Some people are fans of the Atlanta Falcons. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Atlanta Falcons. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Atlanta Falcons. Second-best football team in their own stadium.
Your 2018 record: 7-9. That includes a 1-4 start, followed later by a five-game skid. Almost like there’s something in this team’s past that keeps nagging at them, dragging them down. Well, I certainly hope they COME BACK from whatever it is that’s clawing away at their collective psyche. I think everyone age 25-UP hopes likewise.
For the second consecutive season, the Falcons pissed away a supremely talented roster thanks to coaching so glaringly poor it could be seen from Mars, unconscionable penalties, more injuries than a trampoline park, red zone issues that would make even Kirk Cousins wince, and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sark presided over a rushing attack that was in the top 10 in yards last season but in the bottom half of the league in attempts. Give that man a recipe for chicken soup and he’d make it in reverse. Sark is gone now, and the good news is that the dude Atlanta hired to replace him had a rushing attack in Tampa that was underutilized in nearly the exact same fashion. Why can’t this team ever use its players properly? Do they all guzzle nail polish remover before every game? BUT HEY THE STADIUM SELLS CHEAP PRETZELS OO-RAH!
Your coach: It’s still Mission: Impossible villain henchman Dan Quinn. He’s the one who kills lots of Ethan’s friends at the start and then gets killed himself, in a very cathartic moment, 10 minutes before Ethan confronts the big boss. The further we get away from this team’s horrifying Super Bowl collapse, the less Quinn resembles Seb Gorka’s nephew and the more he resembles Lovie Smith. Ten years from now, you’ll watch the NFL Films recap of the Pats’ comeback in Super Bowl LI and you’ll think to yourself, “Who coached Atlanta that year? Oh right, THAT guy! Huh. That guy just replaced my muffler a week ago!”
To goose an offense that ought to be self-goosing, the Falcons replaced Sark with… oh for fuck’s sake…
Yep, that’s Dirk Koetter, who oddly looks like Pete Carroll when he’s clean-shaven. Koetter was the OC in Tampa under Lovie, then managed to usurp his boss’s job (he’ll never tell you that he deliberately orchestrated this move, but Dirk Koetter strikes me as the kind of guy who excels at office politics and virtually nothing else), then lasted less than two years before publicly calling for his OWN firing. Under Koetter, the Bucs passed the ball way too much and committed a zillion turnovers when they weren’t committing a zillion penalties. Why couldn’t the Falcons just hire a NORMAL assistant? Just grab some faceless QB coach named Robb Smart to take over play-calling duties, man. But no! No, this coaching staff has to be a fucking retread buffet. Not only did they grab Koetter off the street, but they also snatched up Bob Sutton to help run the defense when he was fired by Kansas City after losing the AFC title game. Guess which team had the second-worst defense in football a year ago? Shit, the Chiefs defense was even worse than Atlanta’s in 2018!
Oh, and Mike Mularkey is here. And Greg Knapp. And Raheem Morris, because having one Tampa burnout on the staff wasn’t enough. Why not hire a disgraced alcoholic fishing boat captain while you’re at it, Dan? But wait! I’m not done. Quinn has hired every spectacular coaching failure this side of Mike McCarthy, but he waited until training camp to top off this sundae with whipped cream made from freshly spoiled terrapin breast milk…
“I know who the person is having coached with him before,” Quinn said when asked of any hesitation with the temporary addition of (disgraced ex-Maryland head coach DJ) Durkin. “So, I knew his background as a defensive coach and special teams. By doing our due diligence from there... An unfortunate situation, of course, but as far as eyes to look at the defense to help us, I definitely knew the advantage of that.”
Sad a kid died under his watch… BUT think about what this could do for our defense. Here’s a fun fact: the season before Maryland fired DJ Durkin for his role in the death of Jordan McNair and for fostering a general atmosphere of player abuse, Maryland ranked 120th in defense out of 130 FBS teams. They gave up 37 points a game. How exactly is a day camp visit from this pile of shit gonna help ANYTHING? Or anyone? Why didn’t they bring in Rob Ryan to monkeyfuck everything while they were at it?
