5 thoughts on Falcons, starting with Blank’s marketing problem

Arthur Blank can’t be happy with Mike Smith’s record or fans abandoning his team. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Arthur Blank can't be happy with Mike Smith's record or fans abandoning his team. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Arthur Blank can’t be happy with Mike Smith’s record or fans abandoning his team. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

1. Arthur Blank has a marketing problem: It’s clear few fans in Atlanta have been caught up “NFC South First Place” fever. There were an estimated 30,000 Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the Georgia Dome Sunday. That can only happen if a large number of Falcons fans are selling their season tickets. Obviously, few teams in pro sports have national fan bases as large as the Steelers, so Sunday was an extreme example. But the game still illustrates how local fans checked long ago and have lost faith in this team and, we can assume, this regime. Above all else, that’s why Blank will make significant changes – whether it’s just with the team’s coaching staff (Mike Smith, assistants) or also in the front office (general manager Thomas Dimitroff, scouts). Above all else, Blank is businessman.

2. Wondering about Julio Jones: He’s a great player. Those who doubt that are doing so largely because they want to use, “The Trade,” as a lightning rod for what’s wrong this team. (I’m not going down the road right now.) But there’s no question Jones has had problems staying healthy. He missed three starts his rookie season, 11 last year, Sunday with a hip injury and it’s reasonable to wonder about his status this week. Jones is tough, he plays through pain, but that’s a difficult injury for any athlete, let alone a wide receiver who relies on his speed, quickness and cutting ability. Even if Jones tries to play against New Orleans, his effectiveness may be diminished. Because Falcons-Saints games often come down to one play, that’s a big injury.

3. Matt Ryan hasn’t rescued team: It’s true that quarterbacks usually get too much blame and too much credit. It’s also true that Ryan’s pick six against the Steelers, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, might have been partially the fault of wide receiver Harry Douglas for turning up field on his route. But Ryan is supposed to be the leader of this team and he needs to be the difference maker (in a good way). He has struggled with accuracy at times, even on some completions. He hasn’t made a lot of mistakes but the ones he has made have been significant. He’s also ultimately responsible for getting the offense in the end zone. Twice against the Steelers, the Falcons twice had to settle for field goals despite drives of 70 and 75 yards (that ended at the Steelers’ 10 and 4, respectively). And yes, Julio Jones would have helped.

4. Yes, sacks matter: The Falcons had one Sunday. They seldom got pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Their 16 sacks rank at the bottom of the league. Twenty teams have at least double that total, and Buffalo (49), Philadelphia (47) and Baltimore (45) seemingly are playing in another league.

5. Falcons-Saints, an historical perspective: The Falcons won the season opener at the Georgia Dome, 37-34 in overtime. What are their chances of winning again Sunday? For what it’s worth, they haven’t swept a season series from the Saints since 2005 (34-31 in San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina; 36-17 in the Georgia Dome). The last time: They swept a series that included a win in the Superdome was 2002 (37-35 in New Orleans; 24-21 in Atlanta).


A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: John Hart: ‘It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees’
— AJC: Falcons reality check: One great half won’t get it done
— AJC: What would it take for Falcons to keep Mike Smith
 — MyAJC: Hawks go from off-cour embarrassment to on-court success
— AJC: Playoff committee got teams right but changes are needed
— AJC: Jimbo Fisher leaves Georgia off ballot; Bielema puts Tech 19th on his (huh?)
— AJC: Playoff committee got teams right but changes are needed
— MyAJC: SEC title: Mizzou can’t compete with Alabama –nor can any team
— AJC: Short takes: Sims leads way as Alabama rules SEC again
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Georgia Tech ends Florida State’s run
— AJC: New rankings make college football playoff look like set up
— MyAJC: Rare situation: Eyes are off Bulldogs and on Jackets
— MyAJC: Tech’s Bobinski finally stops stalling with Johnson
— AJC: Georgia Tech finally offers Johnson contract extension
— MyAJC: Finally, a real football team named Falcons shows up
— AJC: Falcons’ short takes: Devin Hester says officials admitted mistake
— MyAJC: This Georgia season was just another big tease
— AJC: Georgia ‘short takes’ on loss to Georgia Tech
— MyAJC: As Georgia loses SEC title shot, Tech suddenly has higher ceiling
— AJC: Missouri wins SEC East — will it affect Georgia?

