Atlanta Falcons: An Enduring Disconnect

Enough is Enough and It’s Time to Break It Up and Start Anew.   

Has Smith Lost this Team?

Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior

“Things do not happen; things are made to happen.”  President John F. Kennedy.   

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody is not thinking.”  General George S. Patton, Jr.

“I do not measure a man’s success by how high the CLIMBS but how high he BOUNCES when hits bottom.”  General George S. Patton, Jr.

PRELUDE

Simply, this is not going to be pretty at all.  This is going to be hard hitting, sometimes personal, and directed at key figures in the Falcons organization. Why?  Why would this life-long fan, so many life-long fans, so man in the Falcons nation, be so damned upset with what has become a three-ring circus and honestly, a pathetic embarrassment more weekends than I care to count. I will respect the rights of all to believe what they want to, dream the dreams they seek, and feel the emotions that come from within their minds, hearts, and souls.  But make no mistake. This is the end of a lost period of promise, potential, and possible history. And it is time, HIGH TIME, to call it out for what it is.

7 Drops…………Yikes

Three years ago, I told a close grouping of fellow Falcons fans in print that the wheels were starting to wobble on our auto. In person, I told that same grouping of great friends that it was not going anywhere. Several believed by a greater number, for reasons I respected fully, held on. As one that has been blessed to be a leader of men and women for a long time, as one who has been blessed with the God given ability to make the tough decisions that could have resulted in the serious injury or loss of lives to those entrusted in me and my superiors, I take the awesome responsibilities of trust, faith, and confidence in leadership VERY seriously.

I suggest to you, my Falcons family, that we have been used for the last damned time by this regime.  A new era MUST evolve and evolve soon! Time and time again, we have heard the same old sorry, pathetic excuses. We have seen the “changes”, “infusions”, “process corrections”, etc.  And it all comes back to the same old same; a consistent, misguided, uneventful run in which a superbly talented team in so many ways has FAILED, FAILED to give a maximum effort at EVERY major point that it has been asked to be bold. It lacks leadership at all levels, has no vision, can’t acknowledge flaws, has failed to FIND and DEVELOP acquired talent, spent MILLIONS on players that have no value or did not fit “schemes” or make differences that would change the direction of the franchise and lift the spirits of the fan-base, and a front office that CONTINUES to “flip” its nose at a fan base and community that flat out deserves better.

THE OWNER:  ARTHUR BLANK

Look, I love this man as if I personally know him. If you have been a Falcons fan for as long as some of us grey-beards have been, you KNOW we have it FAIR better today than we EVER had it during the Rankin Smith regime. Taylor Smith followed suit, was smart enough to bring in Dan Reeves, but he really did not have the heart for football. We know that.  So when AB came along in 2002, we, as Falcons fans, could feel something different in the air.

Terrible Game

Arthur has really tried in my opinion to do the right things. He has opened his wallet big time to enhance the game day experience in Atlanta, he has spent of his own cash to upgrade the Dome on more than one occasion when state funding was short, and he has, really tried to create a true stable franchise.

His football knowledge is more that of a fan in my opinion; yet, I give him his due in that he reached out to one of the league’s premier BUSINESS managers, Rich McKay, to handle key facets of his team.  Rich once was a very effective talent evaluator but shifted his focus to financial ledger development. Rich brought a absolutely sweet stadium deal to Tampa and Arthur got a similar set up from the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Rich found key talent in the draft but due to “extended commitments”, he was not as successful in Atlanta. It was okay at first because when you have not known sustainable success there is no TRUE measuring stick by which to compare. So the free pass was in full effect because AB WANTED that stadium more than anything else.  That shift in HIS philosophy changed the direction and the approach of this team. For when the business replaced the fan, the train jumped the track and has not recovered.

THE GENERAL MANAGER:  THOMAS DIMITROFF

Let me be clear. History is the greatest teacher. But in order to understand the fully scope of history’s influences, you have to have TWO key things; a great teacher and a willing student. In Thomas Dimitroff, we were presented a great talent scout. But it is CLEAR that the teacher and the REAL, FINAL evaluator was the HOODIE, himself, Bill Belichick. Like many, I drank a big gulp from the Patriot Way Peach Tea Pitcher. It looked so good in the first place. But I would suggest that Principal TD TREMENDOUSLY benefited from the great talent skill sets of Les Snead and David Caldwell.

