Welcome to Hard Knocks, Atlanta Falcons style.
Tough and Smart, those are the themes in which this Atlanta Falcons training camp will built upon. Tuesday night aired the first episode of Hard Knocks season 9 starring the Atlanta Falcons. As a fanbase team who had to endure a awful 4-12 season those two themes are what they better base our season on as we look forward to a renaissance lead by Matt Ryan and Co. with a new mentality.
Last season the Falcons were a team who sorely lacked toughness and attitude, in the first episode of Hard Knocks I counted 5 fights, including Devonta Freeman and his bout with the English language.
The opening scene set the tone for this episode showing a few of the fights. In most cases teammates fighting each other would be considered a negative, not in this instance. The Falcons have long been a team without an identity, always doing things slightly above average and hoping to get some breaks along the way. It seems as if the organization as a whole has come to the realization that you have to make your own breaks and breaking your foot off in someone’s *expletive deleted* is a good place to start.
In the first episode Falcons fans get introduced to some new faces. As previously stated, last season we lacked toughness; and our biggest area of weakness was in the trenches. To solve those issues the Falcons brought in Mike Tice and Bryan Cox as O-Line and D-Line coaches and two guys I’d be honored to have on my side in a bar fight. Both coaches emphasize physicality and seem to be good at teaching the game. Tice will be good for at least a few quotes this year, even if half the words in them will have to be beeped out.
I can already tell that besides the on the field action my favorite part of this season of Hard knocks is going to be anytime Roddy White opens his mouth, already blessing us with a few Roddy-isms, @RoddyWhiteTV finally has his show.
“When you pass rush it elegant” – Roddy White
“That’s the difference between eating Steak and eating KFC, you catch that you eating steak you drop that you gon’ keep eating KFC” – Roddy White
In the NFL and especially in training camp names are fleeting but 7 minutes into the first episode you realize that the Falcons may have the best collection of names in football with guys like Tyler Starr a rookie LB from South Dakota and Bear Pascoe Veteran TE.
I don’t want to jump the gun here, but after watching a few moves from Rookie RB Devonta Freeman I can say without a doubt that he will be the best Running Back in football this year. Okay, that may be just a bit of hyperbole but it’s my honest hope that he is at least the best RB in Atlanta and this will become a situation like in Cincinnati last season, where you start the stable vet (Green-Ellis, SJax) and give more and more Reps to the more talented rookie as the season drudges on.
Steven Jackson is one of the more erudite players in the league. He seems like a great mentor and a guy who I would love to sit down and have a conversation with, but his days as a premiere NFL RB may be over.
Freeman, aside from his running acumen is proving to be an interesting an integral character two instant classic Hard Knocks moments when he had his “Ive made it moment” sitting in a normal sized bath tub proclaiming “Boss Life”
Also after a deeply touching conversation with his apartment tour guide, out of no where he pulls out a Capri Sun to sip
One of the really cool things about the Hard Knocks experience is getting to know the players as people away from the football field. Who knew that Steven Jackson is an avid painter and artist, that Harry Douglas is incredibly verbose and really cool or that Matt Ryan is a 6’5” 230 lbs Nerd. Ok, we all could have guessed that last one. The only player we knew for certain had an interesting life is OLB Kroy Biermann and that’s mostly because he is never “Tardy to the party”.
The action really starts about 15 minutes in. Coach Smith gives his variation of the “Next man up” speech and then we are off to the field!
The first couple of days of camp were with just Helmets on, no hitting. That still didn’t stop the players from getting after it and competing. A montage featuring one of the many T.I. songs that take you back to Friday Night Lights and some practice action fill up the next few scenes.
It feels good watching #11 Julio Jones make catches. He seems to be back and ready to return to his perch among the NFL’s elite receivers.
Every scene that Steven Jackson is in I like him a little bit more. He gives this impassioned speech to the younger players about what it means to be a professional and teammate. One thing that you notice immediately with him standing amongst his fellow Running Backs is that SJax is a very, very large man. He definitely looks the part of a feature back, if only this were 5 years ago.
Competitive banter between offensive and defensive players is a fairly common practice that is usually good for morale but a little mundane, but when you insert Roddy White into anything mundane is an adjective that dissipates quickly.
The Back and forth between Roddy and the Falcons Starting Safety William Moore is pure comedy. You can tell they have been at this for years by Moore’s opening reaction.
White: Will Mo is you competing today?
Moore: Ay dawg don’t talk from the sideline again
This apparently is an everyday thing for White and Moore. It gets testy at times like when Roddy catches a pass and is streaming down the field pondering aloud “Where Mo at?”, but at the end of the day it’s all in the name of competition and when the lights are really on they will stand next to each other like brothers. I can’t wait to see more of this match-up
In the Falcons meeting room Coach Mike Smith goes over tape of last year’s training camp pin pointing exact moments where it all went wrong. Owner Arthur Blank in his very short and to the point( very much like a mob boss) mentioned in a radio interview that he didn’t like that the team lack toughness and continuity and that, that needed to change this season.
The first speech that Coach Smith gives when the pads come out is that this year’s camp will be different. They came out in the 1 on 1 drills that make training camp so much fun.
“Mano y Mano, you’re going to have to whoop someone’s ass” – Coach Mike Smith
It all starts in training camp, so as we watch Hard Knocks for the entertainment value be mindful of the attitude and mindset difference that the Falcons are trying to make commonplace within the organization. We have talent, but becoming a tougher team is the common theme and goal. This is going to be a fun journey to witness. Stay Tuned.
Things we learned from this episode:
- Harry Douglass cant ever spell “Scared”.
- DeVonta Freeman is going to be a steal.
- William Moore has impeccable architectural taste… and he loves Jordan’s.
- Peria Jerry Looks alot like Gucci Mane. Not a good football sign.
- “I’m the last one left of my class” – Willy Moore after hearing of DT Peria Jerry’s retirement. A very telling statement.
- Roddy White is an Asshole, but we already knew that.
- Osi and Roddy need a buddy cop TV show together.
- Harry Douglass uses Women’s deodorant.
- Matt Ryan is as cool as a cucumber.
Welcome to NEW Atlanta