Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The first half of Monday night’s game at Lambeau field was all too familiar for Falcons fans. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers knifed through the Falcons defense at will on their way to a 31 point first half. The Falcons offense showed signs of life but as is often the case, they simply couldn’t score enough to offset the defenses short comings.
As the players went in at the half the game was over, down heavily, on the road, in a cold, hostile environment, we knew how this story finished, or not. The Falcons came out in the second half a rejuvenated team, the offense hit explosive play after explosive play, the defense did just enough to keep the game interesting, the game was a contest, and for the better part of two quarters the Falcons looked like a respectable NFL team. The fact that the comeback fell short really didn’t matter in the end, the fight the Falcons showed in defeat is something this team has been missing.
The valiant comeback effort was a surprising and exciting curve ball but it really doesn’t change the situation the Falcons are in. The Falcons are still one of the least talented teams in the NFL, the Falcons are still far too inconsistent, the Falcons should still be preparing for change.
There is no denying that Mike Smith’s team has played better the last six weeks, but to be honest that really shouldn’t matter. Six weeks of mediocrity shouldn’t make up for 18 months of dismay. Just because this team is no longer unwatchable doesn’t mean the Falcons should stand put. No matter what the next three weeks hold Arthur Blank needs to pull the plug on the Smith/Dimtroff era at the end of the season. We’ve seen this duo in full flight and it wasn’t enough to take this team to the top. Smith and Dimitroff deserve a lot of credit for pulling this team out of the dark days but they simply are trending the wrong way.
While the Packers defeat holds its fair share of moral victories we should also not forget how awful the Falcons played at times. If we ignore a couple of drives in the second half when the Packers clearly had lifted the foot off the gas, Aaron Rodgers and Co were able to move the ball at will. The Falcons gave up over three hundred yards through the air, over 150 on the ground and generally got nowhere near the Packers all evening. The pass rush was its usual laughable self, the run defense showed no signs of the improvements they have made in previous weeks as they looked sloppy and slow against a Packers running game that made a clear effort to tackle the perimeters of the Falcons run defense. These are the same issues that have been plaguing this team for the better part of two years and yet they still remain.
The past two years we have seen the downsides of both Smith and Dimitroff. Smith’s shown an inability to self-evaluate both himself and his players as he repeatedly makes wrong personnel decisions. Dimitroff has shown his stubbornness to address positions of need as well as his likeliness to overpay for what can only be described as middling talent on the free agent market. Dimitroff’s approach to the draft has also had questionable results as he tends to have a very hit or miss record. All in all the Smith/Dimitroff era has been a successful one but we’ve seen the ugly side of this regime the past two years and no matter how pretty these next few weeks are they don’t make up for the ugliness of the past 18 months.