It’s a frustrating time to be associated with the Falcons. Dan Quinn’s seat went from lukewarm to warm following an inexplicable Week 1 loss. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett openly dished out some harsh criticism during media availability Sunday afternoon. And the fans, well, they’re not happy.
Look, I’m not here to tell you how to feel. But in my estimation, there are at least three solid reasons to remain optimistic about the Falcons in Week 2. Here goes.
1. Matthew Thomas Ryan is still the franchise quarterback
If you’re not a Matt Ryan fan, then stop reading now, because you won’t like what I’m about to say. This franchise quarterback, this former MVP, this man with ice running through his veins; he plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Say what you want about Ryan, because calling him “good but not elite” is the most thoughtful criticism his usual detractors (who aren’t Falcons fans) can muster. Sunday’s loss was not indicative of Ryan’s abilities or skillset. He can do better, and I’d bet he’d be the first to admit that. Knowing what we know about Ryan, a repeat performance is unlikely. Or at a minimum, we know Ryan will work incredibly hard to avoid a repeat performance, because that’s just the type of player he is. Expecting Ryan to bounce back isn’t foolish or shortsighted. It’s a fair inference based on his track record.
2. Talent matters
Did we forget about the composition of this defense? Did we forget about the skill players on offense? From a talent standpoint, this team isn’t good or above-average. They’re elite. Elite talent doesn’t get you far with bad coaching. But elite talent coupled with average coaching can produce great results.
In short, Dan Quinn won a Super Bowl as a defensive coordinator and an NFC Championship as a head coach. Quinn also has multiple former head coaches on his staff. These guys aren’t amateurs, no matter how angry you are with them right now. There’s reason to think they can get their act together and, in concert with this talented roster, get a lot of wins this season.
3. Last Sunday’s loss was a perfect storm
The Vikings loss was painful. We waited a long time to endure such a lackluster, apathetic performance. And to be sure, that absolutely warrants frustration. But the series of events that unfolded to put the Falcons behind 28-0 by the end of the third quarter won’t be easily replicated.
First, the Vikings are a talented football team. (Let’s not act like we only beat ourselves.) Second, the Falcons turned the ball over three times. Third, the Falcons outgained and had 9 more first downs than the Vikings. Fourth, consistent veterans like Jake Matthews and Matt Ryan had mental lapses that put their team behind the eight ball. I’d bet against that perfect storm resurfacing any time soon.
Remember what I said in the second paragraph? I can’t tell you how to feel about the state of this franchise. But if you were excited about this team headed into the season; if you thought this was a team capable of doing great things; if you have suffered through worse times before, then please, I implore you: take a deep breath and find a silver lining. All is not lost, folks. In fact, it’s well within the realm of possibility that good times lie just ahead.