What’s Your Level of Hope in Atlanta Falcons Future?

Hopeful or Depressed in Falcons Immediate Future……..

Davis with a Nice Game (AP)

***Apologies for letting post expire.

As the Atlanta Falcons get ready to end one of the worst seasons in recent memory, most of the talk, discussion, and thoughts about the Falcons has turned to the upcoming off-season and 2014. Most fans are completely expecting their team to fall to the next two opponents, the Niners and rival Panthers. Two teams that are the exact opposite of the red and black team: tough and physical. The question now turns to whether or not the Falcons can actually fix all that ails this team in one season. Theory would have it that since the team from Flowery Branch has been so successful the last 5 out of 6 seasons, that it would be like riding a bike and they could easily slip back into success.

Trufant and DB's a Strength (AJC)

However, as Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast my friend.” If you look at the Falcons problems in a one-season vacuum, it would be easy to chalk it up to just a bad year, injuries, or whatever reaching rationalization that makes one feel better, even though having nothing to do with actual reality. But if you look at the Falcons problems as more gradual and systemic problems that have finally had a dam burst of awfulness, it’s less easy to assume the Falcons are just a “few tweaks away,” with the assumption that no major changes will be made, such as a head coaching change. Some minor changes are likely to come, such as a few position coaches, the nutritionist, the towel washer, the turf manager and whomever else they deem worthy of being scapegoated. A look at some bright points going forward and some storm clouds as well……….

Some Areas of Strength

Even in the doldrums of the trainwreck-boat sink-plane crash season that is the Falcons 2013 campaign, there has been some bright spots to look forward to going forward. There are some major areas of strength that have emerged in the wake of injuries and other variables. The wide receiving corps has always been a strength of the Falcons with Roddy White and Julio Jones as a 1-2 punch and Harry Douglas has been solid, if not spectacular in the slot. The #4 and #5 spots have been a rotating door until 2013 saw an explosion of talent from the top spot all the way to #5. Harry Douglas is set to go over the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career and both Drew Davis and undrafted free agent Darius Johnson have shown great potential when given the chances. Of all the positions, this one should already be penciled in for 2014.

Common Occurence (AJC)

The linebacker corps seems right behind it. Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu have emerged as potential starters and playmakers even when everyone comes back to full health. Worrilow has pulled down 109 tackles and 1 sack (that was really impressive) in only 10 starts. Bartu has 68 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 11 starts. With one or two more sacks, he could have the most sacks for any Falcons LB in the last 6 years. Sean Weatherspoon has shown spurts, but his constant injury status is starting to call in the once great “potential” he had when he was selected #19 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. First round linebackers should be out-and-out playmakers, and Spoon has only shown one season of that. Taking a look at what 1st round LB’s Luke Kuelchy or Patrick Willis have done, and Weatherspoon doesn’t even enter that conversation. Even so, this is possibly the most talent the Falcons have had at the LB corps in quite a while, and that’s not including Kroy Biermann coming back to health in 2014.

McClain a Keeper (AJC)

Finally, the defensive backfield is littered with young talent, save for the free safety spot. William Moore is arguably the heart and soul of the team and one of the few who brings a tenacity and toughness to the plate. He has ups and downs, but he’s not getting much help from his defensive line or his free safety. Desmond Trufant has had a stellar rookie year overall, considering that he’s essentially been the #1 CB for awhile now. He’s not been perfect, but overall had a really excellent year for a rookie CB. Robert Alford has shown some potential and had his share of lumps, but the future looks bright with Trufant and Alford going forward. Robert McClain has come back to his old ways after a less-than-stellar start to the season. They don’t have a ton of depth at CB, assuming that Asante Samuel will be gone in the off-season. Perhaps the biggest weakness is Thomas DeCoud at free safety. Whatever progress that DeCoud showed is long gone. Smith’s adamant refusal to look objectively at FS is just one of many reasons that fans are fed up with this current staff, but overall has good talent going forward.

