The Falcons… Another Lost Season?
If I had told you back at Falcons camp in August we’d beat the Saints in week 1, play the Bengals without AJ Green, The Vikings without AP and the Ravens without Ray Rice you’d think we’d be in first place right now wouldn’t you?
On the flip side what if back at training camp I told you the Falcons would roll into Week 8 with a third string center, a third string right tackle and 4 lineman on season ending IR?
While the decimation of the Falcons line is the worst I’ve seen in my 16 years being a Falcons fan. We have still found ourselves in a position to win games this season. And that’s what makes this year even more brutal.
Last year the Falcons were hit on the o-line and at the “play maker” spot, losing Julio Jones for 11 games and a banged up Roddy White for 3 games plus Steven Jackson… (don’t get me started on him)… en route to a 4-12 season. The line couldn’t protect Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez was double teamed and the only reliable target became Harry Douglas.
This year despite the patchwork offensive line, the Falcons had a chance to win the Vikings, Giants & Bears games in the 4th quarter. When Ryan got the ball to his “play makers” they didn’t catch the ball.
Then there’s the curious case of Antone Smith… damn near every time he touches the ball it’s a TD or a big catch and run. Apparently there is no way to get him more touches or find a way to get him the ball in space more than 5 times a game.
Falcon fans are fed up with the coaching staff’s inflexibility with players like Smith and Dirk Koetter’s stubbornness in staying with Steven Jackson later in the game for his 3.7 yards per carry. So don’t even talk to them about injuries.
This is the second year in a row that for many the season is perceived over before Halloween. Every team in the league has to overcome injuries. Most Falcons fans don’t want to hear it…
Speaking of injuries, going into Sunday morning’s Lions game in London, Megatron, Reggie Bush and 2 of Detroit’s TE’s are all questionable. Not that the Falcons defense would exploit any of those potential weaknesses.
That’s why Falcon fans have zero empathy for the GM. We all knew the offense was going to have to (in the words of Roddy White) score 30 points a game to win. Because the Falcons haven’t had a perennial pro bowl, impact type player on defense during the Thomas Dimitroff/Mike Smith era.
This year we were told the Falcons were gonna get tougher up front and stop the run by adding defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Chiefs retread Tyson Jackson… how’s that working out?
Statistically the Falcons have been in the bottom of the NFL in team defense the last 6 years. I don’t blame Mike Nolan, sure some of his schemes have looked desperate, but there’s only so many ways you can polish a turd.
The GM doesn’t understand defense, he hasn’t gone higher than a 4th round pick for a defensive end. His LB draft picks have been solid at best not star players.
When given the opportunity to sign a Cliff Avril or Michael Bennet to beef up the pass rush he gets us Mr. Glass, Steven Jackson. You know who pulled the trigger on Avril & Bennett in 2013 free agency? The Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.
I truly believe we missed our window (2010-2012), it’s just diminishing returns now. The NFC South is in shambles, Carolina at 3-3-1 has issues on defense, our nemesis the Saints are a hot mess. But even if we could put together an 8-8 season a large part of the fan base would think it’s just postponing the inevitable. This business model isn’t built for the Falcons to win a Super Bowl.
If this season’s downward trajectory continues, lets hope Arthur Blank won’t use injuries as an excuse and bring in a GM who understands both sides of the ball and a coach who can instill some confidence in his team and it’s fan base.