Good morning! Welcome to The Cover9@9 blog. It’s our weekly blog of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.
1. RECONCILED LAST SEASON: At least the Falcons don’t have to spend this offseason addressing the Super Bowl collapse, but they still had to reconcile a tough loss to Philadelphia that ended with them sputtering on the 2-yard line in a 15-10 defeat to a backup quarterback.
The Eagles then parlayed the win into a Super Bowl victory and Nick Foles went on to win the championship game’s MVP award.
“It was definitely tough,” Falcons win receiver Mohamed Sanu said on Tuesday. “It was a tough way to lose, but it’s in the past. Right now, we are focused on the 2018 season. Today, was Day Two (of the offseason program). You have to keep getting better and just take it that one day at a time mentality.”
Sanu is good at rattling off clichés.
But how tough was the defeat, this reporter wanted to know.
“Extremely tough like any other loss,” Sanu said. “But you just have to lick your wounds and get back working.”
But they went on to win the Super Bowl ….
“It was a loss, like any other loss,” Sanu insisted.
“But you lost,” Sanu said. “That means you didn’t win, so it’s like any other loss.”
This reporter did not concur with his analysis.
“Then, we can agree to disagree,” Sanu said.
Later, the Eagles loss was brought by another member of the media.
“I’m telling you, they were two of the same because they were both loses,” the affable Sanu said. “At the end of the day, you didn’t win the Super Bowl. That’s the common goal that’s what everybody wants. So, you know both of those were losses at pivotal points in the season. I treat them the same.”
2. YEAR TWO OF SARK ATTACK: Sanu believes the offense will flourish under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who is set enter his second year in the position.
“I expect us to do what we need to do to get to where we need to be,” Sanu said. “Just by working, progressing, we’ll keep getting better. Just taking it one step at a time.”
3. DROPPED PASSES: The Falcons led the league in dropped passes, along with San Francisco, with 28 last season.
“We don’t talk about stuff like that,” Sanu said. “Nobody wants to drop the ball. It happens. We just have to keep doing what we do. Go out there, be aggressive, attack the ball at all times and make plays.”
Dropped passes by Falcons receivers:
Julio Jones 7
Mohamed Sanu 4
Devonta Freeman 4
Austin Hooper 3
Tevin Coleman 3
Taylor Gabriel 2
Justin Hardy 2
Marvin Hall 2
Levine Toilolo 1
4. ON HALL AND DAVIS: Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that Marvin Hall and Reggie Davis will be expected to have big offseasons.
They have a shot at helping to replace Taylor Gabriel and returner Andre Roberts. Both were allowed to leave in free agency.
Gabriel signed with the Bears and Roberts signed with the Jets.
Hall played sparingly last season and Davis, the former Georgia standout, was on the practice squad.
“They are both very exciting players,” Sanu said. “Very explosive. Fast. Really good hands. They are fun to be around, but … they always work hard and they are trying to learn. They are very attentive to what you say. They hang on your every word. You love to teach players like that. I’m definitely looking to see how they progress over the OTAs, throughout the summer and throughout training camp to see what they’ve got.”
5. RED ZONE WOES: Quinn has said improving in the red zone is a key for the offense. He broke it down in the high-red zone and low-red zone.
“Most definitely, I just try to make an impact in all aspects of the key situations,” Sanu said. “Red zone, first and second down, third down. We want to get better in all areas. We were really good in certain areas, but we still want to keep getting better from where we were last year. I’ll definitely do my best to help as much as I can.”
6. ON JULIO JONES: Julio Jones wasn’t on the field during the open portion of practice, but Quinn said he was looking forward to the All-Pro fully participating in the offseason program. He had foot surgery and missed all of the offseason work last season.
“It helps a lot,” Sanu about having Jones back. “It helps the young guys see from two different points of view, mine’s and Julio’s. We try to teach them. He does things differently than a lot of guys because he’s not really normal.”
7. ON JUSTIN HARDY. Justin Hardy should not be dismissed in the quest for the No. 3 wide receiver position.
“He can do a lot of different things that a lot of people don’t know,” Sanu said. “Me, personally, I think he has the best hands. It’s an ongoing debate between me and him, but I say that he does because of how he attacks the ball with no fear at all times. I learned a lot from him these past two years with how he attacks the ball. I would say before this, I never attacked the ball that way. I learned from him, how to (attack the ball).”
8. HELPING DUKE RILEY: Falcons linebacker Deion Jones believes that second-year linebacker Duke Riley, will be just fine in his second season in the NFL.
“It’s time for his leap,” Jones said. “I feel like he realizes what he has to do. I feel like he’s been doing a great job getting after it. We are going to help him with that. I can’t want to see the steps that he takes this year.”
Jones believes the linebackers will help Riley elevate his level of play.
“We are all critical of each other in our room,” Jones said. “He knows what we see out of him and what we expect out of him. He’s putting his nose to the grind stone and is getting after it and put that image on film.”
9. HAGEMAN COMEBACK: Former Falcons defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hagemen is working out in Minnesota with the hopes of making a comeback.