When the Falcons had a run of success under then-coach Mike Smith early in quarterback Matt Ryan’s career, one of the knocks on the team was that they weren’t tough enough to navigate a path to a championship.
Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff didn’t disagree with that critique and felt the team was “getting away from what we believed was at the very core a good football team.” They started to investigate ways to strengthen that part of the club before parting ways with Smith and came up with a grade for competitiveness and toughness to use as part of their player evaluations.
It’s something that has continued under coach Dan Quinn and Dimitroff says the team is focused on not selling themselves on players who didn’t score highly in those areas.
“We all can be swayed, and that has happened to us,” Dimitroff said to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. “Basically, we’re trying to limit the soft souls on our football team. We figured this was a way to do that. You can have players that come in that are really good, but if they don’t possess competitiveness and toughness, then we’re not playing the urgent type of football that we need to be playing. That’s where we were.”
A win on Sunday against the Packers would move the Falcons even further away from those teams that fell short when Smith was on the sideline and reinforce that the path they’ve chosen is the right one to lead to continued success on the field.