Seven Two in the next Nine ? Of course I hope Atlanta can make a run as such leading up to the Monday night game out in Frisco before Christmas. The schedule is there for the possibility. Being 8 – 6 at Christmas would be a great present for the flock. Unfortunately the numbers 7 – 2 are more the off suit poker hand the Falcons have been dealt, and now have no choice but to play. Sitting 1 – 4 at the bye after losing the last game on Monday night to the Jets at the nest and then see the Jets beaten badly at home by a winless team tends to cast doubt at any playoff chance. A glimmer of hope at possible returns to Snelling, Dent and soon Jackson along with some bye week hard work is the last shot Atlanta has to a season going sour. Looking at the schedule at seasons start we’d think that New Orleans, Seattle, Green Bay and Frisco the big games, but the cards the birds hold have this weeks contest against a winless Tampa team at home the real big game. Win, and hope another week matures the youth and gets Jackson back, lose and the season hits another low.
The Atlanta Falcons chose via transactions on March 1st and then the April draft that the need to inject youth into a seasoned roster was a number one priority. Youthful athleticism is vital in sports, but the mix of talented younger players and veteran leadership is a fine line to success. The Falcons received very good grades in the draft along with the moves they made to mold the roster for a deep playoff run.
In early August when Mike Johnson went down the talk still was of the dust settling on the Ryan contract extension. The opening day loss to New Orleans was as predicted by many and not a huge surprise, just a bit disheartening we did not pull off the win. Then the injuries started to show, and in unfamiliar numbers to Atlanta and the fragile mix of youth and veteran leadership tilted from a manageable steady flow to an all out flood. During that Monday night game against the Jets the Falcons had on the field at various times Konz, Dimarco, Holmes, Toilolo, Cone, Alford, Massaquoi, McClain, Bartu, Worrilow, and Trufant.
That is a lot of players younger than 26 years of age to be thrust into the National spotlight. It also limit’s the ability for both coordinators to utilize all the schemes of the playbook and position the Birds for a complete solid game. This hand the Birds have been dealt is as poor as the Ryan years have seen.
Falcon brass has not panicked and I hope they don’t. It would be impossible, even at a Julio type trade price, to obtain a couple of players to offset the injury list to compete in the playoffs at New Orleans, Seattle or against Denver. The Falcons have talented players that need and are getting the experience and it is with them that this season now depends. Sigmund Freud once said, “If Youth knew ~ If Age Could”. Some fans are losing patience but the fact that the games are close is encouraging, where some steady progress may benefit the team in the near future. The Coaching staff must play the depth hand they have assembled and evaluate those thrust into action for the future. Bleak yes, Hopeless No.
There is still a lot of football to play and there are a few other teams bitten by injuries also.
Making a wild card spot would be difficult but certainly possible. Getting in the dance is a new season as Green Bay displayed in the 2010 playoffs. This is a tough fan experience from what we’ve come accustom to over the last five years as the young team gets the experience, but as George Washington once wrote in a letter to Colonel Lewis, “To rectify past blunders is impossible, but we can profit by the experience of them”. Like the Birds view at the Bye, George experienced some bleak times but history shows he was successful in the end. A 7 – 2 run would be a nice hand played, but Smitty always said to take one game at a time so the Tampa game this weekend is where all hope must shine for a rebounding experience.