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Competing in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons are always in for a tough fight to win the division and punch their ticket to the playoffs. Between Drew Brees in New Orleans, Cam Newton in Carolina, and now Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, there is no shortage of all-star quarterbacks in this division. Add to that the list the perennial Pro Bowler out of Boston College, Matt Ryan.
Head Coach Dan Quinn knows that Ryan brings a skillset to the field that is sure to keep his offense in contention for a win every week. Matt Ryan can breathe a sigh of relief under center, confident in the knowledge that he has some major weapons lining up on the line of scrimmage with him. Julio Jones, his top target wide receiver out of Alabama, is working on rewriting the record books with absolutely stunning statistics he piles up each game. Split out on the other side is veteran Mohamed Sanu, a gritty player focused on helping this team reach the next level. Steve Sarkisian takes over as offensive coordinator this season after Kyle Shanahan’s departure to become the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Expectations in Atlanta vary as fans and media members alike never seem to know what to expect out of this team. Two seasons ago the dirty birds were riding high early on, jumping out to a 6-1 record, before plummeting back down to earth to finish the year at 8-8, missing the playoffs. This is the kind of inconsistency that brought Dan Quinn to Atlanta, after Arthur Blank let go of former head coach Mike Smith. However, Quinn’s first season did not bring any solutions. The 2016 campaign marked a huge improvement as the Falcons went 11-5, winning the NFC South and reaching their 2nd Super Bowl in franchise history. The game, one for the books, ended with the Patriots taking home the Lombardi Trophy in in 34-28 finish in the first Super Bowl overtime. Giving up a 25 point lead, the Falcons are sure to be back with a vengeance next season.
The Falcons defense seems to be a priority going forward. Their 2015 first round draft pick was spent on Keanu Neal, a safety from Florida. He has quickly become a starter for them in the backfield. Additionally, the Falcons locked up cornerback Robert Alford to a four year deal worth $38 million in the middle of the season, taking no chances of losing this player to free agency. The Falcons also have signed CB Desmond Trufant to a five year deal, DE Jack Crawford to a three year deal, picked up Dontari Poe from the Chiefs, and re-signed Courtney Upshaw. Atlanta used their 2017 first round pick to get Takkarist McKinley, a defensive end.
Desperate to get another chance at a title, Falcons fans flock to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium each week to cheer on their hometown heroes. Some of the most beloved Falcons players of all-tie include Steve Bartkowski, Bob Whitfield, Jesse Tuggle, Tommy Nobis, Claude Humphrey, Jeff Van Note,Mike Kenn, Deion Sanders, and Roddy White. More information about the Atlanta Falcons organization and history can be found by clicking here.