Ahead of their bye week there were all sorts of rumours about the Falcons and what they had planned for their future? Would Dan Quinn be fired midway through the season? Would they trade Julio Jones on deadline day? Is Matt Ryan in their long term plans?
It’s surprising to think of Atlanta as a struggling team facing the prospect of a top five pick. Looking back to the last draft they were aggressive and targeting one a position to put them over the top: offensive line. That clearly hasn’t happened and indeed the bigger issue, as most people agreed at the time, was on the other side of the ball, with pass rush being the main culprit.
Reducing Big Contracts
So on the field, what changes will they make? Well Matt Ryan isn’t back from injury yet but he isn’t going anywhere. He signed a five year extension only 18 months ago. More to the point, while he is in his mid-thirties, at 34 the Falcons can expect nearly a decade of top end Quarterback play from Ryan.
As for Julio Jones, it’s a similar case, as he signed a new deal at the start of the offseason. Jones’ contract is only three year deal though. While he would be the more likely of the two to get dealt, if the Falcons were to trade Jones, they would have done it before the trade deadline this season.
Three players Atlanta may look to offload are Vic Beasley, Desmond Trufant and Alex Mack. Beasley is an interesting case as he hits free agency this offseason. He had a phenomenal 2016 but has failed to impress otherwise. It wouldn’t be a surprise for him to hit free agency. Mack has one more year on his deal and at 34 he may well look to join a championship-chasing team, clearing nearly $6 Million. Trufant is a 29 year old CB with three years left on his deal. He is a piece that, along with Grady Jarrett, the Falcons may build a defence around but he has not lived up to his contract over the last two seasons. That said, his contract may make him difficult to trade
Off Field Changes
As for off the field, there are two more men to consider. While Dan Quinn has survived the bye and will now more than likely see out the season, it appears to be a stay of execution. Even a Super Bowl run three years ago can’t hide the fact that he is 37-35 as Falcons coach. Ultimately he is 18-22 since losing to the Patriots in overtime. It is time for the Falcons to cut their losses and move on to a new message.
That leaves one more man: Thomas Dimitroff. Pressure is not as obvious for Dimitroff with less media coverage about his job security. However this roster is barren. What’s more, the Falcons approach to last offseason was bold but wildly incorrect. Dimitroff felt this team was a move away, if they could protect Matt Ryan.
That missed the radar, let alone the target. The defence has fallen apart, having already been weak last year. The team didn’t have picks in the second or third rounds as they targeted two linemen in the first round. A lot of their major free agents, such as Jamon Brown and James Carpenter, were linemen rather than building a withering defence. Dimitroff has to be held to account for his offseason strategy, whether it costs him his job or not.
It certainly hasn’t been the season that Falcons fans had hoped for. With a tough schedule to come, they can expect a much needed high draft pick. You would hope that would go on a defensive piece to build around. As Atlanta are crying out for pass rush and Chase Young could be the ideal man to give the Falcons the pressure they need. There are certainly going to be some hot seats in Atlanta this winter, and not because of the warm Georgia winters.
Image: John Bazemore / AP Photo