Falcons fans deal with a lot by the standards of NFL franchises. This is a team that has never won a Super Bowl, has some truly mind-smashing losses in its recent history, and has spent the past three seasons disappointing us in one way or another. Despite all that, the mood in August is always more optimistic than I expect, as a significant percentage of Falcons fans always seems to be at least cautious optimism, something I get caught up in almost every year as well.
As an example, here’s a quick Twitter poll I ran the other day to see what Falcons fans are feeling. On the plus side of the ledger, Atlanta’s made some potentially impactful additions to the roster, haven’t had a single player opt out, have everyone off the reserve/COVID-19 list at the moment, and already possessed that core of stars that makes it easy to talk yourself into them every season. On the other side of that, they’re coming off back-to-back 7-9 seasons, didn’t change up the coaching staff, are going to be relying on some truly unproven players on defense in particular, and we’re not even sure a full NFL season is feasible. For all that, our very unscientific poll turned up very optimistic results.
For the moment, the Falcons are healthy and they're still making moves. How good are you feeling about this team right now?— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) August 7, 2020
Yes, that is nearly 58% of respondents saying they expect a winning season in 2020, even though the Falcons haven’t had one of those since 2017. And yes, that’s a further nearly 31% saying they think the team will slot in around .500, which to be fair is something they’ve sort of done the past two years. Virtually no one who voted here expects the team to be awful, while a further 8% are feeling a general sense of doom that presumably extends far beyond Flowery Branch and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
This tells me two things: That Falcons fans can’t help talking themselves into this team this time of year, when most of the moves haven’t been made and haven’t had a chance to either work out or flop spectacularly, and that we all need something to feel good about right now. It would not be unfair to suggest that this team has not exactly earned a massive amount of faith given everything from Dirk Koetter’s hiring and continued employment to the lack of compelling defensive overhauls outside of Dante Fowler Jr. and rookies, but that faith seems to be there across wide swaths of the fanbase.
While I’m in the “they’ll be around .500” crowd, this is not the year I’m going to shake my head and wag my finger at our collective inability to learn our lesson. There’s so much uncertainty hanging over the entire season, given the NFL’s lackluster planning and the way COVID-19 has been disrupting best-laid plans all year, that asking fans not to find a little hope and positivity in their favorite football team is downright cruel. You also don’t have to squint all that hard to see a good team emerging out of the talent on hand, especially with Koetter presumably learning something from last year and Raheem Morris taking over the reins of the defense.
What are your expectations at the moment for this Falcons season?