Atlanta's rebuild starts now

The Falcons likely will be without star wideout Julio Jones for the rest of the season. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons' short-term window for winning a championship was already closing before their Week 5 home defeat to the New York Jets. At 1-4, they have fallen almost hopelessly behind the 5-0 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South race, with no indication they can reverse the trend. News that a foot injury likely will sideline dynamic receiver Julio Jones for the remainder of the season has the feel of a knockout blow for a team that ranks tied for second in winning percentage since 2008.

Now, what?

We asked ESPN.com's Matt Williamson and Mike Sando to explain how the Falcons got into this situation and what they'll need to recover. Fortunately for the Falcons, they should be able to compete during the rebuilding process. But it's time to be honest about where they stand. The future is no longer now.

Sando: Let's start with whether the Falcons should sell off assets to accumulate draft choices. Sending Tony Gonzalez back to Kansas City sounds great in theory, but, in my opinion, no one is going to spend a good enough draft choice to rent a 37-year-old tight end for 10 games and the playoffs.