Posted in FalconAlley Squawk

First Round Draft Pick Calvin Ridley on Dukes and Bell

July 30, 2018

Calvin Ridley spoke to Dukes and Bell of 92.9 The Game on Monday afternoon (Carl Dukes and Mike Bell).  First round draft pick from Alabama, Ridley said that he was feeling real good so far, having a great time, and loves this team.  He confirmed that he was NOT on Saturday, as others went to sign for fans, he just went directly in to get some fluids.  Ridley is excited to be battling against Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole, he realizes that going against them will really prepare him for games, as they are some of the best corners in the league.

Ridley comment on Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones saying that Sanu has been a great big brother, either correcting him or praising him, but always giving feedback.  While Julio is like a coach on the field, he teaches everything.  Ridley said that he is in a great situation with the greatest football players and the greatest coaching staff.  Sounds like he has fully bought in to the Brotherhood and is very happy in Atlanta. He noted that Matt Ryan is a big coach as well, providing good and constructive feedback.  Ryan wants Ridley out there on the field and is ensuring that he does everything right, he obviously cares.

Ridley told Dukes and Bell that the learning curve was not overly difficult.  Falcons OC, Steve Sarkisian was in Alabama for a short time, and clearly they are running a near pro offense already.  Ridley said that the Falcons game plan is harder, but if you pay attention and study and you will get it.  He feels better than when he first hit Atlanta for mini-camp and is in a good place. 

Asked about the Together We Rise Fan Day, Ridley commented that it was “so good, so many people in there on Sunday.”  It felt almost like a game, realizing, of course, that Ridley was on the National Championship team that played in The Benz Nest in January.  The good news is, Ridley is confident without being cocky, feels he has something to prove, and is willing to listen and learn from the veterans.  Also, he’s played semi-pro ball at Alabama, in 3 years having 2 National Championships. 

Ryan thinks that Ridley is fitting right in to this system and obviously DQ is quite impressed as well.


 FalconAlley Owt


Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons



Posted in FalconAlley Squawk

Dukes and Bell Catch up with Ricardo Allen after Day 2 of Mini Camp

Recap of Interview by Carl Dukes and Mike Bell, written by Allison Smith

June 13, 2018

Ricardo Allen enters his 5th year as an Atlanta Falcon.  From a late cut his rookie year, to the practice squad, to a leader on defense, Rico has had quite a ride in the NFL so far.  In the 2017 off season, Rico and wife Grace welcomed their second baby, he graduated from Purdue, and most recently signed his 2nd round tender to stay a Falcon for another season. It was very important to Rico to earn his degree as an example to his children, “Anything you start, you need to finish.”  While he hopes to be in Atlanta playing the rest of his career and not need his degree, he is proud of the work he put in to receive it and actually walk at graduation.

Rico Grad

After Day 2 of Falcons Mini Camp, Rico spoke to Dukes and Bell (Carl Dukes and Mike Bell of 92.9 The Game’s afternoon show).  If you know about Rico, you know he is one of the hardest working guys on the team and is a film nut.  As I have reported numerous times, just days after the playoff loss in Philadelphia, Rico was at the Branch watching film and working out.  He said that he watched the game over and over on the flight home, already taking notes on things to improve.  He noted that the team was a tackle or turnover or an inch away from the SuperBowl last season. He knows this team is not that far off.

When asked about vacation time between Mini Camp and Training Camp, Rico replied, “We had vacation and time off after the season ended. There is no vacation time now, I am ready to go.”  Anytime there are not official team activities at The Branch, Rico is working out 2-3 times a day, either at home or at The Branch.

Dukes and Bell asked about the current team and the work outs, Rico said that they are competing and taking care of each other.  “Can’t win games right now, but can put in the work.”  Rico is the mentee assigned to Isaiah Oliver and said that Oliver is long and can run with any receiver on the Falcons roster, he has great ball skills and comes in very mature.

Asked about some of the new offensive weapons, Rico commented that Ito Smith is fast out of the backfield and finishes every rep like he is going to score a touchdown.  He said that Calvin Ridley is a “Good dude.  He did not come in like a first round pick, but instead like a rookie willing to work.  He is definitely going to make something happen.”  He noted that all of the rookies came in knowing the team was already a good team, but there were some roles to fill.

