By: John Wickham
The Falcons were 10 yards away from scoring a TD and, possibly, making it to the Super Bowl but were stopped on 4th down. Before the season started, with Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora coming onboard and a good draft and undrafted free agent class added, the expectations were, if not Super Bowl or bust, at least NFC Championship game or bust.
But then the injury bug hit and it hit hard. First was Mike Johnson who was battling Lamar Holmes for the starting RT spot. Then Roddy White, Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas in the Preseason. In Week 2 several more Falcons went down: Sean Weatherspoon. Bradie Ewing, Kroy Biermann, Steven Jackson, and Asante Samuel re-injured himself and left the game.
The Falcons expected it to be tough on the road back to the NFC Championship game even if fully healthy. Now with less than a full deck that elusive Lombardi Trophy might be unattainable.
The Falcons are going to have to ask a lot of inexperienced players to step up and fill some holes. They already are with Lamar Holmes at RT and Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford at the CB position. Now Joplo Bartu is going to see some more time at LB. Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman are going to see some more snaps at DE for Biermann.
It might be too much to ask that these young guys start out playing like All-Pros but if they can keep their mistakes to a minimum and grow up fast, the Falcons have a good chance to make the playoffs and give some of these injured players a chance to get healthy. Until then though I expect them to lean on the arm of Matt Ryan and the aerial dominance of Julio Jones on offense and on defense Thomas Decoud and William Moore are going to have to help Osi Umenyiora lead the way.