Atlanta Falcons Should Beware Of "Hard Knocks"
The NFL has found the next team to star in “Hard Knocks”, where fans can follow a team throughout the preseason. The Atlanta Falcons are chosen to be in the series this year; fans will get to see snippets of their preseason, starting on Aug. 5.
“We are excited about the opportunity to give our fans a behind the scenes look at what it takes to prepare an NFL team for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and beyond,” said owner Arthur M. Blank on the Falcons website. “This marks the first time that our franchise will be featured on "Hard Knocks" and we look forward to showcasing our great players and coaches to football fans all across America.”
I’m not as excited as Mr. Blank, however. I admit that fans will get to see how Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Devin Hester, and William Moore prepare for the upcoming season. They might even get treated to those players’off-the-field activities, if they want to show that side of their character. But I doubt we’re going to see the players having fun. I don’t think that Falcons fans will get a taste of rookie hazing because Mr. Blank doesn’t believe in anything that could potentially destroy good citizenship and honorable behavior. Perhaps the fans may enjoy watching the growing pains of Jake Matthews becoming a cornerstone of the offense, but even then, that’s the only exciting thing you’ll get. I don’t see the Falcons as a flashy team of multiple characters. They’re just the average hard-working citizens looking to win games and be good people off the field.
Also, their rock and soul of the defense, Sean Weatherspoon, may be gone for the year. It will suck because we might not see a live rendition of D-Block. Weatherspoon usually spearheads YouTube episodes where he gets to interview various personalities of the team and record their fun exploits. How fun it would have been if he was 100% for training camp and ready to do a dance for the show, or capture a teammate in awkward moments. But without Weatherspoon, I don’t know who’ll provide funny moments and interviews.
Despite my worries of a possible lack of entertainment, the Atlanta version of Hard Knocks still has plenty of storylines. You have the usual story of rookies fighting for roster spots, and some are even looking to start right away. The battle for the starting free safety should be an interesting one to watch, because it will be between three relative unknowns: Dezmen Southward, Dwight Lowry, and Kemal Ismael. I’m also looking forward to see who’ll back up Steven Jackson. Playmaking rookie Devonta Freeman and the speedy Jacquizz Rodgers both have legitimate shots.
But all eyes will be on the battle for the one of the starting linebacker positions and the right to lead the multiple defense. With Weatherspoon lost for the year, someone has to step up and take on those roles. The Falcons can easily find a top-tier ILB in free agency. Jonathan Vilma, Nick Barnett, Desmond Bishop, and Erin Henderson are still available. Or they can ask Paul Worrilow to play middle linebacker this year and make the calls on the field. Another possibility is to have Worrilow and the rookie inside linebackers fight for not only the starting MLB position, but also another starting spot in the 3-4 or 4-3. In any of those scenarios, I’m sure the fans will pay close attention to that vacancy more than the entertainment.