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 Post subject: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:39 pm 
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Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard

February 1st, 2014
Aaron Freeman

Unlike the offensive tackle position, it is not safe to say the Atlanta Falcons roster currently features both starters at guard. While left guard Justin Blalock is coming off arguably his best season and is a lock to return as a starter in 2014, right guard remains wide open.
Peter Konz and Garrett Reynolds split the majority of snaps there in 2013, neither performing at a high level. Reynolds started the season well, but as things wore on he became less effective. When Konz was benched at center in favor of Joe Hawley in Week 11, the bottom seemed to fall out for Reynolds, who logged significant reps in just two more games before finding a permanent seat on the bench. He was inactive for the Falcons final game of the year, a significant drop from being the team’s second-best blocker on opening day.

Reynolds’ star may have fallen so much that he may find himself unemployed this offseason. The Falcons could free up close to $1.4 million (per Over The Cap.com) in cap space by releasing Reynolds. Reynolds got his first opportunity to run away with the starting right guard position in 2011 and then again in 2012. But both years were marred by inconsistent play and injuries. Ostensibly, 2013 represented his third strike and the Falcons could opt to move on this offseason given the moderate cap savings.

Konz replaced Reynolds and got the majority of those reps at right guard down the stretch, but did little with them as he looked like a liability for much of it. By year’s end, I was ready to give up on Konz after just two seasons but it doesn’t appear the Falcons share that mindset.

Konz will get another chance to prove whether he was worthwhile pick as a second rounder in 2012. One of the priorities of new offensive line coach Mike Tice will be to get more from Konz. It’s reasonable to think that given Konz’s weaknesses, that better coaching can improve him in a number of areas. Improvements in his footwork and technique can go a long way, as well as instilling toughness and aggression into Konz’s game. But even with those improvements, it may not be quite as reasonable to believe that Konz can be salvaged as a starter. Instead he may wind up inheriting the former role of Joe Hawley as the team’s swing guard and center that adds depth.

If that is the case, the team will likely prioritize finding a starting candidate to play right guard. One player that probably won’t be on that list, although he ended the season relatively well, is Harland Gunn. Gunn showed that he could be an effective short-term replacement for Konz and Reynolds at the end of last year, but whether he is factored in as a viable long-term option remains to be seen. He too may be better suited to be a reserve that could swing between center and guard.

Because of questions that surround Reynolds, Konz, and Gunn’s future, the Falcons certainly will be looking to add a surer fix this offseason. That could come in free agency, where a top free agent like Jon Asamoah could make sense given he was drafted by new assistant general manager Scott Pioli in Kansas City in 2010. However, Asamoah is likely to draw significant interest from his own team as well as others, raising his price tag. Given the Falcons still may believe that Konz can be a starter, they might not be in the mindset of spending big for a free agent like Asamoah.

That could lead to a more modest free agent signing akin to what the team did in 2012 by adding Vince Manuwai. Obviously, the team would wish for better results since Manuwai’s durability issues prevented him from making it to training camp.

Another alternative is using the draft to bolster the position with a more permanent fix. That would likely come on the second day of the draft for a team that is looking for a player that could immediately contribute as a starter. The team’s access to a number of top guard prospects during their week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl could aid them in sorting out some draft targets.

Regardless of the avenue in which the Falcons attack the hole at right guard, it seems inevitable that the team addresses it in some significant way. Unlike offensive tackle, where the team could reasonably stand pat with the current group of players, the right guard position seems much more wide open.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:15 pm 
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Thomas D. has done a terrible job drafting linemen on both sides of the ball!! I could spend a lot of time talking about how bad his linemen have been, but when your offensive line has very average players; and your defensive line has turned to crap, the GM. has blown it along the lines.

When opposing Qbs have all day to throw the ball, and our Qb has seconds to find a receiver; its hard to play winning football.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:32 pm 
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Also hard to play winning football when your coaches don't know how to coach winning football, either.

