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May 3 2021 –
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – The Falcons pick up nine players over the three days of the NFL Draft. Overall, I like what they did. 

I think they had two goals over the three days. One, they wanted to take the best available player who could also help their strength… The passing game. Two, they wanted to add depth to key positions of need. 

One thing I didn’t like, is that the running back position was not addressed. I believe that is a concern heading into the season. 

These are the three things I noticed over the last three days. 

  1. Add depth to the offensive line and actually promote good competition: The Falcons made the decision to go forward for at least this season with Matt Ryan as their quarterback. It is clear from the last three days of the draft, that they want to give Ryan the best opportunity to succeed. First and foremost in reaching that goal, is to make sure he down’t take as many hits. I love the additions of Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield (tackle competition) and Drew Dalman from Stanford (guard/center competition). I like that the team has spent five picks on the offensive line over the last few years. If nothing else, you’re giving yourself a better chance at getting your starting five correct. It is good that they’re making Matt Hennessy earn the start at center through training camp and preseason games. The same goes for Kaleb McGary at right tackle, now that Mayfield is part of this team.

  2. Where are the running backs?: That was kind of disappointing over the weekend, I’m not going to lie. While the running game in the NFL is not the most important part of your offense, it is still very important. Yes, you would like to have a strong offensive line to make that happen. The depth now looks to be there up front. It is hard for me to believe that the Falcons couldn’t have used one of these nine picks to add help in the running game. 18 running backs were drafted over the weekend and not one was by the Falcons. It’s clear that they want to go the veteran route to add to this group heading into the season. No disrespect to Mike Davis and Qadree Ollison… But, I still need someone else to be part of the group to make me believe in their potential high level production.

  3. I like the direction of the defense: Five of the nine picks belonged to Dean Pees’ defense. A lot of people are very impressed with the second round selection of Central Florida safety Richie Grant. He is known as a disciplined player who has a nose for the football. Has that been a description of a Falcons defensive back over the last few years? No, it has not. The Falcons needed help in the secondary and added cornerbacks Darren Hall from San Diego State and Avery Williams from Boise State. They added help on the defensive line with defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji from Notre Dame and defensive tackle Ja’Quon Graham from Texas. This is needed for a line that is going to be part of a defense that is “multiple” in their looks the season, from what Dean Pees told us earlier this offseason. That side of the ball needs capable depth and hopefully added that. Aside from Ogundeji, I’m not going to say I know anything about these players. We’ve all seen the highlights and it’s what most of us have to judge from at the moment. That said, I still do not understand the perceived reluctance to draft players from SEC programs, much less from Georgia. I’m not saying it’s a must. But, I also think it is a pretty good group to pull from…  
Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host 
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7
WFOM-AM 106.3 FM ‘XTRA SPORTS AND TALK’

FILE – Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) scores a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Gainesville, Fla., in this Nov. 28, 2020, file photo. The Southeastern Conference championship game features two of the nation’s top playmakers, and neither is a quarterback. Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts are the real stars of the league’s most potent offenses. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)

April 30, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – I’m thrilled with the Falcons first round selection! Bet Matt Ryan is too. Fontenot made the right move.

For a minute, I was thinking the best move would be to trade back and accumulate more quality picks in order to rebuild the defense. But obviously, nobody wanted to offer up a #1 pick in next year’s draft for Justin Fields or Mac Jones and make the trade up.

So, Fontenot stayed at 4. And took the draft’s #1 rated player not named Trevor Lawrence. As you know, it’s called taking the best available player.

But the smart move doesn’t stop there.

Apparently, finances require that we cut Julio Jones loose in a cost-cutting move salary cap wise.

So, with receiver Kyle Pitts in the fold now, the Julio exit won’t be a killer blow to the offense. With Pitts, Matt Ryan still has a match-up advantage in the passing game.

As you’ve probably heard me say on The “Buck & Hut” Show leading into the draft, I totally love Kyle Pitts skill set and it was on full display at Florida. Mullen had Pitts lining up all over the field. Tight-end flexed. Spilt out wide. At the slot. At X & Z. This man is a big receiver, not a tight-end.

Pitts is a weapon.

The rest of the story is this: Kyle Pitts is a high character guy! The Falcons are investing in a mature, hard-working young man. That counts for something in my book. Looks like the Falcons feel the same way.

As far as passing on Fields and Mac Jones, well they both landed in good spots. I wish them both the best. Justin is probably better off not here in his home town (lot of distractions) and Mac simply wasn’t a Top 5 pick.

Fontenot and I have the same NFL 1st Round Draft philosophy: Go get the Best Available Player!

