One of my favorite things in the world besides recording my own podcast every week is listening to some of my favorite podcasts every week. Earlier this week, I was listening to Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo on PFF’s NFL show and there came a point in the conversation where the Atlanta Falcons’ backup quarterback situation came up. What followed almost caused me to drive off the road both from laughter and despair due to Monson’s biting and fair criticism of the Falcons ostensibly paying Matt Schaub to be the team’s backup quarterback. Monson pointed out that if Atlanta really values Schaub in the quarterback room that’s fine, then they should just make him a coach and use that roster spot on anyone else who is not named Matt Schaub because anyone named Matt Schaub should not be under center for your football team in the year 2019 for the hilarious reasons Monson laid out. Even if you found Monson’s assessment of the Falcons’ quarterback room to be a bit harsh, it’s hard to disagree with the broader point that the Falcons need a more proven commodity behind Matt Ryan in 2019 with so much riding on the line.
If you were to ask most Falcon fans what they’re worried about most in heading into the 2019 NFL season, I have my doubts that backup quarterback would be one of the first things mentioned. Most fans are just hoping for a year of good health, as the 2018 team was considered by many NFL analysts to be the most talented roster in the league, but that group was ravaged by injuries and things just didn’t work out. However, with Kurt Benkert now lost to the injured-reserve abyss, the Falcons have to address this spot with quarterbacks that don’t have the first name “Matt”. (Is it not insane that the team’s quarterback room is highlighted by Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub and Matt Simms?) You feel for Benkert, though, because of how well he played in the Hall Of Fame game where he passed for close to 200 yards, scored a touchdown and just looked like a guy who might be able to keep the first-team offense afloat for a couple of weeks if it came down to it. He didn’t have Nick Foles or Robert Griffin III-type upside off the bench, but he was firmly in that Nate Sudfeld or Colt McCoy-type zone where you could live with it. But a severe case of turf toe changed all of that and the Falcons are left with Bad Quarterbacks Named Matt and that can’t continue to be the case.
Thankfully, the Good Matt, let’s call him Matt Ryan, has not missed a start in a decade -- good for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history -- so the chances of the Bad Matts, let's call them Matt Simms and Matt Schaub, having to play quarterback for the Falcons this season is quite slim. You just don’t know, though. Tom Brady hadn’t missed a start in seven years until Bernard Pollard happened. That kind of thing can happen to Ryan, especially behind an already shaky offensive line that might start two rookies for the majority of the season. You hope it never comes to this sort of thing, but like everything else in life -- you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. As my mother has always told me, you need an emergency fund. Matt fucking Schaub and Matt fucking Simms are not an emergency fund they are the emergency. Now, should the latter be lauded for his “keep getting them checks” career? Absolutely. There is absolutely no reason for a 30-year-old Matt Simms to still be collecting a paycheck from an NFL team. But the Falcons have a type and it’s not Colin Kaepernick.
We know the excuses teams have made in the past to not sign Kaepernick ranging from contractual issues, schematic fits, to him now just being out of the league for too long. They’ve all been bad-faith excuses, and it remains disgusting that Colin Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster. But, with the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback reaching a settlement in his collusion case, along with his recent video making sure everyone knows he’s still in ridiculous shape, you would think that now may be the most realistic time for a team to finally end this nonsense and sign Kaepernick. If Kaepernick just wants a job, is willing to do whatever it takes to get back on the field like Eric Reid, how is Kaepernick not the backup quarterback in Atlanta over Simms and Schaub? How? (If you read that last sentence and immediately went to a “Well, Actually” place about how Kaepernick fits in a Dirk Koetter-type offense then I cannot help you and I am not the sportswriter for you.)
The city of Atlanta already loves Kaepernick, too. With murals of Kaepernick in a Falcon uniform now scatter throughout the downtown area, in some ways it already feels as though Kaepernick is an Atlantan. He even appeared at a charity game at Berkmar High School in Lilburn, Georgia earlier this year -- that included Julio Jones, Migos, etc. Kaepernick even has the right number for many city of Atlanta fans -- No. 7. If you were to ask a random Falcon fan in Atlanta who their favorite quarterback in Falcons history is, I would bet that a majority of folks would say Michael Vick. Now, please do not get me wrong, Matt Ryan is the greatest quarterback in Atlanta Falcons’ history and it is not particualry close, but Ryan has also never come close to being as popular as Vick in the city. You remember what Vick did in Green Bay in the playoffs; you remember that time Vick was so damn quick that two Minnesota Vikings collided into one another trying to tackle him; you even remember all the bad that came with the disgusting dog-fighting case. You remember everything about Vick’s tenure in Atlanta, but you will forget a lot about Ryan’s. You will always see random No. 7 Vick jerseys around the city, but once Ryan is long gone, I don’t imagine I’ll see a fan rocking a red No. 2 jersey walking down Moreland Avenue. Just a hunch.
And then you have Dan Quinn, who has to win this year more than any other year. After firing Marquand Manual and taking control of the defense once again, the Falcons have to contend for a Super Bowl this season or he and the rest of this staff are toast. Quinn can’t afford to go into this kind of pressure cooker with a backup quarterback situation highlighted by the Bad Matts. If Ryan misses time and the season unravels, you don’t get a mulligan. You already have several mulligans -- one that includes a 28-3 score in a pretty important game, I think. In the event Ryan goes down in 2019, you have to have somebody else who has the upside of keeping this high-powered and increasingly expensive offense rolling. Sure, you could trade for Mason Rudolph or something, or you could just sign Colin Kaepernick. You could just solve the Kurt Benkert Is Gone issue by signing somebody better than Kurt Benkert. Again, you could just sign the best available quarterback on the free-agent market, Colin Kaepernick.
Just do it.