As Falcons fans we are all well aware that our beloved team finished 4-12 (.250) in 2013. This resulted in much weeping and gnashing of teeth due in large part to the sharp contrast of the preceding five consecutive winning seasons. It also leads to an interesting question: What’s next—was 2013 a sign of things to come or just a single-season anomaly?
For those of us that have been around a while this is not a new experience. There have been eight prior instances of our historically bipolar Falcons following up the "thrill" of a winning season with the "agony" of a losing one. Those were obviously under different ownership, GMs and coaches so I am sure there is no statistical validity to this, but I thought it might be interesting to look back that these pervious occurrences to see if there are any hints of what 2014 may bring.
The Falcons 2014 Record will be…
As mentioned above, the Falcons have had eight losing seasons that followed a winning season. So what happened in the season following the losing season?
The Good: Three of the eight seasons offer hope for 2014.
- 1980 – Falcons rebound from 6-10 in ’79 to string together a nine-game winning streak, post a franchise then-best 12-4 record and capture their first NFC West division title.
- 1982 – This season barely counts. After a 7-9 season in ’81, the Falcons squeak out a 5-4 record in this strike-shortened season and make one of their all too familiar one-and-done playoff appearances.
- 2004 – ’03 saw a 5-11 record as Mike Vick watched from an Arthur-Blank-Powered wheelchair on the sideline. Reeves out, Mora in, and Michael Vick returned. The Falcons went 11–5, winning their third division title and advancing to the NFC Championship, which they lost to the Eagles 27–10.
The Bad: Two of the eight seasons saw the improvement over the prior losing season—but not enough improvement to yield a winning season.
- 1975 – Another season that barely qualifies for the category. Following a 3-11 ’74 the Falcons could add only one additional win to finish 4-10. But hey, they did finish 2 games ahead of the 2-14 Saints.
- 1997 – After a miserable 3-13 in ’97 the Falcons improved to 7-9—and once again finished ahead of the Saints.
The Ugly: And then there are the rest. Three times the losing was followed up with—worse losing.
- 1984 – After going 7-9 in ’83 the Falcons gave us the worst possible scenario. Their 4-12 record earned them last place in the NFC West—finishing even behind the Saints. And setting the tone for what would become eight consecutive losing seasons—doing their part to help earn ATL the nickname "Losersville."
- 1993 – In the ultimate example of "meh" the 6-10 ’92 season was followed by—another 6-10 season. (Placed in "Ugly" for once again finishing behind the Saints.)
- 2000 – 5-11 during the ’99 season devolved into 4-12—"good" enough for dead last in the NFC South.
So after significant effort and careful analysis, it can safely be concluded that the 2014 Falcons will finish somewhere between winning the division and dead last.
More Fun with Random Numbers
Just so I could end on a positive note, here is another non-statistically valid, but interesting nonetheless, anecdote. There are four other seasons in Falcons history with at .250 "winning" percentage. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the silver lining that came from the draft following those four years of gloomy grayness.
- 1985 Bill Fralic OG Played 9 seasons, 4 Pro Bowls, Wrestlemaina 2 Participant.
- 1886 Tony Casillas DT Played 12 seasons (5 w/Falcons)
- 2001 Mike Vick QB Still Active, 4 Pro Bowls, NFL Record - QB Rushing Yds
- 2008 Matt Ryan QB Still Active, 2 Pro Bowls (but he’s no Joe Flacco)
- 2014 ??? ??