Don’t Rule The Falcons Out Just Yet
The Atlanta Falcons packed up their goods, emptied their lockers and toddled into the offseason on Tuesday.
They’ve still never won the NFL championship, not once in their 51 seasons. But they sure are close. Now how do they bridge the gap between having a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl and losing that same game by six points in overtime?
And before they do that, how do they get over it? How do they move past this epic collapse on a national and international stage?
“There is never going to be a way to get over the loss, but…it does make you stronger,” says coach Dan Quinn. Yeah, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you tougher. But it might kill you.
The Falcons as we knew them through an 11-5 season and two home playoff wins are gone. Done. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departed to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He’s being replaced by Steve Sarkisian, who has never called a play in the NFL. Running back Devonta Freeman wants more money. The Falcons could have as many as 17 unrestricted free agents, some of them starters.
The last time they reached the Super Bowl, following a 14-2 season in 1998, the Falcons came back in 1999 and went 5-11 and they missed the playoffs the two seasons after that one as well. Their window closed.
This incarnation is a young team and seemingly a resilient one. It may well be back. That could depend on whether the Super Bowl kills them or makes them stronger.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman
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