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Why I don’t believe the Falcons’ second half collapse is coming

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After a close loss, we take stock.

San Diego Chargers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Disaster is never far from this Falcons team. Its in every family photo from 1966 until the present day, smiling an insincere smile behind Claude Humphrey, Steve Bartkowski, and Julio Jones. If you’re familiar with this team in any way, shape, or form, you know how the story ends every year, no matter how close the Falcons get to hoisting a Lombardi Trophy.

I write that to remind those fans who find themselves bewildered and annoyed by the anger and frustration that dominates the fanbase after a loss like the 33-30 game against the Chargers that your fellow Atlanta enthusiasts aren’t bad fans, just resigned ones. A second half collapse in that game and two losses in a row would herald the beginning of the end for the Falcons most seasons, and it has many fearing a collapse over the last nine games of this season.

While I don’t for a second believe this team is going to win a Super Bowl this year, I do believe the sustained collapse that defined the 2015 season is not going to happen again. I believe this Falcons team is better than the 2013-2015 versions, more capable of actually clamping down and playing quality defense, and certainly more capable of sustaining some offensive momentum. That’s progress, and it’s more progress than I would have anticipated in August.

That’s why I can take a loss against the Chargers, a team I fully expected the Falcons to beat, but also a team that is better than their record would have indicated. The Falcons’ impressive play from Week 2 through Week 6 tells a different story than those perplexing losses to Tampa bay and San Diego, and while there are troubling signs underneath the surface that could eventually prove to be costly, Atlanta’s suddenly got a halfway decent pass rush, strong secondary, very excellent offense and more young talent than they’ve had for years. It’s enough, for the moment.

This will be a winning football team, I believe, when we bid farewell to the 2016 regular season. If I’m wrong about this, feel free to add it to the wall next to “Matt Ryan will be a bust” and “the Falcons drafted Jadeveon Clowney.” I’m ready for quality Falcons football, and I think we’re going to see more of it this year.