The Falcons are a team on the rise. After a surprise Super Bowl berth in 2016, the team has become one of the darlings of the pundit classes, and is generally viewed as a strong contender with very few holes. No one will be surprised if they have another deep playoff run in them for 2017.
What about five years down the line, though? As part of a series of changes to SB Nation, we’re taking a look at the future of every NFL team, and I have five predictions for where this team will be in five years.
Matt Ryan will still be here
Ryan will be 32 years old in mid-May, which means he’d be 37 years old when the 2021 season kicks off. I think it’s probably inevitable that he’ll be firmly in the decline phase of his career at that point—not everyone can be Tom Brady—but I do believe the next four to five seasons will be quality ones for Atlanta’s franchise quarterback. If he makes it to this point with the team, as I believe he will, he’ll go down as perhaps the greatest Falcon ever.
Dan Quinn will still be here
You can make a good argument that no Falcons coach has had more success in his first two seasons than Quinn, and the team is incredibly committed to the #firedup head coach. This team would have to go in the tank in a major way for Quinn to be fired, and while you never really know when we’re talking about a five year time frame, this team is well-positioned for success. DQ should be here.
Julio Jones will be assaulting NFL records
Julio’s already on pace to shatter every team receiving record, so if you give him five seasons, he should have Hall of Famers firmly in his sight. Injury is the big question mark here, but if you’re betting against Julio being in the top ten in receptions and receiving yardage, you’re making a pretty foolish bet. IMO.
You won’t recognize the defense
Atlanta’s focus on rotations and building competitive depth on defense, plus the number of large contracts on offense, probably means this defense will continue to evolve in a way that both (hopefully) increases the talent level and manages costs. While Desmond Trufant, Keanu Neal, Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett and Takkarist McKinley will all hoefully be here, the rest of the cast will likely change a lot.
Atlanta will be a contender
Expecting the Falcons to be an annual contender from here to 2021 is probably unreasonable. There will be at least a season, if not more, where the Falcons take a step back in a hyper-competitive NFC South. But I think with the current brain trust and challenge level, expecting the Falcons to be in the playoff mix all the way out in 2021 is still reasonable. Call me a foolish optimist, if you will.
Share your own five year predictions, and vote in our poll below.
Which of these predictions is most likely to happen in five years?
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Matt Ryan will be with the Falcons
Dan Quinn will be with the Falcons
Julio Jones will be top 10 in NFL record books
Defense will undergo massive changes
The Falcons will be a contender