Live from the Dome: An important Falcons’ season begins

"Hut one! Hut two! Play football!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"Hut one! Hut two! Hut three! Play championship football!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

If you can win four seasons running and make the playoffs three times in four, you’re not far off. You’re not a team without talent or an organization without savvy. You are, as they say, in the mix.

The trouble with the Falcons is that, three times in four Januarys, they’ve played their worst game of that season (or very near) at the moment it mattered most and the watching world was paying rapt attention. Three times in four seasons they were eliminated by a team with a lesser record.

The Falcons have become, to invoke the British term, the NFL’s nearly men. They’ve almost made it. (Had the Falcons beaten Green Bay here in January 2011, they’d have won the Super Bowl.) They’ve gotten close enough to make you – well, maybe not you, but me for sure – think this time would be different, and to date it hasn’t been.

The offseason just past marked this franchise’s first real period of recalibration since Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner arrived in 2008. A staff of four years’ standing underwent major upheaval, and the message has been both sent and received: No longer will “nearly” be good enough.

The exhibition part of this massive season is about to begin, and I’m here at Ye Olde Dome to monitor developments. I’d be happy if you tagged along. And I thank you, as ever, in advance.

By Mark Bradley

462 comments Add your comment

BlackSmoke

August 9th, 2012
6:58 pm

Football season is here, Thank God! Time to RISE UP!

Freehawk

August 9th, 2012
7:05 pm

MB I like your writing, so long as you don’t say “stipulate” Thanks

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:08 pm

Mark, the world’s coming apart: Randy Travis found drunk and nude in the street.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:10 pm

We’ve all been there, todd.

Actually, no. I’ve never been drunk and nude in the street.

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:14 pm

Falcons and Ravens. Your meal must be some kind of fowl.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:15 pm

I stipulate that I won’t use that word tonight, Freehawk.

Other words I overuse: “Alas,” “override,” “gifted,” “antidisestablishmentarianism.”

falconsrus

August 9th, 2012
7:15 pm

I’m with you on this Superbowl thing MB

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:15 pm

Does a chicken sandwich count? Other choices: Hamburger, hot dog.

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:16 pm

Neither has yours truly. Although i’ve seen several on East Campus Road.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:16 pm

Yeah, but I know I’m going to be wrong, falconsrus. Might as well steel yourself now.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:17 pm

Wasn’t East Campus the scene of a famous traffic stop?

falconsrus

August 9th, 2012
7:18 pm

Did you follow Dent much at UGA will he put a dent in some saints r what

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:18 pm

yep. Supercalafragalisticexpeealedoshush. i’d like to see you work that into your commentary.

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:19 pm

yes, Mr. Crowell met his Waterloo on that street.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:20 pm

Dent was a good college player. Georgia has many good players.

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:20 pm

Mark, I’m afraid your prognistication of a Falcons appearance in the next Super Bowl will go down in infamy as one of your greatest whiffs.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 9th, 2012
7:22 pm

Round 5…………. The CHOKE saga continues………..

or maybe the regime swann song :)

Rob

August 9th, 2012
7:22 pm

Mark, How much of Matty should we expect to see tonight? I wonder if ole Dirk is going to show us some screens tonite if the play calling suggest it..

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:22 pm

Closing in on gametime. I must note that a certain Falcons quarterback broke his leg in a preseason tilt against the Ravens nine years ago.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:23 pm

It and my prediction of Georgia playing for the BCS title in January 2013. I’m all in this fall.

Rob

August 9th, 2012
7:23 pm

I was at that game. Every time I think of Ravens-Falcons, i remember when Vick broke his fibula in that game

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:24 pm

Enter your comments hereGame being televised Mark?

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:24 pm

Falcons have to play Ryan long enough to let him throw one screen. If they don’t, I’ll up and leave.

Actually, I won’t. But I’ll want to.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:24 pm

Game is on Channel 46, I’m told.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 9th, 2012
7:25 pm

That Flacco is AMAGINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG……………

4 Seasons and 5 playoff wins, 2 championship games………….

Should have drafted Flaccooooooooooooooo :)

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:25 pm

After 46 years of mostly frustration, ineptitude, blown draft choices (Aundray Bruce, etal) Norb Hecker, Marion Campbell X 2, Pat Peppler, Dan Henning, etc., I will have to see Smitty accepting the Lombardi trophy before I trust your judgment again.

Rob

August 9th, 2012
7:25 pm

I hope to see a screen as well

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:25 pm

Televised tonite?

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:26 pm

how time flies! i didnt realize it had been 9 years since Steve Bartkowski was on the gridiron.

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:26 pm

What channel on Dish?

Chris Jones

August 9th, 2012
7:27 pm

How is the crowd looking in there Mark?

Chris Jones

August 9th, 2012
7:28 pm

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:28 pm

You got me on Dish, Lucius. No idea.

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:29 pm

Defense got Ravens to AFC champ. not offenses…..

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:29 pm

Crowd is looking smallish. About what you’d expect for a first exhibition on a Thursday.

SeenThisB4

August 9th, 2012
7:30 pm

The Saints stand in your way, and they aren’t backing down. It’s our Super Bowl and the Saints are going to win it. The closest you’ll get is playing the Saints in the Mercedes Benz Super Bowl during the playoffs.

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:30 pm

Call me LuLu Mark. All my friends do.

Tim

August 9th, 2012
7:31 pm

I suspect the falcons not to show too much of their new scheme, but Im sure there will be an emphasis to get Julio the ball in space.

falconsrus

August 9th, 2012
7:31 pm

Don’t try to talk to choke Lucious he’s got as much smarts as a mushmelon

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:32 pm

Fox,NBC,ABC,ESPN?

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:33 pm

It’s the CBS affiliate in Atlanta.

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:33 pm

Hey mushmelon falconsrus is right….

Luscious Lucius

August 9th, 2012
7:34 pm

CBS – cry babies suck

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:35 pm

In a stunning move, the Falcons have elected to receive after winning the coin flip.

falconsrus

August 9th, 2012
7:35 pm

I cant watch till 3 am on nflnw but ill watch pats and scents uip here in ma

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 9th, 2012
7:36 pm

Mike Smith looking at guy holding mike and thinking that they will allow anyone to hold a mike in the preseason.

todd grantham

August 9th, 2012
7:37 pm

was about to say it looks like a late arriving crowd

masivatack

August 9th, 2012
7:38 pm

You are the Dog’s Bollocks, Mark.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:38 pm

Falcons’ first play from scrimmage is … a handoff to Michael Turner.

Mularkey phoned that one in.

Mark Bradley

August 9th, 2012
7:38 pm

Going no-huddle.