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The Falcons’ new jerseys made all the mistakes the Buccaneers didn’t

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Tampa went clean and classic. Atlanta went modern and busy. Advantage: Bucs

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The Buccaneers unveiled a lineup of new uniforms they got mostly right. One day later, the Falcons revealed the “we tried too hard” scenario Tampa avoided.

Atlanta, home to one of the cleanest throwback looks in the NFL, eschewed that rich sartorial past in favor of chunky letters, edgy fonts, and day one Photoshop gradients. The look is, at best, underwhelming.

What was supposed to be an April 14 reveal became official six days earlier than planned when the jerseys leaked and the internet dunked all over them. Now we have official photos of Atlanta’s 2020 home, away, and Color Rush kits and can officially say they’re a solid “B+” project for a high school graphic design class.

The Falcons’ new jerseys, highlighted by bold, angular numbers and a big “ATL” across the front, are the latest round of uniform changes across the NFL. While the team wasn’t planning to release its new look just one day after its NFC South rival, outside forces means the two re-designed kits will be forever attached moving forward.

So where did the Buccaneers go right while the Falcons paddled frantically in the other direction?

Numbers

Tampa opted for a throwback to the simplicity of block numbers. No one is ever going to complain about simple, legible, well-sized digits, especially when their previous jerseys looked like dayglo solar calculators. There’s a black or red outline to help them pop off the jersey, and whether you like or hate the sliver of creamsicle orange left intact as a tribute to the team’s past, there’s a reason for it to be there. The red outline is a little jarring on the pewter, but the black remains an unbeaten combo.

Then there’s Atlanta’s thicc numbers. The barbs on the “2” make these look like they were peeled off unsold stock of this spring’s Jostens yearbooks. The other numbers don’t seem to have that problem, but they’re all smashed up against the giant “ATL” roughly half an inch above them.

Rather than outline the numbers like their throwback and most recent jerseys do, the Falcons opted for a drop shadow instead. It sort of adds a third dimension to the sewn-on digits, but *also* makes them look like the old MTV logo. It’s all a bit clunky. These numbers are less than a day old and already feel dated.

Advantage: Bucs

Piping

The Buccaneers’ jerseys have none, because you don’t need a racing stripe to separate a player’s front from his back. The Falcons disagree with that theory. Piping can work on simple designs, but there’s not much space for the tapered stripe, the massive numbers, and the all-caps ATL on the Atlanta uniform.

Advantage: Bucs

Shoulders

An underrated piece of the jersey game is what goes on from the neck out to the sleeves. The Buccaneers ditched the silver/gray panels that stretched from their collars out to the bicep in favor of a single steadfast color throughout each of their new jerseys. Each sleeve is ringed with either black or red to match the outline of their numbers.

The previous iteration of Falcon jerseys had extremely busy shoulders — big numbers, piping, different-colored panels, the works. The 2020 editions simplify that to a logo and a number. It’s a big improvement.

Advantage: Tie. They’re basically the same.

Color Rush

The Buccaneers went with an all-pewter kit that serves as homage to the only Super Bowl-winning squad in team history. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s been well received and is an original NFL look — a tenet that has led to some truly disastrous Color Rush kits in the past.

The Falcons picked their red top, black pants combo, hit the gradient button in Photoshop as a placeholder, then forgot to take that goof out before sending their designs out to the tailor.

For whatever reason, the gradient doesn’t apply to the side piping. This had limited potential to be good if Atlanta went all out with the blending and weirdness. Instead, the club just half-assed two of its jerseys to create a third. The Falcons may as well have just added a horizontal silver stripe to represent where they duct-taped their red and black uniforms together.

Advantage: Bucs, by a mile

Overall verdict

Tampa didn’t go back to its orange-and-white roots, but it embraced the franchise’s turn of the millennium supernova of success by combining classic NFL looks with uniquely Buccaneer colors. Atlanta was similarly inattentive to a stellar throwback kit, but opted to generate a more current look that threatens to look dated by the end of the year.

There’s a chance the Falcons’ uniforms just need a little motion and sweat to pop on camera, but as of April they’ve lost the NFC South jersey race. Atlanta did too much in some phases and not enough in others, and the result was a jumbled mess that’s inoffensive in its best looks and Jaguars-level laughable at worst.

But hey, if they sell a bunch of new Julio Jones jerseys, it’ll all be worth it.