Just after the Atlanta Falcons lost to the 49ers 28-24, ending hopes for the team to make their second appearance in the Super Bowl, it started.
From boisterous opposition fans’ “told you so” and “we dominated again!” written comments on blogs, to the more tame complaints of “Same Old Falcons” articles written by some Atlanta sports columnists.
The bragging - and complaining - took off like a rocket.
All the great entertainment brought to average fans who watched this season’s Falcons team win 14 of 17 total games, is suddenly forgotten.
In today’s’ sports world, its hero or zero, and no room for anything in-between.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not one of those people who think every little league player should get a trophy just for participating. I love to win! I am one of the most competitive people I know. But come on! Comments like “same old Falcons” and “Matt Ryan chokes” are really naïve, especially for those in the business.
Two really good football teams played a great, competitive game in the NFC Championship this year. I sat glued to the game and was thoroughly entertained for over three hours by it. And, as is the normal case, the team that played the better game won.
That’s really all there is to it. There is no hidden thing here. Matt Ryan is a super-good NFL quarterback and Atlanta is a very good team. People want to blame someone for the Falcons not winning but the facts are there was another team of professional players and coaches on the field.
Atlanta jumping out to a great 17-0 lead in the game was a testament to how well the players and coaches prepared. It wasn’t about luck and Matt Ryan and the coaching staff didn’t suck then.
Those same 49ers fans saying “told you so” were probably throwing their dog and grumbling about the 49ers' defense in the second quarter. And the “we dominated again” crowd likely wasn’t so loud with Atlanta driving inside the San Francisco 20 with less than two minutes to play. So what happened?
The San Francisco team made in-game adjustments and cut their own mistakes. Like Seattle the week before, they exposed the Atlanta defense and took advantage. Unlike the Seattle game, Atlanta couldn’t get the ball into the end zone that one extra time at the end.
Now, some younger fans and media are screaming that fundamental changes need to be made. You guys are wrong!
The fact is Atlanta has some weaknesses, like every other team. Their most urgent current needs are linebacker upgrades and probably, another high-caliber running back. More than that, it becomes pie-in-the-sky.
More seasoned fans and frankly, all writers and commentators, should reflect back a bit before being too critical of this staff. Think back to the days of Marion Campbell as the head coach, with his 17-51 record. Heck, he was so great back in 1974-1976 (6-19), that the old Falcons ownership hired him again from 1987-1989 (11-32).
At least Norb Heckler, 1966-1968 (4-26), had the excuse of being a new franchise coach. How about Dan Henning, 1983-1986 (22-41)? Or, June Jones, 1994-1996 (9-29) and the great run and shoot offense? There are several others as well.
Of the 15 head coaches in Falcons history, 11 coached more than an interim time period. Of those, only Leeman Bennett, 1977-1982 (46-41), Jim Mora Jr., 2006-2008 (26-22) and the current coach Mike Smith, 2008-present (57-28, including playoffs), had a winning record.
The Falcons are one of the better teams in the NFL. Hopefully, they will break through and finally get a Super Bowl win. But don’t think that a big change is what is needed to get them there.
Big change used to be a Falcons specialty. It was what they did every four or five years. If they have proven anything in their history it is that just doesn’t always work.
You see kids, it can get a lot worse than it is now if you are a Falcons fan. And you older fans - and media - should know this well.