optimistic that Davis can be a capable No. 2 quarterback, then it likely means they go with the undrafted rookie. If not, then it prompts them to seek a reserve with a bit more experience that can compete for the job.

If I was a betting man, I’d wager that the Falcons are confident enough in Davis to not bring in veteran competition. But I also believe that would be a mistake. While Davis has shown promise, the two areas he’s shown little progress in is his accuracy and decision making, arguably the two most important aspects of playing the quarterback position in the NFL.

In 2013, the prototype for a quality backup was Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown, who started five games after starter Jay Cutler went down with an injury. The Bears won three of those games, keeping their playoff hopes alive to the point where they could gain postseason entry had they won in Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers. That was in stark contrast to the 2011 season where Cutler went down with injury and the Bears lost four straight games due to poor play by then backup Caleb Hanie, knocking them out of playoff contention.

Based off his play through two summers, Davis looks much more akin to Hanie than McCown. Davis really struggled to throw accurate passes beyond 10 yards this past summer, and as we saw during the middle stretch of season where the Falcons had no vertical potential in the offense, this team struggled to move the ball and score points. And if a quarterback as good as Ryan is only capable of scoring 10-13 points in that sort of limited offense, what do you imagine a player like Davis is going to do?

Even if the Falcons wind up making necessary improvements to the rest of their roster and get back on track to earning a playoff berth, all that could go away with one untimely hit on the quarterback, as it did for the Bears in 2011. The best case scenario for the Falcons is bringing in a veteran passer that has some starting experience, and Davis can beat him in an open competition in camp. If that were to happen, then it would signal that Davis is potentially capable of handling the task at hand of keeping the Falcons playoff hopes afloat if thrust upon him. But if not, and the Falcons just add another Seth Doege to the mix, a player that isn’t even good enough to play a single snap of preseason football, then the Falcons are tempting fate that injuries once again submarine their season in 2014.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterba
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:42 am 
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Pudge, what do you think of Aaron Murray? His stock has fallen mightily since suffering an injury, but I always thought he could be an interesting late round draft pick that we could perhaps develop and even trade down the road ala Matt Schaub. But I guess, on the other hand, if we think Dominique Davis is a good enough project, we wouldn't need another one as is.


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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterba
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:06 am 
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I've never been a huge fan of Murray. He's a decent late round prospect, but IMO he doesn't possess the traits that the Falcons should eb looking for in their backup, which is a strong-armed vertical passer with some athleticism.

IMO, there is really no point drafting an NFL-ready prospect, which you can argue that Murray is. If you want a backup that can play right away, then the Falcons should sign a veteran. If they want to draft someone, draft someone with long-term upside, such as Logan Thomas or Tajh Boyd in the late rounds.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterba
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:27 pm 
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I'm still completely on board with the idea of bringing in Vince Young and keeping Davis around as a 3rd stringer.

I'm curious as to what the market will be for Josh McCown thought it seems he is likely to return to Chicago he'd be a great backup option for the Falcons. Despite his success stepping in for Cutler last year at 34 he won't demand much.

I'd probably kick the tires on Henne as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterba
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:31 pm 
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http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons ... or-falcons

A call for more arms for Falcons?
February, 4, 2014
FEB 4
8:00
AM ET
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
RECOMMEND2TWEET5COMMENTS2EMAILPRINT
One oddsmaker has the Atlanta Falcons at 25-1 to win next year's Super Bowl. It's a sure bet those odds depend on Matt Ryan calling the shots at quarterback for the duration of the season.

But what if the worse-case scenario evolves and Ryan is unable to play the entire way? Then what happens to the Falcons' chances?


McCown
It's something to consider when you take into account Ryan was the most-pressured quarterback in the league this past season. Although he refused to complain about it publicly, Ryan was a lot more beat up at season's end than he let on to be.

The Falcons would help Ryan's cause by securing better protection up front either via free agency or through the draft. They might add a little insurance at quarterback, too.

Dominique Davis is Ryan's backup, and Davis probably deserved more reps at the end of 2013 as Ryan continued to get pummeled. Instead, Davis patiently watched from the sideline and continued to work hard at practice daily.

Although Davis seems very capable of running the offense, the Falcons no doubt are looking around for veteran help just in case. Last season, when Davis suffered a knee injury, they brought in Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards, although neither was signed.

Remember, Davis injured his knee against Tampa Bay after Ryan was pulled during a blowout loss. The Falcons didn't have a third option because rookie seventh-round pick Sean Renfree (shoulder) was on injured reserve.

The Falcons shouldn't give up on Davis by any means. Still, the Falcons need to improve their depth up and down the roster.

One veteran quarterback's name came up during the Senior Bowl, but he wasn't mentioned by the Falcons. Apparently, this player still has admirers within the Falcons organization.

Luke McCown, 6-4, 217, QB, New Orleans Saints
Age: 32
Draft history: 4th round of 2004 (by Cleveland) out of Louisiana Tech
Career games/starts: 38/9
The word: McCown was with the Falcons during the 2012 season, replacing backup Chris Redmond during Dirk Koetter's first season as offensive coordinator. He also played under Koetter in Jacksonville, so there's an obvious familiarity with the system. McCown's stop in Atlanta was sandwiched between two stints with the Saints. He played just 16 snaps in New Orleans this past season.

If the Saints don't re-sign McCown, it would seem only natural for the Falcons to investigate the possibility of adding him to the roster. Not to mention the McCown name is hot in the NFL right now based on the success Josh McCown, Luke's brother, had with the Chicago Bears in place of the injured Jay Cutler this past season.

Wednesday: In a rush to come home?

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Take Risk Without a Backup Quarterba
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:57 am 
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Yea the Falcons need a back up Quarterback!! Usually by year 5 or 6 a Qb can get hurt just tripping over someone's foot. Its time to be ready for Ryan to miss a few games; so lets get a
dependable veteran!!

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