In the attempt not to be redundant to this blog will not analyze the inner workings of the 30-20 loss to the New York Giants by our Atlanta Falcons. Instead this be a true reactionary piece, because I had to come to the realization about the Atlanta Falcons’ Roster and exactly what this team is, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive is solid, while the part of team charged to stop the other team from scoring has a huge question mark.
The Atlanta Falcons, now 2-3 and the stakes that were already high for a squad coming off a 4-12 campaign in 2013 are now through the roof even with the injuries and changes that have taken place. Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff have been on the proverbial “on notice call” indirectly since the end of last season but the last two drafts are beginning to look like they gave themselves no justification for Owner Arthur Blank to retain their services. In this “what have you done for me lately” National Football League, saving the franchise from complete implosion after the Vick-Petrino era has run its course.
I found myself looking at a game that started a lot better than expected. The offensive line was decimated from the week before and this makeshift unit actually held its own. There were explosive plays along with some balance on the offense. The offense also showed an ability to come back after being down and the defense made a stop or two. All in all the 1st half of the contest looked tremendous considering the odds. But like a college coach once told me, “cream rises to the top eventually”.
Offensively, the Atlanta Falcons still have “red zone” troubles that are unaffordable considering the defensive troubles. Scoring two more touchdowns instead of two field goals would have done a lot for possibly winning the game but those troubles pale in comparison to the liabilities on defense. I love having Twitter discussions with some of the best in the business that cover the Falcons like myself and some of the things they have to say about the team often will give me something to ponder, however the contention that the defense is supremely talented, and this is more of a coaching problem than a talent problem I just cannot get with.
After the game yesterday, I thought about just how much Ryan Shazier or Kony Ealy would have looked in a Falcon uniform. I know hindsight is 20-20 but I am starting adopt the notion that proven commodities are more priority than need in the draft. Alec Ogletree from the 2013 Draft looks great right about now. We very well could go over numerous players that could have been in a Falcons Jersey but I am more in awe of the drafting philosophy of Dimitroff and other front office staff. The words “Process” and “Flexibility” have often been staples of the Smith-Dimitroff era in Atlanta. With much success we deemed them right and with failures we questioned whether or not they know what they are doing. One thing remains evident within both; they have not drafted well defensively.
It is not that Thomas Dimitroff has not drafted good players it is more that he has not drafted well in the later rounds where the trench players that round out a team often dwell. I have always been curious as to why in the center of Southeastern Conference Football why the Atlanta Falcons never seem to tap that potential instead of drafting from “parts unknown”. Sure, your “diamonds in the rough” are great stories when they pan out but those cases are few and far between. I go back to the interview of former Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens Brian Billick where he alluded to the fact that the Falcons Defense did not have much talent within it. As much as many did not want to hear that, he would be the perfect person to say it. Why you may ask? As successful as their championship defense was, he was always searching for the quarterback he could make perfect. Very good symmetry to what the Falcons brass seem to think they can do to this defense.
If there is a bright side to the present it is that the NFC South Division Leader is currently the Carolina Panthers at 3-2 so the Falcons are within striking distance. However, the defense has to at least get back respectability to have a shot at the title or playoffs. It is there for the taking because you have a top-5 offensive unit and can score with the best of them but if you are just breaking even by virtue of the defense then this team can only hope for a .500 record. That may not be for the survival of Smith and Dimitroff.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. You can follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or by email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.