Missing 4-5 Starters = No Problem!

It is not just TD. Take a look at the list of personnel that have departed the “Hoodie” and fell flat. Look at his “head coaching tree”.  Not a SINGLE member of that tree has won a league title at the NFL level. Each has proven to be stellar as a coordinator or at the college level but has NOT brought home the premier championship in the NFL.

Of the managerial pool that sprouted out from under the “Hoodie”, only ONE has achieved the games’ greatest recognition and prize, Sensei Ozzie Newsome.  Why? Because like the “Hoodie” and the great Sinatra, Newsome did it his way!!  He had a plan, stayed loyal to his plan, and built from the ground up with CAREFUL attention to detail in his moves. Not all his moves were the smartest but he NEVER neglected the CORE foundation on which his team was anchored. It is that anchor that SUSTAINS and DELIVERS ongoing success.

People are quick to point to the 60-plus wins that the Falcons have acquired during the regime lead by TD.  Have you taken a LONG HARD look at the teams that we beat over that period? Have you seen the amount of money that this general manager and his deals have absolutely thrown away over the years with minimal, tangible return? Would this guy have lasted in New York, Dallas, or somewhere else this long?  Hell, no!!  Why?  If you have no success by which to measure, you can’t be faulted when you are “delivering” something refreshing and new.

Look at the draft boards.  Let me be clear; as one that loves the draft and scouting process, I do know it is not easy at all. But as a rookie, with a proven front office executive on staff, and his background as a scout, when you go back and look at the collective work, it falls short in many ways. The years 2009 and 2012 are EPIC failures by ANY way you look at those draft classes. Injury riddled, poor selections, wasted picks, and poor development have been the calling cards of those classes in particular. FOURTEEN picks were made in those two draft classes, another SIX were traded way. Of the fourteen players taken, only FOUR are still Falcons and of that four, ONLY ONE has emerged as a consistent starter. That is pathetic by any means!

Defeated and Dejected

In addition, the ability to assemble quality talent both on the coaching staff and the roster rest squarely on the shoulders of the GM and the owner. When a team has had FOUR “seasoned” NFL-caliber defensive coordinators on staff (Smith, Lewis, Nolan, Thomas) as well as an inspiring, solid college DC (BVG) and your defense STILL stinks, it is reflective of a lack of vision, direction, and strategy.

You can make the point on the offensive line.  You have consistently drafted players for a scheme that does not feature power but yet you expect to use a power game as your calling card. There is not commitment to any facet of the game; I take that back; when we got our ass handed to us by the big play passing game of the Green Bay Packers a few years back, we went after Julio Jones to give us that “edge”.  At the expense of giving up FIVE draft picks; picks that could have resulted in nice value and blue chippers for development over the course of time.

THE HEAD COACH:  AKA the Chief , Football Administration, Mike Smith.

The Atlanta Falcons do NOT have a head football coach. I have lived in Georgia all my life. I have lived in the south all my life.  I lived along the greatest stretch of football in the WORLD; US Highway 84 between the AL/GA border and the Okefenokee. So I know first-hand what quality leadership, coaching, teaching, and mentorship can do to a football organization.

Simply, we do not have that in Atlanta. Mike Smith is an administrator. He is the classic example of a figure head if I ever say one. And that is the simple fact. How in the hell did this guy get to be an NFL head coach? I will leave it at that.

WHAT GIVES?

Why is there a lack of approach in Atlanta?

Simply put, regardless of the tactics and the words, there is no unified vision at Flowery Branch. The owner is a fine man but he has seen his team slide into a state of stagnation. God bless him but his personal life has been in a funk the last two plus years. And he has been obsessed with his legacy of his new crown jewel, the Nest. He wants to bring a Super Bowl to Atlanta?  But what happened to the concept of bring a Super Bowl TEAM to Atlanta?  His approach, not a rant or ramble from the fans.  Look at the facts.

