The Falcons Need To Address Their Defensive Needs
In the aftermath of the Michael Vick Saga, the Atlanta Falcons seem to be doing just fine. This past season, they finished with a 9-7 record, which was somewhat of a step back from an season but was their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history. Their offense has played pretty well the last two seasons with Matt Ryan at quarterback, but it has been their defense and kicking game that has cost them a few games per season. They solved their kicking issues by releasing Jason Elam towards the end of last year, but the defense is something that they have not quite yet figured out. They have had, what seems like, a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy on defense. That may be able to get you into the playoffs but it won’t win you a championship.So you can bet that the Falcons are going to be drafting some defensive talent this year in the Draft but they have also been active in the free agent market.
Atlanta’s GM Thomas Dimitroff, who is known for his personnel acumen, is a defensive backs specialist who prefers to build the team through the draft rather than free agency. But when Texans CB Dunta Robinson became available, Dimitroff couldn’t resist and they signed him to a six-year deal. All signs point towards the Falcons selecting a defensive end in the first round but the question remains, ‘Who will it be?’ If Dimitroff and Company can just tweak the defense and add a few more playmakers, this team will be back in the playoffs and headed to the Super Bowl.Tony Gonzalez joined WQXI in Atlanta to talk about what he has been doing with the offense this off-season, whether he pays attention to the draft or he likes to see what they have later on down the road, and what he thinks went south for the Falcons last season.
What he has been doing with the offense this off-season:
“Yes we are. Obviously we made the addition of Dunta Robinson at the corner spot which is really going to help us out a lot. I think the draft is going to help us out a lot. I am excited no doubt about it. I am looking forward to getting this season underway more so than any other season that I have had I think. I just really feel that with the talent that we have on this team now, we are going to be able to go out there and make some heavy duty noise in this league next year. When I say that, I am talking about playoffs, I am talking about Super Bowl. I am not going to make any predictions but I do feel that if we can stay healthy and go out and work it the right way and we keep getting on the same page and some guys step up and start playing the way that they are capable of it is going to be an exciting season for us next year. I am looking forward to it.”
Whether he pays attention to the draft or he likes to see what they have later on down the road:
“I guess I kind of half and half it. I can’t say that I am not paying attention because I have definitely been noticing and seeing who we are going to pick. I know that I saw right now that it looks like a defensive end is what we are projecting to get out there in the draft. Yeah I have got my eye on it. This is my team. I want to make sure that I know what is going on at least at some point.”
What he thinks went south for the Falcons last season:
“Well I think that it is a combination of that with injuries with Matt going down, Michael Turner going down. A couple of offensive lineman going down. Kind of a snakebit season from that point but even then, even still there is no excuse. There is just reasons, but you can’t make excuses out of it. There are a lot of games that we should have won. There is no doubt about it from the kicking standpoint from just a silly mistake on one particular play and a lot of teams can probably say that but that is why I am so excited though. Because we didn’t go through that. We were still able to have a winning season though. Back to back winning seasons in franchise history and I was happy to be a part of that. Looking back on that, we should be able to build off of that and, like I said before, if we can stay healthy we are going to have a damn good football team. It is going to be a lot of fun this year. Like I said, I am excited about it. I can’t help it.”
What the biggest difference is in living in Atlanta vs. Kansas City:
“Well I think Atlanta, as far as the city goes, Atlanta has a lot going on… From the restaurants, it is a lot more crowded. There is a little bit more of a traffic problem in Atlanta to say the least. But I think from a team-wise perspective, I can’t say too much of a difference. I think both coaches wanted to win. We had some young players out in Kansas City, young players here. I think really what it came down to is, I don’t know. It is just like an aura around the building. You are part of something special and I didn’t get that feeling when I was in Kansas City towards the end. Not in a negative way but I think, especially off the success that Coach Smith was able to bring there that first year, it is definitely like an aura of confidence in that we are going to be a really good football team and we just have to keep going out there and keep working and working the right way. What rates success is working the hardest and working the longest and I think there is nobody that is a stranger to that. Maybe that is the biggest difference. All of the guys on the team are willing to go out there and do whatever it takes to be the best at their positions and I think that if you get enough guys on the team with that attitude, that team is a good football team and will be hard to beat.”