If you are the Atlanta Falcons, how do you pick up the pieces from last year’s Super Bowl? It’s been discussed more times than you can count: The Dirty Birds found a way to completely collapse in the 4th quarter and hand New England yet another Lombardi Trophy. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will lead a still stacked Falcons roster into training camp, but it remains to be seen if the hangover from last year’s disappointing conclusion will leave any lasting impact.
2016 Record: 11-5
Notable Additions: DE Jack Crawford, Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian, DT Dontari Poe,
Notable Subtractions: Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, DE Dwight Freeney, FB Patrick DiMarco
Notable Rookies: DE Takkarist McKinley, LB Duke Riley, G Sean Harlow
Analysis: When analyzing the Atlanta Falcons and their chances in the upcoming season, it isn’t even necessarily the physical talent you are assessing. If you’re going solely on that, you’d love this team, as QB Matt Ryan just won MVP, Julio Jones is the best wide receiver alive, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman form a lethal backfield combination, and their defense is better than you’d think. Two things stand out as potential hiccups for the Falcons. With Kyle Shanahan taking the reins in San Francisco, it remains to be seen how a change in offensive coordinator will affect the team. It won’t be apparent until the 2017 season really gets going that we’ll know just how much of a difference not having him here will be, but it certainly will not help in any way. In addition, will there be a mental after-effect of being so close to a Super Bowl title before letting Tom Brady and New England snatch it away? The Super Bowl disappointment will be a whole different animal, as while any athlete will tell you they are solely focused on the task at hand, it’s understood that the vast majority of football players never get to play for a Lombardi Trophy let alone win one. To control a game of that magnitude for three and a half quarters and let it slip away is something that will remain with these players for the rest of their lives.