If you've been a fan for any length of time, no doubt you've indulged or seen someone else indulging in a little nostalgia. Boy, this team would be better with John Abraham! Why can't we have Harvey Dahl and his nasty streak back at right guard? If only Tyson Clabo were here!
This is all understandable, if only because of the way this season has gone down and the heights the Falcons reached in previous seasons. It's also a waste of our time, a yearning for something that would not make this football team better but would make it more expensive and more ancient. I want to show everyone what the players we've been aching for are doing in 2013.
- Harvey Dahl is nasty, right? He's very clearly a quality guard, and for as long as he's been gone, folks have been asking for him back. This is understandable, but a funny thing is happening this season: Dahl isn't as good as the guards on this football team.
Per Pro Football Focus, Justin Blalock is the 6th best guard in the NFL thus far in 2013. Garrett Reynolds is #14. Dahl? He's #24, with his excellent run blocking dragged down by his subpar pass blocking. The guards have been the least of this offensive line's problems this season, and Dahl would not fix the underlying issues.
- Peter Konz has been a legitimate issue, providing subpar play from center. Todd McClure is, however, retired. Do I think even an old Mud Duck would be an upgrade over Konz's play thus far? Sure do. But Konz is the future and we're going to have to deal with growing pains, because Twitter jokes aside, I don't think McClure's coming back.
You want Tyson Clabo? Well, per PFF, he's been the 64th worst tackle in the NFL this season. Holmes and Baker have been even worse, but the gap is narrowing and Holmes has been demonstrably better at left tackle the last two weeks. Even Jeremy Trueblood has graded out better at right tackle than Clabo.
Maybe you don't trust PFF's stats. That's fine. What's more relevant is that Clabo is on the verge of being benched in Miami, with six sacks allowed thus far this season and some of the worst run blocking from any right tackle in the NFL. The Falcons saw what we fans didn't and/or couldn't: Clabo's trending downward pretty rapidly. Small consolation given the state of the Falcons' tackles, but at least they saved a few million.
- John Abraham is still very popular among fans, and with good reason: He was the pass rush for these Falcons for years. This year? The 35-year-old Abe isn't a full-time starter in Arizona and has zero sacks through six games. Osi Umenyiora, who took his old RE spot, has four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception through six games. Again, the team got out at the right time. The issues with this pass rush aren't coming from right defensive end.
- Brent Grimes is still excellent, so I don't blame anyone for wanting him back. Worth pointing out, however, that the Falcons' issues have not extended to cornerback, where Asante Samuel and Desmond Trufant have played well outside. You could certainly argue for Grimey as an upgrade even over Trufant, though.
- For the small Michael Turner contingent: Unfairly or not, he still hasn't latched on with an NFL team.
The problems here are real, and I'm not trying to belittle anyone for searching for upgrades for the Falcons. They could use them. It's just that the players that were a big part of this team's success in years past would probably not be upgrades at this point, and those that would be better aren't coming back no matter how hard we push for it. Let's put these memes to bed and focus on improvement from the guys Atlanta has and what fixes can reasonably be found.