Falcons left with little

O, BY THE WAY

The Kickoff

August 28, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

Like a lot of people familiar with the NFL, I've always had a lot of respect for Rich McKay, the president and general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. Smart guy and gracious. But the Michael Vick situation has left that franchise as a fan's nightmare, and McKay and owner Arthur Blank deserve a lot of the blame for the fix the team is in.

There's no question in my mind that the Falcons have no shot to make the playoffs for the rest of this decade. Short of a Lazarus-like rise such as the one the Saints pulled off last year (and I don't see anyone resembling Drew Brees, Reggie Bush or Deuce McAllister on the Atlanta roster), the Falcons are years from contending.

Just break down that Atlanta team. The quarterback is Joey Harrington, who has been reduced to a journeyman, at best.

Most of the team's stars are at the end of their careers. Wide receiver Joe Horn is in his 13th season and heroic little guy Warrick Dunn his 12th. Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler (eighth season) may still have some tread. The offensive line averages more than 10 years -- with the exception of rookie guard Justin Blalock. Middle linebacker Keith Brooking is in his 11th season, safety Lawyer Milloy his 13th and often-injured defensive end John Abraham his ninth. On a contender, the experience and leadership that goes along with age might be a plus. But that's not the Falcons.

Blank said the Falcons aren't cutting Vick --not yet. Reportedly, they are trying to get $22 million back and have their salary cap adjusted.

What were these guys thinking when they traded quarterback Matt Schaub to Houston in the spring? Perhaps it is that before the Vick debacle they didn't want the press writing about how they were starting the wrong quarterback. Well, that's not a worry anymore.

bill.ordine@baltimoresun.com

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