The articles about Thomas Dimitroff's approach to building the Falcons are pretty formulaic at this point. Thomas Dimitroff has weird hair and doesn't look like other general managers! Thomas Dimitroff rides a bike and doesn't eat meat! Thomas Dimitroff ruined everything when he drafted Julio Jones! The Falcons will never win a Super Bowl because of Julio Jones! Also, Thomas Dimitroff has weird hair!
Robert Mays at Grantland has written the most recent of these pieces, and it's an interesting read. Mays posits that Dimitroff's approach to building a team has held the Falcons back over the course of his tenure in Atlanta. Some of the points that he makes are objective fact. Dimitroff has developed a reputation for making big moves, the team inarguably does not have the strongest depth, and that weakness was tragically exposed amidst the rash of injuries the Falcons suffered last season.
Mays also points out that the Falcons were one Harry Douglas blunder away from the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, and that had things gone differently in that NFC Championship Game, fans and analysts alike might be hailing Dimitroff's approach to the draft and free agency as the smartest in the league.
The crux of Mays' theory is that Atlanta cannot succeed unless Julio Jones is at full speed for 2014. Jones' recovery from the foot injury that sidelined him last season seems to be on track. Prior to that injury Jones was nothing short of phenomenal. It's not a secret that his absence was absolutely felt.
I think the other injuries, the defensive weaknesses, and the absolutely ineffective offensive line are glossed over by Mays, however. Losing Jones but having a healthy Roddy White to throw to wouldn't have been nearly as painful. Having any semblance of a pass rush or being even remotely effective against the run would have helped. Even with Jones and White out and no rushing game to speak of, if Ryan would have consistently had adequate time to throw to his receivers last season the outcome might have been much better.
And when you're talking about depth, you have to consider how much talent development has to do with Atlanta's weakness in that area. If the Falcons had done a better job of developing the talent they do have, would that have made things run more smoothly last season when so many starters were injured?
Many of our readers will wholeheartedly agree with Mays' assessment. Many of our readers won't. Surely there will spirited (and respectful, please) discussion in the comments. Discuss!