At­lanta Fal­cons: what’s in store for this sea­son

Miss­ing QB could mean dis­ap­point­ing 2007 sea­son

The Covington News - - Sports -

COACH: Bobby Petrino, first sea­son, 41-9 record in four years at Louisville.

LAST YEAR: 7-9 (third in NFC South), did not make play­offs.

OF­FENSE: The loss of Michael Vick is dev­as­tat­ing. The first QB in NFL his­tory to rush for 1,000 yards in a sea­son is side­lined by dog­fight­ing charges and seems un­likely to ever play again for the Fal­cons. Joey Har­ring­ton takes over, a ma­jor dropoff. At­lanta brought in 35-year-old Joe Horn to bol­ster a lack­lus­ter re­ceiv­ing corps, but his best days would seem to be be­hind him. WRs Michael Jenk­ins and Roddy White must be more pro­duc- tive. The Fal­cons led the NFL in rush­ing and have a dy­namic duo in War­rick Dunn and Je­ri­ous Nor­wood. TE Alge Crum­pler is a ma­jor weapon, though he was plagued by an ail­ing knee in the pre­sea­son. The guys up front must switch from the zone block­ing schemes of the pre­vi­ous staff to the power block­ing schemes fa­vored by Petrino.

DE­FENSE: The first line of de­fense looks thin. T Rod Cole­man is re­cov­er­ing from an off­sea­son jet ski­ing ac­ci­dent and T Grady Jack­son sparred with the team over his med­i­cal records. E John Abra­ham can be a sack ma­chine, as­sum­ing he’s healthy. He played only eight games in 2006. All three linebackers— Keith Brook­ing, Michael Bo­ley and De­mor­rio Wil­liams — are play­mak­ers, and CB DeAn­gelo Hall is one

of the league’s best cov­er­age backs. But the rest of the sec­ondary is so-so at best. FS Lawyer Mil­loy is 33, SS Chris Crocker is com­ing off a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son, and the Fal­cons may go with rookie Chris Hous­ton, a sec­ond-round pick, at the other cor­ner.

SPE­CIAL TEAMS: P Michael Koe­nen is solid, and he doesn’t go into the sea­son bur­dened by the field-goal du­ties. He tried to do both last sea­son, but lost the kick­ing du­ties af­ter mak­ing only 2-of8 at­tempts. K Billy Cun­diff is a ma­jor ques­tion mark, hav­ing made only five field goals the last two years.

HE’S HERE: QB Joey Har­ring­ton, WR Joe Horn, FB Ovie Mughelli, OG Justin Blay­lock, DE Ja­maal An­der­son, CB Chris Hous­ton, CB Lewis San­ders, K Billy Cun­diff, coach Bobby Petrino.

HE’S OUTTA HERE: DE Pa­trick Ker­ney, LB Ed Hartwell, OG Matt Lehr, K Morten An­der­sen, coach Jim Mora.

IN LIMBO: QB Michael Vick, who faces dog­fight­ing charges.

OPENER: Sept. 9 at Min­nesota, 1 p.m.

HOME OPENER: Sept. 23 vs. Carolina, 4:15 p.m.

OUT­LOOK: Petrino walked into a hor­net’s nest. Vick is back home, deal­ing with dog­fight­ing charges. His re­place­ment, Har­ring­ton, has man­aged to throw more TDs than in­ter­cep­tions only once in five sea­sons. The de­fense has is­sues, too. The front line lacks depth, and the sec­ondary is soso de­spite the pres­ence of Pro Bowl CB Hall. The Fal­cons seem des­tined for last place in the NFC South.

Haraz N. Ghanbari/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Bark­ing up the wrong tree: At­lanta Fal­cons quar­ter­back Michael Vick, right, is es­corted by U.S. Mar­shals, as he ar­rives at the fed­eral court­house in Rich­mond, Va., for his ar­raign­ment, Thurs­day, July 26, 2007. Vick pleaded not guilty Thurs­day to fed­eral dog­fight­ing charges and was re­leased with­out bond un­til a Nov. 26 trial.

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