Three summers ago, I made predictions about what the Atlanta Falcons roster might look like in 2015. Recently, I revisited those predictions to discover just how oddly accurate and wildly inaccurate they were in most cases.
But in so doing, it got the creative juices flowing once more to try and do it again, this time predicting what the Falcons roster might look like three years from now in 2018. As I did then, I will break down each position group with the goal of examining a pathway that the Falcons roster could go down.
Let’s kick this off with the quarterbacks…
Matt Ryan is still holding it down for the Falcons in 2018. Entering his age 33 season, the veteran quarterback is still considered one of the premier passers in the NFL. In the preceding three seasons Ryan gets back to his winning ways, leading the Falcons to the playoffs twice with three consecutive seasons at .500 or better. Ryan has also proven highly productive, accumulating over 40,000 career passing yards, leapfrogging Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas on the all-time list.
However in that span, Ryan has only added one playoff win to his resume, allowing people in some corners to question whether he can win “big games” despite his high rate of production. Entering the final year of his contract in 2018, there are concerns within the organization whether or not they should give him another monster extension.
Especially in light of the fact that the Falcons have a potential successor already on the roster in backup Josh Dobbs, who was a surprise third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2017. Dobbs was not only drafted to give the Falcons a bonafide upgrade over backups T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree, neither of whom stuck around past 2016, but also to give the team a potential leverage option when it came to re-negotiating Ryan’s contract.
Dobbs is a local from Alpharetta, Georgia, prompting a vocal minority in the fan base as well as some on local sports talk radio wanting him to replace Ryan sooner rather than later.
Essentially, Ryan enters the summer of 2018 in a very similar position to Philip Rivers in 2015, a player that is also expected to play out the final year of his contract. Like the Chargers, the Falcons are vocal about wanting to get a deal done but they have dragged their feet. However on the eve of 2018’s training camp, the Falcons finally pony up with a four-year extension that averages $23 million per year, showing a commitment to the quarterback that has led the Falcons to their most successful decade of football for a second time with the hope that he’ll retire a Falcon.
That then puts the scrutiny on Ryan to lead the Falcons deep into the playoffs with the most talent-laden Falcons roster he’s ever had during his decade-long run in Atlanta. Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has a few tricks up his sleeve to make that a reality. LaFleur replaced Kyle Shanahan in 2017 when he took over the head-coaching gig in Tampa Bay that same year.