Coaches fastidiously scrutinize players and rage at them for the smallest mistakes. But when it comes to one of their own, they suddenly turn as soft as a Today Show co-anchor. Coaches are like golfers in that if you are one, your peers automatically see you as a treasured member of their community. No matter how much you suck. No matter how big of a shitbag you are. No matter if you stand accused of causing a player to fucking DIE. The Falcons are more successful as a recycling bin for career failures than they are as an NFL team.
Your quarterback: Matt Ryan, whose numbers last year nearly mirrored those of his MVP season. Yet, my man will forever remain in the second tier of league quarterbacks, with his only potential access to the top floor coming through a sealed, stainless steel ceiling hatch that’s been chained and barricaded, Koetter shocking Ryan with a cattle prod anytime he dares venture near it. Matt Ryan is like if Peyton Manning were less charming, less talented, and somehow uglier. Nothing Ryan does will change that. He could win another MVP award (his first should be voided and flushed into the sewer) and throw 60 touchdowns, and this team would still blow a 45-0 lead in the divisional round and vanish into the heat. And that’s for the best. Do you REALLY wanna live in a world where Matty Ice is a Super Bowl champ over and over? I lived through the Spurs dynasty. It was like watching a dismembered penis get thrown into a bush. I don’t need the football version of that.
Your backup is pick-six artisan Matt Schaub, who is apparently still alive and employable.
What’s new that sucks: Neither Deion Jones nor Grady Jarrett played a full season for this defense a year ago. That didn’t stop team GM and guy who hacks into the mainframe to disable all the bank’s security systems Tom Dimitroff from signing both men to fat contract extensions, all to bolster a defense that never amounts to anything. Meanwhile, the team still hasn’t extended stud wideout Julio Jones. Jones reported to camp on time and is trusting the Falcons to do right by him, which would be a smart move if he were a disgraced former head coach of some sort. Alas, Jones is merely a Hall-of-Fame talent and vital cornerstone of the roster, so he’ll be left to twist.
I could take you through all the other piddly-shit moves Dimitroff has made in order to recapture the NFC title: drafting guard Chris Lindstrom, letting Tevin Coleman walk in free agency, buying a new pair of Langhorne frames from the area Warby Parker, etc. But, in spirit, it’s all the same cursory table-setting the Falcons do every year in hopes that this core of players will, in a bit of favorable probability, finally win a title. That will never, ever happen. In fact, given Scott Pioli’s offseason resignation and the team’s penchant for giving charity work to miserable castoffs, this is all setting up as a deliberately wasted season, with newly minted divorcée Arthur Blank poised to fire everyone should the Falcons manage, once more, to make vanilla pudding out of Valrhona chocolate. They’re gonna change everything come January, and they’ll have done it far too late.
What has always sucked: It’s odd because the Falcons have had exciting moments scattered throughout their history—Michael Vick, the Dirty Bird Super Bowl team, their present offensively potent incarnation—and yet those moments have always felt out of place here. Why? I’ll tell you why: because they’re the fucking Falcons. Anything good that happens to this team is bound to end up fraudulent, and anything that happens to them feels much more on-brand. The Falcons have always felt like a promoted Arena League team, and so when they play actual big-time football, it’s like watching your kid clomp around in your sneakers as a joke. Football doesn’t work when the Falcons work.
Thankfully, that will never be a lasting problem. Blank has Megatron’s Butthole now, and he has endless knobjob tweets from Darren Rovell about his Goose Island taqueria prices, and he has carte blanche to take on a ninth wife who looks like she spends 12 hours a day with her personal trainer. We are now at the stage of Blank’s ownership where he sits back, relaxes, and fucking sucks. That’s the dream. Jed York knows it well.
