Atlanta Falcons: Is their Super Bowl window closing?

With an already filled out roster, the Atlanta Falcons look to be all in on another Super Bowl run. The question does remain though, how long is their window open for?

In today’s NFL, it seems like there are two main ways you can win a Super Bowl. The first, of course, being with an elite quarterback. The second involves having a quarterback on a rookie deal. Now I’m not here to get into the nitty-gritty and discuss whether Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback (although he has shown he can lead a team deep). Instead, let’s address the current state of the Atlanta Falcons roster.

My colleague already discussed and graded the Falcons most recent draft. To summarize, it left a lot to be desired, with some questionable decisions on very raw, athletic players. But moving past that, all signs point towards a team in win-now mode. But how long is their Super Bowl window open, and can they capitalize on it before it’s too late?

History will want to tell us no but hey let’s defy odds.

The offensive side of the football

In a league where scoring has never been more prevalent, the Atlanta Falcons are looking to keep up with a vast amount of talent on the offensive side of the football. With Ryan at the helm and star receiver, Julio Jones big plays are in the books. The team also has a young star receiver in Calvin Ridley. Ridley will be looking to make a big jump in year two and become a consistent playmaker for the team.

At running back, the Falcons have Devonta Freeman, who can hopefully get back to his best form after a string of injuries limited him in 2018. Behind him, there is Ito Smith, who showed some promise as an effective runner in the short areas of the field as a rookie last season.

Let’s not forget the offensive line, which was heavily invested in by the team this offseason. The Atlanta Falcons will now look to potentially have five first-round offensive linemen as starters for week one, which would be the first time in history any team has done so.

With the offensive firepower the team has invested in over the past few seasons, this Falcons team has the big play and scoring ability to make it to the Super Bowl.

The defensive side of the football

Difficulties arise with building a talented team after giving a big chunk of your salary cap to your franchise quarterback. So far, the Falcons have been able to draft well and get productive players for cheap. The problem is, eventually you will have to start re-signing these players to retain them, and that’s where it gets messy.

The Falcons are now approaching this territory, which means their window could be smaller than some think.

Perhaps the team’s most successful draft haul, the 2016 class, will all be up for contract renewals either after this season or next. This group contains the likes of Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Austin Hooper, and De’Vondre Campbell. All four are good starters, and two are among the top of their position league-wide. While it speaks great lengths to the Falcons drafting ability it also comes with hefty second contracts.

There is no denying they are worth the money. But do the Falcons have enough to pay everyone? How will they manage their cap to keep the key players at least? No matter the outcome this season, this team has tough decisions lying ahead. In fact, it would be best to sign some of the players before the market rises again.

As long as this defense can stay healthy in 2019, there is no reason a Falcons Super Bowl run is out of the question.

Season outlook

Say the Falcons window is in fact closing. Is this the season they make another deep run and if so, how far can they get?

The Falcons start the season with a difficult schedule, and it doesn’t get any easier as the year progresses. The team starts off with the likes of the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and Indianapolis Colts. All three of which are hard games in themselves and could affect the outlook of the season early.

Beyond that, the Falcons are also in a difficult division, where competition between them the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints will certainly be fierce. With the NFC getting better as a whole, it’s unlikely we’ll see a year like 2017 where three teams from the NFC South made the playoffs. That leads to the division becoming very competitive and likely coming down to the wire on who get a wildcard spot.

Conclusion

While the Falcons certainly have the roster to make a deep run, it all depends on the coach’s preparation and team continuity on just how deep of a run they manage. With a tough schedule, the team will face many obstacles along the way. Moving past the first three games, the team also has a five-week stint where they play only division games. While that is certainly a tough task for any team to overcome, it will be a true test for the Atlanta Falcons to make it to another Super Bowl. Maybe this will be the year they bring home the Lombardi trophy and become World Champions. If not this season the road becomes murkier with expiring contracts on the horizon and a lack of depth behind star players.

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