Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff: ‘It’s not an exact science’

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, because of some bizarre team policy, doesn’t do much with the local media during the season.

You can get him after the season, during the scouting combine and sometimes at the Super Bowl, thereby depriving the fans of the team of access to the franchise’s key personnel decision-maker. Like this weekend, after the team make cuts down to 53, the general manager will likely not be available. In the good old days, the GM came out and gave the fans some explanations.

Hopefully, we get something for y’all this weekend either from GM or the head coach.

So, when Dimitroff went on SiriusXMNFL radio with our pals Alex Marvez and Gil “The Godfather” Brandt, Dimitroff addressed several of the topics the fan-base has been venting over on twitter and in other venues over the pass few months.

Hat tip to Brandt and Marvez, who didn’t toss him any softball questions on Wednesday night.

Brandt gave Dimitroff credit for the Julio Jones trade and wanted to know how Peter Konz was mis-evaluated. (Spoiler alert, Dimitroff didn’t admit to a mis-evaluation. He pointed toward Konz’ injuries.) Marvez described the Falcons’ free agency approach in 2015 to a baseball team trying to hit about bunch of “singles” instead of swinging for the fences.

Here’s the best of Dimitroff over the 16 minute-16 second interview:

ON THE JULIO JONES TRADE: “Sometimes in the NFL you have to be aggressive. Other times, people are going to question you on it. I think that, and this is a big discussion point, usually team-builders have a very good idea of what’s in store for their team and what the team is about. I was happy to have a whole bunch of very talented people who were helping in the process and (we) were able to pull a player (off the board) who is one of the most talented players in the league.”

FILE PHOTO: 122914 ATLANTA: Falcons owner Arthur Blank (from left), GM Thomas Dimitroff and President Rich McKay take questions during a press conference following the firing of head coach Mike Smith at the Arthur M. Blank Foundation on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. The team now knows how much it will cost to extend Julio Jones' contract. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

ON WHY THEY DID JULIO JONES CONTRACT WHEN THEY COULD HAVE WAITED AND FRANCHISED HIM IN 2016 (and 2017): “I think the important thing is that we were very cognizant that there was a potential market to be set by both of those receivers (Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas). They are both at the top of their games and incredibly talented. We thought that would help set a market for us, so that we can have a cool starting point and a point where we could work around. It wasn’t long and drawn out. There were a number of things that we talked about. I thought it was going to be a fairly easy deal from the very beginning. It seemed like it took a little bit longer than we had planned. But that was because of no one’s fault. It was about working through some minor elements of it: some language issues and timing issues of it all. But, again, we knew where the market was and I think everyone believes that we are right where we should be on this player.”

ON HOW THE FRONT OFFICE HAS CHANGED TO EVALUATE PLAYER FOR DAN QUINN: “It is a system....It’s a specific system . . . .he was very, very clear with the type of players, the nuances of the players that he was looking for. We sat down not only with Dan, but with his coaching staff at different times and ran some seminars that I found very, very helpful for us to be able to spend time with the entire staff and with our scouting staff so that everyone had a really good idea on what we were looking for going into the draft and free agency.”

ESPN Monday Night Football – “Double the Football” 2015

HOW DID THE FALCONS “MAKE A MISTAKE” ON PETER KONZ – INJURIES OR MISEVALUATION: (Gil Brandt’s words in quotes): “…We are crossing Ts and dotting the Is at so many levels as per the evaluation of a player. I liked Peter Konz. It was unfortunate. Again, he had some injuries. He could never really work back from some of those. He’s healing up (from) one right now and hopefully for him he’ll be able to pull his bootstraps up and trudge on along somewhere else in the league and make amends for where he’s been. Peter, I think, has talent and skills and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work at this point with us.”


Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli were spotted together on the sidelines evaluating players during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, in Atlanta. It's not clear if Pioli, who has a larger role in the draft, will be made available to the local media leading up to the draft. (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

2015 FREE AGENCY: “Anytime that you are looking at players . . . it’s not an exact science. We’re all paid to do the best job that we can and again, I rave about our personnel staff . . . the guys work very hard and they are very diligent. Like a lot of staffs in this league, they are very proud about how they approach things. I think there are going to be times when you hit on them and there are going to be times when miss on them. That’s the way it is. As for free agency, our approach this year was to go in and be mindful of where we were. Be mindful of the type players we were looking for. Dan Quinn has been very good with the defensive players he had out in Seattle. He works with all levels. It’s not just the top of the barrel so to speak. He can work with mid-rounders, he can work with (undrafted rookies) and UFAs (unrestricted free agents) that aren’t the highly regarded at least on the books. They come out and play to the best of their ability. Dan is about stressing the positives of a player and not stressing the negatives.”

