By Azarr Johnson
Image Source: ESPN (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
So we are at the midway point of the season and at this point you basically know what direction your team is headed, whether they are competing for a championship, fighting for a playoff spot, a team on the rise or rebuilding for next year and no I’m not talking about tanking, lol. The Atlanta Falcons at this point are in rebuilding mode, maybe not for a quarter back, but definitely for the rest of the team, as they sit at 1-7 and are at the bottom of the NFC South Conference. After the Falcons finished the 2018 season 7-9, from the outside looking in, it was considered a disappointment, but with all the season ending injuries (Devonta Freeman, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allenand Deion Jones), it was an over achievement and even still, you knew changes were coming and going to be made. First off they fired the defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, as if he had anything to work with and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian who kept the offense high flying and productive as in previous seasons, when Shannahan was there. Then they brought in recently fired Dirk Koetter, whowas there in previous seasons and head coach Dan Quinn took over the defense. They also gave their two productive players Julio Jones and Grady Jarret their money.With all these changes, many believed and heavily picked the Falcons would make the playoffs a deep run at that, but their are a few things holding them back.
As we can see they are 1-7 and in last place in the conference, one of the major reasons/issue for the team this year and is now rearing its ugly head once again, is they did not address their defensive issues/problems. Before the season begin, coach Quinn came out and made a statement and says the defense needs to be and will be tougher and nastier, but what he forgot when he made that statement, is he is not in Seattle anymore and this is not the Legion of the Boom. They do have pieces to compliment their high powered offense with Neal, Jarrett, Beasley, Jones and Allen, but they are still missing a piece or two. Last season they were horrible in pass defense, one mainly because of their corners that they put a lot of stock into, Alford and Trufant,which had been a horrible pair of corners and weak link in the defense for years. They thought they could cover it up with Allen, Neal, and Jones, but clearly it is not working. Second to run the cover 3defense, you have to have the personnel and they do not making the defense vulnerable.With all that being said, if they do not turn things around, most likely coach Quinn will probably be fired,but if I was Arthur Blank, Quinn would not be the only one out the door. At one point the team basically had three GM’s and even though they are now down to two, all three (McKay, Pioli and Dimitroff) were responsible for the mess we are seeing on the field now, they did not put a team together, to make a run at the playoffs or a championship for that matter.
Lets be honest, they were hoping that a high powered offense would hide their mishaps and this was not the first time, they dropped the ball and made this mistake, putting them in this situation. They had opportunities to fix this problem, especially in the secondary, but like always, they did not address it.For example, they let cover corner Brent grimes walk out the door and after Alford and Trufant gave up the most passing yards in one year, he renewed their contracts with more money, never went after any free agents like Richard Sherman, Malcom Butler, Aquib Talib and Jalen Ramsey that were available through trade or free agency, that could have made an impact and thats just to name a few. To make matters worse, they never addressed the issues at the line either, they gave Beasley that piece to make him effective at the line, they resigned Jarret but he is only one person and not to mention they have him playing linebacker one minute and defensive end the next, so he is never consistently rushing the passer which he does best, which mean Jarret is the only rushing the passer 80% of the time and one man can not do it all. The front office tried to hide all these issues with offense, but now Shannahan is no longer there running a high powered offense and they fired Steve Sarkisian who kept the offense fire going, so now it has finally caught up to them, the issues that they never addressed.
Can they turn it around, I mean you always have a chance, but with the Saints twice, Carolina and the 49ers facing you in your next five out of 8 games, the road is going to be extremely difficult and if this goes the way I think it is going to go, the Falcons will have a new coach next season and a new gm for that matter or should,only time will tell, stay tuned!