There is a thing that happens when a team is losing. Fingers get pointed, usually at everyone from the owner down to the janitor. I would lie if I hadn't seen those who wanted Atlanta to get rid of Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan, Dirk Koetter, Matt Ryan, Roddy White and kitchen assistant Rusty Shackleford. Does Shackleford have what it takes to make an elite sloppy joe? I haven't seen it.
Gotta say, I think blame needs to be placed, as is earned by any two-win team. It reminds me of most any Dimitroff draft. It seems Atlanta drafts based on need. However, those needs rarely matchup with what I think are Atlanta's biggest needs.
I have spent years thinking I was wrong. Certainly you have seen the old line, "The professional knows better than you." Spend enough time following the NFL and you will find out that old line isn't always right. In the finger-pointing stage of a losing year, I feel like my opinion might have a bit of merit.
Perhaps, Dimitroff has seen the talent of our team differently than myself. Atlanta struggled all of 2012 with pressuring the quarterback and pass coverage. Dimitroff then cut John Abraham and replaced him with Osi Umenyiora, statistically a slight improvement overall.
Atlanta then picked up two mid to late round defensive ends. Suffice it to say, for the 6th year in a row under Thomas Dimitroff, our pass rush topped our list of weaknesses. And for the 6th year in a row, pass rush was deep down our list positions to address, short of the disastrous decision to sign Ray Edwards.
Certainly Atlanta's biggest need this offseason was cornerback, after losing Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes. Then Atlanta used their 1st and 3rd to trade up for Desmond Trufant. That shows you that Trufant was Dimitroff's guy. He felt good enough to trade away a valuable pick to ensure he got Trufant.
What happened next? Dimitroff took a corner who has, in my humble opinion, outperformed Trufant. Either way, Atlanta's talent level never should have allowed Atlanta to take corners back-to-back.
Dimitroff finally got rid of Michael Turner, potentially one to two years late, depending on who you ask. Atlanta's investment in running backs since 2008: signing Michael Turner, drafting Jacquizz Rodgers in the 5th round, signing Steven Jackson and picking up some undrafted free agents.
This is a recipe for disaster. Steven Jackson has talent but has struggled with soft-tissue injuries and has about 350,000 touches on his NFL body. The Green Bay Packers had a shot at Jackson this offseason but instead took Eddie Lacy right after the Alford selection. Lacy has 100+ yards from scrimmage and a touchdown the last two games and has been looking like the real deal. Thanks to injury, Steven Jackson has had 25 rushing attempts all year for 3.3 YPC. He averaged 0.5 YPC in his one game back since his five-week leg injury.
If it sounds like I am complaining, well, then you figured out why I wrote this article. Thomas Dimitroff played our roster like I played my fantasy football league. I ignored talent and ability for a guy who should have been better than the is.
This is how you end up with a terrible offensive line. How many mistakes are in this line? Easily, we have Dimitroff paying a guy who finally pieced together his first healthy and average season far too much money. Thanks Sam Baker. It isn't Baker's fault he got overpaid. It is Dimitroff's fault. Baker may have been a great candidate for the franchise tag to see if he finally turned his career around. Or maybe Atlanta should have checked in with Jake Long, who got similar money but is having a great year.
Back up a bit and remember our right guard position has been awful since Harvey Dahl left. He was limited on talent but overflowed with attitude, and Atlanta has not gotten close to replacing him.
After drafting a center with our first pick in 2012, it felt like Atlanta let Todd McClure retire without giving him the "Tony" treatment and trying to keep him here. Again, Dimitroff let a proven player leave without a backup plan. Or did he overvalue "his" guy he drafted?
It feels like Dimitroff got too cute with this roster. Plugging in players who should not be starting, ignoring better free agents, and letting veteran talent walk away. Injuries will test the talent of a team and Dimitroff's failing this test.