What’s Behind the Atlanta Falcons Collapse? – Part 1

Major Questions Arise on Falcons Future

This Explains it Pretty Well (AJC)

This will be part 1 in a two part series looking at the Falcons issues in 2013 and beyond.

The Falcons trainwreck of a season so far in 2013 is something that longtime fans had come to expect in the old days, but we’ve all been spoiled to not only having winning seasons, but making the playoffs the last 4 out of 5 years. The “Super Bowl or Bust” campaign has surely taken on the latter. No, the season is not over, but it surely has that feel in Week 6 as the Falcons head to the bye week. Injuries have been brutal and are surely part of it, but that does not in any way tell the entire story. The men from Flowery Branch were plenty healthy when they found ways to lose in New Orleans and Miami, and almost blew an easy victory over the Rams. There are a ton of issues with this team and organization as a whole. Sometimes bad seasons just happen, just ask Steelers and Giants fans about that.

The Cage Inspects the Collapse

The question is what do the people in charge do about it. Do they stand pat, ignore the problems, simply chalk it up to “bad luck,” and sacrifice a few scapegoats? Or do they make major and fundamental changes to to their organization? That’s the questions many fans will be debating as the season progresses. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Falcons could turn it around and at least make it respectable, but judging on their first games, that’s more hail mary miracle than reality. Fans won’t give up on their team, but deep cracks can no longer be patched over. Cage members have been discussing these issues for a long time, but they were able to be marginalized by the masses due to the winning seasons. That cover is now gone. A look at the major issues that has led to the Falcons epic collapse.

What Does Arthur Blank Want?

The one person who escapes blame is Arthur Blank. He is everything you want in an owner. He cares deeply about winning, spares no expense for the team, gives his employees everything they need to be successful, and is a beacon of hope and goodwill to the community. And above all that, he’s just a great man. While this season is not lost, short of a miracle turnaround, there will be some very difficult decisions that will be made. The team he brought in, hiring Thomas Dimitroff as his general manager, hiring Mike Smith as head coach, and keeping Rich McKay as president, has led this team to unprecedented success. A franchise with one of the worst histories in all of the NFL, the Falcons have reached heights unseen in 47 years.

Osi with a Decent Year (AJC)

They made the playoffs in year 1, broke the ridiculous streak of never having back-to-back winning seasons in year 2, claimed the #1 seed in the NFC in 2010 with a 13-3 record, made the playoffs in 2011, and earned the NFC’s #1 seed again last year with another 13-3 record. They won their first playoff game in almost 10 years and have sent a countless number of players to the Pro Bowl. Mike Smith has won Coach of the Year twice and Thomas Dimitroff has won General Manager of the Year twice as well. In short, it has been an amazing run the last five years and there’s just no denying that.

However, it also has become painfully apparent that the window for this regime in it’s current form is either rapidly closing or has already done so. Sure, it could be just “a bad luck season from all the injuries,” as many on talk radio and the executives at Flowery Branch are spinning, but that absolutely is not the entire story. There have been major cracks in the foundation for some time and 2013 has brought them erupting to the surface, as will be discussed in this post.

Julio will be missed (AJC)

We can’t say enough that the season is not over, but assuming the campaign plays out like most feel it will, Mr. Blank will have some of the most difficult decisions of his career as the Falcons owner. Some will argue that only some tweaks are in order due to the previous amounts of major success. But the reality that must accompany that is the Falcons could just as easily have a repeat of this season as well. Analysts and the media elite will call us fans crazy who think major changes are needed, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that this team is no longer a few minor corrections away from championships, or even contending for them. If the season plays out like the first part, Blank will either decide that previous successes earn another year or that some different people are needed to rebuild this team going forward.

