The Case For Chilling

It's only one game, Those words spark hatred in every fan who hears it when their team is 0-2. But let's think about it.

Game one is always a crap shoot in the NFL. This year more so, because the preseason was down to 3 games. For the Falcons, they had a new coaching staff, new GM, massive amount of rookies in training camp, new schemes on both sides of the ball, and a rookie LG and 2nd year C starting.

They've lost two games. The first was in game one of the season, where anything and everything is possible in the NFL. Teams are still ironing out formations and playbooks, and unless you're Tampa Bay, at least a few of your starters are new to the team, if not new to the NFL. Game two was against Tampa Bay, who actually did the unthinkable and managed to bring back every starter from their SB team along with all the coaching staff. They are a complete outlier in the early game ups and downs of the NFL.

So imagine the order of the first two games reversed. If the Falcons had lost to Tampa in their first game, nobody would've been surprised. Then, if they'd lost to a Philly in game two, suddenly the panic would set in, because the expectation would've been to perform better after being beaten by the defending champs. Losing to Philly would've shown the team on a downward trajectory, or at least being worse than we thought.

As it is, the team lost game one by having a lot of penalties and miscues, being out of position against a mobile QB running an efficient RPO game and having an inexperienced Oline against one of the leagues better Dlines. Then they were blown out by Tampa Bay. But except for two tipped-pass pick sixes, they'd have played them close, and in fact were within 3 pts through the 3rd qtr--a big improvement over game one.

Despite the takes that say we hired the wrong coach, drafted the wrong players, installed the wrong schemes, and traded the wrong star player (even though Julio himself asked for it), the team is not in a full on rebuild the way people want to say it is,. It's not time to abandon ship and start mock drafts.

Two games into a 17 game season, the Falcons are getting better, and unless the injury bug hits hard, they are going to improve across the board in the next few games. If you want to spend your time thinking they'll never win and the season is lost, you can.

I choose to look at the team with some optimism. It will take time for any new Oline to gel, but it's especially hard for rookies and young, inexperienced Olinemen to get their sea legs in the NFL. The team will get their vet LG back soon, and they'll address the LG position if Mayfield can't improve enough to be servicable in the meantime. That doesn't make them a top 10 Oline this year, but it looks a whole lot more like they did in week 2 than in week 1. I think they'll improve.

It will take time for Smith's playbook to be fully open and for the receivers and their new TE to truly integrate, but the talent is there. It will take time for the Oline to begin working as a unit in run blocking, but they're already looking better in zone blocking than last year's version under Koetter.

It will take time for the defense to get fully comfortable with Dean Pees' scheme, but they looked better in week 2 against Brady than they did in week one against Hurts. Pees said he had someone assigned to Hurts on every play, so it's clear there were multiple missed assignments that failed to set an edge and contain. That will improve.

Penalties killed the Falcons drives in the first game. Those mental errors are fixable without adding more talented players. It's hard to know how many mental errors resulted in defenders being out of position as well. Again, those kinds of errors can be corrected with coaching and reps in the scheme.

The weirdest reactions I've read are the ones that accuse Smith and Fontenot of misleading fans by refusing to call this a rebuild. I guess it depends on your definition of rebuild, but it seems to me it's way to early to decide the team just cannot win games this season. I saw improvement in week two, and I saw a team ready to fight to win against a team with clearly more talent and more experience in their system than the Falcons.

Do I know for sure the Falcons won't lose more than they win this year? Nope. But I'm not willing to spend my time being negative for no reason. At two games in, they are still facing a few very winnable games in the short term, and maybe, if that happens, they become a different and better team by November. If they go into November even close to .500, the outlook will be very different. If they don't, then there's plenty of time to be negative deeper into the season, and the mock drafts will be a lot more meaningful by then anyway.

For now, I think there's a case to be made for chilling out and exercising a little patience. Honestly, being optimistic will not affect the team negatively, and we might have less indigestion as Falcon fans.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>