We’re wrapping up this week today, because there’s little else you can do with a loss like that. The Giants are looming, that’s a much more winnable game, and the Falcons will hopefully take the last two weeks of lessons and suffering and start turning those into wins.
With a couple of days to digest the loss, here’s how some of The Falcoholic staff are feeling about the game and this team more generally. We’ll be shifting our focus to the Giants very soon, so get our your Buccaneers venting and big picture thoughts here with us.
I don’t know how to feel
The Falcons have been straightforwardly frustrating for a long time now, and they are still incredibly frustrating. I don’t feel like I know how this all ends, though, and that’s a bit disorienting.
This was the rare game where the final score was more lopsided than the actual course of the game would indicate, and I did think the Falcons looked far better than the unprepared mess I saw in Game 1. Whether that translates into legitimate progress and maybe even a win with the hapless Giants up next feels very much up in the air, given how mistake-prone this team has been through two weeks. It also doesn’t feel like the Falcons are that far away from actually being competitive when they’re not matched up against good teams with blistering front sevens, and while that might be some delusion talking, I know we haven’t come close to seeing the best Mike Davis, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage can offer on offense, and the defense has quietly made a little progress. I fully expect that I’ll want to scream at this team dozens of times this year, but I’m also not in a cocoon of despair yet the way I was the past couple of seasons.
I feel like the next three games, all winnable on paper but still presenting a decent challenge, will tell us more what we should think about this team in 2021 and their ability to grow. I just hope it’s not “god, they’re awful.” —Dave Choate
Context is key
The week 1 game against the Eagles could ultimately be an outlier, as many week 1 games tend to be. That said, this game had all the makings of a beatdown and while the final score says that’s what happened, the context is critical. Going into the fourth quarter the Falcons were within a field goal of the defending champs. On top of that, they were doing this while on the road while the Bucs had 3 extra days of rest on account of them having last played on a Thursday night. In many ways, the odds were stacked against the Falcons.
This is not to claim a moral victory, but to put this game in context in the hopes of more accurately forecasting what’s ahead. If Atlanta can stay close to one of the best teams in the league while playing well (sloppiness and errors doomed them again), then - in theory - they should be able to beat lesser teams or at least keep those games close. Cleaning up mental errors is a critical factor here, and the “progress” we’ve seen absolutely must continue. If those things happen, this could be a team that finishes around .500 with an upbeat outlook for 2022. - David Walker
Give it time
The Atlanta Falcons both outplayed and lived into our expectations for them against the Buccaneers Sunday. It’s not fun to see Matt Ryan throw two pick-sixes, but that 21-point finish by the Bucs was loopy and probably not indicative of how that game should’ve actually ended, given the Falcons’ furious response after halftime. The Falcons aren’t a great team right now, but the odds of them being one after trading Julio Jones (just more and more seismic than we ever could’ve imagined) and ... y’know ... everything else weren’t high. Though, Arthur Smith showed some promise as both a head coach and play caller and the defense held its own more than probably thought was possible against Tom Brady.
Though, there were mistakes and weird decisions aplenty, and this team really does need to put the pedal to the metal in this upcoming stretch to get some wins and give folks some immediate confidence. It’ll just make life easier around these parts to see some victories. For sure, the team is making progress. Give it some time, and you might be surprised where things stand when the year is over. If they go 0-17, well, I’ll eat my crow. - Cory Woodroof
I don’t hate where the Falcons are
I still have a lot of questions and concerns about the plan for this offseason, the execution of that plan, and the the analysis that went into that plan. Week 1 was an absolutely kick to the guy. But after Week 2... this team may have a little something something. I know this is a good sum of the state of the Falcons in that I’m kind of happy after a 23 point loss. Like many of us, I’m curious if and how much more the Falcons can keep improving. Both lines looked better but admittedly below average. Still, Arthur Smith kept so many starters out knowing it would take some time to get the schemes installed and players adjusted. The team is healthy and has the New York Giants on tap. I’ll put the New York game as a make it or break it game dictating better where this team will go in 2021. Let’s see what they do with it. - Matt Chambers
This team has a pulse
There will very likely be a number of losses this team suffers this year which will infuriate the fanbase, but this one shouldn’t be one of them. The Falcons were always going to be heavy underdogs in Tampa and they actually put up a really good fight until the Bucs pulled away in the fourth quarter.
I’m happy to see some of the improvements from that abomination we saw in Week 1, and don’t look now but the schedule gets a lot lighter in the coming weeks. The Giants, Football Team, Jets and then Dolphins (following a bye) are on tap. All are winnable games against inexperienced quarterbacks. Of course, if we’re sitting here next week at 0-3 the conversation will have much more of a negative tone to it. - Adnan Ikic