This past season was a deeply frustrating one for Falcons fans, and one imagines it was even more frustrating for the team itself. Yet we also know just how close this team is to being great, something Arthur Blank said out loud this week.
As embittered as we all are at the moment, maybe you don’t want to hear just how close this team is to being on track for another Super Bowl run in 2018, but I need it. I need to be reminded that things will probably be better under Steve Sarkisian in his second season, that this roster isn’t just going to stand pat, and that the defense is on the verge of being one of the NFL’s scariest.
Blank is one of the league’s most involved owners, and certainly one of the few who does more than make a few cursory statements about the importance of winning, so his confidence is welcome.
“You know, I think we’re close,” Blank said when asked about his team’s chances of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl, not just getting there. “Obviously, we were there last year. We got to the second round this year. We could have proceeded further, but we didn’t. So, I think the team is in good shape. We have some areas that need to be improved on and worked on. And I think the coach [Dan Quinn] and [GM] Thomas [Dimitroff] are aware of those. That’s why we have the draft and free agency, and we’ll be focused on those.”
While Sark’s ability to get more out of the offense looms large over everything, it is absolutely true that this roster is close. The Falcon have only a small handful of genuine holes at defensive tackle, arguably guard, tight end and cornerback, and depth issues at positions like wide receiver and potentially linebacker. Outside of the Eagles and Rams, there really are no other NFC teams that will be papering over so few holes this offseason. Atlanta just has to get a handful of things right and get some growth from coaches and players to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender again.
We’re extremely hopeful Blank is right. This team is largely set up to succeed right now, and falling short of the Super Bowl (or worse) would leave a bitter taste in the mouths of just about everyone who cares about this football team.