Say what you want about the Atlanta Falcons, but for the first time since I've been alive, they finally seem like they have something to build on. I was one of the first people to say that the Falcons shouldn't draft Matt Ryan.
I felt that Ryan could become a good quarterback in the league, but I wanted, like a lot of other fans, either an offensive/defensive lineman or McFadden. When we first made the trade to draft Sam Baker at the LT position, I immediately felt better about what the Falcons were doing.
We now have good, young corners who know how to stick and are only going to get better. Foxworth, since coming over from the Broncos, has played outstanding football. He almost single-handedly shut down the New Orleans Saints' passing attack on Nov. 9.
We haven't even seen much of Chevis Jackson (rookie and just 22 years old) playing the nickleback position, but that interception return for a touchdown against the Saints tells us that he will eventually be a force to be reckoned with.
The defensive line, along with the linebacking corp., seems to really have something that can work for years to come. Abraham is back to his old self and has been at or near the top of the league in sacks all year.
Jamaal Anderson (just 22 years old) is starting to find his grove. I really feel that if since he has gotten his first sack, he is really beginning to take off, and blocked that field goal against the Chargers on Nov. 30 as well.
Big Grady Jackson is always going to be a force, and Jonathan Babineaux, because of more and more playing time is really starting to take advantage; to the point where he has gotten a contract extension. The rookie Curtis Lofton (just 22 years old) is going to be a force at the MLB position and the OLB's of Brooking (all-time Falcon favorite) and Boley (just 25 years old) are playing great.
The Offensive line still needs some work, but we have a great foundation to work from with Sam Baker (just 23 years old). Even though he is hurt right now, Baker, within the next two or three years, is going to be a perennial Pro Bowler. He is already the anchor for our offensive line and he isn't even close to what his potential is yet.
Matt Ryan first impressed me when I saw him play in his first preseason game. He came out in his first series and clearly was too nervous to perform. Then he came out for his second series and it was like one of the coaches said something that made the light turn on in his head.
He came out, drove the Falcons down the field, and before each play I saw him scanning the defenses from behind center and figuring out his reads. He wasn't just hiking the ball and looking for his open receivers and taking a lot of time checking down (that's why Joey Harrington doesn't have a job with the Falcons anymore).
He tried to read the defense and gave himself a couple of choices and made the plays for his first touchdown drive. Matt Ryan doesn't have a lot of pressure on him and can go out there this season and learn.
The quarterbacks in the past who have just been able to play and learn in their first year (Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning) well, you know where I'm going with that.
Michael Turner continues to be at the top of the league in rushing. With 120 yards rushing against the Chargers, he now has 1208 yards rushing for the season.
The receivers are looking really good. Roddy White is playing like he is serious about that Pro-Bowl prediction he made before the season. White is currently second in the league in receiving yards and just keeps getting open. When safeties start coming over to help out, then Jenkins, Douglas, and Finneran have the savvy to be ready for their chances.
Bottom line, the Falcons are looking pretty good. Are we going to the Super Bowl this year? Probably not. Are they going to the playoffs? Hopefully.
And with players at or near the top of the league in sacks, rushing, and Roddy White being second in receiving, plus the poise and smarts of a young Matt Ryan, I’d say we are on our way to having some consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in Falcons history.
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