 

Reader Comments 0

90 comments
DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I don't know if you trade Julio, but if they did-- I would understand he simply can't stay on the field. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but he needs a new regime to challenge him to get to the next level. He's way too comfortable with this regime. If you watch this game and Julio can't go, Mike Smith will not use his fullback and his tight-end coming out the backfield. Also their are a few players on the team who can stretch the defense, but Dirk Koetter won't use them. I'm impressed with Mike Tice--- and Nolan just doesn't have much to work with. I'll be watching closely, to see if Mr. Blank knows what he's doing. But seven years is long enough to tell me what you're all about.

buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

This year's lackluster performance (two years in a row with a franchise quarterback) SHOULD be the turning point in the franchise.  Improvement is OK but Falcons fans have increased their expectations and now EXPECT a winner.   All good going forward- I think Blank will get it done.  

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Looking @ the pic of Coach Smith and Mr. Blank got me wondering, only half jokingly, why doesn't Arthur just coach the team himself. It seemingly would be a win-win all around: he wouldn't have to pay a coach, he's always there on the sideline anyway, and he couldn't do much worse - might even luck out and do better.

honestjohnny
honestjohnny

I just pray if we replace theses guys that we don't end up like Tenn,Was,Clev,& etc!! Please Bring in a Coach Like Pete Carroll or Bill Belichick & lets build a dynasty here in Atlanta with our New Stadium...............

honestjohnny
honestjohnny

Let's do away with the Big 3 The GM, The Head Coach & the starting Qb!! But in all honesty Matt Ryan has shown some flashes of Brilliancy so I guess we can keep him for a couple more years.......the only thing can save this staff's job is bringing the Lombardi Trophy Home to the Ga Dome!!!

warfalcon
warfalcon

“Hopefully we come in this week and get to the details and try to figure out what Atlanta’s gonna try to beat us with,” Lewis said. “We can’t let Matt Ryan come out and throw for 500 yards this week. We’re definitely gonna give them their funeral

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

The front office here has failed miserably. Dimitrov continues to prove he is not a real NFL GM. Arthur doesn't know how to stay off the sidelines. And he can't seem to figure out the never-ending Rise Up marketing schtik has long ago runs it's course. And his demand for a new stadium to cement his legacy is not impressing anybody.

Meanwhile, Mike Smith is dragged through the mud being forced to tolerate Hard Knocks and replace assistant coaches he wanted to keep. The overall situation here is like a very dysfunctional family. Firing Smith won't fix anything. Firing Dimitrov will help but only if you vastly improve on his replacement. And finally, Blank needs to get off his ego trip and get in synch with his (remaining) fans!

Farcas
Farcas

As a Falcon fan I say Go Saints! I no more wnat this team in the playoffs then I did the Braves this past year. When this season ends Blank has a chance to set the tone for the next 5 years. Good or bad. The first move has to be fire Smith on the Monday after the last game and fire TD on Tuesday. You're up Mr. Blank.

peanutgallery
peanutgallery

Beating the Saints is meaningless. In case no one noticed the Saints are just as horrible as the Falcons. They got their butts kicked by an even worse Panthers team in the vaunted SUPERDOME. 


Both teams have the same problems: awful defense, long periods of inexplicable lackluster play, and supposedly "elite" QBs that have thrown pick 6's at the worst times.


The Falcons or the Saints have no chance if either one manages to stumble into the playoffs.

tmc
tmc

I got no problem with the trade for Julio... what i do have a huge problem with is: if you make that trade, you can't miss on your other drafts and free agent signings around that draft. TD has missed on almost all of those and letting go players from this team that could help them win.


All that = bad, bad, bad personell decisions. 


So stop blaming 1 move for a under-talented squad. And start holding TD & Mike Smith accountable for the dozens of other decisions that have taken this team to the bottom of the league in talent.

monty1
monty1

This  team couldn't fight it's way out of a wet paper sack. Jackson is useless. Roddy White is showing his age. Harry Douglas is hit or miss. Julio can't stay healthy. Ryan is no Drew Brees.  Falcons chances of taking care of business. Slim to none.  They have become irrelevant.

KatieR620
KatieR620

16 sacks in 14 games through year 7 and people are defending this wretched front office.


Go ride bikes with Lance Armstrong Thomas. The NFL just isn't your game.

KatieR620
KatieR620

no.  There were lots of steelers fans because smart season ticket holders sold those tickets to pay some of the ridiculous cost of tickets to professional sporting events.


