The feeling is still fresh and enjoyable of breaking the preposterous curse that has dominated this franchise for so long and is, at the minimum, wonderful to be able to end it as a conversation piece once and for all, and who knows what momentum it might build for the future. The Falcons ended on a big hot streak winning their last three games, but as DOL points out, the Birds only beat one team with a winning record (NY Jets) on the year and had some not so memorable contests in the middle part of the season. It’s been a long season filled with ups and downs and it might be tough to be objective this soon after the momentous curse death, but let’s hear it from you Bird Cage Falcon Fans. What’s your overall take on the year, starting with the torching of the secondary by Phillip Rivers and Billy Volek (and John Beck of Ravens as well) in preseason all the way to beautiful destruction of the Never Back-to-Back Season Curse.
Here’s some cues and categories that may assist you in the process:
The Falcons had the 3rd hardest schedule in the NFL and played a first ever league record 4, count’em four, teams coming off their byes. Which they went 2-2 by the way (Bears & Redskins-W; Cowboys & Giants-L), not too bad. The spate of injuries was beyond ridiculous, even for a really unlucky team. The Falcons lost the following for the season: slot receiver, punt returner, starting corner, 1st round draft pick, 2nd round draft pick, 4th receiver, and two backup safeties for the year on injured reserve. Lost starting quarterback, starting running back for over three games in critical stretch; lost starting left tackle and starting right guard for several games, and even number 2 receiver for a game. Backup running back was lost for over 6 games or more. The Falcons even lost their long snapper. Not to mention the fact that 30 yard field goals became a chore. All considering, the Falcons did good to finish 9-7, break the curse, and get momentum for next year.
The Falcons did some good things in 2009, but not great. They broke the curse, went 6-2 at the Dome, and won the final three games to build some momentum, but too many opportunities were missed to call it a great year, even considering all the factors. The Birds started off hot, beating two playoff teams from 2008 (Dolphins and Panthers), two potential playoff teams (Bears and 49ers) and even held their own with the team of the decade (Patriots) in their own backyard. And then the bottom fell out. The Falcons were sporadic to say the least, and became schizophrenic as a team. Starting in Dallas, they became a one half team, either starting fast and then folding in the second half, or digging such a hole in the first that a miracle was needed in the second half to pull off the win. Had chances in Dallas, New Orleans, New York, Saints in Atlanta, and especially in Carolina to a team that was in dire straits at the time. Some good things to build on for next year, but a few key plays and erasing mistakes could have the Birds getting ready to make a wild card jaunt this weekend.
No excuses, injuries and schedule are a part of the game. The schedule turned out to be a normal NFL slate and was more in line with the norm as opposed to last year’s ridiculously weak one that inflated expectations. Byes have proven not to be that advantageous statistically in the NFL. Injuries are a part of the game and Dimitroff took risks when he draft Jerry and Moore, because they both had injury histories. They added future Hall of Fame tight end Tony and Gonzalez and the offense heavily underachieved. The defense couldn’t stop anyone through the air for a long time and the Birds should have made the wild card at least. Losing to Carolina and New York was inexcusable. A few good things to build on, but the Falcons should have done better.
Obviously, there’s a wide range of opinions presented above and the categories are just examples and some of them may be reach, but what’s your overall opinion of the year as a whole?
Remember to pace yourself, because we’ll be having many more in-depth, specific posts in the coming weeks (favorite game, biggest blown chance, MVP, etc.) before we officially transition over to off-season talk.