After trading away quarterback Matt Ryan, a man who had been their cornerstone for over a decade, the Atlanta Falcons appear to be in rebuilding mode, even though they don’t want to call it rebuilding.
They went ahead and signed Marcus Mariota, a QB who once had lots of potential but hasn’t panned out, in order to take a flyer on him and see if they can resuscitate his career.
For those who think Marcus Mariota is a “gadget” guy. He threw for 6,200+ yards, 45 TDs, 19 INTs in his first two years. If he’s healthy and given support, he can be a starter. Glad the Falcons are giving him a shot.
— Pete Martini (@PeteMartiniSJ) March 22, 2022
The Falcons are coming off a 7-10 season in 2021, and it could get worse for them before it starts to get better.
Is it possible that they will suffer the embarrassment of finishing with the worst record in the National Football league?
The Falcons Have Been Declawed And Debeaked
Five years ago, Atlanta was coming off an 11-5 season and a trip to Super Bowl LI, in which it infamously blew a 25-point lead to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
But since then, it has been been in gradual decline. After returning to the playoffs in 2017, the Falcons have not had a winning record.
The main culprit has been their decreasing level of talent, as the days of Julio Jones catching long passes from Ryan and running back Devonta Freeman breaking tackles and running through defenders are long gone.
Early this offseason, their fans had hope of landing a big-name free agent, such as star QB Deshaun Watson, but it didn’t happen.
You gotta feel bad for #Falcons fans..
Went from Watson-Fournette-Landry to Marcus Mariota
— JPA Football (@jpafootball) March 21, 2022
Tight end Kyle Pitts had a good rookie season that led to him being named to the Pro Bowl, but other than him, the Falcons are devoid of offensive talent.
Wide receiver Russell Gage moved south to join Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Calvin Ridley, who had a nice 2020 campaign, will not play in 2022 after being suspended for betting on NFL games.
Even if Mariota becomes a revelation and a successful reclamation project, who will he throw the ball to? Who can he count on during third-down and long situations?
Things may be even worse on the defensive side of the ball, as Dante Fowler Jr., the closest thing Atlanta had to a respectable pass rusher, was released by the team.
Last season, the Falcons ranked 29th in points allowed, and that ranking may drop in 2022.
The Falcons Will Have Company In The Race To The Bottom
It’s a certainty that the Falcons will not be participants in next season’s NFL playoffs, and it won’t even be close.
But the good news for them, if it is good news by any means, is that there are a few teams that may be worse than them.
The Detroit Lions, who went 3-13 last season, have failed to bring in any new players who will really move the needle.
They signed wide receiver DJ Chark, but they have an even weaker cadre of wide receivers, a very anemic running game and a defense that was ranked next-to-last in points allowed.
Detroit will have the second overall pick in next month’s draft, but it remains to be seen if whoever they select will help.
The New York Giants have problems from top to bottom, as they ranked 31st in points and yards gained in 2021, and their prospects do not look any better after a 4-13 season.
Their East Rutherford, N.J. co-tenants, the New York Jets, are equally clueless and bereft of talent.
With Deshaun Watson gone, the Houston Texans are rebuilding, much like the Falcons, and they were also worse than Atlanta last year at 4-13.
More likely than not, the Falcons may not be the worst team in the NFL this coming season, but it will be of small comfort to their fans, who are still waiting to celebrate their first Super Bowl championship.