The Falcons’ QB by week six. A Fly on the Wall. Why ATL United brings hope to a city of marginalized pro sports? Disrespect – a.k.a. Kaepernick.
- Even in Matt Ryan’s rookie season I noticed three things: 1) what QB coaches call happy feet 2) his inability to create space and time for himself 3) staring down his primary target. I am not usually a naysayer and I clearly understand that a starting QB in the NFL brings talent and a skill set that I certainly appreciate. With that said, since year one I have expressed to my friends and family that from a ranking and rating standpoint Ryan is middle of the pack at best. Now in his prime years he really has not improved on any of my three concerns and in some aspects has regressed. Is it age? Is it the long term contract? Is it Kyle Shanahan’s scheme? Yes to all and there is one more dynamic that Ryan has not experienced that all players, no matter their past performance, have to deal with and that is COMPETITION. Is this preseason different? In some ways no except that Ryan’s backup, with Sean Renfree gone, is Matt Schaub. Veteran, smart, knows KS’ system, and no less athletic than Ryan. With all that said, look for Schaub to be the Falcons starter by week six. Yes, Matt Schaub. Maybe a home win with Tampa Bay, but negative results with the Raiders (away), Saints (away), Carolina, Denver (away), Seattle (away) leads me to believe a 1-5 start. New stadium, PSL’s and an owner who is aging gracefully but not getting any younger. Enough said, Ryan will get benched.
- Speaking of Mr. Blank, who I respect for his ability, for the most part, to keep his anguish with his team in-house. I can only imagine the meeting Mr. Blank’s lieutenants had to decide on the PLAN. No, not the draft plan and not the PSL dynamics, but the lucky individual who had to sit with Mr. Blank to not only explain the hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium change orders but more importantly the THREE month delay in opening his new digs. I would have really enjoyed the tactics employed by the individual on how, where and when the news of the delay was given to Mr. Blank. I am sure his response was ‘measured’ but obviously the money and the delays are one thing, but spending $90m +- on a new MLS franchise to now find out that there will be no pre-season international friendlies, no pre-season games, and no home games for the first 90 days of the inaugural season was clearly not the plan. Just needed to be a fly on the wall for that meeting. The only good news: the average home dates for an MLS team in the first three months of a season….only 7-9 games so all is not lost.
- The MLS and Atlanta. Something smells really good about Atlanta United. Very good. Whether we are soccer fans or not, Mr. Blank is taking the high road with a true leader in Darren Eales and facilities that may be best in class. Mr. Eales is very intelligent and soccer smart. Considering his very young age, his CV is bordering on ridiculous. Ivy league, college and professional playing experience, law degree and a very high level of Club management experience. The stadium’s ability to scale for soccer is dynamic and the training ground and offices in Marietta, GA are unprecedented. The millennials’ reaction to United’s targeted marketing approach has been overwhelming. Season ticket pledges in the mid-20,000 range with no head coach and no high profile designated player. When this happens their season ticket holders may fill the lower part of MB stadium. The media, especially Doug Roberson, has done a great job framing up the startup of the Club. Now, they need to put together a side that wins early and often.
Note: with complete transparency, I am a United season ticket holder and AJC beat writer Doug Roberson is a friend of mine and probably a top five soccer journalist in the country.
- I am born and raised American. Very American. So maybe my take on Colin Kaepernick is biased but I am having a very hard time correlating the issues with crime and race in this country and his refusal to honor our Flag and the national anthem. While I am 100% for Americans enjoying our constitutional rights it seems hypocritical for an American athlete, paid as a professional by an American business, disrespecting the playing of our national anthem. While I understand all Americans’ frustration with disparities in racial profiling, race relations, and inequities with income, his actions do not sit well with me. Maybe one answer is for him to donate a large proportion of his salary and bonus to National Urban League and the NAACP and help them navigate and educate the broad section of Americans, including police officers, who don’t understand the social economics of our society, which in my opinion leads to bias and distrust within our communities. I hope that some of his teammates, no matter their race, reached out to him to voice their disapproval with the choice he made the other night.
- The NFL and LA. A beautiful thing once again.
Adios and enjoy Sunday Funday.