The Atlanta Falcons will wrap up their eighth day of training camp Friday evening, but that’s enough time for John Fricke to hammer down some powerful observations for the 2017 season.
THERE IS NO ‘SUPER BOWL’ HANGOVER: The media (and haters) alongside the trend-loving “wizards of smart” like to believe there is always a Super Bowl hangover and that it will be especially true of the Falcons this season. They are all wrong. This club cares only to the extent that it is determined to use what happened as a launching point on a multi-season run that starts now. There was and is zero sense that what happened in Houston will be a burden. In fact it is just the opposite.
YOU WILL BE SURPRISED BY SOME OF THE ROSTER CUTS: There will be more than one healthy big-named player who will not make this club. Because…
THE DEPTH CHART IS DEEP: Last year’s camp was notable for the obvious increase in overall team speed. We could see the Falcons were the fastest team in the league. That speed is still present and they might well be faster! This year’s camp has showed us how deep the team now is. Adding free agents like Dontari Poe, Jack Crawford and Andre Roberts to what looks like a third straight homerun draft class, and the return to health of stars like Desmond Trufant, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby and Kemal Ishmael give this club a “second string” that would have been a first string on previous Falcons clubs. This is top-to-bottom the best roster in the NFL.
THIS DEFENSE IS READY TO RISE UP: A step up last season, a giant leap this year. The defense will be a force. It will be so good that this team would be a division title contender with a so-so offense. Add the high-octane offensive assault and you have a club that can bludgeon you on both sides of the ball. Dan Quinn is a defensive coach by nature and now he has size, speed and talent at every level. There are no less than six Pro Bowl candidates on the stop troops (Beasley, Poe, Jarrett, D. Jones, Trufant & Neal) and others who could vie for postseason honors. They will stuff, sack, hit and swipe in attack mode.
THIS CLUB IS, WITHOUT DOUBT, THE TEAM TO BEAT: I’ve been to Falcons’ camps in the past where I saw a club that could compete for a title. But this was the first time I looked and saw the team to beat. There’s no question that the Falcons will have a target and get everyone’s best shot. Fine, that will make the run to Minnesota all the sweeter. In just over two calendar years Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have built an NFL power.
That’s 5. But let’s add a camp bonus…
BOOK IT: These Falcons will be back in the big game and this time, they will win it!