The Atlanta Falcons have their moment of truth in the form of an away game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, trying to stop their six game losing streak and somehow keep their playoff hopes alive. But it might be too late to do anything about their collapse now, which suggests something about more than just this season.
The Falcons started the season 5-0 and 6-1, but it seems that a string of close losses (four of five losses by four points or less before the Panthers game) broke this team in every possible way. The brainstorming team behind this offense hasn’t found a way to stop the turnovers, and then came the team that punishes mistakes more than anyone else, the Carolina Panthers, to put an exclamation point on the failure that is the Falcons season.
Matt Ryan has turned into a quarterback that seems to have zero confidence in his coordinator, his head coach and especially the players in front of him. All of them but Julio Jones, but when maybe the best wide receiver is constantly seeing double and triple coverage, there’s not a whole lot he can do to save his quarterback, who has lost so many fictional ranking points this season in the never ending debate about which quarterback is the best, and the order that comes after it.
And this isn’t just about the season’s collapse. It’s about the Falcons being unable to turn their biggest moment in 15 years, which was making the NFC championship game after the 2012 season and being one drive away from going to the Super Bowl (Ryan injury “helped”), into ongoing success. This came just as the Saints were beginning their decline for reasons of age and another “gate”, but the Carolina Panthers have filled that void. The Falcons? They’ve gone 16-29 over the last three seasons, and might be halted at the six-win mark once again this year, suggesting some major changes, and not the head coach, might be needed in order to start tasting success again.