Let's kick this chat off early. Fire away.
Hey Pat, did you find it odd Carolina interviewed Shurmur for the OC job?
A little bit. He's a West Coast offense guy, which doesn't fit with Cam Newton. As I've said before, I'd just promote Shula. Think that makes the most sense.
Pat, when will we know about roster moves, as in players getting cut?
Think league year starts March 12. So you probably won't see much until a few days before that.
do you see atantas running game being able to break big runs against the front 7 of the 9ers. i am not talking about the screen game but actual traditional runs
Possibly, if 49ers put too much attention on passing game. But, even after what he did last week, I'm still not sold that Turner will be breaking off big runs.
with the cap problems in Carolina, does anyone take a pay cut, or will high-priced players get let go/or traded?
There will be releases. But there also will be restructures. Straight-up pay cuts are pretty rare.
Hi Pat, What cornerbacks do you reckon the bucs could realistically go after in free agency and also if we go cornerback in the 1st round of the draft, is the drop-off from Milliner quite high or do you think there are some other top corners to be taken at 13?
Most people have Rhodes in the late 20s. But the demand could push him up. So could good workouts.
Hey Pat, Being a huge Falcons fan here in California is pretty tough right now, all the 49ers fans (my wife included) are drinking the Koolaid pretty hard right now, but i feel if Kapernick starts the game off like he did last week he might be in trouble. There game last week was close until the 4th quarter against a Packers defense that i believe we are far greater than plus that fact we are at home and the fans can jump all over Kapernick with an early int. What are your thoughts?
Kaepernick's been phenomenal. But he still is a young QB, playing in a loud and hostile atmosphere, so mistakes are possible.
can you turn in auto update?thanks pat
I turned it on on my end. But think you need to do something on your end as well.
You often say that you do not make predictions, although with rare exceptions. My question is why? Even though predictions are often meaningless, it seems as though if anyone should make them it should be the person whose job it is to follow them around and report on them
Because they're absolutely meaningless. Feel I can use my time on other things that are more meaningful.
if khalil, charles johnson, beason, and gross restructure is it possible to sign greg hardy AND look good to make a free agent move?
Can probably take care of Hardy, but they're not going to have room to get any big free agents.
Hey Pat. What do you think the Bucs will/should do with Eric Wright? Many are speculating that he's not gonna be with them for much longer. Also, any news on Quincy Black?
Think it's pretty obvious Wright will be gone. We're talking $7.75 million. Last I heard on Black was he was still seeing specialists to figure out exactly what's going on.
Can Sidbury help if Abe is unable to play effectively. He sure seems to have gotten on the coaches' bad side in the last year or two. If not, why do they even keep him around?
First, it sounds as if Abe will play. Second, Matthews and Massaquoi got the snaps when Abe was out Sunday. They're clearly ahead of Sidbury in the eyes of the coaches. Think Sidbury's days in ATL are numbered.
pat, i dont think the panthers ness need a big free agent (they cant anyways!). they were in most of their games were they not? the just need to learn to close the door
No argument here.
If the Falcons are to go on and win the Super Bowl riding Ryan's arm, who is the best QB in the NFC South?
We'll tackle that one in a couple weeks, if it comes to fruition.
How hard was it to remain humble when talking with Sando after he pretty much claimed Atlanta had zero chance against his Seahawks last week....only to essentially repeat himself this week?
Sando's a good friend. I know he's not the most popular guy with ATL fans, but he's a good guy.
Who do you have winning this weekend, Falcons or 49ers?
I took the Falcons. Think I had it at 31-27.
I am a Falcons fan, but was wondering just how close Sean Payton came to being the Cowboys coach.For me, I did not see it. Benson would not let him get away so easy and I don't see Payton wanting to work for Jerry Jones....Just how close was he to leaving?
I don't think it ever got real close. Benson wasn't going to let him get away. And I think Payton wanted to come back and right the ship.
I feel like the Falcons will be able to throw all over the 49ers sunday, after having done very well against the Seahawk's incredible secondary. agreed?
I think Falcons are capable of throwing on anyone.
Hey Pat i have heard how Martellus Bennett wants to play with his brother. Any chance he goes to the bucs? They kinda need a TE. Also with Nicks n Joseph returning does Doug Martins numbers get even better?
I think Bennett makes sense on many levels. And, yeah, could only help Martin if he's running behind two Pro Bowl guards.
