As NFL fans prepare to watch the four remaining teams play in the 2023 AFC and NFC Championship Games, Atlanta Falcons fans have been pondering the team’s potential moves since week 16.
The Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention after the 9-17 loss to the Ravens. Many were still holding out hope for the playoffs prior to the Ravens game, due to the underachieving performance of all NFC South teams this season.
What the Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot had to say about the team
Ending with a 7-10 record two seasons in a row is not what the fans had envisioned and neither did the Falcons as a team. We’d certainly hoped for some improvement in the second season with Falcons GM, Terry Fontenot, and head coach, Arthur Smith at the helm.
To be fair, Fontenot and Smith faced some unexpected challenges with Julio Jones’ public declaration of “wanting out” of Atlanta and Calvin Ridley’s suspension due to betting on NFL games. Another unexpected change was Dean Pees, the defensive coordinator, announcing his retirement after two seasons with the team, and the benching of 8-year NFL vet, Marcus Mariota, after having a 5-8 record was also an unforeseen in-season change.
Fontenot appeared on Falcons Unplugged in an unscheduled appearance where he spoke to Falcons season ticket holders (STHs) in a conversation facilitated by former Falcons QB and current broadcaster for Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, Dave Archer. STHs were given 4-hour notice that he would be speaking on the 2022 season, the upcoming offseason, and answering questions from STHs on the call.
The call lasted about 20 minutes. Fontenot acknowledged that the team was not where he wanted it to be. He said that the team will be active in free agency and the NFL draft to acquire talent to improve the team. He specifically mentioned improving the pass rush and secondary. Of course, he didn’t tip his hand in terms of what the team will do in the draft. When asked specifically about the QB position, he stated that all positions are open for competition.
It wasn’t really clear to STHs why the team decided to host this Falcons Unplugged session. Initially, many STHs thought it was to announce our new defensive coordinator, however, that did not occur on the call. Perhaps it was just a way to remain connected to the fan base. The social media chatter amongst the fan base has escalated due to the debate about whether the team should keep Ridder as the starting QB, draft a QB, or pursue a veteran QB, namely Lamar Jackson.
Whatever the Falcons decide, the fan base is ready for the team to start winning again. We have been 7-10 two years in a row under Fontenot and Smith, and the team has not made the playoffs since 2017.
This is also the second year in a row we’ve had the 8th pick in the NFL Draft. It has been since the 1990s since the Falcons have had losing seasons like this. We certainly don’t want to go back to those days in our history when playoff contention was not the expectation.