On Day 8 of the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, the press got a visit from The Boss.
Not Bruce Springsteen, but the Boss of the Team, Owner Arthur Blank, who stepped to the podium to give his views on how his team is doing so far as the Falcons look ahead to the 2023 NFL football season.
The first question to Blank was the obvious: what did he expect of the Falcons for the coming season? “This is the third year in a three-year plan, and what I see and like a lot is Coach [Arthur] Smith and [General Manager] Terry Fontenot laid out a very careful, thoughtful, kind of methodical plan on what they were going to do with the roster going back several years now,” he said. “They have been very disciplined, made adjustments along the way. We are moving in the right direction, I expect our team to be more competitive.” He said that the team should be stronger offensively this coming season and “likes” quarterback Desmond Ridder, saying he played at a competitive level in his last four games last season.
Blank was asked if the Falcons could get above .500 this season, something they haven’t done since 2017. “I expect us to certainly win more games than we did in the last few years,” he said.
Blank was questioned about how Coach Smith and Fontenot changed the culture of the team as opposed to the previous regime (nee: former head coach Dan Quinn and former GM Thomas Dimitroff) He said Smith and Fontenot are not afraid to debate each other and both have their “differences” but can still collaborate with each other. Blank noted that the two have so much respect for each other that they don’t try to force decisions on each other if one dislikes the other’s ideas.
Quarterbacks and the salary cap: Blank said he did not think the quarterback position should be exempt from the main salary cap structure. He added that the pay structure should be dictated by market conditions.
On former Falcons QB (now CBS color commentator Matt Ryan): “We love Matt, I think he loves Atlanta, He loves the Falcons,” he said. He adds that after Matt’s career is “over, whatever that means…you will see a lot more of Matt.” He wished him luck at his new job at CBS Sports.
The succession plan for the Falcons: The Falcons have a succession plan in place as the NFL requires of each team. The team will remain with the Blank Family.
Blank also offered to match the $500 “fine” that Coach Smith levied against Atlanta Journal Constitution Falcons reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter for missing the first two training days. Ledbetter’s fine will be donated to charity, and the Coach will also match it.