Yes, I am calling it. The Atlanta Falcons will not only move forward next year, but they will improve almost as much as they did this year.
They have everything that a franchise and a team could ever want.
The Falcons have stability at the coaching position which allows them to develop players long term and exactly to their liking.
Also, the offense had were sixth in total yards in 2008-09. The team had the league's second-best rushing attack and the 14th overall passing attack. The running attack will most likely continue their dominance, but the real question surrounds the passing game.
Will Matt Ryan continue his development? Yes. Ryan is a student of the game and with a whole offseason to learn the offense and be coached by the same coordinator, there is no reason why he would not improve.
Although Ryan did struggle the last few games of the season, his composure and swagger never left him. As I watched him in the first round of the playoffs, I saw something that shocked me. No matter how much pressure is on him, Ryan stays fully focused with the intent to win in his mind.
The offense has every tool it needs to be elite now. I can only see them getting better over the offseason. The team will most likely stick together this year and will build off of the chemistry they established last season.
Now the real question arises. What about their defense? Can it become a complement to the offense or will it be a liability to them again? Well, the defense made huge strides late in the season, especially when Ryan was struggling.
Because of this, the defense will be almost fully be remade like the offense was last year. They will build through the draft and maybe pick up a free agent to help Atlanta's depth. Also, the linebacking core has a potential all star linebacker in Curtis Lofton. He will be the cornerstone for the defense as the years go on, but he can not do this alone.
There are rumors that the Falcons are considering moving Jamal Anderson to defensive tackle along side Jonathan Babineaux. This would allow the Falcons to actually put a pass rusher on the opposite side of John Abraham. These moves can turn a horrible pass rushing team into an elite team.
The corner position has a load of potential, but that only gets a team so far. The team did play better then they were thanks to leadership from veterans. The problem is that those veterans are a liability on the field.
Then there is special teams to consider. The Falcons were easily the best punt coverage team last season, giving up a record-breaking 4.6 yards a return. With the franchise tag on Michael Koenen, that will basically stay the same.
In summation, the defense will most likely figure itself out in the next two years while the offense carries the team.
What you are seeing before you is a team that could easily become an elite team as soon as next year. All of the pieces are there and with another great draft class, the team's potential is off the charts.
My prediction for next season is 13-3. Ryan will lead a top 10 passing attack and the defense will improve upon what it did last year. They will get the first round bye and lose in the NFC championship.