I don’t have to tell you the Atlanta Falcons have been a lousy football team over the past six seasons, but I will to underscore just how frustrating and futile those years have been. The Falcons have gone 7-10 in five of those years with one 4-12 season in the mix, they’ve ranked 25th in wins over that span among all NFL teams, and they’ve only come close to the playoffs a couple of times because the NFC South has morphed into one of the league’s less impressive trash heaps. It’s not just that the Falcons have been stuck in neutral; it’s that they’ve been stuck in neutral on a steep hill, not just going nowhere but always seemingly sliding backwards.
The 2023 season was supposed to be the year that changed all that, but as we know, it was not. That was less to do with the virtues of a pivotal 2023 offseason, when Terry Fontenot went into his bad of money and tricks and came away with hugely consequential free agent signings and a draft full of contributors, than what happened when the players and coaches actually had to put something on the field. That something was another 7-10 season, one where the offense was mightily disappointing, and it got Arthur Smith fired and torpedoed Desmond Ridder’s brief starting career in the NFL. That something was enough to make you think the Falcons are on a treadmill they have no ability to get off.
So that makes this, another in a long line of consequential offseasons, take on even more importance than the previous entries in the series. That’s because the Falcons actually do have the makings of a solid foundation for this roster, but now are bringing in a new coaching staff and must get the quarterback position right to achieve some sort of forward progress. There are big, consequential decisions to come—the Kyle Pitts fifth-year option, the quarterback selection or signing or trade, the specific way the team chooses to re-tool a defense that has a raft of impending free agents—and small ones that could prove pivotal in between those. There’s another spending spree to come in free agency, another haul in the draft thanks to an extra selection from the Calvin Ridley trade, and if Terry Fontenot has his druthers, probably a couple of intriguing undrafted free agents and ex-CFLers pushing their way onto this roster.
It’s all in the service of winning, something the Falcons have not done nearly enough of since their 2017 playoff season. With the Super Bowl over and the coaching staff mostly set under Raheem Morris, the focus between now and the start of on-field workouts in Atlanta will be wholly on improving a team that has underachieved for way too long. May we finally see that improvement come to pass for our Falcons.