With Super Bowl 53 a little over 90 days away, the city of Atlanta is preparing for a hallmark game that the city hasn’t hosted since the year 2000, when an unexpected ice storm crippled power lines and created even worse than usual traffic jams.
After that disaster, it seemed unclear if/when another Super Bowl would return to the city, one of the NFL’s larger metro areas.
But the NFL signaled several years ago that League cities with brand new stadiums would get a second look; the Falcons moved into their state-of-the-art, billion dollar Mercedes-Benz-named stadium last year.
Recently, a debate ensued over how the NFL could overlook the city’s massive amount of current and past music stars in favor of L.A.- based, 90s pop-rock band Maroon 5 as performing headliner at the globally watched sporting event.
But another hometown favorite is unlikely to take center stage on the field as well: the struggling Atlanta Falcons.
After losing a number of star defensive players to season-ending injuries, the Falcons’ woes continued with the loss of its primary running back, Devonta Freeman, to a groin injury. He also is out for the remainder of a season that is quickly coming apart.
Tackles are being missed at an alarming rate, with a rookie corps on defense that looks woefully unprepared for pro football play. The so-called Next Man Up strategy appears missing.
The Falcons now sit at 2-4. They host the equally miserable New York Giants and their once Super Bowl winning and now feeble quarterback Eli Manning on Monday Night Football, which could also end in a loss: The Falcons defense seems incapable of stopping opposing teams’ offenses, and the Falcons offense, though showing occasional potency, stalled in a rout in Pittsburgh and at times struggles. Minus Freeman, that dynamic could play out on Monday.
Many fans are also questioning if offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who caught a lot of flak for poor play calling last season, is any better this year.
Its all a far cry from the explosive team that plowed through the NFC and rocketed all the way to the Super Bowl in 2016.
Its unclear what if any changes would be made by owner Arthur Blank if the team fails to even make the playoffs, as is becoming increasingly likely.
Prior to the season, the Falcons had hoped to become the first team in NFL history to appear in a Super Bowl in its own city.
Moving forward, many fans are gonna question how a team so top-heavy with fat paychecks and big name talent, could end up at the bottom of the win loss pile.