This is unchartered territory for the Atlanta Falcons. After a devastating loss in Super Bowl 51, this players and coaches come to training camp looking to erase the past.
We all know what I’m talking about.
Revisionist history isn’t something NFL teams like to discuss, but the Atlanta Falcons gave away a chance to become elite. They gave away a chance to prove they were the best. The New England Patriots had something to do with it – actually a lot to do with the outcome. But this is a team that has the weapons to get back to the playoffs and make a run toward the NFL title.
If this team can put the past aside.
As the Atlanta Falcons move through OTAs and make adjustments like every other NFL team, will it be enough to make everyone believe in the red and black again? Here are three questions this team must answer going into training camp.
Can Devonta Freeman get a new deal?
It seems the two sides want to get a deal done, but the waiting has become the hardest part.
Freeman talked about his contract and the new deal he wanted around the Super Bowl. So this is not a new news story. Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told the media to be on the lookout around training camp to see this deal materialize. The last thing the Falcons and Freemen need is a distraction like this to cloud camp as the team prepares for the regular season.
Freeman has been a surprise his first three years in the NFL after being a fourth-round pick out of FSU in 2014.
Freeman has been a two-time Pro Bowl player (2015, 2016) and Second-team All-Pro (2015), and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2015.
Will there be a Super Bowl hangover?
It’s the biggest question for this team heading into 2017.
This one still hurts. I am still trying to fathom how the NFL’s MVP and one of the more explosive offenses in the league blows a 25-point lead. Yes, it’s Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Yes, it’s on the biggest NFL stage. But a team that good should have been able to close the deal. Here’s hoping the Falcons have amnesia and can walk into training camp and erase those memories.
I think they would have to shut themselves out from the world of social media to do that.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn must take the opportunity to tell his troops this is a new season and another chance to be great. Players must buy into the idea they can get back to the big game. Quarterback Matt Ryan cannot let the loss affect him. it’
Did the defense get better this offseason?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
The Atlanta Falcons showed they are young and have speed to burn on the defensive side of the ball. While they were able to get to Houston and Super Bowl 51 last year, the defense can be even better in 2017. In this case, experience is everything.
Vic Beasley must continue to impact the pass rush. Deion Jones must continue to be a tackling machine. Takkarist McKinley must come in with fire and help get to the quarterback. The secondary must continue to shutdown opposing receivers. Dan Quinn got the most out of his young stars last season. Let’s see what he has in store for an encore in 2017.
If there is an Achilles heel of this team, as we saw in the Super Bowl – and I hate to bring it up – is this team did not shut the door on New England. It’s a blueprint that 30 other teams saw. The NFL is a copy-cat league. The Atlanta Falcons have some adjustments to make.