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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

Articles tagged: Atlanta Falcons

Hayden Hurst traded to Falcons from Ravens

Atlanta Falcons logo

The Atlanta Falcons chose not to place the franchise tag on tight end Austin Hooper, and that may have been because they already had a replacement in place.

Not long after Hooper agreed to a multi-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, the Falcons acquired tight end Hayden Hurst in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. ESPN’s Adam Schefter had the full details of the trade:

Hurst, the No. 25 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, caught 30 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns last season. He made some big plays for Baltimore’s explosive offense, but he was clearly second on the depth chart behind fellow 2018 NFL Draft class tight end Mark Andrews. Hurst should have a decent role in Atlanta’s passing game.

Devonta Freeman could reportedly be released by Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons expected elite production from Devonta Freeman when they signed him to a five-year contract extension prior to the 2017 season, but they have not gotten it. Now, there’s a good chance the team could move on from the veteran running back.

The Falcons are weighing the possibility of releasing Freeman this offseason, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. Freeman is owed $6.5 million in base salary next year as part of a contract that at one point made him the highest-paid running back in football, and Atlanta could save roughly $3 million in salary cap space by releasing him.

Freeman missed nearly the entire 2018 season because of an injury, and he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in 2019. He’ll turn 28 this offseason.

The Falcons don’t have any eye-popping running back options on their depth chart behind Freeman at the moment with Brian Hill and Kenjon Barner, but they may feel they can upgrade the position in the draft.

Falcons announce they will bring back head coach Dan Quinn

Dan Quinn

The Atlanta Falcons have missed the postseason again and are going to finish with a record no better than 7-9 for the second straight season, but head coach Dan Quinn is going to have an opportunity to get the team back to its winning ways in 2020.

On Friday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced that both Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff will be back next season.

“After weighing several factors, including our team’s statistical turnaround and our players’ focus and effort the second half of the season, I feel the decision to retain Thomas and Dan, with (President and CEO Rich McKay) providing close day-to-day oversight of the football operation, will provide the timeliest route for the Atlanta Falcons to return to contention in 2020 and beyond,” Blank said.

Blank also said assistant head coach and secondary coach Raheem Morris has been promoted to defensive coordinator.

Quinn led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his first year as head coach back in 2016, where they infamously collapsed after jumping out to a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots. Since then, the team has gotten progressively worse. Atlanta won a wild card playoff game before losing in the divisional round in 2017, and they then missed the playoffs and finished 7-9 last year. They will once again finish 7-9 if they’re able to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

There were already rumors that the Falcons could be eyeing a big name to replace Quinn, but Blank is willing to give him another shot. If Atlanta struggles out of the gate in 2020, Quinn could be one of the first coaches fired.

Ron Rivera a potential head coach target for Falcons?

Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera is a highly-regarded head coaching candidate who likely will be in demand once NFL teams begin their searches.

The former Chicago Bears linebacker was fired as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach last week. He was in the middle of his ninth season leading the team and had three winning seasons in that span. They won three division titles in a row and made four playoff appearances under his watch, including a Super Bowl appearance.

Because of Rivera’s history of success, the former head coach is expected to receive plenty of interest. A general manager told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman he expects Rivera to receivehe expects Rivera to receive “a billion interviews.” Freeman also says he keeps hearing the Atlanta Falcons as a potential landing spot for Rivera.

The Falcons have Dan Quinn as head coach, but he’s disappointed this season. The team is 4-9 after going 7-9 last season. Many expected more from them considering their talented players and weapons. They nearly won the Super Bowl in the 2016 season — Quinn’s second on the job — but they’ve been in decline the last two years.

Would Rivera turn things around? He’s coached in the NFC South for a decade straight, so he would be a natural fit. However, there’s no guarantee that Quinn will lose his job.

Falcons have no plans to shut down Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

Julio Jones

The Atlanta Falcons fell to 3-9 with their loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, and some have wondered if they will consider resting their star players down the stretch since they have no chance of making the playoffs. According to head coach Dan Quinn, that is not going to happen.

Julio Jones missed Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear when he will return. Quinn was asked about possibly of shutting him and/or Matt Ryan down for the final four games of the season, and he quickly dismissed the idea.

“I recognize fair question, but no. Part of playing and competing is going for it in the biggest way,” Quinn said, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “So we’ll always take that approach. Now for a player that is injured like Julio, but not just him, for any of the players, to make sure, we’re always gonna make the best decisions for them.”

Ryan battled an ankle injury recently, but he is fully recovered from that. He is, however, Atlanta’s franchise quarterback, and to say he has been taking a beating would be an understatement. Ryan was sacked nine times against the Saints and has been sacked 15 times in the Falcons’ last two games.

It goes without saying that the 2019 season has been a major disappointment for Atlanta, and it would not be a surprise if a coaching change is coming. With Quinn currently on the hot seat, benching star players losing out would be a good way to get himself fired.

