Published: January 11th, 2011 | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Brent Grimes, Charles Davis, Curtis Lofton, Harvey Dahl, Jonathan Babineaux, Justin Blalock, Kroy Biermann, Mike Peterson, Mike Smith, Sam Baker, Sean Weatherspoon, Thomas Dimitroff, Todd McClure, Tyson Clabo, William Moore
As I look forward to the Falcons hosting the Packers in the NFC divisional playoffs, much of the talk is focused on Green Bay, and deservedly so. The Packers are coming in as a hot team.
But don’t overlook the Falcons. They were 13-3 this season for a reason.
One of the most overlooked as aspects of the Falcons is their talent not named Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Those guys all Pro Bowlers and deserve the attention. They’re all terrific. But the job that GM Thomas Dimitroff has done, in concert with coach Mike Smith, has unearthed some other gems that paid big dividends for the Falcons this season.
Here’s a look at a few of those guys:
Kroy Biermann, DE: No one thought he would be much more than a third-down pass rush specialist coming out of Montana. He’s become an every-down player with a motor that won’t quit. He also provided one of my favorite plays of the season with his pass deflection and interception return against the Browns.
Jonathan Babineaux, DT: One of the most underrated players in the league. He’s an absolute force inside who is a penetrator and makes great plays. His sack numbers may be down, but I think he just played his best season of football.
Curtis Lofton, MLB: He has turned himself into a three-down linebacker and is the cerebral force of the defense. He gets everyone lined up and set.
Mike Peterson, OLB: The Jaguars knew what they had, and the Falcons are seeing the same thing. Now he’s the veteran leader in Atlanta. He’s the guy they call “pops” and the guy they follow around. The other linebackers swear by him.
Sean Weatherspoon, OLB: He’s been slowed a bit as a rookie, but no doubt he’s a gem. You have to look past his mouth, which runs non-stop. But the Falcons determined most of what he says is positive. He can run, tackle, is very intelligent and diagnoses plays well. He sees himself as a mike linebacker but is very versatile.
Brent Grimes, CB: I think he should have been voted to the Pro Bowl this year. The Falcons monitored him after he went undrafted out of Shippensburg University. He’s yielding big-time dividends. He might be the most athletic guy on the team and his change of direction is tremendous.
William Moore, SS: Many had him rated as the top strong safety in the country had he come out his junior season. He went back to school, got hurt, and fell to the second round. But the Falcons didn’t forget about his skills. Watch him in the run game, and he’s very active in the passing game too. He’s a terrific player.
Offensive line: Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo, who both went undrafted, are the perfect guys on the nasty side of the line for the way the Falcons like to play. Justin Blalock and Sam Baker are more technicians on the left side. It’s all held together by center Todd McClure, who has started 145 games in a row.
When you think about the Falcons, not all of their regulars are headline names. But this group is a big reason why the Falcons have 13 wins and might the best team in the NFC.
Give a lot of credit to Dimitroff and his staff for identifying players and putting them on the roster for Smith and his staff to coach up. In a very short amount of time, Dimitroff has reshaped the roster and changed the mindset and culture of the team. Not only did they identify how they wanted to play and found the right guys to play their style, they’ve hit on almost decision.