We know the season schedule, the bulk of the offseason moves for the Atlanta Falcons, and the state of the NFC South. While there’s still months ahead until the season, featuring heavy cuts and changes to the roster along the way, we know enough to start thinking seriously about our expectations for next season.
Set aside the question of what those expectations should be, and let’s get even further into the hypothetical on this fine Saturday morning. What would make this a successful 2023 season for the Falcons?
I asked a similar question about the Falcons offseason, and they basically hit all the big themes I was looking for there. That put me in the right frame of mind to think about this team winning, something I’m more than ready for, and to consider how I’d break down the big picture scenarios in which I’d consider this a successful season.
With that in mind, I’d say that a successful 2023 campaign would mean:
- A playoff spot. If the Falcons are decimated by injury I won’t screech and stomp my feet about them missing out on the postseason, but a healthy Atlanta squad in a weak NFC South should be able to make the postseason. We’ve had a five year drought of postseason appearances and the Falcons finally boast a much improved roster; now is the time for them to push their way into contention. With the state of the NFC, 9 or 10 wins ought to do it, and I think that’s a more than reasonable expectation at this point. The Falcons aren’t taking baby steps so much as they are striding briskly across the land at this point, and our expectations ought to reflect that.
- Growth. From Kyle Pitts to Desmond Ridder to Troy Andersen to Richie Grant, the Falcons have plenty of young talent on hand who should contribute now and help form the foundation of this team going forward. None of those players, and players with less upside but critical roles like Ta’Quon Graham and Drew Dalman, appear to have hit their ceilings. A coaching staff that prides itself on getting the most out of its players—and players who want to improve—should be able to lead to growth in skill and production in 2023. That’s particularly critical from Ridder, who needs to showcase growth and potential to hold down the starting quarterback job over the long haul.
- A tidy evisceration of the NFC South. Over the past three seasons, the Falcons have gone 2-4 (2021 and 2022) and 1-5 (2020) against the division, for a putrid 5-13 record against their rivals in that span. Given the sorry state of the the other three teams—we hope—and the potential to win this division, the Falcons have to at least go .500 and preferably far better in 2023 to ensure they end up atop the division. It’s not a huge with New Orleans and Tampa Bay in particular looking a little rickety.
What would make 2023 a successful season in your eyes?