Another day gone, another day closer to having football back in our lives and having the Falcons on tv every Sunday throughout the autumn and winter seasons.
With the season so close to kicking off (it may not feel like it due to a lack of preseason, but it really is tantalizingly close), the Falcoholic staff is coming together and putting predictions on paper.
Today, each of the writers will predict who the team’s MVP will be in the 2020 season. In case you missed our last roundtable, talking about this season’s breakout players, you can find that here.
Grady Jarrett will continue his ascension
The Falcons spent the entire offseason revamping their defense, which was a bottom 10 scoring unit last year. Headlines were dominated by the additions of Dante Fowler, A.J. Terrell, Marlon Davidson, and we’ve received glowing Training Camp reports regarding rookies Terrell and Mykal Walker.
As such, we haven’t heard much from or about Grady Jarrett, who seems to have flown under the radar a bit this offseason. Make no mistake about it, Jarrett carries with him a gravity which anchors this entire defensive unit and it seems like he will have more help than ever this upcoming season.
Grady made it to his first career Pro Bowl last year (after being snubbed in 2018). With the additional help he’s expected to receive along the defensive line in the form of Davidson, Fowler and hopefully a resurgent Takk McKinley, Jarrett will knock on the door of an All-Pro selection as he continues to carry Atlanta’s defense. - Adnan Ikic
MVP Matty Ice
It’s a boring answer, but my pick for Falcons’ MVP in 2020 is quarterback Matt Ryan. The offense flows through Ryan, and I’m expecting a flood in 2020. His targets will be Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage and Todd Gurley in the backfield. If he can’t make it work in 2020, that’s a terrible sign for what the future holds.
What I think will most help Ryan is hopefully a commitment to the run game. Due to playing from behind a lot in the first half of 2019, Ryan ended up leading the NFL is completed passes. If he isn’t forced to throw an excessive amount of times, such as 2016, he can actually have better numbers. A reliable run game does wonders for a quarterback, with Gurley, I hope Ryan gets that. - Evan Birchfield
Matt Ryan, again
I’d love to mix it up a bit here and pick Jarrett (who will likely be deserving), Julio Jones (who will also likely be deserving), or A.J. Terrell (talent and wishful thinking). But I do think Matt Ryan is a no-brainer because he’s the man who makes this offense go, and the offense going is the thing that consistently keeps this team in contention, when indeed they do contend.
This year, Ryan’s going to have a strong supporting cast, a (hopefully) improved offensive line, and Dirk Koetter having learned a few lessons, plus his own ability and veteran savvy to draw on. When the dust settles on what I hope is a quality season, Ryan’s the MVP. - Dave Choate
I wanted to go with Matt Ryan initially because I do believe he’ll have a bounce back season, but I think this defense may be poised to surprise some people. While Grady Jarrett could be very deserving as well, I think Jones will be a guy whose game will elevate to a whole new level this year. We already know he’s the best coverage linebacker in the league, but I think he takes it a step further in 2020.
His health is as good as it has been over the last few years and having guys like Keanu Neal back will make it easier for him to concentrate on his part of the field. That focus will ultimately lead to him being the key catalyst for a defensive turn-around. I just need Dan Quinn and Raheem Morris to let him do his work. - David Walker
We need a BOLD choice, and as much as I wanted to pick Julio Jones for quietly being the best wide receiver in the league, Gurley has a chance to come in and redefine this offense which has struggled to run the ball since Kyle Shanahan left. We expect Ryan, Julio, and Grady to shine, however, the biggest question mark is if Gurley and his knee can carry the load and provide the balance this team has been desperately missing.
Could Gurley be the missing piece we thought another former Rams running back could be back in 2013? The running game is the best spot for improvement that could pay dividends overall for this team, and Gurley theoretically has that potential. - Matt Chambers