What's The Worst That Could Happen to the Atlanta Falcons?

Dan WeinerCorrespondent IJune 1, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head coach Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons reacts on the sidelines as he watches his team lose to the Carolina Panthers in the game at Bank of America Stadium September 28, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.The Carolina Panthers won the game 24-9. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons have never had back-to-back winning season.

Now that you've officially read that fact for roughly the 1,344,239th time, you have to ask yourself, what could go wrong this year?

Atlanta has a blue chip Quarterback coming off the best rookie season a first year signal caller has ever had. They kept the offensive nucleus intact and added the best pass catching tight end in NFL history to the mix.

They did lose five key contributors on defense, but they spent practically their entire draft on defensive players. The Defensive Line should be vastly improved with first rounder Peria Jerry and Trey Lewis, coming off a knee injury, involved to create hell in the middle of the line.

Expectations are high in Atlanta and history shows that is never a good thing. Trust me, I like what I've seen so far and trust Thomas Dimitroff explicitly. Still, the hyperventilation has already begun. What's going to curse Atlanta to 8-8 at best?

There are reasons for concern, no doubt. First off, while the defense gave up yards in chunks last year they were still 11th in the league in scoring defense. It's not a stretch to believe that it will take time for a young defense to gel and Atlanta will give up yards and points in bunches.

Secondly, it's hard to predict injuries, but there is plenty of historical evidence to suggest Atlanta should have its training staff ready. John Abraham had injury problems with the Jets and played most of 2008 banged up pretty badly.

Sam Baker was injury prone at USC and missed a bunch of time last year with injuries.  Todd Weiner (still no relation) isn't around to be a hero at tackle. 

Atlanta's especially thin at that position with Quinn Ojinnaka's recent arrest stemming from a fight started because of Facebook. Ojinnaka's Facebook folly will likely result in his release.  Atlanta has no time for the police blotter these days.

Heck, if you look at the franchise history, even guys who aren't injury prone are susceptible to danger.  Steve Bartkowski was the first franchise quarterback in Atlanta history. His career was interrupted frequently, and eventually cut short, due to injuries. 

Chris Miller was promising, went to the Pro Bowl in 1991 and then only started 10 more games with the Falcons thanks to recurring concussion problems. 

I'll never forget where I was the night Atlanta played Baltimore in a preseason game in 2003. I was in the living room at my parent's house watching the game with my dad and uncle when Adalius Thomas broke Michael Vick's leg.

The announcers said there was hope it wasn't broken, but we knew.  As Falcons fans, we knew something was very wrong.

William Andrews rushed for 5,700 yards in his first five years with the franchise, but he suffered a knee injury prior to the start of the 1984 season that effectively ended his career. 

Jamal Anderson was the catalyst for Atlanta's lone Super Bowl run, but he held out the next season and then blew up his knee in week 2 dooming the Falcons' season.

All those other heartbreaks and it doesn't even mention the whole dog fighting thing.  Fortunately, Matt Ryan is probably the least likely guy in the NFL to involve himself in something so vile and stupid. 

So that just means he'll end up getting hurt helping an old lady cross the street or doing one of the countless number of charitable acts the All-American Hero does on a daily basis.

Hopes are high in Atlanta in 2009 and for good reason. That says, anxiety medication is never far away. I'm just waiting for something bad to happen. After 40 years of history indicating something bad is going to happen, can you blame me?


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