Hey Pat, I've heard stats regarding the Falcons' ability to stop QB runs throughout the season ad nauseum this week, but I could argue just as vehemently that the Falcons' biggest struggles in that regard, against Cam Newton, came in games that meant very very little to the Falcons (particularly the 2nd, another record-breaking performance). Do you think the media has gotten a little carried away with the Falcons' shortcomings in that area?
Perhaps a little. But I think Mike Nolan may have some new tricks up his sleeve this week.
What should Tampa do with the QB situation. Freeman clearly needs competition. Should they look in free agency or try to draft a QB? Possibly a trade?
Think you draft a guy maybe in the third or fourth round because there's not going to be much out there in free agency. But I still think there's hope for Freeman.
Do you think the impact of Atlanta having home-field advantage this weekend is being underplayed, grossly underplayed, or both? I've heard it thrown to the wayside several times, and if it was factored in to someone's analysis, all I heard is that it will make Colin Kaepernick more effective because of the turf. Thoughts?
Underplayed. Falcons have been very good in GA Dome since Smitty arrived. And I'd expect the crowd will be louder than ever on Sunday.
Regarding the game against the Seahawks why did the Falcons go more conservative on defense instead of keeping pressure like they did the 3 quarters? Are they going to do that against the 49ers?
Because Mike Smith has a tendency to turn conservative at times. Think he's a great coach. But that's one of his few weaknesses.
What will Nolan do to shore up those intermediate routes in last week's game to make sure the 49ers can't exploit that weakness as much?
Hopefully, he'll at least attempt to have someone cover the tight end this week!!!
Pat - have you heard anything recent on Abe's ankle injury? how much chance do you give the falcons defense to stop 49ers - assuming he is not ready on Sunday - more so, knowing what happened in second half against seahawks, when Abe sat out.
Abe practiced today. I think he'll be fine. Maybe not 100 percent, but enough to be a factor and that's a big plus.
Pat, will Vilma finally drop the Bountygate thing and move on?
I think it's over now. There's really nothing left he can do.
Pat, you and Yahoo's Mike Silver touched on something many Falcons fans are sick of seeing: Mike Smith taking his foot off the gas and letting beaten teams back into games. Why does Smith continue to coach like it's 1983, not 2013, where rules changes help quick, explosive plays in the passing game? Someone please ask Smith DIRECTLY, why he continues to try and sit on leads WHEN IT DOESN'T WORK! He never learns. He keeps on doing this. Denver this year. SanFran last. Carolina. Saints. It goes on and on. Belichick doesn't do this. The Harbaughs don't do this. Why won't Smith LEARN?
Yep, it's definitely a Smitty flaw. I covered John Fox through much of his Carolina time and Smitty reminds me a lot of Fox in that regard.
Last Sunday was the loudest the Dome has ever been, no?
In the five seasons, I've been in this gig, yes. No doubt.
Is there a hiring freeze at One Buc Place? Are we going to drag our feet and miss our shot at quality assistants, again?
Think they may already have some hires or are in the process of hiring. They just haven't announced anything and nothing has leaked out.
Who will be the MVP of Sunday's game? This is meant to be an educated guess - not on who you think NEEDS to be the MVP
From an Atlanta perspective, Mr. Matthew Ryan, without a doubt.
How active do you think the bucs will be in free agency this year?
Not sure they'll spend $140 million in a day like last year. But they have plenty of cap room, so I'd expect them to be fairly active.
Saints fan here. Is a certainty that will Smith will be cut?
I'd say it's likely. Cap figure is over $14 mil and he's getting up there in age.
Personally I'd love to see a Falcons Ravens Super Bowl. 2 future HoF's last game and Ryan Flacco going head to head. If this happens will this determine who is better from that draft?
Yep, and I think Ryan/Flacco would become the dominant story line that week.
Looking at next year, do Panthers release DeAngelo Williams? and if so will ATL go after him?
Think he probably gets released. But not sure Falcons would go for him. He's not exactly young.
do u think its about time carolina brings in an a highly-touted wr?...smitty has about 2-3 years left, and once he leaves there will be a major drop off
Yeah, it would be nice to get a No. 1 WR for the future.
I dont think Tampa gave Blount a carry since the KC game. Do they keep him or trade him??
Again, the deal on Blount is he will be a restricted free agent. Think they will tender him. If somebody signs him to an offer sheet, they can get a draft pick for him. If not, they can keep him as an inexpensive backup.
Pat, but when Deangleo started after JS got hurt, we started winning. i say get rid of JS. Just my opinion
I would agree with you if money wasn't a factor. But it's a huge factor there. Williams is counting more than $8 million against cap. Stewart's counting $2.8. Plus, they'd lose cap money if the cut Stewart.