Stubborn and Inflexible

Ryan Still Alive Somehow (AJC)

One of the greatest complaints about Head Coach Mike Smith is his seeming inflexibility to pretty much everything that represents the Falcons. The same issues that were thought to be solved when the Falcons got two new coordinators and a new OL coach are reappearing. How can one of the best 3-4 defensive minds in the NFL in Mike Nolan, not immediately be able to implement that defense wholeheartedly in Atlanta? How is it that Nolan literally has had major success everywhere he’s been as a DC (Baltimore, San Francisco, Denver, Miami), but be so bad in Atlanta? Why are the exact same problems occurring that have plagued this team since 2008: blows leads all the time, can’t finish, can’t adjust, comes out flat, relies on the QB to save the day, a veteran preference program that sacrifices young talent, and a refusal to put young players in unless they’re a first round draft pick?

Matt Ryan was interviewed this week on a local sports talk station, and he said how Mike Smith hates anything, such as a Monday Night Football game, that in any way disrupts the normal routine. That’s just a microcosm of how Smith operates: in total control and micro-managing, unsuccessfully mind you, every single part of the Falcons organization. No talk about wanting a great challenge or being on the biggest stage or anything like that. Just upset that it’s messing up the “normal routine.” Because that’s worked so very well this year.

***Rest of post coming shortly…………

445 comments Add your comment

D3

December 23rd, 2013
10:27 am

Holiday Greetings Cage!!! —- Sorry for letting previous post expire. Was out of town and got caught not paying attention to Monday Night game instead of a Sunday game. Working on rest of post as we speak…………

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
10:37 am

My feelings have not changed one bit when it comes to having confidence in TD and Smitty’s ability to right this sinking ship.

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
10:40 am

And Happy Holidays all!

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
10:40 am

Great subject, my brother.

The Falcons have been a travesty this season. And there is a tremendous amount of work needed to right this ship. For those that think that a “dramatic healing” will solve the problems with this team, for those that believe that a shuffling of personnel here and there will resolve the problems, for those that feel that some of us have been too hard on this team with our views and opinions, I have to be the first to tell you that things are going to be tough for a little while.

This reconstruction will take some time. But quietly, the Stooges at the Branch has lowered the standard. I eagerly await the “State of the Franchise” speech that Arthur Blank (aka Stooge One) will give us in early January. I want to see how accountable he holds his front office, his coaches, and his team for the mess that we have been watching since December 30, 2012,

Wait, SW? December 30th? Yes, the day that we played Tampa Bay last season. The final regular season game of the year. Why that game? That is the day the train began its troubling wobble on the tracks. And now that it is totally off the tracks, what will Stooge One insist on?

Wings

December 23rd, 2013
10:43 am

Will not improve until HC Smith is gone.

During the Sunday night game, Cris Collinsworth named about five coaches who are the true experts on 3-4 defenses. The last one named was Mike Nolan. Oh, isn’t he the Falcons defensive coordinator. So why doesn’t Mike Nolan implement the 3-4 defense? One guess as to who has made that decision. It all about Mike Smith and his way on defense and offense.

I am tired of it.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
10:48 am

I can not debate what the Falcon faithful feel but I know that a lot of them are feeling the same way that I am. I have actually boycotted games this season because I just can not bare to watch this over and over again. I know…I know. Real fans stay the course. And I have stayed the course. But Truth is in the pudding and the sun does rise on a new day.

As the great Stephen A. Smith would proclaim; if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is not a damned mongoose. If you presented me with a fraud that my team was a title contender; if you sold me and thousands of others that we were ready to take that next step; if you sold me on the RISE UP campaign – the energy of the DOME FIELD advantage; only to then turn around on me and pull the rug right out from under my feet, having me and my team bust our collective @$$e$ on the ground week after week?

Tell me, Stooge One, Two, and Three. How in the Hades am I supposed to feel? I look at the teams that are in the septic tanks of the NFL. Damn it….we are NOT SUPPOSED to be there!! And do not give me that crap about injuries.

Green Bay lost Aaron Rodgers, has a Big Lots defense, and a sputtering offense. Yet they head into week seventeen with a shot. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are in the midst of reconstructions yet they are in the race in week seventeen. The Kittens (Panthers) built on momentum from the second half of the season to focus and play stellar defense with enough offense to be on the cusp of winning a division. Yet, what do I have. Heartbreak. Heartbreak. Heartbreak.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
10:50 am

My level of hope for 2014 is a bit better than it was in 2013. Reality was that they were not a dominant team despite their gaudy won loss record. They were a hair away from losing half their games.

