Our weekly FanPulse polls have been excellent for getting a pulse on how Falcons fans are feeling about the team, as we’ve assembled a representative slice of the fanbase. Heading into the year, 96% felt confident about the team and its direction, and that number has been a weekly rollercoaster since.
This week, though? This week the confidence has virtually dried up, with just 35% of those polled feeling confident about the Atlanta Falcons. The reasons for that are myriad, but they aren’t particularly difficult to figure out.
Why fans aren’t feeling confident
Start with the injuries. It was one thing to lose Keanu Neal and perhaps even Deion Jones, but losing them both plus Ricardo Allen plus Devonta Freeman and Takkarist McKinley is enough to shake anyone’s confidence. At least Takk might be back this week, but people are justifiably worried about the direction of this defense.
Then there’s the rest. I don’t think an overtime loss to the Saints would typically shake confidence to the degree it did, but when the offense scored 37 points and the Falcons still lost, it made it clear just how difficult the road ahead will be without significant defensive improvement. Couple that with the team’s decision not to pursue major roster upgrades and the weird pre-halftime play calling and you’ve got a recipe for shaken confidence.
Are they right not to be confident?
Yes and no. The challenges the Falcons are facing are legitimate, the defense is unlikely to get anywhere close to great until Deion Jones returns (and likely not even then), and there are still tough games left on the slate. Nothing’s going to come easy the rest of the way, and for a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations heading into the year, that’s gutting.
But nor are the Falcons dead. Their defense was god awful versus the Saints, true, but the offense showed over the last two weeks that it’s good enough to overcome that against less potent opponents. If the defense can make modest strides—and there is enough talent here for that, despite everything—they can still win a lot of games this year. It’s just a question of whether the defense will improve, and what this team’s ceiling is without both of their starting safeties.
Let’s hear from you: How confident are you feeling?