Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
A dynamic and mobile passing derived offense is much like bacon. It tastes good, smells good, and does satisfy the basic requirement for protein. Everyone loves bacon, I love it, my family loves it, heck even my two dogs love it. But the problem with bacon is moderation; the problem with a pass heavy offense is moderation. Too much bacon can really hurt you. It’s not good for your health if you’re eating it all the time, hence why we speak of moderation. Our Dirty Birds got hooked on bacon about 3 seasons ago. We sacrificed and traded the better parts of a balanced breakfast just to get that bacon. All breakfast aside, i think we all know where I’m going with this (Waffle House in about 20 minutes). The vision of a star QB with a dynamic receiving corps made us lose sight of the balance necessary to sustain a team. After all that bacon, we suffered a stroke in 2013, and now we must look to restore the team balance.
The 2 key and obvious answers are drafting new recruits, and/or signing available players. The draft class and free agent list are far too long for me to cover in the 20 minutes before I head off to Waffle House, so I’ll cover the top 4 positions needing balance. Maybe 5, if you count coaching. Starting with the coaching changes, the OL and DL coaches have already been removed. Are they scapegoats for bad decision making at the head coaching or GM positions? Or were these coaches involved in the drafting and signing decisions leading to this poor roster performance? Or was their coaching of the OL and DL so poor that we can conclude negligence? I want to preface my personal conclusion with this disclaimer: I have never played, coached, or really anything’d in the NFL, but i am in possession of common sense. One can reasonably assume that the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators had a more significant impact in drafting and signing decisions than the OL and DL coaches. One can even reasonably assume that the coordinators also had a larger role on play calling, formations, routes, adjustments, and probably primary and alternate position decisions. My conclusion? Well I won’t jump to the conclusion that these coaches were scapegoats (I basically did though), but I will say that the coordinators have been issued a stern warning for next season.
What to do about TE? Levine Toilolo was targeted 14 times in 2013, scored 2 TD, and most importantly 4 of his 11 receptions were for 1st down. He’s been learning from Tony Gonzalez, and i think he’s the way to go. Plus he is cheaper, younger, and already familiar with the ATL style of offense.
Right Guard was a rotating door on the roster. Atlanta failed to protect the passer and failed to block for the Running Backs. We took a huge risk drafting CB’s in 2013, and the results have been mixed. So relying on a rookie to perform at Right Guard in 2014, may also be a risk. It may be time to use some of the salary space to sign a player with experience. Defensive End performance was also missing. Umenyiora was expensive for the result. If the Falcons intend on keeping him, then drafting some talent would represent a lesser risk with a greater hit to the salary cap.
Oh how we miss you at OLB John Abraham. Your 16 games played, 11.5 sacks, and 1 safety performance for Arizona would have been appreciated in Atlanta in 2013. 9.5 sacks in 2011, 10 sacks in 2012, and 11.5 sacks in 2013? We lost you due to some poor judgment. The Defensive Coordinator may not have fought hard enough to keep you, but we fired the DL Coach to make up for it John. We owed you $5.75 million in 2012, we cut you, you signed with Arizona for $4.6 million, and your pass rushing replacement Umenyiora cost us $3.75 million for 7.5 sacks. Umenyiora in 2011 had 9 sacks, 6 in 2012, and 7.5 in 2013. Was it a good decision? All I can say is that you get what you pay for. Now you know the truth about bacon; it’s good in moderation. Rise up ATL.