:king:

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:25 am 
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This whole regime has significant issues. I'm hoping that by adding Tice and Pioli, the new (old) blood will help to set these guys straight.


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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:35 am 
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Quote:

When opposing Qbs have all day to throw the ball, and our Qb has seconds to find a receiver;


Ok Pudge-------You tell me how to coach this successfully?? What are you going to
Coach when your Qb is consistently challenged, and the defensive line was the 31st team out
of 32 in sacking the Qb.

Its fine you don't like the coaching, but no team is going to survive getting manhandled on both
sides of the football!! Why the cheap shot on an obvious situation where both of your lines are
getting killed??

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:23 pm 
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Cyril, it's possible that part of the equation has been that our coaching staff has not developed the talent. I've pointed out before that we have not developed many players during Smith's tenure. We've actually watched players get worse under his leadership. Typically, we have seen players on this team have good first and 2nd years, and then fall off into mediocrity. Douglas, Spoon, Decoud, Nicholas, Rodgers, every offensive or defensive lineman, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:31 pm 
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Cyril wrote:
Ok Pudge-------You tell me how to coach this successfully??

Go back and watch the Bills game. That's how I'd coach them every week.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:11 pm 
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The Bills game?? I guess we played good; I can't remember the Bills game or most of the specific games. I can remember the season and the problems we had on both sides of the ball.

When your next to last at sacking the Qb, and have trouble protecting your Qb; that whole mess is not coaching but lousy players......If you want to act like another coach could have had this team win 9 games and have a winning season go ahead.......You love to try and make headline statements!!

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:56 pm 
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I never said another coach would've won this team 9 games this year (although I will say that Belichick probably would've).

But a better coach would've had this team more competitive than they were in at least 4 or more games, and potentially turned that into 2 or more wins. So I'm thinking more like 6 wins. :wink:

All along, you've either misunderstood or misrepresented my complaints about the coaching of this team in 2013. My beef is not that the coaches didn't win games. My beef is that the coaches didn't try to win games, and that is based off their inability to adjust midseason to the fact that they had a very different team than what they've fielded in the previous 5 years.

When you have an average OL and an average defense, which this team has had largely throughout the Mike Smith era, you can play very conservative style because in the 4th quarter in a 1-score game, you can take the cuffs off Ryan and your offensive playmakers and go out and win a game.

But when you have a bottom rung OL and defense, that sort of conservative football isn't going to cut it because you're almost never going to be in that same position come the 4th quarter, unless you're playing another bottom rung team.

And this is what I have been talking about with this team needing to be more aggressive early in games. Would it had resulted in us having a winning season? No. But it would've had us more competitive for 4 quarters than the conservative approach.

The Bills game was the game where the Falcons game plan took shots down the field early in the game, and it resulted in our best offensive performance. Then they dialed back the offense until Week 17 vs. Carolina, and they simply didn't execute then as well as they did vs. the Bills. In both games, they were arguably our 2 worst OL performances, yet the Falcons were far more competitive in both games than they were in most of the games where they took the vanilla approach offensively.

I also blame the coaches for that middle portion of the season where we were at our least competitive (Weeks 8-11), which coincided with our OL having some of their better performances yet our WR play was horrendous. The coaches are to blame for that poor WR play. They failed to adjust to our offense being headlined by Harry Douglas, who clearly was incapable of handling that job, and the coaches also get blamed for mishandling Roddy's injury which led to that promotion of Douglas more than anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Team Needs: Falcons Must Expand Options at Right Guard
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:23 pm 
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Quote:
All along, you've either misunderstood or misrepresented my complaints about the coaching of this team in 2013. My beef is not that the coaches didn't win games. My beef is that the coaches didn't try to win games, and that is based off their inability to adjust midseason to the fact that they had a very different team than what they've fielded in the previous 5 years.


No I didn't misunderstand!! When you say
Quote:
Also hard to play winning football when your coaches don't know how to coach winning football, either.
When you say something like this, it sound like your talking about a lot more wins.......

I doubt Bill B. could have had a winning season even if he could have brought Brady.

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