Lots of things went wrong in 2013. Perhaps a perfect storm of injury and ineffectiveness. Peter King went over what the braintrust felt coming off of a disappointing 2013. Basically, Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff figured they would keep getting wins because they had come so easily the past few seasons.
Atlanta's big name free agent of 2013, who finished with 3.5 YPC and only 543 rushing yards, opened up about his disappointment. Steven Jackson posted "No Shortcuts", a long write-up about 2013 and his expectations for 2014.
Notably, Jackson had this to say.
Two years ago, the Atlanta Falcons were one game away from playing in the Super Bowl. Last year, because we added me and a couple other guys on defense, we assumed it was an automatic thing that we would get it done. We were probably a little drunk off the team’s success the year before, to be honest. We just assumed that things would work out like they did the years prior, and they didn’t.
This is either surprising or makes a whole lot of sense. Maybe some of both.
The Falcons had gotten by on good luck and wishful thinking for too long, and the whole organization seemed to get too complacent. In the same way my stunning good looks will only get me by for the next 30 or 35 years, the Falcons need to develop a personality or a work ethic to keep winning.
The team got too used to winning, relying on Matt Ryan to lead a team with an average, at best, defense, offensive line and run game. The effort and determination was simply lacking in 2013.
The belief that wins would materialize dropped down to the players, Steven Jackson included, who likely went into game 1 thinking about the playoffs, not the opponent. After uneven play and injuries quickly added up, the Falcons were out of realistic playoff contention.
For those of us unfortunate enough to watch every game last season, it felt like watching a lot of guys expecting someone else to make a play and win the game. Matt Ryan couldn't run the team himself.
Jackson finished his article promising improvement from himself and the team.
We will rise up.