There are lots of problems with this team, and they extend from the coaching staff to the front office.
The 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers was like a punch to the gut. This team has a lot of problems. Years of poor drafting and questionable free agency moves have zapped any depth from this team. Atlanta's talent is predominantly in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, and Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme has prevented those two from connecting like they have in the last few years. I hope to see Thomas Dimitroff and Kyle Shanahan fired before the end of the season for so poorly mismanaging this team, but this team typically holds onto underperforming employees for too long.
This team is in worse shape than we thought.
We knew this team wasn't perfect even when they were 5-0, but Sunday's game really showed how far any the Falcons are from being a contender. Although they were on a five-game losing streak, Atlanta had only lost by more than four points only once during that stretch. But they weren't playing any world beaters. Once the Falcons finally faced a good team in the Panthers, they were utterly overmatched. Even with a 6-7 record, the Falcons look like the worst team in the league. The roster is largely devoid of talent, making the rebuild seem like it'll be more than just a two-year process.
This team has its work cut out for it going into next season
If you begin listing the issues on this roster - middle linebacker, offensive guard, center, wide receiver, another pass rusher - you quickly realize that it is going to be very difficult to fix all of that in a single draft and free agency. While the Falcons do have some cap space going into next year, they're still not in a position to overspend in free agency. Don't forget that the team will also be missing 2 picks in next year's draft, due to the trade for Levitre (6th rounder) and the penalty for noise-gate (5th rounder). If this team is going to be relevant next year, they're going to have to fix the holes that were exposed so badly against the Panthers. That could end up being a very tall task.
This Team is Rebuilding, Not Reloading.
As the optimist of the panel, the issues on this roster were going to take longer than a season to fix. Looking at the schedule, the Falcons had 4-5 games that they could have won had they not made the stupid mistakes at one point or another. The good thing is that another year with a high draft pick and a butt-ton of cap will be helpful. The bad thing is that it's going to take more than one or two more seasons to make this team Super Bowl caliber. However, if they can make some moves to fortify the interior of the offensive line, add another wide receiver for Matt Ryan to throw to and upgrade the linebackers, the Falcons could easily be a playoff team come 2016.
The 2015 season is over.
We've got three weeks to go, but the Panthers beat the Falcons so badly they may as well have sent us hurtling forward in time. This season is over, and everything that happens over the next three weeks will serve only to harden fans' convictions, work for or against players and staff trying to hold on to their jobs, and move us closer to a 2017 that will hopefully be brighter.
The Falcons need a Braves-level roster change.
If you're not a follower of baseball, Atlanta's baseball team almost literally and figuratively traded everyone away over the past couple of years. It didn't matter if they were a fan favorite. If they were owed money, they were gone. The Falcons, if they wish to be competitive, will likely have to get rid of many players that fans like and rebuild slowly through the draft. This of course means the 2016 Falcons could be equally as poor - if not worse - than any team fielded since 2007 and beyond. It's comical to think that a team with shambles at quarterback was able to win 4 games, whereas a team with its best QB in franchise history stands to win 6 games for the second year in a row. Everyone involved with player evaluation should be shown the door, as they are the first rung in a ladder that has slowly grown the plant of demise of this team. Shanahan has shown nothing to me and should be gone as well. This team didn't just become soft, it's been soft since probably 2010, and reversing that course is going to require a complete overhaul of everyone, players included, if Dan Quinn is going to take us to a Super Bowl.
Talent discrepancy between both defenses was evident.
Everyone knew that Carolina's defense was an elite unit. They possess four sure-fire studs in Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, and Kawann Short. All four players were drafted as well. Norman was drafted in the fifth round of 2012 draft, which has become an infamous draft class for Falcon fans. No player remains on the roster from that draft class following Lamar Holmes' release. While Atlanta's defense is still rebuilding, it was pretty staggering to see them compared to Carolina's defense. Besides Desmond Trufant, there isn't one player that opposing offenses fear. Not addressing clear gaping holes at edge rusher and linebacker has left them hopeless at times this season. It was a dreadful performance that will generate even more heat on Thomas Dimitroff. As division rivals such as Carolina and Tampa Bay continue to ascend, Atlanta is still trying to recover from the amount of personnel mistakes made over the past three seasons. No team can go from 5-0 to 6-10 or 7-9 without severe consequences right?
This is a bad football team.
I was on 92.9 the Game for my regular weekly chat with Mitch Evans about the Falcons on the Wednesday prior to the Saints game, and I actually said on the air that I had a hard time imagining this Falcons team losing a game. They were 5-0 at that time, and the way that the Falcons had found ways to finish games was so impressive and had dramatically exceeded my expectations. Well, now we're at the point where I can't imagine this team winning another game. This is a catastrophe.