This week is one of the more depressing weeks of the season for an NFL franchise and its fans. For the 2022 Atlanta Falcons, this is the week when the franchise is officially eliminated from playoff contention. This season has been a nauseatingly entertaining roller coaster.
Sometimes they were fun and exciting. Other times, you would want to grab a bucket and let everything you’re feeling out in one fell swoop. However, when it comes to this year’s team, one thing matters more than anything: Perspective. We will discuss the two different yet equally valid points of view on this season and how this franchise can move forward.
“The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own.”Doug Baldwin
The 2022 Atlanta Falcons: All About Perspective
Surface-Level View of the 2022 Atlanta Falcons
On the surface, the 2022 Atlanta Falcons are a team who started hot and fizzled out as the year progressed.
After eight weeks of teetering around the .500 mark, the dam finally broke. The Falcons would lose six of their next seven games. All but one would end up being one-possession games — the one being the horrendous Thursday night game in Carolina.
Until Week 12, the Falcons were 5-6 and still active in the playoff race in the lowly NFC South. With Tom Brady struggling, the Saints looking like they deserve the paper bags again, and the Panthers firing their coach mid-season, this was the chance. The Falcons could sneak their way into the playoffs.
Instead, they would end up losing four straight.
The passing game sputtered and stagnated with the loss of Kyle Pitts in that same Week 11 game against the Chicago Bears. The offense became predictable. The defense was as porous as it had been all year. This team was going nowhere. Enter rookie Desmond Ridder.
After a dramatic quarterback carousel this off-season, we toss in the third-round rookie to get him some reps before the season ends. But the writing is clearly on the wall. The season is over.
The offense essentially resets. The defense has not improved as the defensive line gets pushed off the ball without second-year standout Ta’Quon Graham.
Just as Grady Jarrett stated: “Same s***, different year.” Frustrating isn’t the word anymore. This season would mark five straight without a postseason appearance.
The fans deserve more. The players deserve more.
No matter the perspective, there is nothing to get excited about with the 2022 Atlanta Falcons.
Let’s start this section with a qualifier: This iteration of the Atlanta Falcons was never supposed to sniff playoff contention.
The NFC South’s incompetence lends itself to Atlanta’s playoff chances more than the play of any Atlanta Falcons player (except maybe the improved offensive line and running game).
This roster is filled with rookies on their first contracts and veterans working for better contracts in the next year or two. They are dead last in cap spending on the defensive side of the football.
The vision was for 2022 to be another evaluation/throwaway year as the Falcons got rid of their insane dead cap number. The Bucs were supposed to run away with the division. Then, midseason, the Falcons throw in Desmond Ridder to see if he is the quarterback of the future.
With the Bucs and everyone else in the division taking a step back, Arthur Smith was placed firmly between a rock and a hard place. Does he bench the veteran and reset the offense with a rookie quarterback amid a possible playoff run? No. You ride it out with the veteran that has kept you in contention until you are no longer.
Would we rather have seen Ridder? One-hundred percent. If there is a question at the quarterback position, you answer that question as soon as you can.
But Arthur deserves a bit of grace with the handling of this season. This roster initially overachieved from their pre-season projections, where this team was “buried” in the graveyard of mediocrity. They kept themselves in contention for as long as Mariota could manage. When the offense hit that eventual wall, Mariota was ousted, and Ridder was placed and given his shot to be the future quarterback.
Before we can end, there is still the matter of the last two games for the 2022 Atlanta Falcons, which also requires some perspective.
It would be great, in theory, for the Falcons to cement themselves in the top-five in this NFL draft. With the quarterback class, teams could look to the Falcons as potential trade-up candidates. Or the Falcons could stay put and pick up a much-needed defensive anchor to help elevate this defense.
There is just one caveat: The Falcons would need to lose to the Arizona Cardinals. A loss that would mean that Desmond Ridder got out-dueled by Trace McSorley. And then follow that up with a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady, who, if you have forgotten, has never lost a game to the Atlanta Falcons.
Or, the Falcons could win both games, and Desmond Ridder cements himself as the quarterback of the future (at least through 2023). But their draft stock plummets to as low as 13.
No matter what happens to end the season for the 2022 Atlanta Falcons, the next two weeks, and the off-season are going to set the stage for the future of this franchise.
“Every problem has a solution; it may sometimes just need another perspective.”Katherine Russell