These fans, who never got the memo that the rest of the world gives the barest of fucks about them or their team. If you people expect me to side with you in your little pretend rivalry with New Orleans, guess what? GUMBEAUX GUMBEAUX GUMBEAUX MAH MAWMAW GON SERVE UP THE BEST FALCON BOIL I GAY-RON-TEE. You can scream Rise Up all you like. The only thing you’re rising up to is hopefully one day being able to afford an Uber that you don’t have to share with anyone. Otherwise, you’re a bunch of minnows swimming upstream in a gutter full of piss. The Falcons exist to waste everyone’s time. I never want to think about them again and, given their track record, I probably won’t ever have to.
Georgia is a backwater dictatorship run by fervent Bull Connor fanboys.
What might not suck: That one week when Julio wins you your fantasy matchup ... that’s a nice week.
HEAR IT FROM FALCONS FANS!
28-3. Has this been mentioned before? It killed me. I have no fandom left. I am a shell of a functioning human. Matt Ryan is a fraud.
Quinning. I can’t believe The Falcons brass thought that slogan would catch on.
At least UGA was only up by 13 when it lost its championship.
Looking at the circular video screen of the butthole part of the megatron butthole stadium gives me a migraine.
FUCK ME FOR BEING EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED IN THESE FELLOW LOSERS.
I’d rather get stung by bullet ants and lick Kim Jong Un’s feet than be a Falcons fan. This team is the goddamned worst and has the top-notch skill of blowing your heart, soul, and will to live to smithereens. You seriously should have better odds at winning the lottery than to ever witness this team actually winning the Super Bowl.
We got blown out by the fucking Browns, and we will never win anything ever. Also, our abortion laws are literally the biggest fucking dumpster fire of human rights.
Primetime is still cool.
This will be Year 3 since the most epic collapse in professional sports history and, for some reason, Dan Quinn is still here. Why?
My brother came over to watch Super Bowl 51 with some of his friends. It was like the third game all season he watched. At halftime they all went out to buy celebratory cake and champagne. He got back about half way through the third quarter. I say this with love, but seriously fuck him.
Lots of talk around here about it being a “Super Bowl or bust” season. That means with all certainty that we’ll bumble around, drop at least 2-3 games to teams that win 6 or fewer games this season, and finish either 8-8 or 9-7.
We somehow went 0-4 vs. the AFC North last year.
February 5th, 2017. Fuck that day. Fuck me. Fuck Brady. Fuck Freeman not picking up that Hightower blitz. Fuck Edelman and his illegally enhanced body. Fuck James White checkdowns. Fuck everyone but especially fuck that MAGA blowing, handjob getting, sex slavery promoting owner who can get fucked 100 times over.
This team is so talented yet it all goes wasted on Dan Quinn and his piss poor in game management skills. Stop kicking field goals at inappropriate times you bald headed fuck!
Fuck Sarkisian with an 8-inch playbook full of nothing but halfback tosses.
Because our dumbass, 28-3 Super Bowl-blowing, cliche-spouting meathead of a coach went all HERR DURR PLAY TO WIN DA GAME NO QUITTERS IN DIS LOCKER ROOM in the 2018 finale and kicked a last second field goal to beat the Bucs in a meaningless game, thereby dropping us five spots in the draft.
Dan Quinn never seems to get upset, no matter how bad the team is getting stomped. He stands on the sideline smiling, his bald head glistening, while most of the fans have already left the stadium and headed back home.
Mike Smith wasn’t anything special but at least when the Falcons played poorly or the refs would make a bad call, he would go nuclear on the sidelines. His face would be cherry red and his heart ready to explode. Not Dan Quinn though – he looks like he has a cooler full of Hawaiian Punch to give out after the game.
Oh, there will be a few blissful moments. Julio Jones will go for 200-plus yards at least once a year. Maybe the defense will protect their glass bones long enough to make a few plays. Matt Ryan is a good QB. Arthur Blank is vastly more tolerable than the Stan Kroenke and Jerry Jones-types of the world. The Braves will have the 90's (with only one championship, mind you). Our soccer team is fun and won a championship, and I think that is very nice.
