The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons are meeting for what is being dubbed as the Sadness Bowl. Many people are saying it. Strong people. People you wouldn’t believe. These two teams are cruising towards top-10 picks, so...
LET’S TALK ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN FOOTBALL!
Here is what he had to say:
1. Who is the single person most at fault for your franchise’s failure this season?
Ultimately, it’s the owner. I think Arthur Blank is one of the league’s most decent owners, easily clearing the low bars of decency among NFL owners as a person and as a billionaire, and I’m typing owner a lot. Owner owner owner.
But I also think Blank’s loyalty and belief in his guys led directly to the team winding up with no cap space, a depleted roster and a disgruntled fanbase. Atlanta had already lost in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019 and was clearly not going anywhere, but Blank was impressed by the team’s rebound in 2019 after starting 1-7 and elected to bring back the Falcons brain trust with the idea that they could win with a cap-strapped roster. The team sunk their remaining dollars into Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler, predictably flamed out spectacularly at the beginning of the season, and made sweeping changes five weeks into the year. That set Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith back, something they’ll never tell you but is readily apparent based on this team’s talent and cap space.
You have to put a lot of this team’s failings at the feet of the new general manager, coaching staff and players, all of whom have fallen short. This team should be in year two of a rework with an eye on contending next year, but the road is longer and the situation more dire because Blank had hope in a hopeless situation.
2. Do you believe in parallel universes / a multiverse?
My preferred theory is that the universe is vast enough that there don’t really need to be parallel or multiple universes, given that what exists is so gigantic that every permutation of every possible outcome allowed in physics is happening somewhere. The idea that every single small decision you make spins out another separate universe, or that those universes necessarily exist, seems like a way of suggesting we’re important enough that “should I risk food poisoning on this gas station hot dog?” necessarily creates a whole separate track on and on into infinity. I’ve seen it persuasively argued that time itself does not exist in the way we understand it, and if that’s correct, there’s even less merit to the idea that the universe would split at every (or most) possible decision points. Even if you think there’s just more universes out there that have nothing to do with inflection points in ours, there’s just no easy or good way to test for that in the first place.
I’m open to the idea of a multiverse—I think subscribing to one theory and calling the others impossible is stupid given that we’re grossly ignorant and possibly incapable of grasping the scope and possibilities of the universe we exist in—but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best explanation. Works great in Marvel movies, though.
3. If you could give one of your team’s games to an alien race that would best help them understand your team over their history, what would it be?
I’d give them last year’s Falcons-Cowboys game. Atlanta’s history of being surprisingly competitive in situations where you think they can’t be, their offensive heroics and defensive struggles, and losing in the most confusing and awful way imaginable are neatly summarized by the game. Losing because nobody was willing or able to pick up an onsides kick is something that just doesn’t happen all that often, but it makes sense that it would happen to the Atlanta Falcons.
I’d expect this hyper-advanced alien race to be extremely upset and vaporize me on the spot for showing them something so unpleasant, but at least they wouldn’t accidentally become Falcons fans.
4. What does the future look like for the franchise quarterback? Bright or dismal?
I’m not sure! My expectation is that the Falcons will extend Matt Ryan with an eye on keeping him around for at least another 1-3 seasons, but Ryan’s fortunes will depend a lot on what this team does to build the team around him. He has been hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL this season and is dealing with a supporting cast that can best be described as double-covered Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and receivers who can get open only when the moon is in their planetary house. If the team around him improves, Ryan is aging gracefully enough that he’ll likely be to pilot a contender to winning seasons. If not, well, we’re already used to being miserable.
5. If you could travel back in time and warn your GM about one draft pick in particular, who would you pick and how would you gain access to his office?
I just lightly suggested time doesn’t exist but I also asked the time travel question. Kindly deal with it.
I’d go all the way back to 1991 and tell the Falcons to crumple up their plans to draft Bruce Pickens with the third overall pick, shoving aside perhaps the biggest bust in team history. Instead, I’d have them “reach” for Aeneas WIlliams, who would hopefully have still been an eventual Hall of Famer and immediately impactful rookie, and let this team improve enough to beat Washington and wind up in the Super Bowl in 1991, erasing decades of heartache ahead of time.
As an added bonus, I’d tell them to stick Brett Favre in a monastery for a year and reap the benefits, as well as draft Keenan McCardell because I am a ruthless person who doesn’t want anyone else to be happy. I assume I’d have time to get all of that out before I was dragged out of Ken Herock’s office for poorly impersonating Jerry Glanville, which is how I planned to get into the office in the first place.
BONUS QUESTION! Let’s say you could only go backwards in time from that point. How many stops would you make before being the Big Bang happened in reverse and what would be before it?
Now, let’s start with the caveat that I would be tempted to correct any number of historic wrongs. I would plan to stop hundreds, if not thousands of times, Quantum Leap-ing my way through the innumerable nightmares mankind has created through cruelty and neglect. Unfortunately, I know a few things:
- The chances of me being able to prevent anything are slim, given that the causes of most atrocities are complex and I am a bald guy who writes internet articles for a living;
- The chances of me being killed and doing zero time traveling beyond that point are high, given that I am a bald guy who writes internet articles for a living;
- Studying different time periods is a very different discipline than trying to exist in them, and I would inadvertently call Pope Clement VI “thicker than a bowl of oatmeal” and set off a crisis that would somehow make European history even worse over the next 7 centuries
- I speak exactly zero languages, including English, well enough to make a positive impact on any point in human history
Given all that, I’m cruising back to the Big Bang and seeing what happens, or going even further back and coming out in the universe that existed before that event and running into a past version of myself, who is just about to step into a time machine to go back and argue against drafting Bruce Pickens. The resulting explosion will kill us both.