Is this the season the Atlanta Falcons take it all the way to the Super Bowl? Coming on the heels of their 2012 season, in which the Falcons won 13 games and secured the #1 seed in the NFC, it certainly seems Atlanta has all the pieces in place to get the job done.
What you won’t be seeing is the same Atlanta Falcons team as you did in that very successful 2012 season. While most teams would have figured they had the right combination of players, Atlanta made some key changes throughout the roster. And there’s the rub. Will these changes be the impetus to push the Falcons over the top? Or have they changed themselves so much they’ve pushed themselves over the edge?
There will still be some familiar faces. Matt Ryan is still under center and a very consistent playmaker. Roddy White and Julio Jones are as good a pair of receivers as there are in the NFL. And of course the perennial Tony Gonzales decided to return for one more crack. The difference on offense will be the running backs. Atlanta bid goodbye to Michael Turner and hello to Steven Jackson. Jackson has plenty of mileage in the NFL but still appears to be dependable, with flashed of the old magic. A new beginning could stimulate his performance and energize a Falcons offense that needed some steady running to go with a good passing game.
The defense still needs to find some kind of pass rush from up front. John Abraham worked for awhile but he’s gone, replaced with Osi Umenyiora. Whether that’s an upgrade remains to be seen. Atlanta brought in a new cornerback in Desmond Trufant, who can be expected to start immediately, then backed it up by taking another corner, Robert Alford, with their next pick. Alford might be a good candidate to move into the safety slot, giving the Falcons two rookies starting on defense.
The Atlanta Falcons have put themselves into excellent position to win in the NFC for the next few years. But they’ve got major competition. Within their division the Saints have proven worthy competitors and within the NFC Atlanta has to contend with some rising stars. They’re talented enough to get it done. Now it’s a mental thing.Are they tough enough?