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Sinking or Swimming

The Falcons Official Page has a neat little interview with Mora, where the erstwhile coach talks about the Lions, Kynan Forney's injury, and most notably the state of the defensive line. His comments on Josh Mallard and Paul Carrington help shed light on this entire team at this juncture in the season.

This is a team that has been missing key members. John Abraham's been out, Rod Coleman has been hurt, Matt Lehr has been suspended, and Kynan Forney's suffering through recurring shoulder problems. That's four of this team's most talented linemen, two on either side of the ball, and they've all missed time. In a situation like that, coaches have to plug in the guys they've got. This is what I like to call the sink or swim principle: with no real choice in the matter, backups play with the expectation that they'll either suceed or fail.

Imagine you throw a child off a high dive board. This child doesn't often swim, is clearly not as capable a swimmer as your more experienced child, and you have no floaties. This kid is going to either skim the top of the water and pop back up like a buoy or hit bottom like a brick. Now, in most every situation, you'd prefer not to just chuck the kid in the pool, but somebody's gotta swim in it, damnit. And that leads us into the Falcons' replacement children, who have not just treaded water but leapt in and out of it like a graceful seal. Man, I really need to avoid metaphors late at night.

The point is that guys like Tyson Clabo or Josh Mallard are just as likely to fail as succeed. The only reason they're getting so much exposure in gametime is due to injuries, and you would normally expect some kind of significant downgrade when you see PJ Alexander trotting onto the field.  This has proven not to be the case, and as I see it that's because of two things: a higher than expected level of backup talent, and enough talent surrounding these players that they can do a solid job and even author a few nice plays themselves. In this sense, the sink or swim principle has been a rousing "swim" thus far this year, and that's why I really like our playoff chances. A team with injury problems like the Falcons benefit greatly from a solid bench, and we're seeing those benefits right now.