There are many intriguing story lines to watch for the Atlanta Falcons this year, from Steve Sarkisian and the offense’s progression to how the team will dole out snaps in its absurdly talented cornerback corps. If you’re looking for a story to write about for this team, there are plenty, especially if you don’t write about the team several times a day already.
Of course, Atlanta’s just one of 32 teams, and our level of interest in these stories isn’t necessarily shared by everyone else around the league. You’ll see that in ESPN’s breakdown of 99 players, coaches, and story lines to watch for the 2018 season, which features just one mention of Atlanta, and a predictable one.
ESPN chose Takk McKinley as a potential breakout player for this season, writing the following:
Atlanta’s 2017 first-round pick had six sacks as a rookie, and four came in his final seven games. That strong finish should lead to increased opportunity in Year 2. It’s possible he could emerge as the team’s best pass-rusher -- even ahead of 2016 NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley.
In many ways, this is a worthy highlight. Takk showed genuine promise and could emerge as a double digit sack threat as soon as this season, and his emergence as an elite player could have a transformative effect for an already good, young defense. He’s an excellent choice in this category, and I sincerely hope he lives up to that billing. I do think the Falcons not showing up anywhere else on the list is odd, however, but perhaps Takk’s emergence will truly be the most important story of all.
Curiously, Atlanta didn’t make the short list of most exciting offenses in the NFL, and not one of their intriguing matchups with the Eagles, Steelers, or NFC South rivals made it onto ESPN’s list of the games worth watching this year, though three Saints games did. It may be that the Falcons are an overlooked team as we head into the season with Philadelphia, New Orleans, Minnesota, Los Angeles, and media darling San Francisco, and while that can be frustrating for fans who would like to see Atlanta recognized as one of the NFL’s elite teams, it genuinely doesn’t matter much. We’ll take Takk and a successful season, thank you.
Hopefully by the end of the season, though, the Falcons will be the biggest story in the NFL, and for the right reasons.