Saturday, September 12, 2009
Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition
By Pat Yasinskas
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
The Atlanta Falcons are the final stop on our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Matthew in Flowery Branch, Ga., writes: With the current state of the economy, what are the chances that the Atlanta Falcons open up a new stadium in the next few years?
Pat Yasinskas: My first thought when the Falcons started making noise about a new stadium was, “Why do that in this economic climate?’’ But Arthur Blank knows a bit more about business than I do and he’s pushing ahead with this idea. The Falcons certainly could use an upgraded stadium and I’m thinking Blank is trying to strike while the iron is hot. In other words, he’s got a good team that, right now, is very marketable from the coach and the quarterback right on down the line. One other item that I think needs to be pointed out here. The Falcons have team president Rich McKay as their point man on the stadium front. Say what you want about some of McKay’s football moves when he was general manager in Atlanta and Tampa Bay. But McKay is a very sharp man and he’s got a successful history when it comes to getting stadiums. Back in his Tampa Bay days, McKay was the point man when the Bucs, who were a disaster at the time, were trying to get a new stadium. McKay helped the Bucs get one of the best stadiums in the league.
Mike in Jasper, GA writes: Pat, have the falcons made enough moves to shore up the secondary and be more competitive on 3rd down?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, we’re about to find out. But I think the Falcons did the best they could to upgrade at the end of the preseason. The trade for Tye Hill gives them a cornerback, who, at least at one time, was considered a first-round talent. He still has some upside and I think he’ll help. Also think veteran Brian Williams can help as a safety. He’s got some history with Mike Smith. The Atlanta secondary isn’t going to overwhelm anyone, but I think it’s now at least as good as it was last year.
Scott in Scotland writes: Hey Pat, awesome story about the Falcons and Make A Wish Foundation. I'm a Panthers fan but have so much respect for the Falcons because of things like this and the Nicholas story. Just wanted to say thanks for running the story.
Pat Yasinskas: Always impressive when a fan of another team can salute something good by another team. The story of Stephen Nicholas and his family was an inspiring one to write.
Adam in Hanover, N.H. writes: You seem quite confident that Matt Ryan will do very well this year. However, watching the last few games of last year as well as the preseason (especially the one against the Chargers) that he is not all that he is cracked up to be. I understand one game isn't necessarily indicative of anything but in the Chargers game he threw at least two if not three balls that should have been intercepted. Even on a few complete passes, the receiver would have been able to gain more yards if Ryan had hit him in stride. In other words, aren't you worried about his arm strength given how aggressive/motivated to make plays he is?
Pat Yasinskas: I truly believe Matt Ryan is going to be a great quarterback, if he’s not already. What he did as a rookie speaks for itself and I saw huge improvement in him when I went to minicamp in May and even more improvement when I went to training camp in August. I think Ryan has all the physical tools and he also has the intangibles and personality that can really put a quarterback over the top. Just as important, I think he’s in a position where he’s set up for success. He’s got great coaching with Mike Mularkey and Bill Musgrave, an excellent running back in Michael Turner, a solid offensive line in front of him and he’s going to be throwing to Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. I just don’t see any flaws or negatives with this guy.
Tyson in Atlanta writes: Hey Pat, do you think Harry Douglas will be healthy by the end of the year if we make it to the playoffs?
Pat Yasinskas: Not going to happen. Douglas was placed on the injured-reserve list, which means he can't play at all this season.