Defensively, Allen commented that “We have allot of speed on defense, and when one of us is coming, know the other 10 are coming too.”  As the deepest defender in the secondary, Rico has the best view and depended on for lots of communication to the rest of the defense.  He said that he will watch 2 to 3 years of film on an offense to learn all of their tendencies (did I mention film nut?).  He also plays allot of Madden.  Madden shows their best plays and when a team is in a crunch, that is what they pull out of the bag, so you know Rico is already ready.

Dukes and Bell asked about the best offense they face in the NFC South.  Rico said they go against the best of the best each week in practice.

On the Cornerback front, Rico commented that Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford (Tru and Rocky) are good.  “They have been grinding, already getting balls popping up in the air” even though there is no tackling happening yet.

Plans for 2018 as a defense…..”Want to get more turnovers.”  He noted that they had at least 5 turnovers overturned by penalties last season, clearly they plan to clean that up.  After going from a 30something ranking up to the 8th ranked defense last season, Rico wants “Our Defense to be the #1 defense” this season.  On the rookies and young defenders, “We got some dawgs out there – pull the leash off of them and let them go.” And commented that we have the fastest linebackers around.

Sounds like the defense is ready to go.  We know many of the guys came in bigger and stronger and faster, so the 2018 defense is definitely going to be something to look forward to.

#RiseUp @FalconAlley Owt


**Graduation photo courtesy of Ricardo Allen, Interview photo is courtesy of 92.9 The Game


Posted in FalconAlley Squawk

TD and DQ Speak Preseason

August 26, 2017

Allison Smith

Some quick outtakes from Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn’s chat with Dukes and Bell on 92.9 Friday, August 25, 2017.

On the Mercedes Benz Stadium, it is a “real tribute to Arthur on what this team stands for.”

The team, in small groups, came in to tour The Benz Nest.  Many of the guys went on Instagram Live and shared their amazement at everything from the view as they drove to The Benz, the locker room, the of course the field and the view from there.  Everyone was excited to “be home.”  As that is what Owner Arthur Blank called it….saying “Welcome Home” to not only the players, but the fans of both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.  Mr. Blank said this was our stadium, not his.

DQ and TD were glad to have the team inside on Friday, to get accustomed to their parking location, the locker room set up, their entrance to the field, and last but not lest to go ahead and “get caught up in the lights,” so that on Saturday, the team just comes out to play!

TD commented on this year’s teams saying, “We’ve had some great stars, but as a complete roster, speed, athletic, etc…. this is the best (overall) roster this year.

As always, DQ is focused on preparing for the game, whether game planning, or evaluating, he commented, “The routine is important, but the readiness needs to be there.”  DQ is happy to have 4 full games to evaluate all 90 players as it give them all more opportunities to show what they can do.

Both DQ and TD are happy with guard play, the Right Guard position that Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer are competing for.  No decision on a starter will be made until after the final preseason game.  But remember, even if you aren’t the RG starter, they have both had tons of time as backup center as well.  I still wonder if DQ will name a season long starter, or use them interchangeably until one really stands out with the first team, or an obvious chemistry is seen.  Realize that in the 2 preseason games so far, most starters, even O-Line have not played very long together.  As I mentioned in FalconAlley Squawks during the offseason, but guys were pushing and supporting each other, and DQ said, “can’t be more pumped with their training camp.”

TD is excited about this defensive line.  They took a “very direct and calculated approach…..with Vic Beasley, Jr., Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed, then bring in Takk McKinley and Dontari Poe, making this group a “very burly, manly group.”  “They like to compete.”

Both TD and DQ are excited with the addition of Bryant Young, noting that he was a “great player, but can articulate and teach” as a coach.  And if Young isn’t enough, you know DQ is very hands on with frontline D, and by hands on, we mean he is out there literally doing drills with the team.

On new Offensive Coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, DQ said that he “knew him and knew they could work together.”  On Marquand Manual, who has now moved up to Defensive Coordinator, DQ and Manual have had “6 years together – a clear vision to know how we wanted to coach.”  Both Sark and Manual will call plays from the sideline this week.

And our quote or lesson for the day comes from Dimitroff, “You win you win.  You lose, you learn.”  Hopefully this season, we just WIN.



Featured Image Courtesy of 92.9 The Game