Let’s just relax and take a second from our panic that the Atlanta Falcons are going to fade off into oblivion.
They won’t, and you know that.
Wholesale changes weren’t needed at the end of the 2011 season just because they scored two points in their playoff loss to the New York Giants, a team that went on to win the Super Bowl. What was needed was small tweaks, and maybe a new group of assistant coaches that could instill new ideas with a team that has plenty of talent.
Super Bowl-caliber talent. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t watched the Falcons much in the last few years.
The franchise could have called this “the week of the cornerback,” starting with Brent Grimes signing his franchise tender to stay with the team. One of the best cornerbacks the Falcons have had in the last decade will be back to make big plays on the right side of the field.
Now, about that pesky left side of the secondary.
Dunta Robinson has done little more than lay bone-crunching hits on receivers going over the middle of the field in his time with the Falcons, so general manager Thomas Dimitroff needed to find someone who could actually cover the receivers on the left side of the field.
For that problem, they signed Eagles cornerback (and former Patriots cornerback, under Dimitroff) Asante Samuel on Wednesday afternoon. A nine-year veteran, Samuel only had three interceptions in 2011, and that’s something Falcons fans will see as a point of concern.
Of course, the last time he had a year that bad, he followed it up with a 10-interception season back in 2005 when he was with the Patriots. Samuel should do just fine in the Falcons’ new defense, where he can cover No. 2 receivers with relative ease.
He’s also a reliable guy — he’s never played less than 11 games in a season, and only once has he played less than 13 games in a year.
Asante Samuel is not worried about his age. “I think I’m at my peak.”
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) April 25, 2012
Even more amazing is that the Falcons got a four-time Pro Bowler for so little — they traded a seventh-round pick for Samuel, according to multiple reports. Then, they restructured his contract, giving him three years and $18 million when he was slated to make $21 million over just two years.
Every year, the Falcons show that they’re the most competent front office of the professional sports teams in the city, and even if Samuel isn’t the second coming of Darelle Revis, Atlanta should have a better-than-average secondary in 2012.
Well done again, Mr. Blank and Mr. Dimitroff.