The end is nigh. Whether Arthur Blank surprises (and infuriates) everyone by keeping the current regime or makes the expected move and fires the front office and coaching staff, this team isn’t going to look quite the same a year from now. We only have four games left into the offseason, and it’s hard to get worked up about any of them.
Here’s what we are looking forward to watching for over the final four games.
Let’s get a look at the young players
The Falcons were realistically out of the playoffs way back in October, but were officially eliminated in December. Now that we can ignore the formalities, the young players need to get some play time. This sounds pretty basic, but the Falcons seem dedicated to doing the opposite. Simply put, the new coaching staff needs to know what they have in the current roster. The draft and free agency occur before training camp, so new Toughcoach McGrit has only limited info on guys like Chris Lindstrom, John Cominsky, Deadrin Senat, Foyesade Oluokun, Qadree Ollison, and Matt Gono. Activate Lindstrom, and bump up the play time for the other players significantly. It is tough to do, considering this helps the guy taking Quinn’s job. However, it is the only useful thing that can come of this disaster season. - Matt Chambers
Protect Matt Ryan
In less than a week, our franchise QB was sacked 15 times. Despite the protestation of some fans, the Falcons will not be moving on from Matt Ryan in 2020. What they do need to do, however, is protect him. These last four games are completely meaningless and putting him in harm’s way to finish out the year is asking for trouble. At 34, Matt does not need to be taking pointless hits in the pocket for a lost season. Either do a better job of protecting him or wrap him in bubble wrap for the season. - David Walker
Think really, really hard about what to do next
What’s about to happen or not happen in about a month could decide the next half-decade or so of this franchise. Arthur Blank is going to have to not only determine the fate of head coach Dan Quinn, whose soaring start has been mired by two dour seasons, but that of general manager Thomas Dimitroff as well. If he decides to break out the broom, it’s going to alter the rest of the Matt Ryan/Julio Jones era of Falcons football. good or bad. Making a change feels good in winter, but you’d better well make it count for fall. A misstep in a coach/GM hire could be catastrophic just as it could be hugely rewarding. Before he maybe rolls the dice, I at least hope Blank thinks long and hard about the pros and cons of what could happen if they replace DQ and TD, two men who, despite their flaws, we know can win under the right circumstances. - Cory Woodroof
Prepare for the future
Arthur Blank is going to let things ride until the end of the season, and that’s probably the right call. But that’s contingent on this team straddling the fine line between trying to win and getting a better glimpse at their future, because the future is all that currently matters.
That means plenty of Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver, a healthy dose of Russell Gage and Christian Blake, and hell, maybe some Matt Gono because the offensive line is already a monstrosity. It means prioritizing a look at the players who are going to matter a year from now at the expense of those who won’t without the kind of full-scale tank that no one from Blank down to the players is going to sign on for. That’s a difficult balance to strike, sure, but this team is going nowhere and can accomplish nothing over these last four games except to give the next regime (or God forbid, this one) a better idea of who can contribute. Let’s hope they find a way to keep the future in mind despite the very real pressures of the present. - Dave Choate