Bears Made it Look Too Easy

AB?  Stadium, MSL negotiations, divorce settlements, new romance, increasing the bottom line ledger by getting the stadium in the CFP mix down the road. Rich?  Get that stadium, stadium and nothing but the new stadium!! AB?  Stadium, MSL negotiations, divorce settlements, new romance. TD; his throwing out a life line to a failed GM experience in Scott Pioli as his version of Custer’s last stance; a nice, covert attempt to fill the void left when Rich went into full time stadium operations mode.  THE CFA:  Hell, who knows what he is doing.

Notice a trend here?  Where is the FOCUS on the Atlanta Falcons FOOTBALL team?

You saw the pathetic display that was our offensive and defensive lines last year? SO what did we do? ATL made one solid draft move and one solid free agency move for the OL. But we then threw away MAJOR cash on defensive linemen that were “situational/one-dimensional” or on the last leg of their tenure; players that other coaches decided the ship had sailed on, let walk. Telling?

In the PAST three drafts, this front office has used a STAGGERING SIXTEEN DRAFT PICKS on defense. Of those picks, TWO are starters. The others are special teamers at best and have not seen significant integration into any aspect of the defense LONG term.  Over the same time, we have invested THREE picks in our offensive line. And we took a tight end that is marginal as a receiver, runs poor routes, and struggles as a blocker.  Telling?

And remember…all this time, we have had three changes in the administration of our strength and conditioning program administration, we have had two OCs, two official DC changes, three OL coaches, and two DL coaches. Consistency?  Continuity?  Stability?  All misssing in action.

FINAL THOUGHTS….

The Falcons are in trouble, friends.  This ship is taking on water and heading for a disaster. And it is coming sooner rather than later.

The DC is about to be scapegoated; the OC is a free agent at the end of the year; the CFA has no clue how to make adjustments and since no one will talk, we have no clue what the state of the locker room is.  It seems that as long as I get my check, I am good.

Doug Baldwin called out his Seattle team yesterday for taking things too simple. Damned, the infamous Adam “Pac Man” Jones called out their kicker yesterday for losing a game and called out his team for not playing a complete game.  WE are talking Pac Man Jones here; not a leader by any damned stretch but a man that has a keen awareness NOW that there is a window here that certain players (and perhaps, coaches) are not seizing.

THAT is the heart of the matter in Atlanta. Plain and simple!! There I, friends, lies the true issues with this team. Therein lies the the disconnect.

Hester a Non-Factor

That is why it is time for a new start, a new beginning, and a new transformation. You may not like it but it is coming.  So enjoy the 60 plus wins that we had.  The next head coach is going to need time to get that “historic” feat accomplished.  The question will be now that you and I have been spoiled by “the history”, do we have the stomach to await the renaissance?

Look around and see the evidence. Tampa fans leave by halftime. Fireman Fred gave up his seat at Jets games.  Michigan fans are protesting and talking about staying home. A once proud city of Miami is catching hell filling its PRO and COLLEGE games. And the natives in Gainesville, Baton Rouge, Athens, and Tuscaloosa, are getting a little restless as well as new threats arise.

Consequence?  No.  All that is needed is a simple approach to vision, planning, and commitment to a REAL process.  See Mississippi State/.Ole Miss and the renaissance taking place there.  It was once looking that way in Atlanta.  But where there is no vision, the renaissance shall fade.

So…..it’s time for your thoughts, friends.

Is the Atlanta owner missing in action in this moment of crisis?

Do you BELIEVE this is a crisis situation or a knee jerk reaction from us fans?

Do you BELIEVE in the DISCONNECT NOW?

Will there be REAL CHANGE in Atlanta this offseason or sooner?

How gets the can FIRST?  The CFA, the GM, the OC, or the DC?

Do you believe that there is TRUE talent that can be developed on this roster given a changing of the guard?

Do you have a recommendation for a new head coach and why do you think that person can do the job here in Atlanta?

Why has our front office FAILED immensely in free agency and the draft?  