Pat, is much being said about Falcon's coach Mike Smith clock management issues? On three different occasions this year the Falcons called time outs too early, allowing the opposing team another possession. This almost came back to bite the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Yeah, there has been some questionable clock management. But it hasn't been a big topic because they came out with a win. Say hello to all my friends in Old Forge and family in NEPA!
I was on a chat with Mel Kiper and he said that, while he thinks the Panthers would go after a DT with the first pick, he wouldn't be surprised if they picked WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Right now, I'd say DT was a much bigger need. What say you?
They HAVE to fix the DT situation once and for all.
any word on who Gettleman brings in to help him with cap and other things?
Not yet. May stay the same. Panthers have a very capable cap guy named Rob Rogers, but the general public doesn't know he exists because he keeps a low profile.
Manti Teo's draft stock must be dropping because of his fake girlfriend controversy. What are the odds that the buccaneers take him in the first round if he drops that low?
Let's wait to see how that whole thing plays out. Pretty sure we haven't heard all the details yet.
What position do you think is the Bucs biggest need?
I'll go out on a limb and say cornerback!!!
with the new GM in carolina, is it playoff or bust for coach Rivera?
I think that's pretty safe to say.
Why cut Williams if you can trade him. Lions, san Diego, Arizona, too many rb needy teams to just cut him
Because nobody is going to trade for an RB with a huge contract that's approaching 30.
Do you think Tampa's defensive problems were due to personnel or coaching? or Both?
Combination of the two.
If, and only if, Turner puts out two more big games in the postseason, do you think the Falcons could possible keep him? Smith would look like a genius for resting him
Doubt it because then you'd have to rest him all of next season. Guy's had a great run with the Falcons but I think this season is the end of his road in ATL.
Dimitroff's philosophy is to be a champion contender each season. With this in mind, wouldn't you think Grimes and Gonzo would want to return for another year with a full stock of draft picks to upgrade our weaknesses?
On Gonzalez, it's up to him and his family. But I certainly would think it's a situation that might tempt him to keep playing. On Grimes, this is his one shot at a big pay day. Maybe it comes from Falcons or maybe it comes from somewhere else.
Is it accurate that the Panthers have to be under the cap BEFORE the start of the new NFL year, but trades can't be made UNTIL the NFL year begins? If that's the case, the only answer is to restructure or release, right?
That is correcct.
Pat,Should the Saints choose Mingo (DE) or Reid (S) in the the first round?
I'd go with a DE, even if it's someone besides Mingo.
Kaepernick reminds me more of Cam than Wilson did...what can Nolan take away from their first 2 meetings with Cam to stop Kaepernick?
Basically the spacing of the defense has to be good. Everybody's got to stay where they're supposed to and keep him from breaking the big runs.
Shurmer, shula, or Jackson.....who would you pick if your jr?
I go with Shula to keep continuity for Cam. And shouldn't it be Ron Rivera, not JR, making that call?
Pat, what is D Robinson's contract like after this season? He definitely looked better under Nolan early, but last week I felt like I saw some of the same coverage issues happening.
I'll have to look at his contract. Seems to me he's got a couple years left and they just restructured him.
Pat, If the falcons select a running back in the draft who do you see them taking? And where do you think they would draft a running back?
How 'bout we wait on Falcons' draft and free agency questions a bit. They ARE still playing!
Boy it's a good thing that the NFL don't allow forfits, what with the falcons having no chance last week,and nothing but doom this week. Maybe they should just give up!
Haha! Hey, keep using the "respect card" as motivation. It's worked well so far.
With Kuechly solidifying a spot at MLB and Beason's injury issues and cap number looming large, do the Panthers decide to part ways?
Think there is a decent chance of that. At very least, Beason's going to have his contract restructured and have to move to the outside.
ATL had dead money in 2012 equal to Turner cap hit in 2013. Could they just keep Turner at his cap number instead of feeding the dead pool.
They'd free up cap room if they released him. Don't have the amount in front of me, but it would be significant.
How to do you think Konz will fair against the strong pass rushers? I know he's built as a center, but he seems to be doing well. If we can give Ryan time in the pocket, I think that will be the game winning factor.
Yes, protecting Ryan might be the single biggest key to this game. They have to give him time to throw. O-line did nice job against Seattle, but SF might be even bigger challenge.
Will Chase Coffman get a shot if TG retires?
A shot to be the backup, but doubt he can be much more than that.
Everyone is talking about Kaepernick and the threat he poses, but apart from him where else are the 49ers strong that are concerning for ATL going into Sunday?
