Falcons’ history shows no correlation between preseason, regular season records

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Dan Quinn have no reason to worry about the team’s preseason record. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons are 0-2 in exhibition games, so this seems like a good time to remind you of a few things: 1) Falcons’ history shows there’s no correlation between preseason and regular season results; 2) New England also is 0-2 and nobody is assuming they’re collapsing; 3) the Los Angeles Rams are 2-0 and nobody is assuming they’re a title team.

The Falcons’ starting offense and defense have looked good in two games. Matt Ryan is 7-for-9 for 89 yards, one touchdown and a rating of 144.9. Matt Simms (25 for 49), who won’t likely make the final roster, and Alex Torgerson (7 for 13) have both attempted more passes than Ryan or No. 2 Matt Schaub (3 for 3).

If there’s a concern, it’s that the second tier of offensive linemen have not played well.

OK, onto past preseasons.

The Falcons have made the playoffs 13 times in franchise history. Only twice in those 13 seasons did the team have a winning record in the preseason. They had losing records three times and went 2-2 eight times. The breakdown:

• Winning preseason records (2): The Falcons went 3-1 in exhibitions last season when they finished 11-5 and went to the Super Bowl. They also went 4-0 in 2002, which was Michael Vick’s first full season as a starting quarterback. They went 9-6-1 in the regular season and won a playoff game at Green Bay.

•  Losing preseason records (3): The team made the playoffs three times in seasons they had losing preseason records: 1980 (going 12-4 after a 1-3 preseason record), 2011 (going 10-6 after going 0-4 in the preseason) and 2012 (13-3 after 1-3). The Falcons also went to the NFC title game in 2012.

•  Going .500 in the preseason (8): The Falcons went 2-2 in exhibitions eight times but made the playoffs in 1978, 1982, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2008 and 2010. They finished 14-2 and went to the Super Bowl in 1998 and went to the NFC title game in 2004.

Here’s a breakdown of the Falcons’ best and worst preseasons:

•  Best: They went 4-0 in exhibitions in 1990, 4-1 in 2000, 4-0 in 2002 and 4-1 in 2005. In only one of those four seasons did they make the playoffs (2002). In the other three, they finished 5-11 (1990), 4-12 (2000) and 8-8 (2005).

•  Worst: They went 0-4 in exhibitions in 2003, 2011 and 2013. They finished the regular season 10-6 and made the playoffs in 2011. They failed to make the playoffs in the other two seasons (5-11 in 2003, 4-12 in 2013).

Now, if you’re determined for a reason to worry, here it is. I looked at the last 20 Super Bowl winners – that’s as far as I felt like going – to see if there was any correlation to preseason records. Results:

•  Of the past 20 Super Bowl winners, 12 had winning records in the preseason, five went 2-2 and only three had losing records.

New England went 3-1 last season. Bu the Patriots also went only 2-2 in their 2014 title season, and in consecutive championship seasons of 2003 and 2004, they went 4-0 and 1-3, respectively. in the preseason. No consistency.

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Reader Comments 0

23 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Well, there is one correlation that will always hold true! Any team w a cartoon looking black bird on their helmets will choke like sick dogs in the playoffs should they get there....


And teams who supremely embarrass themselves and show total lack of character like the Falcs in the 2017 Super Bowl, don't usually show much the following season......

PeteMTL
PeteMTL

A full length article on pre season ? smh

Wilbo
Wilbo

@PeteMTL When you're a dimwitted boob like Jeff Schultz or for that matter Mark Whateverhisname is, what else you gonna do but write empty insipid columns?

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Eric_C
Eric_C

So, every time they went 2-2 they made the playoffs?!?  If so, that is a pretty strong correlation. 

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DawgNole
DawgNole

Falcons have lost three straight--blowing double-digit leads in each of them.

Winning always matters.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

There is a direct correlation - neither the first team (see Super Bowl second half) vs two pre-season games where the second and third teams cannot "win" against the other teams second and third teams....

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Gman84
Gman84

GT71: Understanding your keen power of observation, you must've noticed that Jeff Schultz wrote this, not Mark Bradley.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Gman84

I see he hasn't come back yet to own up to making a fool of himself again.

GT71
GT71

The first sentence - again - tells, albeit this time it was a tour de force of words and punctuation marks.  What it tells is that there was absolutely no reason to write this except for a paycheck and to throw it up on the WWWall and see if any ads could be strung - and flung - around it.

Answer?

Yep, the AJC flung out what MB didn't need to write and everyone wins.

Except us.

Mark - we KNOW the 1st unit has played well and we KNOW there's little behind them.  How about figuring out how Cam Newton escaped your wrath and became a pretty good pro QB.

Or are you over that? 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GT71

Are you over the fact that MB didn't write this column?

DUH!

Zapp
Zapp

Yes it does mean something.  If the starters are hurt, the second team is not very good, and the bench players are horrible.  That's what it means.

jcarson
jcarson

Actually, most of the second half minutes are going to guys that are not even in the first two units. I do agree, though, that we are thin on the offensive line. That is why I think they should name Wes the right guard starter and use Garland as depth for both guard spots and center. Then we just need to figure out some tackle depth.

TOJacket
TOJacket

The Starters are killing it!!

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

@TOJacket  For three minutes - not a lot to get excited about in that amount of time, yet you have....

nomatta922
nomatta922

@Surelyyoujest @TOJacket You're right, it's not much to get excited about, but it sure is comforting to see the confidence in what they have done with rather high efficiency rather than watch them struggle.

PTCer
PTCer

Lack of depth, stupid penalties, inability to hold a lead and collapsing in the 3rd quarter -- it's deja vu all over again. This is not encouraging. Running and blocking have been ineffective and unimpressive as well. There's still a lot of work to be done and not a lot of time left to fix these glaring problems -- all of them leftover from last year. There's really no excuse with 99% of the same players -- it tells me that the so-called lessons from the Super Bowl, really HAVEN'T been learned.

Until the starters and their so-called player rotation play a full 4 quarters in REAL games, we won't know what we really have.

Will hope for the best, but so far, not living up to the hype.