I don't think winning a Super Bowl was a high priority for Blank when he first purchased the team. And I think the financial state of the Falcons he inherited made getting his bottom line out of the red his primary possibility. I think the onus behind Blank buying the Falcons was for legacy purposes, and I think that remains the case. I think Blank wants people to see his epitaph on his grave that he was one of the great American philanthrophists and businessman, building Home Depot from scratch, and then turning around one of the country's worst sports franchises. But I think what Blank understands better now more than ever is that winning a championship is the best path to doing that. And if he is successful in bringing a Lombardi Trophy here to Atlanta, then nobody is going to remember the 35 years of terribleness that existed in Atlanta prior to his arrival (outside Atlanta of course), and nobody is going to remember how much he stumbled and fumbled around as the owner for the first 5-6 years he was here either.
I don't think it's impossible for this team to win. I don't really think anything is impossible. Certain things are highly unlikely, but nothing technically is impossible. I think it's possible that any of the NFC South teams are holding the Lombardi at the end of the year, although none I would say as likely.
But I don't think this team is constructed well to win in January, and I think that is as much of a problem for why this team has struggled as anything Matt Ryan has done. We want to be a running team or a balanced team, whatever you want to call it, but we have an average to below average running game, and adding Konz, Manuwai, and Holmes isn't going to change that. You need a Top 10 running game, and I think it's highly doubtful that comes to fruition this year. So our identity built around being balanced really cannot work to its full capacity. Now we do have the makings of a Top 10 passing game, but what we really need is a Top 5 one. We need to be both efficient and scary. Mularkey was successful at making us efficient. But Mularkey was not successful at all in making us scary. Koetter is going to need to maintain that efficiency, but also make us scary. Now our ability to be scary is tied exclusively to Julio Jones. He is the X Factor, and Koetter's job will be to unlock that potential.
The problem I have is our lack of depth at WR and TE. Injuries happen, you're especially vulnerable when you have only a single X Factor on your offense. This happened to the Texans last year when Andre Johnson went out, but guess what, the Texans identity was a running team and they could just give the rock to Foster & Tate more often, and that coupled with their defense meant they could continue to win football games.
Now I think our defense has greater potential to be a very good unit. I think that success relies heavily on Dunta Robinson and ASante Samuel living up to expectations. I'm not as worried about Grimes, but there is some small worry that given all the off-season drama that he may not be entirely focused. But Robinson has to be an upgrade in the nickel. Not just effective, but good and Samuel has to be the player he was in Philly. And if that's the case, and Edwards shows up this year, Abe maintains his level of play, Babs bounces back, Peters makes strides, and we can get a bit more out of Sid, Kroy, and Jerry, then I think we have what it takes to be a very good defense, certainly one good enough to win in January. But I don't think that was ever really the issue, certainly not last year.
But it's about the offense IMO. And with Mike Smith's emphasis on being balanced without the running game to do so, and the limited options/weapons we have in the passing game, whether that's a good enough mix to really make our mark in January. And that largely relies on Julio Jones pulling a Larry Fitzgerald from 4 years ago and being uncoverable in the playoffs. And considering that was alongside Jerry RIce as one of the best playoff runs of any WR in NFL history, and that isn't something I should expect.
And I don't know if this coaching staff is capable of giving Jones the sort of offense and structure around him to allow that to happen. These things don't happen in the aether, i.e. they don't just spring to life magically. They need to be structured, and built from a scaffold/platform. And if I believed Mike Smith was capable of building that structure, then why haven't we done it the past 4 years? And if I believed Dirk Koetter was capable of this, then why didn't this happen in Jacksonville over the past 5 years?
We'll see... I'm not going to write off the Falcons completely, but I won't be holding my breath either...
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