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December 21, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Pat Yasinskas

Nicolas (Parkland,FL) [via mobile]

Should the Bucs draft a quarterback just in case they don't want Freeman anymore?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:51 AM)

Think they have to get some CBs before they do anything else in the draft. All right, this chat is up and running early. Probably going to cut it a little short on the back side because I have to get ready to head to the airport.

John (South Carolina)

Pat, you mentioned there is a growing chance that Beane becomes the new Panthers GM. Seriously, is there a realistic chance of this happening? Adam Caplan seems to think Marc Ross from the Giants is the early favorite to be the next Panthers GM, Tom Gamble of the 49ers is also a possibility. If JR promotes Beane that would be a cop out and make the firing of Hurney pointless. Have you heard anything?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:52 AM)

Yep, I wrote that for a reason. Not saying it definitely will be Beane, but I've heard that's a possibility.

DiMaggio "Magic" (Atlanta, GA)

Happy holiday Pat...coming off that prolific win against the Giants, do you think the Falcons will under value the Detroit game like they did the Panthers? Meaning they would rather lock home field advantage in the GA Dome against the Bucs?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:53 AM)

Well, they're buzz phrase this week has been how they need to keep the "focus" they had in the Giants game. If they play anything like they did against the Giants, they should be fine.

EastEndBoy (DC)

Is the psychological benefit for the Bucs of winning the last two games worth the cost of potentially getting a top-10 draft pick if they lose them instead?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:55 AM)

Honestly, I think they'd be better off winning out and carrying some positive momentum toward next season.

richard (chino valley az)

Why were the Falcons ranked so low in this weeks power rankings? Especially given the shutout of the Giants and the fact that they beat the broncos head to head.

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:56 AM)

You'd have to ask the voters. But John Clayton did have them at No. 1.

richard (chino valley az)

When the falcons win on saturday, do you think they rest the starters for the bucs or do you think that they will value momentum and play everyone?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:56 AM)

Think they'd probably treat it like a preseason game -- play the starters the first half and maybe even into the early part of the third quarter.

Will (Davie County)

So I think Rivera's "2013 Head Coach-o-meter" is registering around 50%. You leaning higher or lower?

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:58 AM)

I'm right about with you. If they play well in final two, I think he stays.

CB (Charleston, SC)

what on earth is Sando's problem with the Falcons? he keeps ranking them low

Pat Yasinskas
  (10:59 AM)

You'd have to ask Mike about that. But Clayton's kept the Falcons at No. 1 on his ballot the last few weeks.

EastEndBoy (DC)

What's the word on Eric Wright - will he a) suit-up in the last game, b) be cut after his suspension ends, c) sit out as a healthy scratch, d) sit out because he has not yet recovered?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:01 AM)

They've been quiet on that. My guess is he'll play in the final game. But that really is just a guess.

Rob (Atlanta)

Will you consider redoing the NFC South Top 25 that you released during the pre-season based on how they performed this season?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:01 AM)

I'll have my All-NFC South team next week.

Ryan (NC) [via mobile]

Too early to call Arrelious Benn a bust?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:02 AM)

I don't like to call someone a bust when injuries have kept them from playing very much.

C.J. (College Park, GA)

what do you see as the Falcons biggest need this offseason?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:03 AM)

RB, TE, some more depth on O-line and maybe a CB, if Grimes isn't re-signed.

Rob (Atlanta)

Should Saints fans be hoping for a loss to Dallas this Sunday? The way I see it if Dallas misses the post season then Sean Payton will strongly consider the head coaching job at Dallas.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:04 AM)

It certainly would increase the possibility of Payton staying in New Orleans if Garrett keeps his job.

Bennie (Tampa)

A lot of people lately is saying that Josh Freeman is similar to Mark Sanchez in that he has never been and will never be an accurate passer? Do you agree with that?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:05 AM)

Freeman never is going to be a 70-percent passer. That's not his game and it's not Tampa Bay's offense. But he's got to be more accurate than he's been in recent weeks.

Dave (Charlotte)

I know this is a big "if" but if Cam Newton has a bad year next year, do the Panthers move on? He is clearly not a leader and it is evident each time they lose.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:06 AM)

Give Cam some slack. He's played well lately and they've won a couple in a row.

richard (chino valley az)

Honestly who on the Falcons can cover Johnson? Will they double him or will it be cover by committee?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:07 AM)

I'm guessing the committee approach. There aren't too many guys in the entire NFL that can come close to matching up with him 1 on 1.

