After yet another underwhelming start to the season, the Atlanta Falcons appear destined to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season. In addition, the Falcons continue to waste the primes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Following their week 7 defeat to the Detroit Lions, the Falcons are languishing at the bottom of the NFC South with a disappointing 1-6 record. With a cap crunch looming this offseason this was arguably the Dirty Birds best chance at achieving a Super Bowl triumph.
The disappointment has resulted in Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff losing their jobs as head coach and general manager, but even worse is that the Falcons continue to waste away the primes of the two best players in franchise history in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Ryan and Jones have played pivotal roles in transforming the Falcons from a mediocre team to at worst an above average franchise. Prior to Ryan the Falcons had made the playoff eight times in 42 years, which amounted to once every five years. However, since Ryan’s arrival the Falcons have made the playoffs a respectable six times in 12 seasons.
Failed to capitalise on their window without an elite wideout
Although the Falcons gave up a kings ransom to draft Jones, the former Alabama man has proved worth it in his decade long career so far. Julio has set multiple franchise and NFL records in his career, and is widely considered one of the top three wideouts in the game alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas.
Jones currently has 12,475 receiving yards over his 130 game career. Which is significantly more than a number of the greats in the game. Terrell Owens had 9,456 yards, Jerry Rice had 10,703 yards, Randy Moss had 10,803 yards and Calvin Johnson had 11,326 yards.
Aside from touchdown receptions, which can be a fluky stat there is a strong argument Julio is the best wideout to ever play the game.
Underperforming since the Super Bowl
Since the devastating 28-3 Super Bowl collapse, the Dirty Birds have made the playoffs just once and have a disappointing 26-31 record, including their playoff victory over the Rams in 2017 over three and a half seasons.
Instead of competing with the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons languished in the bottom of the NFC South with 1-7 record before Quinn earned a stay of execution after a 6-2 finish. Arthur Blank made it clear it was either playoffs or bust, but a 0-5 start meant he was gone.
Life under Raheem Morris hasn’t gone much better as a 2-1 record under Morris means the Falcons will need to win out if they’re to make the playoffs.
Ryan and offense carrying the Falcons since 2008
A large part for the franchise’s struggles has been a underwhelming defense throughout the tenure of Ryan. In yards alone the Falcons have finished on average 21st in the league.
While Atlanta has ranked in the top 10 in total offense for nine of Ryan’s 12 seasons, and are currently 8th in total offense in 2020. However, the defense has only hit that benchmark once, in 2017.
Despite the ridiculous hate that Ryan receives from a large part of the Falcon fanbase, he led Atlanta to the 9th most regular season wins in the 2010s. The 2010s were largely the Falcons most successful period in history, excluding the 1998 season when they made the Super Bowl.
In addition, he is only one of two quarterbacks NFL history to have at least 50k passing yards and 300 touchdown passes in their first 12 seasons. While nearly two weeks ago against Minnesota Ryan posted the fourth 350 yard, four touchdown, zero interception and 75% completion game in the history of the NFL. Had Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson done that they would be lauded around the NFL world.
In addition, the 2008 third overall pick registered 200+ passing yards in 50 consecutive games, the most in NFL history.