The Atlanta Falcons season may not have been as bad as it seemed. It is easy to focus on all of the bad things that happened, but once you get passed all of that, this season wasn’t that bad. Atlanta made the playoffs after everyone said they wouldn’t. They had two second-year players make the Pro Bowl. Atlanta’s defense was top ten in the entire league. Julio Jones still managed to finish the season second in receiving yards.
At the beginning of the season, a lot of analysts were saying that the Falcons were going to have what they call “a Super Bowl hangover,” and miss the playoffs. This season followed possibly the most devastating loss in Atlanta history. Many people thought they would fall apart and miss out on the playoffs. Atlanta finished third in the NFC South with a record of 10-6 but managed to secure the wild card. Although they lost in the divisional round, it was still a plus that we even made it to the playoffs.
For the past few years, Atlanta’s defense has been described as mediocre. This season was completely different. They only allowed 19 points a game which was ranked seventh in the entire NFL. They were ninth in the NFL in yards allowed per game with about 320 yards given up a game. Atlanta even had two defensive players make the Pro Bowl. Safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones made the Pro Bowl in only their second season in the NFL. They were known for their open field tackling and their hard hits. Deion Jones was tied for fourth in the league for tackles with 138 total tackles.
The obvious reason that Atlanta didn’t do as well this year as they did last year was their offense. Last season, they averaged 30 points per game. This season, they only averaged 22 points per game. One of the only differences about offense was our offensive coordinator. Our former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, took the offer to become the San Francisco 49ers head coach, so they hired former Alabama’s coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. Many fans are upset about how he handled our offense and want him fired, but most of the players, like Julio Jones, have openly said that they have faith in Sark. Atlanta will keep Sarkisian in hopes that he improves with time.
Even our star receiver Julio Jones didn’t have as great as a season that he usually has. Julio is considered to be the best wide receiver in the NFL. This season would be considered sort of an off year for him. He failed to get open and Matt Ryan failed to connect with him like they normally do. Even with his struggles, Julio somehow finished the league second in receiving to Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. Julio finished with 1,444 yards. He also became the first receiver in NFL history to get his third 250 yard game. He was even selected to the Pro Bowl, but declined the invitation.
Overall, the Atlanta Falcons’ season had more ups than downs. After looking past some of the negatives, Atlanta fans should be pretty happy about this season. The Falcons seem to have a bright future with all of their talent on both sides of the ball. Atlanta will continue to grow as a brotherhood and grind their way to the top of the league.
Jared Schmehl is a Journalism Explorer with Your Local News