Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons have seen the light first-hand and are on their way to becoming the Atlanta Cardinals. By acquiring TE Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff believes he has put the Falcons in a position to compete for a Super Bowl.
Depending on your persuasions, insert buzzer here or grab the baton and start marching through the streets of Hotlanta.
The truth is, this trade will most likely amount to nothing, a wash with high-profile people claiming victory and pointing to stats and draft picks as proof of their seminal act.
The Kansas City Chiefs get exactly what they were looking for: a high draft pick in 2010 to help rebuild. Would they have preferred a high draft-pick in 2009? Sure, but that’s all they could get for a player that has had a Hall-of-Fame career.
Does anyone else hear bells and whistles?
Nobody would give them anything better than a second-round pick in next year’s draft for the best receiving TE the NFL has ever seen (all apologies to Kellen Winslow and don’t talk to me about John Mackey). Nobody saw Tony Gonzalez and said, “That boy is going to take us to the Super Bowl this year and we don’t even have to give up a draft-pick this year, son.”
Enter Thomas Dimitroff, he of Matt Ryan fame.
Dimitroff is looking to throw the ball more, even though the Falcons were killing people with the run. The Falcons were the second-best rushing team in the NFL and had no problem scoring TD’s, finishing the season as the #10 scoring team in the NFL (24.4/game).
And it’s not like they couldn’t throw the ball. Ryan and Roddy White spearheaded a passing attack that finished in the top half of the league in passing yards/game (208.5).
Offense wasn’t and isn’t their problem – unless they believe the Ryan Express can turn into Kurt Warner and Co. Maybe he simply believes the Falcons can outscore teams and not play defense.
The Falcons were not good on the defensive side of the ball in 2008 and that became the primary reason I believed the Cardinals would win their playoff game against the Falcons – even though the Cards were a long way from being the team that scared the pants off the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43.
The Atlanta Falcons sported the #24 defense in the NFL in 2008; they gave up almost 350-yards/game. They also allowed over 20-points/game, a stat that put them in the bottom third of the league in points allowed.
When all of this is considered, Dimitroff’s plan seems evident: offense is going to win games for the Falcons and 33-year-old Tony Gonzalez is going to do it for them.
He might be right…but I don’t think the Falcons are going to the Super Bowl this year if their defense doesn’t play better than it did in 2008. In fact, I’m willing to say the Falcons won’t make the playoffs this year and that Matt Ryan will take a step back in his sophomore season, especially if they want him to become Kurt Warner.
It’s a good trade for the Falcons because they really didn’t need to break the bank on Gonzalez. Second round picks can bust just like any other pick, especially when they’re a year away.
But they better be careful. The Falcons’ strength is running the ball and using play-action to throw the ball to Roddy White. That’s their identity; that’s how they win games. Dimitroff is adding a new element to an offense that wasn’t in trouble. Anytime you mess with chemistry – especially chemistry that works – you’re taking a gamble. “If it ain’t broke…”
Of course, the Chiefs got a draft-pick for Gonzalez (which every rebuilding program covets) but before you start talking about the brilliance of Dimitroff and a paradigm-shift in the NFC, remember, the Lions got a 1st & 3rd for Roy Williams and I don’t think he’s going to the Hall-Of-Fame.
There’s a reason why the price was right for Tony Gonzalez. A nice deal, but all it could do is mess things up on the not-so-messed-up side of the ball.