My friends always poke fun at me for my nasty habit while watching horror movies.
Say you go watch the new Saw movie with me. We’ll go, I’ll settle into the recliner seat and I’ll keep my phone ever-so-slightly in pocket’s reach, just in case I need to get a jump ahead on the plot. It might be because I want to know if a certain character is going to make it out alive, or if a big scare is on the way or if I need to hightail it out of that theater if some sort of grand terror awaits for the final act that might leave me temporarily traumatized.
Wikipedia has gotten me through more horror movies over the years than I’d like to admit, and as a regular patron of the pop culture buffet, I am continually reforming my spoiler-happy personality when it comes to watching freaky movies. It’s poor theater etiquette, obviously, but sometimes, you’ve just got to wait to see how it ends.
I badly want to skip ahead to the end of this offseason for the Falcons, to see if new general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith got it right, at least for now. I am a man of many takes (I’m sure you’ve loved mine about Todd Gurley!), and I’ve been pretty vocal about my belief that the new guys are making the right steps so far, particularly when it comes to Matt Ryan. I think there are pretty legitimate reasons for keeping Ryan, and I feel pretty good about this new group at least making the team respectable again, at least for the short term.
The critical journalist curmudgeon inside knows about my how powerful my nostalgia is, though, and what all these rumors about this being Ryan’s last year or Julio Jones being traded will do to my psyche.
These new guys, obviously, don’t share that nostalgia for the days of old. To Fontenot, they were something to overcome as a Saints executive, and he watched firsthand how good that team was with its aging quarterback and how they ultimately fell short in part because of him. To Smith, the Falcons were a team you saw every few years for a game you’d probably forget the day after. One of the hardest things to accept about this new regime is, despite Arthur Blank’s notions that Falcons are Falcons for life, this team would trade Jones and Ryan with ease if they feel like it’s what they’ve got to do to see their vision come to full view. They might’ve even already been ready to move on from Ryan in due time with a new quarterback in Trey Lance if the draft board had fallen that way. It’s crazy to see those doors maybe just sit there, unopened.
What’s been consistent about this new group is that they’re hard to pin down. We read reports that they like Ryan, that they like a QB, that they wanted to trade the pick, that this and that. If anything, it probably means they really didn’t feel like they had to have any set outcome right now because, well, they probably deep down view their new gig as raw clump of clay, to be molded however is most convenient with the cap and consistent with their draft board.
Even after the draft, I still have no idea if the Falcons really do view Ryan as a long-term quarterback, if they would trade Jones to build toward the future because they, deep down, think the future is where their successes will come with this organization and want draft picks then and not Jones touchdowns now.
This new group really might not think this team is ready to go right now and want to develop it in the future, and are fine to have a veteran quarterback in Ryan right now to help steady the ship for a year or two until a new, cheaper quarterback comes along and takes the mantle. Maybe they really do think Ryan is the future, and that the win-now rhetoric is sincere. I really want to believe it’s the latter and feel you can find plenty of reasonable conjecture to support why that’s a good idea, particularly with the drafting of Kyle Pitts. Though, are they really just content right now with making the moves they can for the future and will just welcome wins in 2021 as they come?
I have no idea! That’s the core of all the analysis you’ll get this offseason, really. There is just nothing right now we have to go off of anything this regime is doing until the pigskin hits the turf this fall. The truth will be in the wins and losses. If this team starts winning a lot of games, it won’t really matter what they wanted to do because whatever they did worked for now. If they struggle, we can either wonder if the team didn’t get what they wanted back in the offseason, if their plan just didn’t work, or if it just hasn’t worked yet. It’s a quagmire of mystery even today. As is customary with any beginning, none of us know if any of this is going to work, and there’s enough to get both excited about and to question. The draft’s answers are nothing compared to the answers on the field.
It’s the not knowing that kills you. In the last five years, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl and posted three-straight seasons of mediocrity and irrelevance. Since that ball bounced off Keanu Neal’s knee in the 2017 divisional playoff game, it’s kind of sucked to be a Falcons fan. It’d be nice if they didn’t suck anymore. I so, so wish to skip to the end of all of this to see if the bright horizons we’re all hoping to see actually come to fruition.