It may not feel like it at times,but this current incarnation of the Atlanta Falcons is not a cruel, teasing temptress sent solely to get our hopes up and torture us.
Reading James Rael's excellent take on Matt Ryan's lack of playoff success last night, I was moved to write something larger about the team's playoff success. It is this: We ought not be unrealistic about this team or defend them against all warranted criticism. But we ought to remember that playoff success often takes time to achieve, and the last two seasons' playoff disasters don't have to carry over into 2012.
The Falcons have added some young talent, swapped in one of the league's best ballhawk corners, re-done their coaching staff and spent four years learning at the school of hard knocks and brutal playoff losses. Nothing in that sentence guarantees they'll be better, but they are an evolving team.
After the jump, let's take a look at Mike Smith as an example.
For every Bill Belichick (won a Super Bowl in his second season with the Patriots), there's many more Sean Paytons (won in his fourth season with the Saints), Tony Dungys (won in his fifth season with the Colts) and Mike McCarthy (won in his fifth season with the Packers. Then there's many, many more coaches who have never won one, but my point remains the same.
The Falcons built up for three years, and while they made some damn fine runs over those three seasons, few of us expected them to actually get to and win a Super Bowl in that span. Last year was the first year with those expectations attached, which is why it was such a bitter disappointment for so many of us.
But with Matt Ryan and with Smith, we're simply judging too soon. It took Peyton Manning, one of the greatest to ever play the game, many years to win his first Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers spent six years in the league (albeit three as a starter) before he got his ring. And so on and so forth into forever. Even the mighty Tom Brady, whose three rings will forever define his legacy, hasn't won a Super Bowl since 2004.
The point, I guess, is that we can't know when a Super Bowl win will finally arrive in Atlanta. But there are reasons to believe it could be coming, and there are reasons to bury that unpleasant past. It could all blow up in our faces tomorrow—we've all been there before—but maybe it won't.
That's my take, anyways. What's yours?