Early Bird Report: What we learned from Falcons' final loss 

The top Falcons headlines from around the country 

Atlanta finished its season with a 4-12 record following Sunday's 44-27 loss to Tampa Bay in the final game of the season. As has often been the case in their losses this year, the Falcons did some good things on the field, but they ultimately couldn't accomplish enough to emerge victorious.

Entering an important offseason, the Falcons can take away some lessons from their play in the season finale. In his takeaways for NFL.com, Chase Goodbread identified a major area of improvement for Atlanta that was on display against the Buccaneers.

"As the Falcons (4-12) enter the offseason, their final contest provided a clear look at one of the club's biggest draft needs: Defensive end," Goodbread writes. "Atlanta, which jettisoned a first-round investment at the position in releasing Takkarist McKinley earlier this season, got very little edge pressure on Bucs QB Tom Brady. The result was a field day for Bucs receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, both of whom had more than 130 yards and two touchdown catches each. Dante Fowler provided a late sack, but Atlanta will need to generate more heat on quarterbacks come 2021."

What went wrong for non-playoff teams?

The Falcons are on the outside of the playoffs for the third consecutive year, and change is coming to the organization in an attempt to remedy that situation. The future looked bright after back-to-back postseason appearances in 2016 and 2017, but it's clear there are some corrections that need to be made. As part of a longer ESPN piece reflecting on all of the teams that missed the playoffs, Harry Lyles Jr. commented on the Falcons' biggest offseason question.

"Who will the Falcons hire as general manager and coach and what changes will they bring? When rumors were swirling in late October that QB Matt Ryan or WR Julio Jones could be traded, CEO Rich McKay said the new general manager would have control over personnel decisions, and "this will not be a situation where we're going to predetermine the roster for the next head coach and general manager." The Falcons also have a big decision looming on whom they will take in the NFL draft, which could include Ryan's successor considering the QB talent in this year's class."

Morris 'definitely vested into the Falcons family'

In his 11 games as interim head coach, Raheem Morris led the Falcons to a 4-7 record. Atlanta was in practically ever game it played under Morris, however, and he received an interview with the organization to take over the head coach role permanently. After the game, Morris discussed his thoughts on remaining the leader in Atlanta, which D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote about in greater detail for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"It was a great interview," Morris said Sunday. "I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Blank and some of the people at the top, Rich McKay and some others. Had a lot of fun with that. That time is over with. Now, we play the waiting game. We'll see how it goes and see what the decision-makers say."

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