We have a strong urge to draw out big lessons and takeaways from each game on the calendar, ones that might determine the course of the season going forward. Every now and then, though, the Falcons play a game that defeats that urge.
We still have takeaways, of course, but the 21-14 victory over the Jaguars was the kind of game we probably need to avoid saying was transformative for the Falcons for good or ill. Once you read ours, let’s get yours.
Take the win, leave the expectations
Atlanta’s win over the Jaguars featured a great day from Cordarrelle Patterson, some encouraging moments from the defense and young defenders in particular, and it snapped an ugly two game losing streak. All of that is good.
This team also barely hung on against a Jacksonville team that spent the entire game shooting themselves in the foot, and the Falcons passing game is still borderline useless for long stretches. We have no idea if they can gin up anything better than this to beat the Buccaneers, because we haven’t seen much of anything that would indicate they can in the past three weeks.
So hey, enjoy the win and the couple of bright notes and don’t let the Falcons trick you into thinking things will be easier or better from here on out. This will be a roller coaster best appreciated once we’re off it, and it will not be one short on things that make you want to throw up. -Dave Choate
Beating the teams they should
With the exception of the Eagles game (first in a new regime) and the Washington game (which should have been a win), this Falcons team is finally beating the teams that they should. The games are closer than we would like, but this just isn’t a team built for closing out games decisively ... yet.
No one is going to mistake the Jaguars for being a good team and Atlanta beating them is no big surprise. However, these were the types of games the Falcons would somehow find a way to lose in previous years. If they can add an unexpected win to their resume this year (Bills, Bucs and 49ers seem the most out of reach), they will bolster hopes for what 2022 could look like. For now though, they’re relevant in December which is more than we’ve had in a very long time. - David Walker
The Falcons are better than 2020 with a roster much worse than 2020
Like all Falcons seasons, 2021 has been full of highs, lows, and generally a lot of confusion. We have spent a lot of time trying to discern if this team is actually good. The answer seems to be an emphatic not really, but that remains a big improvement from the last few disaster seasons. Beating a bad team is my takeaway from the Jaguars game, and is really the takeaway for the 2021 season. Atlanta can beat the bad teams. It can’t do a whole lot else, which honestly should be expected. The team has no secondary outside of AJ Terrell, no defensive line outside of Grady Jarrett, no wide receivers, and is quite simply an exceptionally unimpressive roster. The bright side is that Arthur Smith has done more with less than the former coaching staff. It is hard to know if Smith is the right guy, or if Terry Fontenot can build up the roster, but things look better than the last regime. - Matt Chambers