The 2020-21 football season was truly unlike any other, and that was no exception for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons finished the 2020 season with an overall record of 4-12. This is their worst record since 2013, and the team failed to make the playoffs for the third season in a row. They are now looking to make many changes to their team in order to prepare for a more successful 2021 season.
The season brought a lot of changes for Atlanta including new uniforms and the firing of five-year head coach Dan Quinn, who was released five games into the 2020 season. Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were both fired Oct. 11 after the team suffered five straight losses to begin the season.
The Falcons have been keeping busy and made some major adjustments to their team in the time before the 2021-2022 season as a result of the lackluster performance.
One major change comes in the form of a new head coach, former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Coaching the Falcons will be very different from Smith’s experience with the Titans, especially since Smith is no longer coaching a team that has superstar Titans running back Derrick Henry. Smith said in an NBC Sports interview that with the Falcons he plans to “use multiple backs and trust our scheme” in order to account for less rushing production.
Sunday saw new Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot fire Kevin Winston, Marty Lauzon and Mike Crews. Lauzon was the Director of Sports Medicine and Performance, and Crews was a videographer for the team. Winston was the teams’ longtime vice president of player affairs.
As for player personnel, the Falcons recently released safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey. Atlanta is also not expected to use a franchise tag on safety Keanu Neal despite Neal’s longtime status as a starter with the team. The three players are expected to become free agents.
With NFL free agency beginning in two weeks, Smith, Fontenot and the Falcons will be looking to acquire some new players for this upcoming season. Punter Dom Maggio was recently signed, and Fontenot has announced that the Falcons plan to add a new quarterback and wide receiver to the team.
This could mean big changes for Atlanta, as Matt Ryan could be nearing the end of his Falcons tenure.
With all these new faces on the field, on the bench and in the front office, fans should expect to see a very different Atlanta Falcons team playing in the 2021 NFL season.
Samantha Homcy ‘23 is a junior at Mercer majoring in journalism and criminal justice. She has been working at The Cluster since her freshman year and served as Social Media Co-Manager during the spring 2021 semester. She is currently a practicum intern with WMAZ-TV. In her free time she enjoys music, community service, watching TV and finding new ways to get involved on Mercer’s campus.