It’s the final month of the 2019 season. Chances are you’re relieved to hear that, because even the broken 2018 season didn’t seem quite as dismal as this one, and we’re ready for an offseason of sweeping changes.
The first obstacle between us and sweet, sweet January is the Carolina Panthers. To get you ready for that game—perhaps the last game this year Atlanta should be expected to win—we present you with these links.
Panther pity party
There aren’t many streamers and balloons in One Panther Place—if that’s what their headquarters are called, I didn’t look it up—after the team fired Ron Rivera. Matthew Chambers decided to find out how the team’s biggest fans were faring in his five questions with Cat Scratch Reader. With an offseason of major changes looming—including, potentially, a new franchise quarterback—the answers were not all sunny.
Kevin Knight also broke this matchup down by the numbers, which is a feat considering how crummy the numbers are.
On the very same day, David Walker took his customary look at the Falcons defense against this week’s opponent offense and came away believing Kyle Allen is bad. That’s enough to give the advantage to the Falcons defense, especially after they beat up on poor Allen the last time out. I think he’s right to do so.
What can Arthur Blank learn from his last two head coaches?
Speaking of David Walker, his interesting look at how the Falcons might handle their upcoming head coach search covered two vastly different lessons the team’s owner might come away with. The first concerns whether the Falcons will give up on defensive coaches—Jim Mora Jr., Mike Smith, and Dan Quinn all cut their teeth on that side of the ball—and the second regards whether the Falcons will abandon first-time NFL head coaches. It’s worth remembering that Blank has yet to hire an HC who has been an NFL head coach before joining the Falcons, with Mora, Bobby P*trino, Smitty and DQ all coming from NFL coordinator gigs or the college ranks.
I find the second possibility more likely. Jeff Schultz at The Athletic and others have hammered this team’s lack of leadership and we’ve been critical here at times about the lack of a cogent philosophy animating everything the team does, and a more experienced coach might be Blank’s preferred salve for both of those things. Ultimately, though, one hopes the owner won’t shy away from great candidates just because they line up neatly with past hiring practices.
Julio Jones, Austin Hooper trending up
The list of limited Falcons was unhappily long, but the most notable names on it were Julio Jones and Austin Hooper. Both seem likely to play against the Panthers, giving Matt Ryan a fighting chance of having a good day against Carolina.
Friday’s injury report will tell us the final story.