Rob (Atlanta)

Do you think the Falcons will make Sam Baker an offer?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:08 AM)

I think so. He's had a decent season and they've got other needs they'll have to fill in the draft or free agency.

Dave (Charlotte)

Is Beason on the team next year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:09 AM)

Too early to say. A lot will depend on who is GM and who is coach.

Chris (Tempe, AZ)

What do you see the Falcons doing with Grimes in the off-season since McClain has been stepping up big time and they still have Robinson and Samuel?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:10 AM)

I think they approach Grimes in a somewhat similar manner to what they did with Lofton. They'll come up with an offer of a figure that will be as high as they'll go. If he can get a better deal elsewhere, they'll let him go.

Bill (Davidson NC)

Pat, how much responsiblity does The Big Cat bear for the Panthers' instability? He (a) drove away Bill Polian, (b) hired and then fired his sons, (c) appointed a President with no NFL experience, (d) hired (and then finally fired) a GM who was a career journalist, (e) completely undercut John Fox (who seems to have done a pretty good job in Denver, so maybe he knows how to coach), and (f) basically undercut Rivera. Oh yes, and he fired the Panthers play-by-play announcer for complaining, years after the fact, that he didn't get a Super Bowl ring. I'm not questioning his generosity, his concern for his players and fans...but isn't The Big Cat mostly the cause of franchise problems?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:14 AM)

No question he's made some mistakes. But some of your facts aren't accurate. Hurney was only a journalist for a very short time. He worked his way up and paid his dues working in front offices before becoming a GM. Fox had his run in Carolina and may have done some things to prompt Richardson to force him out. And I don't think Richardson was the one that ultimately made the call on the radio announcer.

Julian ( Jersey, United Kingdom) [via mobile]

Do you think the bucs will pursue a new defensive coordinator in the off-season? Blitzing DBs when our secondary is already vulnerable is not clever...

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:14 AM)

But I don't think the DC is making those calls without input from the head coach.

Justin (Jupiter, FL)

Hey Pat, do you think Peter Konz is being groomed for the Center position next year? Or are the Falcons planning on leaving him at RG and going with Hawley at C? I like Konz at Center and looking for a RG in FA or Draft.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:16 AM)

At first, I thought they wanted Konz to be a guard and Hawley to take over at center. But I don't know that Hawley has much of a future with them now. They might have to move Konz to center.

William Moore (Flowery Branch)

Should I play Saturday despite my injury or should I rest for the playoffs?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:16 AM)

Get yourself 100 percent healthy.

Matt Riddle (Atlanta, Ga)

If Atlanta wins on Saturday what are your predictions for resting players against Tampa?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:17 AM)

Again, I think he'll treat it like a preseason game. Go with some of the starters for a half or so, but rest the older guys as much as possible.

Chris (Tempe, AZ)

If Jake Long hits the FA do you see the Falcons putting a bid in for him and possibly moving Baker to the guard position?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:18 AM)

Not sure they would be able to create the cap room to sign Jake Long.

Josh(Wilmington) [via mobile]

Besides a dominant defensive tackle, what would you say are the panthers biggest needs in the draft or free agency?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:18 AM)

Cornerback would be very high on the list. Probably safety too.

Justin (Jupiter, FL)

Pat, who do you think the Falcons would have the easiest and the hardest time against in the playoff run this year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:19 AM)

I don't think they would want to see the Packers in the Georgia Dome.

Tony Gonzales (Flowery Branch)

Should I stay or Should I go?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:20 AM)

Stay, you could easily go two or three more years.

Paul (Menifee, CA)

How do you rank the running backs the Saints running backs going into 2013?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:22 AM)

Ingram, Thomas and Ivory. Sproles is so versatile that I don't count him as purely a running back.

Chris (B-Town (Burlington), NC)

Pat, play Jerry Richardson for a second. If Cowher comes up to you and says he wants to be the head coach for the Panthers, do you give him the job or do you stay with Rivera?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:23 AM)

Honestly, I think I might stick with Rivera. Besides, I don't know that Cowher would want the job.