No One Escapes Blame

Rich McKay

As mentioned earlier, Arthur Blank is the one person that escapes blame for the Falcons epic collapse. After the owner, though, it’s fair game to everyone else. This isn’t a hit piece on any of these gentlemen, but it’s also ridiculous to just blame the plane crash season on injuries and the offensive line. It goes much deeper. Let’s start with someone that’s not talked about very much and that’s President Rich McKay. The Godfather Cage Member Seminole Warrior has been one of the few to bring this issue to light. When Blank had to make a change at general manager he went in an extremely unusual direction by keeping the person he had just relieved of his duties by giving him a new title and job of President of the Falcons. The two are obviously very close and Blank still wanted him a part of the organization. McKay has done a masterful job of negotiating contracts, getting the new stadium deal done, and generally helping to run the organization extremely well.

Why has Roddy been playing hurt? (AJC)

However, McKay’s moves essentially left Dimitroff next to nothing to work with. The only holdovers that remain from McKay’s time is Jonathan Babineaux, Roddy White, Justin Blalock, and Stephen Nicholas. Of course much of it is age because it’s been awhile since 2007, but McKay was the one who chose Jamaal Anderson over Patrick Willis. To be sure, it’s unfair to blame it all on previous draft picks alone. However, having only 4 players from a previous regime is not an awful lot to work with. Deangelo Hall, Michael Jenkins, Jamaal Anderson, Chris Houston, and Jimmy Williams are some pretty big early round whiffs. Hall was a Pro Bowler, but an also well-known headcase. He did draft Matt Schaub and he can’t be blamed for trading him with Michael Vick in tow. No one knew old #7 was running an illegal, federally incriminating dog-fighting ring. The final thing with McKay is that there’s a feeling that McKay has undue influence over decisions even though he’s just the “president.” Of course there’s no proof to us common fans, but does Dimitroff really have full control over all football decisions? Many of us say no.

Thomas Dimitroff

Next up is Thomas Dimitroff. Some feel as though Dimitroff’s job is more secure than Coach Mike Smith’s. That may be the case, but should it be? An ESPN article recently revealed that not only were the Falcons dead last in total first 3 round draft picks the last 5 years (where teams are built), but they were also near the bottom in later round draft picks. The summary is that Dimitroff has traded away entirely too many picks to move up and get players “he wants.” There almost seems a tint of arrogance to trading away picks to move up and get the guys he wants, showing a tunnel vision to his strategy.

Snelling's Got Heart (AJC)

Even though he’s had some hits in the draft (Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, William Moore, etc), it’s also becoming painfully clear that he’s starting to accumulate more misses than hits. Peria Jerry, Sean Weatherspoon, Sam Baker, Chris Owens, Chevis Jackson, Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas, and Akeem Dent are either not living up to their draft status or no longer even with the Falcons. Obviously, Dimitroff has done a decent job overall since the Falcons have had so much success. And he generally does well in keeping players that continue to produce, save for the Harvey Dahl debacle (also hurt to see Darrin Walls starting and playing really well for the Jets and he couldn’t even be the #5 Falcons DB?). When things are good, as they have been for the last 5 years, many things are overlooked. But when operations go awry, everything’s under a microscope.

Free agency has been a pretty sore spot as well. Michael Turner was an obvious homerun, as was the trade for Tony Gonzalez. Asante Samuel was generally a good trade, since they only gave up a 6th round pick, more so last year than this injury-riddled season. Dunta Robinson was a huge, and insanely expensive, bust. Nothing even needs to be said about Ray Edwards. Osi Umenyiora seems to be an adequate replacement for Abraham, if not great. Steven Jackson was a good signing, but he’s only played 5 quarters, an assumed risk on signing a 30+ RB. He let Harvey Dahl walk and the OL has never been the same since. He signed Brent Grimes to a 10 million dollar franchise tag and then let him walk the next year. He cut Tyson Clabo this year. Taking everything together, you’d have to say he’s below the mendoza line. As will be discussed later, his most obvious and abysmal failure has been both lines, especially the offensive line. He may have more security than Smitty, but should he?

