The 2004 season is going to stomp that image
they have with players like, Alge Crumpler, Peerless Price, TJ Duckett, Warrick Dunn, Todd MCclure, Dez White, Keith Brooking, DeAngelo Hall and the
rest of the team. A new offense to fit Michael Vick, great talents at wide receiver, pro bowl tight end, newly trained offensive line, 2 starting
running backs in Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett, a new defensive scheme that fits the team, new talent on defense, speed on defense and a highly improved
special teams. The Falcons plan is to win the super bowl and they won't rest until they do. Can you believe? I can believe, this team has filled the
holes from the 2003 season and are here to prove the real team they are.
Rich McKay says, "Our object is to build a football team and one that can win not just today, not just tomorrow, but can win in the future." New head
coach Jim Mora comes off as a high tempo, energetic and charismatic coach. Coming from the San Franciso 49ers as the defensive coordinator, Jim Mora
brings an aggressive defensive scheme to a 32 ranked defense last year. The 49ers were ranked 13th in the NFL last year in defense and finished in the
top ten for turnovers last season. In his press conference of being the new Atlanta Falcon football coach, Jim Mora replies that, "This is going to be
a fast, aggressive, attack the ball team, who is going to be fundamentally sound." Jim Mora summarizes all those qualities that he wants for this team
by saying, "You win with your football."
Last Play Off Appearance:
January 11, 2003 - a 20-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs.
October 3 - at Carolina, November 14 - Tampa Bay, November 28 - New Orleans, December 5 - at Tampa Bay, December 18 - Carolina,
December 26 - at New Orleans.
Michael Vick (QB, 4th year, 6'1", 215 lbs.), Warrick Dunn (RB, 8th year, 5'9", 180 lbs.), T.J. Duckett (RB, 3rd year, 6'1", 254
lbs.), Peerless Price (WR, 6th year, 5'11", 190 lbs), Alge Crumpler (TE, 4th year, 6'2", 262 lbs.)
Ty Detmer (QB, 9th year, 6'1", 189 lbs.), Aaron Beasley (CB, 9th year, 6'1", 205 lbs.), Rod Coleman (DT, 6th year, 6'2", 285
lbs.), Jason Webster (CB, 5th year, 5'10", 187 lbs.), Dez White (5th year, 6'1", 215 lbs.).
Ray Buchanan (CB, 12th year, 5'9", 185 pounds - Raiders), Juran Bolden (CB, 8th year 6'2", 207 lbs. - Jaguars),
Brian Finneran (WR, 6th year, 6'5", 210 lbs.), Todd Weiner (T, 7th year, 6'4", 297 lbs.), Keith Brooking (LB, 7th year,
6'2", 245 lbs.).
Warrick Dunn, who is bouncing back from a
season-ending foot injury, is a perfect fit for the new offensive system assuming he is healthy. He's a quick, slashing runner, who can catch the
football out of the backfield and provide the offense with a big-play threat. T.J. Duckett, who is entering his third year in the league, offers an
inside presence and is a complement to Dunn's slashing style, but he needs to improve as a receiver and continue to improve as a pass blocker. The
Falcons plan to use Dunn and Duckett in the same backfield at times to create match-up problems for opposing defenses and to help keep both players
involved in the game. Adding depth is Justin Griffith, who can play fullback or halfback, and will probably see time at both positions. Peerless Price
was disappointing as the No. 1 receiver last year after coming over as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills, and he must prove that his production was
not simply a product of playing second fiddle to Eric Moulds. He is slated to move back to the flanker this year, which should boost his production,
with former Chicago Bears wide receiver Dez White penciled in to start on the opposite side. White has the ability to be a deep threat, but his hands
are inconsistent, at best.
A healthy Michael Vick can mask a lot of deficiencies on this team, as he proved at the end of the year last year, but he must stay healthy. He must
adjust to the new system and learn to protect himself better by exhausting all options before breaking out of the pocket. If he adjusts to the
short-to-intermediate passing attack, and he utilizes some of the new weapons at his disposal, the Falcons have the potential to put together long
drives on a consistent basis.
The Falcons should get back into the hunt and become competitive this year, but don't go overboard with expectations. Remember that it is hard for a
team with so many new players and such turnover to turn around this much. Vick's presence will really help the team stay competitive, but there are
some questions at key positions. Vick and company will show signs of progress and could fully break-through and factor into the playoff hunt, but it
is more likely to expect them to struggle early on again.
[Edited on 13/9/04 by TRD]