Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Another week and another thoroughly disheartening performance from an Atlanta Falcons team that is now well and truly on its way to a major rebuild. As a fan watching games like the one Sunday you look for someone or something to blame, but it’s been my belief for some time now that the problems with this franchise are much bigger and go much deeper than just one person. The Falcons organization has gotten stale and the only way forward now is with a major shakeup this offseason and that needs to start with Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff.
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The Smith/Dimitroff duo have done a lot of good things for the Atlanta Falcons organization and if they do indeed both leave this summer they will undoubtedly be leaving the franchise in a better shape than when they arrived. However, in the NFL you are only as good as your last season and barring a dramatic turnaround both Smith and Dimitroff will have orchestrated two simply unacceptable seasons in Atlanta. It’s been clear since Day 1 that both Smith and Dimitroff have had a shared understanding of the kind of team they want to build and in the early days this message was very effective as the Falcons quickly became one of the leagues steadier, more successful teams. However, it’s clear that the message and philosophy that were and are being preached are no longer getting through to this team, the coaches have seemingly lost the ability to connect with the players and when this happens it’s a sure sign that it’s time for change.
While the coaches will take a lot of the heat for the team’s poor performances it shouldn’t be lost that this current Falcons team is seriously lacking in talent. Outside of Julio Jones and Matt Ryan there are no other high end starters on the roster and quite frankly if this team wants to win again it needs a major influx of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Now of course, a lot of the blame for the personnel comes down to the roster architect, Thomas Dimitroff. Dimitroff’s tenure in Atlanta has been fairly hit and miss as he seems to either have a massive hit (Turner, Jones) or a massive flop (Konz, Edwards), and there is no doubt that in recent years Dimitroff’s decision making has cost this team severely. Some of Dimitroff’s mistakes are excusable and understandable but some of his other decisions are simply baffling and inexcusable. For example, the fact that Dimitroff was happy to enter this season with the TE and pass rushing situation as appalling as they are is a major mistake and one that ultimately could and probably should cost Dimitroff his job.
As much as we may want to blame this situation on one individual the reality is much more complicated. The Falcons have slowly fallen into a rut that they seemingly can’t escape from and right now the only viable option looks to be to hit the reset button and start again. As difficult as this may be to stomach the Falcons do have a lot of good things going for them, they have a franchise QB, a state of the art stadium to move into and an owner who has created an extremely desirable franchise. As the Smith/Dimitroff era comes to a close it’s easy to be drawn to the many negatives but we should look back on this duo for all the good work that they did for this team and this city. After all, it was no easy task to pull this team out of the darkness that was the Mike Vick era and if nothing else, they have set up this team for another successful era and for that we should be thankful, we could have done much worse.