I can hear your collective groans. How long are we covering the shenanigans from last season? With over a month until players head to training camp, and no roster moves happening, it feels like a great time to revisit where it all went wrong in 2015. Here is how I see it. Feel free to limit your disappointments from the 2015 season to only three key moves (or lack of moves), and drop them in the comments.
1: Mike Person at center
This one was so clearly a bad decision, I can't even begin to make sense out of it. While we expected Joe Hawley to ultimately get the job, Person ran with the starters through part of preseason due to Hawley's slow recovery from injury. Hawley is not a Pro Bowl player, but the Falcons decided to go Person or bust. Person was a competent blocker, but was clearly in over his head after one offseason transitioning from guard. He struggled snapping, with blocking assignments, and calling protections along the line. But what else would you expect from a career backup at guard?
Moving a player from guard to center is so rare, I can't think of the last time it was successfully done. Some teams are forced to do it due to injuries, but this was Atlanta's plan from the start. There were so many better ideas out there, including holding on to Joe Hawley just in case Person became a major liability.
2: The Roddy White/Leonard Hankerson debacle
Last season, we expected White and Hankerson to potentially split the number two role. White had struggled with injuries the last few seasons, but looked decent when healthy. Hankerson had multiple injuries throughout his career, had not played in over a year, and when healthy was highly inconsistent. If Hankerson could stay healthy, he could probably earn a more snaps throughout the year.
What happened is still tough to explain. The Falcons planned to basically play 10-on-10, with Roddy blocking on nearly every snap. Retired Michael Jenkins probably had more targets last season. If Roddy couldn't play, why was he even on the field? It was as if Kyle Shanahan tried to create the most uncomfortable locker room as possible. Hankerson was oddly given heavy snaps early on. He rewarded fans with his inconsistent hands, before he was placed on injured reserve then sent off with an injury settlement. He didn't develop or improve, but he was handed targets.
If you wondered how Jacob Tamme had so many receptions, it is because of this wide receiver headache. Better ideas included not wasting a roster spot and starter snaps for a player the staff had no intention of involving in the offense.
3: Drafting Jalen Collins
It is still early on Collins. He was exceptionally raw, and we predicted a poor rookie season. And it was a pretty bad rookie season. However, after another offseason getting up to speed in the NFL, we had hopes he could start shining his sophomore year. Except he is already suspended the first four games of the year.
Collins will miss some very important games this year, and looking back, drafting him near the top of the second round was a bad idea. Now his training camp snaps should be limited with Akeem King needing to work with the starting defense. While Collins looks to be a perfect fit for Quinn's scheme, the Falcons had so many roster holes, and dropping one on a long-term project feels like a luxury they could not afford. Better ideas would have been addressing one of the major defensive holes, such as drafting three-down middle linebackers Eric Kendricks or Denzel Perryman.
Honorable mention: Not involving Matt Ryan in the coaching search
I would love to give Kyle Shanahan one of these awards, but he was a well-regarded coach (well, not by his players), with experience developing a running game. And the early season success was phenomenal. This can't be a head scratching decision if it made sense at the time.
What felt like a bad idea at the time? Not involving franchise quarterback Matt Ryan in the coaching search. I don't expect Ryan to be deciding on the coaching staff, but maybe the team's $100+ million quarterback could provide a little guidance on what offensive coaches fit his skill set. Teams rely on quarterbacks more than any other position, and the Falcons will be starting Ryan for the near future. You can't bounce some ideas off the team's highest-paid player?
Could Ryan have said Shanahan's offensive game plan sounds like a bad fit? Maybe. Would Ryan have petitioned to keep Dirk Koetter, or tossed his support behind Adam Gase, both coaches who succeeded with new teams and made the leap to head coach? That is possible, too. It is hard to say, but not involving the team's most important player sounds like the Falcons were asking for trouble.