Many fans of the Atlanta Falcons remember the pain of watching the New Orleans Saints ascend the trophy stage in Miami back in Feb. 2010 to collect the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. Some of you might even remember how you felt watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blast the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, winning their first and only title.
Now, as we watched the Carolina Panthers improve to 13-0 after demolishing our Falcons on Sunday, there’s a far more painful nightmare that may become reality – just two months from now, the Falcons might be the only franchise in the NFC South without a championship.
At this moment, the Panthers are far and away the strongest, healthiest playoff contender in the National Football League. They’re not dealing with major injuries like the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos, and quarterback Cam Newton is looking like the MVP of the league. Unless the Seattle Seahawks catch fire, perhaps only the Arizona Cardinals are a threat in the NFC.
(Also read: How I learned to stop worrying and love Cam Newton)
That’s not good news for Falcons fans, who have, at this point, little other rooting interest aside from pulling against the Panthers.
But maybe this isn’t where Falcons fans should be focused, anyway. The ship has sank for the third season in a row, and fans are yet again looking for blood. After Sunday’s loss, the Falcoholic penned an excellent piece that called for the firing of Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Anyone who’s seen the complete lack of talent on this football team would likely defend a Dimitroff firing; he just hasn’t been successful in Atlanta.
“The Falcons had only one player from their 2009 draft class play for the team after finishing out their rookie contract,” the Falcoholic wrote. “The entire 2010 draft class is off of the roster. 2011 consists of Julio Jones and Matt Bosher. The 2012 class is entirely out of the NFL. After Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, the team has received just about zero impact from the 2013 draft. The Falcons have already cut their 3rd, 4th, and 5th and 7th round picks of last year’s draft.”
Oh, and speaking of cannings, #FireShanahan was a trending topic in Atlanta on Twitter Sunday evening. It appears many folks are not on board with the coaching style of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, either.
It doesn’t get any easier from here for the Falcons – a strange statement when you consider they have the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road this Sunday. The Jags have scored more points in the last seven quarters – 90 – than the Falcons have scored in their last six games.
Sports radio should be a disaster in Atlanta this week, but it’s nothing compared to the reality that the Panthers are a lot closer to a ring than the Falcons have been in at least three years.
Editor’s note: This article was changed to reflect that this Sunday’s Falcons game is in Jacksonville. It previously said the game would be played in Atlanta.
Photo: AP/Bob LeveroneFollow @Sean_Breslin