Baptism by failure: Giving perspective to 2013

The 2013 season, neatly summed up with one snap of the lens. - Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

What is success? What is failure? These things are inherently grounded in our own perception.

The business of sports media is a 24/7 cycle.

This, unfortunately, is not always conducive to reasonable, well-thought-out arguments. Instead, because the business demands a steady supply of "new" and watered-down reactions to what has essentially been more of the same, we get #HotSportsTakes like these:

Oh, OK.

I'll admit that as someone who has only closely followed the Falcons since the early 2000's, I'm not nearly as acquainted with football futility as the older, more battle-scarred fans of Atlanta football. The infamy of 2007 came as a painful new experience to me. Week in and week out I dreaded watching the Falcons play because I knew I was only setting myself up for disappointment.

The latter half of the 2013 season has not been all that different for many of us: we know not to expect much on a given weekend. We try and brace ourselves for the inevitable, baffling missed block or missed tackle. We point out what went wrong. We conjecture on how next seasons can and should be better.

We dare to ask: can it get much worse?

And then I look at this week's opponent, the Washington Redskins, and realize yes, yes it can.

An owner that has been at the butt-end of jokes for 13 years. A team that now finds its name at the heart of a public debate on racial slurs. A quarterback, apparently worth multiple first-round picks, that has been injured and bench because of his poisonous relationship with Mike Shanahan. All of this has been under the microscope.

Now scroll back up to the tweet and it's hard not to see Kincade's words showing a lack of perspective.

Sure, these two teams have failed on the field. After making the playoffs last season, both the Falcons and Redskins are likely headed for 3-13 or 4-12 and (fate willing) a top-5 draft pick. There's no denying that these are teams that will go down as outstanding underachievers.

But to say that Mike Smith and his coaching staff have not found success since arriving in 2008 is failure to see the whole picture. Even ignoring the winning seasons, Smitty & Co. brought a stability to Atlanta that it had lacked for too long. The stains of 2007 were gone, and suddenly fans started expecting winning seasons and playoff appearances. I know just about everyone at least predicted 9-7 before the start of this ill-fated season.

I'm willing to bet, given the team's remarkable string of success under Smith, that a large share of the Falcons fan base is undergoing their "baptism by failure." And even for others, it's been a little while since we've had to consume so many cans of light beer just to make it through Sunday.

This season is unbelievably frustrating. It demands a deviation from the status quo, and there will be changes made this offseason, I'm fairly certain.

But these past six years have not been a collective failure. This franchise still has its footing and a foundation to build upon that is far stronger than anything present at the end of the 2007 season. Anyone who says otherwise is only fooling themselves.

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