Step 1: Take a look at your team to determine which side of the ball you have the most talent long term meaning four years. If it’s defense, hire an innovative defensive-minded head coach and build the brick wall of the ATL with this philosophy if the opposing team can’t score, they can’t win. If it’s offense, hire an innovative Offensive minded head coach and build the most high-performance engine with this philosophy if the opposing team can’t catch or keep up with us, they can’t win.
From my view, they have made the financial commitments, creating an underperforming offensive juggernaut in waiting. If you are on the hook or over the barrel for an absorbant amount of money, you owe it to yourself to demand bang for your buck.
Step 2: Hire an offensive guru as a head coach. Anything else would be uncivilized. The Falcons have big money (QB) Matt Ryan $150 Million, (WR) Julio Jones $66 Million, (LT) Jake Mathews, $72.5 Million, (WR) Calvin Ridley, $10.5 Million, 26 overall, (TE) Hayden Hurst $11 Million #1 25th overall Ravens, (RG) Chris Lindstrom $14.7 Million 14th overall, (RT) Kaleb McGary $10.2 Million.
Folks, that’s seven first-round draft picks. If they resign (C), Alex Mack, that would be eight first-round picks on one side of the ball. Wait, that’s the arsenal they had this season and produced a disappointing 4-12 record as well as losing streaks over the past two seasons.
The Falcons are on the record with interest in interviewing defensive coordinators Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Robert Saleh 49er’s, Brandon Staley LA Rams, which makes no sense to me, but I don’t have to write the annual checks nor the big one to fire them. They also interviewed interim head coach Raheem Morris; why I don’t know if you don’t already know him, what does that say.
Offensive coordinators Arthur Smith and Eric Bieniemy
Smith has done a fantastic job with the Tennesse Titans. He has resurrected (QB) Ryan Tannehill’s career. And featured former Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derek Henry the way he deserved. Should Henry win the MVP award in back to back years, he would have developed the comeback player of the year in Tanneyhill and Henry’s league MVP. That’s impressive.
Most fans are screaming for Eric Bieniemy, the current offensive coordination with the Kansas City Chiefs. He is offensive-minded through and through. He played running back in the NFL and coached running backs. For the last three years, he has served as the offensive coordinator for the league’s most prolific offense.
I understand the fascination, but I have one concern he does not call the plays, which puts him in the shadow of Andy Reid. He would need a seasoned defensive coordinator with former head coaching experience so he wouldn’t have to go on that side of the ball similar to what the Rams did for Shaun McVey by providing Wade Phillips.
Footnote: That once in a generation talent, Patrick Mahomes will not be coming along as part of the package.
Of those above, my choice is Arthur Smith. Why, you may ask? Recall they had an offensive package for a dual-threat quarterback Marcus Mariotta. They brought in a struggling Ryan Tannehill from Miami when they gave up on him. The lights on his career were dim. He got a $250k signing bonus and a one year prove-it deal for $1.75 Million. Under the tutorage of Smith, he resurrected his career by leading them to the playoffs, won come back player of the year and signed a $118 million contract, and led them back to the playoffs this year.
Step 3: With the fourth pick in the 2021 draft, let Commissioner Roger Goddell read Travis Etienne, the outstanding running back from Clemson, or Najee Harris, the excellent running back from Alabama. If you can’t decide, flip a coin heads you win tails you win.
The Falcons are facing a few challenges All-Pro Center Alex Mack is no longer under contract, and Calvin Ridley just completed the third year of his rookie deal. Teams like to extend contracts before the start of that fourth year. Should such an up and coming talented player like Ridley enter free agency, there would be a bidding frenzy. The only way the Falcons could retain his services would be to use the franchise tag, which guarantees him the average salary of the top four players at his position for one season somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million -$20 million.
In Julio Jones’s absence, Ridley has shown that he can be a feature (#1) receiver, which means big money, as we see on that Hulu Commercial flying up like confetti. Calvin Ridley is a star in the making. Should he hit the open market, he will command a contract similar to Amari Cooper 5 years $100 million.
That brings about the question. Can the Falcons afford to keep both Julio Jones, the highest-paid wide receiver in the league, at $22 Million a year and Ridley essentially making the statement of two #1 receivers? I am sorry to disappoint you. That’s not going to happen.
The Cleveland Browns are making it work with Odell Beckum Jr. and Jarvis Landry because their quarterback Baker Mayfield is on his rookie deal. We know that’s not the formula in Atlanta where their aging quarterback Matt Ryan is on a $150 million contract.
This team is on its last window of opportunity. If Ridley demands a max deal, the Falcons are faced with a choice to deal Julio or blow it completely up and deal both Julio and Matt creating a huge bullet or, shall I say, a cannon in cap space. Perhaps a better statement is more fitting “CAP HELL”.
I offer you the paintbrush; perhaps you can paint a better picture.