Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith recap year in Falcons football and talk offseason

The tone of Atlanta’s wrapup press convention that includes General Manager Terry Fontenot and Head Coach Arthur Smith wasn’t a grim autopsy on a shedding season, however a forward-looking wrapup of a season the group clearly hopes precedes nice issues.

That’s comprehensible, given the group’s place. Smith and Fontenot have endured large lifeless cash hits, threadbare rosters, surprising suspensions and retirements, and the necessity for tenacity and savvy to exchange expertise and wage. Now the Falcons can spend large, add a 3rd draft class that includes a prime ten decide, and hopefully construct on the muse they’ve put along with their restricted sources up up to now.

Here’s a abstract of what we heard from the pair at this time on subjects starting from the seek for a defensive coordinator to Desmond Ridder’s future.

Looking far and vast for a defensive coordinator

The Falcons have a emptiness with Dean Pees’ retirement. After two seasons of attempting to get Atlanta’s protection from punching bag to respectable, Pees has determined to retire for a 3rd and doubtless last time. That leaves the Falcons with a younger protection about to obtain a significant inflow of expertise (we hope) via free company and the draft and nobody to pilot it.

While it is clearly an pressing, essential rent, Arthur Smith confused on Wednesday that the group isn’t in an enormous hurry to get somebody onboard. Instead, the Falcons plan to solid a large internet, take a look at numerous candidates, and not fear about how shortly that rent occurs.

“We’re going to take our time, which I believe is essential,” Smith mentioned. “There is familiarity with schemes [and people] you wish to talk to, however we’re not going to be close-minded about something. I believe it is essential. I just like the setup they’ve now. I believe it helps. I do not really feel rushed. In years previous, when you’re in this case, chances are you’ll really feel rushed. Things have slowed down. We’ll be aware of that. I wish to talk to numerous totally different folks; I’ve already talked to some to date.”

The solely names which have been reported so far aren’t inspiring ones—longtime defensive coordinator and former head coach Jim Haslett and Packers passing recreation coordinator Jerry Gray—however the hope is that an exhaustive search will flip up a terrific candidate, it doesn’t matter what the identify could also be. I would not essentially count on a brand new defensive coordinator to be introduced earlier than late January and even early February, on condition that.

Ridder impressed, however the Falcons are nonetheless evaluating the quarterback

The Falcons wound up giving rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder a reasonably quick audition for the 2023 beginning job, simply 4 video games in complete. While he did not precisely blow anybody’s doorways off, Ridder did enhance over the course of these video games, making some sharp throws and displaying toughness and management the group clearly favored after they drafted him.

Where does that depart him? Smith had form phrases for Ridder, as he has all through the previous a number of weeks, however stopped in need of anointing him the starter. That’s not a shock.

The Falcons additionally stopped in need of declaring that Marcus Mariota is gone—he was in the ability this previous week to scrub out his locker for the year—however the working assumption is that the veteran will probably be taking part in for one more group subsequent year. That would depart the Falcons to amass one other quarterback, and the sensible cash is on them selecting to deliver in a veteran to compete with Ridder no matter how good they really feel concerning the second year participant. Obviously, the spring will give us extra of a clue as to Ridder’s future based mostly on who the group acquires, however they will stay mum about his prospects till at the least the summer season.

I nonetheless assume they will in the end roll with him for at the least the 2023 season, however the Falcons are going to make him earn it and not tip their hand. Those hoping to know who the beginning quarterback will probably be—and that is all of us—should wait.

Plans will probably be saved mum

This threads in properly with what the duo needed to say about Ridder, however you will not be shocked to study that the Falcons aren’t planning on tipping their hand about who they will be concentrating on or who they will re-sign.

That’s typical for entrance workplaces, however the Falcons have finished a pleasant job over the previous couple of years of tamping down on any leaks forward of main strikes, together with the shock Calvin Ridley commerce to the Jaguars.

Still, Fontenot did seemingly give us a clue about one of many group’s precedence re-signings, praising Kaleb McGary for the approaching free agent’s profession year.

Higher expectations are honest for the subsequent section

The Falcons have not shied away from increased expectations since Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith arrived in Atlanta, even when it was honest to satisfy these with skepticism. Now, although? As Fontenot mentioned on Wednesday, the group has entered a “new section” in comparison with the place they have been the previous two years.

“We’re in the subsequent section of the plan,” Fontenot mentioned. “We had a plan from the very starting, and now we’re in the subsequent section of that. This goes to be a unique offseason than we have had the earlier years.”

That subsequent section entails going from feisty group with large holes to finish group that builds on the perfect items Atlanta has assembled over the previous two years with their restricted sources. It entails spending tens of tens of millions of {dollars} to amass actually good gamers at positions which have been power weaknesses, one thing the Falcons have not been capable of do in a superb lengthy whereas, and reward stars like AJ Terrell and Chris Lindstrom with new offers.

As you’d count on from somebody who has spent the previous two years specializing in making it via a significant overhaul whereas attempting to stay to a strict plan, Fontenot is making it clear that cash is not going to make this Falcons group reckless. NFL historical past is suffering from the burnt-out hulls of franchises who gave up large contracts in free company to attempt to contend and wound up dangerous and hamstrung for years, and god prepared, Atlanta will not be a kind of groups.

“Just as a result of we’ve extra sources this offseason, we nonetheless should have self-discipline,” Fontenot mentioned. “We nonetheless should set parameters. We’re attempting to place collectively a puzzle.”

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