Mike Smith

Smitty's on a Rough Stretch (AJC)

The head coach will be discussed more throughout the post, but Smith is the one on the hottest seat. It can’t be said enough what a magnificent job he has done raising this team and franchise from the ashes. Simply put, he’s the greatest head coach the Falcons have ever had. If you’re talking about postseason, well then, not so much. But overall, he’s amassed an unbelievable record, which is why he’ll probably get another shot to make it better in 2014. But has Smith shown that he has the potential to get all the way? Opportunities and windows don’t come along very often and, even though football is a team sport and it has a ton of people involved in success and failure, doesn’t the buck stop with the person leading the team on the field? There are obvious issues with Smith and the way the Falcons play. They are not things that have just occurred in a “bad luck” year, but rather this season has simply removed the mask of all the things that were wrong with a ton of last-second wins, feasting on lesser opponents, and regular season success.

As mentioned in the first bullet point, if Blank truly wants championships, than Smith has been a major failure in the postseason. A 1-4 record that could have easily been 0-4, save for some last second heroics. That includes two of the most embarrassing playoff performances in franchise history: the Debacle in the Dome (destruction by Packers @ home) and the Meltdown in the Meadowlands, 24-2 by Giants). Also throw in the fact that the Falcons held sizeable leads at home in last year’s playoffs and gave it away in one and almost did in the other. Again, it’s not all Smith’s fault, but as will be discussed shortly, there is no killer instinct, player development has been deplorable, the lines are weak to say the least, and there’s a hyper-conservative malaise that always hangs over this team.

“Yeah, it’s Over…..”

Bartu a Bright Spot (AJC)

Those were the words of the great Steve Young when asked about the Falcons future by Suzy Kolber after the pitiful loss to the Jets on Monday Night Football. Technically, no, it’s not over since it’s only week 6 in the NFL. Anything can truly happen. But if you are guided by common sense and look at history, it’s next to impossible with the Falcons schedule. It’s true that the NFC is not on fire right now since only 6 teams have winning records, but extrapolating the first 5 games out for the rest of the season, it’s hard seeing the Falcons rebounding on this one. Proponents will say they’ve been in every game down to the last series, but they’re finding ways to lose and two of the teams they lost two are anything but perennial contenders. Also, considering the Falcons have yet to play the Packers, 49ers, Redskins, Seahawks, and Saints again, as well as a surprising Bills and Cardinals team, the future looks pretty bleak. Smith’s seat may be getting warm, but if he can coach his tail off to a 9-7 or even 8-8 record at this point, then he’ll definitely get another shot in 2014.

Reprehensible Player Development

Spec Teams has been bad as well (AJC)

This has been discussed ad nauseum in The Cage, but this is really evident in an injury-riddled year. Ok, the advocates will say that the Falcons have had several players that have been drafted and gone to the Pro Bowl including Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, William Moore, and Thomas DeCoud. While true, that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. If you look at the positions and what the Falcons have to rebuild around going forward, it’s fairly shameful. Look no further than the offensive line (as will be hammered later). Essentially Dimitroff has seemingly drafted one legit offensive lineman in Peter Konz. He’s having a rough transition taking over for Todd McClure, but he was considered by far and away the best center in the draft when he came out. The insane cross-training idea has been a miserable failure, as will be discussed later. Mike Johnson, Garrett Reynolds, Peter Konz, and even Lamar Holmes have been played out of their natural position from college.

Offense

Pretty much every position seems extremely bare going forward. The Falcons have been unable to develop any receiver other than Roddy White and Julio Jones in 6 years. Harry Douglas is too inconsistent and has never taken the step many thought he would. They have had numerous amounts of players go through the practice squad and #4 and #5 receiver spots and nary a player ready to take over for Roddy White, who turns 32 in a few weeks. At running back, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers have stepped up when asked, but are they a feature backs? Antone Smith and Josh Vaughan are just players on a roster because evidently they can only play special teams. Tight End has new draft pick Levine Toilolo showing some promise, but could they not have someone ready to take over for Gonzalez, who was already 33 when they traded for him? Chase Coffman showed great promise and is now buried deep on the depth chart, a common theme in 6 years of operation.

