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Where did it all go wrong?


MD-FalconFan13
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We were a top team in the NFL in 2012. Just yards from a Superbowl berth. Fast-forward 4 seasons and we might just be the worst team in our division. What happened?? We have most of the ingredients for a good team. A good QB (despite what some morons on TATF say), a good RB (at least he was good last year), a good WR (possibly the best in the league not named Antonio Brown) yet we still struggle to break even record wise (we've done it once in 3 years). 

What gives? I think the biggest reason is our drafts. We've constantly passed up on very good players for positions of need. I LOVE Julio Jones. But we traded an awful lot to get him. He's just about worth every penny, until you consider where we could have gone with those picks. There's no guarantee we pick any of these guys, but if we're trading up we could have gotten JJ Watt, Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan or just stayed put and got Muhammad Wilkerson. If we wanted a WR this year we could have looked at Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, or Marquese Colston in FAngency. 

Now again, I REALLY like Julio, but the decision to make that trade had an impact on our team that (combined with our poor draft/FAgency decisions) has lead us here. We gave up our 1st the following year in a draft with alot of talent. Luke Kuechly, Bruce Irving, Chandler Jones, Whitney Mercilus, Melvin Ingram all went #9 or lower in Round 1 of the draft that year. Drafting for need, something we might not have needed to do if we kept the picks lead to us missing on Lavonte David, Vinny Curry, Olivier Vernon, Kelechi Osmele and/or Mychal Kendricks. Contrast our strategy with Carolina who despite having a good LB in Jon Beason, decided to go with the BPA available and selected Luke Kuechly then you begin to understand how our fortunes started to turn. Tampa drafted BPA too. Despite having a good RB in Legarrette Blount (who had a decent season in 2011) decided to go with Doug Martin in the 1st. Then followed up with Lavonte David in the 2nd.

The trade was still affecting us in 2013 where we had to fill a void due to salary cap cuts. A slight trade up saw us get our now best defender in Desmond Trufant. Another player I'm happy we have. But the need for corner was so great we drafted two back to back. This (and our "Falcon Filter") caused us to pass on early 3rd rounder Tyrann Mathieu. I'm not complaining about this draft so much as I am the next though. 

2014 was the year after the wheels fell off in Atlanta. We ended up with a top 10 pick for the first time without trading in a long time. We decide that Matt was under so much pressure we HAD to draft a LT of the future after the "SackMaker" Baker. We pass up on a guy I posted about being BPA  (http://boards.atlantafalcons.com/topic/3998778-bpa-in-this-draft-may-be-aaron-donald/?page=1) and several pundits said would be the next Gerald McCoy, Aaron Donald, for Jake Matthews. Again, Matthews is a decent player, but Aaron Donald is a legit difference maker. And we never looked his way. More troubling, is the assertion from Dimitroff that Matthews was his guy even if future All-Pro and consensus "IT" guy Khalil Mack fell to #6. We go need with upside in the second and select Hageman. We pass on the guy that torched Weatherspoon for a longTD last week in Sefarin-Jenkins, whom the Bucs gladly scoop up. After they scoop up the other guy that torched us for a long TD, Mike Evans, in the 1st. 

What is the point? Where Carolina and Tampa Bay have been stocking the BPA in the draft at their pick, we consistently go need. This has lead to a bunch mediocre players and bad reaches. Meanwhile they have stockpiled good talent and managed to surpass us in overall player talent. Am I saying Dimitroff is to blame solely, no. But he has some blame. We've done alot better in 2015 and 2016 but these draft years have put us in our current position as you usually don't feel the affect of a draft until a few years later. 2011-2015 were years we squandered on two great players, a few good ones and bunch of misses. Meanwhile Tampa Bay and Carolina drafted pillars of their franchise today.

 

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I blame Tony G. :(

Seriously though, this roster had huge holes that the front office has had to fill over the past few seasons, with the past two seasons seemingly with very good players and depth in many rounds.  It is a process.  I know we were a few yards from a Superbowl and since we can't even sniff the playoffs, but I do sincerely feel the arrow for the franchise is pointing up.  We shed a lot of age and replaced it with a lot of youth and part of that is also shedding a lot of experience with a lot of inexperience.  When these youngins start getting the experience and feel for the game, with their mental makeup and physical assets, we could be setting up for a nice stretch of years to come still in Ryan and Julio's window. 

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9 minutes ago, MD-FalconFan13 said:

Perhaps....I was a fan of his. I thought firing Smith was a good move. But now that I see Smith having an impact on TB I'm second guessing.

Our last few drafts were better, but no game changers. 

It's just one game man, chill.

As for Aaron Donald, you take him, fine, but does he really make that much of a difference if Matt is still getting killed at the top of his dropback and the line can't run block to save their lives?

One draft wasn't going to fix the problems that were years in the making. It's like TheFatboi said, guys like Todd McClure, John Abraham, and Michael Turner were being let go with no viable replacements on the roster. That's ultimately what did us in.

Edited by JerseyNo12
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9 minutes ago, MD-FalconFan13 said:

Perhaps....I was a fan of his. I thought firing Smith was a good move. But now that I see Smith having an impact on TB I'm second guessing.

Our last few drafts were better, but no game changers. 

We have hit on some pretty nice players...Matthews, Freeman, Allen, Jarrett immediately pop out to me as being above average NFL talent.  Then you have guys that look the part in Collins, Coleman, Hardy and then the rookie class this year who also look promising.  Young, but promising.

If you look at NFL drafting across the league, you will see it's not just us whiffing on guys like Southward, Hage, Goodman, etc.  The draft is a crapshoot, even for teams excellent at it like the Patriots.

