It really seemed like they were about to win another game.
Throughout Sunday’s spat with the Detroit Lions, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t look like one of the worst teams in the NFL. On the contrary, they looked...pretty decent! They scored points, rattled off long drives, got defensive stops and didn’t make too many boneheaded decisions. They didn’t score enough, but they were in the lead.
That’s not to say they’re good, mind you, but under interim coach Raheem Morris, the Falcons have been better. They’ve looked more cohesive, more methodical, more consistent.
But then the game’s final minute showed up, the team blew another lead in spectacular fashion and Dan Quinn was probably doing yardwork or something when it happened.
As much as you appreciate Morris stepping in and steadying the ship (and wish him the best as he steers it home), it’s feeling more and more every day like we are in for a clean sweep of this coaching staff and front office (sans “Teflon” Rich McKay).
Poor Arthur Blank looked so sad as he stood on the sideline, watching his team ruin another should-be victory this season. It’s the third time the Falcons have had a win wrapped up only to squander it, but it’s better for the team’s future that those games weren’t wins.
Dallas, Chicago and Detroit should’ve been wins for Atlanta, if math had anything to say about it, which would’ve put the team at 4-3 (they de-facto earned their losses to Seattle, Green Bay and Carolina). It’d have been fitting - close to .500, a clear indication that they just weren’t built to beat the best teams, but perhaps enough to convince Blank that the guys in town could get the job done with more offseason tweaks.
The mental crumble that has taken place in three games this season is the final reveal you needed to press the reset button, and games like Sunday’s are just further reminders that there is something systematically wrong with this football team from the bottom up. They are in desperate need of a culture shift and a power wash of fresh perspective.
Blank and McKay will have a definite role in deciding what that will look like in their new hires, but the groundwork will be laid by people we don’t know yet. A certain offensive coordinator in Kansas City is everyone’s hoped-for candidate, but who knows who will actually get the job.
The Falcons have plenty to offer a new head coach, and a proven track record of success. This roster has plenty of talent on it, a good bunch of it young. They’ll at the least attract one of the top candidates in both the coaching and front office pool, if not the top guy like they did with Quinn in 2014.
Games like Sunday and the lopsided Minnesota win are plenty of proof that the Falcons aren’t bad, not at all. At their best, they can really play with anyone. But their best is not an obtainable consistency right now. At their worst, they blow historic leads and can’t stop a raindrop with a biodome. I think the middle is basically who the team is at the end.
They’re broken as assembled; it will take a restructuring (maybe even a soft rebuild) to really get this team going again to where it can compete consistently with the best of the NFL. Being someone’s trap game (2019 second half) is no achievement. Nothing will happen for the rest of the year to awaken the best of what this team can be on a consistent basis, at least not to my level of comprehension for how football works. We’re stuck in a rut and it’ll take the 2021 tow truck to pull this team out and get it going for the future.
It’s a dreadful elevator this year with future destinations unknown. Only the division games really worth getting amped for (beating the Saints would feel especially good). Don’t kid yourself; the Falcons aren’t going to the playoffs anytime soon, and major, franchise-altering change is a meteor headed straight for Flowery Branch. Brace for impact.