All throughout the offseason, I continually opined that the Falcons got an unlucky break with their bye week coming in Week 5. That seemed entirely too early, and combined with an away game in their first week, it seemed like a certain level of disrespect for the reigning NFC Super Bowl representative, however foolish that may sound.
Now that we’ve gotten to see four games, though, it seems like exactly the right time. The Falcons are now coming off of an ugly, crushing loss against the Buffalo Bills that saw them loss Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Keanu Neal for the game, on top of injuries to Vic Beasley, Courtney Upshaw, Ryan Schraeder, and Ricardo Allen that were already going to be factors in this game. Buffalo is not as talented as Atlanta, but they are a well-coached team with a good defense, and with that defense working, the offense just scraping by, and one fortunate call, they got enough to beat this depleted Atlanta team. That’s not a knock on Buffalo so much as it is an acknowledgement that a fully healthy Falcons team probably does not lose this one, but that’s not the rosy reality we live in.
So the bye, then, shows up at a perfect time. Atlanta will now have two full weeks to get healthy, and they’ll like have at least Ricardo Allen and Ryan Schraeder back, if not all the names on this list. It’ll also give them two weeks to fully process the fact that they have been a sloppy team to this point, one that was as unlucky to lose this week as they were lucky to win in Chicago and (arguably) Detroit. They have all the talent and ambition in the world, but some time to reflect might help them figure out a way to ensure that the Buffalo loss doesn’t happen again. That will be critical if Atlanta is going to return to the Super Bowl this year, and will involve the kind of soul-searching their fellow 2016 Super Bowl attendees the New England Patriots are also undergoing.