This is a question I've been stewing up for a little while now, and it is something that went largely uncontested on here until FLA_Falcon (I think it was him) asked that question in my sadness thread yesterday.
I think, whether any of us want to admit it or not, it is a question that should be asked. We talk about all this talent we have, but there are those who are starting to wonder if our talent is as talented as we think. This doesn't mean they're bad, it just means we're expecting more out of them than they can give, whether because we expect them to be All-Pros and they simply aren't or whether they're not putting in the effort to be that good.
This comes largely on the heels of a game where we were beaten by a rookie QB who was missing his #1 receiver for some of the game, and with a defense that was missing at least two of its best players for most or all of the game.
I think that begs the question: Are we expecting more out of this team than they can give? Let's talk about it after the jump.
People get sick and tired of hearing that we had 13 wins last year because of easy schedule, etc., etc.
Really, if you think the team should've been worse than that, well guess what? You got your wish on Sunday. We could sit here and argue that point all day long, but that's not what this is about.
Our losing efforts are just awful. Sando over at ESPN said our completion % on Sunday was the worst since Week 2 of 2008, Matty's rookie year.
At some point, folks, you need to stop being a Player Hugger and start holding these people accountable. Anyone here think Nick Saban is a bad coach? Anyone? Oh, he was bad (or marginal, perhaps) in Miami, but great in college. Well, why is that?
Hmm....grown men, who are full of money, who want to do their own thing, and some of which who....don't listen.
I can't say I know this for sure, but I'd be willing to bet pro players are less able to be influenced than college kids. If a college kid half-asses a drill, the college kid will not only be embarrassed in front of his peers, but will be put through the works.
Do pros ever have that happen? I can't say I remember ever seeing a video where the guys line up and do sprints for punishment. They get fined and whatnot, but most of the guys just shrug that off.
If a pro half-asses a drill, does anyone notice? Does anyone care? Is there even anything that can be done? Are players in the pros in shape because of their paycheck or because of their desire to be in shape? No doubt they play because they love the game, but at what point do you start asking questions like this?
If a coach (say, WR coach) has a drill which he has used over the years that, when run many times at full speed, has shown to improve the hands of a WR, and the WR's hands aren't getting better, who's to blame? If the WR is half-assing the drill and the WR coach can't do anything about it except "Quit half-assing my drill.", then, come game day, is it reasonable to blame the WR coach for a WR having a case of the drops?
The answer is no. These coaches were not born yesterday. They did not pull drills out of a hat that magically work. The players have to put forth the effort.
Here's another analogy.
Most of you are older than me and as such, should know how real life works.
Imagine yourself as a teacher in an upper level college class. You have a small class, and you have been teaching your material for many, many years and are very knowledgeable about your subject. You know your class is full of good students, and you teach your material straight from the book.
As the school semester passes, some of your students' grades start to slip. "It's not a problem.", you think to yourself. "If they need help, they'll come to me. They're good kids."
The semester ends, and 1/3 of your class fails. "That's odd.", you say. "These are all great students. What could have possibly driven them to not seek my help? I would've helped them if they had asked."
Christmas Break goes by, and you receive a call from a very angry individual.
The individual is a parent of one of the kids. The kid made very good grades in all of his other classes, but failed this particular teacher's class.
The parent blames the teacher, saying that he should have done more to help the kid, that he should've made sure that the kid was ready to take all of the tests, that the kid was well informed with the subject and that, clearly, because he failed, he was not appropriately taught the course.
Is this blame misplaced?
The answer is yes.
Any of you who know how the real world works knows that you have to be the one to take the initiative to seek help if you need it. As a college student, that's the only way it happens.
Now, take that analogy and put football terms into it. Teacher = coach, etc. etc.
If the player is having a down year, and he simply goes through the motions, he will not get better. That is not the fault of the coaches, even though it is easy to blame the person of authority.
If the coach does not teach their area of expertise, then yes, they should be blamed, but let's be real for a minute folks, it is comical to think that a WR coach would not work on catching the ball at some point during practice. Let's not be silly conspiracy theorists here.
HOWEVER, the coach does not make the players stay after practice and catch extra balls. It is my understanding that Tony G (and perhaps Roddy now, also) stay after practice and catch 100 balls from the Jugs machine. If that's not helping them, then they have a personal problem. Regardless of what it is, if they have a problem, they need to seek help.
These aren't kids anymore. They don't need their hands held.
I've already typed 1000 words, and I really wish I had the time to do more research on this (I have a 10 page paper due on Friday, which I have not started.)
So, quickly, let's take a look.
The Case for Matty
I know we don't always feel like Matt is the answer, but you realize you have to go back to 2005 to find a quarterback that was drafted that is better than Matt is right now? No, Cam is not a better QB. Better athlete, absolutely. Better QB? No. Andy Dalton is not a better QB (to this point.) Bradford, Stafford, Flacco, Sanchez, all lesser QBs, even if only a little.
Wanna take a guess at who that 2005 QB is? Well, don't take too long thinking about it.
In saying that, if we continue the trend, we're still a year or two from Matty's best years as a Falcon.
Overvaluing him? I don't believe so.
The Case for The Rest
I really, really wish I had time to research this (it's somewhat ambitious) but I have to get on this paper and I'd probably spend another 1000-1500 words going over just a handful of players.
But I do want to point out that my ideas were basically to go back and look at some stats from receivers and running backs from over the years and try to make a correlation to backs that had thousand yard seasons previously, but weren't really known as being a "good running back" or a "great running back" or what have you. Same with receivers, though a case like Roddy's would be hard to find. Great at times, bad at times.
Julio is an interesting case. His combine numbers were excellent, and he's definitely getting open. But Adam alluded to this when we drafted him, that Julio was good for one really, really crappy drop a game, but was fantastic otherwise. I think we've seen that out of him so far this year. I think that's also something he can work on as he gets older.
Another thing with rookies, folks. Just because we've seen a trend of rookies who have come into the league and been great doesn't mean that all rookies will be that way. There are still a lot of players who need time to grow and get used to this style of game. I think Julio is awesome, but he still has some growing to do. No offseason workouts certainly didn't help his case.
And before any of you say that reason is BS, Roddy's best season as a Falcon came after his first and only full offseason with Matt Ryan. :)
In any case, what do you all think? Are we in the mindset that our team is better than it actually is? That would explain some of our despair if true, I believe.
I'm interested to hear all of your opinions on this topic. You've read some of mine. Let's go!