It’s been a hard year, Falcons fans. We didn’t expect Week 17 to look like this. After a second half turnaround in 2019 and an ostensibly productive off-season, things were looking up.
But then admittedly predictable stuff started happening: Dirk Koetter forgot how to orchestrate a rushing attack. (On second thought, that was never part of his skill set.) Dan Quinn remembered his in-game coaching is mediocre at best. Thomas Dimitroff kept focusing on his bikes shorts collection, foregoing any thoughtful, intelligent attempt to improve the Falcons’ defensive line.
So what’s next? Going forward, meaningful change is the name of the game. First, the Falcons need to find a new head coach and general manager. And the vetting process needs to be thorough and deliberate, because the fan base desperately wants to get back to watching a competitive football team. What’s more, if Matt Ryan or Julio Jones are going to win a championship in Atlanta, the window is rapidly closing. To that effect, if the next regime wants to move on from Ryan or Jones, they will have to get extremely creative with an exit plan, given the cost constraints.
I don’t know when the Falcons will get back to the playoffs, but we need to be prepared for the possibility that this won’t all happen overnight. Can the Falcons do all the right things over the next 9 months and come out swinging in 2021? Sure. There’s no shortage of parity in the NFL and the Falcons have flashed enough this season to conclude that their record isn’t indicative of their potential. But in situations like these, it’s best to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised if things come together quicker than expected.
Tomorrow’s game is important. It will help decide where the Falcons pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But Grady Jarrett made it clear last week that the players currently on the roster don’t care about draft position, and knocking off a Brady-led division opponent would be their preference. If you expect them to have a different outlook, then I’m not sure you understand how professional football players approach the game.
On the injury front, Julio Jones (hamstring), Alex Mack (reserve/COVID-19), Darqueze Dennard (quad), and Brandon Powell (foot) have been ruled out or won’t play. James Carpenter (groin) was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, as were Ito Smith (rib) and Foye Oluokun (ankle). Evan Birchfield’s full injury report is definitely worth a read, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Your thoughts about the state of the franchise ahead of Week 17, Falcoholics?