2013 Is Super Bowl or Bust for the Atlanta Falcons
Following the Atlanta Falcons' loss in their first playoff game under head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008, the question the rest of the nation committed to asking Atlanta quickly became a broken record.
Can the Falcons win a playoff game? Call me when they do.
This year the Falcons did win a playoff game, and were five yards away from making it to just the second Super Bowl in franchise history.
It was a tough way for the team to finish a great season. The Falcons have undoubtedly earned the label as the team that does everything right in the regular season and just about everything wrong in the playoffs.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez took the hardest blunt of the blow. He was 95-percent sure he would never wear pads again.
Fast forward to now, and Gonzalez is signed to a two-year contract and insists 2013 will, in fact, be his final season.
The greatest tight end to ever play the game isn't coming back for cash. He's not coming back for another Pro Bowl (seriously, who would?) or any more stats (does he really need any more?).
He's coming back to get a ring. It's as clear as day. That's his main goal.
Again, this is one of the most legendary players to ever play the game. So, what does this mean?
Well, Atlanta fans who have complained that the national media has never given their team attention are going to get what they wished for, though the pressure and anxiety that comes with it might be worse.
Gonzalez' return was the first step in sparking what is becoming a super team. It's undoubtedly the most buzz-worthy offseason this city has ever seen, and rightfully so.
Steven Jackson, a future Hall of Fame tailback, joined the crew. He's never even won a playoff game. The bruising, aggressive runner is expected to bring a dynamic to the offense that the team desperately needed last season. He's the perfect fit for offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's system.
And then you have Osi Umenyiora. The defensive end, who owns a house in Atlanta, has two Super Bowl rings, yet that didn't deter him from claiming this team is the most talented football squad he's ever seen.
Also, the Falcons made a storybook move in signing exonerated linebacker Brian Banks.
Combine that with having an elite, yet polarizing quarterback like Matt Ryan, a head coach who is responsible for the least penalized team in NFL history, a general manager in Thomas Dimitroff who is regarded around the league as a genius and one of the more likeable owners in professional sports, and what do you get?
Remember that movie script you wrote for your team in your dreams that year they sucked? Yeah. The 2013 Falcons are that movie script.
Yes, the team has holes, but Dimitroff has made a living with building the core of his team through the draft.
This season is going to be a season Atlanta fans aren't used to. Everyone's eyes are going to be on the Falcons, whether they are wishing for the successes and the stories, or waiting for them to implode under the pressure.
That will be especially evident when the postseason rolls around.
An Atlanta Falcons team that fails to make it to the Super Bowl in 2013 will be a failure. Gonzalez came back to get a ring, and the team is working to put as many pillars around him to anchor that goal as possible.
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