It was time for Thomas Dimitroff to go. After an 0-5 start that would make it hard for the Falcons to avoid a third consecutive losing season, dramatic changes were the natural and expected consequence. That’s how professional football works. And truth be told, a decade plus into the Dimitroff era, his luster had worn off.
Was Dimitroff the victim of bad coaching, both on and off the field? Absolutely. But did he whiff several times along the way? You bet. In his wake, Dimitroff left a team that’s arguably better than their 3-6 record would suggest. The fact that interim head coach Raheem Morris has led the team to a 3-1 record over the past month speaks volumes. Even if this team isn’t built to win a Super Bowl right now, the basic framework is there. And with the right additions and a little luck, they can be competitive again in 2021.
Let’s be clear: The future of this team isn’t decided. That’s not the argument I’m making. They can’t simply think good thoughts and manifest a winning season. But if they’re smart, strategic, and aggressive, they can right this ship. And they can do it as soon as next season.
In the not so distant future, a new GM will walk into Flowery Branch and stare down a depth chart that needs help. There’s no meaningful pass rush to speak of and the secondary is lacking. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons need a long-term option at RB1 and perhaps it now makes sense to add a young quarterback who can learn under Matt Ryan for a couple of years. While some of those issues require major surgery, others can be remedied, at least temporarily, with a band-aid.
Don’t lose sight of the assets this team already has: At quarterback, you have a seasoned veteran (and former MVP) who has shown that there’s still more than enough in the tank. The right side of the offensive line has a bright future, and Jake Matthews is still solid as ever at left tackle. Julio Jones isn’t in his mid-20s anymore, but the WR corps as a whole isn’t short on talent. Foye Uluokon, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett, and AJ Terrell can form the foundation on which a solid defense is built. Simply stated, this team isn’t in complete disarray, and it’s time we stop acting like it is.
The notion that complete rebuilds are necessary and appropriate to convert losing teams into competitive teams is prone to misuse and abuse. Sure, some teams need so much help that a strategic plan spanning several years makes sense. But parity is a real thing in the NFL, and sometimes it just takes a tweak here and a tweak there to generate better results. As much as I respect Morris and the job he’s doing, if he can lead this team to a 3-1 record, there must be something there. We can agree to disagree, but from an objective standpoint, the team isn’t devoid of talent, leadership, and experience.
So take a deep breath, Falcons fans. Better days are ahead, and they may be closer than everyone seems to think. The next Falcons GM has their work cut out for them, but like a Porsche in need of repairs, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to drive this thing.