The Falcons smashed so many single season franchise records a year ago that it may seem there are none left to be smashed. That may well prove to be true—you don’t usually follow up a massive, record-breaking season with another one—but I do think there will be a handful of marks this Falcons team can assault.
Here’s a few to keep in mind in the season ahead.
Passing Yardage: 4,944
Matt Ryan just hit this mark in 2016, and given that I’m anticipating some pullback in overall offensive production, this might seem to be an odd place to stake out a potential record-breaking season. Here’s why it’s not.
- Ryan has hit 4,500 yards or more five times in his career, including each of the last three seasons.
- Ryan might miss Aldrick Robinson, but Andre Roberts is steady, Austin Hooper should take a step forward, and Eric Saubert gives the team another intriguing young weapon. There’s a case to be made that this passing game might be even better than it was a year ago.
- If something on offense is going to pull back, it might be the ground game. Wes Schweitzer probably won’t be the same caliber of run blocker that Chris Chester was, at least not right away. Freeman is legitimately great, but he started all 16 games last year and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and I’m not sure you can count on that happening again. If the ground game pulls back at all, the Falcons won’t hesitate to huck it.
- Taylor Gabriel will be on this team for a full 16 week season, and it won’t take very long for those 70 yard touchdown scampers to add up.
Don’t be surprised if Ryan squeaks past this mark.
Receiving yards by a running back: 735
Tevin Coleman’s 13.6 yards per reception was better than many of the actual receivers on this Falcons team, so there’s little question that if he got the volume of targets others did a year ago, he could blow by William Andrews’ old franchise record. With so many mouths to feed, though, will he?
That really depends on how Steve Sarkisian utilizes him. Devonta Freeman has soaked up plenty of targets the last couple of years because he’s a dependable, physical receiving back who is a legitimate option on any down. Coleman, meanwhile, is a home run hitter and one of the three most dynamic deep threats on this roster next to Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel. If Sark prioritizes getting Coleman the ball 40-50 times, there’s no reason to think he can’t break this record.
Single season win streak: 9
This one’s on the table because of how great this Falcons team is, and how comparatively easy their schedule is. It’s a longshot because the heart of their schedule features teams like the Patriots and Seahawks, and they have to run the NFC South gauntlet at the end of the year. I still wouldn’t bet against them, because this team is (again) great.
Single season sack record: 16.5
The common thought is that Vic Beasley will probably have fewer sacks in 2017. Several of his sacks last year came against subpar tackles or as a function of excellent downfield coverage that gave him time to get home
Of course, I don’t know that we’ve seen Beasley’s full upside yet, and he finished with 15.5 sacks a year ago. He’ll also have Derrick Shelby back, Takkarist McKinley joining, and what should be a much-improved unit across the board. I wouldn’t say it’s outlandish to think he might break this record, though I’m not certain I expect it this year.
What records do you think may be on the table?