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What is going to be the biggest key to the Falcons success in 2017

By: Mike Anthony
Date: Jul 26, 2017
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The Falcons had great success last year. Winning 11 games in the regular season - their best season since 2012 for the Atlanta franchise. They seemed to have toppled the dark aura that has wafted around the organization for so many years. They demolished NFC rival and perennial power, Green Bay, in the playoffs, 44-21. And they dominated their division, 5-1.

The Falcons were on the immediate rise. Then came SuperBowl LI. Up 28-3, and abruptly the team forgot how to tackle, score, and catch the ball. Tom Brady decided he was going to orchestrate the greatest SuperBowl comeback of all time, and single handily crush the Falcons dreams and grab another ring for his own storied legend.

The real question is now - is will they be able to bounce back in 2017? How will they handle the pressure of being the team that blew a what was thought to be an insurmountable lead in the 3rd quarter in the biggest game of their lives?

The Falcons have some great running backs with a very high ranked pair of backs, with outstanding game skills. A true great group of guys behind the line, that had gotten them 121 / game, and 4.6/ carry. Devonta Freeman is a power back with a great eye for finding seams that need to be attacked, and getting the tough 1st downs. Also with 54 catches showed a level of versatility that was extremely useful. Tevin Coleman is a big back who will either run around you into a confused shell - or drop a shoulder and pick up 3 yards on your chest. They have a very balanced team that can really keep any defense on their heels.

They also sport one of the NFLs best, if not the premier WRs in the game, Julio Jones. With 8 games of 96 or more yards receiving, and 129 targets on the 2016 season - Jones is a constant threat to get looks downfield from 32 year old QB Matt Ryan. Simply put, Julio is simply ridiculous. Over the last 3 seasons, Julio has gotten 4,873 YDs and 20 TDs, by far the best WR Atlanta has ever had to look for in any Atlanta offense. Last year, his 17.0 YPC was his best since his 17.8 back in 2011.

Even at the WR2 and WR3 options, the Falcons are more than set up with success. The lengthy Mohamed Sanu picked up a rock solid 653 YDs and 4 TDs in 2016. Taylor Gabriel is a lightening fast runner with explosiveness who also garnishes more than his share of attention from Matty Ice. Gabriel carried a strong 16.5 / YPC avg - which shows his skills to move the ball downfield more than well enough.

Head Coach Dan Quinn, who has been with the Falcons since 2015, and has them quickly plugging along at a 59% win pct during his short tenure thus far. Quinn has full control of this team, and keeps them pushing along regardless of who the opposing team is they are facing. And drafting talented pure pass rusher, Takkarist McKinley from UCLA should help their improving Dline that sloughed along with a middling 34 sacks in 2016 as well.

One of the biggest keys is going to be Matt Ryan. Ryan is the validated answer to the question for Atlanta going in. In his career, Ryan has always been a very accurate QB - sporting a brash 64.9 completion pct. As the NFL's #1 ranked passer in QB rating, he has more than shown he was worth the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. But last season - Matty Ice really blew up on the NFL. With 38 TDs and just 7 ints, with a 2nd ranked 4,944 YDs, to ride along with a stellar 9.26 YPA.

Will he be able to stay on top of the NFL as the reigning MVP? It is a lot to live up to now - a whole new level of new pressure for the 10 year vet from Boston college.

I have enough belief in Jones, Ryan and the entire Falcons organization to think they will be a force in the NFC for several years to come. They have a lot of talent, and just another year more knowledgeable and even more jaded than they were in 2016.

Bouncing back mentally from the debacle that occurred in the SuperBowl is going to be a challenge - especially when they get their rematch at New England on Oct 22. But, as long as they keep that ghost from rearing its ugly head in the rear view mirror - they will be ok.

Written by Mike Anthony for 10StarPicks.

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