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