What a difference a year makes, eh?
When 2019 began, we were still processing the news that the Falcons had fired all three of their coordinators. Steve Sarkisian would ultimately give way to Dirk Koetter, Marquand Manuel to Dan Quinn, and Keith Armstrong to Ben Kotwica, but we didn’t know any of that yet except DQ stepping into his role. It was clear that the Falcons had underachieved despite the number of injuries they suffered, and Quinn and company moved decisively and swiftly in what was expected to be his final chance to save his job.
You all know the rest. The Falcons spent big and talked big about the offensive line and made some slight alterations to the roster otherwise. By midseason, that line was a massive disappointment, the defense had underachieved to the point that Dan Quinn retreated from defensive play calling duties in favor of Jeff Ulbrich and Raheem Morris, and the Falcons were 1-7. After going 5-2 in the second half with a pair of signature wins over the NFC’s top teams, Arthur Blank announced that instead of the kind of decisive house cleaning we expected for after a losing season, everyone was coming back. Dirk Koetter is the only significant member of the staff who is expected to maybe not stick around, and I still bet he’ll be back.
So 2020 will be a year of chasing ghosts, then. The Falcons will be going after their 2016 Super Bowl season again, hoping that Dan Quinn’s sojourn through 7-9 seasons will provide the lessons necessary to bring about more success. It’s probably fair to suggest that expectations heading into this year have not been lower since...maybe 2016? Maybe even 2014?
That means a long, difficult offseason of winning back trust by building a better roster and (hopefully) coaching staff, even if the major decision-makers will remain in place. But it also means we may not fall into the raised hopes trap prematurely in 2020, which might do our collective blood pressure a favor. Some of you have already deftly dodged that in years past.
As always, we’ll be here for it, albeit perhaps a little less upbeat than is typical. Join us in the coming weeks and we’ll break down the year that was and what we think the team needs most, followed by the free agency, draft, OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and preseason coverage that will take us into 2020. It hasn’t been a fun year for us, given everything, but we’ll hope for better and we appreciate your support and readership, no matter how the year ahead winds up.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope it’s a great one for all of us.