There's no question that everybody with any level of emotional investment in the Falcons--from the casual fan, right up to the owner of the team--wants to see the Falcons perform significantly better in 2014 than they did this past season. Of course, to exceed their accomplishments in the 2013 season, the Falcons would only need to win five games all season. Surely few people would be satisfied by such a meager improvement.
During a recent press conference, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was asked what this team needed to achieve next season for Blank to consider 2014 an adequate improvement over this past season. Blank said that, for him, a winning season and a playoff bid would be an adequate turnaround. One can surmise that these criteria will need to be met, or jobs will be in jeopardy. Given the success of this team over the five seasons prior to 2013, and particularly what they achieved in 2012, this is a pretty modest expectation.
Although it's a modest expectation for a team with Atlanta's talent to go from 4-12 in one season to a winning season and a playoff bid in the next, it is, generally speaking, no easy task. The NFC South has become incredibly competitive, with the Falcons' rivals in New Orleans and Carolina earning playoff bids in 2013, and the Bucs hiring Lovie Smith to fill their head coach vacancy. The Falcons have a lot of flaws that need to be addressed over the course of this offseason.
The Falcons will start next season with key players like Julio Jones and Kroy Biermann healthy, but there's no guarantee in terms of keeping key players healthy for the entirety of next season. The Falcons have to adequately address the issues, aside from injury, that kept them from winning in 2013. They need to shore up both lines, establish a run game to balance out the offense, and play consistently for four quarters of every game.
If the Falcons do all of these things, it's reasonable to expect that a winning season and a playoff bid are attainable goals. For me, that will be enough to deem next season a success. If the Falcons manage to also win a playoff game next season, on the heels of the hell on earth that was 2013, I will be overcome with joy.
What do the Falcons need to achieve in 2014 for you to consider next season a success?