Gore's a good RB, Crabtree has really come on at WR, Vernon Davis is a very good tight end and their defense is strong. That enough for you?
what is up with william moores hand??
Don't know. He showed up with a cast this week, but nobody has gotten into specifics, but he's been practicing and I think they're listing him as probable.
Does ATL have a defenciey at developing players such as Cliff Matthews and Rookie Johnathan Massiaqui?
Time will tell. You've got to give them a little time to develop.
Do you see Quizz as an every down back after the way he protected Ryan on that long ball to HD with little time on the clock?
I think Quizz can be a starter, but don't think you want him to be a 25-carry-a-game guy. You'd still need to bring in someone to go with him.
CB chris gamble is respected within the nfl and does a good job containing #1 WR's...does he restructure or will he be released? (dont see too much depth at the position)
Sad to say, but the cold reality is I think they have to release him. He's the most obvious of all because I think he'd free up like $8 million.
Pat!! How do you see our O-Line holding up against SF D-Line? This game is sooooooo about the trenches this week and time allowed for both QB's
It's going to be a heck of a challenge with the Smiths and that pass rush. But Pat Hill has done a nice job with that o-line and I'm sure he's done everything he possibly can to get his guys ready for that pass rush.
How high do you think the ceiling is for Mark Barron?
Very high. Put some good CBs in front of him and I think he can be a force.
Last one....Do you see the ATL offense transforming into a 4 or 5 reciever set? Can Mike Smith handle that?
I've seen times where they've gone empty backfield. But that's included Gonzalez and Quizz in the 5-man set.
I head Harbaugh is going to ask the refs to watch Baker closely for holding, seems he feels that Baker gets away with it more often than not - can Smitty turn around and ask the refs to watch Justin Smith for his holds???
I'm sure Smitty and some other people on the ATL sideline will be doing that.
Whats been going on with Decoud and Moore? Earlier they were one of the better safety tandems in the league, and now they seem to have disappeared
Well, Moore was out for the final four games of the regular season.
Do you think Harry Douglas will play a key role in this week's matchup against the 49ers? It seems like everyone forgets about him completely.
I think either he or Gonzalez could be the wild card, deciding factor or whatever you want to call it. Expect SF will devote tons of attention to Roddy and Julio and that could open up things for Douglas and Gonzalez.
Do you think the screen game will be a big factor? Seems to be a good way to avoid pressure.
I would hope so. It's worked pretty well for them most of the year.
If Gonzo decides to hang it up after the season, regardless of how it ends...What effect would that have on Atlantas salary cap, if any?
Absolutely none. He's not under contract for 2013.
beside abe any other injuries that could effect the game on either team?
Babineaux has a shoulder injury. He practiced today and I'm sure he'll play, but he might not be 100 percent.
I feel its a little strange that 4 coaches have left the Bucs after 1 season of being on the staff. 2 got hired to Head Coaches but why would a 7-9 team get poached? Cooper left to be the same position somewhere else. Thoughts?
Two guys with some college background got head coaching jobs in college. On Cooper, somebody had to take the fall for the horrible pass defense, so i don't think that one was poaching. On the D-line coach, I don't know.
What is one feeling that you have about the game that has been different from other opinions you have heard?
Hmmm, I'll say that ATL has the more explosive offense. Yeah, Kaepernick is good and all that. But if Falcons use all their receiving options, and I'm including Gonzalez, Quizz and Douglas, I think they could put up a pile of points and a pile of yards.
Pat, do you think Matt Ryan doesn't get the respect he deserves (most total wins by a QB in his first 5 years, most comback wins since 2008 in the NFL) because he was saddled with the Mularkey/Smith conservative offense? Manning had the "Can't win in playoffs" knock against him, but no one doubted he was a good QB because he played in a wide-open offense. To this day, people STILL run their mouths claiming Ryan is overrated.
I can't speak for others. But I've thought Ryan's been elite for several years and he only got better this year.
Chances S. Payton gets to search for new coach(s) before Super Bowl?
So far, it doesn't sound like he's going to get that chance.
Pat this game has shades of the 1998 NFCCG written all over it.No-one gave the Falcons a chance then and it feels the same now.I think a lot of NFL pundits will be eating crow Sunday come about 7:00pm!RISE UP!
We'll find out on Sunday. All right, I'm going to call it a wrap on the chat because I've got to start packing to head up to ATL. Thanks to all for stopping by. Oh, please join us in the Countdown Live chat during the game Sunday -- Falcons fans, Sando will be in that chat!