Following the offseason signing of Steven Jackson, the Atlanta Falcons starting lineup took on the look of a veritable all-star team. Five games into the 2013 season, their injury list is littered with Pro Bowl talents.
I wrote Monday night that the NFC South crown is a pipe dream for Atlanta, 4.5 games behind the New Orleans Saints. Now that there's legitimate concern a foot injury suffered in Monday's loss will end Julio Jones' season, you can start pouring one out for the 2013 Falcons.
Losing Jones is another matter altogether. If his injury truly is season-ending in nature, it will be the nail in the Falcons' coffin.
One of the rare wide receivers talented enough to produce week-in and week-out as the focus of the opposing defense's game plan, Jones was drawing the extra coverage that allowed Tony Gonzalez to bounce back with double-digit reception games the past two weeks.
With Jones out and White nursing a hamstring tweak on top of an ankle sprain, defenses will clamp down on Gonzalez and the running game. Matt Ryan's windows are about to get a lot smaller on throws to Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone.
Jones' injury provides a new mandate for general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who needs higher draft picks to rebuild a hobbled offensive line and defensive front.
It's going to take a masterstroke from Dimitroff to pry the Super Bowl window back open for the 2014 season.