The Atlanta Falcons are 4-6. There’s no way around that. I want to look at the rest of the season and find a path to the playoffs, but getting past the unstoppable New Orleans Saints on a short week feels impossible for a team that just dropped games to the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys. 4-7 is nearly guaranteed.
The Falcons played pretty well for a lost season. The trouble started early, and yes, I will definitely highlight the injuries to Pro Bowlers Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Devonta Freeman. But it’d be wrong to place all the blame on injuries.
We expected other players to step up in the face of mounting injuries. Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole all had arguably their worst pro seasons. Vic Beasley has been invisible all year. Enthusiasm about Takkarist McKinley was at least one season too early. Duke Riley’s struggles continued into his sophomore season. Ryan Schraeder is either playing hurt or the team needs to look at replacing him. The coaching staff has had time management issues, peculiar roster decisions, execution problems, and an alarming trend of poor tackling and no quarterback pressures.
The Falcons could have been competitive through the injures. They couldn’t overcome everything else.
The team felt like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and an inconsistent supporting cast.
Dan Quinn had his clear path to the playoffs. They needed to beat the Cleveland Browns. That’s a winnable game, and puts your team in a very bad situation if you lose. Losing to the Browns typically means your team isn’t going to the playoffs. Atlanta’s last realistic chance was beating the struggling Cowboys at home.
With both wins, they are in second place in the NFC South. Now they are looking at a top 10 draft pick.
The Saints will most certainly put the final nail in this season’s coffin on Thanksgiving night. Whether Deion Jones returns or not, Atlanta’s defense is just not going to slow them down. The season is over and things will be better when we can acknowledge that. It’s a repeat of 2013. A lot season that was over way too early.
The bigger question is what moves the team will make this offseason. The roster that looked stacked before the season was exposed. The Falcons need to invest heavily in the offensive line, the defensive line, the secondary, and probably the linebackers. Some coaches may be sacrificed for the constant underperformance, and no defensive coach’s job should be safe. Seats everywhere are certain to heat up.