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Are the Atlanta Falcons a good football team?

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Our staff roundtable debates whether the Falcons are arriving on the scene, or just looking the part.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


Outscoring teams with awful defenses will only get you so far. This is a mixed-bag of a team that can put up lots of points, but also seems incapable of stopping other teams at the same time. They’ve demonstrated discipline issues in the form of mind-bogglingly stupid penalties and have shown a propensity to let their concentration lapse at the worst moments. Calling them good is a stretch, but they can get there if they can clean up the issues that have kept games closer than they needed to be.

Matt Chambers

This team has given me the permanent expectation that something will fall apart. The team started off last year with an unstoppable offense, and it looks like they are doing it again this year. I’m still not sure if the offense is finally clicking or if this is just more of the same, but oh man did the offense look like the best in the NFL last night.

Caleb Rutherford

I don’t know. I still believe the team is somewhere around the league average, but until we get further along in the season, it’ll be impossible to tell just how good this team actually is. There’s no mistaking that the defense is something between a work in progress and a broken mess, and at some point, we will encounter a team whose defense isn’t a revolving door. At the end of the day, I believe this team is better than last year’s iteration, but our end-of-season record may not reflect that.

James Rael

Absolutely. Call me a homer all you want but let me be clear: this team is absolutely competitive. Will we win games by throwing up 30 or 40 points, coupling that with a mediocre showing on defense? Sure, but that’s not the end of the world. There are worse scenarios. What’s clear to me, and what should be clear to anyone paying attention, is the elite status of this offense. Yeah, I said it. Elite. When everyone is healthy and it’s clicking, they’re unstoppable. Look, I’m not saying this is a Super Bowl team, nor am I saying they will make a deep playoff run. But any given week going forward, they have a chance to win. In my mind, one year into the Dan Quinn rebuild, that’s all we can realistically expect.

Kendall Jackson

Matt Ryan looks vastly different in his second year in Kyle Shanahan’s system, and having Alex Mack at center certainly helps. This offense can put up points with its abundance of weapons, and I have full faith in them coming out on top in shootouts. The defense is very clearly a work in process, and the Falcons desperately need to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Still, the offense will give this team a fighting chance each week — and that’s all you can ask for at this point.

Dave Choate

Not yet, but they might be closer than we realized.

After last year’s impressive win over the Panthers and this start to the season, though, I believe they will become a good team. They’re in the process of infusing talented young players into a defense that is very much a work in progress, and the offense looks potentially great, though it’ll probably settle in closer to “very good.” If this team continues on its current track and shows defensive signs of life in the weeks ahead, 2017 will be the time of arrival for Dan Quinn’s Falcons.

Allen Strk

The next three weeks will determine Atlanta’s status as a good team. The Saints’ defense was comically bad on Monday night. They couldn’t get off blocks, generate any semblance of a pass rush, or handle simple coverage assignments. Kyle Shanahan’s playcalling has been superb over the past two weeks. The offense will need to validate themselves at a higher level. How will they respond if the running game can’t get going? Can Matt Ryan cope with a pass rush like Seattle or Denver? The defense is clearly a work in progress that can’t be relied upon. How the offenses fares against three stout defenses is going to be fascinating. If they can win one of those games and stay mostly competitive, this team has a chance to defy expectations and make a playoff push.

Kevin Knight

This team is certainly above average, so I guess it depends on your definition of “good”. I’ve thought all along that they would go 9-7 this season, but against an easier schedule (like 2015) they could’ve probably gone 10-6 or higher. What I didn’t think was that the offense would look this dominant and that the defense would look this atrocious. The Falcons can certainly win shootouts against teams with average to below average defenses, but I think we’ll have a much better idea of how competitive this team will be in 2016 after the next three weeks. If the offense continues to look good against the gauntlet of Carolina, Denver, and Seattle and the Falcons come out of that stretch at 3-3 or better...yeah’, they’re probably good.

William McFadden

Right now, It’s difficult to tell how good the Falcons are because it’s hard to gauge their level of competition. The Saints are hot garbage, but we don’t know how the Bucs and Raiders will turn out. The next few weeks will change all of that. I think Atlanta certainly has the ability to be a very good offensive team, and we’ve seen what that looks like so far. Alex Mack is the greatest thing to happen to this team since Bobby Petrino decided to take his slimy self elsewhere, and our skill players present a lot of problems. Defensively, I think this unit could end up being better than the numbers indicate. Yes, I know I’m in the minority, but I think there were some great individual performances on Monday night, two of which came from our rookies. The Saints always have our number, but we made stops when it mattered, which is something that can’t be said of other years. The defense should get better, but results are all that matter on that end. If the offense can make up the difference in the meantime, this team could be in the mix later this season.

Jeanna Thomas

The offense is definitely improved. I like the way Ryan isn't relying on his first read and forcing balls to that receiver, but spreading it around. Ryan is stepping up into the pocket with confidence thanks to the stability provided by Alex Mack, and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been solid on the ground and as receivers. These past two weeks, this offense looks much more balanced and effective.

The defense, though … not so much. They still can't rush the passer and they miss way too many tackles. The secondary looked soft against the Saints. The defense is still very much a work in progress, and the offense is unlikely to be able to overcome their weakness against stronger opponents.

Kyle McClendon

This team is better than last year. Granted, that isn’t saying much but the offense looks incredible and the defense, while generally atrocious, has plenty of bright spots and is much more athletic than it has been. Matt Ryan looks comfortable with Alex Mack and the play calling has been great up to this point, but those things can only take you so far if you don’t stop anybody.

I think it is reasonable to expect the offense to score plenty of points as long as they continue to take care of the ball, but as they begin to play better defenses (starting this week) it will get tougher and tougher. That means the defense is going to have to step up at some point and get stops or--more likely--force turnovers. So is this team good? At this point, no, because they aren’t a complete team, but they are definitely improved from last year. There is plenty of reason to be hopeful and a lot to look forward to.