The Atlanta Falcons are in desperate need of an identity change, and they should look no further than the Atlanta Hawks as a team to mold themselves after.
The Hawks shocked the city of Atlanta and the NBA world with their playoff run, showing plenty of grit, heart, and determination. These aspects that made this Hawks team so much fun to watch are missing with the Falcons. The Hawks were not supposed to make it as far as they did in the 2021 playoffs, yet they ended up becoming the most successful team since moving to Atlanta.
The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers were both favorited by NBA “experts” to knock off the Hawks. Neither of these outcomes happened. Instead, the Hawks beat the Knicks in five games, and the 76ers in seven games. This is a very young Hawks team and they showed a monumental amount of heart, determination, grit, and confidence in that playoff run, and had fun while doing so.
The Atlanta Falcons need to generate buzz around the team this season.
There has been little to no buzz surrounding the Atlanta Falcons since losing to the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Compare this to the Hawks and Braves.
The buzz surrounding the Hawks is now at an all-time high. The Braves, coming off of the loss to the Dodgers in the NLCS had plenty of fans excited to see where this team can go from there. So far, the Braves are struggling, in part due to terrible coaching and bullpen performances. Still, there is always excitement about the Braves and even now there is still hope the team can turn it around.
The same can’t be said for the Falcons and this needs to change. Coming into the 2021 NFL season, expectations aren’t exactly high for the Falcons, which could play into the team’s favor. The Hawks had zero expectations, and they were two wins away from making it to the NBA Finals. The Hawks had fun last season and enjoyed playing basketball with one another. The Falcons need to take this into account.
The Atlanta Falcons need to start having fun again.
Watching the Atlanta Falcons for the last three losing seasons, it’s pretty obvious that this organization is not having fun. This needs to change and quick. Winning will make the team, coaches, and fans happy. That’s a fact. However, the team can still enjoy each other’s company even in losses. One major thing to takeaway from the 2020-2021 Hawks is how much they loved being around each other, and how they refused to give up.
The Falcons often look lost, dejected, and uninterested towards the end of games, win or loss. It’s frustrating to watch and shows they didn’t have much of a backbone under Quinn. The Hawks, even if they lost, showed confidence that they will bounce back. Look no further than Trae Young’s reaction to the Hawks losing the second game to the Knicks in the first round. He knew the series was still in the Hawks favor, and his confidence helped send the Knicks back to New York disappointed.
Another aspect of the Hawks style of play the Falcons could learn from is late game energy and play style. The Hawks often played their best basketball in the second half of games. It is well known by now that the Falcons are the champions of blowing leads, no matter how big or small. They play to keep the lead, rather than to win, which is very ironic. This is another aspect of the Falcons that has to change under new head coach Arthur Smith.
Blown fourth quarter leads have to be a thing of the past for the Falcons, and watching tape of the Hawks fourth quarter performances would be a good start of how to change the perception of the team. Sure, it's a different sport, but the mentatlity can be the same.
Rookies could bring much needed excitement to the Falcons.
A youth movement for the Hawks and Braves have worked wonders for both teams, and this same movement could work wonders for the Falcons. The addition of rookies such as Kyle Pitts and Richie Grant should be great additions to the Atlanta Falcons and will play pivotal roles in turning this organization around. Pitts, Grant, and the other rookies drafted and signed by the team in the spring could bring new-found interest to the Falcons.
Pitts specifically could be a monster on the football field like Julio Jones once was in his prime. With all the young stars in Atlanta now, Pitts could definitely bring some much needed attention and positive publicity to the Falcons.
The Falcons are a work in progress, but progress can be made if they look at the Hawks and see what worked for them this season.
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