Falcons are beaming with confidence: “We’re a playoff team”

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The Atlanta Falcons aren’t scaring anyone. Amid a rebuild, the team will be a sub par group in 2022. Sure, they went 7-10 last season and were in playoff contention until Week 16, but only a couple of their wins were impressive. Five of their seven came against organizations who selected in the top six of the draft.

They were plenty bad in most facets of the game. The Falcons boasted a -146 point differential (28th), 303.8 total yards per game (28th), allowed 27.0 points per game (29th) and totaled a league-low 18 sacks — less than T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5) had individually.

On top of all of that, they’ll be without Matt Ryan. Given the obvious downgrade at signal caller, Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder will only accentuate the team’s weaknesses. However, that isn’t discouraging anyone in the locker room.

“I feel like we’re a playoff team,” Olamide Zaccheaus said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We just (have) to put everything together. Really start fast at the beginning of the season and not get into a hole. I just feel like as a team, we can shock a lot of people.”

It isn’t the first time those sentiments have been shared either. Veteran free agent addition Casey Hayward already questioned why the Falcons couldn’t surprise people and compete following the Ryan trade.

The kind of culture forming in Atlanta is impressive, but the reality is far from this. The Falcons will be lucky to match their win total from last year; I’d be shocked if Atlanta won six games. The personnel is just deficient compared to other rosters around the league. Hayward and Zaccheaus are the exact type of players that fans want on their team — ones who block out the outside noise and put their head down, working every day. The culture Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot are trying to instill in this team is exactly what the two players are emulating, but the rebuild is undeniable.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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