With the Matt Ryan mega contract the cap space got tight and there was a “fire sale” of vet leaders – especially on the OL & DL. Backups had to get on the job training and, to say the least, it was a disaster.

On top of that there were key injuries.

I had slightly lower hopes for the Falcons in 2013 than the record they had in 2012 due to all the close wins….. figured that the law of averages would catch up to them and the backups wouldn’t be as good as the vets they let go.

For 2014 I see maybe a 8-8 year on the low side and a 10-6 year on the high side. This will depend on them finding a LOT & OG in this draft that can start. If they go defense with their 1st pick 8-8 tops and MR on injured reserve half way through the season.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
10:55 am

The Stooges want me to stay the course. Yet, they do not meet me half way. My owner is worried about his legacy in the city of Atlanta. So instead of him and his front office, with all that extensive business experience, making LONG term investments in the franchise, they decide to visit Rent A Center, gettting the relic specials at inflated prices, and putting that mess out on the field, all the time asking me to RISE UP!!

They put my (our) quarterback behind an Dollar General version of a offensive line in which he is hit over 100 times and sacked more times than Idaho Potatoes. We abandoned the rushing attack more times in 2013 than the House of Representatives took votes on meaningful issues. But I was asked to rise up? The CFA was more politically savy than the southside of Chicago in his pressers and the GM totally disappeared, reduced to justifying his actions (or lack thereof) when questioned by the Falcons missed on Abraham or were forced to visit Fred Sanfords’ junkyard to find offensive linemen.

D3

December 23rd, 2013
11:00 am

Need a rock-solid reason that Smith should be fired? Check out this stat and really good article……..

Actually, the 11.1 points allowed is the worst for any team in any quarter in the NFL since Tampa Bay in 2011 (also 11.1 in the second quarter…strange). Let me say that again to make sure it’s clear. The 11.1 points allowed is THE WORST for ANY TEAM in ANY QUARTER in the ENTIRE NFL. I went all the way back through 2003 and didn’t find a worse quarter for any team. Say what you want…that’s just depressing.

I’m a big fan of numbers and statistics and this article really hits the nail on the head. The whole article is really good and essentially says that it’s not the 3rd Quarter Meltdown, but rather after the first quarter, and has been that way since Smith’s arrival. Just shameful. How can Arthur Blank be so blind? He’s falling victim to allowing his emotions and friendships to get in the way of his product. I understand giving guys chances, but the best always say, “Past success has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on future results.” DUMB

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/12/18/5219978/the-second-half-collapse-not-quite

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:01 am

Xavier Su’a – Filo (OG) UCLA …. I’ve been watching film on this guy and he’s one of the top 2-3 OG’s in this draft despite the lack of pub. Those Samoans are some tough, nasty dudes in the trenches. That’s would Falcons need on their OL – NASTY!

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:02 am

See, we have been duped, friends. Anything next season is better than this one. If we finish 8-8 or better, it is a success. For we will have developed our talent, invested in our future, and restored our commitment to the process.

These are not my words. This is what the Stooges are going to sell to you in the coming months. Bet on it!! And guess what? Many are going to buy it.

There will be sacrifices once again. We are going to be sold on Stooge One’s commitment to us and the team. Believe it if you wish. The Mizzou approach is in full effect here at the Tee Pee. I want to SEE success, not hear about it. RISE UP be damned. I want the ENTIRE organization to MAN UP.

There is always hope. There is always a faith. This season certainly has hurt to the core of my soul. I, along with so many of you, thought we were better than this. But we were duped. We are a shell of a team. We are misguided and mislead.

The legacy is no longer about winning the Lombardi. The legacy is about what corporate giant will write a check large enough to have their name on the side of the new Nest.

RISE UP be damned!! In 2014, my REAL hope is for the Stooges, all three of them, to MAN UP.

And my prayer is that if they do, the flow trickled down throughout the rest of the organization.

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
11:05 am

SW you crack me up with the three stooges comparison. Ironically, it’s very appropriate for the way they’ve ran this team. I sit watching our foes (NO & Carolina) yesterday to see how they’ve both improved their teams each year, while we’ve gotten progressively worse. I know their are many optimistic folk in the cage, but I just don’t see how this team will magically turn around in one season after they couldn’t fill in the holes in six years.

