The Atlanta Falcons’ Case For the Return to Mediocrity


There is a reason for the current Atlanta Falcons roster. That reason stems from a game in a few years ago against Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers, when they stormed into the Georgia Dome and then proceeded to thrash the top seeded Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the playoffs by a score of 48-21.

Obviously Thomas Dimitroff thought that Aaron Rodgers 31/36 366 yards and 3 touchdowns was impressive. It was so impressive that he decided to spend the next three years developing his team into an offensive juggernaut.

  • He no longer desired to feed Michael Turner or any other running back the ball for 25 plus carries a game.
  • He no longer wanted to play a ball controlled offense that could cover up the defensive deficiencies.
  • He wanted to do to the NFL what the Green Bay Packers had done to the Falcons.
  • He decided that the road to the Super Bowl would be based off the strength of his offense and his franchise Quarterback Matt Ryan.

Dimitroff felt that the offense was one player away from being a team able to put up points at will against any team in the NFL. He felt that that one player was Julio Jones. Dimitroff decided to trade away some very useful picks in exchange for the playmaking abilities of Julio Jones. He thought that this move alone would reverse the misfortune of the playoff loss the previous year and it would put the Falcons in a position to be one of the league’s top offenses. The Falcons now had Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez to catch passes from their franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. All was good in Falcon land right?


Unfortunately, the very next season the offense could not have put on a worse performance in the 2012 playoffs. The offense failed to score a single point. That’s right the offense failed to score a single point in a huge playoff game against the New York Giants. The only reason the team wasn’t shutout was because the defense scored on a safety. That game was an epic failure for any playoff team especially one that was supposed to outscore opponents.

Atlanta Falcons Fans were told there would be a complete evaluation of the organization from top to bottom. Well, that sort of happened. The Falcons did not fire anyone instead Brian Van Gorder got a defensive coordinator position in college with the Auburn Tigers and Mike Mularkey received a head coaching position with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Therefore those two coordinators were the scapegoats for the recent playoff failures.

Enter offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Fans that once complained were happy and felt that this was the move the team needed to get to the Super Bowl.

Well, almost.

The Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Divisional round in thrilling fashion 30-28. They then faced off against the San Francisco 49ers and appeared to be primed for a Super Bowl bid. They scored the game’s first 17 points. The offense was clicking on all cylinders. Then it happened the offense forgot how to find the end zone again as they didn’t score a point in the second half. The defense stopped defending. The Falcons lost 28-24 officially ending Tony Gonzalez’s magical career without a super bowl appearance and only 1 playoff victory.

This time, everyone blamed the defense for giving up 28 points. Most fans didn’t notice that the offense failed to score a single point in the second half of the NFC Championship game. As a result the team decided to blow up the defense.

Veterans that once lead the defense and seemed to have so much fun together were released. The defense was essentially blown up in favor of younger players. John Abraham, Brent Grimes, Vance Walker, Dunta Robinson, Lawrence Sidbury, Chris Owens, and Chris Hope all gone. Four major contributors and three solid role players, gone all at once. I couldn’t believe it; this team was so close to the big game, why would the front office decide to let so many veterans go at once was unbelievable to me. Didn’t these guys earn the chance to try to get back to the NFL title game again and win it this time?

In addition to the losses on defense the team cut offensive players Michael Turner, Tyson Clabo, Will Svitek and didn’t offer Todd McClure a contract. Major loses to the cohesiveness on both sides of the ball. I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t.

The Atlanta Falcons decided to fill the void left by those players with Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora, Desmond Trufant, and Robert Alford.

It has become painfully obvious that the Falcons were much better running a ball controlled offense and catching defenses off guard with the play action pass. I understand the roster cannot stay the same for an extended period of time, but that was an unusually high turnover for a team that was real close to the Super Bowl.

Clearly Dimitroffs experiment to build an offensive dynasty has come crashing down. Even more evident is the negligence that has been given to the defensive side of the ball. This team gambled on offense after the shellacking it took almost four years ago to the Packers. The gamble has not paid off and it’s time to fold.

That one devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers on January 15th 2011 now looms even larger than it did that year when we hoped for a Super Bowl run. That one loss has single handedly caused the franchise to quickly down spiral to the level of mediocrity. That loss has left the Falcons franchise broken.

Do you think Dimitroff got tunnel vision on the offensive side of the ball, or are the Atlanta Falcons just in trouble? Join the discussion below.