Well, look at it this way: The Falcons are still tied for first place.
A season that has the potential of spinning out of control quickly — and we reference last season as Exhibit A — took a bad turn Tuesday when the Falcons confirmed they’ve lost at least two more starters for the season. Center Joe Hawley (knee) and tackle Lamar Holmes (foot) were placed on season-ending injured reserve after injuries suffered in Sunday’s 41-28 loss in Minnesota. Safety William Moore was placed on designated for return-IR with a shoulder injury, which means he is not allowed to practice for six weeks and can’t play for at least eight.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are still OK. If the Falcons were in a two-on-two street league and running pass routes to the Chevy, they would be awesome.
The Falcons are 2-2, somehow good enough to be tied for first place with Carolina (one game ahead of New Orleans and Tampa Bay). But they already have lost three-fifths of their starting offense line (Hawley, Holmes and left tackle Sam Baker) and the status of guard Justin Blalock (back) is unknown. Two defensive starters, Moore and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, with a torn Achilles, also are gone for the year.
They’re going to struggle to protect Matt Ryan. Run blocking figures to be problematic. The defense was expected to be a problem even before injuries, as evidenced in the Vikings game (41 points and 558 yards allowed to a Minnesota team missing running back Adrian Peterson and starting a rookie, Teddy Bridgewater, at quarterback).
The Falcons are 2-0 at the Georgia Dome. But they gave up a home game against to Detroit to play in London Oct. 26 — forget winning; it’s about branding, you know — and are in a stretch where they play only one of seven games in Atlanta (at Minnesota, at New York, home vs. Chicago, at Baltimore, in London vs. Detroit, at Tampa Bay, at Carolina).
If they survive this stretch, it will be remarkable. We may know before Thanksgiving whether this is a playoff team.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff made some minor moves, promoting safety Sean Baker, tackle Cameron Bradfield and guard Harland Gunn from the practice squad and signing safety Kimario McFadden and guard Adam Replogle to the practice squad. But the reality is that the remains of the original 53 players who they broke camp with are the ones will have to get it done.
That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.