The Falcons appear to be finding it easier to process their stunning Super Bowl loss now that they’re back together — officially — and working out at as a team rather than as individuals.
A little more than 10 weeks after losing a 28-3 third-quarter lead and falling to the Patriots 34-28 in overtime in Houston, the Falcons began their offseason program with a Monday workout, and Wednesday met media at team headquarters after lifting weights. They are not yet working on the field.
Coach Dan Quinn, quarterback Matt Ryan and free safety Ricardo Allen acknowledged that the memory of their last game has hurt, and at times been even haunting, but that there’s really only one way to handle it: get busy.
“I mean, it sucks,” said Ryan, who became the first Falcon to named NFL MVP. “There’s no getting around it, right? But such is life. You have to move on, and in terms of hanging onto it … you hang onto it for a little bit. You’re in your kind of spot, your dark place or whatever, for a little, and then realize that life goes on.
“You realize that we have a really good football team, we’re young, we’ve got a lot to be optimistic about, and if anything, I think it makes you hungrier for it than ever. So, you hang onto it for a little bit, and you store it in the right spot and move on.”
When Quinn met players for the first time since the Patriots pulled off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, he re-visited the sore topic, but did not dwell on it. He also said he’s pleased with the general conditioning of players.
“We definitely talked about our last game … and that’s kind of where I got into, ‘Where are we? We’re not at the top. We’re not at the bottom, either. We’re right at base camp,’ “ Quinn said. “How far can we battle and grind? It already sounded to me like the guys were putting the work in …
“This is a team that wants to prove things, prove how strong they are, how tight they are, how connected they are. Obviously, we addressed it, but we also talked about no looking back in the rear view, and 2017 is officially here and let’s go for it like we never have before.”
For the second offseason, Ryan organized a gathering for players only in south Florida, where they worked out, threw footballs around and socialized for a couple of days last week.
Getting back together looks to be cathartic for the Falcons.
“Just being around all your teammates and buddies, it’s a fresh start,” Allen explained. “That’s behind us now, and it’s time to move on and do great things this year.”
Being together again doesn’t make thinking about the Super Bowl easier, but it seems to be making that something to reflect upon less frequently.
“We took the negativity and turned it into a positive,” Allen said. “Everything in life, you’re not going to win at everything. You hope you can win everything, and wish you could win everything, but you learn from it.
“We know what it means to be there. When you’re running that sprint, and you’re tired, you’re like, ‘Man, we can lose a game because of this.’ We’ve just seen in. You can push yourself to another level to be able to make those plays.”
Quinn feels that the Falcons are not starting from scratch, but rather re-calibrating for another go.
“What I told the team, ‘Where are we right now? And we’re right back to base camp. I kind of went back through what does that mean?” he said. “In the Everest world, where climbers go to base camp, they take a shot, get acclimated and keep going for it …
“That’s what the next eight weeks are for us … that opportunity to battle, to strain, to put forth all the things that we want to get done. We’re pumped to do that.”
For Ryan, the best way to move ahead is to work toward the future.
“It didn’t take me too long. I feel like I’ve been in a pretty good place. I really do think when you start to get back into your preparation, and you start to get into your training, you start looking at, ‘I need to get better in this area, this area, this area and how am I going to do it?’ he said.
“I think that’s the best medicine for any starts. You start to look at what you can improve at.”