Thursday night here on 41 NBC it’s the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons playing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season – and the team that went on to win the Super Bowl – the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Falcons are once again one of the NFC teams believed to be a candidate to go to the Super Bowl. The interesting part of this year is the Super Bowl is in Atlanta, so we finally might have a team host the biggest game on the NFL calendar. The Falcons do have a chance. They have an offense led by a former league MVP – Matt Ryan. They have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones. They have a great running back duo with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. There are people on this team who can score, but like most football rosters it’s going to come down to the line of scrimmage.
The Falcons offensive line is a question mark, especially at guard, where Andy Levitre missed part of camp with an injury and Brandon Fusco won the job at the other spot. If that line of scrimmage holds up, the Falcons will score more points this season. Their path to the Super Bowl, however, will be through the defense, and there’s little doubt – at least on paper – it’s a good one. There are some questions at defensive tackle, where Dontari Poe left for the Panthers. They’ve got to have the talented linebackers, like Deion Jones and Devonte Campbell, step up and lead the team, along with a secondary that could be very special. My concern is really not with the players.
It’s a good roster that could be special. My worry is with the coaching staff. I won’t apologize for still being skeptical about Dan Quinn. That scar that was made on February 5, 2017, when I sat in Houston and watched the Falcons drop a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl is still there. I’m still mad at Quinn, and frankly, I don’t buy the “rah rah” brotherhood cheerleader-type coach like Quinn has become. I also am still worried about Quinn’s offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkesian, who was less-than-impressive last season running the offense. If they push the right buttons, and if the lines of scrimmage do well, the Falcons could be a very dangerous team.
Remember, two years ago the five players on Atlanta’s offensive line started every game. That consistency made a difference then, and if it can happen again the Falcons might be special.
The window for this team to do something is getting more narrow, especially with a pending financial crunch with more free agents and an aging quarterback. Their time to win is now, and if the coaches get out of the way, they just might do it.