Edited by athell
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5 minutes ago, Vandy said:

Yup. We got old in several key positions.

Exactly. If you're gonna let Abe go you BETTER have his replacement already on the roster. That's why the pats turnover is so great. The replacemts are already in the roster 99% of the time. That's why he cold let a Ty Law go knowing he had a young Asante Samuel. If you let Grimes go Tru should've ALREADY been on the roster instead of drafting him the year of. We lost too much at one time. The 2013 team we fielded was not the same team that was 10 yards away from the SB

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4 minutes ago, JerseyNo12 said:

It's just one game man, chill.

As for Aaron Donald, you take him, fine, but does he really make that much of a difference if Matt is still getting killed at the top of his dropback and the line can't run block to save their lives?

One draft wasn't going to fix the problems that were years in the making. It's like TheFatboi said, guys like Todd McClure, John Abraham, and Michael Turner were being let go with no viable replacements on the roster. That's ultimately what did us in.

don't forget the disaster on the right side of the line as well. Let Dahl walk, mike johnson stayed hurt, garrett reynolds wasn't good, konz flopped..........clabo was cut, anyone remember lamar holmes? putting an oft injured mike johnson out there? a few other teams cast offs brought in, players so bad I can't even remember names, LOL

 

yeah, thefatboi hit it on the head, we didn't have the depth to cover a pile of dog crap in the yard....

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It's a whole bunch of things starting with the fact the we had a few very good, key  veterans on the 2012 team who were close to retirement (Turner, Abe and Gonzo). Replacing those 3 (plus other starters like McClure, Claybo etc) was always going to be a very tough ask. Doing it after gutting the best part of 2 drafts for Julio Jones was impossible.

What compounded the issue, was that the best players from TD's good early drafts were also eligible for free agency at the time, which put us under greater cap pressure - so we couldn't afford to replace those guys via free agency. Too many needs, and not enough high draft picks and cap dollars to fill them, put us in an impossible position. No front office in the NFL could have remained competitive in that scenario. We gambled on #11 putting us over the top in 2011 & 2012. It nearly worked as well, but there was always going to be a steep price to pay. Most fans loved the trade, and should just laccept the downside.

The decision to hire Nolan and switch to a hybrid system at the time when we already had so many need and not enough resources was a huge mistake. It led to us wasting a lot of the draft capital that we did have for 2 years, trying to add personnel for a flawed system - ultimately led to the firing of Mike Smith.

I don't buy the OP's Points about drafting Need over BPA. No team in the NFL draft purely on the basis of BPA. I don't recall us consistently reaching for needs in the early rounds and passing over players who were universally considered much better in the process. Most of the time you are picking between players with very similar grades, so it makes sense to pick the one who fits your scheme and fills a need, rather than the one who is going be warming the bench because he's a poor scheme fit or you are already loaded on his position.

If anything, almost every 1st and 2nd round player we've drafted was considered a good value sections at the time, and some were considered potential steals.  It's not as if we've been consistently drafting players in the early rounds with much lower grades...

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In 1965 when then commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to Smith and the Falcons were born. The Smith's seemed like great people, but didn't seem to have a clue as to how to build a great franchise. Misery with a few good years followed. In 2002 Arthur Blank took the realms got rid of Dan Reeves and brought in Thomas Dimitroff. You know the rest, bad pick after bad pick. With a few good ones sprinkled in. A few very good years. Now we have Quinn and Shanny. All signs point to more years of misery, I hope not though.

I think TD should have been fired before Smith and Company, but just my opinion. 

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12 minutes ago, JerseyNo12 said:

It's just one game man, chill.

As for Aaron Donald, you take him, fine, but does he really make that much of a difference if Matt is still getting killed at the top of his dropback and the line can't run block to save their lives?

One draft wasn't going to fix the problems that were years in the making. It's like TheFatboi said, guys like Todd McClure, John Abraham, and Michael Turner were being let go with no viable replacements on the roster. That's ultimately what did us in.

Bro, we are 18 - 30 for the last 3 seasons. I'm not over-reacting. We've gone a long way down since that 2012 season. I don't think it's wrong after 3 seasons to question how in order to learn what we should do to fix it.

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7 minutes ago, MD-FalconFan13 said:

Bro, we are 18 - 30 for the last 3 seasons. I'm not over-reacting. We've gone a long way down since that 2012 season. I don't think it's wrong after 3 seasons to question how in order to learn what we should do to fix it.

It's not like we didn't get any better. We went from 4-12 to 6-10 to 8-8 in Quinn's first season. I saw positives from Sunday's game that I think the team can continue to build from. We got pressure on Winston, we just need to finish. The offense by and large looked better. Ryan, save for a few off passes, looked more comfortable and confident in the offense. He was getting time in the pocket. We were getting explosive plays. Again, we just need to finish and stop beating ourselves.

Edited by JerseyNo12
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22 minutes ago, JerseyNo12 said:

It's not like we didn't get any better. We went from 4-12 to 6-10 to 8-8 in Quinn's first season. I saw positives from Sunday's game that I think the team can continue to build from. We got pressure on Winston, we just need to finish. The offense by and large looked better. Ryan, save for a few off passes, looked more comfortable and confident in the offense. He was getting time in the pocket. We were getting explosive plays. Again, we just need to finish and stop beating ourselves.

Completely agree that we aren't complete crap. But we were a top team. We aren't anymore. The drop off I'm talking about is from perennial contender to not even in the playoffs. That's what I mean when I say "Where did we go wrong"

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