The Atlanta Falcons survived the first major COVID-19 earthquake of the 2020 season.
However, just because the Atlanta Falcons were not one of the 11 teams involved in the mass of false positives, doesn’t mean that we should exhale in relief. The concern will be there for the entire season and the Atlanta Falcons must be ready and depth will seemingly make or break a team in 2020.
Seventy-seven NFL players from 11 different teams’ results read a false positive from their respective testing lab in New Jersey. All 77 players retook the test, in which the results came back negative.
The Atlanta Falcons escaped this season-shattering earthquake as the team sends their tests to a lab in Florida.
While false positives can bring a major scare to the league, be glad we haven’t experienced the true detriment – a false negative. That has the ability to be a silent killer to any football being played.
Head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Anthony Lynn, expressed on the first episode of Hard Knocks that the team who handles the ongoing pandemic the best will be the team that has the best chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy when the season is all said and done.
All teams in the NFL see a drop in talent at a certain point on their roster. While some more than others, even the league’s best teams are susceptible at a certain point that makes them beatable.
For a team like the Atlanta Falcons, who are top-heavy, having as little as one player test positive can alter a season; and in the case of the Atlanta Falcons, 2020 can be career-changing for a lot of people with the organization. So staying healthy and accurate testing is of the same importance as their on-field play.
The fear of false positives have always been there, and that was before 77 players falsely tested positive. Now the fear only grows worse because what if results come back on a Sunday morning and a player(s) tests positive?
You can’t assume a false positive and it’s unknown how quickly you can get actual test results before a 1pm kickoff.
Atlanta Falcons don’t have the depth other teams have.
False-positive or not, you have to assume that you would quickly be escorted away from the team and out for that game. This can lead to team leaders incorrectly being unable to play or put organizational leaders in an ethical dilemma on whether to assume false positives and play the player anyway. While unlikely, it’s still a concern that should be addressed before the NFL season kicks off on September 10th in Kansas City.
In regards to the Atlanta Falcons, there are three positions that would see the least blowback from a positive test and they all reside on the offensive side of the ball. These positions include the pass catchers, the running backs, and maybe to a shock to others, but the quarterback position.
Time and time again, injuries have forced the Atlanta Falcons into situations where they have lost their top receiver or running back and were still able to produce. Matt Ryan still finds ways to spread the ball around and this example was seen later on in 2019 when Julio missed one game and Ridley ended his season three and a half games short.
Would the offense be as successful?
Probably not, because these guys are major focal points and it’s natural that there would be a drop in performance. Nonetheless, this isn’t to say the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t win because they very much have the talent to do so.
For the quarterback position, a loss of Matt Ryan will surely see the offense dip a bit, there’s no question about that. However, the Atlanta Falcons did see this exact scenario in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks after Matt Ryan exited the previous game early with an injury.
On the contrary to what fans think of Matt Schaub, Schaub had a stellar game going 39 for 52 and nearly put up 500 yards through the air. A seven-point loss to one of the league’s best teams shows that when his number is called, Schaub still has the ability to lead this Atlanta Falcons offense.
If you pair together with the two missed field goals and a Devonta Freeman fumble at the one-yard line, that’s 13 points the Atlanta Falcons left on the field and would put them into position to control the game.
Outside of those positions, COVID or not, depth is a real concern and the Atlanta Falcons are an injury, false positive, or an actual positive result away from falling off by a considerable amount. While the rookies have impressed in training camp, I’m not fully confident they see the same success early on due to how COVID-19 has affected their offseason and preparation.