Ben (Atlanta)

In your list of offseason needs for the Falcons, you left out defensive end. Wouldn't you say a future replacement for Abraham is a bigger need than a future replacement for Tony G?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:23 AM)

Yep, DE does need to be on that list.

JM (Charlotte)

I know the they'll focus mainly on defense, but what offensive positions should the Panthers look to fill with the draft? Maybe an OT?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:24 AM)

At some point, they're going to have to find replacements for Jordan Gross and Steve Smith.

Chris (Texas (via New Orleans))

Hi Pat, having watched the Saints defense improve from the disaster of the first few games, do you think there are huge skill gaps to be filled, or was it more of an adjustment period to a new scheme? What would be your top defensive priorities in the draft?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:25 AM)

Think they still have to add some talent to the front four.

Bob (Sacramento, CA)

Who would be the first choice for the Saints if Payton bolts for the Cowboys?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:26 AM)

Great question. I don't know the answer to it. But we'll deal with it when the time comes.

CC (Atlanta)

You honestly think winning 2 meaningless games in late December will translate into momentum for the Bucs next Aug/Sept? That's just silly. I expect more from you Pat. Too much egg nog?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:27 AM)

Yes, I do. They've lost four in a row. If it turns into six, they go into the offseason with a really bad taste in their mouths. Might undo all the progress they made earlier this season.

Justin Potter (Deep Run, NC)

Pat, This is a email I wrote to the Panthers on October 25th. I want to know what you think was right and what I was wrong on. Also, I hope riveria stays!Dear Panthers, I'm a life long fan at the age of 23. There is nothing I'd rather be doing on Sunday afternoon than sitting with my buddies in front of the TV or partying in the parking lot outside of BOA Stadium, but I have some concerns. I'm going to be straight forward with this. Firstly, when you have potentially the two best running backs in the NFL and you don't use them correctly some is wrong. Giving them 15 handoffs a game is not enough, you might as well put me in the back field. Secondly, I love Cameron Newton! He is an amazing talent, but running the entire offense through him is insane. He will wear down, pressure will get to him, and he could get hurt. The last thing I ever want to see is a player on this team get injured. Thirdly, I love the read-option play, but this is the NFL! That play would be awesome if we ran it 3-5 times a game not 25 times. I feel like that is our only running attack. This is not high school football, we ran that a lot back in Lenoir County. Fourthly, why aren't we going to a base offense and use our backs in the I-formation or power sets. We can be awesome in those sets and splitting to spread. Cam needs to deliver the ball to the backs, tight end, and smitty/company like Jake used to do. Lastly, I will never give up on this organization and I will stand by it till the day I die. Cam is special but we must use him correctly and get back to Panther Football. (ground game) You Pay them, play them! KEEP POUNDING!!!! Thanks,

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:28 AM)

I'll have to read this one on my 2.5 hour flight to Detroit. Too lengthy for me to read during a chat.

C.J. (College Park, GA)

Saying TD resigns Baker and Moore and lets Grimes and Sidbury walk, who would be good FA pickups for them(assuming they free up some cap space by extending Ryan)?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:29 AM)

Let's wait and see which free agents actually become available. Lots of things can happen between now and March.

JON (Falcon Fan) #2 (GA)

Pat, earlier you said that the Falcons should fear Green Bay in the dome. What about the 49ers?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:30 AM)

San Fran is a good team, no doubt. But there's not the painful history there like there is with Green Bay.

Richard (Chino Valley Az)

Do the Falcons win a playoff game this year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:31 AM)

I think this is the year it happens.

Will Mayfield (Dahlonega, GA)

Hey Pat, what do you think the chances are that the Falcons would go after people like McClain from Oakland and Long from Miami in the off season when they become free agents. In the past the Falcons tended to not really be that active in free agency and instead focused on the draft and resigning their own players. Thanks

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:32 AM)

Falcons usually are good for one big move per offseason. They're not going to have a lot of cap room, but I could see them making one move.

CC (Atlanta)

How much does Brees whine and snivel if Payton leaves? As good has he is, Brees has really come off as an unlikeable crybaby the past few months.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:33 AM)

Can only imagine he wouldn't be very happy if it comes to that.

