Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

It has been a while since I last wrote about my beloved Dirty Birds and honestly I was just waiting to see how the majority of the pre-season went before I passed any judgment.  First off let me say that I am not a statistics guy.  Unless I went and did the research I couldn’t begin to tell you what Matt Ryan’s quarterback rating was after last nights game.  I couldn’t even tell you what the stats on individual players were but having been a football fan and observing it for most of my life I do believe I can offer some unbiased insight into the Atlanta Falcons and what the 2012 season potentially holds for them.

One key item the coaching staff as well as General Manager Thomas Dimetroff has been emphasizing the entire off season is being more consistent.

Consistent  To be in harmony or agreement.  Holding to the same principal or practice.  (Webster’s Dictionary)

What that tells me is prior to this current grouping of coaches the organization has not been on the same page when it came to the direction of the team.  After watching the first 3 preseason games it seems this staff is finally working together in harmony.  The offense and defense both look more relaxed and seem to be adjusting to the new schemes that the coaching staff’s have implemented, however I still see some need for concern when it comes to the Falcons reaching the ultimate prize of a Super Bowl championship.

It is never good and I repeat NEVER a good sign at then beginning of the season to hear the sports talking heads say; “if the team stays healthy they can make a run at a championship”.  This is professional football and no team stays completely healthy through an entire season.  Every team is going to suffer injuries to players some of them will be key players, we as fans are just always praying it doesn’t happen to our team.  The only thing that prevents a team from falling off a cliff when key members go down is having quality backup players.  This is evident from the championship Green Bay Packers team from a couple years ago.  Devastated by offensive and defensive injuries to key players the Packers were able to plug in quality back up players and limp through the regular season winning enough games to make it into the playoffs.  As the season came to an end players that had been injured were able to return and of course they went on their magical run to becoming Super Bowl champs.  Had it not been for quality depth the Packers had obtained through the draft there is no way they could have weathered the storm of injuries that occurred and become Super Bowl champs.

This has been my biggest concern for the Falcons.  Since Thomas Dimitroff has been in Atlanta the Falcons have given up draft picks to either acquire players from other teams or to move up in the draft to get players they believe would be a good fit for the team.  It is my biggest fear that they have sacrificed draft picks for a win now mentality and that mentality will come back to haunt them in the end.

So far this preseason the Falcons have lost their starting full back (Bradie Ewing) and their back up left tackle (Will Svitek) for the rest of the 2012 season.  Their starting stud defensive tackle (Corey Peters) has not played a down during the preseason due to a foot injury and their middle line backer (Akeem Dent) suffered a nasty concussion during the first preseason game and as Brian Finneran, retired Falcons receiver, said; “Not good when middle linebacker gets a concussion that badly.  He has to hit hard all year.”  Remember, they can make a run IF everyone stays healthy.   Now, do I expect the Falcons to have a pro bowl player backing up any position?  No, there’s no way that could happen even if I’d love for that to be the case it’s pure fantasy and to the disappointment of many I’m a realist.

Realistically I can see a team that is going to struggle this season.  I see a team that although they have allot of weapons on offense I just don’t believe they have the offensive line depth to give Matt Ryan the time he is going to need to get the ball to his play makers.  I don’t believe the defensive line or the line backer core are deep enough to sustain any more injuries and teams will find ways to flaunt their vulnerabilities on the lines of scrimmage.  I know it sounds like I am tossing allot of negatives out there to fellow Falcon fans but reality is this team does not have the depth at this point in time to make it to the promised land.

I am excited for this season however.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what coaches Koetter and Nolan bring to the table with their schemes.  I’m looking forward to cheering on my beloved Falcons regardless of wins or losses.  Besides that’s what it means to be a fan right?  We need to stand by our team regardless of wins or losses.  I do believe the Falcons are heading in the right direction by finally becoming consistent.  I am hopeful that Thomas Dimitroff will learn that NFL champions are not built quickly, it takes time and patience.  You have to build through the draft taking the best players that fall to you and not by reaching and giving up draft picks.  It’s a hard lesson to learn but once realized it can pay off big time.  Just ask Packer fans and Giant fans, it is better to build slowly through the draft and reach the ultimate prize then to try and build quickly and never realize it at all.  Regardless if the Falcons hold up the Lombardi trophy or not this season one thing is clear to me.  It’s time to play football and for that I’m both excited and thankful to be a Falcon fan.  Go Dirty Birds!


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