The Atlanta Falcons 2023 season is well underway, as the team finds itself in spot where they haven’t been since the 2017 season — having a 2-0 record. That same season, the Falcons went on to make the playoffs and come within a few plays of making the NFC Championship game for the second-straight year.
Although expectations in 2017 were arguably much higher after having a Super Bowl appearance the following year, the 2023 roster is full of young, hungry individuals who are looking to get the Falcons back in the position to compete for the highly-coveted Lombardi Trophy.
One of the key members of the Falcons offense is center Drew Dalman. Dalman was fourth-round selection by the Falcons in the 2021 NFL Draft and has made 17 starts so far for the team. As of Week 2, Dalman is Pro Football Focus’ fourth ranked overall center (78.8) and has the second best run-blocking center grade (83.3).
On Tuesday, Dalman spoke with The Falcoholic in an exclusive interview discussing the 2023 season, how he looks to take the next step, and other interesting topics.
It’s not just Dalman who is finding success in the run game. PFF grades the Falcons offensive line as being the fourth-best in football this year with a 70.7 grade. Dalman spoke about the Falcons ground game and how he is taking the next step in 2023.
“We place a lot of emphasis on our preparation, training, and effort and the whole offense works together to be able to be able to perform, but we still have a ton of room for growth,” Dalman told The Falcoholic. “I feel like I’m getting more comfortable and gaining more knowledge from my teammates and coaches and that helps me make better decisions and execute more effectively, but I still have a ton to work on.”
As mentioned above, it’s been a while since the Falcons started a season off with a 2-0 record. As exciting as that is for the fanbase, the team has their sights on much greater things than some early wins.
“It’s great to start with positive momentum like that,” Dalman said. “But also, it’s a good challenge for us to still evaluate ourselves objectively and work to improve and be critical of our play and not let the wins bring any complacency.”
In the spirit of constant improvement, Dalman has partnered with CoolMitt, which he is using during his strength training and cardio sessions to try to improve results.
“The early prototypes of the CoolMitt were being used at Stanford while I was there, so that was my first introduction,” Dalman said. “I circled back in the last two years after seeing its progression, and I had a chance to meet with Dr. Craig Heller (founding scientist and advisor at CoolMitt) to talk about the research and the next stages of its development which really got me back into using it. I loved the notion of the lasting training effects after using the CoolMitt. The immediate effects are certainly important, but retaining the strength/hypertrophy gains after using it were more exciting to me.
CoolMitt definitely helps in the short term with sustained performance during repeated effort, and I’ve done a few experiments on myself seeing how my max dead hang time progresses over the course of a few weeks, and that was beneficial as well.”
In closing, I asked Dalman which aspect of offensive line play he found most challenging at the professional level and also who is favorite player was growing up, and who he watched film on.
“Tough to say because it depends what kind of scheme we are running,” Dalman said. “So it all has its own unique challenges depending on our play. My favorite player, although retired before I started playing, was my dad, so I always liked seeing his old film and asking him questions to learn how he played and had success.”
For those who don’t know, offensive line play runs in Dalman’s blood. Drew’s dad, Chris Dalman, was an assistant offensive line coach for the Falcons during the 2005-2006 seasons. Before that, Chris was an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers from 1993-2000 and won a Super Bowl with the team in 1995.
While his career is young, Dalman has shown improvement over the shaky play we have seen too often in the post-Alex Mack era. It will be interesting to see Dalman spend a year with Desmond Ridder as they continue to build chemistry together on the offensive line, and to see how he continues to pave the way for Atlanta’s ground game.