After two embarrassing episodes at the Combine last month, Falcons owner Arthur Blank stressed that "this is not how we do things" in Flowery Branch. Today he added weight to this statement by hiring several new additions to Atlanta's front office on a consultant basis.
One of the major additions is former Giants and Colts GM Ernie Accorsi, who has also spent time managing public relations for the Colts and with the league office in the days of commissioner Pete Rozelle. He is coming in to work with the Falcons coaching staff following the incident with defensive line coach Bryan Cox shoving another team's scout during interview sessions at the Combine.
"He showed very poor form, and it was simply inexcusable," said Accorsi. "He should know better than that. You're never going to get anyone on the ground just waving your arm around like that. We need to work with him and the other coaches and get back to basics on their technique. For heaven's sake, he barely touched the guy. You want your team to be fast and physical? Then be fast and physical. Get your body in there, keep your head up, wrap up, and TACKLE the SOB."
Former Buccaneers and Falcons GM Ken Herock will also be returning to the nest. Though Herock's first stint in Atlanta came before Arthur Blank purchased the team, Blank was particularly enthusiastic about this hire. "Ken has a lot of experience", said Blank. "We're lucky to have him. And he's not even charging us for his services. All he's asking is that we make it publicly known that Glanville was the one who insisted on getting rid of Brett Favre."
Herock will be coming in to work with the coaching staff on their approach to interviewing prospects, hoping to avoid future errors like the one committed by secondary coach Marquand Manuel. He is certainly the right man for the job. Since his days in personnel with the Raiders, Buccaneers, Falcons and Packers, Herock has operated his own consulting firm helping potential draft prospects prepare for the Combine.
He seemed surprised by the opportunity but is embracing the opportunity for a different perspective. "I've spent the last fifteen years helping kids get ready for all the stupid questions that teams ask at the Combine," he noted. "But this is the first time that a team has come to me to get help with ASKING the stupid questions."
He intends to have the coaches overhaul their approach by focusing on fewer, more basic questions. "There's really no point in getting too far out there with esoteric questions like what kind of salad dressing they would want to be," Herock said. "You have dozens of consultants like me out there training all of them to say 'Ranch' without a moment's hesitation, even if they dream of being Thousand Island or a balsamic vinaigrette. The consultants all know that the only acceptable answer is Ranch because of its versatility, and that response has been drilled into every single prospect at the Combine. You're not going to catch anyone off guard, and with only fifteen minutes you certainly don't have time to follow up with the important details about croutons or bacon bits anyway. So there's really no point in even going there. Just stick to the basics."
He plans to start with film study, having the entire coaching staff watch "Monty Python And The Holy Grail" to see properly conducted Combine interviews. "Everything you need to know is right there in that scene at the bridge. What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color? Those three simple questions are all you really need. If the kids can answer those three questions without faltering, their names go on the draft board. If they hesitate or backtrack, they're out."
He added that this no-nonsense approach was how he built the Falcons draft boards for nearly a decade. "It's not rocket science, you know. And if you follow up and find a prospect who can tell you the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow, you know you've found a special, once in a generation kind of player. We were lucky enough to find someone like that in 1988."
Former Rams GM Billy Devaney is also returning, less than two months after leaving the Falcons scouting department for a position at the University of Nebraska. "I'm just happy to be out of there," he said. "I was terrified. Everywhere you look, people are planting corn. There's NOTHING out there but corn fields. The whole state is a Stephen King movie waiting to happen." Devaney will be joining the groundskeeping crew at the training complex in Flowery Branch.
Devaney is bringing his ex-boss, former Redskins and Chargers GM Bobby Beathard, along with him as a special consultant with the grounds crew. Beathard will focus on developing fertilizer for a new flower bed next to the team's indoor facility. "I'm pleased to join an organization with so many other top executives," said Beathard. "The Falcons have a quarterback named Ryan, and I once drafted a quarterback named Ryan, so I think it's a perfect fit."
Former Cowboys GM Gil Brandt, former Packers GM Ron Wolf, and former Browns GM Ray Farmer are coming aboard as special consultants to help the team improve their future drafts. "We can definitely help the Falcons," said Brandt. "We're here to make sure you don't lose any more draft picks by playing more of that fake crowd noise. Or anything, for that matter."
"Some wise guy might try to play that IT'S THIRD DOWN recording," added Wolf, as Farmer menacingly brandished a large pipe wrench. "But he'd only make that mistake once."
Finally, former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell will be returning to Atlanta as a Consulting Assistant GM, working with his former boss Rich McKay to try to keep track of all of the ex-GMs now with the organization. "It won't be too hard to keep tabs on all of us that are here as new consultants," noted Ruskell. "We're only here on one day contracts."
The team specifically hired them all for Friday, as the date is particularly known for mirth and frivolity.