In the new stadium,  it's going to be worse. Unless you are a premiere franchise or have some amazing talents that many people desire to pay to see in person... this is going to happen all the time. 


People from pittsburg live here, they don't adopt the Falcons.. because why. It's a smart economic decision to sell tickets.


There's no rule that says you have to pay a QB 100 million,  or build 1.5 billion dollar stadiums.  


They did this to themselves.

maxman2660
maxman2660

@KatieR620 good point, i refuse now to attend overpriced sporting events,watch for free on TV or get out and enjoy something else is what i do

Davidweston7
Davidweston7

Forgive my ignorance as I am in AZ----what is a PSL?

Ersatz
Ersatz

@Ruffski @Davidweston7 Nope, it's a Personal Seat License, which is a few extra thousands of dollars you have to pay one time, just for the privilege to buy season tickets to watch the Falcons lose.  Just the Falcons.  Not Superbowls, Final Fours, Major League Soccer, SEC Championships, Chick-Fil-A Kickoffs, Chick-Fil-A Bowls, Wrestlemania.  A few thousand more dollars, even in the nosebleed seats, just to have season tickets to watch the Falcons never win a Superbowl.  And if you don't buy season tickets every year, despite the inevitable price increases, you lose your thousands of dollars in PSL "investment." And if you want to change seats, you have to get the Falcons' permission, sign an affidavit that you aren't trying to sell them to someone trying to make a profit (like by selling the seats to Steelers and Bears fans jnstead of seeing the Falcons lose in person yourself), and pay a fee.  What a bargain! Enjoy!

Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

How did the Falcons lose to the Bears? There are a lot of bad teams in the NFL this year. Two are playing on MNF right now and another one plays in ATL.

buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

Put a gold stripe on the helmet and that will solve all the marketing problems

Floppy
Floppy

Take the whole Falcons organization crew to Paws, Whiskers and Wags and have them put down for good. 

Two losses coming up to end this miserable season, more drafts to blow next year. Rinse and repeat.





Zing
Zing

I really think they'll win this weekend and win the South.  Good grief.  Almost wish they wouldn't because of the draft pick.

ATLFan
ATLFan

Regarding Mr. Blanks marketing problem, below is the email I just sent to the firm he recently hired to conduct a survey of Seasons Ticket holders. My response is to the "canned" thank-you-for-your-response I received to the survey questions I actually spent time answering and submitting.



To Whom It Probably Does Not Concern:



I am very disappointed to receive this type of canned response when I actually did, as you requested, spend about 15 minutes putting together well thought out answers of which I believe the management of the Falcons needs to be aware. I would have thought that at least I would have gotten a phone call to discuss. I know you have my number because I received a call today reminding me that I have yet to buy my playoff tickets for our 5 – 9 team.



At the outside chance that someone actually does read this, I hope you will tell your bosses that the average Falcon fan is very upset right now. We’re getting a new stadium in the same location that no one wants, PSL’s that no one wants, increased ticket prices that no one wants, and continued parking and traffic hassles that no one wants. And as for getting a Super Bowl, do you really think that means anything to a Falcons Season Ticket holder who won’t get any Super Bowl tickets anyway?


All we really want is a competitive football team at a reasonable price with the ability to tailgate with our friends before the game and not be worried about our lives if we have to leave the stadium area after dark. And because no one is listening to that, I predict that the new stadium will be about half full when opening day 2017 arrives.


buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

@ATLFan It might seem more appropriate to reach out to fans who are NOT season ticket holders- you know to maybe replace the 30,000 or so Steeler fans at home games

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

One of us has lost confidence in Arthur Blank, seems he picked this regime and the one before, and the one before that.  He should beg Dan Reeves back as Team President and ask him to hire the new regime. 


Or, maybe bring in his former partner, Bernie Marcus to hold his hand once again.

-OBrien-
-OBrien-

@NajehDavenpoop 

Agreed that the Steelers are a bad example.  But everything I have read, seen, and heard from fans suggest that they have lost confidence in this regime (coach and GM).  And it will be hard for Mr Blank to sell PSL's with this regime still in charge.

If he doesn't, I think he will have a marketing problem. 

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

I remember the Dome being half full of Steelers fans in 2006 when Vick beat them in overtime too, and that was early in the season when the team still looked like it might make the playoffs. This is just a Pittsburgh Steelers thing. Tune into any of their road games and you will hear "Heeeaaaaath" whenever #83 catches the ball. I wouldn't jump to any major conclusions about the Falcons organization based on that. 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

I love my Atlanta Falcons!! We'll win this Sunday!!

