Overreaction Tuesday: Can the Falcons make a run at the playoffs?

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I don’t think there is a better tweet to describe the Falcons fan base come Monday morning than this one from Aaron Freeman.

If you don’t follow Aaron, and you’re a Falcons fan, go give him a follow. He gives great insight each week on the team, and this is just another tweet that hits the nail on the head.

After every game, fans are either one of two extremes. They either want Matt Ryan traded for a laundry machine and some dirty socks, or they believe the team is about to go on a run that will put them right back in the playoff race. Unfortunately, they will be disappointed to hear Atlanta will likely finish somewhere in the middle.

No, the Falcons aren’t going to trade Matt Ryan — at least not in the middle of the season. The dead cap in that situation prevents them from moving him until at least the offseason with a post-June 1st designation, and I still find it unlikely they deal Matt Ryan then unless they can land one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, which I also view as a long shot.

The Falcons have some winnable games over their next eight weeks. The Lions take a visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium this coming week, then they play the Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, and Saints twice, with a bye in between. All of those are winnable, and if they could go a perfect 7-0 or 6-1 over that stretch, the playoffs may not be so far-fetched. However, that’s likely what it will take for the Falcons to reach the postseason because they will be severe underdogs in their final three games — two against the Bucs and one against the Chiefs.

The reality of the situation is the Falcons looked very good on Sunday under Raheem Morris, but let’s not forget they were playing a now 1-5 Vikings team that has just as many problems on both sides of the ball as Atlanta. All the Falcons did was take care of business like they were supposed to.

Atlanta will likely win four or five games out of their next seven and then lose at least two out of their final three games to end the season, making them a six or seven-win team, as they have been the previous two seasons. The result will be a draft pick in the 10-16 range, and fans will be irate, wondering why the Falcons didn’t tank.

There are several reasons for that. First off, tanking ruins development, and the Falcons have way too many young pieces that would suffer from purposely trying to lose games. Secondly, you have a coaching staff auditioning for another job. I don’t think it is likely that this regime is retained, but if Morris can coach the Falcons to a winning record over the final eleven games, the rest of the league will take notice. And lastly, you have a roster that is also playing for their jobs. Each week is an audition tape for these guys, as it is likely Atlanta’s new general manager will make tons of changes. Players can’t just lie down and play like crap on purpose, or they won’t be in the league for very long.

So if you didn’t get the message this weekend: the Falcons are not going to lose on purpose, and it’s clear they have enough talent to win some football games. However, I also don’t think Dan Quinn was the only problem. Atlanta still has some defensive issues that they will not be able to overcome every week, which will prevent them from going on some miraculous playoff run. We are looking at another 6-10, 7-9 season, no matter how badly fans do not want to see it happen for a third consecutive year.


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