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
11:06 am

oops “there are”

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:13 am

Seminole Warrior – A “Dollar General” description of this OL is too flattering – more like “Salvation Army” store level.

Sam Baker = Wal-Mart
Justin Blalock = Target
Joe Hawley = Salvation Army
Peter Konz = Dollar General
Garrett Reynolds = Family Dollar
Lamar Holmes = Big Lots
Mike Johnson = ObamaCare
The rest = Yard Sale

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:13 am

Flo

I have been saying it for years here in the Cage and I will continue to be the strongest advocate for it that you can find.

If you want to sustain the capacity to win LONG term, you have to submit to the concepts of value based scouting and value based drafting. You MUST understand the REAL needs of your team and invest appropriately. If the value is there in the first round, take it. The concept is the same in the subsequent rounds.

And this front office does not understand that concept. Somewhere, somehow, someone has this grand vision that we are always ONE player away from the goal. And that is the biggest lie we have heard as Falcon fans.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:14 am

HC = Hairy, Curley or Mo ?

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:17 am

11:13 am AMEN!

Arno

December 23rd, 2013
11:18 am

Good topic.

My hope is on the edge. I need to see a couple of things before my level of hope will fall into place.

– How will the Falcons play the next two games? 49ers and Panthers are solidifying their playoff positions. These teams represent where Blank said we should be each and every year. They will be the perfect measuring stick for how far we are off course.

– How accurately will the FO recognize our problems? If they insist on the injury/execution excuse then my hope level will plummet. If they admit to errors in judgment then I am back on board.

– Who will be rewarded and who will be censured? Nolan has emerged as the only decent spokesperson on the Falcons staff to my ear. Ryan continues to impress. Who will set the tone for the future? My hope will rise or fall based on the emerging leadership.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:19 am

Chop,

I have to keep it as real as I can. And the Stooges reference was the most appropriate I could think of. I wish this was comedy but it is not.

Like yourself and so many others, I have been a fan of this team for a very long, long time. But this season really, REALLY, hurts. And for me it truly hurts because I have to tell myself, family, and friends, over and over again, why/how I saw this train wreck coming a while back.

My team was truly on the way to building something special. Instead of staying the course and build a REAL legacy, they decided to rent their way to the future.

These clowns have wasted the draft process and have only made TWO free agent moves that matter; Michael Turner and trading for TG88.

The tragedy of this all is that we have possibly drafted talent but we will never know because our VETERAN “coaching” staff has wasted chance after chance after chance to do so.

Exhibit A: The Buffalo Bills have done a better job of developing talent than we have. And they are being led by a first year coach, first year GM, and first year NFL coordinators.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:20 am

Seminole Warrior – Find a top evaluator of talent and half your problem is solved. Find someone with motivational, developmental, and tactical skills and the battle is won.

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Army widow, son receive special gift from [...]

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:25 am

Wings,

Both of the coordinators are operating with, to borrow from NASCAR, restrictor plates. There is no vision, no plan, no realistic approach to what is coming out of the Branch.

The “promise” we see is again by DEFAULT. If “outside forces” had not been in play this season, we would not have seen this “youth movement”.

If I was Mike Nolan, I would break camp as quickly as I can.

As far as the CFA goes, when you are a so-called defensive, detail-oriented task master, and yet, in six years, your defenses are average at BEST, with FOUR coordinators directly or indirectly in the mix, there is only one reflection you need to look at. YOURS!!!

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:30 am

Flo

The first move that needs to be done will NEVER be done because Stooge One will never do it.
Rich has too much power and must go for his ability to steer the ship has been lost.

Secondly, as much as I respect his NE history, I am beginning to wane on TD. He has no real power on this team and his evaluation skills of late (i.e., Lamar Holmes exhibit A), has really fallen off. His trading up has not resulting in the SUPERIOR acquisitions he may have dreamed of. And if he was the lead voice in free agent signings (which I say he was NOT), then we know that more disasters have occurred there than impact.

Third, the CFA is nothing more than a quality control expert. He can manage a plan but has not shown the ability to develop, incorporate, and evaluate ANY plan.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:31 am

HC – MS reminds me most of Curley — woop woop wooop wooop!

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
11:33 am

SW – “My team was truly on the way to building something special. Instead of staying the course and build a REAL legacy, they decided to rent their way to the future.”