And now, the new Falcons General Manager can go address all the needs this team has entering the 2021 season. Most of them are on defense.

That’s right, focus on needs in the rest of the draft.

Today we get the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Go find a corner and a safety. Please draft a quality defensive lineman! Focus on an interior offensive lineman too. The Falcons need to upgrade on the line of scrimmage!

Maybe pull in Asante Samuel, Jr. Or Alabama tackle Christian Barmore. Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari is available to come off the edge. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey or Ohio State’s both Wyatt Davis look like a quality play.Nick Bolden at linebacker would be a nice addition. Maybe that TCU safety Trevon Moehrig?

Would you be shocked if Fontenot tool Stanford QB Davis Mills with today’s 2nd round pick? He can spin it and they said they would draft a QB.

Fontenot left the 1st round with a good first impression! Now, go get it done the rest of the way and let’s get this Atlanta Falcons team ready to go in 2021!

Cellini & Dimino are joined by Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council to discuss the city completely reopening after the COVID restrictions and what will be coming up for sports in Atlanta. 

Chief among them, the World Cup is coming to the United States in 2026 and Atlanta is one of 17 cities bidding to host.

ATLANTA (April 28, 2021) – With vaccinations across the Southeast increasing and health and safety protocols still in place, the Atlanta Braves are set to resume normal Truist Park seating capacity beginning Friday, May 7 as the team begins their third homestand of the season with a series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Truist Park before the Pandemic. (Photo: Scott Maxim, 680 The Fan)

“We have had great success welcoming our fans back safely to Truist Park,” said Derek Schiller, President and CEO of the Atlanta Braves. “Our outdoor environment, the demand from our season ticket holders and fans to watch us play in person plus safety measures which are in place make it feel that now is the right time to get back to full capacity at Truist Park.” 

All modified health and safety measures at Truist Park will remain in place.  Measures include wearing a face covering unless actively eating or drinking, cashless concessions, mobile ticketing and ordering, and a no bag policy.  Enhanced sanitization efforts throughout the ballpark will also continue.  Revisions to the seating capacity or other health and safety measures will be subject to continuous review throughout the season.

Tickets for all remaining 2021 games, beginning with Friday, May 7th, are currently available at www.braves.com/tickets   

For a complete list of what to expect at Truist Park in 2021, fans can find additional information at www.braves.com/letsplay

 

falcons, julio jones, 680 the fan
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes the catch ahead of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith (29) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

April 28, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA –
Trying to lock up players to long-term deals in order to make them “Falcons for life,” is what has the team in its current situation. Team owner Arthur Blank’s words of the past are coming back to bite him.

Giving huge long-term deals to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Devonta Freeman were the signs of being too close to this team. I get it. The team is your investment. They are your business. Please feel free to run them any way you wish.

FILE Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank walks the field before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP FILE Photo/Michael Perez)

It is a noble thing to be known as the owner who will pay players. Just please don’t let the personal relationships melt into the professional ones that need to be had first and foremost.

Ryan’s deal in 2018, was the rate of doing business with a proven winner at quarterback. That is what NFL teams did. Those days, with the proliferation of the passing offense in college are starting to become a thing of the past.

In regards to Jones, that was almost a “poison pill” that was signed in 2019. $64 million guaranteed? Jimmy Sexton is a heck of an agent. Even though there is no other Julio Jones in the NFL… You still should have resisted the urge to pay a wide receiver that type of money.

With Freeman, you had gotten everything you could out of him production wise. Hindsight is 20-20. But, the long-term money should have gone to Tevin Coleman. Freeman was basically like a second round draft pick in the NBA, who becomes a very productive player. You find said player… You don’t pay them.

I can understand giving Jarrett the money they did. He’s probably your best defensive player. Part of that was probably due to the previous general manager not finding much success on either line and wanting to keep a player who performed at a high level for one of these positions.

I bring all this up to say this… Let’s general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith do their jobs. I’m not saying you won’t let them. But, you’ve brought them in to build this roster back to a competitor in the NFL.

In other words, no more “Falcons for life.” Long-term commitments in a salary cap world almost never meet at the right intersection. Your current GM is on the record saying that they have to make trades to fix the current salary cap constraints.

Atlanta fans love your commitment to this city and organization. But please, leave your heart out of it when it comes to contracts. No one is going to doubt that you care about the Falcons being a winner. You’ve proven that with your financial and emotional support of the team.

Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

Keep your radio or streaming device locked on 680 The Fan for your chance to score a copy of MLB The Show 21 for your Xbox or Playstation!

