It would be easy for the Falcons to just mail it in on the rest of the season; after all, Arthur Smith’s squad has struggled all year long in what seems like a different capacity every week. Whether it be the offense, defense, or special teams, Atlanta has come up short in more ways than one. It feels like every facet of this team has ultimately contributed to at least one loss this season. The Falcons 4-6 record just isn’t indicative of how they’ve played lately.
Technically, the Falcons could still make the playoffs; they’re one game back of the 6th and 7th seeds. Atlanta would need the Washington Football Team, Eagles, and 49ers to lose, who are currently ahead of them. Philadelphia and WFT have tiebreakers over Atlanta, but the Falcons still control their own destiny. They’ll play the Saints and Panthers once more with a chance to make up serious ground in the NFC playoff race. The Falcons have seven games remaining, and five are against NFC opponents, of which only two are currently within striking distance of the postseason.
But I must reiterate the 4-6 record doesn’t accurately reflect how this team is playing. The Falcons have looked helpless the past two weeks; against the Cowboys and Patriots, they were outscored 68-3. Dallas and New England will surely make it to the postseason and possibly compete in the Super Bowl, so there’s no shame in losing those two games, but it is how they lost those games.
Failing to score a touchdown in consecutive games is an incredible feat, embarrassing, but incredible. It is difficult to do nowadays in a world where everything in the NFL caters to the offense scoring points. The Falcons are almost in a state of free fall, and it won’t be hard for some Falcons to start playing for themselves and their next contract instead of for the team.
The Falcons will have a well-timed opportunity to get back on track against the Jaguars this Sunday, but their problems are deeper rooted than just that. Atlanta needs to find a way to play a complete game; Arthur Smith needs to find different ways to win, which the best teams can do. Most of the Falcons’ issues begin in the trenches, which isn’t going to change before the end of the season. The talent just isn’t there, but Smith must convince his players they’re capable.
There has to be a sense of pride in the offensive line. After letting Matt Ryan take a beating the past couple of weeks, one would think they’d have some gumption not to let it happen again. I’m not sure if it’s a saying elsewhere, but where I grew up, my mom would always tell me that I need a coming to Jesus moment. These Falcons need to find who they are because their response will reveal a lot about their character.