Thin @ LB (AJC)

Back to the offensive line. They signed Baker to a big contract after essentially one really good and injury-free year and now it’s back to standard operating procedure on the injury list. Justin Blalock is getting up there in age and salary cap. Konz is definitely someone to build around, but he’s taking lumps at center. Reynolds is out of position and Lamar Holmes is still a big question mark. All the other linemen drafted were either bad draft picks, developed poorly, or both. Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Garrett Reynolds, and Holmes have never stepped forward. They let Will Svitek, Harvey Dahl, and Tyson Clabo go, which all seem to be mistakes. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and it’s a little unfair to go back and do armchair quarterbacking, but the offensive line has been atrocious for a long, long time and there’s almost a feeling of arrogance from both Smith and Dimitroff that it will “be OK.”

Defense

The defensive side of the ball is even worse. The defensive line is almost as bad as the offensive line. They inherited Jonathan Babineaux, which has been the only consistent defensive linemen the Falcons have had. They depended on John Abraham for entirely too long. Corey Peters seems like a legitimate DT to build around, but that’s about it. They have failed completely on all the rest. Travian Robertson, Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews, and Peria Jerry have either been hugely disappointing or poorly developed. The Ray Edwards experiment was a fatal disaster and even though Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, and Stansly Maponga might have potential, it hasn’t been realized yet. The deep failure to generate any pass rush whatsoever casts a net of blame wide and far. Moving to linebacker, most thought that Sean Weatherspoon was on his way to being among the elite group of LB’s in the game, in the likes of Patrick Willis or Von Miller. That has not turned out to be the case at all. He’s been good and solid, but anything but great. When you take linebackers in the 1st round, they need to be great.

Can Ryan Lead the Team Back? (AJC)

Outside of that, the LB corps is pathetic. The Falcons have been rendered to Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu as their starting linebackers. They are a bright spot moving forward, but a regime that’s been in place for 6 drafts has two undrafted free agents starting in year 6? How is that possible? Akeem Dent has been wildly inconsistent as a 3rd round pick and Stephen Nicholas never became more than a situational player. Finally, the defensive backs are a mixed bag. William Moore and Thomas DeCoud both had Pro Bowl years last year, but seem to have regressed in year 2 under Mike Nolan.

Many are questioning if DeCoud should even be on the field. Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta are unknowns at this point. The cornerbacks are one of the few places that seems to be in decent shape with Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Robert McClain, assuming they keep McClain next year. They let Chris Owens, a 3rd round pick, go. They franchise tagged Brent Grimes for $10 million and then let him walk the next year. The Asante Samuel trade was good last year, but he’s barely been on the field this year. And of course there was the free agent big bust of signing Dunta Robinson. The Falcons made him one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the NFL and it’s safe to say that he never lived up to his salary, to put it lightly.

This isn’t meant to be a hatchet job on the Falcons because they’ve earned great credibility with the success they’ve had the last 5 years, but issues have been simmering for awhile and they should be looked at in an objective light.

Coming in Part 2

Band-Aid

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Offensive Line a Failure of Epic Proportions

Injuries Not Sole Reason

Super Bowl or Bust

Major Rebuilding Coming, or at Least it Should Be

Defense Worse in Year 6 than Year 1

Criminal Pass Rush

Biggest Changes Made in 2011

Creative vs. Stale

Witness Protection Program

No Identity

No Killer Instinct

Scrap the Rise Up Already

726 comments Add your comment

falcon21

October 13th, 2013
3:00 pm

Mr. Blank needs to be much more demanding. We all see it in his eyes at the end of every loss but that is where it stays. It’s time for Mr. Home Depot to lay down the law!

Arno

October 13th, 2013
3:17 pm

“This isn’t a hit piece on any of these gentlemen.” –D3.

Correct. If we had been hearing something more comprehensive from the Branch other than the constant refrain of ‘poor execution,’ then maybe D3 would not have to address the subject of the men in charge so firmly. But D3 does not lead with the helmet. Fair analysis.

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← BYU defeats Georgia Tech, 38-20 Clark Atlanta University: college life – Atlanta [...]

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
3:45 pm

D3, Good substantive stuff.

I’d like to comment on something that’s been discussed in the cage…and stood out in your write up.