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589 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons: An Enduring Disconnect

  1. LRD

    F21 I played QB in HS as the starter since end of sophomore year. I stopped being QB in my senior year as I had usually 2 steps before I was pummeled. I had happy feet, and lived in fear. And after 3 cracked ribs, I broken finger, and a broken nose I switched over to being a DB.. and man o man was it so much more fun to hit people instead of being hit…. getting a TD was fun, but it was way more fun just decking people…
    And I feel if this keeps up for Ryan again this year.. that he will be injured and we will be seeing Yates sooner than later

    Reply
  2. Dewey

    F21, actually, my sophomore year of high school I was our scout team QB. Very small country school. I was bigger than most of our scout team O-line, and I wasn’t that big. You’re right, Ryan is doing all he can. And the play calling has been horrendous. I know our line isn’t giving us a ton of time, but to go into every game planning to not have time and coming out throwing screen after screen, instead of attacking, it’s almost like we(the coaching staff), have given up trying before the game even starts.

    Reply
  3. falcon21

    Yes sir Dewey, it is sad that the game is basically over before it starts and we as fans know it. You would think someone, anyone at the Branch could figure it out!

    Reply
  4. falcon21

    OK Cage, I will get out of the way, sorry for being pizzed, thanks Mike Smith and TD for making our day before work really suck. GO DAWGS!

    Reply
  5. JB Falcon

    I just got thru trying to find the “We Suck” clip to post it again. Let’s face the truth, we are a decimated team that has spent six years getting there. No matter what AB does, at the end of this dismal year, is going to bring this this team back to a winning team.

    Reply
  6. Paddy O

    anybody notice that S Jackson does not block? Quizz and Snelling could seriously block. We would have been better begging Snelling to come back than play S Jackson. He just is not worth a dime. Luckily, did not see th game. Was at Talladega. How do you have an inept offense? BAD LINE?

    Reply
  7. Paddy O

    i’ve been telling folks, Koetter is a dull turd of a HC. Tell me: Whose job is it to evaluate the O line? Our hot blitz read options seem invisible to me. BUT, the team did move when MR2 ran the no huddle. Did we immediately abandon it once it was successful? I think Smitty & Koetter have inferiority complexes, and thus do not want MR2 to make them irrelevent. They would rather fail than be irrelevent.

    Reply
  8. Dewey

    Paddy-couldn’t agree more about Koetter. Lots of people sing his praises, but all I see, week in and week out, even when things are going well, is an unimaginative offense that relies strictly on talent.

    Reply
  9. Dewey

    Smitty has no balls. I know, no big news there. But I’m not referring to how he calls a game or his unwillingness to take chances of any kind unless it’s in “do or die” time. No, I’m going way back on this one. When he was hired, Smitty’s mission statement was, we would be strong running the ball, we would be strong against the run, we would be tough on both lines. Then we make the trade for TonyG. Now, TonyG was a hell of a TE. First ballot Hall of Famer. But he’d always been average at best when it came to blocking. Of course I wasn’t in the room when this transaction was talked about, so maybe Smitty voiced some concerns. And TonyG helped us win a lot of games in his time here. But if Smitty would have stood up and said, “yes, TonyG is a great talent, but that is counterproductive to what we want to accomplish here.” Maybe this organization heads into a different direction than the location we find ourselves in now. Then, in 2010, the drubbing against Green Bay. 48-24 was it? And TD comes out and says we need to get more explosive on offense. We just gave up 48 points, and we need to get more explosive on offense. Then the Julio trade. Instead of 5 future players, we got 1. Once again, I wasn’t in the room, so I don’t know. But if Smitty would have stood his ground from his initial mission on how to build the Falcons, maybe we’re not so bad off now. The point being, either Smitty never fought for his vision, or he wasn’t strong enough to stand his ground. Either way equates to no balls.

    Reply
  10. Unca' Bob

    Dewey

    I wasn’t in the room either, but, it’s been my observation, you can have more balls than the Chinese Ping- Pong team, but, your boss calls the shots. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Greg Mendel

    Post-game comments from Falcons players indicate they put the loss on themselves with a consensus of “we’ve got to try harder.” That could be a case of being diplomatic, although I think the comments were sincere. These comments — from Ryan, White and Jones — suggest to me that that the Falcons stars really believe their talents should be great enough to overcome the team’s huge (unnamed) weaknesses.