As much “success” as we were having, it always seemed as though we were lacking something. You never got the feeling that we were a dominant team–even when we had the potential to be. As far as team talent goes, we really don’t know what we have because coaching throughout has been terrible. Then Smitty has to have his hand in everything.

We’ll see how serious Arthur is about building this team into a true seasonal contender.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:34 am

“Seminole Warrior – Find a top evaluator of talent and half your problem is solved. Find someone with motivational, developmental, and tactical skills and the battle is won.”

Flo, I respectfully disagree. We do not need to find one person. We need to find a team that shares this vision.

We need a GM and head coach that share a vision, an approach, and a commitment.

EXHIBIT A: Look at how Marvin Lewis and his Cincy staff are starting to mature and grow know that the front office (Mike Brown) finally understands that it takes a plan to win.

EXHIBIT B: The Buffalo Bills, with a bunch of draft selections that others openly questioned, are growing in maturity and statue with a first year coach, GM, and coordinators. Are they a dominate force? No. But look from where they have come and the promise that lies ahead.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:35 am

Mike Smith and Jim Schwartz are the absolute WORSE managers of personnel and talent in the NFL today outside of Oakland, CA. Period.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:41 am

This Front Office reminds me of the Fed Gub’ment and Congress …. we need term limits on the Front Office!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
11:52 am

Seminole Warrior – I didn’t say one person I said “someone” which can be plural…. a team of course. It all starts with AB. He’s got to realize what is needed and where to find it. Ted Turner had a problem with this for years. He wanted to be involved. Finally he realized he needed to get the right person at the top and get out of the way.

The Smith family, bless their, hearts, meant well but didn’t have a clue.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:57 am

“With the Matt Ryan mega contract the cap space got tight and there was a “fire sale” of vet leaders – especially on the OL & DL. Backups had to get on the job training and, to say the least, it was a disaster.”

Flo…with all due respect, may I stop you right there.

I PRAY that true Falcon fans will not, REPEAT, will not, take aim on Matthew Thomas Ryan for the travesty that is unfolding in Atlanta as it relates to this team’s 2013 demise.

If the Stooges has ANY sense of future, if the Stooges had any sense of vision, if the Stooges had any sense of anything other than the new Nest, they would have signed MR2 to a long term deal TWO years back when VALUE was at a premium and his stock had not been MAXIMIZED. They sat around and let OTHER teams dictate the price that they would have to pay to MR2. And they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, ill prepared for the consequences.

But even before the MR2 deal, the chief financial officer of this franchise, Rich McKay, had already set into motion, a series of deals that condemned this team to cap hell LONG before the Ryan deal.
They overpaid a castaway in Robinson, overpaid for high price underwear in Edwards, and threw away more money in taking on Samuel. They signed excessive deals with a declining Tyson Clabo, overpaid in an inflated market for a average at best left tackle, and then reached in rental contracts for other players. They also over-committed to a tight end, who while very good, was not worthy of the significant cash invested when the team CLEARLY had many other needs.

No, friend. Falcon nation can not blame this all on Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan is responsible DIRECTLY for more wins and more winning moments that any of the aforementioned “investments”.

And if you think it is turbulent now, let’s see what they do with the contract of Weatherspoon and Jones that are coming up sooner than later. Remember, they need fan favorites in place to get you excited about that surprise coming in the future (PSLs).

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
11:57 am

Flo,

My bad…someone. Great point and one we share, friend.

BK37

December 23rd, 2013
12:03 pm

The problems that have been present for the past 2-3 years regarding Mike Smith were put on full display this season. He’s too stubborn to deviate from his normal gameplan, even when it’s clear that gameplan isn’t working. We need some new blood at the HC position, but sadly, we won’t get it in 2014. I’m quite sure Blank will give Smitty a mulligan due to all the injuries and what not this season.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
12:14 pm

Flo @ 11:13

Since the Salvation Army does attempt to enhance opportunities for those in need/help, I sense they have a vision and a commitment to enhancing what they do and the interests of those they serve. Thus, they hold an advantage over the Branch.

Since the Stooges could give a damned less about vision, commitment, and the interests of us, I simply see them as corporate stalkers seeking to play the greater Atlanta market for all they can.
They want to be big time in the corporate sense of the NFL.

