The season is over for the 2020 Atlanta Falcons.
I know it, you know it, Freddie Falcon knows it, Evan Birchfield knows it. These Falcons are cooked, Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff are gone, the future is now.
It’s been a whirlwind since the team lost to Carolina Sunday. By bedtime, the team’s lauded head coach and 12-year general manager were on the outs, and the team faces one of its biggest periods of uncertainty since 2007. How did we get here, to this precise moment?
Well, the team stinks, that’s why.
The 2020 Falcons play with no confidence or swagger, and they juggle and then drop momentum the second they find it. The team lacks any sort of coaching advantage against any opponent whatsoever, and some of the team’s best players (Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal) just aren’t playing to their potential or can’t due to injury.
There are guys like Grady Jarrett and Foyesade Oluokun who are playing inspired football, but it doesn’t add up to much. Most of the team’s monstrous cap hits aren’t doing enough to stay competitive against a rebuilding Panthers team for four quarters. Whatever coaching changes the team made in the offseason, once again, didn’t work at all. It’s a mess.
Is it fair to wonder what this team might look like if they’d recovered that onside kick against Dallas? Maybe. You wonder if the team’s mental fortitude wouldn’t have collapsed from under them, if wins against the Bears and Panthers might’ve willed themselves in close scrapes just because the Falcons believed them to be possible. But it’s not like they’d be supremely better. This team was what it was coming into 2020; it was no meaningful playoff challenger.
It’s really fair to wonder if the team believes is anything right now but the ever-growing doom that suffocates the season. There was a point where even Dan Quinn’s Atlanta Falcons would stop believing in the Brotherhood. They may have always defended their coach and might still, but they didn’t play for him to start the season like they did down the stretch in 2019. His job status is as much on the roster’s underwhelming performance as it is on Quinn’s failures.
This is the second-straight season where the Falcons look lifeless going into October football, and it should be the last under this regime. Arthur Blank is holding up his end of the bargain by ushering in a clean sweep of a new head coach and GM. Barring a quite literally flawless finish, we’ll have a completely new coaching staff and front office here by January.
Right now, though, things are bleak. The Falcons haven’t won a playoff game in three years come this January, and they sure as all get out won’t be going anywhere near the postseason this year. It’s never happened in NFL history for an 0-5 team to make the playoffs for a definitive reason.
Bad teams don’t go to the playoffs, and the 2020 Falcons are a bad team.
The only thing Blank could’ve done right now is shake things up just enough to inspire a little confidence in his locker room, and maybe this will do it for now. But with a road trip to Minnesota on the horizon, it looks like an 0-6 start is a legitimate possibility. That’s not good.
This is one of the lowest points in Falcons franchise history, and that’s saying something. The once savior and NFC Championship coach so many of us believed in has lost control of the team on the field, and it does not look like this will ever trend in the right direction this fall. If it somehow does, it’ll once again be too late, and it should not be trusted for future evaluation. Fool me once, etc.
This year is over; this era of Falcons football is over. It’s time for change; changes are inevitable. All that’s left is the waiting, wailing and hoping and praying for a better and brighter future for this franchise.
I hate it; I wish it weren’t so. I really like Quinn: I wished he were the guy. I thought he would be. But it’s over, he sadly wasn’t and it’ll be until 2021 until we can watch a team that has any chance of a playoff berth again.