Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has made it official, both general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn will be back in their positions for the 2020 season.
The case has been made in earlier videos why the Falcons should have made the move to fire Quinn at the end of this season. What we haven’t done is pay as much attention to the second decision the team would have to make, whether or not to bring back the architect of this roster. If you look back on his body of work though, it shows that Arthur Blank has doubled-down on his mistake and should have fired both.
To start with, let’s look at Dimitroff’s draft record since being hired in 2008. He has two Hall of Fame caliber first-round picks in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. In the past three years he’s also done well. He’s drafted Pro Bowlers in Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and Austin Hooper, and a possible Pro Bowl caliber player in Calvin Ridley.
Where Dimitroff has failed is in building the foundation of every Super Bowl caliber team, drafting starters and depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
Dimitroff has made more attempts to use his first three rounds, where starters are found and depth is built, to put his defensive line in place. He drafted defensive tackle Corey Peters in the third round in 2010. Peters contributed for five seasons before moving on to the Arizona Cardinals. Dimitroff then whiffed on Ra’Shede Hageman in 2014.
On the current roster, Dimitroff currently has three, top half of the draft defensive line picks. First is defensive end Vic Beasley, selected eighth overall in 2015. That Beasley was a top 10 pick and has been so inconsistent counts as a failure for Dimitroff. He’s also picked defensive end Takk McKinley, in the first round in 2017, and defensive tackle Deadrin Senat in the third round in 2018. With both, the jury is still out.
Actually, if Dimitroff hadn’t found gold in 2015 with his fifth-round selection, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, you could say that Dimitroff has completely whiffed in his efforts to build a defensive line.
For the offensive line, Dimitroff hit on Jake Matthews in 2014. He was also fortunate to have found Wes Schweitzer in the sixth round in 2016.
That’s why Dimitroff had himself painted into a corner to the point where he had no choice but to draft guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. His failures to build an offensive line through the draft also led Dimitroff to sign two free agents to bad contracts, guards Jamon Brown and James Carpenter.
Neither has made positive contributions on the field this season, in the rare instances where they’ve been healthy. Both are also signed to multi-year contracts that will cost the Falcons as much under the salary cap to cut them as it will to keep them.
That’s what happens when you fail to build the two most important units of a team, the offensive and defensive lines, in the draft. On offense, your elite quarterback continues to climb the all-time sacked list, Ryan is currently No. 23, having been dropped 363 times. It also keeps your talented young linebackers, like Deion Jones, clean from blockers so they can do what they do best, make tackles.
Dimitroff has proven over the years that he can find the specialty players that the Falcons need to compete. He’s also proven that he can’t build a team that’s playoff caliber for more than two to three seasons at a time.
You do that by building solid foundations on offense and defense. The failure to accomplish that means that Arthur Blank made a mistake in committing more seasons to long-time general manager Thomas Dimitroff.