Some people are fans of the Atlanta Falcons. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Atlanta Falcons. This 2020 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Hear me out on this: 28-2. I think it can be done.
You see? I put nothing past the Falcons, except every opposing pass rusher.
Your 2019 record: 7-9. It’s no historic Super Bowl collapse but who wants to see Matt Bryant blow an extra point to lose a game? I know I would!
“Good snap, good hold… AAANN~N~N~ND!” Put that AND in the Hall of Fame. Thom Brennaman was NOT ready for that kick to sail wide left. Brennaman’s mind was already in overtime, but he should have known better. Knowing the Falcons are an eternal fraud should be a prerequisite for any announcer. If anything, he should have spazzed out if Bryant had actually MADE that kick. This was the worst defense in football during Atlanta’s 1-7 start (the lone win came against the Eagles and ended up being not terribly impressive in retrospect), and the only reason it got better in the second half of the season is because PAWWWWWWLLLLL FALCONS AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY!
Elsewhere, Keanu Neal tore his Achilles heel and got penalized for throwing his helmet afterward. Even the refs know that the Falcons deserve no sympathy.
Your coach: Still Dan Quinn! Turns out that going 6-2 against a string of tomato cans was enough to save Defense Mike McCarthy. Here’s owner Arthur Blank explaining the decision to keep Quinn and to tell you that if you want to inherit his money you’ll have to spend one night in a haunted manor. Everything about Quinn right now screams FIRED IN OCTOBER, a classic case of an NFL team wasting an entire season because they were the last people in America to realize their head coach was shitty. Then again, if last season didn’t convince the Falcons that Quinn is ass, what will? Mike Smith hung around even longer than Quinn has. And this is the state that gave us Brian Kemp. Failure is not a mark against you ‘round these parts.
Your quarterback: Lather rinse repeat.
Matt Ryan is the Chinese water torture of quarterbacking. Just a steady drip of milquetoast competence until you’re BEGGING for the Falcons to cut his ass and draft someone new just so you can look at someone else on your TV screen. This man’s never gonna win anything. I have the sample size to prove it. You’re always gonna get 30 TDs, 10 picks, and a first-round playoff exit to cap things off if you’re lucky. Did you know that the Falcons have only had three winning seasons the past seven years? This doesn’t happen when you have Patrick Mahomes. This doesn’t happen when you have a healthy Aaron Rodgers. This didn’t even happen when the Saints went through their Jeff Fisher Period with Drew Brees. Matt Ryan is Kirk Cousins with a slightly better reputation. And it ain’t like you can blame this shit on a lack of surrounding talent. This man has Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at his disposal. He’s had good run support for years now. It doesn’t fucking matter. He makes no one around him better than they are. I can’t stand Matt Ryan. That he outlasted Cam Newton’s tenure in Carolina is a hate crime.
Your backup is the legendary Matt Schaub. Thought the Schaubber was long retired, did you? Well, he basically is. Matt Ryan isn’t flashy enough to tear an ACL.
What’s new that sucks: Todd Gurley has been washed up since the 2018 playoffs but that didn’t stop the Falcons from taking a chance on him in free agency. I’ve had more confidence buying shit off of Overstock.com. Let’s see how Gurley did entering camp!
Do you know how fucked up your body has to be that you can’t even get the standard “he’s feeling better than ever!” preseason bone thrown your way? Todd Gurley had an entire quarantine to rest, but that doesn’t matter when you have the knee of an 86-year-old hog farmer. Once Gurley tweaks that knee—let’s be optimistic and say tomorrow—it’s a real shit salad in that backfield.
Not content with just Gurley, the Falcons also signed Dante Fowler away from the Rams to help fill Vic Beasley’s permanent spot on the injury report. Also, they have little to no wideout depth past Jones and Ridley. Tight end Austin Hooper is gone, replaced with former Raven Hayden Hurst, who brings fresh playoff collapse experience to a team always yearning for it.
A.J. Terrell is your new starting cornerback. Drew Brees will still throw for 600 yards a game against the secondary.
Lastly, you got yourselves some new uniforms:
It’s like they conspired with the Bucs to leave the world colorblind.
What has always sucked: The governor’s probably going to make the Falcons play without facemasks all season long. I have more sympathy for, and more in common with, the COUNTRY of Georgia than this bullshit Coca-Cola republic of a state. You gotta work hard to beat out Texas and Florida for racism and stupidity, but Georgia was more than up to the challenge in 2020. The only reason Georgia is ever on my mind is because it goes so above and beyond to be a corrupt shithole. We are a demonstrably worse country because Georgia exists. FUCK Georgia. Fuck the Braves and all the Karens who wanted their stadium located 500 miles from the nearest MARTA station. Fuck UGA. Fuck the Georgia state police. Fuck Georgia’s COVID parties. Fuck its terrible food. Fuck its optimized voter suppression. Fuck opening schools when half the kids have virus lesions eating away their faces. Fuck the Falcons’ erotic origami of a stadium. Fuck Brian Kemp in his illegitimate shitsocket. Fuck Stone Mountain and its Nazi Last Supper engraving. Fuck Samuel L. Jackson’s taste in scripts. Fuck it all.