But I have more faith in the way the brother sells t-shirts across from Turner Field than I do in this bunch of corporate stalkers.

Seminole Warrior

December 23rd, 2013
12:16 pm

BK37.

Though they did not want to, the congregation joined in with your remarks, and sadly, in a unified voice, stated, Amen, Amen, and Amen.

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
12:37 pm

BK37, you hit the nail on the head. A controlling, stubborn CFA is what he (Smitty) is. Can’t let the people he hired do their jobs.

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
12:42 pm

SW you hit on an excellent point. Smitty has zero vision for the type of team he wants–OR his vision and the GM’s are not the same. I remember Smitty saying he wants a Steeler style ground and pound team when he arrived. TD wants a dynamic passing team (i.e., went after Julio). If this is the case then at some point the dam will break.

paddy o

December 23rd, 2013
12:59 pm

mine is very high despite Smitty and bad roster evaluator and drafter TD. We still have a ton of talent. Once JJ comes back, we should be a pretty good team again – but, I am hoping we draft key dudes for the O line.

Rick D

December 23rd, 2013
1:04 pm

Where am I? Sitting here with two pair of season tickets on the 2nd row, hard earned after being a fan since 2002 (Dallas Transplant), and trying to decide if I even want to renew them. Most of them didn’t go for face value on StubHub.

I was so devastated by the season I didn’t go to the S-ain’t game, nor did I let anyone use those 4 tickets. It didn’t help that even a lowly fan such as I felt concern early on that none of the vets got significant reps during preseason, and that led to key injuries. Whoever the strength coach is should find other work.

So I sit here and think about the reality of NFL Football: 11 minutes of action, followed by 3 hours of huddle, replay and commercial commentary, I actually grieve for what the NFL has become. I come from old school, when the Cowboys were the only pro level team (outside of UT) in Texas. I Learned what it means to be a fan during Ice Bowl games and Championship losses by field goals.

I learned to look forward each year, win or lose, to the next season. I counted the days from the Pro Bowl to the first day of training camp.

The problem is not with the Falcons. They, and many other franchises are merely the canary in the coal mine.

In a bid to make itself into a profitable brand, the NFL has lost both its style and character. Indeed, it has lost its soul. I thought I understood football, until I started in my first fantasy team this year. I finished in the cellar. What the game was and what it is changed during the Jerry Jones era. Instead of building quality dynasties into brands, owners wanted to be like Jerry Jones and build their own egos instead.

Focus shifted to branding and real estate, instead of building lifetime relationships with players. The owners began to look at players as revenue generating units, rather than as family members.

It has become a game as disposable as a Michael Turner Souvenir Cup. There is no more continuity. This weeks hometown hero can become next week’s hated opponent. How can one be a fan (who invests emotional as well as economic lucre to the hometown brand) under a paradigm of $9 burgers and an “official” NFL anti terrorism plastic bag and wanding (ya damn terrorist!)?

The Falcon’s problem is not about a bad coach, or a staff or an owner or injuries. It’s about how the whole experience has changed for everyone, and this change is for the worse. 13-3 to 3-13? When you look at the mess that is the 2013 NFC East, you know there is a big problem with this pursuit of ‘parity’.

Where am I? Sitting here waiting on my season ticket renewal package, wondering what the price increase will be, and is it worth it to pay even more for yet another quality venue down the road?

The NFL is the new NASCAR and I’m not a fan of the latter at all.

Wings

December 23rd, 2013
1:34 pm

Flo – a “fire sale” of vet leaders

I have read and heard that John Abraham was released too early. If the Falcons had kept Abraham, he would have been used the same way he was used since 2007. So there is just no logic to this argument. The evaluation and utilization of players by the Falcons coaching staff sucks. It is guided by HC Smith and him alone. It has never been about the players.

falcon21

December 23rd, 2013
1:49 pm

Wishing all of you and your families a Merry Christmas, I hope you all have a great one. If shopping, be careful, people are getting crazy!

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
2:16 pm

Seminole Warrior & Wings – Like I have said, probably more than the Cage wants to hear, I’m not blaming the MR contract on MR or his agent. He’s a great QB and I want to keep him – preferably alive….. which requires more than one player of starting quality on the OL.

