If you think of any top-class sports organisation across the world it will have an ‘identity’ – something that fans, players and coaches can look at and think ‘Yes, that’s us’.
The Atlanta Falcons currently have an identity – ‘chokers’, ‘bottlers’ – call it what you will, but it’s certainly not something to feel proud about.
Their most recent on-field collapse against the Dallas Cowboys was topped off by players inexplicably forgetting the onside kick rules, merely adding to the sense of frustration.
With the season already in danger of being a write-off, we assess whether the Falcons can turn things around over the next few weeks.
Collapses are a Worrying Trend
Blowing a 28-3 lead at the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots in February 2017 caused plenty of amusement around the NFL.
However, it can be argued that there is actually no shame in being overhauled by a team who have repeatedly proven their brilliance in recent years.
What cannot be disputed is that capitulating in similar fashion against the Cowboys proved that the people in charge aren’t learning from their mistakes.
The Falcons led 39-24 with seven minutes remaining on Sunday, yet still contrived to lose a game that they should have won comfortably.
Collapsing under relentless pressure from the Patriots is one thing, but repeating the trick against the Cowboys is simply unacceptable.
Time for an Identity Reboot
The Falcons are now 0-2 for the season and in desperate need of establishing an identity that doesn’t involve them repeatedly being the butt of jokes.
Head coach Dan Quinn was under immense pressure before the season started having failed to guide the team into the play-offs for the last two years.
The Falcons ended the previous campaign in decent form, winning six of their last eight fixtures to spark talk that they could kick-on this year.
Their opening two results suggest that those hopes were well wide of the mark and has cast increasing doubt over Quinn’s long-term future with the franchise.
The Falcons’ failure to utilise Todd Gurley effectively is also a major cause for concern and Quinn needs to find an answer to that conundrum sooner rather than later.
Upcoming Fixtures Offer Hope
While the situation appears fairly bleak in Atlanta right now, there are reasons to believe that things could look a lot different by the end of October.
The upcoming home game against Chicago looks tough on paper, although the Bears are probably fortunate to be heading into the game with an unbeaten record.
The visit to the Green Bay Packers the following weekend does look difficult, but the schedule for the rest of the month is favourable.
Games against Carolina Panthers (H & A), Minnesota Vikings (A) and Detroit Lions (H) all offer winning opportunities and the Falcons need to take full advantage.
Four victories from the next six matches is certainly achievable, providing the team can avoid throwing away winning positions.
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