Nov 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) is tackled by New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) after a catch in the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Saints won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
IT’S SO CLOSE TO BEING OVER!
I don’t believe there has ever been a season quite as disappointing as this season has been for Atlanta fans. Coming into the season, Atlanta was favored for being a Super Bowl contender. Steven Jackson was slated to reinvigorate a vanishing Falcons run game while Tony Gonzalez was lulled into coming back to finish his career on the podium. It almost seemed like everything was going amazingly until everything (and I mean everything) didn’t.
We’ve sat through more losses and less successful seasons, but never have I been so saddened for what has come from the Falcons. Injuries started a free fall of poor performance and poor coaching. Decisions were made and not made, players came up short and the entire team just seemed completely off the whole season.
The loss of Julio Jones and a productive Roddy white shut down the deep ball which Matt Ryan used so well to stretch out defenses. With the lack of run blocking and an injured Jackson, the run game was gone too. That left Matt Ryan to throw to his third receiver, two backups, and a HOF tight end that everyone took out of the game by doubling. The Falcons Offense became extremely 1-dimensional in that the only thing they could do was short-intermediate passes. The once explosive offense lost all of its power.
The defense was almost as bad. Mike Nolan created a fantastically interesting scheme that relied on turnovers. Great coverage and confusing looks would keep the quarterback in the pocket long enough to either A) get sacked or B) throw a bad pass. One thing learned from last year was that the front seven were not skilled enough pass-rushers to create enough sacks. With a younger Osi Umenyiora and a very talented and young backfield, the problems may have been solved.
Unfortunately Kroy Biermann was injured in the second game leaving only a second year Massaquoi and two late-round rookies. With Weatherspoon out and Stephen Nicholas and Akeem Dent playing poorly, the linebacker crew had to rely on two undrafted free agents. While the strength of the Falcons (the backfield) lost so much stability with poor play from Thomas Decoud and an underwhelming Asante Samuel. A lot of faith was lost amongst some of what could be considered top performers last year. To say the 2013 season has been disappointing is a strong understatement.
With only one game left of the 2014 season, Atlanta fans are close to tearing up their lottery tickets, throwing it in the air and finally looking to next year. But this last game is a big one. Not of the Falcons (they have nothing to play for) but for the greatest tight end of all time. It’ll be his last time in pads. For a guy that loves the game, it is incredibly difficult to say goodbye. This means for one last hurrah, let’s go to this game, show up early, show up loud, and show up proud. I still wish he would hang around Atlanta to have one last autograph signing because I never got a chance to shake his hand.
Let’s finish this horrible season on a good note and give Tony something to remember fondly. The last day in football pads is one that will linger in every memory that has ever played football. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s Tony Gonzalez.