Fans wanted answers when Jonathan Massaquoi was essentially benched last season. Massaquoi was a promising young pass rusher who had shown flashes of effectiveness on a team that, in plain terms, sucked at rushing the passer. The team was floundering, jobs were in jeopardy, and it appeared that the coaching staff was not willing to make defensive changes to improve as Massaquoi remained on the sideline. Assumptions were made as to the reason. Massaquoi complained to ESPN's Vaughn McClure about his snap counts, so it seemed obvious that Smitty and Mike Nolan were punishing Massaquoi for speaking with the media.
As time passed, this assumption became accepted as fact. There was no more plausible explanation in fans' minds for keeping Massaquoi off the field. People actually became very invested in this idea that Mike Smith and Mike Nolan were so petulant and inept as to lose their jobs by refusing to play Massaquoi that when presented with information that conflicted with this worldview they tended to discard it as inaccurate or irrelevant. Now, following the team's decision to waive Massaquoi, some are still insistent that the previous regime poisoned Massaquoi's reputation and led to this decision.
The reality is that the previous coaching staff determined that Massaquoi did not earn snaps on game days, and now the new coaching staff has determined that Massaquoi is expendable. Massaquoi's position coach, Bryan Cox, and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong both demand effort in practice, and both Cox and Armstrong, being familiar with Massaquoi, surely had a say in this decision.
As Dave has pointed out, the team gains very little financially by waiving Massaquoi. The $660,00 in cap space the team clears with his release is barely worth mentioning, particularly for a team that is currently more than $31 million under the cap.
The new coaching staff has spent their brief time in Atlanta evaluating the roster and watching film to make informed personnel decisions. Dan Quinn knows that this pass rush desperately needs improvement after being tied for 30th in the league last season with just 20 sacks total. Yes, Massaquoi had promise, but it's easy to deduce that there are other issues at play here, and the Falcons have decided that Massaquoi's performance and potential do not outweigh these other issues.
The argument can be made that the previous coaching staff didn't handle the Massaquoi situation well. If Massaquoi's effort and attitude weren't up to par, it's fair to ask why he was active on game days, or even why he remained on the roster. There was a zero-tolerance approach taken when Ray Edwards was cut, and asking why the team didn't employ a similar approach with Massaquoi is perfectly reasonable.
But outrage at the decision to cut Massaquoi probably stems from not looking objectively at the situation. Yes, Massaquoi had promise and demonstrated some real ability, but he's a fifth rounder with six career sacks who reportedly had issues with attitude and effort. The team doesn't gain much by cutting him, but they probably don't lose much, either.
Your thoughts on the team's decision to waive Massaquoi?