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Falcons special teams may look very different in 2020

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With so many change on the wind, it’s not surprising, but it is something to brace for.

Tennessee Titans v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Stability has defined the Falcons special teams units for almost the entire current era of Falcons football, which I would loosely define as beginning with Matt Ryan and Thomas Dimitroff’s addition to the team.

Since 2009, Matt Bryant has served as the team’s kicker, with a couple of injury-and-contract-related hiccups here and there. Since 2011, Matt Bosher has been the team’s punter and Kemal Ishmael has been roaming around looking for guys to tackle. Since 2012, Josh Harris has been the long snapper. And from 2008-2018, Keith Armstrong was the team’s special teams coordinator. Those are long-term fixtures at potentially one of the most unsettled groups, and that’s impressive even with near-constant turnover at the returner spots and in coverage.

That all has the potential to change after 2019. Kotwica has only been here a year, but if Dan Quinn is swept out because this season craters, the new coordinator could be out as well. Matt Bryant is on a one year deal after the Falcons tried to replace him, and is off to a bit of a shaky start with just 3/5 field goals thus far, though no one’s making money betting against Money at this point.

Finally, Matt Bosher now appears questionable to return to the team in 2020, what with his deal expiring at the end of the year and a stint on injured reserve now ahead of him. Only Ishmael, who has proven time and time again to be an invaluable veteran leader on special teams under two head head coaches, and Harris, who is one of the league’s most reliable long snappers, seem particularly likely to come back.

It’s probably not the right time to ask anyone to appreciate that stability—we are a justifiably cranky fanbase right now—but that time will come. The Falcons were generally quite good and stable in terms of special teams for a decade or more, with Bryant putting together franchise-best kicking numbers and Bosher delivering highlight-reel hits and booming punts throughout most of his tenure, and there’s no guarantee that what’s coming next is even going to come close to approaching those highs.

For the moment, though, we’ll just have to hope Matt Wile is up to punting duties and Bryant has at least one more legendary season in his leg. If the Falcons are going to climb out of this hole, they’ll need special teams that are just as good as they were in the team’s recent glory years.