2013 Team Retrospective: The Atlanta Falcons

Writing the Bucs and Falcons retros in the same week can really bum a guy out (photo credit: sportsmemes.net)

Writing the Bucs and Falcons retros in the same week can really bum a guy out (photo credit: sportsmemes.net)

The Falcons, more so than any other team in recent memory, seem to be hit by devastating playoff loss hangovers.

After being throttled by the Packers in January of 2011 during the divisional round of the playoffs, a year where they had the best record in the NFC, they went through a year of inconsistency that culminated in a wild card birth and another throttling at the hands of New York Giants. Unlike the previous year, they never seemed like a threat to make a run.

Fast forward a year after that and the Falcons regained their 2010 form by once again having homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. After they blew a huge lead only to win in the closing moments against Seattle in the divisional round, it appeared maybe they got the proverbial monkey off their back. They followed that up a week later by blowing another huge lead against the 49ers, and this one they were not able to salvage in the closing moments.

The hangover from this loss seems to be more severe, as Atlanta was unable to even joke about the playoffs this season.

So gather round readers, and share your favorite Matt Ryan turnover (here’s mine): this is the 2013 Falcons retrospective.

Team Highlight

Right before the start of the 2013 campaign Tony Gonzalez agreed to play one more season with the Falcons, sending their fan base into a tizzy.

Surely, with one more year of the greatest tight end in the history of the game, there could be nothing stopping every other player on the roster from not sucking ass or getting injured right? Oh wait, that’s not how the world works!

In all seriousness, Gonzalez’s dedication to practice and self-improvement, even in the midst of this complete bullshit season should be a lesson to everyone else on the team about what it is like to be a professional. When reached for comment Roddy White said, “Nah, I’m going to keep talking a bunch of shit”.

Team Lowlight

Mike Smith’s game management skills, which I have often compared to a drunk frustrated guy playing Madden (“fuck it, I’m going for it, I don’t even care”) were responsible for losing an early season Monday night showdown against the Jets.

His decision to go for it on fourth down at the end of the first half was illogical at best, and “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever fucking seen on a football field” at worst. To add injury to insult, this was also the game they lost Julius Jones for the season.

"And then I gave her the ol' Harry Douglas. Know what I'm sayin'?" (photo credit: bleacherreport.com)

“And then I gave her the ol’ Harry Douglas. Know what I’m sayin’?” (photo credit: bleacherreport.com)

Team MVP

For the 2nd day in a row, the team MVP is a wide receiver.

With Jones lost for the year, and Roddy White hampered most of the season with a variety of injuries, Harry Douglas stepped up and had a thousand yard season which literally zero people could have predicted at the start of the season. Traditionally relegated to slot duty, Douglas got to play all over the field after the injuries to the team’s two most notorious play makers. The loss of Tony Gonzales doesn’t hurt quite as bad with the knowledge that Douglas is capable of these kind of numbers.

What was a drunk Falcons fan yelling at the TV this season?

Today’s insight into the mind of a drunk Falcons fan comes from Georgia native and friend of the blog, the loveable Jake Duvall.

“Well, fuck me with a fleur-de-lis. This shit wouldn’t happen if our quarterback were losing his hair. God blesses the painfully ugly!”

Forced Pop Culture Comparison

The 2013 Atlanta Falcons are the cinematic disaster Live Free or Dive Hard.

While the previous three Die Hard movies seem to be building momentum for the action movie franchise, a feat not easily achieved mind you, this one just simply…doesn’t work. And the audience knows it right away. Actors like Timothy Olyphant and Bruce Willis should make the picture watchable, and yet the sum of the movie’s parts are more than the whole.

In the end all you are left with is a series of increasingly absurd explosions – in this case those explosions are represented by the Falcons losing by two touchdowns to Tampa Bay and blowing a two score second half lead to an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team. Yuck.

Needs

Well the obvious answer here seemed to be tight end, but Tony Gonzalez has already hinted that if the Falcons are a contender late in the year that he would consider coming back.

Otherwise the Falcons need to upgrade their depth at defensive back and linebacker in the draft and free agency. While the Saints offensive might not be as dynamic this upcoming year as it was for the last handful of this seasons, other teams in the division should still be building their defense to match-up with New Orleans.

Roddy White is not going to need to be replaced now (he is 33 and still productive when healthy) but at some point soon look for the Falcons to add another young big play receiver on the other side of Julius Jones. And to any Falcons fans whining about Matt Ryan’s performance? Consider this season a fluke. He isn’t one of the top three quarterbacks in the league, but he’s a franchise QB and he’ll be better in 2014.

An Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2014

While I know this won’t sit well with my co-editor Nate, the Falcons aren’t nearly as bad as they were during the 2013 season. That being said, I don’t think they are as good as they were the previous season. I look for them to return to form and compete for the division again seeing as both the Panthers and Saints don’t seem to have improved much during the free agency period.

I think the division is going to be a 10-6 clusterfuck at the top, and look for Atlanta to be a part of that.

Note: Nate will be by tomorrow to discuss his dear Saints.

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