The answer to this question is yes. After injuries plagued their 2018-2019 season was disappointing to the fans and the team. First of all in 2016 led by MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, the defense blew a 28-3 lead which ultimately led to Tom Brady’s 5th Super Bowl victory. Although it was a known fact that the Falcons defense wasn’t great, that should never have happened and is one of the worst moments in sports history that will continue to be held against the franchise until what seems like the end of time. However, even after this the Falcons still had high hopes to be a great team and continue their winning ways. But, they lost one of the biggest pieces to their team during the off-season, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who left to coach the San Francisco 49ers. The team had to learn a new offense and although they made it to the divisional playoffs they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles who went on to win the Super Bowl. The next season wasn’t awful. You may look at their 7-9 record and call me crazy for saying that but, they were playing without their best players. The list of injuries could go on forever but the important ones were:
• Keanu Neal pro bowl safety missed season
• Deion Jones pro bowl middle linebacker missed majority of season
• Devonta Freeman pro bowl running back played first two games missed rest of season
• Julio Jones arguably the best wide receiver in the league missed a few games
• Takk Mckinley starting defensive end missed a few games
Even with all those significant injuries the list goes on. But now the Falcons have to prove themselves as they take the field this year healthy, and with Dan Quinn running the defense who was the defensive coordinator for the Legion of Boom under Pete Carroll, and Dirk Koetter who was their offensive coordinator during their conference finals run in 2012. They have a great coaching staff but many young players who need to prove themselves. The main questions Falcons fans and the league have are:
– Will injured players still be good?
– Will the defense still be of the worst in the league?
– Can the offense once again be best in the league?
The players that were injured for the Falcons, mostly defensive, will still be great. They have great depth and it is unlikely for them all to get injured again. Vic Beasley, who led the league in sacks in 2016 has to comeback and prove why he is worth his contract at defensive end under Dan Quinn that is very likely.
The defense can and will step up to the plate. They won’t be the best defense in the league but I have them pegged as minimum top 15 maximum top 7. They also will have the help of Damontae Kazee who had a breakout year last year tying the league’s best 7 interceptions.Dan Quinn led one of the greatest defenses in the history of the NFLand his magic could help turn the Falcons defense around.
Lastly, there offense is definitely capable of becoming one of the best in the league. On paper they have gotten better since 2016 with the addition of last year’s first round pick out of Alabama Calvin Ridley who totaled 10 touchdowns last season. They have the best wife receiving corps in the league and a pro bowl tight end in Austin Hooper. Matt Ryan also had a stellar year and even though Devonta Freeman did not play much last year, he could still come back as good as he was in 2016 and 2017. He will have the help of two new offensive linemen, this year’s first round picks in Chris Lindstrom and Caleb McGary.
Based on the points I have made I predict the Falcons finishing in an NFC wild card spot because the Saints will win their division. They will have an 11-5 record and go deep in the playoffs maybe to the Super Bowl if they play extremely well. Falcons fans have a lot to be excited for and can’t wait for the brotherhood to take the field come September.
By: Chris O’Keefe