Earhardnt_Fan
Earhardnt_Fan

Flacons need 2 go a head an loss the rest of there games so tehy can darft Markus Mariucci 2 repalce week arm Rayan. It a no braner 2 me. 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

@Flacons_go_5-12 Falcons will try there hardest to win.... Regardless of what the coaches would tell me, I would play to win....

JoeTess_sis_PintoPaula
JoeTess_sis_PintoPaula

@Flacons_go_5-12  Hey bro, where you been? Momma said git home and take down that Johnny Mansell poster you got hanging in the shower. How come you got a Mansell poster in the shower? What you been doin' in there?

candlin14
candlin14

Its beyond pathetic that you have a home game and the opposing teams fans is all you see. Its beyond laughable and if I was Arthur Blank, that would definitely open my eyes. You own a football team and your home game has 30,000 opposing teams fans in it.... And why are we the most miserable sports town in America Again???


As for Matt Ryan getting in the endzone, lets point a finger at the predictable Dirk Koetter!!! On the first redzone field goal attempt we get to the two yard line and run the most predictable Steven Jackson run up the middle for a loss. This would have been an ideal time for a play action or our infamous shovel pass when we are in this situation that we ran against Green Bay. Either way, the play calling is atrocious. ALSO, if you compare the size balls of Mike Smith to Mike Tomlin, one has BB's and the other has Melons. Mike Tomlin earned my respect with his enthusiasm and the play action pass do Heath Miller for a game clinching first down..... Mike Smith runs the ball three times, probably mixes in a time out since he doesn't like the opposing team calling time outs and punts with about 2 minutes left and prays his defense holds onto the lead. TWO DIFFERENT COACHES AND TWO DIFFERENT RESULTS!!! ONE IS A SUPER BOWL CHAMPION AND THE OTHER IS A CHUMP!!!



BluebirdWings
BluebirdWings

@candlin14 

You are talking about the same plays that Michael Turner ran for negative yards so many times.  It is Smitty who decides the strategy and the plays to call in the goal line situations.   Smitty does not LEARN!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Empty seats are a bigger problem for the owner than those filled with opposing team's fans. Agree with your assessment of the coaches.

Beach Dawg
Beach Dawg

Here's an idea. Let's trade Mike Smith and Mark Richt. They both run a prevent offense when the game is on the line and they are both "good guys". Richt's winning percentage would get the Falcons to the playoffs (in the NFC South) and even though Smith won't be able to get the Dogs to the SEC East neither could Richt. And that buys Richt another 14 years of mediocrity.Win-Win? 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Atlantans are PROUD to sell their tickets to Steeler fans.  They can do that in the crossroads of America.  New Orleans, however - the waste deposit of the Mississippi River - is not so advantageous during "down years."  They have no choice but run down to the Piggly Wiggly and get a paper bag to cover their heads with.  So, at least someone was cheering in the Georgia Dome.  It had the feel of an SEC Championship game, without the bands.

John Maxwell
John Maxwell

@BooBooBear ha ha....wrong...we DO have a choice on what to do during our "down" years......we can sit back and watch the highlights from our SB victory while waiting for next years draft. You,on the other hand, only have miles and miles of film under the title "Greatest Choke Team in History". Remember that time the Fail-coons won the SB?...yeah...me neither. What do you call a Fail-clown with a ring?. Married.See y'all next week,losers. 

Mutley
Mutley

Gen. Sherman's curse on Atlanta lives on. Only a witch, warlock, or someone associated with the supernatural can help at this point.

Floppy
Floppy

@Mutley Like Sabrina's Uncle? I bet he could get Atlanta out of this funk!

JSSN
JSSN

You folks (Jeff Schultz included) keep running that "Julio Jones, Difference Maker" line up the flagpole. 2010 in San Diego, and last week in Green Bay, and for all that how much of that was TDs? Outside of his home runs (YAC TDs which have been spectacular to say the least), Jones has not been their Red Zone go to, that's been White. 10 yard line-to10 yard line, Julio has eaten up some yards against certain teams which is alarming. TDs however, nope. That's the thing about the people he's being historically grouped with, Green, Thomas, Johnson, and to a lesser extent Rice. They found the end zone!

The 259 yard game, 1 TD!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Consider for a moment that the problem may lie with the guy throwing him the ball. Ryan's TD conversion rate in the red zone has never been high- even before Julio.