The Atlanta Falcons are a long-time Atlanta, Georgia fixture. Now making their home in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the team was voted into the league in 1965 and began their first season of play the following year.
The team was not exactly what one would call a fast starter. In fact, they didn’t win their first game until the tenth game of the season against the New York Giants. Things would not get much better for a while. The team only saw two above .500 seasons in their first dozen years in existence. However, things would begin to look better in 1978 when they made the playoffs for the first time after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card game. They would win the division title in 1980 and see the playoffs again in the strike season of 1982. Then the team would go on a terrible eight-year skid of losing seasons.
The Falcons may have been down, but they definitely were not out. That was proven by the 1989 draft of “Neon” Deion Sanders. He brought a new level of excitement to the team and an element to the game that many opponents found hard to contain and helped lead them back to the playoffs in 1991. The team would remain a contender after Sanders’ time with them, and in 1998 it was obvious the “Dirty Birds” were playing for keeps with a thrilling 14-2 season and an NFC championship.
The very next season, disaster would strike when a key player suffered an injury. It left the team reeling, and a below .500 season was the result. The following two seasons were the same. But being the bounce-back team they are, in 2002 with new starting quarterback Michael Vick, the birds were back in the playoffs. But just as before, following success, a disastrous injury would torpedo their next season and cost the head coach his job. Michael Vick broke his leg in pre-season and spent most of the season healing. In 2004 with a healthy Vick the team would head right back to the playoffs and win the NFC championship. But back-to-back success again seemed to elude the Falcons. The following season saw a .500 record. The season after that, things really started to unravel.
The team finished below .500 and the head coach was fired. Before the 2007 season could get started, Michael Vick received a prison sentence and suspension from the league for dog fighting. During the season, the new head coach would simply quit without notice. The team’s record bore out what was happening off the field.
But, there is no quit in these Birds. The team would make several moves, revamping the management and coaching staff, making trades, and making good decisions in the draft. As of 2008, the team would not see another season below .500 for five straight years.
Although the last few seasons have been rough, the team has once again made big changes; and we have seen how quickly things turn around when they do that. The Falcons seem poised to go on another tear. Looking to add to their list of 14 playoff appearances with six division and two conference championships, could this be the year the Falcons win it all? The season looks to be exciting for Falcons fans!
You can watch every game of the Atlanta Falcons 2023 season right here on NFL Webcast.