Arthur Smith’s Falcons plan on playing “20, 21” games in 2023

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The national media may doubt the Falcons, but nobody in the building is listening.

The offense features four returning starters along the line, including a highly touted rookie in Matthew Bergeron, who is expected to assume the left guard position. But nobody cares about that, right? We all care about the skill group, which will be regarded among the league’s best by season’s end.

Bijan Robinson and Jonnu Smith are the new faces to form a loaded group, joining Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Desmond Ridder will have all he needs to succeed in Atlanta; just don’t crash the Ferrari, kid.

Defensively is where the substantial changes came. The Falcons brought in Clark Phillips III and Zach Harrison in April’s draft, but the big-ticket free agents are what has folks around Flowery Branch buzzing.

Terry Fontenot didn’t mess around on the first day of free agency, inking Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata, and Kaden Elliss to lucrative multi-year deals. However, the most surprising move was Calais Campbell choosing Atlanta over a number of Super Bowl contenders. The future Hall of Famer solidified an impressive haul of defenders along the front.

That doesn’t include the additions of Eddie Goldman, Bud Dupree, Mike Hughes, and Jeff Okudah, as well as Lorenzo Carter returning or the talent already on the roster — A.J. Terrell, Richie Grant, Arnold Ebiketie, Grady Jarrett, Ta’Quon Graham, and DeAngelo Malone.

It has the real makings of a team that will compete for a division title and a subsequent home playoff game, but nobody outside of the organization, even its fan base, is expecting them to challenge for a Lombardi Trophy. Don’t tell Arthur Smith that, though.

“We are planning to play 20, 21 games. We need to be ready to roll Sept. 10, and we need to be playing our best football at the end of the year,” the third-year head coach told reporters.

He’s not the only one either. Calais Campbell has been outspoken about the club’s goals and how attainable they really are. There aren’t many believers in the Falcons, but sometimes, it’s easier to climb the mountain when nobody is expecting it.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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