Atlanta Falcons: Comparing the hits and misses Of Thomas Dimitroff’s tenure

Dec 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

There is a clear divide when it comes to supporting or disproving of Thomas Dimitroff’s tenure as the Atlanta Falcons general manager.

Dimitroff was hired by the Falcons in 2008 after spending time as a scout for the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns. For those who departed the guidance of Darth Belichick, a reputation followed. A positive reputation of course. So coming from the Patriots meant in the eyes of most that Dimitroff was a young, up-and-coming executive with a bright mind and a solid blueprint.

Up to this point, his tenure has been a roller coaster of solid draft picks, head-scratching signings, and increased pressure to succeed. With that said, let’s compare the managerial decisions made by TD and highlight his home runs and his complete pie-in-the-face failures.

The Hits 

Taking QB Matt Ryan third overall in the 2008 draft after coming aboard following a catastrophic 2007 season. The team needed a clear direction in terms of a new leader at QB with former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick no longer in the plans. With only two legitimate quarterbacks from that class experiencing long-term NFL success (Ryan and Joe Flacco), Dimitroff made a solid choice in taking Ryan (126 games started, 32, 757 career yards, 202 touchdowns, 90.9 overall QB rating, 74 career regular season wins, 31 game-winning drives)

Selecting former Falcons SS William Moore and current LB Sean Weatherspoon in consecutive drafts (2009, 2010 respectively). Say what you want about either player, yes they have had a number of various injuries but when healthy, both former Missouri Tigers were very reliable.

Trading up to sixth overall in the 2011 draft to select the outstanding receiver that we know today, Julio Jones. A 2010 season saw the Falcons with Roddy White leading the team in 115 catches, Tony Gonzalez totaling 70 catches which placed him second on the team, and Michael Jenkins hauling in only 44 receptions. The aggressive move by Dimitroff was gave the Falcons a franchise receiver in Jones who has obviously been worth the risky move.

Drafting a corner in Desmond Trufant with the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft. A corner who, in three straight seasons, has allowed less than 60 percent completion percentage while being targeted. Easily one of the most underrated players in the entire league.

Taking a solid left tackle in Jake Matthews with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft as well as drafting a running back in Devonta Freeman in the fourth round. Two young chess pieces in the team’s future plans.

For the time being, young defenders Vic Beasley, Ra’Shede Hageman, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen, and Grady Jarrett giving the team true potential in building a talented defense.

Trading for Tony Gonzalez and Asante Samuel while making the key free agent signing of Michael Turner.

The Misses (brace yourself):

Failed draft picks of CB Chevis Jackson (2008, 3rd round), WR Harry Douglas (2008, 3rd), DT Peria Jerry (2009, 1st), CB Chris Owens (2009, 3rd), DE Lawrence Sidbury (2009, 4th), OL Mike Johnson (2010, 3rd), LB Akeem Dent (2011, 3rd), G Peter Konz (2012, 2nd), OT Lamar Holmes (2012, 3rd), TE Levine Toilolo (2013, 4th), S Dez Southward (2014, 3rd), LB Prince Shembo (2014, 4th)

Free agent signings of DEs Osi Umenyiora and Ray Edwards, RB Steven Jackson, DE Tyson Jackson, and CB Dunta Robinson

Cutting the strings loose on longtime Falcons pass rusher John Abraham

Now granted, some of the moves made during his tenure were not entirely his decisions. Some of the movements made may have come with a little consideration from coaches and/or owner Arthur Blank. So while we’re placing every move listed under the “tutelage” of Dimitroff, it’s somewhat similar to the principle applied to quarterbacks, the team’s failures or successes (regular season
& playoff wins/losses, touchdowns/interceptions, etc.) are usually placed on the shoulders of the guy in the lead dog role. Same for general managers.

When it comes to Dimitroff and his tenure, the state that the team is currently in is because of Dimitroff’s decision-making. He has some good fortunes but he also has enough failures to place the team in a situation where they are in drastic need of depth, while also in need of draft picks, and in most occasions, with middle-of-the-pack salary cap scenarios because of poor signings and mismanagement.

This past season seemed to be a final indication that Dimitroff was on his way out the door. The team fell by the waist side during the season and part of that was due to his poor talent evaluation which affects the team lack of overall talent at this point. However, owner Arthur Blank has continued to stick by his guy.

Next: Trading back in the NFL draft is best for business

The fan base needs to see more out of Dimitroff. In many cases, a lot more. The signings of Alex Mack, Mohamed Sanu, Derrick Shelby and others along with his ability to make wine out of grapes with just five draft picks in the upcoming draft, will truly affect his stance as a GM. If he fails again on most of those moves, Arthur Blank must do something. The big question is, how thin is the ice for Dimitroff at this period?