The Falcons have injuries this year that are some of the worst we’ve ever seen. In just three games, the team has already lost both starting safeties for the year and their pro-bowl middle linebacker for at least half the year. Their best pass rusher is also sidelined while an important rotational player is also warming the bench. The offense is only slightly better off, with Andy Levitre gone for the year and Devonta Freeman missing the past two games with more to come.
Understandably, fans desperately want to see the team do something. Coming into the season, many people felt this team was one of the most talented in the league and capable of going all the way to the big dance again. That perception is quickly slipping away, and the hope of getting back to the Super Bowl is disappearing with it.
I’ve seen fans clamoring for the team to go after a trade for someone like Earl Thomas. Others want the team to sign Eric Reid off the street. Many are saying the lack of moves shows incompetence on the part of the team.
It’s time to take a breath and give Dan Quinn and the front office the trust they’ve earned over the last few seasons.
An eye to the future
When Coach Quinn was asked about bringing in an expensive veteran, his response made it clear: he and Thomas Dimitroff are not only thinking about 2018, they’re thinking about the long-term. The idea of bringing in Earl Thomas sounds great for 2018, but giving up a draft pick for a short-term rental will look foolish in the long-term, especially if we miss out on a draft pick that could be a game changer for the team for years.
That doesn’t even get into a discussion about the tight salary cap the Falcons have. Bringing in an experienced veteran could be costly and could keep the team from signing a player like Grady Jarrett before he hits free agency. These are tough decisions to make, but Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff are being mindful about the long-term success of the team, which should be something fans appreciate, not lament.
Plan D in action
When Dan Quinn was brought in, it was with the understanding that he’d focus on developing guys further down the roster. In his short time in Atlanta, he’s already demonstrated he will develop guys and give them an opportunity to grow. Ricardo Allen is a perfect example of this. He took a fifth round pick who was cut by the previous regime and turned him into a high-quality starting free safety. Now, he looks to use yet another fifth round pick to fill in the void left by Allen in Damontae Kazee.
Many fans were highly critical of Mike Smith’s complete lack of development of guys deeper on the roster. Quinn has been a breath of fresh air in that regard, and now is the moment where that development is put to the test. There will be some very rough bumps in the road and times we question the wisdom of this, but we need to see it through. We’ve already lived through the flip side of this and it left our roster decimated in the long-run.
Knowing his guys
While we all assume that someone like Eric Reid could come in and be a big upgrade at strong safety, the reality is that we’re assuming that to be the case. Coach Quinn knows the explicit traits he wants in his players and what makes them successful. He also probably has a good feel for whether or not someone would be a big enough upgrade over the guys he already has on the roster. That’s not to say that Reid is a bad player - far from it - it’s to say that Quinn probably has a good feel for who can plug in better in the immediate future.
Look, ultimately we are powerless to change the direction of the team and the front office. Even still, this is a coaching staff and front office that got us to the Super Bowl in two short years and rebuilt a defense into a great looking unit before the injuries poured in. They deserve the benefit of the doubt, even if the initial returns are frustrating and painful to watch. It’s time for fans to give Dan Quinn the benefit of the doubt he has earned.