When we look back at the 2013 season, we can all agree on one thing--mistakes were made. Whether it's the inadequate assessment of offensive line talent and preparation, general roster depth, or just the failure to address tendencies this team has shown over the past few seasons that were exacerbated by injuries, these mistakes ultimately cost the Falcons any chance of success in 2013.
The Falcons, of course, must remember the biggest mistakes of the recent past and learn from them in order to not be doomed to repeat it.
If we had to narrow it down to the biggest mistake of the 2013 season, the offensive line would probably be at the top of many fans' lists. It would be difficult to forget how bad the offensive line was in 2013. Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times, and also hit 45 times, and hurried 206 times, according to Pro Football Focus. In a season where Ryan's best receiving option was most frequently Harry Douglas--thanks to a Julio Jones injury, a badly hobbled Roddy White, and the fact that the league apparently decided that Tony Gonzalez was better-suited to giving piggy back rides to defensive players instead of being permitted to be a viable receiving option--the offense couldn't afford such weak protection.
Prior to the season, the Falcons cut veteran right tackle Tyson Clabo, choosing to let Mike Johnson and Lamar Holmes battle it out for the starting spot. Nobody could control the fact that Mike Johnson's lower leg basically exploded during training camp, and Holmes did progress over the course of the season, but Holmes wasn't prepared to be a starter when the season commenced, physically or otherwise. Garrett Reynolds played well prior to a season-ending injury in 2012, but was not good in 2013, and his deficiency at right guard contributed to the putrid play from Peter Konz at center. Sam Baker wasn't good, and injury surely contributed to his ineptitude, but Baker will be back next year thanks to a contract that, unless he proves otherwise this season, can probably be lumped in with last season's mistakes.
The offensive line has to improve if the Falcons are going to get back to their winning ways in 2014. Hiring Mike Tice was almost certainly a step in the right direction. There need to be some personnel adjustments. The failure to ensure that the offensive line was adequately prepared was, in many people's minds, the biggest mistake of 2013. We all fervently hope that the Falcons won't be doomed to repeat that one, because it was a nightmare.
What was, in your opinion, the biggest mistake of 2013, and what can the Falcons do to avoid repeating it?