The narrative on the Falcons has done a complete 180°. Just a month ago, the Falcons were being criticized for a multitude of reasons, not trading for Lamar Jackson, drafting Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick in the draft, etc. However, the tune has changed on the dirty birds as of late. So much so, Atlanta is now being looked at as the favorites to win the NFC South this upcoming season. But are these new expectations good for a young squad that isn't exactly used to the limelight?
As Abe Gordon explained, its easy to have that internal motivation when everyone is hearing the outside noise saying , "the Falcons are going to win four games this year." One could make the case that Arthur Smith has benefited from low expectations during his tenure as the Falcons head coach.
Smith was being brought up in Coach of the Year conversations last year for leading the Falcons to a 7-10 record last year and finished last in the division. "Winning eight games, not enough. Winning nine games, if you're Arthur Smith, you're not getting a pat on the back for that," said Abe Gordon on Sunday.
With a young team that has a bunch of new faces, there is a real concern that this team is more likely to "underperform than overperform." The Falcons currently are one of three teams that does not have a primetime game scheduled next season, as the season goes on and the division race gets tighter, that will almost surely change. Can Arthur Smith lead a team that doesn't have that "us against the world...no one believes in us" mentality?
The standards are changing, and Arthur Smith no longer has the room to underperform. Smith will have to win nine games next year "just to stay off the hot seat."