The entire Atlanta football scene was built around Vick.
They never sold out until he was on the team. He had the highest jersey sales in the NFL until the indictment. And, while not for the purists, he was simply fun to watch.
The team invested so much in him financially that they had to build the franchise around him: schemes, complimentary players, let the o-line struggle a bit, because his legs could make up for it, etc, etc.
Anyone will acknowledge was a strain it can be on a team simply to change systems when a new coach or coordinator comes in. Imagine not only a complete system overhaul, but also the elimination of the one thing that held the former system together, compounded by the timing (right before training camp), decision-making (sending Schaub to Houston), and the money tied up in that player, a heck of a lot of money.
This would be incredibly discouraging, from the owner, to the coach, to the players, and it's hard to imagine all the Falcons working one hundred percent all the time with that kind of discouragement on them.
Imagine the Colts without Manning. It's called Sorgi, and it aint pretty. Could they still compete? Sure, but it would take a ton of trust in their coaching staff, and the rest of their team. They have that, the Falcons don't. Take out Mike Brown, slow down Urlacher and Harris, and the Bears vaunted defense falls apart. Vick was more integral to the Falcons than anyone else on any team in the NFL.
That being said, if you give up in the NFL you will be destroyed. They wouldn't even have 3 wins if they'd given up (see: Miami Dolphins, 2007). More easily discouraged? Yes. Less fun, adrenaline, and drive on game day? Sure. But I don't think it's fair to say they've given up.
I also don't care that Petrino lied to Blank. So he's not a great dude, big surprise. It does bother me, though, that he didn't bother to talk to the players. A coach that makes decisions like that makes it obvious why he wasn't connecting with and inspiring his players: he didn't care to.
Bitter god of Monday morning