The Falcons have fired Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff, and Ben Kotwica. Raheem Morris is now the new interim head coach, and Arthur Blank and Rich McKay have declared that the next regime will be able to do what they think is best. That means the offseason is, by dint of where the team is in the standings, a lot more exciting than what’s happening on the field.
There’s still 11 games left to go, however. With that in mind, what should the team do the rest of the way to get the most out of the season remaining?
Find out what works and have fun on the way
The most frustrating part of the current Falcons is they are just not fun. You can lose and still be exciting to watch. At least make this fun for the fans in the remaining games. We aren’t expecting many wins, but we expect to get some enjoyment out of this season while the team puts their players in view for evaluation. I think the Falcons can return to the basics, simplify whatever disaster this offense and defense have become, and allow players to show what they have got. The team needs to find out what they have in this roster to provide the best tape for the next general manager and head coach. We need to know if Qadree Ollison and Deadrin Senat and others have got, see if that fits where the team is going, and see if those who don’t fit have trade value. But more than anything, just make the rest of 2020 fun. - Matt Chambers
Help folks feel better about the future
The state of the Falcons are such to where we just have to focus on the positives to feel better about where things are going. There is talent on this roster! If Matt Ryan can play better and Julio Jones can get healthy, I wonder if a new change of perspective will make the relative roster completeness show more. They’ve got a lot of talent on paper on that side of the ball. On defense, it’s time for the youth movement to take root. We’d like to see even more of guys like Foyesade Oluokun, John Cominsky, Kendall Sheffield, A.J. Terrell, Marlon Davidson, Mykal Walker, Jaylinn Hawkins and Jordan Miller. The future of this team, particularly on that side of the ball, could come into focus faster if we see those guys mature and show potential - Cory Woodroof
Experiment with the depth
At this point the Falcons would have to defy NFL history to make the playoffs. That’s not happening. While fans may want the team to intentionally “tank,” that’s just not how it works. These men are not going to go out there to intentionally lose for 11 more games. That said, this is the perfect time to begin testing the depth of your roster to see just how good (or bad) some of these guys will be in an actual NFL game. Can Matt Gono be the future at left guard? Is Deadrin Senat a legitimate bust or just someone in need of snaps? Do we have a future starter at safety in Jaylinn Hawkins? This is a season ripe for answering many of these questions, or at minimum, exploring them. With nothing to gain from this season going forward, we may as well start thinking about the future. Some of it may be sitting on the bench. - David Walker
Figure out what baton you can pass
The Falcons will try to win games because they’re professionals and jobs are at stake, and Raheem Morris is going to want to make the strongest possible case for a job either with the Falcons or someone else. It is quite possible to focus on winning games and still be equipped to give the next head coach and general manager plenty of game film on players who will be significant parts of the next team.
That means cutting down on snaps for unproductive players in favor of younger stars-in-the-making, with Marlon Davidson being the best example of a guy who needs to play a lot more in the near future. It means finding ways to get Jaylinn Hawkins, Matt Gono, Matt Hennessy, and Mykal Walker time, among others, and letting them make some mistakes with the full understanding that veterans are making mistakes already. It means gives the next regime plenty to evaluate on the coaching staff in case they want to keep a Bernie Parmalee, a Jeff Ulbrich, or a position coach, though I have my doubts about that.
The Falcons can’t do the thing that teams in desperate need of a win sometimes do and just lean heavily on veterans who won’t be here next year, in other words, because they’re not any more likely to win doing that and it does nothing to help the new staff hit the ground running in 2020. We’ll hope they can find the right balance to give 2021 that small but still important enhanced chance of success. —Dave Choate
Enjoy some football and stay optimistic on the future
Well, although the playoffs are out the window, the Falcons still have 11 more games to play. Normally I’d say that we’ll use the rest of the season to evaluate talent on the roster as the next general manager and head coach will likely make some decent changes. With that said, we don’t know what the new regime will prefer on offense and defense, so it’s difficult to predict who will be around that isn’t financially attached to the team. I do think this will give opportunities for Matt Ryan, who hasn’t been awful, to quiet down anyone who wants to move on from him. I do think it’ll be smart to have an eventual successor in place but that’ll be determined on how high the team’s draft pick will be in 2021. I do want to continue to see growth from certain players such as linebacker Foye Oluokun who I think has taken a step more than anyone on the defensive side of the ball. If anything, we at least can wake up on Sunday’s without fearing the certainty of the team letting us down. The season is over, but we can still enjoy football. – Evan Birchfield
Don’t be afraid to focus on the future
Moving on from both a head coach and general manager midseason is a huge step for the Falcons, but one that will cause significant turmoil within the organization. All in all, Raheem Morris was a very logical choice to take over as interim HC—I expect that the team will be mostly fine under his tutelage. With Jeff Ulbrich promoted to defensive coordinator, I’d like to see the team try out different personnel and scheme combinations to try to find as many future contributors as possible on that side of the ball.
On offense, I’m disappointed they didn’t move on from Dirk Koetter. He’s been a disaster thus far in 2020, as his playcalling and route combinations are painfully vanilla. Just compare what we saw from a Panthers offense which—while competent—is nowhere near as talented as Atlanta’s. It was a night and day difference between Carolina’s rookie OC, Joe Brady, and Koetter. Obviously Koetter won’t be sticking around past the end of the season, but I’m not sure what he’s done to deserve keeping his job at this point.
On a final note, the Falcons shouldn’t be afraid to focus on the future. That could mean dealing players on the final year of their contract to contenders. Alex Mack, Todd Gurley, Keanu Neal, Takkarist McKinley, and Brian Hill are all guys who could fetch something on the trade market, even if it’s not much. It’s very unlikely any of them will be back in 2021 due to the disastrous cap situation, so they wouldn’t be in the plans for the future HC/GM anyway. At this point, Atlanta should stockpile as many draft assets (and as much cap rollover) as possible heading into next season to increase the appeal of their vacancies. —Kevin Knight