Dan Quinn giving up defensive playcalling duties with Falcons

Dan Quinn

Dan Quinn could be on the hot seat amid what has been an incredibly disappointing season for the Atlanta Falcons, and the head coach is making some significant changes down the stretch in an attempt to turn things around.

Quinn, who made his name as a defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks before he was hired in Atlanta, will no longer call defensive plays for the Falcons. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on Sunday that Quinn is passing that responsibility off to linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.

Quinn may be trying to save his job, as his 1-7 Falcons have been terrible defensively this season. Atlanta allowed a whopping 31.2 points per game through the first half of the regular season, which is the third-most in the NFL. The struggles come after they allowed 26.4 points per game — which placed them in the bottom third of the league — over the course of last year’s 7-9 season.

Since he watched his team suffer through one of the worst collapses in sports history, things have gotten progressively worse for Quinn in Atlanta. The Falcons lost in the divisional round of the playoffs the following season and are now going to miss the postseason for a second consecutive year. Quinn may have earned himself the benefit of the doubt with a Super Bowl run three years ago, but the team needs to show signs of life over the second half of the season.

Falcons reportedly will not fire Dan Quinn during bye week

Dan Quinn

The Atlanta Falcons won’t be making a coaching change right now despite their multitude of issues.

There had been some speculation that the Falcons might make a change during their Week 9 bye, but according to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, owner Arthur Blank will be keeping Quinn for at least one more week.

Quinn is essentially holding down his job on a week-by-week basis right now. The Falcons are 1-7 and things aren’t getting any better, particularly for their beleaguered defense. At least for this week, however, there will be no change coming, and Quinn looks set to take the reins next week at New Orleans.

Matt Ryan returns to Falcons practice

Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons have given no indication that veteran quarterback Matt Ryan (ankle) could or will be back on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but he took a step in a positive direction on Friday, participating in the portion of practice that was open to the media.

Ryan had been sidelined for the team’s first two practices this week, recovering from a high ankle sprain that knocked him out of a Week 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

After appearing in a boot to start the week, expectations were relatively low that Ryan could make it back this week or at any point in the immediate future, but if he’s already out there practicing, it should give the Falcons and their fans some much-needed optimism.

Ryan and the Falcons have vastly under-performed this season, going 1-6 over the first seven weeks of the season and having to face questions about potential coaching staff changes.

Ryan’s return likely wouldn’t stop that speculation, but it would provide Atlanta a better opportunity to win than if they were to ride things out on the back of Matt Schaub, who will start in place of Ryan in the event the veteran is unable to go.

Patriots reportedly acquire Mohamed Sanu from Falcons

Mohamed Sanu

The rich get richer — at least in New England.

Less than 12 hours after their 33-0 beatdown of the New York Jets, Bill Belichick and the Patriots were back at work tweaking their roster as if they don’t already have enough firepower at 7-0 and in complete control of the AFC East.

However, still looking to add a top-end wide receiver following the disaster that was Antonio Brown, the Patriots sent a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the disintegrating Atlanta Falcons in exchange for Mohamed Sanu, reports ESPN.

Shortly after learning of the trade, Sanu sent out a tweet thanking the Falcons organization and their fans.

A 2012 third-round pick out of Rutgers, Sanu spent four years with the Cincinnati Bengals before joining the Falcons in 2016. And in 110 career games, he’s hauled in 377 receptions for 4,300 yards and 25 touchdowns with his best season coming in 2018.

In addition to his ability as a receiver, the multi-talented Sanu is often featured in trick plays as he’s capable of taking off with the ball as much as he is capable of throwing it. He presents a unique Swiss army knife for Belichick & Co. and will only make the already powerful Patriots that much more dangerous.

10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 7

Week 7 of the NFL season brought us more lopsided scores than close games, and some huge games with playoff implications — such as the Cowboys’ victory over the Eagles, the Colts’ win over the Texans, and the Ravens’ win in Seattle. Many teams or individuals failed to get the job done during the week and were big disappointments.

Here’s a look at the 10 biggest disappointments of Week 7.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

The way this game went, Chargers fans are probably feeling the team may have been better off had Gordon never returned from his holdout. Gordon had just 32 yards on 16 carries. He fumbled twice, including one at the goal line to lose the game. He’s averaging just 2.25 yards per carry since his return. Worse, he’s taking valuable carries away from Austin Ekeler.

Chicago Bears

The Bears got Mitchell Trubisky back in their 36-25 loss to the Saints, but it didn’t serve as a big improvement over Chase Daniels. The game started with a safety on Chicago’s first possession, then a punt, and then a lost fumble in Bears territory. It was a 12-10 game in the second and then Chicago went totally silent. They had punts on five of their next six possessions and lost a fumble on the other. 17 total rushing yards and two lost fumbles is not a formula for success. It’s no surprise Trubisky got booed as a “welcome back” from the fans.