For the past three seasons, the Atlanta Falcons have posted an impressive 36-12 regular season record. But looking back at those seasons, can we finally see that maybe it was more luck than skill that made the Dirty Birds seem like an elite team?
As the Falcons head into Week 11 with a 2-7 record that is only one game better than those of the 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the record seems to be dead-on in proving that the Dirty Birds are in fact one of the worst teams in the NFL this year.
Instead of the Falcons competing for a chance to play in the Super Bowl to capture that elusive Lombardi Trophy, they are battling to see who can take away the crown for the most disappointing team and the rights to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In many ways, a team’s record does not tell the whole story; while this is true in numerous cases, there is no better demonstration of just how poorly the Falcons have played this year than the wins and losses. In a special situation like this, they have proven that their two 13-3 records was a mere camouflage, as their offensive prowess covered up many underlying issues with the team that has finally exploded with an exclamation point.
I completely understand that the Falcons have not only lost players for the year, but that they were some of their best players on both sides of the ball. From Julio Jones to Sam Baker to Sean Weatherspoon to even an ailing Roddy White, any team that is struck with an injury list as long as the Falcons is understandably going to have a mediocre year.
With that being said, teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Buccaneers and even the Jaguars have all found ways to either win, or at least be competitive in the games they have lost. To see the Falcons lose is one thing, but to see them simply get outplayed and outperformed on a competitive level is just downright disheartening.
Although coach Mike Smith has the responsibility to get the most out of his players despite having his best players in a suit rather than in a uniform, franchise quarterback Matt Ryan has to lead his team to play with some spirit in tough situations such as this. Instead of Mattie Ice rallying his team to go down with a fight, he has led his team to the slaughterhouse with his poor decision-making on top of his inability to simply take over when his team needs him the most.
Not having two of the best wide receivers in the NFL will without question hurt your performance, but those excuses went right out the door when Ryan signed his new contract worth more than $100 million. In the games where Ryan’s leadership was looked upon against some of the best teams in the NFC, he threw seven interceptions in two games and was absolutely demolished in both outings.
For all the cliches we have in this world, the Falcons are have now reinforced the cliche that they are what their record says. In the simplest terms, the hyped-up Falcons are indeed one of the worst teams in the league. Should they lose to the Buccaneers this weekend, it will cement their place in history as one of the biggest busts in the history of the NFL.