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets sacked by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Foye Oluokun during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

April 21, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – As the draft process has moved along, I’ve come off my hope for the team to stay at four and draft their future quarterback. 

The needs are more pressing with other positions on the field and the value probably doesn’t match up to what you immediately want in return. But, I do want Matt Ryan’s successor to be picked early in the draft. 

If the possibility is there in the second or even third round? Take it. 

Here’s what we know… Matt Ryan is the Falcons quarterback for this year and likely 2022. The team’s money is tied up in him and Julio Jones. 

What I think, is that they’re going to give Ryan and Julio a chance at having a competitive team over the next two years. So, take Kyle Pitts is you feel like that fits what in the short term and he can put this team in playoff position? Take him. 

But, I also want the drafted rookie getting almost every meaningful snap in the postseason to hopefully get them ready for the future. Make a commitment at pick 35 or 68 and go with them. The future will be here before you know it. Don’t wait for it and then react. 

Let’s face it, we’ve been pretty fortunate with Matt Ryan over the last few years. In the last 11 seasons, Ryan has missed only one game. Before missing that home game with the Seahawks, Ryan had missed only two games before then. It is unbelievable to think he could maintain a high level of play, after taking so many hits from defenders. 

Over the last three seasons, Ryan has been sack a total of 131 times. That is 42 in 2018, 48 in 2019 and 41 last season. That’s unheard of! 

This guy is all-world tough and this organization had let him down in terms of protection. We talked about this fact a couple days ago on ‘The Front Row.’ I heard Matt and Chuck talking about the same thing on ‘Chuck and Chernoff.’ 

Let me just give you some context to how impressive it is, that Ryan hasn’t missed more games. We were to believe that Andrew Luck retired from football, because of the beating he took on the field. Right? Luck was sacked at most 41 times in a season. The first season was 2012 and then in 2016. 

Getting hit in the NFL takes it’s toll and this team cannot afford to take a huge step back at quarterback. This is why at the very least, the team needs to have their future quarterback ready to play. 

Suggestions? You can wait to get Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (my personal pick) or Stanford’s Davis Mills on day two. Trask has the starts and production to make you confident in his selection. Mills needs just a little more seasoning. 

Mills played in 14 games during his Stanford career and threw for 3,468 and 18 touchdowns during his career. The number of games played are a little bit of concern. His lack of interceptions at eight are something that I like. Completing about 66 percent of his passes are something else I like as well. 

The other upside to doing this, is that you’re not going to insult Ryan. He gets it. He’s at the end of his career and has been nothing but a professional during his time with the team. I’m very confident that he’d be a great mentor to whoever you select. 

Like I said, it doesn’t have to be on night one. But, give me a chance to know who is next at QB as soon as possible.


Dan Mathews
Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

 

uga bulldogs,
CORRECTS ID TO ADONAI MITCHELL (5), NOT MATT LANDERS – Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) makes a catch as defensive back Lewis Cine (16) closes in during the first half in Georgia’s spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

April 19, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Notice that I said positives… I think there were plenty of them with this Georgia performance on Saturday.

There is more good news, than the one piece of bad news. The offensive line needs to get on the same page and do so fast.

It’s not out of the ordinary to have the defensive line/front ahead of the offensive line. That was evident on Saturday. The offensive line looks to be working different combinations at the moment and you would expect them to do so.

The Bulldogs started with Xavier Truss at left tackle, Justin Schaffer at left guard, Warren Ericson at center, Tate Ratledge at right guard and Warren McClendon at right tackle. Jamaree Salyer also got looks at left guard and tackle on the afternoon.

The first team defense picked up four sacks and five tackles for a loss on the afternoon. That is good news, if you look at it as the defense appears they’ll be able to bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season. That is a much needed part of this defense, that you’d like to see this season with an inexperienced secondary.

Kirby Smart himself even voiced some concern about the line, when he met with the media after the game.

“We are not where we need to be on the offensive line,” Smart said. “If we are going to be a good team, we have to protect the quarterback, and we have to be able to run the ball. That is one of the areas where we are going to have to take some of the largest leaps in order to get where we want to go next season.”

As it stands right now, I’m told that Georgia has 83 players on scholarship. The limit is 85. Rusty Mansell of dawgs247.com told us last week on the Chuck Oliver Show, that the team will sign a cornerback out of the transfer portal this offseason. I would place offensive line ahead of that priority.

This offensive line needs to be good this season, because this is the best shot this team has had at a national title since 2017. They’ve got the quarterback, receivers and running backs to get there. This line is what could be an issue for them this season. If there’s a standout player in the portal that fits this need? Go get them.