YES there have been numerous dumb FA acquisitions (Edwards, etc.) , contract extensions (Sam Baker, etc,) and draft picks that point to incompetence, That aside, and I am repeating myself again, Matt Ryan proved his worth and should have gotten an extension in 2010 or no later than 2011. Yet they waited until the final year of his contract when he would have become a free agent and they had ZERO negotiating leverage. The going rate for a QB in 2010-2011 was considerably less than 2012….. Romo & Flacco deals inflated the price. This lack of vision and insight cost the Falcons millions… which resulted in the “fire sale” of the vet leaders on the OL & DL. When you let that many guys go at one time and you were 13-3 the year before- something is wrong and that something is the salary cap.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
2:16 pm

Seminole Warrior & Wings – Like I have said, probably more than the Cage wants to hear, I’m not blaming the MR contract on MR or his agent. He’s a great QB and I want to keep him – preferably alive….. which requires more than one player of starting quality on the OL.

YES there have been numerous dumb FA acquisitions (Edwards, etc.) , contract extensions (Sam Baker, etc,) and draft picks that point to incompetence, That aside, and I am repeating myself again, Matt Ryan proved his worth and should have gotten an extension in 2010 or no later than 2011. Yet they waited until the final year of his contract when he would have become a free agent and they had ZERO negotiating leverage. The going rate for a QB in 2010-2011 was considerably less than 2012….. Romo & Flacco deals inflated the price. This lack of vision and insight cost the Falcons millions… which resulted in the “fire sale” of the vet leaders on the OL & DL. When you let that many guys go at one time and you were 13-3 the year before- something is wrong and that something is the salary cap.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 23rd, 2013
2:28 pm

Blog Monster – spit my comments out twice….

Paddy-O I agree with what you are saying – I think.. The Falcons aren’t terrible in all aspects. They have some talent and don’t need a complete rebuilding job. The OL is an obvious place to start. Fix that and find a TE and the offense will be set for the next 2-3 years. That can be accomplished in this draft with the right picks.

Then in 2015 concentrate on the DL, LBs and FS.

I figure 8-8 in 2014 is achievable. Not playoff bound but going in the right direction.

I look to 2015 is the rebuild of the DL and LBs. and a 11-5 record and back to the playoffs.

If they do it right they are 2 years away from being back where they were in 2012.

Arno

December 23rd, 2013
4:13 pm

“Focus shifted to branding and real estate, instead of building lifetime relationships with players. The owners began to look at players as revenue generating units, rather than as family members.” –RickD

Abe took it hard being released by the Falcons. I think Lofton did as well. Shows me that even among those looking for a better payday, there is the feeling that something is missing in the NFL business model.

marko

December 23rd, 2013
4:52 pm

College coaches have generally found the NFL a pretty tough nut to crack. Even coaches with national championships on their resumes, Saban and Spurrier, found their magic didn’t play so well when they took on the big boys. Knowing this I was curious to find out how Chip Kelly would fair when he took his circus act to the mean streets of Philly. Well last night the chubby wonder laid a 54 to 11 whupping on da mighty Bears. The same Eagles that finished 4 and 12 a year ago, are in the hunt for one of Mr. Lombardi’s ugly trophy’s. At this point, I’m ready to declare Chip Kelly ready for prime time.

Enquiring minds might ask how was this miraculous turn around made possible? I suppose that switching to zone blocking, a three four front and drafting big butts by the boat load might have had something to do with it. The good news is that somebodies listening to us. The bad news is that he lives in Philadelphia.

to answer the question, we could come back bigger and badder than ever. Mistakes can be a good thing if we allow ourselves to learn from them. Smitty’s does come across more and more as the micro manager from hell. We all know what happens to people that do the same things over and over expecting different results. Can the Birds learn from their mistakes , or are we doomed to déjà vu all over again. I do think that Smitty has earned a do over. I just hope that he makes the most of it.

Birdman

December 23rd, 2013
5:11 pm

Sacked more than Idaho Potatoes

The rest bought at a Yard Sale …. LOL Thanks Guy’s I needed that Today

Kennycaine

December 23rd, 2013
5:26 pm

I think back to Christmas Eve, 1995. The prior week, the defense had folded, given a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter and Dan Marino led a last minute comeback to win 27-24. Afterwards, Jeff George got on camera and stated “We blew it; we lost our last chance at the playoffs.” I thought, what a losing attitude since there was one game left, against the 49ers going for home field advantage with a win. This guy had just admitted defeat with a chance to win the following week, yet he had mentally lost to the 49ers after the loss to the Dolphins!

