Fal­cons be­gin Ryan era to­day against Lions

The Covington News - - Sports - By Paul New­berry

AT­LANTA — The At­lanta Fal­cons have a new gen­eral man­ager, a new coach and a new quar­ter­back — not to men­tion plenty of good feel­ings in the locker room.

That might be the most re­fresh­ing change of all af­ter what this team went through last sea­son.

"We have a great work­ing en­vi­ron­ment," said line­backer Keith Brook­ing, the Fal­cons' se­nior mem­ber as he en­ters his 11th sea­son. "We will win here, sooner rather than later. There's no doubt about that. I'm a big be­liever in what they're do­ing."

Just don't ex­pect im­me­di­ate re­sults. At­lanta, which opens the sea­son Sun­day host­ing the Detroit Lions, had lit­tle choice ex­cept start­ing over af­ter a de­ba­cle of a sea­son that will for­ever be re­mem­bered for the down­fall of the big­gest star in fran­chise his­tory.

Michael Vick, a thrilling, one-of-akind quar­ter­back who kept ev­ery seat filled in the Ge­or­gia Dome, wound up in prison garb rather than a Fal­cons uni­form af­ter ad­mit­ting to his role in a grue­some dog­fight­ing op­er­a­tion. As he headed off to serve a nearly twoyear sen­tence, he took with him any hope of a suc­cess­ful sea­son.

Rookie coach Bobby Petrino didn't even make it through one full sea­son in At­lanta, stir­ring up plenty of hard feel­ings with his dic­ta­to­rial style be­fore he jumped ship with three games left to re­turn to the col­lege ranks. Not sur­pris­ingly, the Fal­cons strug­gled to a 4-12 record, their worst mark since 2000.

Af­ter Rich McKay was booted up­stairs, Thomas Dim­itroff took over as gen­eral man­ager with the goal of re­build­ing with youth. Seven rook­ies made the fi­nal cuts, and 19 play­ers on the 53-man ros­ter have no more than one year of pro ex­pe­ri­ence.

In keep­ing with that theme, the Fal­cons handed Mike Smith the first head coach­ing job of his ca­reer. It re­mains to be seen whether he's up to the task, but at least he's taken some big steps to­ward patch­ing up a locker room that was nearly in full re­volt by the end of Petrino's brief regime.

"Any­time you go through tran­si­tion and change, the quicker you get guys to buy into it and be­lieve it, the bet­ter off you'll be," Brook­ing said. "That en­ergy, that style, that at­mos­phere is very pos­i­tive. We have a good chance

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.