The current pandemic will almost certainly disrupt the 2020 NFL season. To what extent remains to be seen, but we know that many of the early summer activities will be shifted to “virtual” workouts for the teams. Depending on what happens between now and July, teams may still be advised to remain virtual.
If some version of a 2020 season still happens, teams with continuity and stability could benefit the most, including the Falcons. While many fans were very disappointed to see Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn retained, that decision could give them a leg up this season.
Stability with the front office and coaching staff
Having the same GM and scouts in place will undoubtedly make them better prepared for the upcoming draft and ongoing free agency moves as the season progresses. Atlanta’s Thomas Dimitroff has been here for 12 years and with Rich McKay having a ton of experience in the league as well, the Falcons have the kind of experience you would covet in a situation like we’re in now.
As for the coaches, while the Falcons did lose some guys - like Mike Mularkey retiring - the core of the coaching staff will be the same. Dan Quinn, Dirk Koetter, Raheem Morris and others will all return to run the same schemes overall. The Falcons don’t have to worry about an entirely new coaching staff trying to get to know their players “virtually.” They don’t have to worry about installing a new scheme or doing in-depth player evaluations. These coaches know what they want to run and they will know most of the capabilities of the roster as well.
Stability at key positions
On that note, the Falcons will also go into 2020 with stability and continuity at many key positions on the field. They have a quality, veteran QB in Matt Ryan. His favorite weapons - guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley - will be back as well. His offensive line will probably field 5 guys who were on the roster last year. The loss of Austin Hooper will probably hurt more with Ryan and Hayden Hurst not having much time together, but this will be a unit with very little disruption.
The defense will see a little more disruption, but still maintains many of its key leaders. Guys like Grady Jarrett, Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones are all veterans now and key leaders for this defense. New free agent Dante Fowler will get to lean on them as part of his integration into the team.
A disrupted NFC South
The Falcons may be one of the most stable teams in the NFC South. The Saints are arguably just as stable, but their starting QB is on the wrong side of 40 and he may well be in decline at this point. The Panthers have big changes ahead of them having moved on from head coach Ron Rivera and quarterback Cam Newton. Likewise, Tampa Bay has brought on Tom Brady to lead the team at QB. His age and lack of time with Bruce Arians could lead to a slow start as the coach and QB get to know each other.
If the 2020 season does happen, there’s no guarantee that the Falcons will be a good team. There are still a lot of questions about this roster and doubts remain about whether Dan Quinn and Dirk Koetter are the guys to turn this ship around. However, in a league where minor differences are enough to swing several games in your favor, Atlanta’s stability across the entire org could give them a key advantage in what will undoubtedly be a disrupted season.