Fricke: 2016 Atlanta Falcons MVPs

Offensive MVP: Alex Mack – Sure, Matt Ryan is that guy and no one debates that. Still, it was the acquisition of Mack that changed the dynamic for the entire offense. After a season where three different centers combined to struggle even snapping the ball, Mack entered to not just settle the position down, but to have a Pro-Bowl year on dominance at the spot. Mack’s knowledge of Kyle Shanahan’s system and his ability to get to next-level blocks paved the way for a record-smashing offense. There were lots of record-breaking performances in the offensive stats this season, but it’s possible none of them would have occurred without Mack in the middle.

Defensive MVP: Vic Beasley – This was an obvious choice, but the least obvious pick at the start of the season. Coming out of camp there was concern he would not break out into stardom. That concern is gone now. NFL leader in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6), No. 44 burst onto the scene in a Pro-Bowl season where he placed his name into consideration for the NFL’s Defensive Player Of The Year talk. No one, and I mean NO ONE, had that heading into the opener.

Special Teams MVP: Matt Bryant – Bryant’s resume consisted of 34 field goals, 56 extra points and even a couple of emergency punts in 2016. Bryant was awarded NFC Special Teams Player of the Week and was voted to his first ever Pro Bowl at age 41. A year after there was serious concern that his career might end because of an injury, he bounced back to have the best season of his life.

Position Coach of the Year: Raheem Morris — The Falcons sought a new receiver’s coach this past offseason. Unable to find the right fit they asked their assistant head coach to take over. Morris had a head start with Julio Jones and a veteran free agent in Mohamed Sanu, but depth was a question – a question answered so loudly that a record-smashing offensive season never broke stride even with the two players mentioned above sitting on the sidelines watching. Taylor Gabriel, dumped by Cleveland, shot to stardom. Justin Hardy, Aldrick Robinson and Nick Williams all had to contribute. And when called on, all more than just filled a spot, they flourished. No doubt that Wade Hardman (Tight Ends) and Jeff Ulbrich (Linebackers) were challenged by injuries and depth and did fabulous jobs, but no position changed the season for this club quite like wideout.

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