The Atlanta Falcons travelled to Arizona and got absolutely punished by the score of 27-13. Matt Ryan, under tremendous pressure all game long, finished 34 of 61 passing with 301 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions against the Cardinals. In the last two games against this team, Matt Ryan has thrown 9 interceptions and seems to have grown fond of the boys from the desert. All jokes aside, Arizona has a formidable pass rush that did not forget how to get to a quarterback due to changes at defensive coordinator. That attack combined with poor offensive line play from the Falcons highly contributed to those interceptions from Matt Ryan. The growing question moving forward is, “Where do the Atlanta Falcons go from here?”
The reactions on Sports Radio 92.9 have been absolute “GOLD”!! The reactions on social media have not been too “shabby” either. I have heard and viewed everything from the Falcons need to tank the season to get more draft picks so they can get a quarterback, to the team is cursed because Arthur Blank took the land from the churches to build a new stadium. While I find the reactions to be comical at best there are some very crucial matters that the Atlanta Falcons as a franchise have to absorb and deal with;
1. I, the “eternal optimist” have concluded that the season in relation to the playoffs, yes playoffs…is over. What the Atlanta Falcons have to do now is realize that the team is playing for the future by building depth and seeing what players are worthy of remaining or not remain with the franchise going forward. This team has been decimated by injury but those in reserve positions have been unprepared to take the challenge. The rest of this season should be viewed as constructing those building blocks.
2. For the first time in the Blank-McKay-Dimitroff-Smith era, serious questions about the franchises’ philosophy have to be asked. Their methods are often reactionary, like most NFL teams, but the Falcons have been “snake bitten” by such great expectations, yet such immense crashes. After the Petrino/Vick era the franchise responded by cleaning up the program, so they hired Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith, and drafted Matt Ryan. It worked. You then get into the 2nd season, become perennial winners but the team crashes and burns in the playoffs. The team loses to Arizona, the franchise does not worry, it is early for Matt Ryan. You get killed by a New York Giants team 24-2, so now you need to get more “explosive” on offense….here comes Dirk Koetter. Now admittedly so, I liked the hire but I guess we all did not take into account personnel changes monetarily. So within this drafting and hiring of coaches, you try to get free agents to meet the team needs but “Big Play Ray Edwards” becomes a colossal failure, the Lofa Tatupu experiment is a failure, and the front lines for both sides of the ball are suffering. The National Football League has evolved but one thing that has remained a constant is teams that have solid offensive or defensive lines or both are successful. I know that all teams have to deal with the salary cap but the Falcons did not do well managing its priorities within it. Even at full strength, this roster would have STILL been in question. I firmly believe that the premise for this team coming from its hierarchy would be that it out score people and have a “bend but don’t break” mentality on defense. That premise has been severly compromised!
I believe that the franchise is still in a positive place, but serious PERSONNEL questions must be addressed within its core structure. It appears that there was not a contingency plan for injury but as much as Mike Smith loves to think the team has a next man up philosophy, the next man did not “cut” it this season. These next few weeks can serve as a great opportunity to right the ship for next season. Right now, as bad as the Falcons have played, offensively the team is ranked #18 and the defense is ranked #20. The future if constructed correctly could be bright, but as far as this season is concerned please save the sound bytes; YOU’RE NOT WHAT WE THOUGHT YOU WERE!!
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. You can follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or on Facebook at J. Walker Sports Media Services.