“Reprehensible Player Development”

In the current 6th year of TD/Smiths tenure, we’ve developed a total of 4 good players.

1). Harvey Dahl
2). Tyson Clabo
3). Brent Grimes
4). Vance Walker (arguably best DT behind Babs)

All 4 have something in common, they’re no longer with the team. We not only have a problem with developing…we also have a problem retaining the few players we’ve had luck developing.

Watching the way things have gone the last couple years since the new CBA, allowing for fewer padded practices…and minimal contact (hitting), I think we’re witnessing record amounts of injuries, some catastrophic, season ending.

The jobs of scouts, position coaches will be very important going forward, IMO. The teams that put a premium on finding players that has slipped thru the draft, small college talent, (diamonds in the rough) developing them, will have an competitive edge. The way the injuries are occurring, your 2nd team players will have to go in and compete with littte, to no drop off from your starters.

Reminds me of the Packers Super Bowl win couple seasons ago. They plugged some players in, that did an exceptional job when their team was riddled with injury. We’re in a new era as it relates to developing talent, the teams that concentrates on this the most, will always have a competitive franchise.

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
5:00 pm

D3

Fantastic!! I will settle in and get to the meat of this discussion as the evening unfolds.

JJ

October 13th, 2013
5:11 pm

D3,

Outstanding writing and research, thank you!

The truth may hurt some fans but its past time to remove the blinds on this team weak foundation and those that buy the materials and install it.

This foundation is going to crumble and who is going to rebuild it from the trenches?

Not MS and TD is on a short least….

JJ

October 13th, 2013
5:14 pm

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
5:41 pm

Cage Family,

Just a little warning in advance. My inputs to this incredibly revealing fourm are going to be extensive and detailed. So be ready for a LOT of words from the Tee Pee in this one. And most of them will very hard hitting in nature.

Also, I can assure you that the trolls will be in abundance as they attempt to pick apart various aspects of the arguments I will make. I want you to know that the Tee Pee will not lower itself into the pits of disgust. The facts will be presented, the details will be complete as possible, and the decisions will be yours, not mine, to make after you finish. For I know where we came from, how we got here, and where I think we are going.

So settle in…for starting in a few hours, the posts from the Warrior will be coming fast and furiously.

As I conclude for right now, remember one of the my favorites from my favorite general:

If everyone is thinking alike, then someone is not thinking.

waynester

October 13th, 2013
6:03 pm

Here’s another one–(paraphrasing)
“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”
As an organization we seem to be great planners and preparers but poor ad-libbers. Nothing ever goes as planned and when it inevitably breaks down we just can’t seem to wing it. Adjusting to the constantly changing reality “on the ground” is a major shortcoming of our organization….

He said what?

October 13th, 2013
6:24 pm

“We sure hope to get Steven Jackson back after the bye. We sure hope the second opinion is better, but we’re not encouraged by the initial medical assessment on Julio. We sure wish Roddy was healthier. We are going to explore other options.”

- Veteran Head Coach Mike Smith

“We can’t talk about who is missing, who is hurt. We need to talk about getting the job done with who we have. We need to work on that.”

- Jets Rookie Quarterback Geno Smith

Big Ray

October 13th, 2013
6:32 pm

In the current 6th year of TD/Smiths tenure, we’ve developed a total of 4 good players.

1). Harvey Dahl
2). Tyson Clabo
3). Brent Grimes
4). Vance Walker (arguably best DT behind Babs)

All 4 have something in common, they’re no longer with the team. We not only have a problem with developing…we also have a problem retaining the few players we’ve had luck developing.

That’s what I call telling the truth…..

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
6:34 pm

hsw? interesting, the two comparisons, if you hadn’t labeled them…I’d figured our head coach would of made the latter comment, just goes to show.

Kinda similar to us short of our #1 and #2 receivers, we counter that by signing Robiskie Jr.

Big Ray

October 13th, 2013
6:34 pm

Big Ray

October 13th, 2013
6:35 pm

I cannot believe I posted as “He said what”, when I meant to put that in the actual post.

