Long ago when army doctors performed painful operations without drugs, they gave patients a bullet to put between their teeth. The 2013 Atlanta Falcon season has been painful, even if with drugs, and the team and their faithful just have to bite the bullet and continue forward as the healing process appears to be a season away. The knocks on Smitty and Ryan are not justified. The injuries and rookie infusion were just to insurmountable. I count four losses in the schedule before the bye that happened in the last minutes of the game and Atlanta with a bit of lucky Karma a chance to win all four. That is a tough pill to swallow. To pin blame on one person should not be contemplated. Then Consider the week two win in the home opener with the Rams as the biggest loss of the season. How often can we say that ? Five starters were done by halftime: running back Steven Jackson (thigh), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot), defensive end Kroy Biermann (right ankle), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) and fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder). That was a win for the twilight zone as the bullet hit the bone. The last three losses that destroyed any hope of a turn around were to teams with very good defenses, that exploited the weak offensive line and the one dimensional attack from the birds. When Stephen Jackson gains eleven yards on any day against any team the opposition obviously just has to plan for one thing, and that one thing is a Ryan pass that last week produced a 23 of 36 showing for a poor five yard per pass average. Who could have guessed what was once considered one of the best offenses in the league the weakness to the team. Roddy, who had four targets and one catch last week should not be on the field, it is something all must come to terms with. Against Seattle the three and outs kept the defense on the field as long as the midfield logo, a recipe for breakdowns and it happened. There are also times, like the last second before halftime Tate touchdown, where you have to tip your helmet to the other team, even if you bite the bullet harder. The six yard throw by Russell in the corner of the end zone and catch by Tate was a highlight film, covered by Alford as well as could be. If that was a Ryan to White play we’d vote it an Espy. I don’t expect the Falcons to quit and lay down. I do expect the staff to use this season to get increased playing time and evaluation on players like Maponga, Goodman, Toilolo, Robertson and now with Baker done even fit in Schraeder for a look. (It was long ago but I thought he had a good camp and preseason). If games are out of hand by the fourth quarter as they were last Sunday, then protect Ryan and give Dom Davis some calls. He may be valuable come draft time. It is not throwing in the towel, it is utilizing your entire resources and being pro active to forge ahead on future decision making. It is no surprise that depth is such a valuable chip in the NFL. The birds just did not think the bullets would bring the third string to fill some area’s. (Surprisingly tough situation when ‘Spoon, Dent and Nicholas all go down). The increased playing time has benefited Worrilow, Bartu and given Trufant and Alford some fine history for next season. So many things can go wrong in a season, and just as many things can turn around a season. A pass rusher, a offensive line giant obtained via draft or free agency could make a world of difference. This is a super bowl contender if healthy. Just ponder the K.C Chiefs and we see a team sitting undefeated heading for a playoff slot. One year ago they won two games. Even a schedule plays into the equation. We make the most of the rest of the season and await better times. I look at the 2013 season the first season in the Smith / Ryan era where the Birds just could not dodge the bullet.
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":