What direction do the Atlanta Falcons go now?

The Atlanta Falcons were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender once again in 2013. Expectations were at an all-time high following a disappointing exit from the postseason a season ago. With expectations so high, what’s happened to the Atlanta Falcons?

The Falcons’ problems appear to be completely systemic issues. The defense is poor, which doesn’t bode well for head coach Mike Smith, who was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator prior to moving to Atlanta as their new head coach.

That’s not to say the offense is guiltless. In fact, the offense may be dragging down the defense. When the offense gives the ball away, the defense has no rest and starts in poor field position. Last year, Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense propelled them into the postseason. This year, Matty Ice has been anything but cool under pressure, and it’s snowballed into a lost season.

Moving forward, questions will begin to mount about the future of the coaching staff, especially when by all visible measure, the team is stacked well enough to be right in the mix for a postseason berth. Pile on past missed opportunities by the Falcons in the playoffs, and there may be a perception that Mike Smith and the Falcons can’t win big games.

Following what will be described as a disappointing season, the Falcons will determine whether a new direction is needed for the franchise. There’s no doubt Matt Ryan and many of the playmakers will be back, but falling so short of expectations never ends well for the leaders.

If the Falcons do move in a different direction, firing Mike Smith, the vacancy in Atlanta would undoubtedly be one of the most sought-after jobs available in the league. The Falcons will still have a solid core group of players, especially on offense, but a new head coach may be able to push them harder in the right direction.

If the Falcons were playing up to their potential, making the playoffs wouldn’t be impossible, even with just a 2-6 record. Because they’re not playing anywhere near their best football, however, the most the Falcons can hope for is another crack at getting the job done a season from now.

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.