Alec Shirkey wrote all about Thomas Dimitroff's comments in the #AskTD hangout last night, but I did want to pull out a few quotes I thought were particularly intriguing. They concern Lamar Holmes and Peter Konz, who were not exactly the two most popular men in Atlanta last season.
This was just. You can't play as poorly as Konz and Holmes did, particularly in a lost season, and expect fans to pat you on the back and buy you a beer. We come down hard on poor performance, and when you're talking about protecting the franchise, everything failing is magnified.
The Falcons aren't ready to give up on either player. While it may seem obvious that the 2013 season was a referendum on the pair, there are two realities working against that assumption.
- Both of these players are young and entering their third seasons in the league. New offensive line coach Mike Tice, who backed Konz by saying "I find most offensive linemen really start flourishing in that third year," should know the importance of not giving up on young linemen. The last young center he worked with started zero games his first two seasons and only played snaps in 22 games in total over those two years, and that guy was the superb Matt Birk.
This isn't to say that Konz is the next Birk or that Lamar Holmes is going to be the next Bob Whitfield, but the linemen who excels immediately is a rare specimen. The Falcons invested the picks here, they hired a coach with a reputation for developing talent and both of these guys are under 26 years of age.
- They're both cheap. It's in the team's best interest to give young, cheap guys a chance to win starting jobs, so they can save cap space for other needs.
None of this guarantees either player a starting job. Dimitroff specifically said "we will truly have full-on competition at the center position" last night, and Holmes may be a more natural left tackle, but has no clear path to the starting left tackle gig in 2014. What it does mean is that both will be in Atlanta and allowed to compete. If it's an honest fight for a job, there's very little downside and potentially real upside.
I know we've been talking it to death, but hell, one more time. Thoughts about Konz and Holmes?