ATL AM: Atlanta Sports News 5/22

Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith reacts after losing the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Georgia Dome. The 49ers won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up guys, I hope you are doing well. Welcome to another edition of ATL AM. I hope everyone stuck around to see the dramatic Braves win last night, and it was a good game. Today’s links feature some really quality analysis pieces on the Braves, Julio Teheran, and Mike Smith:

AtlantaFalcons.com–Jay Adams writes that the Falcons have signed fourth round draft pick Levine Toilolo:

The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have signed tight end Levine Toilolo. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Toilolo, 6-8, 265 pounds, was selected by the Falcons as the second of two fourth round draft picks (133rd overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. He caught 50 passes for 763 yards (15.3 yards per catch) with 10 touchdowns in 31 career games at Stanford.

Last week, the Falcons signed draft picks Malliciah GoodmanStansly MapongaKemal Ishmael andZeke Motta to put five of the Falcons’ eight 2013 picks under contract.

 TalkingChop–Scott Coleman discusses the development of Julio Teheran and his improved approach on the mound of late:

Instead of aiming to blow everyone away, Teheran is settling in early with solid control. He has continued to improve in every start since a rough stretch to begin the season, with a masterful performance over 8 1/3 innings coming Monday night in a 5-1 win over theTwins.

Why has Teheran been successful without the strikeouts? It’s pretty simple: his walks are way down.

After walking seven batters in his first three games, Teheran has walked just two in his last five starts. That’s a stretch of 33.2 innings, 13 of which came in Colorado and Arizona, arguably the two most hitter-friendly parks in baseball.

TheFalcoholic–Jeanna Thomas talks about whether Mike Smith is a top NFL coach or not:

Although I don’t believe it paints an accurate picture of their current relevance to this list, I do think a lifetime winning percentage should at least factor into this discussion. The top five in that category among active NFL head coaches are Jim Harbaugh (.774), Mike Smith (.700), John Harbaugh (.675), Mike McCarthy (.661) and Mike Tomlin (.656).

Winning in the regular season is great, but Falcons fans understand, maybe better than anyone else, that playoff wins matter more. The top six (because of ties) active NFL coaches for playoff win percentage are John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick (both .692), Rex Ryan (.667), Tom Coughlin (.632) and Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton are tied for fifth (both .625). Of those coaches, all but Rex Ryan have won Super Bowls, and all but Bill Belichick have won a Super Bowl in the last five years.

But, you can’t win in the playoffs if you can’t get to the playoffs. The active NFL coaches with the most playoff appearances in the last five years are John Harbaugh (5), Bill Belichick, Mike Smith, Mike McCarthy (all with 4), and Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton and Andy Reid (all with 3).

BaseballNation–Rob Neyer isn’t too hopeful about the Braves future, and he brings up some fair points, as well as things that might warrant some worry:

So what was, just a few months ago, a huge positive for the Braves has become a huge, or at least medium, concern. And there are others. It sure doesn’t look Dan Uggla’s ever going to be a good hitter again, Jason Heyward’s batting .132 just a few days off the Disabled List, and B.J. Upton … well, B.J. Upton’s probably the single most disappointing player in the National League, hitting so poorly (.145/.237/.239) that it’s become difficult to write his name on the lineup card, especially with Evan Gattis and Jordan Schaferboth pressing hard for playing time.

Too many guys to play … That’s not the worst problem in the world, except just giving up on the elder Upton. You know, considering he’s still got almost $75 million coming.

Nobody’s perfect, and the Braves are still a fine bet for postseason action. Especially when you consider they’ve outscored their opponents by 34 runs … and are the only team in the National League East with a positive run differential. That’s right, folks: theWashington Nationals, everybody’s favorites, have actually been outscored this season. Still, the Braves seem to have more fundamental problems than the Nationals, so nobody should be surprised if the standings in two months look like what we expected two months ago. Especially if the Braves’ top reliefers keep dropping like red-shirts.

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Julio Teheran, Mike Smith

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