The Atlanta Falcons need to start looking ahead towards 2014.
At 2-6, the Falcons are looking at a top-five NFL draft selection as opposed to yet another winning season. That is, barring a miracle 8-0 run against five teams with winning records—including three division leaders—and just three teams with losing records,
The Falcons' failure this season has come from both a lack of depth and injuries that have robbed them of their best playmakers on the field. Without leaders like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann out there, Atlanta has had trouble winning games.
But how many teams have lost four starters—Jones, Biermann, fullback Bradie Ewing and Weatherspoon—for at least eight games this season? And how many of those teams have still been competitive?
The truth of the matter is that Atlanta just isn't deep enough to lose that much talent and still compete for the NFC South title. However, 2014 looks like it will end up a much better season with the experiences that Atlanta's young players have been getting.
The argument for the Falcons to just tank their season is ridiculous. While Atlanta may not be able to go to the playoffs in 2013, it should give its all every game and try to be a spoiler that can hold another team back from making the playoffs.
Falcons fans despise the idea of their team reverting back to the ones before Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff came in. Those Falcons teams never had back-to-back winning seasons and rarely went to the playoffs.
However, tanking during a lost season isn't how a team stays competitive for future years. It's not how championship teams play the season before they win a championship. Yes, Atlanta has some issues, but it can resolve them without giving up—especially since one of the biggest issues has been a lack of depth.
As I had detailed before, the Falcons are creating the depth needed to win games if they should lose the best players again. A high draft pick in 2014—especially one with a top-five talent like Jadeveon Clowney or Anthony Barr—will also give Atlanta the depth needed to absorb future injuries.
Selecting No. 5 overall would allow the Falcons to add multiple playmakers through the first couple of rounds. It should also allow them to bring in more talent along the lines that have been needed in the 2013 season.
With additional depth and playmakers in 2014, the talent level in Atlanta will be beyond the one that made it to the NFC title game in 2012. As long as they don't have the same bad luck they did this season, the Falcons should be in line to compete for a Super Bowl in 2014.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.