(Sorry this is so long. I'm going to college in 8 months so might as well start writing a lot right? haha)
The 2013 season was a disaster simply put. To our dismay, the Falcons lost several starters and key players for either the majority or all of the year and gave Tony Gonzalez a very bad ending to one of the greatest NFL careers in the history of the game. Some players did not step and perform like we had wished they would have, primarily the players along the offensive and defensive lines. Other players did not build off and improve their game from a strong 2012 season (DeCoud). The Falcons coaching staff seemed very inept at moments and still can't resolve the issues surrounding the Third Quarter, converting 3rd/4th & short situations, turning RedZone opportunities into TD's and not FG's, and defending third downs. The big free agent signings in Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora did not make that impact on the season that the Falcons had hoped they would. At first glance, this was one of the worst Falcons' season in history, given the talent at our disposal.
However, I think this was a season that the Falcons organization needed. Obviously, I would have liked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl for Tony but I strongly believe the Falcons were in that "Just 10 Yards away from the Super Bowl" mindset. Yes I know Dimitroff specifically said that the Falcons organization did not have that mindset but I did not buy it. Although our 2012 season was spectacular, the play from our lines was not anything to be excited about and, in my opinion, needed the most focus, behind the CB position of course. In the offseason, I simply did not believe that Falcons did enough to improve their lines. The signing of Osi and the release of Abe was counter productive and the signing of Steven Jackson proved to be irrelevant since we did not improve the offensive line at all. So, I think this season humbled the Falcons from the GM- down. Dimitroff appears to know that he can no longer sugar-coat and ignore our woes along the offensive and defensive lines. The players know that they were much further away from the Super Bowl than 10 yards. The coaches know that play-calling that may have worked in 2012, will need to be adjusted in order to succeed in the following years.
Now, the many positives of the season. Dimitroff displayed the brilliance that earned him 2008 and 2010 NFL Executive of the Year. He traded up and drafted Trufant (a move that left several fans with a little question mark above their heads haha) in the first round and drafted a less-known Robert Alford in the second round. I could not have been anymore proud of these two players for their performance this year. They were thrown into the fire, going up against the leagues top offenses and performed very, very well for rookies. Of course they showed their rookie tendencies, Trufant missing tackles and getting stiff-armed as if he were a toddler and Alford's several PI penalties. However, they both showed great promise and determination to succeed during a season destined for failure. If I'm not mistaking, Trufant was deemed the best rookie CB in the league. And of course there were the un-drafted LBs, Jiptu Barto and Peter Werilieu (Gruden you fool). They both performed admirably and I am very confident that they will only improve from here on out. Massaquoi is definitely on the rise, very eager to see how he turns out. Matt Ryan and William Moore were veterans that had to step up on their respective sides of the ball and performed beautifully when no one else wanted to help them. This is going to draw some hate but I also believe Harry Douglas performed well too. Yes he has been very un-clutch and needs to be more aggressive when fighting for the ball but 1000 yards in no easy task in the NFL and I salute him for being there for Matt when JJ and Roddy could not. Tony Gonzalez was Tony Gonzalez, no surprise there. Drew Davis and Darius Johnson will be snapping at HD's heels next season, no doubt. But, most importantly of all, the Falcons did not get blown out every game. They fought to the last drive in many games and even though that makes the lose even harder on us as fans, it's a testament to their will to win.
Offseason time! If BleacherReport is not mistaken, the Falcons will have about $17 Million in cap room and that can increase with a few releases and reconstructing to contracts. I believe the Falcons should re-sign Coffman, Mike Johnson, Peters, Babs, and Hawley. McClain, Davis, and Cone will be brought back with ease. For free agent signings, I believe the Falcons should primarily pursue Brian Orakpo, Jimmy Graham, and maybe Brent Grimes. However, this is unrealistic and more of wishful thinking by me. Alex Mack would be a nice pick-up but I'm not sure if Hawley will be as effective as a RG as he was as a Center. But if the coaches are confident enough to move Hawley back to RG and have an interior of Blalock, Mack, and Hawley, I will be more than content. I can only project who the Falcons draft after the acquisitions and departures during FA. If we end up getting a DE like Orakpo and an interior lineman like Mack in FA, I definitely see the Falcons targeting OT's Jake Mathews and Cyrus Kouandjio with that 6th pick. In the second round, I can see a big 'ol DT being drafted, I'm not too familiar with College DT's so I could not project who it will be.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day for reading this. Comment/ agree / disagree / rip me apart below! :) ENJOY!