Free agency, the NFL Draft, training camp, preseason, roster cutdowns, and months upon months of discussion surrounding the Atlanta Falcons help the time go by while we wait for real football games. In a little over one week, though, the NFL officially returns, and this is the most excited I've been for games in a long while.
The reasons for that should be obvious. Change stirs up the soul, and after firing the bulk of the coaching staff, re-jiggering the front office, adding a bunch of new players and promising a different philosophy, this Falcons team only resembles past year in broad outlines. Even if you're a pessimistic fan—and you've have reason to be, the way things have gone of late—you can't help but be curious about what lies ahead.
Honestly, the fact that it's unknown is what makes it so intriguing. This isn't the same thing as when Mike Smith took over after Bobby Petrino bolted, when the expectations were so low as to be nonexistent, and none of us knew what Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and arguably even Roddy White could do. This time, with Ryan entrenched, Julio Jones hanging around being a superstar, and a new stadium coming in 2017, there's pressure for Dan Quinn. We've spent an offseason talking about whether he and this team can handle that pressure and deliver early results, and the fact that we finally get to find out is worth celebrating, if nothing else is.
There will be roster fine-tuning between now and September 14th, so don't get too comfortable with the team as currently constructed, and we'll have thoughts on how this season might unfold in the coming days. Do get comfortable with your new-look football team, though, and share your expectations for the brave new season ahead.