If you watched the Falcons not look as good against Jacksonville without Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant and Ricardo Allen on the field, congrats.
You watched a football team not look as good against a good team without five of its best players.
Welcome to not having good players on your football team.
Look to the stars
When you look at the Atlanta Falcons, there are nine guys who, besides Matt Ryan, pretty much dictate where the team goes.
Julio, Devonta, Deion, Desmond, Ricardo, Alex Mack, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley.
Saturday night, six of those guys pretty much didn’t play against the Jaguars as the third preseason game chugged along (Mack left early in favor of Wes Schweitzer, who plays center now). All that was left was Jake, Grady and Vic. And, even so, a team without those six (or with less-good players) does not win a Super Bowl.
What makes Atlanta special is its complete roster. They have depth, most certainly, but that’s primarily because they have about 10 guys holding down the vital spots on the roster who are all really good-to-great players. Heck, a couple of them are even elite or are bordering on that.
So what happens if you take most of those guys out of the picture against a team who just made it to the AFC Championship? You get something not super-amazing!
The Falcons proved Saturday night that all of your “Trade Julio!” “Cut Devonta” “Trade Trufant!” tweets are super, super dumb.
Those guys are the reason the Falcons are a great team, and the Falcons aren’t nearly as great when those guys aren’t on the field. Not even the hubbleflub of preseason poppycock can hide that from you.
The Patriot Nay
Now, those guys have high price tags, and NFL fans in general (I’m not singling out my beloved Falcoholics, I promise) like to live in a world where a team can win a Super Bowl without having to pay anyone.
Essentially, everyone wants to be the Patriots and win like the Patriots do.
Buddy, I hate to break it to ya, but the Patriots haven’t had a Patriots disciple to go all the way yet. New England and New England alone wins like New England does because they’ve got the master chef in the kitchen. The other chefs who go start their own restaurants never find the same levels of success. Do you ever wonder why that is?
Trying to emulate the Patriots only gets you caught out in the open. The Falcons have done a great job under Dan Quinn of doing their own thing, and it’s worked out well. Part of that equation comes with paying the top guys what they’re worth.
Saturday, you saw a vision of a team that did exactly what some fans want; a future where no one makes any money. It’s a world where every decent player taps into their entire potential every week and covers where there only be stardust. Yet somehow the head guys in charge are able to muster the brilliance of Bill freaking Belichick week to week and get you that ring you’ve always dreamed of.
You know, since that always works.
You want to know how important Atlanta’s stars are? Look at Jacksonville. Sure, it’s only preseason, but they would’ve looked sharper if the best players were on the field.
The team noted that if this mattered at all, those guys would’ve played.
Good lessons to learn in August: If the best guys aren’t out there, maybe begin to take them much more seriously than whatever you’re watching on television.