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Early Bird Report: NFL cancels 2021 Pro Bowl

The top Falcons headlines from around the country 

For the first time since 1949, the NFL will not have a postseason all-star game. On Wednesday, the league decided to cancel this season's Pro Bowl due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The game, which was slated to be held in Las Vegas, won't take place, but the league will still name Pro Bowl teams and host a variety of engaging virtual activities for the players selected for the game, according to ESPN staff writer Kevin Seifert.

Matt Ryan: 'We rent these lockers'

Speaking with the media for the first time since Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff were relieved of their duties and owner Arthur Blank's press conference, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was asked about his future with the franchise.

"Forever, the line in the locker room has been that we rent these lockers," Ryan said Wednesday. "You have to go out and pay that rent and earn your spot day-in and day-out. That's regardless of if you're in Year 1 or Year 13 or wherever, that's our responsibility as players, all of the time, to go out there and perform. That's what we are paid to do."

D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote about Ryan’s mindset for the rest of the season with a lot of questions about the organization's future swirling about. Atlanta's quarterback has learned the importance of compartmentalizing various aspects of his life, a skill that will come in handy at this time.

Raheem Morris's message to 0-5 Falcons

Raheem Morris has been tabbed as the interim head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and he got his first opportunity to speak with the media in that official capacity on Tuesday. Sitting in an 0-5 hole with the chance to make an impression on owner Arthur Blank, Morris shared how he was remaining focused and keeping his team focused.

A former head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris has a high level of energy and a good relationship with players on both sides of the ball. But, like many coaches, he's taking a one-game-at-a-time approach.

"I'm the head coach right now of the Atlanta Falcons; I've got 11 games guaranteed to do that," Morris said on Tuesday. "As a coach, fortunately for us, we focus one game at a time. Our job is to go out and win one game and go 1-0 for the next 11 weeks.

"I am completely focused on the Minnesota Vikings and how to get our win against the Minnesota Vikings this week, because the Minnesota Vikings don't care about me going 11-0. They care about trying to get a win against us. And we're trying to get a win against them, period."

In a piece for ESPN, Vaughn McClure wrote in greater detail about Morris's message to the Falcons and his approach moving forward for the rest of the season.

Morris wants Falcons to impose their will

As he now takes over the team, Morris is molding them into the version of the group he would like to see. He spoke about the need for coaches to identify the problems with this team and for the players to correct them, which Morris hopes will begin this week against Minnesota. More importantly, though, as D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote about for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Morris wants Atlanta to impose its will on opposing teams.

"We have to be able to go out, we have to be able to execute," Morris said Tuesday. "We have to be able to do better. When you're in this league, it is a privilege to be a part of a team and there's no doubt about it. When it's a privilege to be a part of a team, you have to make it happen, you have to believe it and you have to expect it. The only way to do that is to go out and force my will on my opponent. … At the end of the day, we have to find a way to put our foot on people's throat in games. That's what's got to happen."

The future of Matt Ryan

During his discussion with the Atlanta media on Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed that the decision making with regards to the team's roster would largely be left to whoever becomes the next general manager and head coach. He was specifically asked about quarterback Matt Ryan, and while Blank expressed his love for the 35-year-old quarterback he again said that was a decision he wasn't going to make.

That response has unsurprisingly caught the attention of many in the national media, including writer Will Brinson. Brinson laid out some of a various routes the Falcons could go if they ultimately did decide for a complete change that included their quarterback.

"Flat-out cutting Ryan isn't going to happen, most likely," Brinson writes. "Although he could be designated a post-June 1 cut and it would limit the Falcons dead cap exposure in 2021. They would save $17.5 million in cap space in 2020 by releasing Ryan and making him a post-June 1 cut. More likely -- a trade. Dealing Ryan would save the Falcons $23 million in cap space next year and potentially net them some draft picks in return, depending on who is making the trade."

Falcons must be open to full rebuild following firings

Another person who noted the possibility of a full overhaul in Atlanta after Sunday's moves was columnist Judy Battista. While she's not necessarily pushing for that to happen, she does believe it must at least be considered. She agreed with president and CEO Rich McKay's notion that the team shouldn't "tie the hands" of their new general manager and coach with the roster and not take anything off the table for them.

"The Falcons shouldn't slam the door on moving other assets, too," Battista writes. "A Miami Dolphins-style roster deconstruction might seem unappealing on paper, but teams that accumulate bountiful assets can accelerate their rebuilds with smart hiring and good draft decisions. [Julio] Jones would surely be attractive to a contending team right now. The Falcons have to at least listen if someone calls. It is trading short-term pain -- a sell-off would almost certainly torpedo interim coach Raheem Morris' chance to win the job full-time -- for the potential of long-term, sustained gain."

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