Alright. I don’t exactly know where to begin this story or how to even approach the idea of moving on from a loss like that, but that does not mean that we aren’t going to try.
Yeah, it sucked. It still sucks. It seems like the Falcons will never ever play meaningful football again and as if the city will need a good 10 years or so to recover. It isn’t all bad, though. This team gives us plenty to look forward to for a good while, plus the city itself has some things to be excited about.
The NFL draft/free agency
One of the best things to do when experiencing some form of heartbreak is to focus the mind on something else, and I can promise you that is exactly what the Falcons staff is doing.
These two areas used to be major struggles for the Atlanta Falcons. They had a terrible record in the draft: the 2016 rookie class played a major role in getting the Falcons to the Super Bowl and the 2015 class looks so much better than people anticipated when they first got drafted. The Falcons have signed meaningful free agents that had major impacts this season: Alex Mack, Courtney Upshaw, Mohammed Sanu, and claiming Taylor Gabriel were all huge acquisitions.
Folks, the Atlanta Falcons have completely flipped this roster in two years and they have a chance to fill some holes this offseason, and if this offseason is anything like the last two, the Falcons will have yet another infusion of talent in key spots.
A young, talented defense
A lot of the talk this season was centered around the offense but, down the stretch, I think we started to see the vision that Dan Quinn has for this Atlanta team. Losing Kyle Shanahan will sting—no matter how questionable the play calling was Sunday night—and the Falcons will have to work to make sure the offensive production remains at a high level.
However, with the talent the Falcons have on defense, the defense is primed to become the strength of this team in a couple of years, if not sooner. Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Keanu Neal, Grady Jarrett and the rest of the Falcons young defensive starters look like playmakers. Plus, no matter what some may say, they showed that they can make plays on the biggest stage, and that is something you just don’t see very often with a young defense like this.
No one saw the defense playing the way they did during the last half of the season, and while some may want to say they were playing over their head or over-performing, the performance the last eight weeks was legitimate. Atlanta will continue to grow on defense and they have the potential to become one of the better defensive units in recent memory in Atlanta.
I know this is a really cheesy answer and may not offer much help for some of you, but it means the world to me. During this playoff run, we saw Atlanta come together in a way that has never happened before. While it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I think we all saw something that goes beyond a win and a loss.
We saw the city of Atlanta bond together and get behind the Falcons during one of the greatest runs in Atlanta sports history. It didn’t matter your race, gender, religion, or political leaning—the Falcons brought us all together. That was the coolest part of all of this because it was the realest part of the entire season—this pain will fade (I promise it will at some point) but the memories and bonds we’ve forged this season will live on.
Yes, losing sucks. Yes, that was an absolutely horrible collapse. That does not mean, though, that we have to let this loss define us or keep us from looking at the bright future this team has. Life moves on and I think we should all make a point to move on with it, because if we don’t, we may end up missing out on a lot of fun along the way. I can’t promise that the Atlanta Falcons will ever make it back to a Super Bowl but the chances are as good as they’ve every been, I think.
There is plenty to look forward to. We just have to make sure we don’t keep our eyes fixed on the ground too long.