Is The Culture Finally Changing In Atlanta?
First let us start with a little history of the Atlanta Falcon Organization. Here are just a few facts that you should ponder.
The Falcons have had twelve head coaches (17 if you include Interim) in 43 years that is a new coach every 3.5 years.
Of those twelve only three have had winning records this means that 75% of the coaches have losing records.
The Falcons have made the playoff an amazing nine times with a record of 6-9. That averages to a playoff appearance every 4.7 years.
The Falcons have won the division 3 times. (One Division championship every 14.3 years!!) been in one Super Bowl and have won one NFC Championship
This all amounts to a grand record of 277-400 or .409 winning percentage.
As you can see by these stats the Falcon franchise is far from glorious, more humorous if anything. This article however is not a hate speech it is not even a history lesson. No this is an article that will try to explain that the Falcons are heading in the right direction as a franchise.
Let us first start by saying thank you to Arthur Blank (owner) for bringing in Thomas Dimitroff (General Manager) who in effect brought in Mike Smith (head coach). With these three running the show in Atlanta the future appears to be bright. Blank seems to be willing to pay out for players when needed (this seems expected but you would be surprised). Dimitroff seems to have a great knack for talent and has great ability to get a hold of the said talent. Then there is Smith who is a no nonsense player adored coach who knows what he wants from his players and how to get it out of them.
The front office is important, but unless the right players are on the field it means nothing.
Now I am not going to go into details about every position but I am going to do a brief overview to show what can make this franchise special.
The Falcons only appear to have one glaring weakness on the team, albeit a big one. This of course is a consistent pass rush. There are some people who believe , myself included, that when Peria Jerry returns he will help with this immensely especially when we consider that Jonathan Babineaux had 7 sacks last year. When healthy this tandem has the potential to destroy the pocket for the next 3-4 years.
In addition to Jerry coming back their are also the upgrades at corner with the acquisition of Dunta Robinson and the resigning of, a healthy, Brian Williams. With these corners the pass rush will have a little less pressure to produce.
These, of course, are only the improvements they have made so far this off season. We assume that the Falcons will address the pass rush in the draft and with Dimitroffs track record we easily will be looking at an upgrade.
If we look at the rest of the roster we can see that their are no more huge holes. This is not to say that the roster is complete, no roster ever is, but the roster has strength in all the right places.
No other place can this be seen more then in the offense. The Falcons have a stable of great runners with all different skill types, an above average wide receiver core, a Hall of Fame tight end, a young and talented offensive line (excluding Mcclure at least in the young category), and of course to top it all off a young quarterback on the rise. With these elements in place there is no reason why the Falcons should not have a top ten offense.
As far as the defense goes there are young rising stars in Chad Owens, Thomas Decoud, and Curtis Lofton all of whom showed flashes last season. The problem was that no consistent play maker emerged. This of course is one of the main reasons we brought in Robinson. I accept that at least one of the three young stars I mentioned will become a consistent play maker. Smart money should be on Lofton who in one offseason went from a two down linebacker to an every down.
The number one thing though that makes the Falcons appear to be headed to greener grasses is that they have youth in almost every important position. This is great because it means that the team as a whole has a very high ceiling. Now the Falcons are not making the mistake that a lot of teams do. They are also making sure that there are veterans sprinkled in throughout the roster, such as Mike Peterson, Tony Gonzalez, and Dunta Robinson.
In conclusion I believe that the Falcons will compete not only for a playoff spot but also a title for the next 7 to 8 years. I would be surprised if the Falcons win the championship this year however as a Falcons fan I sure will root for them to.
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