Justin Potter (Deep Run, NC)

What do you see the panthers doing in free agency this year? With or without beane? I think we need to be more agressive in free agency for once, last time i think we did anything good in fa was when we signed Mike Wahle and ken lucas.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:34 AM)

Yeah and did Wahle and Lucas really work out for you? They both were gone within a couple of years.

Hanson (DC)

If Freeman doesn't become more consistent QB next year do you look elsewhere?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:35 AM)

Yes, if he's not playing well next year, then you have to start looking at alternatives.

Chris (Tempe, AZ)

Do you see Atlanta giving Matty Ice a $100 million contract if he wins the big one this year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:35 AM)

Yep and you probably give him something close to that even if they don't win the Super Bowl.

Ben (Atlanta)

With only 1 year left on his contract, do you see the Falcons cutting Turner this offseason and finding younger, fresher legs?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:36 AM)

Yep, that's the reality of that situation.

Matt Riddle (Atlanta, Ga)

If Peyton doesn't come back, does that mark the end of the Saints being a contender every year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:37 AM)

Even if Payton does come back, they've got some work to do on both sides of the ball. Plus, they've got a very difficult cap situation.

JON (Falcon Fan) #2 (GA)

With all that Turner has done for the Falcons and helping Matt Ryan develope as a QB do you really think the Falcons will cut him loose?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:38 AM)

It's a cold, hard business. He wouldn't be the first or last RB in his 30s to be released.

JON (Falcon Fan) #2 (GA)

How long do you see Nolan in Atlanta?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:39 AM)

Not hearing his name surface for head coaching jobs yet, so I think he sticks for at least another year.

Matt Riddle (Atlanta, Ga)

Is it possible Turner is going to get hot late after a season of mediocrity?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:40 AM)

Well, he should be more rested than in past years. But I just don't know that there's a lot left.

JON (Falcon Fan) #2 (GA)

Sean Weatherspoon is deffinitely the leader on defense but how much of an impact has Asante had?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:41 AM)

Asante's had a big impact. He and Spoon have helped the whole defense develop a swagger that was missing in past years.

C.J. (College Park, GA)

What RB in the draft most fits Falcons scheme?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:42 AM)

Ask Kiper or McShay that one. Or ask me in February after I've had time to get up to speed on the draft prospects.

Hanson (DC)

Is it more important for Falcons to hit the playoffs with a head of steam than other teams do to past failures? Gotta think confidence going in is a big deal in ATL.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:42 AM)

Yep, I think the mental part of it is especially important for Falcons.

mike rodriguez (honduras)

is robert mcclain a free agent next season , or is he under contract? if he is a free agent , he should be a RFA ? correct ?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:43 AM)

I think RFA, but I'm going to have to look that up. I'll get you lists of all potential free agents in the division after the season.

Chris (Tempe, AZ)

I see Willie Moore as a Troy Polamalu type. Do you agree with this?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:44 AM)

Let's not get too carried away. Moore's made great strides, but I wouldn't put him on that level just yet.

Shannon Davis_Pat Yasinskas_Fan (Atlanta GA)

Pat any chance of Grimes in postseason or no chance of return till next year if Falcons resign him? Thanks Pat!!!!!!

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:44 AM)

He can't return in postseason. He's on injured reserve and can't play until next season.

JON (Falcon Fan) #2 (GA)

Have you noticed a difference in Mike Smith this year?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:46 AM)

I think he realizes there's a huge sense of urgency. But can't say he's changed dramatically. He's a creature of habit.

Matt Riddle (Atlanta, Ga)

A lot of teams have been putting double and even triple coverage on Megatron and making other lions players step up. Is this what you predict from Nolan tomorrow?

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:48 AM)

Think they have to at least double him. Don't see how they can stop him 1 on 1.

mike rodriguez (honduras)

do they have to designate a return of a player if he is on IR ? or how does it work ? terrell sugs comes to mind

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:49 AM)

Yes, rules now allow you to designate an IR guy to return. But Falcons did not do that with Grimes.

Pat Yasinskas
  (11:50 AM)

All right, we're going to wrap up this chat. I have to get ready to travel to Detroit. Thanks for stopping by and please join us for the Countdown Live chat during Saturday night's game between the Falcons and Lions. Happy holidays to all.