A long time ago, a very wonderful and magical man called the Atlanta Falcons football games on Sunday afternoons. His name was Larry Munson. Perhaps better known as the legendary voice of the Georgia Bulldogs, Munson did double-duty as the voice of the Falcons from 1989-1992.
Gravel-voiced and sober-eyed, Munson was perhaps best known for his dire assessment of his teams and the situations they faced. As the Falcons open their pre-season training camp, it seems fitting to throw things back to Munson and imagine what he might say about this year’s roster.
“Falcons fans, I’ve gotta tell you, I’m not so sure about this year’s squad. Last year was a terrible year, full of injuries and disappointment, a lot of missed opportunities. We’re sitting here now, hoping to see some improvement and maybe regain a little of our mojo.
One thing to keep any eye on will be this new offensive line. The Falcons went out and got the new kid from Texas A&M, the Matthews kid, with good bloodlines and better reviews. They also signed the behemoth from the Chiefs, Asomoah, to add a little weight and grit to the front five, but until we see the whole unit play together, I’m not sure you can really say you’ve got anything. But it’s a new year, and that brings with it hope.
Another place for hope is along the defensive side of the ball, but there are plenty of question marks there as well. Sure, you’ve got the two outstanding corners that emerged last year, Trufant and Alford, and you uncovered two solid kids in Worrilow and Bartu, but you didn’t add anyone of skill on the line, even though you added a heckuva lot of substance. I mean, have you seen big Soliai? My God, he’s the size of a mountain. He’ll eat up blockers like he probably eats up pancakes, but will that mean anything for the guys on the end? Umenyiora is another year old, which might mean another step slower, but maybe the big man in the middle will give him a chance to tee off on some quarterbacks. Who knows? Again, all we can do right now is hope.
The Falcons have stability at the skill positions – Matt Ryan and Roddy White have signed their new deals, which means Julio Jones should be the next domino to fall – but they also lost a gargantuan talent in Tony Gonzalez who had sticker hands than a kleptomaniac. I’m not sure how they’ll function with such a crucial piece missing, especially since Ryan relied so much on Gonzalez when things went south. Of course, if the line plays better in front of Ryan, things might not go south quite so much, but again, we don’t know what we have. It’s all hope at this point.
I don’t know what else to tell you, Falcons fans. From where I sit this could be a year of great football or it could be an unmitigated disaster. If you bleed red and black, this team might send you to the nearest corner store for a little something to calm your nerves. We’ll know for sure when toe meets leather at 1PM in the Georgia Dome on September 7th.”