Is Mack a difference-maker? If so, he’ll be bucking Falcons history

Alex Mack, front and center. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

Alex Mack, front and center. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Maybe Alex Mack will make a difference. Maybe he’ll make such a difference that my first thought on hearing the name “Alex Mack” will be “difference-making center,” as opposed to the Nickelodeon show, “The Secret World of Alex Mack.” (Its heroine was a teenage girl with super powers. It starred Larisa Oleynik. I know this because I have daughters.)

But let me ask, not for the first time: How many NFL free agents make a real difference? And let me supply the answer: For the Atlanta Falcons, not many. Michael Turner made a real difference. Devin Hester made the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2014, his first season after signing with the Falcons, but hasn’t played since. Now name another.

True to tell, free agents don’t stay very long. (At least not around here.) They tend to be hole-fillers, not long-term solutions. Maybe you’re getting giddy over what the Falcons did yesterday. Here are names that suggest you probably shouldn’t be getting giddy.

Erik Coleman, safety: Signed with the Falcons on March 1, 2008; released Feb. 9, 2011.

Mike Peterson, linebacker: Signed with the Falcons on March 9, 2009; released March 1, 2013.

Dunta Robinson, cornerback: Signed with the Falcons on March 5, 2010; released March 1, 2013.

Ray Edwards, defensive end: Signed with the Falcons on July 29, 2011 (that was the lockout offseason, so everything was delayed); released Nov. 12, 2012.

Lofa Tatupu, linebacker: Signed with the Falcons on March 10, 2012; released July 24, 2012, after suffering a torn pectoral.

Steven Jackson, running back: Signed with the Falcons on March 14, 2013; released Feb. 26, 2015.

Osi Umenyiora, defensive end: Signed with the Falcons on March 27, 2013; became a free agent in March 2015; retired in August 2015.

Paul Soliai, defensive tackle: Signed with the Falcons on March 11, 2014; released March 9, 2016.

Jon Asamoah, guard: Signed with the Falcons on March 11, 2014; released Dec. 21, 2015.

Justin Durant, linebacker: Signed with the Falcons on March 10, 2015; released Feb. 8, 2016.

Those mentioned above were among the bigger March signings under Thomas Dimitroff. A couple of others — defensive end Tyson Jackson, linebackers Brooks Reed and O’Brien Schofield– remain on the roster, though not so you’d much notice. (Tony Gonzalez and Asante Samuel arrived in trades, not as free agents.) The longest any of 10 here-and-gone FAs lasted as Falcons was Peterson, who had to be re-signed for his fourth season.

Confession: I got excited about the arrival of some of these FAs, Robinson and Edwards in particular. (I wrote after the Robinson signing that the Falcons would be in the Super Bowl within three years. They did get close.) But for all the hype about free agency, only Turner and Hester made the Pro Bowl as Falcons. Maybe Mack will do here as he did in Cleveland, and that would be dandy. But I’ve been burned too many times to get really pumped.

Further Falcons reading:

We have to ask: Is Dan Quinn up to the task?

Another Falcons apology: Are these guys morons or what?

At issue: Should the Falcons pursue DE Charles Johnson?

Cutting Roddy White was the right move.

Shoves at the combine: The Falcons are at it again.

Reader Comments 0

11 comments
Kensdobs
Kensdobs

Mack is going to make a tremendous difference along the OL & at QB. Because MPerson had never played OC before last yr, the traditional responsibility of an OC, in making OL blocking & blitz calls, were handed over to Ryan. 


Mack will assume those responsibilities from this point on. That's why I believe the addition of Mack, & Levitre's contract, will cause him to remain as our starting LG, & I see MPerson becoming our starting RG.  


With Mack as our starting C, QB MRyan, & everyone along our OL, will play with a renewed confidence, as there won't be any additional responsibilities placed on any one player due to any problems caused by inexperience at the center position.


One other thing. I believe the decision to cut RWhite was due to not wanting to deal with the possibly of him becoming a disruption if a decision was made not to start him. After all, he did openly complain when he felt he wasn't being targeted enough.  

bufordpurvis
bufordpurvis

We're happy with the tackles but haven't been happy with the guards or center. A commenter mentioned the only question is whether the Falcons overpaid for Mack - maybe they did. But if we don't see bumbled snaps, Ryan on his back so much, and rushing per game over the 100 mark, this will be a good signing.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Was John Abraham a trade or free agent? Or are you only looking at Dimitroff era? He was let go one season too soon, as was Todd McClure.

chem
chem

Anyone else concerned he's already 30?

Tim_Parker
Tim_Parker

I disagree: Tyson Jackson is a reliable run stuffer that offers versatility at DE and DT, Brooks Reed offers scheme flexibility at the SLB position, and O’Brien Schofield was effective when allowed to pass rush. I didn't understand cutting Durant, but I guess he didn't fit the scheme as well as the aforementioned linebackers. 

Alex Mack is a solid free agent pickup. Solid center play makes both guards better and anchors everything else that happens on the line (one fumble in 8 years, come on Bradley - two loses were due to untimely fumbles last year). This guy is one of the highest rated centers in the NFL. Last year, his stats dipped because he was still recovering from a bad leg injury, the incompetence of the Browns, and the horrible parade of garbage QBs last year. Ryan has to have the biggest smile on his face right now knowing that he has a center that is bigger, stronger, and more talented than McClure. (BTW- I'm a big McClure fan and was ticked when they released him).


Shelby has the potential to have a breakout season with the Falcons considering he will be a full-time starter. He's not a double digit speedy sack artist. He's a power rushing, run stuffer that has enough speed and wherewithal to drop into coverage effectively. Traits needed on this defensive line.

Schaub has starting QB experience, and while not physically as gifted as when he first came into the league, he has the ability to start if needed and is surrounded by more talent on offense than he has seen in five or so years.

All great moves. Be positive.

ACR8878
ACR8878

wasn't Ovie Mughellie signed as a FA? That seemed to work out pretty well for everyone involved. 

shotuff23
shotuff23

FA signings are always a risk. What everyone needs to realize with this signing is that the coverage, protection and well captain of the line all starts with the center. Maybe not a sexy signing or name you will hear called all the time. Ask any great QB and he will tell you that it all starts with the center!

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

I am NOT a fan of Dimitroff. This looks to be a good addition with only question did we overpay. Matt Ryan has been pounded almost into dust the last several years. Shocking he hasnt had major injury. Cant begrudge him finally getting some protection

tyger
tyger

its pretty hard to bad at center...

ChrisMcIntyre
ChrisMcIntyre

None of those guys mentioned here played at the level that Mack is playing at right now. We got him in his prime the others not so much or they never proved to do much on their own. See Ray Edwards.