As we know, they have many new coaches now. Dan Quinn has anointed himself defensive coordinator. Dirk Koetter is making his Flowery Branch return, the expectation being that he’ll untangle Steve Sarkisian’s mess. The best you can say about the Falcons is that they have too many big-time players ever to be dismissed; the worst you can say is that those big-time players were 5-8 as of mid-December last year, which leads us to wonder if the coaching will ever rise to meet the talent on hand.
Given this schedule, it had better. A bad start could undo everything, as happened last season. Consecutive last-gasp home losses to the Saints and the Bengals left the Falcons fighting the current. They managed to get back to .500, but they spent all season at/below break-even. A team some saw as a Super Bowl favorite was never a factor. Ergo, new coaches. (But the same head coach.)
Maybe this will be the year the Falcons start winning games at the end. (The head coach has hired a game manager, which can’t hurt. Can it?) Maybe 2019 will remind us what all the fuss was back in the latter part of 2016, which in the wake of 28-3 has gotten lost. There was a time when the Falcons of Quinn looked to be the coming power in the NFC if not the whole wide NFL, but then Donta’ Hightower blew past Devonta Freeman and everything fell to pieces.
This figures to be the final exam for DQ and his DQ Guys. The Falcons didn’t lavish all that money on Freeman and Matt Ryan and Julio Jones so they could go 7-9 and hook the No. 14 draft pick. Their high-profile owner makes no pretense: He wants a ring, and his soccer team just won him one. Against this schedule, Arthur Blank’s football team will do well to make the playoffs.