By Knox Bardeen

ATLANTA – The Falcons made a remarkable run to Super Bowl 51, but the big game didn’t turn out the way Atlanta had hoped. As shock, grief and anger turn to thoughts of 2017, we’ll spend many hours over the offseason trying to discern the outlook for this team moving forward.

Albert Breer, who’s a senior reporter for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback at Sports Illustrated, joined Dukes and Bell on Wednesday and offered his two biggest questions for the Falcons as they try to replicate the success of this past season.

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  1. Can Steve Sarkisian be the right sort or replacement for Kyle Shanahan and at least come close to the same level of play they played at for the last couple of years?
  2. How do you pick yourself up off the canvas after losing the Super Bowl the way you did?

“That gets put to the test, Dan Quinn’s leadership gets put to the test, and that’s a strength of his, so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to a loss that everyone expects to leave some sort of mark,” Breer said Wednesday.

If the Falcons can adequately answer those two questions, the 2016 season could just be the beginning of a successful run for the franchise.

“The offense is clearly already there and young enough where you’re at the beginning of your window of opportunity with that group,” said Breer about the sustainability of a Falcons run of success. “With Jake Matthews – and he obviously had a rough Super Bowl – but he’s a guy a potential cornerstone left tackle, a center and then [Tevin] Coleman and [Devonta] Freeman in the backfield, Julio [Jones’] still in his 20s, Mohamed Sanu alongside him and Matt Ryan still in his early 30s, it looks like the offense is going to be good for some time to come.

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“Then you look at the defense, that defense that we saw play over the last five to six weeks of the season, into the playoffs and then as well as it played before the snap count got up into the 60s and 70s in the Super Bowl. You see a group that flashes speed and potential there and should only get that much better with another year together. …

“I see a team that’s got the potential to be better over the next couple of years that it was this year.”


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LISTEN to the rest of Breer’s conversation with Dukes and Bell: