By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Another day, another member of the Atlanta Falcons addressing their destruction at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
This time it’s Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, who was the Patriots’ director of college scouting from 2003-07 and has helmed Atlanta’s front office since 2008, talking about the Falcons’ devastating defeat in Super Bowl LI and long, bitter offseason. He spoke at length on the topic with Albert Breer on the newest edition of The MMQB Podcast.
However, Dimitroff isn’t lamenting the loss. He’s not feeling sorry for himself. He’s not dwelling on the Falcons’ remarkable string of mistakes in the fourth quarter that led to the Patriots’ comeback from a 28-3 deficit to win their fifth Super Bowl. He told Breer that the Falcons have mostly addressed the loss “head-on,” and that it has only helped them get over their collapse.
“People aren’t complaining about [the loss], and that’s as honest as I can be about it,” said Dimitroff. “There’s no other way to get over it unless you take it head-on.”
He acknowledged that Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who has previously said he’s “not over” the loss and wouldn’t quite admit he blew it in the fourth quarter, addressed the Super Bowl loss before anything else at the Falcons’ first offseason meetings of 2017. But he’s happy with how the whole team has handled it in recent weeks.
“First thing, Dan brought it up he approached it and dealt with the elephant in the room,” said Dimitroff. “There was some good conversation about it. It was very productive. There were no fingers pointed whatsoever.
“Of course, we have people who are upset and disappointed, but they’re all about moving forward on it because that’s what they believe. I’m really impressed with it so far.”
Dimitroff sounded confident that the Falcons can learn from their mistakes and use the experience to only become a better, tougher team moving forward – instead of going backward or having the kind of hangover that has plagued Super Bowl-losing teams in the past.
“Knowing Dan’s personality, he says, ‘Let’s take it on,” said Dimitroff. “Everything that we learned – not only from the play-calling standpoint … our ups, our downs, our philosophy, our approach, our growth, our believing in each other, our taking our brotherhood to another level. … All [are] experiences that come out strengthened by our experience in the Super Bowl.”
Listen to Breer’s full podcast below:
Recent history is on the Falcons’ side. Since the end of the 2001 season, the teams that lost the Super Bowl in the previous year have gone a combined 130-105. It’s been even better since 2007, as Super Bowl losers have gone a combined 89-39. That, of course, includes the 2008 and 2012 Patriots.
the 2015 Seahawks went 10-6, but star cornerback Richard Sherman apparently still isn’t over their loss in Super Bowl XLIX – to the point that it’s caused dissension in the locker room in the past two seasons.
These are all different teams with very different circumstances season-to-season, so it’s not a perfect analysis. But you can’t exactly toss aside a 15-year sample size of teams who all ended their seasons at similar times in similar fashions. It’s fair to note that the most recent example, the 2016 Carolina Panthers, went 6-10 after going 15-1 in 2015 and losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50; the Broncos also missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record and murky quarterback situation.
Speaking of quarterbacks … Ultimately, it appears that it’s mostly talented, consistent quarterbacks that have made the biggest difference in avoiding the dreaded “Super Bowl hangover” – which, frankly has become something of a myth in recent years. The Patriots had Tom Brady in 2012. The Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger. The Colts (in 2010) and Broncos (in 2014) had Peyton Manning. The Cardinals had Kurt Warner.
Most of these teams also had strong defenses that returned mostly intact, most notably the 2013 49ers with their elite-at-the-time defense and still-pretty-good QB in Colin Kaepernick.
The Falcons head into 2017 with not a dismantled roster but “the most talented, overall” team that they’ve had in Dimitroff’s tenure, as the GM put it. They have a very good, if not great quarterback in Matt Ryan who is surprisingly low on the list of people to blame for the Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse. They have a young, talented, ascending defense. They have the pieces in place to contend once again.
They just have to hope that Dimitroff’s vote of confidence rings true.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.