Maybe I need to quit for a while….

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
6:36 pm

Thanks Big Ray.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
6:39 pm

Kind of thought it was you Big Ray.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
6:50 pm

Either the Patriots OLine is worse than ours? or the Saints defense is that good?

CageFan

October 13th, 2013
6:53 pm

Been a fan of the cage for years (and of the Falcons since the ’70s) but rarely post because I don’t have a football background. However, this topic has got me hot. I think the TD philosophy of trading up is a big part of the problem and I’d argue trading 2 second round picks for Baker proves he’s had this problem from the beginning. He always has a justification, but I think you have to treat your round 1-3 picks like gold. Even if you’re right about a player (Julio Jones) you never know when the injury bug is going to hit (Julio Jones pretty much every year), so you have to pack your team full of quality players. The thing that drives me crazy is that he didn’t learn this from the Patriots. They are always trading down for more picks or trading older players for picks before they’ve wasted their value. Has TD done this once? I don’t think so. He’s always chasing that one player that will get us over the top.

PoolerSpirit

October 13th, 2013
7:36 pm

One thing driving me crazy watching the Saints come back and beat the Patriots is their starting safety today is Rafael Bush, a UDFA we let go…

JB Falcon.

October 13th, 2013
7:38 pm

Brady just pulled out a helluva comeback!

PoolerSpirit

October 13th, 2013
7:39 pm

Sonuva………gun! Brady does it again! Spoke too soon… Patriots now have the lead, kicking off with 5 seconds left…

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
7:39 pm

LMAO!!!!!!! AINTS BLOW CHUNKS!!!!

Big Ray

October 13th, 2013
7:46 pm

Somebody,

I really hate to say it, but that Saints defense really is that much better. Fortunately Brady is Brady and the Pats are the Pats.

Still, kills me that we have a former DC as a head coach and an experienced DC on staff, and we still failed to have the impact Rob Ryan has had in lessbthan half a season.

SMDH…

Greg Mendel

October 13th, 2013
7:47 pm

Saints pi$$ away sure win in final seconds. Not a dry eye in Atlanta.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
7:47 pm

PS, Yeah Bush, I remember him. We cut him a couple of years ago.

Greg Mendel

October 13th, 2013
7:51 pm

I didn’t watch the entire NO vs. NE game, but I noticed that the Pats came out swinging and hustling. I’ve always wanted to see the Falcons start a game as if there were 1:09 min. left in the game.

CageFan

October 13th, 2013
7:53 pm

Never thought I’d be pulling so hard for the Patriots! It hurts to know we could have beaten both of them.

[...] What's Behind the Atlanta Falcons Collapse? – Part 1 This will be part 1 in a two part series looking at the Falcons issues in 2013 and beyond. The Falcons trainwreck of a season so far in 2013 is something that longtime fans had come to expect in the old days, but we've all been spoiled to not only … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

JB Falcon.

October 13th, 2013
7:56 pm

BR, you can add Bush to your 6:32 post.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

October 13th, 2013
7:57 pm

Yeah Big Ray, I feel ya Bruh…but, Ryan’s defense choked…ironically, played similar to ours that last minute and a half.

JJ

October 13th, 2013
8:00 pm

CageFan, Great post and I agree…TD has become the anti-patriot hear in ATL. You should post reguarly!!!

JB Falcon.

October 13th, 2013
8:03 pm

CF, we could have won every game we have played this year. Join the crowd.

D3

October 13th, 2013
8:27 pm

From that article that Big Ray posted on Harry Douglas, the quote that sums up everything we need to know about a Smith led football team………

We have to take what the defense gives us. — HD

This was the same garbage that we heard back in the Mularkey days and is the reason we’ll never win anything under Smith. The idea that you just take what the defense gives you and can’t ever impose your will is the thread running through everything this team does.

