The Atlanta Falcons are a persistent, resilient, tough football team. Is that how you would've described them last year? If you just answered, "absolutely not, are you back on the bottle, James?" then we're probably on the same page. The road to 7-4 has been a deliberate, calculated one. The Falcons got here on purpose.
The Falcons, like most NFL teams, did a lot of talking during the off-season. There are always stereotypical soundbites: players saying they've "never felt better," coaches lauding unproven rookies, new and improved training regimens. Remember when the Falcons were doing SEAL training during the off-season, or something resembling it? Yeah, so does quarterback Matt Ryan. (Credit to USA Today's Jarrett Bell for the report and quote. Go read his article now, if you haven't already.)
"We did all sorts of stuff and no football," Ryan said. "They carry these big logs as part of their training. When you get tired, their thing is that you reset all together to take the stress off or whatever. So that buzzword has stuck with us."
Ryan sees a connection here. The SEAL training the undertook helped them become a tougher team. Now, heading into week 13, the toughness has served them well.