Thursday, April 28, 2011
Falcons go all-in for Julio Jones
By Pat Yasinskas
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I just finished a news conference with Carolina coach Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney, walked out and got hit with the news the Atlanta Falcons had traded up to grab wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 6.
Wow, that’s a leap. In fact, it’s such a big leap that further analysis on new Carolina quarterback Cam Newton can wait a bit.
The Atlanta Falcons traded away most of this year's draft in order to select Julio Jones.
His first reaction: “Well we got Julio Jones. I’m excited.’’
Apparently, Roddy then saw the same details on the trade that I saw. The Falcons gave up their first-round pick (No. 27) this year as well as their second- and fourth-round picks in this draft. They also gave up their first- and fourth-round picks in 2012 to move up to No. 6 to grab Jones.
“Well, I was wrong,’’ White tweeted exactly a minute later. “We give up our draft.’’
White’s pretty much right. The Falcons basically gave up most of this year’s draft to get Jones. He’s a playmaking receiver from Alabama and, in theory, he and White should team together to provide franchise quarterback Matt Ryan with a great duo at receiver.
In theory, the Falcons have spent the offseason talking about the need to add an explosive player or two after going 13-3 last season, but getting bounced in their first playoff game. In theory, Jones is that explosive player. Pair him with White, tight end Tony Gonzalez on the short routes, Harry Douglas out of the slot and run Michael Turner a fair amount and there shouldn’t be any stopping the Atlanta offense.
But what if all the theories are wrong? And what if the Falcons don’t add an explosive player or two on defense (although I strongly suspect Falcons owner Arthur Blank is going to cough up some big bucks to get a pass-rushing defensive end in free agency)?
They’ll be right back to where they were last season or maybe worse.
Let’s cut right to the chase: Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith, who just got contract extensions, went out on a big limb on this one. The extensions seemingly give Dimitroff and Smith job security and that may well be true.
But they made a “win-now’’ move on this one. This is the kind of move that could end up looking disastrous in a couple years if Jones doesn’t work out well or if the Falcons somehow take a step back.
They’re not going to have the draft picks to make any quick fix next year.
The Falcons haven’t won a playoff game since Smith, Dimitroff and Ryan have been around. This is the kind of move that’s made when you sense you’re one player away from winning multiple playoff games or even a Super Bowl.
If Jones doesn’t end up being that one player (and Blank and Dimitroff can't find that pass-rusher), then the Falcons won’t have much ammunition to seek other answers. Yeah, it's short-sighted. But, hey, the Falcons apparently have a Super Bowl in their eyes. We'll see how their vision plays out.