JJ

October 13th, 2013
8:30 pm

Arno

October 13th, 2013
8:40 pm

Smith said the same thing almost word for word in one of his last press conferences. *sigh*

cb795

October 13th, 2013
8:47 pm

Yes Coach Smith has been good for the Falcons and he has been awful. The common link these past six years has been Coach Smith. Year to year this team faults never changes, poor tackling, defense can’t stop third and long plays, red zone problems and lack of developing players. Just to mention a few. Position coaches has been changed and yet these problems are never corrected. Other teams are utilizing their undrafted FA but the Falcons place theirs on WPP. Make you wonder how these coaches go about their duties, when things remain the same. Free money, free money.

JB Falcon.

October 13th, 2013
8:51 pm

“We have to take what the defense gives us.” and then adjust during the game to overcome what they are giving us. The NO/NE game was a perfect example of two good coaches playing chess. BB out thought SP and they players did what they were told.
MS goes into each game playing checkers. “It has worked in the past so it should work against every team we play, they’re all the same, right?”

D3

October 13th, 2013
8:59 pm

cb — Great post. Totally right regarding the 3rd and long plays and really the same for the entire defense. How in the hell is it worse in year 6 than it is in year 1? Makes no sense.

D3

October 13th, 2013
9:08 pm

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/13/chiefs-credited-with-10-sacks-in-win-vs-oakland/

Hell, this is more sacks than we have in an entire season. Andy Reid = immediate contender with Alex Smith at QB. Meanwhile, Smith can no longer win even with Matt Ryan. Jeez

D3

October 13th, 2013
9:11 pm

One of my other guys I followed in the draft. Toilolo taken in 4th round and this kid was undrafted………….

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/13/three-fauria-tds-help-lions-come-back-to-win-in-cleveland/

D3

October 13th, 2013
9:19 pm

And let’s talk about injuries:

Brady and Pats lose Gronk, Aaron Hernandez (for that whole murder thingy), Amendola, Stevan Ridley, Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib, Jerod Mayo, Wes Welker in FA, and they’re still 5-1. Meanwhile, we’ll still trot out the injury excuse as the reason we keep Smitty and others in tow. BS.

And the Saints still overcome bad picks such as Mark Ingram and several on defense and tons of losses to free agency, but they still find a way to be dynamic on offense. Another one of the guys I liked in draft, Kenny Stills, is blowing up as a rookie and we can’t get anyone other Julio and Roddy to perform. Just d@mn

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:25 pm

As the father of the now widely accepted “Disconnect” theory, it falls upon me to help my fellow Falcon fans understand why the team that flash so much promise has gone to hell so quickly. Before I begin, I want to make several key points crystal clear.

First, I have been a Falcons fan for well over forty years. I have worn the colors of this team when they were the jokes of the league just as proudly as I have worn them when they were 1998 NFC champions. For a decade now, I have been a proud season ticket holder, being both supportive and critical as heck when the need arose.

Second, for anyone to think that this team does not have flaws is a sad state of thought. This team, like all other teams, has flaws. What really upsets the fans at this critical time is the way that we have come to this point.

Third, the organization did not wake up last Tuesday after the injury to Julio Jones and see that there was a major storm brewing. This began some three years back and it has slow grown in magnitude.

So, again, why? Why have our Falcons collapsed when everyone thought the moment was ours?

How can a team that was “ten yards away from the Super Bowl” be in this position? Why?

Well, friends, there is only ONE reason why we are in this situation. And it is a rather simple one.

There is a MAJOR absence of TRUE leadership within the Atlanta Falcons organization.

You see, the game of football is all about true leadership. Championships and championship teams are not the result of managers.

They require GREAT, INSPIRATIONAL, and sometimes, TRANSFORMATIVE leaders.

In Atlanta, we do not have that element.

Is there a direction? Is there guidance? Who has control over the acquisition and development of players? Who supervises the development of game strategies and schemes? Who manages and quality controls the roster?

Notice that each of the key words, (direction, guidance, control, supervises, manages) all are synonyms of the word leadership?

JB Falcon.

October 13th, 2013
9:29 pm

D3, I was “fixin’” to post the exact same thing as your 9:19 post. We have NO excuse, except p!ss poor management.