The good news? JT Daniels is the real deal. He struggled early, but then got into a rhythm in the passing game. He used some check down throws to get him in a groove and then started to connect on some downfield throws. It was nice to see freshman Adonai Mitchell have the day he had. The same goes with Demetris Robertson on that 59 yard touchdown strike.

Daniels has command of this offense. Protect him and this team will be in position to make the College Football Playoff. If not, it could be a long day against Clemson on September 4.

Another positive from Saturday? The secondary actually looked pretty good. The black team rolled with the same group of five for most of the game. Redshirt freshman Jalen Kimber and senior Ameer Speed were the outside cornerbacks. Senior Latavious Brini was the “STAR.” The safeties were senior Christopher Smith and junior Lewis Cine. Aside from the long touchdown throws from Daniels to Mitchell and then Robertson? They really didn’t give up huge plays. Even those plays were one-on-one’s.

This team looks good from what we saw on Saturday. They’re going to be tested early against a very good Clemson team. But, the talent is evident and this team should at the very least be back in Atlanta this December for the SEC Championship Game.

Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7
WFOM-AM 106.3 FM ‘XTRA SPORTS AND TALK’

Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) throw a pass in the first half during Georgia’s spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

I was impressed. The talent Kirby and his staff have assembled is elite. And the talent shows up at every position group. With JT Daniels spinning it, this 2021 team has the look of a contender.

My Top G-Day Observations:

  1. NO REASON TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT O-LINE: Coach Luke is working with a stockpile of talent. At left tackle, Truss looked improved and Salyer was rock solid. Amarius Mims was more polished than I had anticipated and he looked comfortable with the 2’s at LT. Warren McClendon and Broderick Jones handled the right side. Tate Ratledge looked strong inside, competing with Shaffer & Webb. Van Pran and Erickson were both impressive at center.

    jt daniels, g-day, uga, ga bulldogs
    Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) throws from the pocket during the first half in Georgia’s spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  2. TIGHT-END DARNELL WASHINGTON looks ready to have a breakout season. Fit and comfortable in the scheme now, this guy is a beast. He is such a mismatch advantage and I can’t imagine Monken not getting him 10 targets a game.
  3. CORNERBACK IS STILL THE #1 CONCERN. Ameer Speed looks like a sure thing to start at one corner spot. The other corner position looks wide open. Jalen Kimber was the best man cover guy, among the young dudes. Lovasea Carroll and Kelee Ringo aren’t quite there yet.
  4. JALEN CARTER IS DOGS BEST DEFENSIVE LINEMAN. The super sophomore lined up inside at tackle and outside at end and looked good mixing it up. Relentless and competitive. A hand full.
  5. INSIDE LINEBACKER IS A STRENGTH. Nakobe Dean will lead the team in tackles and both Quay Walker and Channing Tindall were busy taking care of business. This trio will shine.
  6. THE WIDE RECEIVERS LOOK LEGIT. Adonai Mitchell stole the show at G-Day, with his playmaking skills. I got to see Jermaine Burton, Dominique Blaylock and Rosemy-Jacksaint running routes and catching the ball, in pregame warm-ups. The guess here says all 3 will be full go at the end of the summer. Kearis Jackson is a player. Arian Smith is dangerous. D-Rob is dependable. Justin Robinson turned some heads this spring. I was impressed with slot receiver Ladd McConkey, who made some noise at G-Day. Brock Bowers is a big receiver masquerading as a tight-end. That’s 10-deep. Impressive.
  7. RUNNING BACKS ARE EXCELLENT RECEIVERS! Zues, Cook, Milton and Edwards caught 22 balls. Daniels recognizes good receivers when he sees one. Loved to see him checking it down to the backs and getting them involved.
  8. CARSON BECK SHINED AT HIS COMING OUT PARTY! This was our first chance to see Beck play ball and he was impressive (22-31 with 2 TD’s) getting the ball down the field. Like his mobility too. He’s earned the back-up job. Vandagriff got a few snaps and showed off a good arm and the ability to make a play outside the pocket. The QB competition next spring will be interesting.
  9. COACH SMART LOOKS READY TO OPEN UP THE OFFENSE. Coach Monken dialed up 60 passing attempts, his QB’s threw for 680 yards and they went for forty-one 1st downs. JT Daniels has earned Kirby’s trust and watching this offense is going to be fun.
  10. THE EDGE RUSHERS HAD A QUIET G-DAY. Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith must be laying in the weeds, as it relates to the Clemson game. Need these two guys to show up big on game day. 

 

 

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