Atlanta has a lot to be proud about this year. They had the best record in the NFC leading to a first round bye in the playoffs. They reached the NFC Championship by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. The win was the first in the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era in the postseason. However, they came out flat in the second half of the NFC Championship to blow a big lead and go home early. The Falcons had to have been upset with anything besides a Super Bowl appearance.
Still, Atlanta has a lot of talent going forward. Tony Gonzalez seems likely to retire, and there is also a good chance Michael Turner won’t return to Atlanta. The rest of the talent should be remaining in Atlanta. A defense that improved vastly from the beginning of the season will return most of their playmakers. Brent Grimes will also be making a return, who is arguably their best defensive player. The coaching staff should stay in place for the most part after a lot of chatter that all three of their top assistants could be heading out for head coaching jobs. Most importantly, though, the offense will bring back an explosive passing attack. Julio Jones and Roddy White will return as the best 1-2 punch receiving duo in the league. Matt Ryan took a big leap this year which should only continue into next season. Jacquizz Rodgers will likely see a bigger role, but not likely as the starter without some outside competition.
The Falcons took a solid leap this year, but more success brings more disappointment. Especially when holding a big lead in the first half. Atlanta was extremely close to playing Baltimore in the Super Bowl this year. If they can’t make the big game next year, then they will be even more frustrated. Their potential is as great as anybody in the league, but they will have to become more consistent to reach that fully.