The Atlanta Falcons weaknesses have been exposed this season. After a great 13-3 year that resulted in the Falcons first playoff win under Mike Smith,Thomas Dimitroff and Matt Ryan, the Falcons are now staring down a 1-4 start to this season.
With a rash of injuries that have either made players shells of their former selves (Roddy White, Asante Samuel), or made players miss a significant amount of time (Sean Weatherspoon, Steven Jackson, Akeem Dent, Sam Baker), or has ended many players' seasons (Bradie Ewing, Kroy Biermann, Julio Jones, Mike Johnson).
Those were just starters, mind you.
This has left the Falcons team decimated all season. So many players have had to plug holes when they shouldn't have been on the field at all this year.
Combine these brutal injuries with other deficiencies that GM Thomas Dimitroff failed to address this offseason, and the Falcons Super Bowl or bust season has now been reduced to a nightmare. He let go Tyson Clabo, who was invaluable at tackle last season. He let go the team's only great pass rusher (John Abraham) to replace him with someone who hasn't matched his production over the last four seasons (Osi Umenyiora).
He did not sign Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson or Christopher Owens with the hope that Asante Samuel and two rookie CBs in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford would be able to shoulder the load, which they haven't. They've been one of the worst secondaries in the league this season, ranking 24th in the league in passing yards against per game.
Center Todd McClure (who was still an effective player) retired in the offseason, but who knows whether or not he did so by his own accord, or if there was a little pushing and prodding by Dimitroff so that he could infuse young blood (and less salary) into the Falcons offensive line.
All of these moves have hurt the Falcons in the offseason. Now would the Falcons be as bad as they were this year had the aforementioned injuries not occurred? No. But the injuries, combined with going all in with the offense (the Julio Jones draft) has hurt this team.
The first article we wrote this offseason covered why the Julio Jones acquisition would hurt this team in the long run. We are now seeing the full effects of this. The Falcons followed the Packers model of success, which is going all in with a high powered offense and a bend but don't break defense. Instead of doing their best to be a complete, balanced team (ala the Seahawks or 49ers), the Falcons decided to go all in with high skill players on offense (QB, RB, TE, WR) and decided to abandon having a good fullback (after Ovie Mughelli was let go), offensive line, or defensive line.
This was never more apparent than this season. All the players that left in the offseason were important pieces to the team's overall success. Yes, even Dunta Robinson.
Now the Falcons are in a unique position. They will get their best players back for next season, healthy and ready to go. They've never finished poorly under this regime, and they have a good team when they are healthy.
If the Falcons were to tank the rest of the season, they could be in prime position to claim some good draft picks. Trading aging players such as Tony Gonzalez and Jonathan Babineaux who are nearing the end of their playing days, could net the Falcons some extra draft picks as well.
This could set the Falcons up to have a huge offseason as they would be in great position to finally land some top tier draft picks in positions they sorely need help with (the defensive line, the offensive line, linebacker).
It's never ideal to give up on a season, and the Falcons could potentially turn it around this year. But the odds keep stacking against them as the season goes on with each painful, so close but not close enough loss.
Tanking and trading aging players will net the Falcons the resources they need to rebuild in the areas that are weak points, while still retaining super stars Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Steven Jackson and Sean Weatherspoon.
This is something that must be done in order to make the Falcons a more balanced team heading into next season to set this team up to be contenders for years to come. The Falcons have always been unbalanced, but very good under this regime. This could be a blessing in disguise in the long run. It's time to right this ship heading forward, even though sacrifices must be made to do so.
Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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