Things aren't as bad as it seems.
Some things are borne out of necessity. I wrote a post much like this one last April. Looking back, some of my "hits" ended up not being so "hitty", but instead put an "s" in front of that word.
Anywho, to Dimitroff!
Did you know that Thomas De**** is the only safety that came from the 2008 draft to make the Pro Bowl? And stop telling me the Pro Bowl doesn't mean anything, because it does. It means you were recognized as doing something worth a darn for a season.
Did you also know that De****'s regression in 2013 is Dimitroff's fault? How dare he not see this coming?
You know some people had Sam Baker mocked to go higher than we picked him? He was Walter Football's 4th best tackle and received praise for his versatility wherever he went (the trick was that people said he would thrive in a zone blocking scheme, which we haven't done since DVD)
So...let's say ol' Walter is right and that Sam Baker is the 4th best tackle. There were six tackles taken before Baker, three of which were Pro Bowlers, and three of which were not. One is out of the NFL, one plays opposite broken Jake Long, and one is now a right tackle.
So if Walter is right and the OT crop is running out quickly, the Falcons need to grab a franchise LT to protect their shiny new QB! But they're going quickly! Let's trade up and get Sam Baker, because Walter has him highly rated (as did other people). Yes, some didn't have him as highly rated, but regardless he was a top 75 prospect no matter how you slice it.
Injury problems, yes. He had them, but when healthy, he was very good. So we took a gamble on Baker and it didn't really pan out.
"But we just resigned him! Dimitroff sucks!", you say.
Okay, so let's take a look at 2013's free agent OL!
1) Ryan Clady
2) Jake Long
3) Branden Albert
4) Sebastian Vollmer (an RT)
5) Andre Smith
So Clady and Long both suffered season-ending injuries. Clady suffered a Lisfranc injury, and Jake Long exploded both his ACL and MCL. Vollmer isn't the answer, plus he stayed at home. Andre Smith did as well. Albert was franchise tagged.
So Sam Baker is already a better option than Jake Long because at least we know both of his knees will still function correctly in June of this year. Clady is still in Denver.
So if Sam Baker and Jake Long both don't play a snap this season. Guess which one of those two costs his team more money? (Hint: It's not Baker).
In fact, at no point during Jake Long's contract does Sam Baker cost the Falcons more money than Long costs his.
Baker has proven he can play 'Murica Football if his body isn't broken. Which, of course, that has happened exactly one year (2012). That same year, Baker graded out higher than Long on PFF. Amazingly, Baker also had PFF's highest penalty grade, where he was only called for one penalty all season. That might've been the year the OL had zero false starts or something absurd like that.
So the Falcons took a gamble on Baker again, in spite of all his injuries, because a healthy Sam Baker is probably greater than any rookie OL. He was also cheaper than Clady was.
(Don't forget, we also had a real problem at CB then)
He Can't Draft Linemen
As we've just discussed, Dimitroff took the best of a sad situation. The main complaint is that we don't have any Pro Bowl/All-Pro linemen. Is that Dimitroff's fault? You could certainly pin it on him but let's look at our first and second round picks since 2008.
- Matt Ryan, Sam Baker, Curtis Lofton
- Peria Jerry, William Moore
- Trufant, Alford
So there's three linemen in that crop. Let's face reality folks, the real talent is usually in the first two rounds. Your Pro Bowl/All-Pro players are much more likely to come in the first two rounds than in the latter five rounds.
We've already discussed Baker above, so I won't bring him up. Next on the list is Peria Jerry.
Jerry is ranked second on the DT list and according to ol' Walter, he tore it up at the Senior Bowl. But what was his competition? One Pro Bowl Guard, zero Pro Bowl tackles.
But anyone in here would probably want Eugene Monroe or Andre Smith (No Pro Bowls) over the two tackles we have. A lack of Pro Bowls are not always a measurement of failure, as I will detail later in this post.
Back to Jerry. So Jerry's the #2 DT in the draft and wrecks the Senior Bowl. Let's avoid confusion and say that our #1 need in 2009 was a DT.
I have echoed this sentiment many times, but if the player appears to be extremely good at his position, we're in a position to draft said player, and he turns out to be bad, whose fault is that? Let's not forget the GM does more than just draft players. The GM may have the final say in who gets drafted, but I'd be surprised if he alone was responsible for who was picked. It's like studying for the bar exam every year. And we all know that the bar exam is brutal.
Peria Jerry's knee blows out and his football career immediately becomes an asterisk. For every Adrian Peterson, there's a Peria Jerry, a Kerry Meier, or a Bradie Ewing. Not everyone miraculously (and I mean miraculously) recovers from ripping your knee ligaments into pieces. If I recall right, he hit the trifecta of ligaments, too. So if you combine his misfortune with his age, it's easy to see why the knee injury could have derailed his career.
But let's not be all doom and gloom about Jerry. Let's make him look a little better. Did you know that Jerry was our team's highest rated pass rushing lineman? You can't make this stuff up. Granted, yes, his run defense was at the bottom, but in spite of that he was still our most average pass rushing lineman. He had the 4th most pass rushing snaps on the team, so it's not like he fluked his way to his grade.
As far as his awful run defense grade, he graded out at around -12. He had four games where his combined run defense grade was -10.4. So in those four games, he was just awful, but in the other twelve games, he was pretty much an average run defender. Considering how much ire he gets from fans, he was our best pass rushing lineman and was an average run defender for 3/4 of the season. Is that so bad from the most hated lineman on the team? I don't think so.
