News and Notes Entering Week 6
Is Hot-lanta a desired destination?
The Atlanta Falcons became team #2 to now be looking for a new general manager and head coach. From the category of, “it’s a great game, but a crappy business” the Falcons made changes at the top after only 5 games. This was no-doubt a carryover from 2019 which was viewed by most as a year of underachieving. Having said that, I have always thought this organization should be at the top of the list for most desirable places to hang your hat in the NFL and many in the business should line up to be part of it. I think people make the environment and they have a couple of the best at the top of the NFL food chain.
Start first with ownership. Arthur Blank has come a long way since buying the team in 2002. This is a very smart man with unquestioned business acumen. I had a chance to sit down with him and discuss the Falcons just after he bought the team. At that time, he didn’t know or understand the football business and he was looking for a partner to learn it from. He has come a long way from really just being a fan to now, being one of the leaders in the industry. His comments last week regarding the future of QB Matt Ryan, told me he “gets it." He basically said, he will put that decision in the hands of the experts, his new GM and HC. In addition, this is not a team void of talent. They have a QB, who may be advanced in age, but Matt Ryan, if surrounded by the right people can be very productive. His arm still allows him to fit balls in tight windows to a couple receivers, who when healthy are explosive. Sure, the defense needs to be shored up, but it's also a team with some pieces in place and solid leadership. A good leader knows what to delegate and Arthur is more than willing to do so. Believe it or not, that’s not easy for some people, who have had great success in life, to do. At age 78, he wants to win now more than ever before and he will do anything within his power, if it makes sense. Sounds like he is very willing to listen to the experts. They have first class stadium/venue, first class facility and money has never been an issue. All great attributes.
His top lieutenant, President and CEO Rich McKay (and acting interim GM) is one of the most respected club employees in the NFL hierarchy. As chairman of the powerful “competition committee” for years he has helped steward the league as a consistent voice in many matters. A coach’s son, who has been around football his whole life, his mentorship should benefit whoever their new hires are.
My theory has always been, when assembling a group to succeed, make sure you’re not the smartest guy in the room. Suffice to say, whoever the Falcons hire to run the football side of this franchise, will have these two men to lean on and to bounce things off which should be a giant advantage. This should be a great opportunity.
Is New England’s offense sustainable?
By anyone’s account, QB Cam Newton’s and the New England Patriots offense has got to be viewed as a success thru 5 weeks. This should not come as a surprise to anyone with the amount of Lombardi trophies they have collected. Far be it for me to question their approach. I think adding Cam was both a stroke of brilliance and a gift from the sky from a timing standpoint. Their scheme on offense is exactly what I thought it would be. QB DESIGNED RUNS with play action and individual route passing game behind it. Simple and to the point but executed to perfection. Here is my question though. In a league of adjustments, especially by defenses, teams can take away favorite formations, plays, etc. and make you do something else at some point, especially when you play division opponents a second time. Offenses are constantly re-inventing themselves. Can the Pats come up with enough variety in formations and game plans to win a chess game, in the second half of the season or is their offensive ceiling, that of a game of checkers?
The design of their run game is solid. Using Cam as a RB who can also throw, works great until someone sneaks extra bodies in the box and your perimeter weapons are suspect and can’t get away from coverage to make a big play. Or, Cam continues to take a beating and gets hurt? The sustainability from a scheme standpoint and the health of their QB standpoint, just give me cause for concern. I think it’s worth watching that’s all.
Dis-harmony continues in Gotham
We saw the NY Jets exodus another player this week only to see him on the street for about 24 hrs. RB Le’Veon Bell was cut for comments “unbecoming” and questioning his role/use last week, after the Jets attempted to trade him, once again, to no avail. Obviously his 52 million/ 4-year deal (6M left in guarantees) was a detriment to making this happen, so the Jets decision makers felt they had no choice but to release him. His tenure with the Jets was without a doubt a giant disappointment. His release would soon be a footnote if it was not on the heels of some other amateur roster management that started a year ago. OC Ryan Kalil (who they talked out of retirement and paid 6.7M for a sub-par, 7 weeks in 2019), WR Robbie Anderson leaving as a free agent and the trade of DB Jamal Adams to Seattle, come to mind right away.
Bell had several suitors right away and Chiefs coach Andy Reid jumped the highest, to add his services and the RB ended up signing with the Super Bowl Champs in KC.
Here is the disturbing part, if I was a Jets fan. The players they have chosen to let go, or trade, all are in high demand by other teams. So, they are found to be desirable for the Chiefs, Seahawks and Panthers but the Jets can’t deal with them? WR Robbie Anderson is having a breakout year in Carolina (not to mention the Jets receiving corps are below average by NFL standards), Pete Carroll has made Jamal Adams a piece to build around in Seattle and he’s clearly a difference maker on and off the field, regardless of his position and now the World Champions found a way to overlook any character or communication flaws to add Bell.
The Jets would say, they are clearing the deck, but here is the reality. As an NFL franchise or the decision makers of an NFL team, you can’t live in a vacuum. You have to deal with difficult players and situations. Communicating is hard at any level but for the Jets, it seems as though it’s a constant struggle. If your answer is to always get rid of players who are difficult, you’ll never get ahead but instead have to draft perfectly just to tread water. The last time I checked, the Jets don’t have enough good players currently. Good luck with finding enough difference makers that are also choir boys. The best leaders find ways to listen and deal with issues.
In real life- the Jets decision makers would move to Alaska, live off grid and never have to deal with people. ☺ Its hard to run a football team like this though.
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