Being an Atlanta Falcons fan is hard work. Think back to September 11, 2016: on that day, the Falcons lost to Dirk Koetter’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one of the 2016 regular season. Koetter was drenched in Gatorade as he talked to reporters after his team secured the come from behind victory. “Good guys win,” he told them. Ouch, Dirk. Ouch. And put that week one loss in context: the Falcons lost 8 of their last 11 games in 2015, including a week 17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. That fall day in 2016 wasn’t a good day. You might’ve sworn off your Falcons fandom at that point, at least temporarily. But you recovered, and just five months later, the Falcons were NFC Champions and nearly won a Super Bowl.
The next season began similarly. Following the Super Bowl loss that will live on in infamy, the Falcons faced off with the Chicago Bears on September 10, 2017. They’d ultimately win that game. Barely. But for two fourth quarter scoring drives, a Jordan Howard drop on the Falcons one yard line, and a timely Brooks Reed sack, they would’ve lost that game too. The panic button saw its fair share of rapid pushing following that week one victory. At that point, if you’re like me, doubt started to creep in. Was the hangover real? Were they going to get their act together? But again, you hung around, and the Falcons came up one red zone play shy of a return to the NFC Championship.
Today the Falcons are 0-1. They have to find a way to beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, without Keanu Neal and potentially without Deion Jones. That’s a lot of swagger missing from the up and coming Falcons defense. To make matters worse, the red zone woes are still there. It’s a lot to stomach this early in the season. But Falcons fans are resilient; and they’ve shown a willingness to hang with their team, in spite of rocky starts.
Falling to 0-2 before they face the New Orleans Saints in week three wouldn’t be catastrophic for the Falcons, but it would undoubtedly shrink their margin for error going forward. If their recent history is any indication, they will bounce back from last week’s loss, and we’ll be here to witness it.