    It’s an admirable attitude, but when Roddy White says “we have to start faster,” I imagine him running downfield 10 seconds before the ball is snapped in order to make the most of the 1.3 seconds Ryan has to spot him and throw the ball.

    I’m sure others have plenty of criticism for Smitty’s play calling yesterday, but what I saw was an O-line that is so beyond dysfunction that any play call is doomed. To fix the Falcons, it might be worthwhile to figure out exactly how and why the O-line has become a total mess. Use the answer to hire and fire at will, top to bottom.

    Reply
  12. ajarnbangkapi

    I noticed, briefly just before a break, Smitty going onto the field and greeting/chatting with/encouraging a Ravens player.

    I deleted the game already (caused a foul odor from mt DVR), but KI remember something similar last week, and the brief chat that made the edit between him and Watt on Hard Knocks. These aren’t the traditional chats after the game, but during game.

    Could Smitty be networking for a job on someones Defensive staff next year? I feel some players have given up on him, has he as well?

    Of course, if I was him I would have an eye out on what to do after the gig here dries out, as well.

    Can’t picture that bland personality on TV (in front of the camera, at least).

    Nice guy, victim of the Peter principle. He was the right guy for the trainwreck that Pricktrino and Vick left, but the league and roster have evolved and the skill set needed is different now.

    Reply
  13. Greg Mendel

    A-Bang: That’s my take on Mike Smith. He was a good choice — probably ideal — for the Vick cleanup. He concentrated on fundamentals and an NFL version of good parenting. But armed with Ryan, a fresh Turner, Roddy White and other good players, he was able to win but not excel. I’ve always given Smith credit where credit was due, and don’t blame him for every team failure. But it really is time for a “new direction” and “fresh approach.” Similarly, I haven’t criticized TD for failures I can’t prove. But I think a fresh approach is needed from a fresh GM.

    As I’ve said before, the plummet from 2012 has been so dramatic that it just screams that there’s something bad wrong, and more comprehensive than just the HC. We have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, yet have regressed to the Joey Harrington level.

    Reply
  14. Paddy O

    the one year deal for Smitty was AB “hedging” his bets; he should KNOW by now it was a bad bet – so, he should clear his cards of the table and start over. If we don’t win prior to the bye, and Smith is still out couch AFTER the bye, this entire bad season is on ARTHUR BLANK. Manure may roll down hill, but accountability goes UP. The longer you tolerate ineptitude, the more accountability goes up.

    Reply
  15. Paddy O

    Our offense is pure crap; there is nothing innovative about it – Seattle had more creativity the first year Carroll was there. We never provide any exotic looks; do we ever roll out the QB? Steven Jackson should NOT start, not get many snaps – he does not block.

    Reply
  16. Paddy O

    I still think we need to keep 2 blocking RB in the backfield – especially if the middle of the line is now a weak point. If Hawley and Konz are hurt, we are seriously screwed.

    Reply
  17. ajarnbangkapi

    Paddy O – I would be very surprised if AB makes an in-season coaching change, he will give Smitty the respect his previous successes have earned, and wait until the end of the season to decline to offer a new contract (NOT fire). A New coach won’t have any O-Linemen to work with, anyway.

    Reply
  18. LRD

    Well Konz did not make the trip to London, so Stone is the keystone of our line now… (hahaha.. nice play one words.. get it.. keystone..here all week.. 2 drink minimum.. tip your waitress please).
    No seriously folks…. and you all scoff at this.. but on the flight over the pond last night… TD is drinking a nice scotch with Arthur stating
    – Mr Blank sir, we are only 1.5 games out of the NFC south. We use the bye week to game plan for Carolina, and then go to Tampa and win 2 on the road outside, and we are back in the hunt. I know it is a long shot, but it is the only shot we have left. –

    And coming from Flowery Branch Free Radio will be that propaganda that we are still in the hunt. (and I honestly think it would be the funniest thing if we somehow end up winning the South… it would be the ultimate sick joke, and make us even more of a laughing stock)

    Last ramble for a bit.. but I was actually hoping the Raven would have went for 2 on that last touchdown. To grind our faces in our own crap. Blank humiliated. Then go to london, megatron comes back with game of the year.. and humiliation again.. this time internationally…. and that would be the moment Blank snaps and fires Smitty.. Smitty is last seen at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park screaming his head off like some long lost football prophet.

