Written by: Joe Carlino @joecarlino14
At 1-7, the Atlanta Falcons have been an absolute mess in every aspect. From falling behind early to fielding a defense incapable of stopping a nosebleed, team owner Arthur Blank, who said after the loss to Seattle that he was “extremely disappointed” in how this season has gone, stated that the organization would use the bye week “to evaluate where we are to make the right reasons for the long term.”
While most people probably expected head coach Dan Quinn to be handed his walking papers during this time, it’s actually another individual who is gone from the team.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Falcons are signing former Chargers kicker (and former Atlanta Legends in the now-defunct AAF) Younghoe Koo and are releasing incumbent kicker Matt “Money” Bryant for the second time this year.
Terms were not immediately disclosed.
The move to cut Bryant comes off the heels of a game in which Bryant, 44, missed two field goals in the loss to the Seahawks, both from 50+ yards, which moved his placekicking total this season to 9-of-14, including a missed PAT against the Cardinals which would’ve been enough to potentially force overtime.
While Bryant’s struggles this year are concerning, for sure, it’s unfortunate given how clutch the man has been in his career as a Falcon. Since joining the organization in 2008, he made 87.5 percent of his field goals (259/296) and only missed four PATs (386/390). He was also the man who got Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, and the organization their first playoff win since 2004 when he kicked the game-winning 49-yard field goal against the Seahawks.
Meanwhile, the decision to sign Koo is interesting considering his history. After going 3-for-6 on field goals as a member of the Chargers last year, in which the team went 0-4, he was waived for 10-year veteran Nick Novak and was labeled a “scapegoat” for the Chargers struggles.
From there, he was signed by the Atlanta Legends in the AAF and was responsible for the first points scored in the now-defunct league’s history, converting on a 33-yard field goal in a loss to the Orlando Apollos. When the league folded, he was a perfect 14-for-14 on his attempts and was a recipient of the “Special Teams Player of the Week” award for his performance against the Memphis Express.
Yes, the season hasn’t gone how every Falcons fan and team employee wanted the season to go, and it’s easy to point fingers and cast blame, even if there honestly shouldn’t be any going around Flowery Branch. However, given what happened to Bryant in 2019 (being cut in favor of Giorgio Tavecchio then brought back after he and Blair Walsh struggled in the preseason), it’s not surprising that his struggles would be affecting the team the way they have.
But one thing’s a guarantee: Matt Bryant, if you or your family read this article, I just want to say THANK YOU on behalf of everyone who proudly represents the Falcons. You’ve been one of the best players our organization has ever employed, and one day not only will you be enshrined forever in Atlanta, but Canton’s going to be giving you a call as well. Mark it.