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Why is the Falcons offense being underestimated in some quarters?

It’s not universal, but it’s worth addressing.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

It’s a long offseason, which means you’ll get a taste of almost every opinion you can possibly imagine. Including ones that are, to put it politely, not correct.

That’s certainly the case with those who seem down on the Falcons’ offense, and one such instructive case presented itself just yesterday.

I don’t mean to pick on this analyst in particular, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sentiment, and it should be addressed. While some may be a little too bullish on the offense, which got unprecedented offensive line health and has a brand new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian—this isn’t likely to be the best offense in the NFL two years in a row—the talent here is simply too overwhelming for Atlanta to be anything other than a top five unit unless someone gets hurt. And yet.

Kyle Shanahan is a gifted offensive mind who squeezed a lot out of a very good offense. His departure will likely lead to a small but significant dip in production for this team, one which will hopefully be made up for by an improved defense. But the Falcons, who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2016, are listed as the fourth-best team on this list, and Scruggs and others object because they fear regression for the offense. I may be a blind homer, but I just can’t see the kind of deep regression that would put this team toward the bottom of the playoff pecking order in the NFC (or worse) unless you’re betting against good health.

To me, this is a little bit of an overestimation of Shanahan, who was given an incredible cocktail of talent, floundered a bit in his first season, and legitimately did masterful work in his second. Sarkisian doesn’t need to be a genius to keep an offense with Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel, Austin Hooper, and the likes of Alex Mack and Ryan Schraeder as one of the top units in the league. He simply needs to be smart enough to keep the tenets of what made Shanahan’s offense hum and not get in the way with too much tinkering, which doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.

If you skipped to the end, here’s the rub: The Falcons offense should be great again in 2017, and if you’re worried they’re going to regress to the point where this team will have legitimate problems, don’t be.