ON HOW TEAMS CAN BETTER STRESS TO PROSPECTS HOW MUCH HARDER IT IS TO PLAY IN AND PREPARE FOR THE NFL: “A lot of different players that are coming into our league right now, how much I’ve been seeing as far as grit about offensive lines across the league and how there are getting scrutinized at every level. I understand because they are protecting someone who is making a lot of money on a team . . .there are so many elements of development in our league that our so important. There are other leagues that do a really good job of it. We know how basketball does it. They do a fantastic job. I think for us as a league, we need to continue to bring these players into our league and have really well mapped developmental plans within our organization so that we can truly develop the players for the one, two and three years. At the end of that three-year time or whatever it may be, if you put all of your efforts into developing whether if it’s on the coaching side, whether if it’s on the athletic performance side, whether if it’s the cognitive training side, then you come out on the other side and that player hasn’t reached his potential. Then it’s a lot more comfortable feeling as a general manager and as a team builder, it’s time to move on.”

ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE AFTER THE POROUS SHOWING AGAINST MIAMI: “I think we had two nice games leading up to that. (Except for giving up a safety to the Jets.) For me, it ended up being a game where there were some challenges and we ended up having a tough game and I get that. Again, it was still a (exhibition) season game. It was one (exhibition) season game. I feel confident with the way that our coaching staff is putting things together. . . this is a really interesting scheme offensively. I think it’s a very effective scheme with the outside run game. . . . I think we have the athletes along the offensive line who are able to accomplish what we are looking for. Again, it was a challenging game. We’re continuing to always look out in free agency and there are a lot of cuts to be happening soon. We’ll always keep our eyes on the market and see if someone comes available that will help our depth or even more so than our depth.”

ON THE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES IN EXHIBITION SEASON GAMES: “That is always a discussion point when you go into games. It’s a philosophical discussion that usually a GM and the head coach will have to try to decide how we truly want to approach the game. The one thing that I believe over the years, I think it’s really important to compete in whatever you do. The great thing about dealing with Dan Quinn and seeing how he is, and you guys have this really good feel about him right now, he’s is about competitiveness at every level….”

Falcons president Rich McKay (from left), general manager Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank watch the Falcons play the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in December of 2012. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

ON FIRST-ROUND PICK VIC BEASLEY: “Vic is guy who’s very dedicated. He’s been  working really hard. He’s focused. He’s a guy, as we all know, who has some very -- actually off the (chart) – athleticism. Natural ability to get off the mark with explosiveness and turn the corner, bend around the corner to the quarterback. We quite honestly haven’t had that element on our defensive front since John Abraham was there as far as constantly coming off the mark. We feel that Vic can do (that). He still has some growing and we all know that he’s learning along the way. But given his natural speed and athleticism, I think that our fan base should be very excited to watch him add an element to this defense that is needed.”

ON SECOND-ROUND JALEN COLLINS: (Brandt says he’s not ready to play. Has huge upside and was a great gamble): “He’s another guy that fits Dan Quinn’s system. He’s a long lengthy guy, who has long arms and can run. He can open up and definitely run. He’s a really interesting natural athlete. He was a system fit, though still raw, as we know. I bank on Dan and his very good defensive coaches to work very well with him.”

ON THE RAVENS GAME. HOW MUCH WILL IT HELP TO SHAPE THE ROSTER: “I think this is an important game for a lot of those roster spots, basically from (player) 40 to 53. There is still a number of battles that are going on that will be determined in my mind with how people show in this game. It’s not a throw away game by any stretch of the imagination. As we know, there are very few veterans playing in it and we understand why. But we’ve had a number of kids over the years who have had major games who were quite honestly tilted on our board and being titled down, suggesting that we may be moving on from them, but then the next thing you know, they are standing pretty and have acquired a spot on our team. Those are the guys that you really pull for.”


Julio Jones adds another gear to his speed

Brooks Reed slowed by hip strain

Julio Jones has no update on his contract status

Matt Ryan: Falcons have to get ball to Devin Hester

Jacob Tamme believes Falcons can have a dynamic offense

Matt Ryan sees new offensive attack coming together

Devonta Freeman-Tevin Coleman competition heats up on second day of camp

MARK BRADLEY COLUMN: Dan Quinn's plan for the Falcons: 'Outhit people'

Veterans determined to rebound in 2015


Monday – Wide receivers

Tuesday – Quarterbacks

Wednesday – Running backs

Thursday – Fullbacks/Tight ends

Friday  – Offensive line

(Addition of DeMarcus Love on Wednesday)

Saturday – Defensive line

Sunday – Linebackers

Monday – Cornerbacks

Tuesday – Safeties

Wednesday – Special teams

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.