I'm watching the Giants beat the Saints 52-28. And I'm seeing that explosive, and dangerous Giants offense that helped them get hot at the end of the season and win the Super Bowl. Victor Cruz and David Wilson were killing the Saints defense.
We'll see how the Falcons handle it better this week. But watching the Giants offense, instead of contemplatin the immediate issues that face the Falcons this Sunday, my mind started thinking about the long-term issues of the Falcons, so that they can build an offense similar to that.
I've been harping all year long about this offense's need for big plays. When you can't run the ball effectively (like the 2011 Giants), those big plays offset the one-dimensionality of your offense. Since the Falcons running game has struggled all year and likely to struggle in January, they needed to have this big play element show up consistently in their offense, so that come playoff time it was a regular thing, rather than something special. For October and much of November, that big play element was there. The past few weeks, it has not. And this is the point in the year where you don't want things grinding to a halt.
But since I'm not sure what the Falcons can do to change this for the immediate future (next 4 games), I do have some ideas what to do for the future, and it involves personnel.
There is a 95% chance Gonzo is gone next year, so the Falcons will need to get a new TE. One of the few flaws in Tony's game is that he is not very good after the catch. At his age, he's truly a "low post player" like Patrick Ewing. So it would help the Falcons if they can get a TE that does have that ability to make plays after the catch. A guy that can help stretch the vertical seam will be ideal. Obviously, the idela player will be Jimmy Graham. Is there a Jimmy Graham available? Probably not. So the Falcons will have to make due with the best they can find.
I've stated before that the biggest offensive priority for this team was to improve the ground game. The Falcons need to be a balanced offense so that if they do go through future slumps when it comes to generating big plays, they can at least move the ball effectively with a solid ground attack.
That means we're going to have to revamp the O-line because the current unit can't do it. I'm not here to talk about that. But they do need to get better at RB as well. They need an every down back (unlike Turner) that is big and tough enough to carry the load of 15+ carries every week. Ideal player for this would be a Ray Rice. But will that player be there? Perhaps. But doubtful. So the Falcons have to get the closest they can find to a Ray Rice type of runner. They also should move Jason Snelling full-time to fullback, and use him as a combo back/H-back specialist to make the offense less predictable. That frees up two spots at RB and perhaps the Falcons take a more committee approach next year. Quizz is one of the runners, another quick, homerun threat that can play on 3rd downs (i..e. poor man's CJ Spiller) and a more of a thumper that can help out in short-yardage (i.e. poor man's Mark Ingram) to split reps with.
The Falcons need some help at WR too. They need to go out and get a 4th WR that can help take the top off the defense. Doesn't need to be a world-class player, but ideally it would be a Brandon Lloyd-type. But if not, get someone that can win 1 on 1 matchups on the outside and generate explosive plays downfield. You want a guy with HD's speed, but Roddy's size. Kevin Cone fits that mold, but has yet to turn into that player.
If the Falcons do a great job drafting this year and make some smart FA investments they could all of these pieces this off-season. And thus you can grow into that offense that could really be fantastic going forward...even if Matt Ryan has peaked.