First off Happy New Year to all of our readers!
2011 was a year the Falcons will be glad to see the back of. It started with so much promise after a 13-3 regular season in 2010 and then came crashing down with a defeat in the first game of the playoffs to Green Bay.
The crushing 48-21 defeat sent the Falcons into a bit of a tailspin and made the Falcons front office sure they wanted to make a big splash on draft day. The Falcons made the bold move in late April to acquire a future star for the franchise in WR Julio Jones out of Alabama, giving away 4 extra picks in the process.
After the draft, the whole NFL went into hibernation amidst a lockout, which lasted till early August. With football finally returned to us, the Falcons made some interesting moves in the frantic free agency week, after the league resumed business.
The Falcons made sure solid O-Lineman G Justin Blalock (6 Years, $38 Million) and T Tyson Clabo (5 Years, $25 Million) did not go elsewhere, signing them to long term deals. The organisation however, made the decision to let G Harvey Dahl go, breaking up the unit the Falcons had built together for the previous seasons.
The big signing off another team was DE Ray Edwards from Minnesota (5 Years, $ 30 Million), who was somewhat of a disappointment this year in terms of sacks, but enabled the Falcons to be a bit better against the run.
Entering the season, full of hope despite going 0-4 in the preseason, the Falcons laid a massive egg in Week 1 against the Bears, getting completely outplayed losing 30-12.
A week later came the Falcons biggest bright spot of the season thus far beating the Mike Vick led Philadelphia Eagles in the Georgia Dome. However Atlanta were unable to build off that inspiring victory and after 5 weeks were sitting at a lowly 2-3.
Heading towards the middle part of the season the Falcons began to get hot with wins over Detroit, Carolina and Indy. Setting themselves up for a huge encounter with the Saints in week 10. Late in the 4th, with the game seemingly over, Falcons QB Matt Ryan brought the Falcons back miraculously, nearly securing the win in regulation but having to settle for overtime instead. In OT, Mike Smith made the bold decision to go for on 4th & 1 at own 29 yard line. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they did not convert it and the Saints went on to kick the winning FG, which kind of summed up the entire 2011 calender year, close but not close enough.
The setback was short lived as the Falcons rattled off wins against Minnesota, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Carolina and headed into the Louisiana superdome for week 16, the last game in 2011, sitting at a good 9-5.
To put it politely the Falcons were embarrassed by Drew Brees and the Saints, which book ended the Falcons’ 2011 with two humiliating defeats.
In a year, where hopes and expectations have been so high, the reality has hit all of us very hard. We now enter 2012 with expectations very much lowered.
Could 2012 finally be our year? What gifts will 2012 hold for our Atlanta Falcons?