5. They did not lose anybody
Yes, the most recent Super Bowl loser went from an unbelievable 15-1 record to a lousy 6-10 after falling in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos two seasons ago. However, Carolina featured turnover throughout their roster, most notably on the outside when they pulled a contract offer from pro-bowl cornerback Josh Norman. That in particular really came back to bite them, as the secondary for the Panthers was a mess last season. Injuries did not help them either, but the Falcons will not feature that same kind of drop off. They had one starter retire in Chris Chester, but he was undoubtedly the worst lineman for Atlanta last season. There is no guarantee newly named starter, Wes Schweitzer, will be as good as Chester but there is just as likely of a chance that he is much better. Beyond that, this youthful Falcons team only gained experience and will be using their Super Bowl collapse as motivation.
4. Another solid offseason from Thomas Dimitroff and company
Ever since hiring Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitrioff has been on fire, nailing nearly every decision in the draft and free agency. The Falcons did not have a lot of money to spend this offseason and did not have their full allotment of draft picks. However, Dimitroff made lemonade out of lemons and looks to have had a killer offseason on paper. With their limited amount of money, they were able to land 27-year old former pro-bowl tackle Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford to sure up the defensive line, then traded up in the draft to snag the pass rusher they wanted in Takkarist McKinley with the 26th pick. They were also able to snag a steal in the third round with linebacker Duke Riley. Not to mention Dimitroff was able to reach long-term deals with two of the Falcons young stars, Desmond Trufant and Devonta Freeman. The Falcons are not going to experience a hangover because they know the best for this group lies ahead.
3. Dan Quinn
Yeah, Quinn has shown his youth as a head coach with his in-game decision making. It has been far from perfect, and at times egregious. But as far as the culture of the Falcons, this is the best it has ever been. These players are accepting the culture, accepting the brotherhood. They are buying in and the results speak for themselves. There is a clear plan and direction on both sides of the football. Quinn has been a terrific defensive coordinator throughout his career as a coordinator, but based on the culture he has built in just two seasons, he looks to be an even better head coach. This year’s motto is “Embrace the suck”. This isn’t going to be easy, but this team will be as focused as ever behind their head coach, and from there the talent will take over.
2.The return of Desmond Trufant
This defense experienced a ton of improvement over last season, and a lot of that came after the injury to arguably the Falcons best defensive player. After Trufant was injured in week 9, Atlanta’s defense was noticeably better statistically and certainly passed the eye test throughout the playoffs. The biggest reason for that improvement: most of these young, athletic Falcons defenders finally started to get it. Deion Jones and Keanu Neal were playing like pro-bowlers towards the end of the season and both were in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley Jr. became forces on the defensive line in their second seasons. Robert Alford finally started to show that potential we all knew he had more consistently. Desmond Trufant is now healthy, and his return might solidify this bunch as a top 10 defense this season to go along with that high-powered offense.
1. Matt Ryan
Now the rest of the list is in no particular order, but I put Matt Ryan here at one for a reason. He is the single most important reason the Falcons will not have a Super Bowl hangover. I have always been a firm believer in Ryan, knowing that in a better situation he would be an elite quarterback. He’s actually shown it before back in 2012, but people tend to forget after three years of subpar football. Last year though, was a thing of beauty. A Peyton Manning-esque season put together by a very similar quarterback on his way to his first MVP. There will not be much of a drop this season either, even without Kyle Shanahan. Matt Ryan is the leader of this football team. He may not be as personable or vocal as other quarterbacks outside those white lines, but inside them this team turns to him. Ryan has gone through adversity his whole life, and continued to bounce back. He has vowed that he will not let this Super Bowl consume him, but rather motivate him. Nobody had more to lose in that Super Bowl than Ryan. Nobody’s reputation was more tarnished, even though he himself made very few mistakes the entire game. If Ryan can mentally get passed last year’s Super Bowl gaff, which he is, the rest of this team is going to be as ready as ever for their 2017 revenge tour.