The Falcons season has been a freefall into the abyss of football hell. After once sitting atop the division at 1-1, with two of their rivals scheduled to miss their starting quarterbacks for an extended period, Atlanta has lost six games in a row without showing much resistance. Rightfully, Dan Quinn has received grief every week from the fan base, and even Arthur Blank himself, for the lifeless performances, especially on the defensive side. However, it’s foolish to believe things will swing 180 degrees by simply swapping coaches. That’s a start, and it will happen eventually, but the Falcons need an entire culture change that starts at the top and goes all the way down to the bottom.
Let’s start with Thomas Dimitroff. He’s shown at times a wicked eye for talent, but he’s also had his share of pitiful draft classes – take a look at 2017 for reference. The lack of quality players brought in over the last two seasons is a primary reason as to why the Falcons have taken such a monstrous step back. Dan Quinn and Dimitroff have indeed been collaborating on personnel decisions, and Quinn has final say over the 53-man roster, but you can’t blame Quinn for everything. Dimitroff has been just as much at fault for the irresponsible decisions made during the draft and in free agency – like bringing back Vic Beasley for nearly $13 million. That is a fireable offense for any GM.
Poor judgment by Quinn and Dimitroff has led to a roster that is littered with holes, which is the root of Atlanta’s problems. Sure, there are stars like Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Matt Ryan, but from top to bottom, the Falcons lack depth and are extremely weak in the area that matters most – the trenches.
The defensive line is a laughing stock, and it has been repeatedly ignored during the draft and free agency. Vic Beasley hasn’t been a threat for years, and anybody who watches the games knew that was never going to change. Takk McKinley has shown some promise, but it’s difficult to rack up sacks when your partner on the other side isn’t providing an ounce of help. The only shining star of this unit is Grady Jarrett, and after that, the depth is pitiful. If you can’t get after the quarterback in this league, it’s almost impossible to be successful. Atlanta’s been terrible at it for years, and for some reason that cannot be explained, they have refused to take the necessary steps needed to improve. However, it doesn’t help that their secondary cannot cover anyone for more than a second.
Losing Keanu Neal for the season again was brutal, but he wasn’t going to save this unit. Desmond Trufant is a prime example of the Falcons overpaying someone, which is why they haven’t been able to afford much in free agency. Count that as another strike against Thomas Dimitroff. Isaiah Oliver has been inconsistent, but there is some promise there going forward. Ricardo Allen looks the worst he has over his entire career, and of course, Atlanta didn’t want to make any substantial moves to find safety help with Neal out for the season. Oh wait, they traded Duke Riley and swapped picks for Jonothan Cyprien, who was quickly placed on IR after just one game – another not so good look for Dimitroff.
Offensively, there are at least some building blocks. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lead the group, with quality supplementary pieces around them like Calvin Ridley and Jake Mathews. Unfortunately, Chris Lindstrom was placed on IR after Week 1, but Kaleb McGary looks like he will be a reliable piece of the line going forward. However, handing out money and years to Ty Sambrailo and James Carpenter was a blunder, and Alex Mack appears to be on the decline, along with Devonta Freeman, who is another Falcon that was wildly overpaid for his past rather than the future. And on top of that bad deal, Atlanta doubled down on Freeman by reportedly not trading him at the deadline when the Lions were interested. Once again, another fireable offense by the Falcons’ brass.
Atlanta’s offense isn’t their problem, and with a few tweaks, they can return to the well-oiled machine they once were. But you can see where some ill-advised moves and cap management prevented them from adding bodies in other areas of need. And then to double down on them as they did with Vic Beasley and Devonta Freeman – it’s not so difficult to understand why this team has been speeding in reverse.
Arthur Blank will likely spend the rest of the year pondering the futures of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. Quinn already has one foot out the door, but Dimitroff should be right there with him. Together they have created a roster that is incapable of winning football games. It’s time to face the reality that coaching isn’t the only reason this team has been an utter failure. The personnel isn’t cutting it as well, and whoever takes over is going to have a helluva time attempting to sort it all out. It won’t be impossible, but this probably isn’t a one-year fix either, which isn’t something you want to hear with an aging Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.