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Falcons start 0-5 for the first time since 1997

This is the sorriest beginning to a season in a long, long time.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta just keeps finding new depths to plumb in 2020. Remember, this was a team all-in on a playoff berth for the season ahead, something that would prove keeping the current regime in place was not a mistake despite a 1-7 start and 7-9 overall record in 2019, so anything short of a gangbusters start was going to lead to a lot of questions and criticism. Instead of that kind of powerful early run, the Falcons are 0-5 for the first time in over two decades.

In fact, the last time the team started 0-5, it was the season before a remarkable run that took them all the way to the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. As our own Evan Birchfield notes, they’ve only made it all the way to 0-6 three times in franchise history, and yet I wouldn’t feel confident predicting they’ll avoid that in 2020.

While my own thoughts on this team’s future depend on their draft selection—you have to explore quarterback with a top 5 pick even if Matt Ryan is more or less locked in as the starter for another season, but otherwise I think you’re just trying to re-tool and do better under a new coaching staff for 2021—their 2020 fortunes are incredibly bleak. No 0-5 team has ever made the playoffs and the Falcons won’t become the first, so they’re essentially deciding the best way to play out the string, and whether it involves Dan Quinn at the helm or an interim coach. A team that spends this much and plays this poorly can’t reasonably just keep on trucking without at least making it clear they understand they’re toast and are trying to figure out who’s going to be a contributor for the future, and yet the silence from Arthur Blank and company to this point suggests that’s at least a possibility.

To put it simply and briefly, there’s no clear sign of where things are going from here, but it all feels impossibly bleak. This team never should have let things get so bad, but they had a hard time letting go of a glimmer of hope that turned out to be moonlight on the tombstone. The only question now is whether they’ll be able to avoid taking on more water before they make additional franchise history in the worst way possible.