I can certainly understand why you would be thinking like that. Many do. I understand I'm in the minority, but I think they did evaluate our roster and our roster needs correctly. Our offensive line needed help. Did we sit on our hands and do nothing as many think? No, we signed Vince Manuwai. We drafted Peter Konz. We drafted Lamar Holmes. We needed help at FB with Ovie down and eventually waived. We drafted the best FB in the country in Bradie Ewing. Our secondary was soft and we went out and stole Asante Samuels. Curtis Lofton gave us a big F.U. and signed with our rival the Saints. The situation was addressed by getting Tatupu for backup, knowing that Dent was ready (hopefully) to step up.
The only thing i would have liked to seen addressed was getting an heir apparent to Gonzo. But I also understand that we had limited picks this year and the FA cap was tight.
Now, due to injuries, some of these moves won't work out. But sometimes that is the case. You get some bad breaks and we got some. It doesn't mean the brass sat idly by. I think they said ( and I tend to agree) that we have some tame talent here in key positions. We need to play to our talents....and that's why Koetner and Nolan were brought in.
Yeah, we didn't sit on our hands, but it sure did feel like it. I guess part of it is as you say, a difference of opinion at the outcome of that evaluation. I think the gap between us and the best teams in the league is a lot larger than you and apparently the brass thinks. When I look at those teams that are projected to win 8 or 9 games this year, I see the gap between them and the Falcons as pretty small, esp. in comparison to the Falcons and say the teams that people are projecting to win 12 or 13 games.
I think we'll win a playoff game this year, and many people will see that and automatically say the team has improved significantly, but I think that eventual playoff win will come only because we get a better matchup, not because the team has dramatically improved.
And for the record, I think you give them far too much credit for drafting Bradie Ewing. Sure, Bradie Ewing was the best fullback in the country this past year, but there is always a fullback of his caliber that comes out in every draft. Anthony Sherman, Owen Marecic, Henry Hynoski, Stanley Havili were just as good. The 49ers took an undrafted DE in Bruce Miller and got good production from him. And there's likely going to be some fullback this year that's on a similar level.
This is part of the issue I have with their ability to evaluate. It's not to say that Ewing is a bad player. I think he'll be a solid to good pro player and if he gets healthy, a good player for us. But I see a fullback FA that includes Le'Ron McClain, Jacob Hester, Owen Schmitt, Michael Robinson, Spencer Larsen, Lawrence Vickers, etc. and Ewing doesn't stand out from that group.
I can't recall exactly if it was the Bengals game specifically as well as some other podcast I've listened to over the past few months, but they were talking about the FB position and how the TE position has been revamped in recent years due to the influx of talent, and whether that would happen for the FBs.
Meanwhile, Carolina brings in Mike Tolbert. KC has Peyton HIllis. Houston is going with James Casey. Philly had Leonard Weaver. Oakland has Marcel Reese. Tolbert and Hillis can run as well as block, Casey and Reese are practically former WRs, and Weaver is like a hybrid RB/TE. 2 years ago the Pats drafted Aaron Hernandez, who I graded as a 1st round pick, but the Falcons crossed him off their draft board because of some knuckleheadedness, but now in NE is the ultimate "flex" player, creating mismatches at WR, TE, and FB. If you were to roll the dice on players like that, even if it didn't work out I'd be all about that move. Because that indicates innovative thinking. But when you draft a guy like Ewing, who is a traditional one-dimensional fullback. When the Falcons tried to get their "flex" guy they would up with Kerry Meier.
Had we gotten Evan Rodriguez, he could have potentially been that player. And maybe we were looking at Rodriguez, because after he went off the board we quickly snatched up Ewing. But it makes me believe that in the Falcons War Room on draft day, once they saw Rodriguez off the board (and Rhett Ellison as well), they made the decision then and there to take Ewing with their next pick because he was the only FB prospect that they liked enough to draft. And so their needs-based draft strategy forced their hand, even if they were 25 other guys left on the board in Round 5 that are likely to have better NFL careers than Ewing.
Which brings me back to the idea that I didn't think Ovie was done. I think people perceive that, but I think he can play at a relatively high level for another 3-5 years in this league. Is Ewing going to be significantly better in that same span than Ovie would have? I don't think so. And it's not off to a very auspicious start.
Ewing smacks of the low risk/low reward mentality that I think this team has utilized far too much on draft day in recent years. I don't expect all of our draft picks to be home runs. But I'm getting tired of all these singles. To continue the baseball metaphor, I'm not seeing Ichiro taking teams to the ALCS very often.
And many people probably read this and say, "Pudge, what's the big deal? It's just one move. It's not going to make or break the team." And you'd be right, if this was the only example of this. But this same thing is happening all over this roster, if you care to look. If it was just 1 or 2 instances, then it would be no big deal. But when you're talking 7 or 8 instances, we're talking potentially serious consequences. And the comeback is "Aw Pudge, you say 'consequences' like we're only going to win 5 games. You yourself still think we're going to win 10+ games and win a playoff game, so what's the big deal?"
And that to me is complacency. And I know that sounds odd to many folks, being complacent and going to the playoffs. But it is when you have a rare opportunity to be in the driver's seat for a championship.