Falcons fans were burned over and over again in 2018. We were burned after expecting a strong season early on because of injuries, we were burned as the season went along because the Falcons managed to lift out of an ugly early stretch to win a bunch in a row before collapsing, and we were burned when we said “okay, maybe they’ll just line up a great draft pick” and they closed out the year strong. Whatever your expectations for Atlanta in 2018, they probably failed you in some fashion.
Yet the offseason brings fresh promise, and already some measured optimism is returning to large swathes of the fanbase. That’s borne out by the most recent SB Nation FanPulse results, which show an increase of fans feeling confident in the team from 33% after the final game of the 2018 season to 43% as of earlier this week, along with more than three quarters of respondents (76%) saying the Falcons got better in free agency.
Both seem reasonable, frankly. The Falcons directly tackled their offensive line woes by signing Jamon Brown and James Carpenter, adding competence, experience, and (hopefully) improved play to their guard spots. They have taken pains to address nearly every pressing need on offense, short of swing tackle/right tackle and wide receiver, and they have nine draft selections ahead to address those weaknesses and their largest ones on defense. It’s a team with holes and it will remain a team with holes, but the arrow is pointing in the right direction at the moment.
For what it’s worth, I do think the Falcons are a better team than they were at the end of the season, and a strong draft class and health for some of their stars will be enough to convince me they can contend again in 2019. But as we’ve learned the hard way over and over again, the only truly certain thing about the Falcons is that they will find a way to reward your confidence with something punishing in the end, so cautious optimism is probably as good as it’ll get for a while.