The Atlanta Falcons do not, for the first time in recent memory, have a deficit of talent. They could use more great-to-elite players, of course, and their depth at wide receiver, guard, and linebacker are a bit suspect. But the issue with this team has been much more about an undisciplined penalty here, an unlucky bounce off inattentive hands here, and an ill-timed jet sweep there than the caliber of the players Atlanta is putting on the field.
So predictably, the Falcons stood pat Tuesday, letting the 4 p.m. trade deadline come and go without any major moves. Some teams got better (the Eagles added Jay Ajayi at running back, the 49ers got Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback), some teams got worse in the short-term (the Panthers picked up draft picks but swapped away top wideout Kelvin Benjamin), and some teams missed the deadline by minutes (the Browns, everyone!). But the Falcons stuck with what they’ve been saying all year long: That the men they already have simply need to play better for this team to succeed.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote at the AJC, this team is big on locker room harmony and making its essential moves around the time they’re cutting down to the final roster, so the deadline is rarely a time of any great activity for the team. More importantly, though, Atlanta is putting its belief behind its current team, which has excellent per drive metrics on both sides of the ball despite the offense frequently starting from within their own 20 and the defense frequently being put in unenviable positions. Many have argued that this team has been the victim of poor execution and poor luck, and that’s very clearly the belief inside the building, as well.
Whether they’re justified in thinking their roster is good enough remains to be seen, but it is very consistent with their approach and their personality under Dan Quinn. We’ll hope they begin consistently playing like the great team they can be rather than the underwhelming team they have been, starting with this weekend’s critical matchup against the Panthers.