FUCK Kelly Loeffler. You know whose life doesn’t matter? That piece of shit’s.
What might not suck: The person I associate the most with the Falcons is still Jerry Glanville. Remember Jerry Glanville? I miss when NFL coaches were indistinguishable from pro wrestling managers.
Ratto says: “Matt Ryan is the current owner of a five-year, $150 million contract ($94M fully guaranteed according to Over The Cap), and is only useful for slow-news-day debates dictated by the TV producer/tastemaker class. As for the rest of the Falcons, you have Julio Jones and no running game, a defense that wasn’t on the field very often but didn’t do much when it was, and a coach in Dan Quinn who has been the hot seat so long that he’s definitely done on that side and can probably be turned over. They now get to look up at Tom Brady instead of Drew Brees, if that’s of any help.
“Hovering around .500 is the best way to ruin the allure of cheap stadium food. They have a rookie lineman named Evin Ksiezarczyk, another named Justin Gooseberry and a Doctor Who villain/wide receiver named Olamide Zaccheaus. But it still mostly looks like Vegas’ most popular 7.5-win-total team because you’ll definitely get the same amount of money on either side, plus you’ll never have to leave your house to watch them when your cheap food is still cheaper than theirs.”
HEAR IT FROM FALCONS FANS!
Two years in a row, the most exciting thing about the Falcons has been “racing back from the abyss to finish 7-9.” The team has by and large squandered the career of Julio Jones, which is a fucking tragedy. The team has also squandered the career of Matt Ryan, which is also a tragedy because he’s really good and it is not his fault as he is literally unmemorable as a public figure and NFL star. He is Amnesia, The Quarterback. This is probably good because he once threw a pick-two against the Chiefs with four minutes to go and yeah blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The Falcons have hired Dirk Koetter TWICE. They can’t even do the city the courtesy of being mediocre and rowdy in a city specializing in mediocre and rowdy. Dan Quinn has probably been freebasing hydroxychloroquine for the past three months in a MAGA hat. He used to work for Will Muschamp. There is nothing you can tell me about him that excuses working for Will Muschamp and still getting hired as a head coach anywhere. Thomas Dimitroff will draft three sacks of mulch in a jersey if you tell him they’re actually gifted defensive linemen no one else sees as a first rounders.
They are differentiated only by their choice of sandwich. It takes about as long to drive to the Alabama state line from Atlanta as it does to get to the Falcons’ offices in Flowery Branch. Their rivalry with the Saints is so sad because Saints fans show up and it’s obvious how much more fun they have even being the Saints, and how dead inside most Falcons fans are even when feigning a smile. ATL United built a better atmosphere and fan culture in two years than the Falcons have in fifty-five. Arthur Blank is the best-smelling man I have ever seen in person, though. I can’t take that from him.
Apparently the Magic City wings are so good Lou Williams broke quarantine to get them, but can we get them at home games? Of course not, because the Falcons suck.
28-3. You can go anywhere in Atlanta and say 28-3 and they know what you’re talking about: cigar store, Delia’s, it doesn’t matter. It’s a wound in the collective consciousness of Atlanta saying: you will never get there.
This team sucks so bad that their entire strategy is a hedge against how badly they expected to suck. The color scheme was selected to coordinate not with the color schemes any of Atlanta’s other professional franchises but with that of a college an hour and a half away. The only problem: UGA fans are waaaaaay too racist to have any interest in the Falcons. I have been told on many occasions by these people that they consider the crowd at Falcons games to be “a little dark” for their taste. Every home game would have the potential to be a race war if anyone ever bothered to show up.
I’m sure everyone will write in, like every year, about 28-3. It will be written about as the Falcons’ 9/11 or something. Look on the bright side. It was literally the high-water mark for the franchise.
28-3. I actually left the watch party at halftime to make sure we got home in time to bask in the glory that would have been A) Super Bowl Win and B) beating the freakin Patriots. I turned it on in time for the infamous 28-3 graphic and then just watched the collapse in silence. My wife went to bed because she assumed it was a guaranteed win. I knew better.
Matt Ryan was sacked approximately 2394823524894 times last year, with statistically the worst offensive line in well over a decade. Thus, they drafted highly ranked offensive line tal… oh wait. That’s right. They picked ZERO linemen. They did get a punter, though.
With a bunch of dynamic offenses in the NFC South, the Falcons have decided that the best solution is a RB that has pretty much fallen apart, Matt Ryan lying on his back, and poor Julio Jones wondering why he re-signed with a team that is run by morons.
Drew (not me):
I used to work at a bookstore. On the night of Super Bowl LI, I was scheduled to close up shop, meaning that I would miss the majority of the game. I was almost relieved when I was told this because I knew I at least wouldn’t have to watch the implosion that I’ve been conditioned to expect from the Dirty Birds. But then I think to myself that the offense has been unstoppable all season, so I let myself get a little excited. Prior to the game, I notify all friends, family, acquaintances, whomever could possibly spoil this game for me to initiate radio silence on any and all things football for the night. No one was allowed to talk to me about the game.
