Knockin’ on the eve of the NFL draft, let’s see where things stand in Flowery Branch:
5. The Super Bowl Was Not A Club Killer: It strikes me that many fans outside Atlanta (social media people I follow or engage with and friends I know personally) seem to be of the opinion the way Super Bowl 51 played out that the Falcons are emotionally done for and that it will be a long time before they are able to live down what took place. It also strikes me that they couldn’t be more wrong if they wanted to be. Yes, it hurt. But it’s not going to stop or even slow this train. I believe this club thinks it is the best team in the league. And that it will set out to prove that again. Actually, I would go further to say if they stay healthy (among the ‘ifs’ you can’t know now) and get rolling… I am not really sure who beats them. I think they will clobber the crap out of most of the teams they face this season. Which is to say, this is a powerhouse of a club. A lesser bunch might be burdened by a loss like last February. This is not a lesser club; in fact this season it is an even better club.
4. The Club Is Now A Short-List Premium Free Agent Destination: Ownership. Facilities. Staff. Success. Location. Culture. This club now has it all and at top levels across the board. Money is always going to talk, but for top players seeking a shot at the big stage, Atlanta is now front of mind. Three years ago the Falcons wouldn’t have gotten that season’s Dontari Poe. The Falcons don’t have to sell themselves anymore. That falls on the free agents who want to be part of this.
3. Matt Ryan Is Now An Elite Quarterback: Let’s end any debate. MVP season. Holds virtually every franchise record. He’s No. 25 in the NFL all time in TD passes (240) and No. 21 NFL all time in yards (37,701 and this season he passes, among others, Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana as he closes on top 15). Yes, he needs a ring or two, but ‘Matt Ryan’ and ‘Hall of Fame’ are words you will start hearing together in the not too distant future. Best News? He turns 32 next month which means he has a good six to seven solid seasons still ahead of him.
2. Dan Quinn Is A Franchise Head Coach: In just two seasons Quinn has built a championship caliber club. This was not a fluke. Quinn is proving fast he wasn’t just a great hire, but there would be no better one the Falcons could have made. There have been a lot of head coaches through the 50-plus seasons and some have had success, but none truly own the title ‘Best Coach in Team History.’ Quinn is a number of years from that, but if he does this right (and I am betting he will) he has a chance to be the head coach of this team for at least another 12-15 years.
1. The Window Is Just Opening: Last year this club was ahead of schedule. Last year was supposed to happen this year. Already Quinn re-tooled the offense to the most dangerous unit in the entire league. Here’s betting the re-work of the defense with his hands on it will be top 5 within two years. And maybe that unit will be ahead of schedule. You can never know in the NFL, but I will wager the Falcons have three to four serious Super Bowl runs in them over the next five seasons. And at least one will end in a parade.