Can Petrino Get Things Out of Vick That Mora Couldn't?

Team-By-Team Offseason Roundup

Atlanta Falcons

Coaching Change
Fired: Jim Mora
Hired: Bobby Petrino

Players Released:
Ed Hartwell, LB
Ike Reese, LB
Matt Lehr, G
Kevin Mathis, CB

Traded:
Matt Schaub, QB

Free Agents Lost:
Ashley Lelie, WR
Patrick Kerney, DE
Justin Griffith, TE

Free Agents Re-Signed:
None

Free Agents Added:
Ovie Mughelli, FB
Marcus Wilkins, LB
Lewis Sanders, CB
Joe Horn, WR
Toniu Fonoti, G
Derrick Hamilton, WR
Chris Redman, QB
Joey Harrington, QB

Draft:
Rd. 1 (8th overall) Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
2 (39) Justin Blalock, G, Texas
2 (41) Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
3 (75) Laurent Robinson, WR, Illinois State
4 (109) Stephen Nicholas, LB, South Florida
4 (133) Martrez Milner, TE, Georgia
6 (185) Trey Lewis, DT, Washburn
6 (194) David Irons, CB, Auburn
6 (198) Doug Datish, C, Ohio State
6 (203) Daren Stone, S, Maine
7 (244) Jason Snelling, FB, Virginia

Analysis:

Jim Mora couldn't win consistently with Michael Vick. Now it's Bobby Petrino's turn to try.

Back-to-back disappointing seasons on the heels of reaching the NFC title game--not to mention an ill-advised comment during a late-season radio interview about bolting immediately if he ever could get the coaching job at the University of Washington, his alma mater--cost Mora his job as the Falcons' coach. Owner Arthur Blank was able to lure Petrino from the University of Louisville a year after Petrino rebuffed the Oakland Raiders.

Petrino will have to make things work with Vick, given that he and Falcons President Rich McKay scrapped their Plan B at quarterback by trading Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans. They signed Joey Harrington to replace Schaub as Vick's backup. But Harrington has reached true journeyman status. He'll be on his third team in three seasons, and clearly the Falcons are Vick's team more than ever.

The Atlanta receivers did nothing to aid Vick's progress as a passer last season, dropping too many of those throws that were on target. McKay and Petrino took a step toward remedying that by signing veteran wideout Joe Horn after he was released by the New Orleans Saints. Horn isn't the player that he once was, but he might still have enough left in his tank to give Vick a reliable go-to wideout for a change.

McKay had a good draft in which he landed three players capable of being immediate contributors--first-round defensive end Jamaal Anderson, second-round guard Justin Blalock and third-round cornerback Chris Houston. Anderson could replace departed defensive end Patrick Kerney, who left for the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. The defense has been plagued by offseason injuries suffered by linebacker Demorrio Williams in the weight room and tackle Rod Coleman in a boating accident. It's unclear whether either player will be ready for the start of the regular season. It's difficult to envision the Falcons as top NFC contenders. There are too many questions on defense, and Vick must prove that he can make the necessary improvements as a passer to keep the offense from being one-dimensional. But if the new coaching staff gets things out of Vick that the old coaching staff didn't, anything is possible.

By Mark Maske |  May 4, 2007; 7:48 AM ET  | Category:  Falcons
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Comments

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If Mr Vick is suspended for cruelty to four-legged beasts, this team will be praying that Joey shows more than he has in the past ... The great escape artist may yet get away with this one, though.

Posted by: Gonzo, MD | May 4, 2007 9:36 AM

That was a good assessment of the Falcons. Their receivers, and even their go-to guy, TE Alge Crumpler, dropped an enormous amount of on-target passes from Vick. Btw, Chris Houston was a 2nd-rounder, not a 3rd-rounder.

Posted by: DC | May 4, 2007 10:02 AM

Maske, this is a great post. Are you planning one for every team?

Posted by: greg | May 4, 2007 3:09 PM

i'm thinkin horn gets vick in line, not so much petrino. if he's suspended because of a peta outcry, i'll grow my hair in braids and smuggle a pot-like substance into an airport via a hidden water bottle compartment.

why don't they just go balls to the wall and go 'head and move vick all over the place once in awhile, w/ harrington at qb? rb, slot, whatever... who cares about risking injury? he's not taking them anywhere by trying to be a "traditional" qb anyway... i'm not saying all the time, but once or twice a game would give defenses fits.

Posted by: pack4life | May 4, 2007 3:22 PM

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