Hey guys, I've not commented or posted on the Falcoholic for a while so if a similar thread has floated around and I'm repeating, apologies. Can I start off by saying I basically spent my life on the Falcoholic last season, and went cold turkey after the Green Bay game because that just shocked me so deeply I couldn't deal with football for a while. I watched the game to the very last second and I'm glad I did (for those who don't remember me I live in Australia and love Aussie Rules, and have never left a game early despite going for the bottom ranked team of the last four years), but even now I'm still stunned and hurt that we got so badly beaten. Now that the miserable stuff is dealt with, let's look forward to this year.
Is this season the best shot we have to win the championship? I'll divide that proposition up into three areas; roster, schedule and the future. More after the jump.Roster: I loved the Jones draft choice. We gave up a lot for sure, but I feel that it will really add another dimension to our already stellar offense. I'm not too fussed about what we gave up because last season we didn't have a 2nd round choice, and the first round 2012 pick could be a 29-32 pick as a result of the addition of Jones. Our roster is looking stronger this year already as a result of the choice and, while our secondary still needs some improving, I think it was a great choice.
However, the rest of the roster has changed vastly since last season simply by virtue of the players having another season under their belt. Matt Ryan can only continue to develop, Michael Turner picked up production last year and Roddy White really stepped out as an elite WR. This season I can see those three continuing. However on the other end, we've got players like Tony Gonzalez and John Abraham who, while they produced excellently last year and both earned well deserved Pro Bowl spots, are getting on in years and maybe might start to decline a little. Our list is still very young, but is this the year we have the best balance of youth,talent and experience?
Schedule: I'm fairly happy with this year's schedule, especially considering how well we did last year with what I felt was a tougher schedule than most gave it credit for. There's a few difficult games in there, but there's very few that I'd pencil an L in for at this stage. I feel none of them are beyond us if we turn up on the day. However, with an improving Bucs side and New Orleans still riding high on the shoulders of Drew Brees, will winning the NFC South be the only ticket to the playoffs? I feel in such a strong division there will be too many splitting wins for anybody to make the playoffs as the wildcard. I can see a case being made for all games involving the Falcons, Bucs and Saints being split 1-1 each time. Oh an there's supposedly a fourth team, with somebody Newton, in our division, but I did some research and couldn't find any information. Help with that would be appreciated. Our schedule this season is one which could see anywhere between a 13-3 and a 9-7 in my opinion, but is this the best plausible schedule we could hope for considering last year's results?
The Future: The whole point of this article is whether this 2011 season is our best chance to take the title under the Smith/Ryan/Dmitroff structure. The ladnscape of our team is going to change vastly in the next few years, as key players like Gonzalez and Abraham retire, and as our Peria Jerry's and Sean Weatherspoon's develop into full time starters (hopefully). Teams like the Bucs are on the up whilst the Saints in my opinion are going to fall away (I feel this is their last chance at the SB before they have to start rebuilding). As such a young side we should be a competitive team for years to come, but will the Panthers jump out in the next few years and restrict us from building a dynasty in the South? Will the improving Bucs claim it this year? Will the potential change to an 18 game season in the future hinder us. Will changes to the way the NFL controls salaries and finances be benificial or detrimental to our organization in the future? With all these future variables floating around, do the current factors of the league show that this is our best chance at the SB, or will the changes be beneficial to us.
In my opinion, this year isn't our last chance by any stretch, as i believe our championship window will be open for anywhere between 3 and 5 years from now, however I do believe that this will be our best chance. What do you think? Discuss in the comments section, and thanks for reading!