This offseason has brought plenty of emotions to the fans of the Atlanta Falcons. There has been surprise, disappointment, worry, happiness, sadness, intrigue, and so much more. The team has put the fans through such an emotional escapade that I have come up with the only acceptable medium to translate those emotions onto a computer screen. That medium involves the magic of the Graphic Interchange Format, or GIF for short.
As many a reader has found out, after ten minutes on the interwebs, the GIF is a popular way to show emotions through a short, looping video. It may be hyperbolic in nature but it rings true with anybody who has a connection with the team. So I hope you the fan will appreciate and reflect what I considered to be my emotions, as portrayed through GIF’s, as the offseason progressed for the Atlanta Falcons.
We will start with the end of last season. It was a cold, dark night in Atlanta and the Falcons were hosting the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was fresh off a fiery hot game against Green Bay, where in he made the Packers defense look foolish. Atlanta was betting on a fight and at first it looked like that was not going to be the case, but soon after the halftime show the momentum began to shift. In the end the Falcons were behind by less than a touchdown and looking to score again. The final play for Atlanta left the team with something to look forward to this time next year. Needless to say it left me feeling very, very upset.
So a short period of time went by. Every fan had their own opinion on what should be done. Naturally there were some that took things a little farther than others, but I am not sure anybody was ready for what happened next. In what might have been the biggest offseason move by the Atlanta Falcons in quite some time, the team released three starters from the 2012 roster, on the same day. I think anybody who was still paying attention and not still grieving were a little surprised.
On March 3, 2013 the Falcons organization announced that it had released John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, and Michael Turner. After the initial blow most fans started warming up to the idea. Dunta was a hard hitting cornerback but didn’t like to wrap up when he tackled and his coverage skills left a little to be desired. Michael Turner was the cornerstone of the team from 2008-2011, but in the 2012 season he looked sluggish when hitting the hole and didn’t quite help the team in the way that most had come accustomed to see. Then there was John Abraham. His release was very arguable and is still so. The late season injury might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for the organization. On the other hand he had double digit sack totals on a team who needed a pass rusher in the worst way. Then the Steven Jackson rumors started, and shortly after he was signed. On top of that Osi Umenyiora rumors started going around. Shortly after that Osi was signed. The feel good story of the year started to unfold when the team signed Brian Banks. All of the sudden the world seemed a little less scary for the Falcons 2013 squad.
The news of the new found Falcons players was something indeed. It left the needy masses with something to talk about for the month long span before the 2013 NFL Draft. Then the day came. The rumors had been spinning up for months about who was on the elusive Atlanta Falcons radar. Thomas Dimitroff and the scouting staff have been notoriously unpredictable during the drafts. Some were saying we were going to trade out of the first round and try to stockpile picks. Others were saying there were plenty of decent players available at the 30th slot and we were going to stay where we were. A small contingency made the uncanny prediction that we would jump up to ensure a quality player would be drafted. We jumped up eight slots and snagged Desmond Trufant in the first round. Outside of the jump it wasn’t to much of a surprise. This would replace the final starting player from last years roster. Then the second round came. I am willing to bet 75% of all people following the draft were predicting the Falcons to take a pass rusher. In regular Dimitroff fashion, he threw everybody a curve ball. He took another cornerback with the second round pick and left most people scratching their heads.
The second round pick ended the first day of drafting. Throughout the rest of the draft the feeling was pretty much the same. A 4th round defensive end, and tight end. A 5th round defensive end, and two 7th round safeties to end off the draft. All in all I think the Falcons were having a bit of an OCD issue and ended up drafting two of every position that they wanted. Except for their compensatory pick. Which ended up providing the tallest player on the team. In any case the fans seemed to be uncomfortably content with the picks and were once again left with nothing but water cooler banter for another month or so. Fans league wide became quite the Chatty Cathy’s, and somehow the Falcons were at the center of a lot of conversations.
Then the players started doing what they do in the offseason. OTA’s came and went and things were moving along as most fans expected. Steven Jackson was looking like the beast we expected. Osi was quiet, but hard work and leadership were both attached to his name when brought up. The rookie defensive ends were said to be looking good. Everything was fine and dandy on the surface, but underneath most fans were starting to get real antsy. Antsy about Matt Ryan and his never ending contract negotiations. Was he going to sign in the offseason like he said he will, or is he going to pull a Flacco and take the chance that he wins a Super Bowl and fatten the check a little more? Was the team trying to ask for too little? Was Matt Ryan not getting my e-mails about the extra hundred bucks I was willing to thrown in the deal? The tension grew and grew.
Then it all happened at once. Two days before training camp was set to begin the first round pick Desmond Trufant signed his contract guaranteeing his presence. Then Matt Ryan signed his monster contract the very next day. Fans were ecstatic about the news. It all happened so fast and Matt Ryan didn’t even ask for the hundred bucks I said I would throw out there. Life was good!!!
Now we are at present day. As a collective fanbase I would say we are eagerly content with the things that are happening within the organization. We have our franchise quarterback for the next five years or so. We have a promising group of young athletes on the team. We have a slightly younger group of veteran athletes that are looking to put everything on the field and walk away from the game with the ever elusive Lombardi trophy. We have managed to stay under cap, but overly talented. We are just starting to walk the walk that will take us to the promised land of football. For me, I feel pretty good about this team and have been shown nothing but trustworthy moves made by our front office. So I sit, and wait, and hope, and watch.
Hope you enjoyed the article and are feeling the same way I do. As always I want to hear what other fans have to say about the offseason, this article, or anything else Atlanta Falcons related.