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Falcons need old blood

By Jeffery Armstrong

Well, Atlanta Falcons fans, here you go again. A great season is followed up by another season full of a whole heap of something I can't say in print. I think you all know what I'm talking about.

The 31-10 debacle Sunday against Tampa Bay was really bad. How bad? Tampa's Warren Sapp scored a touchdown and danced afterwards. That's terrible!

With the Falcons defense giving up big plays and the offense unable to run or pass, it looks like Atlanta will suffer another losing season after posting a winning season n typical Falcons football.

Looking at the Falcons schedule, it's hard to imagine them finishing with a winning record before their off day Oct. 26.

They go to Carolina, host Minnesota, travel to St. Louis on Monday night and then host New Orleans, in that order. Knowing the Falcons, they'll tease their fans with a win at much-improved Carolina, whose defense is as tough as Tampa's, then blow it at home to the Vikings the next week. They'll be lucky to finish 3-4 before their off week. And speaking of the off week, a Jay Feely field goal (after five misses) helps the Falcons barely beat their day off 3-0.

I won't even discuss the Falcons schedule for November and December; even with Mike Vick back, he'll be a bit rusty and the team probably will be in too much of a funk to rebound. Instead of ripping the Falcons, my colleagues in the sports department and I came up with a solution for them to salvage this season: bring back the Falcons veterans.

At quarterback, Billy Joe Tolliver said he's waiting for an NFL phone call and I'm sure he can overthrow receivers like Doug Johnson did Sunday. A few of Tolliver's overthrows might go out of bounds, however. We also said the Falcons should bring back either William Andrews or Gerald Riggs at running back and I feel they should get Michael Haynes and Andre Rison to line up at wide receiver.

Now if the team can get former center Jeff Van Note out of the broadcast booth, lure Billy "White Shoes" Johnson out of the front office for special teams play and get Jessie Tuggle to help at linebacker, the Falcons may be set.

Oops, I almost forgot the secondary. The Falcons must find a way to get Deion Sanders and Tim McKyer back. I'm sure they can do better than Ray "I'll give up the big play" Buchanan. Scott Case could return at safety where he would dish out big hits n some of which may be legal hits, at that.

You team all these "graybeards" with Vick and the Falcons have a shot to at least go 8-8. They won't have two winning seasons in a row, but at least these guys will play with heart, something the current Falcons didn't do on Sunday.

And the nice thing about the team is that head coach Dan Reeves probably wouldn't notice any changes. Remember, this is the same guy who didn't realize running back T.J. Duckett wasn't in the lineup in the second half of a loss last year. I guess it's easy to miss a 6-foot-2, 245-pound running back standing next to you.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the News Daily and Daily Herald and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.