Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

On Dimitroff, Falcons’ draft board and Umenyiora

  • 3:32 pm Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff knows owner Arthur Blank demands success. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I spent some time earlier in the week with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. The column, which can be viewed online now at MyAJC.com and is in print in Sunday’s newspaper, mostly focuses on how quickly Dimitroff lost the benefit of the doubt with many in the public after the team went from a perceived Super Bowl contender to finishing 4-12 last year.

Dimitroff has made several changes to his personnel staff and the Mike Smith’s coaching staff. He has issued a strong message to everybody in the team’s Flowery Branch complex: “OK. We’re 4-12. Adapt and deal with it.”

I [More]

NFL must deal with Irsay (and Roddy White weighs in)

  • 1:21 pm Monday, March 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
irsay18n-1-web

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has admitted to abusing painkillers in the past and as recently as five months ago claimed to have not had a drink in 15 years. But he was arrested Sunday night on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, and now many are wondering if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will deal with an owner as severely as he does the league’s players.

If Irsay has relapsed, that’s far more significant than anything else that may come his way, including the four felony charges stemming from his arrest. Carmel, Ind., police said they [More]

Falcons’ moves should improve both lines

  • 5:24 pm Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Thomas Dimitroff had a busy first day in NFL free agency. (AP photo)

A makeover was needed. This was a good start.

The Falcons didn’t sign any of the major names on the first day of free agency but they signed three players who should significantly improve their offensive and defensive lines.

By doing so, the team acknowledged personnel mistakes of the past, while also sending a signal about a change in philosophy on defense.

A quick recap:

– Signed: Nose tackle Paul Soliai (from Miami). He’s 6-4, 344 pounds and his signing pretty much confirms what has been hinted over the past several days that the Falcons will shift their base defense to a 3-4. Soliai [More]

Broncos to cut Champ Bailey, should Falcons sign him?

  • 10:39 pm Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Champ Bailey was limited during the regular season by a foot injury but played in the playoffs.

The Denver Broncos plan to cut Champ Bailey, according to multiple reports.

Is it time for the Falcons to bring him home?

Bailey, the former consensus All-American at Georgia and a native of Charlton County, played in only five regular season games for the Broncos because of a foot injury. But returned for Denver’s postseason run to the Super Bowl. The Broncos have told him they plan to release him, which had been expected. The 35-year-old is near the end of his career, but he says he has no plans to retire. His release will save Denver $10 million on the [More]

More NFL playoffs? Too late for ’09 Falcons

  • 2:11 pm Thursday, February 27th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Roger-Goodell

There is a very good chance that the NFL expands its playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams, and for at least two very good reasons: 1) Happy fans in two more NFL cities spending money in January; 2) Happy network executives willing to pay the NFL more money to broadcast two more games because they’re selling more advertising.

In the NFL, as in life, follow the money for the reason why anything will or won’t happen.

But prepare for more mediocrity.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that there’s growing support within the league to add two playoff teams. The new [More]

Falcons’ forecast: sign guard, draft pass rusher

  • 11:35 am Monday, February 24th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Jadeveon Clowney not surprisingly wowed scouts at NFL combine running a 4.47 40-yard dash. (AP photo)

There is growing speculation about what direction the Falcons will go in the first round of the NFL draft, in part because the scouting combine is going on in Indianapolis and several media members are spasming on Twitter over Jadeveon Clowney’s 40 time. (OMG! He’s fast! Who knew?)

The problem with speculating now is the Falcons, like most teams, can’t be certain of anything in the draft until they get through free agency – which, as a reminder, happens first.

Teams can be begin negotiating with impending unrestricted free agents on March 8. The market officially opens March 11. Obviously if the [More]

Dimitroff concerned about player’s ‘skill set,’ not sexuality

  • 10:32 am Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Thomas Dimitroff said he and coach Mike Smith wouldn't downgrade a player for his sexual orientation. (AP photo)

It’s common for there to be disagreement on where and when an NFL prospect will be drafted, so Missouri defensive end Michael Sam being projected to go anywhere from the third to fifth round to possibly not even taken isn’t unusual. But the fact an online sports book has posted an over/under on Sam’s draft spot – 125½ — should indicate he is not your typical mid-round prospect.

Sam is homosexual. It would be naive to believe there aren’t any gay players in the NFL. But no current player has gone public and Sam is the first athlete to go public [More]

Super Bowl: ‘Short Takes’ on Seattle’s rout of Denver

  • 9:55 pm Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

I’ll be back shortly with a full column on the Seattle Seahawks’ stunning 43-8 take down of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl.  Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game (which tied for the third most lopsided Super Bowl in history):

1. Peyton’s meltdown: I wrote earlier in the week how Peyton Manning’s comeback from four neck surgeries to throw 55 touchdowns this season, culminating in a Super Bowl run, possibly elevated him to the No. 1 quarterback of all time. I still believe that. But he looked like a rattled rookie, [More]

Claude Humphrey finally gets due from Hall of Fame

  • 7:23 pm Saturday, February 1st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
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NEW YORK — Fifty years after the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its doors, a real Falcons player is finally going to be enshrined, having overcome the greatest obstacle of all: playing for the Falcons.

Claude Humphrey, the long-time defensive end who spent 10-plus years of his 13-plus NFL seasons in Atlanta terrorizing quarterbacks, finally was given a hall pass to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Saturday. Humphrey was one of seven players announced as this year’s class and one of two that had been nominated by the Senior’s Committee (the other: punter Ray Guy from Thomson, Ga.).

Humphrey’s [More]

Dimitroff: Clowney will be difference-maker

  • 5:22 pm Thursday, January 30th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff admits the team needs more grit.

NEW YORK  — Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff made his annual trip through radio row at the Super Bowl Thursday. When he was finished, Darryl Ledbetter and I had a private audience with him. Darryl will have a full story later on MyAJC.com on some of Dimitroff’s plans this offseason but here are a few comments that stood out to me:

UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the full Q&A, posted by D-Led.

– Ignore speculation that he or any NFL team is down on former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney: “I’ll just say what everybody in the country knows: [More]