Samuel D. Logan | Author: ATLSportsHQ.com
Julio Jones (Falcoms.com)
28-3. The joke of 2017 apparently.
Not a day went by without some meme, some ESPN reporter, a hating New Orleans Saints fan base, or even Chris Collingsworth on every Sunday night game the Falcons played on, mentioning the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, in addition to the first overtime match in Super Bowl history.
But the Atlanta Falcons franchise during the 2017 offseason vowed to “embrace the suck”, a phrase coined by head coach Dan Quinn. And boy, did they execute that one. In a season filled with failed execution on offense, tipped interceptions by the receiving and tight end core, and horrible red zone play calling, the Falcons most certainly sucked this season.
In a year where the NFC playoff picture was in the Falcons favor, the Falcons only managed to average 22 points a game, just a season after a historical 33 points a game scored.
So let’s take a look at where the Super Bowl revenge versus the evil empire, the New England Patriots, that never happened, began.
The 2017 offseason started with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaving to go coach the San Francisco 49ers after failing to run the ball in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 51. Head Coach Dan Quinn decided that, then Offensive Coordinator (for 1 game) of the Alabama Crimson Tide should get a chance to take over Shanahan’s historical NFL offense, in his first stint as a NFL coach. This is a move that seemed to “embrace the suck”.
After going 0-4 in the preseason, fans were a little unclear about what to expect from the season, however no true Atlanta Falcons fan doubted that this team, who had lost only 3 players from the year before, would make it to the Super Bowl once again.
In Week 1, the Falcons opened the season against the Chicago Bears. In a game where the Falcons were easily the favorites to win, the Falcons came out flat on offense. Little did the fans know that this game has a foreshadowing of the offensive trend for the season. The offensive line of the Falcons got smacked around by the defensive front of the Bears. The Falcons won 23-17, after the Bears failed to score a TD from the Falcons 2-yard line. Close games, became another trend that this Falcons team endured all season.
What we didn’t know, is that the offense would continue to stagger all season. What we soon learned, is that our defense, and not the offense, would win games for the Falcons in 2017.
With few offensive showcases, the Falcons slumped through the first 3 games on offense and managed to start the season 3-0. After losing 2 straight games to the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, the Falcons took off to play the New England Patriots for a “potential Super Bowl revenge game”. Well, during that game, the Falcons looked lost on offense against a terrible New England defense that was ranked 32 in pass defense at the time. Losing an embarrassing 23-7 game in Foxburough, the Falcons HAD to be motivated to get another matchup with New England right? Well, the good news is, the Falcons became charged up after this loss and managed to win 7 out of their last 10 games.
Watching the Falcons take down the New Orleans Saints with an INT by Deion Jones, dismantle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium, and going to Seattle to demolish the Seattle Seahawks, fans had a good feeling about what havoc the Falcons could inflict in the playoffs.
The Atlanta Falcons never lost a game when they scored 20 or more points in 2017. 10 victories in this fashion during the regular season, and a playoff game on the road against the #3 seeded Los Angeles Rams to make it 11.
But when the game was on the line, in a 15-10 game during the Divisional Playoff round against the soon to be Super Bowl 52 champion Philadelphia Eagles, the trend of the season hit once again. Horrible red zone play calling. The Falcons had four plays within the Philadelphia 9 yard-line and could not call a single winning play. In that movement, every close game the Falcons played in 2017 game back to haunt them. When you play games like that, you’re bound to be on the wrong side of a loss at some point.
While the offense was eventually the downfall of our season, again, the defense showed that they were on the upswing and became a top 10 defense, just a season after being in the bottom 10.
Trips to the Super Bowl are not promised. While the Falcons did not get the revenge they deserved this year, the window for this Falcons team does not close until 2020, when major decisions will be have to be made on the super star defensive class of 2016 will be due money. The Falcons have all the right pieces on both sides of defense to win a Super Bowl. The only question on every Falcons fan mind should be in 2018 is “Does Steve Sarksian have what it takes to get the Falcons to the Super Bowl and win one?”, because Dan Quinn has more than proven that is the head coach for the job.