We all remember the hit Kenny Vaccaro put on Matt Ryan, a hit many considered to be a cheap shot. Most of us also remember the Falcons' reaction to that, which was muted, to put it mildly.
Whether that bothered you or not likely depended on how you feel about retaliation in the pro game. Many are for it, reasoning that if you don't return the favor, teams will feel free to tee off on your quarterback. I hated the hit, but I also tend to believe the best revenge is just beating the other team. Either way, though, it wasn't pleasant to see the bulk of the team not even jawing at the Saints.
Arthur Blank clearly noticed that, as he tackled the subject in a radio interview with Brian Finneran and the guys at 680 the Fan yesterday:
Blank reflected on Ryan getting hit by the Saints in 2013 opener. Blank said it still bothers him that other Falcons didn't go after Vaccaro— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 8, 2014
Blank told 680 Fan new assistant gm Scott Pioli also bugged by team's reaction to hit on Ryan vs. Saints & that mentality has to change.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 8, 2014
What this means in practical terms for the 2014 season is tough to discern, but the Falcons may well encourage the team to be more vocal and more willing to mix it up in response to incidents like that. Pioli clearly has a valued voice in the new-look front office, and if both he and Blank are saying it, chances are it'll happen in some form. The Falcons should probably, oddly follow Lamar Holmes' lead in this regard, because he was one of the few players on the offense coming to Ryan's defense throughout the season.
I'll let you guys speculate as to how this will translate in the comments, of course.
Other highlights from the interview, collected by our good friend Vaughn McClure:
Blank reiterated the younger players didn't step up as expected in '13. Said Dimitroff and Smith are more focused now off last yr's showing— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 8, 2014
No one was happy with the way the season worked out, and it was eye-opening to see how the team fared after injuries. This is a sensible comment, albeit one that puts the heat where it belongs.
Blank on 680 Fan said he's looking at 2013 as a ``blip in the charts'' but noted it doesn't auto-correct.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 8, 2014
A losing season gets Blank more involved. I firmly believe Thomas Dimitroff was the driving force for adding Pioli to the front office, but it's very possible he wouldn't have been driven to do any such thing had Blank not leaned on him to add minds to the FO. There's no question that even if Dimitroff and Mike Smith aren't in imminent danger of losing their jobs, the boss is going to be keeping closer tabs on things than he has since the 2011 debacle.