    Reply
  19. ajarnbangkapi

    Note to training staff – PLEASE make sure Matt Ryan is wearing a flak jacket or two for the rest of the season.

    Reply
  20. Hamad Meander

    Anyone want to start mock drafting for 2015? I think we’ll have the 6th to 10th pick right now. I’m going either Landon Collins – S – Alabama or Randy Gregory – OLB/DE – Nebraska. Hey, we have to have something to look forward to……

    Reply
  21. g

    As the blood continues to dry on another Falcon Football Folly, I see AJC reporters want to blame all shortcomings on our O-line! As if it’s a fixable problem by this staff (they helped to create) and then all would be well! “Child please”, says Chad.
    At least most Cagers know our problems are realistically much, much deeper and expansive!

    As the Lions begin licking their chops, hope we can agree on one thing:
    Let’s give our next (whenever that may come), new HC & Staff, GM, and FO staff 3 full years (IF they come from OUTSIDE our present regime) to BUILD a team and not cross-stich a team.

    Still say, like I said during 2014 draft and pre-season, hope = 2015 (wholesale changes)…full amputation of a repeatedly failed regime – preferably top to bottom.

    P.S. I’d like to think with Armstrong’s attitude and style w/ special teams, he too, is “held back” by Smitty from using some imagination like we witnessed with the Rams yesterday! Punter throwing a pass for a 1st down and punt returner “rope-a-dope” deception. Funny how even the Rams have hope and appear to be a team on the rise now.
    Maybe they could borrow our “Rise UP” rally cry since it’s useless for us…unless the fans want to employ it directed at Arthur!
    Right now, I’ll stick with “Branch Out” – the whole, brainless, clueless lot of them.

    Reply
  22. Arno

    Matt Ryan: “From where we were on the field, we had good plays called. Smitty made the right calls, but it just didn’t work out. Those are the plays we’ve got to make.”

    Ryan sicks up for him. What else can he do? But it can’t be more clear: Smith will never award Ryan more say in offense tactics. Smith calls plays as if we actually have an o-line. I’d be interested to see what Ryan would call, and who he would put in the backfield, given these circumstances. What’s there to lose? But with Smith, we’ll never know what Ryan is capable of. Meanwhile, Payton Manning…

    (JWW– great caption!)

    Reply
  23. Grits Blitz

    Dear QB Matt Ryan,
    I read where reporters were interviewing you in the locker room after the Ravens game and your shoulder was bandaged and an ice bag on your leg.
    Still sincerely sorry for you as I stated long ago. As you know and have known for some time now, your HC and staff are NOT going to get you any help. They have not for 2 years. Forget about it.
    Suggest, again, you help yourself by increasing coverage on your Lloyds of London Insurance Policy. That appears to be some help you may really need.

    P.S. “Ice”, it truly would have been a pleasure to see you have the time to throw bombs – deep and long – to your waiting WRs. We know it’s not your fault. Guess we can all play tapes of Steve Bart and wish together of what “might have been”…
    Stay strong, stay vertical, and keep ducking while opposing defenses keep … plucking.
    This will all be coming to an end one day. You may even have a quality O-line – in your lifetime – if you live long enough! Hope we all live to see it!

    Reply
  24. Dewey

    Yes, TD &Co. screwed up where the o-line is concerned. But let’s not forget, despite what the moron announcer was saying during the game yesterday, we have had more than our fair share of injuries on the o-line. Based on what our starting line was supposed to be, we are down to our #2LT(rookie), #3C(undrafted rookie) and #3RT, plus we went a game with our #2LG. That would be hard for any team to overcome. I just wish we’d quit game planning as if there is no way our line could succeed. Plan an aggressive offensive game plan, then adjust as you see fit.

    Reply

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