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Confronting Falcons expectations in June, and how to manage them

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Win-loss, player performance and jobs won and lost...no matter what the criteria, it's too early to get your expectations set in concrete.

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We cover the Falcons obsessively here, which makes it difficult not to overreact to every small piece of news or report about a player's progress. There's the danger that merely reporting that Ricardo Allen is running as the starter in OTAs and may be in line for the gig, while noteworthy, gives us the expectation that he will be the starter. That sets us up for disappointment and in some cases rage when the player we don't like wins the job.

So managing those expectations becomes key, and I know we're not always your best guides in that process, given that we're going to cover the minutiae and kick in our opinions about it. But if you need a little help not hyperventilating about this team, remember these tips.

  • It's not final until August. Until the Falcons pare down to their 53 man roster and officially roll out their starting lineup for the first week of the season, most things are in flux. Use common sense—Matt Ryan is going to be the starting quarterback so long as he's healthy, for instance—but assume we don't have an answer on any position battles until Dan Quinn and company say so.
  • Win-loss predictions are just predictions, and rankings are just rankings. It's easy to get angry about, say, Pro Football Focus deriding the Falcons as the 31st-best roster in the NFL, or someone writing that the Falcons will go 4-12 in 2015. We know this team has improved, but and so those kinds of articles can be deeply frustrating.

    It's also best viewed as an annoyance, not as something worth putting a lot of credence into. I think we'd all agree that we enjoy prognosticating and shooting the breeze about the Falcons, but I don't think any of us take one another's predictions as a fait accompli. Don't be suckered into doing so with NFL pundits just because they have the biggest possible platform to predict from.
  • Don't let the small victories pump you up too much. This is what doomed many of us, myself included, the last two offseasons. It's easy to take a look at a prized offseason acquisition or a player who looks excellent in preseason and project forward, turning those great moments into predictive ones. The less we do of that, the less unpleasant surprises lay ahead.

If nothing else, listen to the wise words of resident Falcons guru Bryan Cox, who spoke to Vaughn McClure about Vic Beasley:

I'm not real fired up or real eager to say how well a guy is doing in shorts. To me, this is not real football. We'll cross that bridge when we get to training camp.

"You see the potential. All the things that got him drafted, you see. But now you're going to have to see the other part. When the pads come on, that's where there's separation."