Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ Smith is NFL’s 18th-best coach, per ESPN

  • 8:42 am Thursday, August 28th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I might be No. 18, Pete, but I'm 1-0 against you in the playoffs." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I’m not a major fan of everything ESPN does — I’m not sure the Worldwide Leader itself is a major fan of everything it does — but I do enjoy those features where anonymous coaches/executives share their thoughts. Regarding college football, Travis Haney does these on a regular basis for ESPN Insider; regarding the NFL, they’re the province of Mike Sando.

In July, Sando polled his nameless electorate and found that Matt Ryan was considered the NFL’s eighth-best quarterback. (That sounded a tad low to me, especially considering there was a four-way tie for eighth, but what do I [More]

From SI: Petrino and Grantham aren’t getting along

  • 10:18 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"All these guys? They hate me already." (Garry Jones/AP)

Well, that didn’t take long. According to an report by Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, the odd Louisville couple that is Bobby Petrino (once the Falcons’ coach) and Todd Grantham (recently Georgia’s defensive coordinator) has already had a falling out. Who among us didn’t see this one coming?

Write Thamel/Evans:

Sources with ties to the Cardinals’ football program and Petrino said there’s significant friction between Petrino and Grantham. The two have feuded often since Grantham’s hiring in January — so much that one source insists Petrino would have already gotten rid of Grantham if not for his guaranteed five-year contract [More]

Draft Day arrives: What should the Falcons do?

  • 7:45 am Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Time for a Big (Khalil) Mack Attack? (Mike Groll/AP)

Moving the NFL draft to May means that the hype, which was already oppressive, is now unbearable. Which is why the draft’s deferred arrival brings as much relief as anticipation.

By now, everything has already been said, and not just once but a dozen times. This post is meant to serve as a final fling before Chris Berman (ugh!) starts blathering. In your educated view, what should the Atlanta Falcons do?

The polls are open. Please avail yourselves.

From It’s not the Falcons’ biggest draft ever, but it’s big.

Also from 10 reasons the Falcons need Jadeveon Clowney.

Further reading: [More]

Johnny Manziel: Great college player, bad NFL risk

  • 10:19 am Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
This became the greatest moment of Manziel's greatest night. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Stepping back from the Atlanta Falcons and/or Jadeveon Clowney for a moment, we turn our attention toward Johnny Manziel, whom Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing believes ESPN is determined to make into the new Tim Tebow as a driver of 24-news cycles. And there are, I’ll concede, similarities. Both played in the SEC. Both won Heisman trophies early in their college careers. (Tebow as a sophomore, Manziel as a redshirt freshman.) Neither plays — or played — the way a classic pro quarterback plays.

I saw both as collegians at their absolute collegiate best. (Tebow against Alabama in the 2008 [More]

If the Falcons move to a 3-4, would Clowney fit?

  • 1:08 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Tyson Jackson plays the run. It's what he does. (AP photo)

The free-agent signings of defensive end Tyson Jackson, who’s better at stopping the run than rushing the passer, and tackle Paul Soliai, who can play as a nose man, have heightened the already-burning speculation that the Atlanta Falcons are moving from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4. The Falcons keep trying to act as if such a shift would be no big deal, but it would. It would be an admission that coach Mike Smith, who oversaw the 4-3 when he was a defensive coordinator, has come to believe there’s a better way than his way.

It could also be a [More]

Could Vick help a lot of NFL teams? Absolutely

  • 8:31 am Friday, March 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Michael Vick in an October 2012 loss to the Falcons. (Michael Perez/AP)

Adrian Peterson tweeted Wednesday that Michael Vick would make the Minnesota Vikings a playoff team. And you know what? He probably would. The knock on Vick, who’ll turn 34 in June, isn’t that his famous skills have eroded to the extent that he can’t play. It’s that he hasn’t been able to play because he keeps getting hurt.

Vick is set to become a free agent any day now, and if I’m the general manager of a team that doesn’t have a quarterback who has proved he’s capable of winning in the NFL, I’d make that call.

The second act of Vick’s [More]

A really special (or not) opportunity: Free Bradley!

  • 3:30 pm Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Does this guy write too much or what? (Joey Ivansco,/AJC)

Owing to the storm, the ol’ AJC is making, our premium site, available for no charge through Thursday. Which means: Bonus Bradley! Such a deal, huh?

OK, I’m kidding. Personally, I’d never advise anyone to read a word I’ve written. But if you insist, here are some recent offerings. (And if you don’t like the idea of such a listing, blame esteemed colleague Ken Sugiura. I stole it from him.)

On the rampaging Panthers: Georgia State’s Ron Hunter tries not to look toward March.

On Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart: Smart was wrong, but are loutish fans right?

From UGA on [More]

Mizzou’s Sam says he’s gay; will the NFL care?

  • 9:49 pm Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Michael Sam rushes Aaron Murray. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Michael Sam, the SEC’s defensive player of the year, has revealed to the New York Times that he’s gay. The NFL, through spokesperson Greg Aiello, has offered its immediate Tweeted support, saying, “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage … We look forward to welcoming and supporting (Sam) in 2014.”

The big news — the glad tidings, to this way of thinking — is that an American football player has stepped forward in the way Jason Collins, an American basketball player, did last year. But what’s sobering is that, in the immediate aftermath of Sam’s declaration, ran a [More]

ESPN: Tony Gonzalez says Matt Ryan is ‘not elite’

  • 4:51 pm Thursday, February 6th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"Don't go thinking you're elite, pal."

I hate to make too much of a Tweet, but this one kind of jumped out at me. According to ESPN the Magazine, Tony Gonzalez told writer Seth Wickersham: “Matt (Ryan is) an excellent quarterback. But he’s not elite. He’s THIS close.”

I’ve not seen Wickersham’s story — Dave Choate of the Falcoholic indicates it’s just now available on newsstands — so I can’t comment beyond the Tweet. But “he’s not elite” is pretty hard to take out of context, don’t you think?

And you know what? I wouldn’t disagree with the just-retired Tony G. I’ve long thought Ryan was [More]