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:30 pm

There is a parable that say where there is no vision, the people shall perish. Well, the Falcons have p-footed around, hoping that they were one player away from the goal. If you watched this team over the last three years, you have seen that more luck has been you have seen execution from this team.

You have not seen sustainable performance of a championship caliber. Week after week, every other year, you have seen us rise and fall, with extended period of more questions than answers; with new and improved ways of losing games that we clearly should not have lost.

You have seen inadequate player development for five years; seen excessive spending on old, declining players or players that were overrated even in the halls of Madden football. Why?

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:34 pm

You have seen a great home field advantage squandered time and time again by questionable time management, a lack of aggression, or a will to live for another opportunity. You have seen draft picks waste away on the bench never to be heard from or used in play other than the preseason.
You have seen players signed to the roster and never get a chance to really integrate into the system.

System? What system? The defense has been as stagnant and suspect as it was when this staff arrived here five years ago. At some time or another, the collective minds of FIVE coordinators have roamed the halls of the Branch and what do we have to show for it. We have never been a top ten defense and we have never established consistency on that side of the ball.

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:38 pm

Our owner, a great man, shifted his focus from building a world class organization that was focused on winning a Super Bowl to building a darn stadium that would HOST a Super Bowl. And with that shift in priorities, there was no one left to run the store.

The first term GM, a talent scout at heart, and the inexperienced CFA, just rode the wave of lady luck, winning when they should have and not showing up when it mattered most. Two first division titles which lead to number one playoff seeds, bye weeks, and home field advantage. Two major disappointments on the biggest of stages at the time. Same MO in both cases; we were not ready for prime time.

A third playoff appearance took us to the New York where we were humiliated before the nation once again. No ready, no scheme, no adjustments.

Coop

October 13th, 2013
9:44 pm

D3 – Great post. I’ll give TD another year, but if Smith is coaching this team next year, I’ll boycott. Arthur Blank is a really good owner and I like, but he may not be football smart enough to replace Smith.

I submit, that if you replaced Smith today, this team could still make the playoffs this year. We lost the Jets game not because of Nolan. That was Smitty who tells him to play a soft Zone. Bet your life on it.

Falconssince70

October 13th, 2013
9:48 pm

D3. This is one of the best summaries of the Falcon’s situation that I have seen. I will read the second chapter with equal interest. SW, I think the leadership void has been true of this organization since I first became a fan in 1970, with the exception, I think, of the Dan Reeves’ years.

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:49 pm

I could go on and on but what would it do. The lack of leadership is clear. The CFA is in over his head. And as I have said many times before;

The team wins in spite of his presence not because of it.

Some call him the greatest “coach” in the franchise’s history. I am not among those. Without a doubt, he is the one with the most wins in the franchise’s history. But what does that mean for a franchise whose history for the most part has been dark and blemished.

What does that say about guys like Leeman Bennett, Jim Mora Jr., and Dan Reeves, coaches that have done the EXACT same thing that Smith did; get us to the door step only to realize we had lost our key somewhere along the way.

I will give him his wins. He deserves that. I will give him credit for managing us out of the darkest hours in franchise history. I will give him that too. And as a fan, I thank him.

But for his failures to take this team and its talent, develop it, implement and develops schemes, and exhibit a fiery spirit that translates to the players and the fans, I call him and the organization out.

This is a squandered opportunity. You ate of the Forbidden Fruit. You thought you achieved a level of something that you did not. You miscalculated and now, you are to held accountable. What will you do now, CFA? Front office?

Where do we go from here? What is the plan to rebuild this house? Where is the defensive scheme? Are we going to try and balance our offense with a mix of rush and pass? Or will Matt Ryan endure a career like that of Steve Bartkowski?

Where there is no vision, the people will perish. This team has no vision.

Seminole Warrior

October 13th, 2013
9:51 pm

Coop, did you see how Mike Nolan had his guys ready to go today? After making changes on the OL and swapping out some defensive players, there was an energy on that team.

They were not the Steelers of old but they got the job done. Against the same Jets team that made it look so easy last Monday.