What Happened to the Atlanta Falcons??
There are a couple of teams worse than the Atlanta Falcons right now in the NFL, but none of them are a little over 2-years removed from a Super Bowl.
The Dolphins are tanking deliberately and the Redskins are easily the worst run franchise in Professional Sports, both have worse records, neither were close to where the Falcons were not so long ago.
No, it's not a hangover from choking away a 28-3 3rd quarter lead to the New England Patriots in the 2017-18 Super Bowl, but you can easily argue it exposed the team and the downfall from this point in time has been nothing short of epic.
The team has gone 8-13 since the fateful day in February 2018 which seems like for NFL fans in Atlanta, a generation ago. A team with a Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Alex Mack and more on offense should be better than the 20 points a game the team is averaging in 2019. As mediocre as that sounds, the defense has been worse. Far, far worse. Like giving up 30-points a game bad.
I find this fascinating in large part because I'm not a Falcons fan even though I live in Metro Atlanta. A large majority of the people I know here however are. And to read about the team here, the writers, analysts and fans are mystified by it.
It's pretty clear to those of us without a vested interest.
It starts with the Coach. Dan Quinn by almost all accounts by anyone who has every encountered him is apparently an amazingly good dude. But its also readily apparent as a Head Coach, he's a good assistant.
Yeah, sure, he was the Head Coach when they went to the Super Bowl---but it is quite obvious it was due to former Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan who engineered one of the greatest offensive seasons by an NFL team in league history.
The Atlanta Falcons are a finesse football team in a league where you can't have big enough players. They've been like that for a very long time. For years, they've been a team relying on offensive line speed and smallish defensive players. Although they got marginally bigger in 2019, it hasn't helped.
While Quinn will likely be the first to fall on the sword for this team, it's not all on him. The General Manager, Thomas Dimitroff is largely to blame as he's never given his coaches the right mix of players to compete.
Dimitroff is another good person---but good people don't always make you successful as a team. He's been around for a long, long time in the NFL, starting in 2008. The Falcons have had some success under his watch, but is largely due to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The majority of his draft picks and free agents have been failures. He seems to get it right just about the time there is talk of his demise---which buys him a couple more seasons.
It's time to make a change.
The team owner---Arthur Blank is behind the scenes, incredibly difficult to work for. He's been patient as far as an NFL owner goes but expect changes with this team to come very soon.
Blank has spent a ton of money on Jones, Ryan, Defensive Tackle Grady Jarrett and others and will have very little to show for it. This is a team in need of a big time rebuild and they don't really have the salary space to do it.
It's rare when an NFL team gets criticized for being "Ok" but that's really what this franchise has been over the past decade, not awful, not great, just okay.
And at the end of the day---in the cutthroat, multi-billion dollar business that is the NFL, it's really not enough. It's time for the Atlanta Falcons face facts about who they currently are and where they want to be.
Most of the people running the team now and a lot of the players will need to go away in order for that to ever happen.