The Atlanta Falcons can and often do seem like a star-crossed franchise. They have had Hall of Fame caliber players fade into relative obscurity because they played on a lousy team, became a team that had to wait like 40 years for back-to-back winning seasons, and something terrible I refuse to think about happened in the Super Bowl recently. As much as I’ve loved being a Falcons fan over the years, they’ve put us all through the dang wringer.
That’s why 2018 fills me with such a combination of awe and dread. On one hand, they have an opportunity to, if not erase, mitigate decades upon decades of poor football by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. On the other hand, they could fall short yet again, leaving us with a fresh round of painful what ifs. Those divergent roads are enough to fill even the most seasoned Falcons fan with a mix
History in the making
In many ways, 2018 could be the year we’ve waited for. The stars are aligning with the Falcons boasting perhaps their most talented roster ever, top-to-bottom, and a coaching staff that at the very least has a habit of coaxing the most out of its talented players. Couple that with the fact that Atlanta is hosting this upcoming Super Bowl and there will literally never be a better opportunity for the Falcons to erase years of desperation, failure, and heartbreakingly close calls.
Here, in no particular order, is a short list of things that would result from that victory:
- The ability to lord ringzzzz over Panthers fans forever, and stand on equal footing with the Saints and Buccaneers with a much more recent victory;
- The 28-3 jokes will dry up to a trickle;
- The city of Atlanta will get to party for one (1) year, at minimum;
- The Falcons will be the toast of the town. If you don’t like positive coverage, you’d have to avoid
There are also negatives that might come of this, such as the team overreaching to try to repeat, or losing all their assistant coaches to other teams hungry for success. But a Lombardi Trophy is all the average Falcons fan has wanted all these years, and while I’m sure we’d be right back to complaining a year or two down the line, it would be something we could always point to and look back on fondly, and it would absolutely make my 2019.
What missing means
If the Falcons fall short again, on the other hand, it’s the ruination of that amazing opportunity, and the cloud of uncertainty will fall over this team again. That’s a grim truth, but one that we must steel ourselves for as Falcons fans, as we have before.
There’s simply too many good things going for the Falcons for them to fall well short of a Super Bowl win, and as difficult as it is to get there and triumph, the reality is that this will be a disappointing season if the Falcons can’t win it all. They have their best quarterback, best running back tandem, best receiver, one of their better offensive line, and one of the best young defenses they’ve ever had. When you have all those advantages, falling short just isn’t an option, no matter how tough your conference might be.
If the Falcons fall short, especially of a playoff berth, this will be viewed as a squandered season. Given the talent on the team, it may well be viewed as the greatest squandering the Falcons have ever managed. With the clock ticking on this roster, thanks to a number of big extensions, and the very real possibility of Marquand Manuel leaving and taking key coaches with him, Atlanta simply needs to take advantage. The window should be open into 2019 and perhaps 2020, but there will never be more of a storybook opportunity for the Falcons.