The game starts. Naturally my asshole friends keep texting me things like “oh Matty just threw another pick, third one so far” or some shit like that. I knew they were fucking with me, so I didn’t care. About two hours after kickoff, my boss (whom I reiterate, has BEEN TOLD TO SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THIS GAME TO ME), decides to call me. I answer, asking hey what’s up, thinking that there’s no way this idiot is calling to talk to me about football. All I hear next is a voice shout at me “are you seeing this?!” I answer no, as I am at work and am avoiding the score until I can be sure it’s final. I get told, “OK I won’t tell you the score but you’re not gonna be upset” (I’m relatively sure this was after Alford’s pick six). I’m like “uh ok cool” and hang up immediately.
Meanwhile, other folks keep sending in isolated texts of encouragement, or “wow they’re really gonna do it man”- type messages, I assume thinking that radio silence doesn’t mean that if they’re telling you something good. My friends are still fucking with me giving me a false play-by-play telling me they were losing, like 56-10. I’m slightly annoyed, but not surprised, not the first time they’ve done it.
Maybe an hour goes by. I realize that my friends have stopped their shit-talk. The random encouraging messages have stopped. Even though I told everyone to not mention the game to me, no one listened and kept telling me how well it was going. And when that pour of positivity (and the drying up of shit-talk from my falcon-hating friends) stopped, and was THEN REPLACED with the radio silence I had previously requested, I knew something was fucked. “Whatever”, I think “I’ll just let this sinking pit sit in my stomach until we’re done.”
Store closes. I’m alone in the back of the store paperworking, while one person cleans up front. It’s about 10ish CST, maybe a few minutes earlier. I decide, in my isolation, that it might be ok to look at the score. I take a breath and I see the Pats down by a score. “Ok we can still do this, we still got it” I thought. Little did I know I had just peeked at the score in the middle of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. We wrap up the last bits of work and leave, all the while, I’m glued to the gamecast on my phone just begging no numbers but the ones on the clock to change.
I check again before I drive away. It’s in overtime. Fuck. I decide that I can’t go home and watch this not only because it’ll be over before I can make it home, but also because I’m a Falcons fan, and I know how this fucking movie ends. I decide to just drive until I know the game’s over. I drive until about 12:30am. I pull in to get gas and I know that I can do it: I check the score and I see that my team has lived up to its pedigree once more. 28-34 OT Pats win. I sat in my car after the pump had stopped for about 10 minutes entirely silent, completely devastated, and most depressingly, (at least I think), not in the least bit surprised. I knew that this was always how it ended.
That was the day I abandoned all serious, earnest, honest, and true belief that my team can win the big one. The Falcons will never win the SB. I accept that. BUT there is indeed a silver lining: Literally no team has ever come that close on that stage, and proceeded to shit the bed that hard. Their failure is almost a point of pride now because even among the losers of the NFL, your Lions, Cardinals, Browns, Jets, whomever they may be, NO ONE ever lost like the Falcons did baby, and I guess that’s something, right?
Fuck Tom Brady, Fuck the Pats, Fuck Julian Edelman, and FUCK Kyle Shanahan with a splintery 2×4.
PS: Rise Up is fucking stupid.
I didn’t believe in god until I saw Edelman’s Super Bowl catch. Then I knew: he’s very real, and he fucking hates the Falcons. I don’t blame him.
This team is uniquely equipped to succeed in a pandemic, having had plenty of experience with fake crowd noise and mostly-empty stadiums. This franchise has all the postseason failings of the Bills, Jets, or Vikings, but none of their fan enthusiasm or charm.
The Falcons drafted a perfect, zero-drama, Hall of Fame wide receiver and continually waste his best years. Even worse, that one-hit wonder draft trade was enough to ensure 10 years of job security for Thomas Dimitroff, who is chronically allergic to acquiring good pass rushers and healthy rookies.
Perhaps most egregiously, the Falcons suffered through three years of Dirk Koetter calling offensive plays in 2012-14, and then willingly RE-HIRED HIM after he went 19-29 in Tampa. At least when 2020 goes predictably sideways, Arthur Blank will have no choice but to clean house.
Sometimes I wonder if being a fan of the Falcons would be easier if we sucked even harder. For years now, there’s been a glossy sheen of competence. Arthur Blank is a well-liked owner – certainly better than the Snyders and Kroenkes of the league. Matt Ryan is a skilled quarterback, and better than what most other teams have. Julio Jones is always the best. And as gaudy as the new stadium is, the experience inside Megatron’s Butthole is positive for the fans. Overall, we’ve managed to avoid any real sustained run of Browns-like misery.
Maybe that makes it worse. High expectations followed my lukewarm ennui. I’m not even mad, I’m just bored. We’re The Dark Knight Returns of football teams. We’re not even the best “football” team in our stadium. 28-3 makes sense in the big scheme of it all.
Let’s Remember Some Falcons!
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