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A Tale Of The Atlanta Falcons And A Quest For Perfection

Always live up to your standards - by lowering them, if necessary.
~Mignon McLaughlin

This whole L.J. Smith mess had me thinking about expectations yesterday. The truth is, most of us spend our lives trying to perfect one thing or another. When we do, we're usually greeted with a new set of expectations from everyone we know, until eventually we fall short of those lofty standards--at least temporarily--and we have to deal with failure. It's not a pleasant part of life, but most of us will hit a wall we can't climb.

I fear that we're beginning to set up a bit of a wall for the Atlanta Falcons this season, long before the draft has begun. After a single 11-5 season that featured a luck of excellent scouting, great play and sheer luck, many (myself very much included) have anointed Thomas Dimitroff as our savior and built altars to Matt Ryan and Michael Turner. It's kind of natural for fans of a success-starved franchise, I think, but I'm increasingly realizing what kind of trap we're putting ourselves in here.

I truly believe that the Falcons have a long-term plan. Do I think that plan is going to feature a playoff appearance this year? After watching the team repeatedly pass on free agents and target low-to-mid level guys instead, after watching them let go of several key defensive players and team leaders, I'm not sure that's something we should write down on our stone tablets. It's telling that this off-season has been so unbelievably quiet that L.J. Smith's team-tease has consumed the collective time and energy of this site for the last couple of weeks. We're going to re-build our shaky defense mostly through the draft, and that approach rarely yields immediate results. If you don't count last season, that is.

That isn't to say that the Falcons can't achieve great things in the season ahead, and I'd be a pretty foolish and handsome blogger to pick against them blowing away the rest of the NFC South. I just think that we'd be wise to temper our expectations a little bit for this next year, especially if it helps us achieve sustained success instead of the kind of one-year wonder that comes with loading up on expensive free agents. Some of the great dynasties in sports have built through smart drafts and clever signings, and as a former Patriots personnel man, Dimitroff is well aware of that.

Now that you've read this far, get in your nominations for round two of our mock draft! After a news roundup tomorrow, we'll be starting that sucker back up on Thursday.