Atlanta Falcons Bye-Week Assessment

So I feel very fortunate that the Falcons didn’t lose this week. Well they did sort of lose because the Saints won their past two games and are now in first place in the still horrid NFC South. It’s the only division without a team over .500. But really there’s no way they could lose since it was a bye week and thank God for that.

2-6 is hardly the record I thought Atlanta would have at this point (I was leaning more towards 5-3 or 4-4). The record is bad (the Falcons are currently 15th in the conference and 26th in the NFL) but it doesn’t really portray how this half season has felt to me as a Falcons fan. It has been an abysmal viewing season so far. Ups and downs. Embarrassments and kicks in the nuts. After watching the team on Hard Knocks, I felt optimistic of a first place finish in division, but more open to second and a wild-card.

Boy was I off, but how could I not be after the loss of five offensive linemen. The Falcons lost their oft-injured starting left tackle in camp. Ok, that’s fine. We moved the future starting LT from the right side to the left a little prematurely. I could deal with that. Then, the new RT goes down. Then the starting Center and attitude enforcer on the line goes down, then his backup. Oh yeah, we were already down a backup before training camp. This leaves us with only two linemen in the spot they were intended to play. Our Rt is our Lt and he’s been hobbled by an ankle injury all year. We’re on our third string RT and Center. What’s not to love about that?

This, by no means, is an excuse for the rest of the team stinking it up. They are working together to pull that feat off. As far as the defense goes, pass rush is soft, the safeties get beat often and we give up enough points to completely nullify our offense. The offense contributes with abandoning the run, dropping passes, and screen pass/screen pass/screen pass.

All this said, I’m not sure the direction I would take with the coaching staff and general manager. Not yet at least. Overall the body of work is very good with Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff compiling a 5-1, on it’s way to 5-2, winning seasons record with multiple playoff appearances, including an NFC Championship game. Mike Smith is also the only new hire coach from 2008 to still have his job. Among those hired that year were Steve  Spagnuolo and Jim Schwartz. But since that NFC Championship loss to the 49ers, the Falcons are 6-18.

The OC/DC change ups in 2012 haven’t paid off in terms of wins after that initial season. We’re now down to coaching changes on the lines as well with new OL/DL coaches this season to bring extra toughness. I’m glad the team is willing to switch things up but its getting close to a switch at the top of these trends continue.

Thomas Dimitroff isn’t off the hook either. There have been failed signings and depth-level draft picks that have not paid off. But so goes the NFL.I believe in Dimitroff. I think he’s an above-average talent evaluator and he’s assembled a strong team to help him. They must do a better job of negotiating the depth of the team, more veterans. And possibly finding better athletic performance folks. The Falcons have lost a lot of players to injuries these past two years and it can’t just be coincidence and bad luck. 

Teams have gone on to 8-8 plenty of times after 2-6 records. Will that happen with the Falcons? I doubit it. I’m looking more at 5-11 with possible wins againast Carolina, Tampa Bay and Cleveland (it’s still hard to take them seriously). What do you guys think?

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