The Atlanta Falcons demise last season began with the injuries to Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal. Those players are the very lifeblood of the defense, so an anticipated drop off in play took place. What wasn’t expected, however, was the lack of leadership shown by the Atlanta Falcons defense.
After a week ten matchup versus the Cleveland Browns, De’Vondre Campbell said, “Just to be honest, we didn’t come out with the energy we’ve been coming out with the past couple weeks. I feel like it was one of those situations where like as a team, we were just like, ‘It’s the Cleveland Browns.’ And we didn’t take them seriously.” Comments like these shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s blatantly disrespectful to the organization and usually points to some more severe issues within the coaching staff.
Predictably, the Falcons fired the main pieces of their staff except for Dan Quinn. Dirk Koetter returns to take over the Atlanta offense once again; Dan Quinn will take over the defense, and Ben Kotwica is now the special teams coordinator. But with these firings and the imminent returns of Jones and Allen, is it assumed the Falcons problems will be fixed? A lack of leadership comes from within. Atlanta fell off a cliff for five straight games last season, where they looked completely lost on both sides of the ball. Injuries occur in football; they should not cause a team to implode from a mental standpoint.
Ever since the Falcons made their super bowl bid in 2016, the fanbase has been expecting a return. Instead, Atlanta has been in a steady decline. In 2019, the Falcons must show a certain level of maturity and fight with that underdog mentality they lost what seems like forever ago. If the overall play from the team does not advance, Dan Quinn and company could be on the hot seat rather quickly. Attitude reflects leadership and the playoffs will be expected from this Falcons’ brass for as long as Matt Ryan is under center.