George had a fractured finger and June Jones put him into the game to throw a pass, just to say that he played in 16 games, a first for George. He then sat out. I watched Bobby Hebert never give up and never give in, willing the Falcons to victory with the help of Terrance Mathis and Craig IronHead Heyward. Don’t give up guys, keep believing and ultimately the right people/players will come to make us a winner. George went on television later and stated “I led this team to the playoffs.” and I could only laugh. Ultimately the truth about his guts, or lack thereof, led to him leaving. The players with heart and a will to win as well as coaches, Like Hebert will separate themselves and the “Georges” will weed themselves out over the next two weeks going to the next year.

If Dimitroff doesn’t upgrade the OT, DT, RB and WR positions and postures during the draft and free agency, trying to play dumpster diving with the line of scrimmage and making avant guarde, trying to look smarter than you picks instead of the obvious ones (like Robert Alford instead of Eddie Lacy) , the Fan discontent with empty seats will seal his doom, The same goes for Mike Smith. Watching Chip Kelly come in and have the explosive offense that we were promised and have never seen, will put pressure on him to either uncuff Koetter if that is the problem or get rid of him if the problems persist. You could say the same for Nolan, that once he gets a run stuffer and a pass rusher and the defense is still at the bottom, he has proven his culpability.

The bottom line is if everyone is given everything possible given the cap that they need on offense and defense and the malaise of red zone and losing leads persist, then there is nowhere for any of them to hide. It will be the Peter Principle in full view and Arthur Blank will be forced to see the truth. The mistakes in coaching made and gutless and underachieving players and coaches will “rise up” or be gone. Remember, people have a personal attachment to their money, especially if you have a billion dollars tied up between a stadium and an underperforming team.

LRD

December 23rd, 2013
5:58 pm

Dear Santa… please leave coal and sticks in Smittys stocking so he can light a fire under his a.s.s?

FFL Alert… JJ.. dude man.. what happened???

Chop Buster

December 23rd, 2013
6:10 pm

LRD…LMAO at your 5:58 post. I needed that laugh.

SG

December 23rd, 2013
6:11 pm

Rick 1:04

We may not be in complete agreement but that was an excellent post. Parity is a definite issue. But let me share an experience I had 5 years ago when I traveled to Green Bay on business. (Really it was Green Bay, in the winter, and it wasn’t football related, – who knew?) During the end of a meeting the topic turned to the Packers. One of the subjects then was parity, – if you’ve ever been to Green Bay Rick you know it’s not Boston, NYC, Dallas, SF, Chicago., etc.. In the group I met with, all 5 were Packer stakeholders. To them parity was not an obstacle to their approach – and they didn’t see it as one to the major market players either. It was a rule they felt all had to play by, so, for them, it was a non-issue to success and stability. You assess the rules. You build your team. You play to win.

Where are they now? Where are we?

Your paragraph cited by Arno was my favorite – and therein lies the crux of my hope for the Falcons – that AB will prove to be more the fan than the Jerry Jones wannabee he’s been displaying. I don’t buy his tragic look on the sidelines at the end of a miserable loss.

As a fan I can always say I am ‘annoyed’ w/ the teams, fans,and / or practices of the Pats, Niners, Ravens, Hawks, Packers, etc.,when they are our opponents. But right now, today, I’m envious of their management, their belief in creating a deep / broad winning culture that runs deeper – and proven believable – than the sell job the “Rise Up” has conveyed.

True, each of those winning cultures have their issues. No, they don’t win every game. And true tonight’s opponent is still not secure in their playoff positioning. But there’s no doubt their killer instinct will NOT be left in the locker room for the second half; that their coach will think time of possession is more important than a sustainable lead; that their GM will dump several of the players on a top tier defense because he can’t proactively navigate salary cap issues. I could go on.

I believe AB’s a winner. He’s been on this playground long enough to get a good feel for it. Ultimately, parity or not, I think he’ll get the right management mix to help establish, W or L, an enviable culture.