Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Time For the Atlanta Falcons to Put Up or Shut Up

Head ball coach Dan Quinn is ready for to put the disappointment of the 2016 Super Bowl loss behind him with a strong 2017
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It is tough falling short in the playoffs after having a 13+ win season, or getting bested by a powerhouse in the Super Bowl. What the Atlanta Falcons are dealing with is 1000x tougher than any NFL franchise, or even any professional sports franchise has ever faced before. Next to the New York Yankees of 2004, the Falcons are dealing with one of the biggest choke shows in sports history, blowing a 28-3 lead in the biggest sporting event of the year.

Dan Quinn and the dirty birds must deal with the task off ridding themselves of the biggest Super Bowl loss hangover in history and get themselves back to the big game.

On paper, the Falcons should be back and better than ever. GM Thomas Dimitroff and HC Dan Quinn have return with the core of their franchise, which include reigning MVP QB Matt Ryan, the dual threat of RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and of course the stellar trio of wide receivers superstar Julio Jones, Rutgers graduate Mohamed Sanu and speedster Taylor Gabriel.

This offense ranked #1 overall throughout the entire NFL with 540 points scored, and this showed throughout the playoffs, not including the 2nd half of the Super Bowl. The defense, however, left more to be desired, especially on the edges. Dimitroff made sure to address this with the 1st round pick, meet Takkarist McKinley.

The new heart and soul of Atlanta (Matt Rourke/AP)
Takk, as the kids call him, recorded 10 sacks in his senior season at UCLA and was regarded as the fourth best edge rusher by Mike Mayock of NFL.com. McKinley aims to match his exciting attitude towards the game with amazing play as the defense looks to improve in pressuring the quarterback.

The Falcons also used their 3rd round pick on a linebacker from LSU, Duke Riley. Takk and Duke are joined by the former Dallas Cowboy, Jack "Sack" Crawford, who provided a spark to the dismal Dallas defense in their 13 win 2016 trek.

So the offense remains potent, and the defense looks to improve, so what is stopping the Atlanta Falcons from going back to big game and winning it all this go around? The answer is all in the mental part of the game.

The Falcons have to deal with a stigma that comes with 3 prongs. Number 1: The Super Bowl loser. Super Bowl hangover is one thing, but being the loser brings on its own history. Since 1977, 11 teams have failed to make the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl, including the 1999 Falcons who went 5-11 after losing to the Broncos. Rival Carolina Panthers showcased this last season by following up a 15-1 season with a 6-10 season.

Number 2: Being a team in Atlanta. It is well known that the city of Atlanta has had little success when it comes to winning championships, with the Braves having the only championship with the 1995 World Series championship.

Finally Number  3: the game itself. Super Bowl 51 will go down in history as possibly the greatest Super Bowl of all time. Tom Brady and the Patriots will forever go down in the the books as having the greatest comeback in the game's history, and inversely the Falcons will be the dunces.

The offseason consisted by what seemed like 99.999999% 28-3 jokes, and judging off of Falcons fans I saw on my Twitter timeline, they were not received well. This is something that the current core of the team, especially Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, will have to face for the rest of their career. It is crucial that the team put it behind them or else 2017 will be treated as a vengeance trip, and anyone that reads comics knows that the quest for vengeance never ends well.

So with all of that clouding the current Falcons team, how will they be able to get back to the promised land? Its simple, leave it in the past and look to the bright future ahead of them.

The core of this franchise is still in Atlanta and no major pieces left this offseason. Also, they get to open a new space age stadium in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They would like to start a new era of winning in the new stadium and put their not so awesome past behind them.

The Falcons and the City of Atlanta need to put everything from February 5, 2017 and the whole 2016 season where it belongs and be excited about the potential ahead of them. Like DC Comics in 2011 with the introduction of the New 52, this is year 1 and you are seeing the Falcons for the first time, ready to get that first Lombardi Trophy for the city of Atlanta.

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