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Some Reasons To Be Cheerful During The Falcons’ Disappointing Season

Let’s state the obvious: Things haven’t gone to plan for the Atlanta Falcons this season. We know this – everyone knows this – and it’s the reason that Raheem Morris is now at the helm instead of Dan Quinn. Last season’s reversal of form after a 1-7 start might give some fans hope that things can be turned around and at the organization least save some face, but few fans will be holding their breath.

But it’s also not news to people that the Falcons are a better team than the record suggests. But it’s the capitulations in games like the 40-39 defeat to the Cowboys, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, that have led some pundits to muse on why the Falcons seem to hate their fans. That might be a little bit harsh, but you can understand where the sentiment comes from when supporting this most frustrating of teams.

Nevertheless, amid the gloom, we see some shafts of light, and we would like to talk about those below.

A Clean Slate

The departure of Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff came a year too late in the eyes of many fans, many of whom could never shake the belief that Quinn was to blame for the Super Bowl LI collapse. But it’s also apparent that the team’s relationship with Quinn and the coaching staff seemed to have broken down. It’s not clear whether Raheem Morris can solve the many problems he faces, but he can at least get the basics right.  The players are not blameless either, but there are a number of underperformers on the roster who could improve with a new head coach.

A Not-Terrible Offense

While Quinn left a team that ranked 31st in the NFL in defense, the Falcons’ offensive stats were not bad at all, 9th in the NFL, in fact. Look, there was definitely something missing during the games against the Panthers and Packers, but somewhere within that roster there is a team capable of delivering strong offense waiting to come out.

Calvin Ridley

There is a school of thought shared by pundits and some fans that now is the time to trade Julio Jones. He is the kind of player who could be a difference-maker in a team like the Ravens, but sadly not for the Falcons this season. The departure of Jones, which could be used to as part of a new GM’s rebuild, would perhaps be cushioned by the fact that Calvin Ridley is starting to look like one of the best receivers in NFL.

Blown Leads Hint at Potential

To blow a lead, you have to get ahead in the first place, and while neither the Cowboys nor Bears are considered among the NFL’s best, taking 15+ point leads into the fourth quarter against those teams hints at something. Yes, the Falcons have that unwanted record now as being the first team in NFL history to blow 15 point leads in the fourth quarter more than once in a season. But that also suggests some of the Falcons’ problems are fixable.

The Bounce Back Performance vs The Vikings

Baby steps, and all that. But there were many more positives than negatives to take from Morris’ first game in charge – the 40-23 defeat of the Vikings. Again, the Falcons finished weaker in the 4th quarter, and that’s something for Morris to work on. While a lot of the result was down to the profligacy of Vikings’ quarterback, Kirk Cousins, the Falcons were the better team.

Conclusion

We started by stating the obvious, and we will finish by stating the obvious: The Falcons are not a team that is a trade or two away from being contenders. The organization must rebuild, not just in terms of players, but coaching and technical staff. But there is also a platform to build on. Lest we forget, the Falcons threw away games this season against the Bears and Cowboys, so while the team needs surgery, it’s not terminal. Or so we hope.


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