But we're not done here. Let's break down Jerry's four worst games. Just how bad was he in comparison to everyone else? The first game (-2.0) was the New England game. In that game, Jerry was the third worst player in terms of run defense and the second-worst lineman. Babineaux was far worse (-4.1) and he ended up with a positive 7.3 grade on the year. Akeem Dent was slightly worse than Jerry also.
Next on the list is Seattle. I have a feeling everyone was bad in this one. Strangely enough, Babs had a positive 4.0 grade in run defense in this one. The secondary was pretty bad in this game, except for Trufant. Jerry was the worst lineman with a -2.6, but Peters and Osi also posted grades slightly worse than -1, so again, it's not like Jerry was alone here. Peters and Osi also posted positive run grades for the year. Peters earned his, whereas Osi was more of a two-game-wonder.
Third on the list is the Redskins game, the game Jerry tried very hard to help us lose (Thanks bro). In this game, Jerry was far and away worse than any other lineman in terms of run defense with a -3.3. Worrilow and Spoon weren't too far behind but they aren't linemen. I'll give the opposition of Jerry this game.
Finally, the game against the Niners in Candlestick. Jerry actually posted a positive pass rushing grade in this one. Wasn't overly positive (0.7) but it was positive and I'll take that. Half the defense had a pretty miserable game. Goodman and Maponga were worse than Jerry in terms of run defense. Goodman had a slightly worse grade (-2.6 to -2.5) in fewer run defense snaps (23 to 28). Maponga managed to score a -2.0 in just 8 run defense snaps. Yikes. Jerry's 28 run defense snaps were tied for the most on the team.
Worrilow had a miserable game in defending the run (-3.6) and Alford was negative everywhere. I'm painting a not-so-nice picture about our defense but all I'm doing is saying that there was some group failure in Jerry's worst run defense games.
Did you know Jerry had 5 sacks? Dang, son. I didn't even remember that.
I think it's safe to conclude that, while Jerry had the worst run defense grade on the team, he wasn't as bad as the hatred of the fans would suggest. That would also explain why he might've been resigned for nothing. That piggybacks us to our next segment!
He Holds Onto Players Too Long
Well first, I'll point to Ray Edwards, who isn't even in football anymore.
There's a growing sentiment among fans that either Dimitroff has no clue what he's doing or the fans don't know why Osi and SJax are still on the team.
I'm convinced SJax can still be productive. He's not injury prone but we did encounter some bad luck regarding injuries in general last year. His run grade was positive, and while it wasn't overly positive, at least he wasn't Ray Rice. Ray Rice had an inexplicably terrible season.
His grade was 2.8 with about 480 snaps. If you adjust his snaps to a full starter's load, he's probably in the top 20 of RBs in terms of run grade. Not great, but not awful. We don't need him to be 25 year old SJax, we just need him to be reliable.
As far as Osi goes, his overall grade was .4, so he was average throughout the year. It's easy to point to his pass rushing grade as a reason to let him go, but the whole defense's pass rush grade was not good. His overall pass rush grade was better than Massaqoui's, who has become somewhat of a fan favorite to take off this year. Before you point to "Mass got better at the end", Osi was still better at the end. Osi had two positive pass rush games in their last three games. Mass's last positive pass rush game was Week 11. That's not to mention that Osi only played half the snaps Mass did. Had their snaps been equal, the grade disparity could have been worse.
But if you don't like PFF stats, Osi had 10 more QB hurries over the course of the season, 2 more sacks, and only missed one tackle compared to Mass's five.
Has Osi lost a step? Maybe, but let's not kid ourselves here. Osi's still plenty capable in terms of what we have. You could easily spin that last bit in a way that says "Dimitroff sucks" but it's too early to say either way. Mass was a 5th round pick in 2012. Considering that, I'd say Mass has done pretty well.
Stepping away from the football grades aspect of it, veteran leadership is important. Remember when Asante and Osi were both benched, they both said the same thing. "I won't be here much longer, I want to share my knowledge with the young guys."
Each team needs a couple of those, even if they don't play much. Asante and Osi have the Super Bowl rings, they don't have much more to prove, so why not keep a few of them around? A young/playoff inexperienced team needs some people who have been there and done that before to help them get over the hump. Some teams figure it out on their own, but it helps to know someone who has dealt with the extra intensity of the playoffs, etc.
I could probably elaborate forever on why I think Dimitroff isn't as bad as some people make him out to be, but the fact remains that being an NFL GM is not something that is taken on by someone who lacks intelligence. Many, many uneducated people think our President is stupid. Is that the case? No, it isn't.
All I've wanted to do with this post and much of what I do on the site is show that there's some logical thought to the moves that are made. How many times in life do we have to make a decision that is in someone else's best interest? Why, suddenly, should we crucify someone if that move ends up not panning out? We needed a center, we took the best center available. We needed an OT, we traded up to get the best OT remaining. We needed a DT, we picked the best available DT at the time.
When that aforementioned player doesn't pan out, why is that suddenly the GM's fault? "Because that's life"? Don't give me that garbage! If it looks like a tree, smells like a tree, feels like a tree, and trees like a tree, whose fault is it when it ends up actually being an elephant?
If you haven't watched the movie Moneyball, you should. I imagine every team has a guy like the one Jonah Hill plays in the movie, aka a guy whose sole purpose is to crunch statistics.
With every argument that is on my side, I'm sure there's one for the opposite. If you don't like Dimitroff or his moves, here's your pedestal to explain why, but be reasonable. I'll be around for most of the day to discuss!