Superstar QBs not missed
Ryan, Rodgers fill in admirably for departed Vick, Favre
ATLANTA— For Roddy White, it’s a simple question with an obvious answer. So, how did the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers skip the transition phase after losing iconic quarterbacks?
Look no further than the guys who replaced Michael Vick and Brett Favre.
Simple formula “ It’s a simple formula. You get a good quarterback and then you win,” said White, the Falcons’ star receiver. “ This league is such a quarterback-driven league. You have to have a good quarterback.”
Today, when the Falcons ( 8-2) host the Packers ( 7-3) in a matchup of division leaders, it’s more than just a game with potentially huge ramifications for the post-season picture. These franchises could write a large chunk of the book on how to deal with an abrupt change of course.
As White said, it starts at the most prominent position on the field.
The Packers had Aaron Rodgers ready to take over as soon as they grew tired of Favre’s on-again, offagain infatuation with retirement. The Falcons drafted Matt Ryan the first chance they got after Michael Vick went off to prison for running a dogfighting ring.
Just like that, two franchise quarterbacks had been replaced by... well, franchise quarterbacks.
“ You plug in a guy with Matt’s ability, you’re not really going to miss a beat,” said receiver Brian Finneran, who’s seen all sorts of aborted rebuilding attempts during his decade with the Falcons.
“ You plug in a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who’s calm, cool and collected back there in a pocket and just picking people apart, you’re not going to miss a beat, either.”
Of course, football is more than a one-man sport. The greatest quarterback is going to struggle if he doesn’t have some good players around him.
The Falcons not only drafted Ryan, they signed Michael Turner, traded for Tony Gonzalez and doled out a long-term contract to keep White happy.
They not only surrounded Ryan with an abundance of weapons, they went heavy on defence the last two drafts and acquired lock-down cornerback Dunta Robinson to fill their biggest hole.
More than anything, they hired a general manager ( Thomas Dimitroff) and coach ( Mike Smith) who weren’t the least bit interested in dwelling on the Vick era.
“ It’s real simple for me,” Smith said. “ We weren’t going to talk about what happened in the past. We were aware of it. But we were starting with a clean slate for everybody.”
Safety Thomas DeCoud was picked in the same draft as Ryan. By the time they got to Atlanta, the Falcons were moving quickly to put Vick in the rearview mirror.
— The Associated Press