by Mike Lederle
The second half of the season is upon us. Per Dan Quinn, the story of the 2017 Atlanta Falcons has not yet been written. For Falcons fans and players alike, let’s hope not.
Inconsistency pretty much sums up where the Falcons sit at this point (4-4). Coaches, players, and fans alike would all agree the record should be better, but what’s done is done. The Falcons have put themselves in an uphill battle for the remainder of the year.
Fellow division foes (specifically the Saints and Panthers) have taken advantage of the Falcons’ slow start while finding themselves off to hot starts, leaving the Falcons with little or no room for error going forward.
Along with the second half of the season comes the holiday season, the season of giving. The Falcons have certainly given their share thus far in 2017 to their opponents. From dropped passes, interceptions, untimely penalties, missed assignments, poor special teams play, to the biggest gift of all to opponents, too many points left on the field.
There were the losses to Buffalo, Miami, New England, & Carolina. Every one of these games the Falcons were in and either stopped scoring or didn’t finish the job defensively. I was lucky enough (some would say unlucky based on the outcome) to be at the Miami game and see the beautiful new Mercedes Benz Stadium, but the end result was not so pretty.
I sat in udder disbelief with the Falcons holding a 17-0 lead at half, then going scoreless the remainder of the contest. I fully envisioned a late Falcons rally to lock up a win over a very beatable team in Miami, but Ryan to Hooper didn’t happen, and that was that.
In their most recent defeat to Carolina, twitter universe felt a potential Falcons blowout was in order after the first quarter of play, but then an all too familiar Falcons fizzle occurred again. There have been far too few glimpses of what this Falcons team is capable.
The Falcons have truly only one time shown up at the level of expected play. And that goes all the way back to Week 2 when Aaron Rodgers was still slinging cheese. The Falcons’ victories over both Chicago and Detroit were way too close for comfort. However, their other victory in New York against the Jets with the elements and being their third straight road game was well earned, in my opinion.
What has been the most common theme for the Falcons’ struggles in 2017? Without a doubt, Sark bashing. It’s the hot take and who most fans blame. Sark bashing has been a weekly occurrence, and I certainly couldn’t endorse the offensive game plans week to week. Lack of creativity, too predictable, say the so called experts.
There are, however, many Falcon fans that quickly forget the weekly Shanahan bashing back in 2015. I’m not saying Sark will become the offensive genius Shanahan was viewed as within a year’s time, but you can’t tell me with a little more execution on the players’ part that the Falcons didn’t leave another win or two on the field.
You also can’t be so quick to kick Shanahan to the curb for not running the ball, then mumble under your breath about how you miss him. Why the angst? Why the anger? It’s because you saw the mountain top. The Falcons had earned the right to be called champions. Just do a google search on Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl Champion merchandise if you like to continue being tortured. It’s over, it’s done, is time to turn the page on “what could have been.”
The Falcons’ play we’ve watched thus far in 2017 is far below par and unacceptable. However, the heightened expectations is what you want from a fan base. This means you’ve been on the brink of the ultimate goal, you have the players capable of getting there. All any fan can ask year to year is to have a shot at the ultimate prize.
It’s time for the Falcons to flip the script on 2017. Eight games remain: eight NFC games, five division games. It’s right in front of the Falcons if they want it. So, let’s start making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out if the Falcons are naughty or continue the “way too nice” mantra against their opponents.
As I said earlier, the holiday season is for giving, but the Falcons have already given their share in 2017. It’s the Falcons time to start taking control of this season before we’re left out in the cold.