But the further this team goes, the greater the disappointment. The higher up the mountain they climb, the harder the fall. Up by 25 points? Steel yourself. Super Bowl the next day? Hope nobody gets arrested. There will be lapses in good sense from coached. There will be injuries. There will be close losses, there will be blowout losses, and there will be wins that somehow feel worse because a ref messed up. Even the victories feel like a shameful moment of cosmic pity.
I should turn away, because I know I will only be betrayed. I will be hurt. I will be disappointed.
This is the truth.
This team sucks.
Atlanta is a mecca for hip hop, but if you turn on our most popular hip hop radio station in town, the music and the commercials are completely indistinguishable.
As a city, we are only known as being a progressive, diverse city because we hate traffic more than each other.
If you could poll all football fans in Georgia, you’d find that even high school football is more popular than the Falcons.
We had a penalty on the first play of the very first game of the 2018 season when multiple offensive lineman couldn’t line up for the snap.
Our WRs and CBs can’t catch balls thrown directly at them.
Drew Brees is more elusive and nimble than our entire defensive backfield.
We get screwed over by Keanu Neal’s knee somehow every single year.
Our GM has a clear record of failure in drafting offensive lineman, and we traded up to draft TWO in the first round this year.
We fired all of our coordinators to hire Dirk Koetter AND Mike Mularkey.
The Falcons lowered the prices of all of their concessions, and this is directly correlated to how disgusting the bathrooms are on Sundays. The bathroom in the Mercedez Benz stadium is where I have heard the most grunting, straining and courtesy flushes while pooping in recent memory.
Our owner openly touts how he stays out of the decision making and then routinely forces everyone to do what he wants. He’s just another spoiled rich asshole who thinks he knows best because he has lots of money. I am convinced more people would hate him around the NFL if he didn’t have a goofy smile on his face all the time.
This team doesn’t deserve sympathy or support on any level and the only joy I get as a Falcons fan is when I get to laugh at the inevitable Saints choke job each year. Fuck this team and fuck Bobby Petrino forever.
Fuck the Falcons for making me rely on a goddamn soccer championship to try and take away the pain of 28-3. I watched Arthur Blank hold up a trophy for the first and last time in his life. Everyone is picking the Falcons AGAIN to make the Super Bowl and they are fools. They are FUCKED. Georgia State will somehow win the Super Bowl before they do.
At this point, my friends know that they can get endless entertainment by providing me with a liter of vodka, giving me a baseball bat, pointing at some poor object that needs to be destroyed and chanting 28-3 with an occasional ‘Roll Tide’ thrown in for good measure.
As long as Matt Ryan is QB, Julio is on the field, and Dimitroff is running the front office, I’ll know we have a shot at winning it all, just not a good enough one to ever believe destiny is calling.
Atlanta sports are destined to always be that other team in some franchise’s glorious moment. GA Tech in Rudy, the Braves in the 90s, the Falcons to the Pats, and the Flames and Thrashers to Canada. Even Atlanta United winning is like the sports equivalent of a championship participation trophy. Congrats! You won the 7th best soccer league in the world!
Fun fact about my life: my dad worked in sports radio in Atlanta in the 90s when I was a little kid. And one day, he took his only son to work so he could walk on the field where his favorite team played footbaw. Do you know what that small child did when he got his opportunity to go onto the AstroTurf at the Georgia Dome? He dropped his pants on that knee-wrecking monstrosity and pissed all over it, like one of those awful Calvin decals on the back of trucks with a Confederate Flag hanging off the back.
My family likes to tell that story as a funny childhood memory. But after having to watch such legendary moments as John Elway hobbling his way to a 2nd straight Super Bowl, the evaporation of Michael Vick’s soul, and the now 20-year-old tradition of blowing every 4th quarter lead ever held by the team, including the one where Julian Edelman, using a series of highly classified DARPA magnets, caught a football a 1/4 inch away from being incomplete, which guaranteed the shittiest of shit storm losses, I’m convinced pissing on that field was the desperate act of a child who was suddenly bombarded by all the misery and self-loathing waiting for him the future if he didn’t do something drastic to change history.
It didn’t work, and I hate myself for it every single day.
Submissions for the NFL previews are closed. Next up: Washington.