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Falcons Future Looks Bright with Dimitroff in Charge

Posted: Apr 28, 2009

To borrow a line from Robert Randolph, the Atlanta Falcons are now a team that is definitely “going in the right direction". Just two years ago, this organization was in turmoil. Their franchise quarterback, Michael Vick, was arrested on federal charges and consequently suspended from the NFL. That debacle was followed later in 2007 by the Bobby Petrino saga where the first-year coach quit on the team before the season was complete. Owner Arthur Blank knew he needed new leadership, and he made a great decision in hiring general manger Thomas Dimitroff from the Patriots.

In just one season, Dimitroff and new coach Mike Smith had the Falcons in the Playoffs and had reenergized the fan base. They started reforming the club by signing running back Michael Turner and by trading malcontent DeAngelo Hall to the Raiders for a second-round pick before the ’08 Draft. Next, they drafted a new franchise signal caller in Matt Ryan and used that Oakland second-round choice to get back into the first round and select USC offensive tackle Sam Baker. Add in other quality selections like linebacker Curtis Lofton, returner/receiver Harry Edwards, and defensive back Chevis Jackson, and Dimitroff was well on his way to transforming the downtrodden Falcons into a Playoff team.

Not wanting to sit still after a quality ’08 season, Atlanta had another savvy move up their sleeve before this year’s draft. They traded a 2010 second-round pick for 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez. Having set up Ryan with a solid array of weapons in Turner, Gonzalez and Roddy White, the Falcons turned their attention to defense in the ’09 Draft. They used seven of their eight choices on defenders to add depth to a unit that ranked 11th in scoring defense a year ago. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry (Ole Miss) and safety William Moore (Missouri) should both step in and start after the Falcons decided to release veterans Grady Jackson and Lawyer Milloy.

By building quality depth on both sides of the ball, Atlanta looks ready to take on the challenge of a tougher schedule in 2009 and compete for another Playoff berth. More importantly, the leadership team of Blank, Dimitroff and Smith has built a solid football foundation and given their fans a product they can support. It should be an exciting fall in the Georgia Dome.

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