The Falcons are entering a full rebuild 2021 season with a new head coach in Arthur Smith and general manager in Terry Fontenot who have high hopes of turning the franchise around. Before the Falcons moved on from their previous head coach-GM duo, Atlanta went 0-5 to start the season. They finished with a 2022 overall record of 4-12, putting them dead last in the NFC South Division.
Before that, the Falcons had two back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Based on that disastrous season-ending record, their 2021 outlook doesn’t look too promising according to early BetOnline odds (visit our BetOnline Review), who have them as the NFC South team with the lowest chance to win their division at +850 NFL odds. If the Falcons can’t do better than a 4-12 record next season, it’s time for the franchise to close up shop. Below we’ll take a look at why this new and improved Atlanta Falcons team can and will do better than last season.
Disclaimer: These reasons are in no particular order, they are simply a list of advantages the Falcons have to win (at least) seven games.
Reason #1: Fans in the stands.
Obviously, this reason isn’t the end-all, be-all reason, but it’s an important factor to take into consideration. Playing in front of fans and most likely a packed Mercedes-Benz stadium will be a game-changer, instead of a silent and slightly depressing stadium with fake crowd noise pumping through it. A COVID-19 plagued season affected players and rosters all season, aside from Tom Brady and the Bucs of course. And just imagine how well Todd Gurley would have performed in front of a stadium packed with Georgia Dawg fans. Okay, now we’ll get to the much bigger factors.
Reason #2: The Coaching Change
Finally moving on from DQ and Thomas Dimitroff was the best thing to ever happen to Atlanta. It was time. It was probably too late, but Arthur Blank has a tendency to give one too many chances. Anyway, the Falcons now have Arthur Smith in the building. Smith is coming off two great seasons at Tennessee as their offensive more coordinated. He led one of the most elite rushing attacks in NFL history which featured Derrick Henry, who became the eighth player in the league to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. Smith is also credited with turning quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s career around beginning in 2019 when he won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and made the Pro Bowl. He continued his success this past season with a passer rating of 106.5 and took the Titans to an 11-5 finish and playoff appearance.
The Falcons still have Matt Ryan as their starter, who is the most reliable player to ever come out of Atlanta, and Smith plans to work around his strengths. The offense isn’t going to have a backfield weapon like Henry, but they do have an upgrade with Mike Davis joining the team. They also can look to utilize Calvin Ridley more and Russell Gage. And of course, the Falcons will turn to the draft to add some more weapons for Ryan to play with. Not to mention, the Falcons have Dan Pees coming out of retirement to be their defensive coordinator with 47 years under his belt and two Super Bowl rings with two different teams.
Reason #3: Their No. 4 Pick
The Falcons had every intention of selecting an impact player with the No. 4 overall pick and did that by adding Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts works as a dual-threat and can be used as another wide receiver if the Falcons need that. Of course, he won’t be the Falcons only playmaker as he joins an offense featuring a healthy Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst. The Gator product is considered to be the best player to come out of the 2021 NFL draft and a mismatch problem for opposing defenses. The Atlanta Falcons have been lacking a superstar for quite some time as Jones continues to age, but with a Tony Gonzalez clone in their lineup now, they could be on track to being Super Bowl contenders again.
Reason #4: Their Competition
The Falcons’ only threat when looking at their competition next season is Tom Brady and the Bucs, aka the reigning Super Bowl champs. However, the Bucs didn’t really figure it all out until the end of the season. Can they trust Brady to carry them again this season? The Saints? Drew Brees will be watching (probably laughing) Jameis Winston take his place from the comfort of his couch while in retirement. The Panthers? They currently have Sam Darnold––the man, the myth, the legend that led the New York Jets to a 2-14 record last season. The Falcons play each of these two teams twice next season, as they do every season. If Raheem Morris was able to get the Falcons very broken 2020 offense and defense going for at least four games, Smith and Pees should be able to do much more, especially with their division’s competition dwindling. Let’s just say, Pees and Smith are not going to settle for winning only seven games next season.