Falcons owner wanted retaliation for Saints’ hit on Matt Ryan

One of the Falcons’ main priorities this offseason was to get tougher in the trenches, a change in mentality that could be pinpointed to the 2013 season opener against the Saints.

In that game, New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro applied a late hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Although Vaccaro was penalized and later fined $7,785, Atlanta’s offensive line failed to defend their QB, who peeled himself off the Fieldturf.

Even though much time has passed — exactly seven months — Falcons owner Arthur Blank is still peeved over the group’s non-reaction.

To be clear, Blank wasn’t expecting his team to put a bounty on Vaccaro — a la Gregg Williams. He did, however, admit to wanting some sort of retaliation for a play he was “really bothered” by.

“And that play really bothered me, sincerely,” Blank said, via ESPN.com. “It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything.

“Not that they would start a fight, but just kind of put their finger in his chest and saying, ‘That’s not acceptable.'”

Inside the organization, Blank’s feelings were echoed by assistant general manager Scott Pioli and promptly relayed to general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

“Scott said, when he was talking at dinner one night with Thomas, he said that really bothered him when he watched that game,” Blank said. “That told him a lot about the mentality of a lot of our players. And I think with (offensive line coach) Mike Tice, and (defensive line coach) Bryan Cox and Smitty (head coach Mike Smith) supporting that, I think you’ll see a different attitude this year.”

With that fresh in mind, Blank and Dimitroff made it a point to beef up the roster during free agency, signing guard Jon Asamoah, nose tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Tyson Jackson.

Asamoah, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound mauling run blocker, plays with the kind of mean streak that ensures Ryan’s days of fending for himself are likely over.

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).
  • Gerald Fodor

    Yes my chrin – Arthur Blank – the owner of the Falcons and
    one of those guys who has more money than God – Says some of his players just aren’t
    “mean enough”!

    Well I absolutely agree with him. New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro put an
    overtly late and cheap shot on Matt Ryan in a game last year – But this any of
    those big babies on the Offense do anything g about it! NO – It might have made the Saints “mad” at them!!!!!! Poor babies!!!!!!!!!

    . My old high school coach would call some of us out by name if we didn’t seem to be mean
    enough on AND off the field! ‘Nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!