At the end of every season, each team has that wonderful opportunity to come up with a fool proof plan that will ensure the following season will be a rousing success, right? The Atlanta Falcons are no different. A tweak here, a little tweak there, a new offensive line coach in Mike Tice and you are ready to do. I am not just talking about the teams that did not make the playoffs. I am talking about the teams that everything did not go as planned this particular season.
Opportunity is the key word here. Having the opportunity to accomplish something, and then actually accomplishing that task is where things can get dicey. This year is no different than others when it comes to the hopes and ambitions of most of the teams that will be looking to correct some errors, fill some voids and better their chances for next season.
As always, some teams will make the right decisions, gambles will pay off and there will be smiles all around and lots of patting on the backs of self-proclaimed genius’. For more than half the teams it seems that things don’t work out so well. Draft picks don’t live up to their potential, free agents don’t have as much left in the tank as was hoped. Maybe the chemistry between the coaching staff and the new players never jells?
It seems that whenever these plans don’t work out it becomes so obvious to all after that fact, just where to point the fingers of guilt at. Yes, we’ve all done it, I suppose I am guilty as well. Who me? Yes me, guilty as charged. I wondered aloud, in my head, just why the Falcons went after Steve Jackson last year instead of looking for fresh legs from the draft? I also wondered why on earth they did not do enough to address the few glaring problems that have kept them from getting over that hump, and to the next level.
You could call it that Monday morning quarterback syndrome, so easy to sit back and point out what others are doing wrong. Why did they call that play, that’s a dumb game plan, why did they let that player go, now look at him! Why didn’t they go after this player or try and fill that obvious void? It all comes down to this, I am not on staff for any team, I am not getting paid the big bucks to make those tough decisions. And thank goodness I won’t be the one to blame if a decisions turns out to be a really bad one. As a writer I do have the wonderful opportunity to second guess every decision made by others and to promote my own opinions and how I could have done sooo much better!
That being said let’s talk about this off season and that wonderful new opportunity the Falcons have to right some wrongs, to fill some voids as they attempt to better their roster and organization.
Right off they made a few changes with the coaching staff, which we all kind of figured they would. Both line coaches were let go, and let’s face it, both lines under performed and were the major reason for this year’s debacle. Was the real problem lack of talent, lack of depth and just too many injuries? That’s a moot point now, when things go wrong some heads have to roll, changes have to be made. Only time will tell if this was the best way to go.
I have read several other articles detailing which Offensive linemen to keep, which to let go and who to go after in free agency and the draft. Many similar articles are also out there with explicit details on how to fix the holes in the defense as well. Opinions are just like, well you know, everyone has got one, me included! I’m going to break down the wants and needs into all the separate parts. On the offensive side there are three basic concerns. The offensive line, the running backs and how to fill the shoes of a hall of fame tight end? On the defensive side you have a few things to fix with the front seven and some adjustments to make with the pass defense.
Seeing as we have more time than usual this year, due to not even making the playoffs, let’s just take our time here and talk about one item at a time. So as we don’t get too bummed out discussing only the negative aspects of the team and what needs to be fixed, perhaps a few words about the positives!
One of the most important positions for any team is the quarterback. Just look at how many of the 32 teams out there don’t have that elusive piece of the puzzle figured out yet. A surprising amount of teams are lacking even a solid journey man quarterback to lead their team. At least the Falcons have that position filled. Most quarterbacks can look good with a great line to protect them, give them plenty of time to make decisions and complete passes. It’s when things don’t go well, when you lines gives out, when your running game goes to hell, and when you defense puts you in a hole early, that when you find out what your franchise quarterback is made of. Matty Ice has proven he is a quality QB in my book! Knowing full well by mid-season this was going to be a tough one to slug out, he hung in there. He didn’t bitch or complain, he didn’t point fingers or give up. He showed what he is made of and kept on playing hard. He showed us lots of character, he didn’t crack under pressure, and he showed us he is very durable. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to go through another year of that kind of physical punishment!
One of the other real positives on the offensive side was of course the receiving corps. They have tons of talent there for sure. When your top two wide outs go down, it’s nice to see your number three, four and five receivers step up and fill those shoes quickly. Sure losing Gonzales will be sad, but with opposing defenses having to worry about which other receivers to double up on, even just a pretty good tight end will fill in nicely.
I felt obliged to end this on a positive note. There are plenty of positive things about this club, let’s not forget that just yet! No team can fill every void and be as good as they want to be at every position. In the following weeks and months we will dissect each and every need the Falcons have and see if we can’t help guide them to making the right decisions to fill those voids, right? After all, I am fairly certain the powers that be read my articles every week and are just waiting for me to guide them in this process! Actually I am shocked they haven’t just broken down and called me directly for this important information! You too, right?
Next week we can discuss the backfield and what I think the obvious decisions should be. Well. Obvious to me anyhow, and I’m sure you will agree. If not you do have the wonderful opportunity to comment and send me your ideas. Til next week. This coming weekend looks to be yet another exciting one, and not so easy to pick who might hold serve or surprise us. Sit back and enjoy, I know I will.
Like this story? CLICK HERE to read the five free agent tight ends the Falcons could use to replace Gonzalez.