ATLANTA, GA- Even before the Atlanta Falcons (2-8) suffered another devastating loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8); the season had become a severe disappointment to the administration, players, and more importantly the fans.
When Arthur Blank was asked if he still had confidence in the head coach, Mike Smith, and general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, this is what he had to say.
“This is a tough business. We’ve had a lot of injuries and there have been a lot of other issues on top of the injuries, and that’s pretty obvious, but these guys are proven leaders and proven by success and proven by their records. They speak for themselves. They’ll do the work that has to be done with my full support.”
Whether you’re a Falcon fan or not, you have to appreciate the fact that Mike Smith is the first head coach in franchise history to lead this city to back-to-back winning seasons. Coming into 2013 his win loss record stood at 56-24, and he led his team to the postseason four out of five times in his tenure as head coach in Atlanta.
The New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat four seasons after he won a Super Bowl. With a 7-7 record there were rumors swirling around the job security of the coach. They eventually went on to beat the New England Patriots to win a second Super Bowl. The moral of the story is to not give up too soon on a good coach.
Smith is an offensive minded coach that does take chances because he has faith in the offense that he has produced. He obviously likes to air the ball out and has schemes that had stood firm for about five seasons. However, there was only so much passing that Matt Ryan could accomplish before it came tumbling down like a house of cards. Unfortunately the cost of doing business in the draft and with Ryan’s $100 million contract finally got the best of the team this year.
As for the general manager Thomas Dimitroff, I believe he has done well for the team. In his first year I believe he made excellent choices in drafting Matt Ryan and Sam Baker in the first round and then picking up Michael Turner as a free agent. That season they went 11-5 and made it to the wildcard; while just last season their record was a dismal 4-12.
In hindsight, in more recent years, fans now second guess choices that have been made in the draft. However, the organization as a whole made the five pick sacrifice to get a must-have guy like Julio Jones. So you’d really have to direct your anger at the owner Arthur Blank for that one, but honestly, wasn’t Jones worth it?
So while the team did suffer in the next year the Falcons’ other picks in the draft haven’t panned out like they thought this year. This especially goes on the defensive side of the ball as well as the offensive line.
Peria Jerry is one example of a slight disappointment in his four year career as a Falcon. He was rated just behind nose tackle B.J. Raji in the 2009 draft. The Falcons selected Jerry in the first round with the 24th pick. After suffering a knee injury and missing most of his rookie season he came back to play all 16 games in 2010 but he lost his official starting job to Corey Peters.
For the most part the Falcons make smart decisions in the draft. It just seems they always get guys that don’t quite have that oomph or “it” factor. I believe that’s why Arthur Blank knew he had to do something for the fans with the Jones move. In 2011 it had been five years since the last game Michael Vick had played for Atlanta and his name was still being mentioned in the whispers of fans.
The point I’m trying to make is that real fans need to suck it up. For the first time in five years the team is not doing well. The team needs to build for the future and hopefully the fans will be part of it. With talks of a new stadium, just imagine being able to host a Super Bowl with the potential for the Falcons to be playing in it two to three years down the line.
It won’t happen next year but maybe after that when Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu, Chase Coffman, Levine Toilolo, Lamar Homes, and Zeke Motta cement themselves in their roles and as potential Pro-Bowl players.
Keep an eye on all those young guys I mentioned, these are the guys that will either take this team to the next level or plunge it into another rebuilding mode. The franchise has a lot of time on the field invested in them. Hopefully they don’t end up as backup talent for new rookies that the team decides to draft but rather a look into the future of the starting lineup of future Super Bowl contenders.
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