The Atlanta Falcons 2012 season was a miraculous one which ended in a 13-3 regular season, walking away with the NFC South Division Title and Matt Ryan’s first playoff win. They were so close to their first Super Bowl win that general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, decided to aid the team with the pick-ups of veterans RB Steven Jackson and DE Osi Umenyiora to help the team have an even better season.
These dreams quickly turned into a nightmare leaving every Falcons fan believing the team has been cursed by the Football gods.
Before the first preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, RT Mike Johnson came down with a season ending injury and CB Asante Samuel also wouldn’t play for a few weeks. The run game suffered with the loss of Johnson and acquired Jeremy Trueblood to step in for him.
Then LT Sam Baker went down, and the offensive line was without either of their starting tackles. This left Atlanta in trouble as far as quarterback protection and blocking for RB Jason Snelling and RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who have had to substitute for Steven Jackson since he suffered a hamstring injury in week two against the St. Louis Rams. Also, FB Bradie Ewing separated his shoulder, making things even tougher for the run game.
This is the only game the Falcons so far in the 2013 season, and take matters worse, the defense was rocked with two other blows. LB Sean Weatherspoon won’t be back until week eleven due to a sprained foot and was placed on injured reserve and then DE Kroy Bierman tore his Achilles and was ruled out for the year. Then LB Akeem Dent was ruled out during the Patriots game with an ankle injury.
But the fate of the offense wasn’t doomed just yet. After the upset against the New York Jets on Monday night, the league’s leading receiver with 580 yards, WR Julio Jones, fractured his foot. A doctor in South Carolina confirmed that his season was over Wednesday afternoon. Also word just got in that WR Roddy White, who is still suffering from his ankle injury, won’t play until a week after the bye week.
How does a team recover from nine injuries to their starting lineup before the bye week in week six? Of these nine players, two have returned, but all of them played major roles in the Falcons offense and defense and now the coaches have to come up with ways to fill in the many gaps that were left open. The coaches are now left with trying to get rookies and backups to hold the fort down until players get back.
The stakes are made higher for the backups since the Falcons are facing a must-win game coming out of the bye week.
The Falcons chances of making the playoffs are slim to impossible if they don’t come back with a win against the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome. And when I say making the playoffs, I mean getting a wildcard spot. But that hasn’t stopped any recent Super Bowl team from walking away with the Lombardi trophy. All three of the last Super Bowl champions have gone through the wildcard game.
But the team has to get healthy and win games until their All-Stars can come back. Until then, the rookies and backups will have to Rise Up and put the “team on their back.” That’s all that can be done if this team really wants to win.