In a year of dashed hopes and trampled dreams, the win against the Bills on Sunday still felt good. It featured what Falcons fans haven't seen much of this year: efficient passing from Ryan, a great game from Roddy, another 4th quarter comeback and key turnovers. It was what many of us envisioned when this season began.
Frustratingly, many "fans" were upset that the Falcons won. Quite a few fans have resolved themselves to the idea that losing out is the best thing for this team. And while I understand the excitement that comes with having a top 2-3 pick brings, tanking is - and never will be - an acceptable option.
Tanking goes against everything that sports are about. Likewise, rooting for your team to lose goes against everything it means to be a fan. I understand the desire for your team to get a nice draft pick, and the reality is that the Falcons are going to draft in the top 10, if not the top 5, in the upcoming draft. But one player alone is not going to save the team. The NFL is littered with stories of teams banking on that "one player" to change their fortunes, only to see the team continue to lose. The reality is that this Falcons team needs a good overall draft to get back to top-form for the 2014 season.
As for the game itself, as nice as it was to see the win, it is important to keep it in proper perspective. The Falcons beat a Bills team that just isn't that good. And in the process, the Bills defense was able to tee off on Matt Ryan - sacking him 6 times and hitting him numerous others. While the Falcons defense played pretty well, it was against a rookie QB. And yet again, the Falcons D allowed several explosive plays during the game. In fact, it's shocking that the Bills ONLY scored 31.
In other words, this win didn't represent an improvement in the issues this team has.
In some ways, the close game with the Saints showed more improvement across the board than this game did. However, it is just one game and the fact that it ended in a win shows that this team has not given up and is still playing hard. While some would discount that, it is critical going into the 2014 season that we have a team of players that aren't just cashing in paychecks. I want a roster loaded with guys who want to win games, no matter what the record is.
And while the team still has issues, we continue to see the development of many of our young guys. Players like Desmond Trufant, Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Robert Alford continue to get the snaps that will make them even more effective in 2014. Likewise, though our offensive line was quite terrible, Lamar Holmes continues to get the kind of snaps that serve as lessons for how to improve. So while the team still has issues, we are seeing many of our young guys develop - which will be critical for next year.
As is often the story with these Falcons, the win was somewhat ugly but it carried with it some positive take aways that should be tempered by the quality of the team we played. It wasn't the kind of win to build off of from a team standpoint, but it more than served its purpose in getting quality snaps to the future of our young team. And these days, that will have to serve as good enough.