We’re running out of synonyms for the word in embarrassment when describing the Falcons playing football. It seems as though the efforts by the Falcons can’t get any worse and they find a way every single week. This time it was one of the worst teams in the NFL (record-wise at least, that title now belongs to us) and we didn’t get beat, but blown out and embarrassed yet again. Out of 10 games played at this point, four of them have been blowouts, with two coming at the hands of our own rivals. The point spread for the upcoming Saints game might be 70+. It’s fairly obvious to even the least interested of fans that this team has given up.
There is literally no hope to be found anywhere at this point except maybe that the Falcons are neck and neck with the Jaguars (guess where their GM came from?) for the #1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If the Bucs game was the most likely game the Falcons could win left on the schedule, how’s the future look now? Arthur Blank came out and said that both Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will be back in 2014. I pity the people working in marketing and advertising for the Atlanta Falcons. To the boat-sink that was……
Let’s stop hinting around the edges and call it like it is: the Falcons head coach has lost this team. We can hear all day long from the organization itself, the players, the coaches, and the local media that the team hasn’t quit on this season, but actions speak louder than words. Fans point to the 2007 season as an all-time low with the Mike Vick dogfighting debacle and the liar scumbag Bobby Prictrino leaving in the middle of the night as the pinnacle of awfulness, but that team went 4-12 and showed some pride, even beating the playoff bound Seattle Seahawks in the last game of the season. That team looks like the Ice Bowl Packers compared to this team. They are lifeless and seem ready to quit and pack their bags for vacation today. They can’t block, they can’t tackle, they can’t catch, they can’t throw (unless it’s to the other team), they can’t coach, and they sure as the hell can’t even compete, much less win. Everyone associated with the Falcons organization should be ashamed for the product their putting on the field on a weekly basis. A team in seeming ruins with a rookie quarterback, 4th string running back, and a head coach seemingly doomed at year’s end just completely annihilated the team that talked about going to the Super Bowl. This team has no more fight and it shows.
Visionary leaders, on the football field and off, understand that past success has no bearing on future success. The Falcons top brass should look at their own situation with being a few yards from a Super Bowl and now being arguably the worst team in the NFL less than a year later. Arthur Blank already felt the need to publicly say, at least essentially, that both Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will be returning in 2014. It may work out, but good luck finding many fans who will believe it. The two lines of defense that have been trotted out on a daily basis is #1) injuries and #2) Smith and Dimitroff have led the Falcons to the best run in franchise history (not the highest of comparative achievements considering the Falcons lowly history).
And there’s no denying that fact. They have done a good job in the past. But that past success has no bearing on future success. Only processes and people that seek perfection while always looking for improvements matter. While there’s not arguing the past success that Smith has had, many of those were games that the Falcons barely squeaked by at the last second. Nick Saban calls “playing poorly and still winning the kiss of death.” Looks as though that’s ringing particularly true in a bad way for the 2013 Falcons. Even though past success, or “the whole body of work” as Smith and Dimitroff call it, should be a factor, that also should be weighed against future potential. What potential or shred of hope can Blank or the fans hang their hat on looking at this team? That’s not an enviable position to be in.
The dead horse has been beaten to a pulp, but this defense continues to amaze. They find ways, any way possible, to make every offense they play against look like Hall of Famers. This time up it was 4th string running back Bobby Rainey and he made the Falcons defense look downright silly, rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns. And brand new rookie Mike Glennon? 20/23, 231 yards passing, and 2 touchdowns. The Bucs defense has always been good, but they made the Falcons look as bad as they have all year, and that’s saying something. Amazing what teams who build from the inside out (Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn) can accomplish. This from a team who had not won a game as of a week ago at this time. For all the early talk of which teams had quit on their coach and the season, they got it wrong when they said the Bucs instead of the Falcons.
While it’s certainly Blank’s prerogative to do as he sees fit with his team, it’s also Atlanta Falcons fans to do as they see fit with their money. Even though emotions can run high after losses and overall poor seasons such as this, most are objective and rational when it comes to renewing or buying season tickets. Especially after stepping away from the season for a month or so when most renewals are done. Many fans have had no issue renewing their tickets because this team has always been competitive, even in losses.
The Falcons simply didn’t get blown out with very few exceptions, but the last four games have been shameful blowouts, and we’re not talking all the best of the best, but rather the Cardinals, Panthers, and Bucs. And of course the Seahawks that are obviously legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Times are tough and fans don’t have problems spending money on a product they think is worthwhile. How can fans justify that when they know, at least according to Blank, that no major changes are ahead for 2014. Throw in the fact that any common fan sees a major rebuild coming and even more vets getting a year older (Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora, Asante Samuel, Justin Blalock, Jonathan Babineaux) and no Tony Gonzalez, and the incentive to buy isn’t very attractive. Fans are loyal and love their team, but that doesn’t mean they will blindly spend money on a poor product.
Since Blank has already said that the two biggest changes won’t occur with Smith or Dimitroff, than logical sense has to see some sort of change (some see sweeping changes) on the way to restock fan’s confidence. After the 2011 playoff Meltdown in the Meadowlands, arguably the biggest changes happened or were made to happen: offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and offensive line coach were relieved or “found other jobs.” They also found new a new QB coach and even changed the strength and conditioning coach since then as well. AJC columnist Mark Bradley thinks they’ll be sweeping changes outside of Smith and Dimitroff and he may well be right. As the season looks to finish at 2-14, it’s hard to ask your fans to believe in the future with only a few minor tweaks. Will both coordinators be shown the door again? Will there be yet another OL coach or a defensive line coach? If this happens, it will reek of desperation and creating more scapegoats. It worked pretty well in 2012 when they almost got to the Super Bowl, but is this any way to operate: making all tertiary changes instead of the big ones? Stay tuned.
Yes, Jacksonville has one less win, but if pressed on who’s playing the worst of all 32 teams right now, who would be picked? That’s as easy as a Matt Ryan interception or offensive line missed block. No one escapes blame. And that includes the mega-million QB. Yes, he’s got a terrible OL, but he’s the one making the big bucks and he should be finding a way to do better, or demand better from his head coach, general manager, or owner. It’s an epic total team fail, but Ryan is the QB and the one who signed a huge contract, whether it’s fair or not. This year can be chalked up in many ways, but this better be the worst year of his career. Excuses only go so far when you’re one of the highest paid players in the game.