Devonta Freeman Breaks Out:After falling to second on the running back depth chart in September, Freeman fought his way to the top with his Pro Bowl-caliber output, becoming the first Falcons to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season since Michael Turner in 2011. A dual threat in the rushing and passing game, the 2014 fourth-round pick emerged as one of the NFL's most effective offensive players. And, more importantly, he established himself as a vital member of Atlanta's foundation.
Julio Jones' Historic Numbers: The Falcons' superstar receiver had his best professional campaign to-date. Jones shattered franchise records—some of which were his own—and moved up several all-time NFL categories, including single-season receiving yards and receptions. For perspective on how good his numbers were, click here for a comprehensive breakdown.
Rookie Club Thrives: A big reason why the Falcons made a two-win improvement this year is the rookies. The draft choices, from first-rounder Vic Beasley to later picks like Justin Hardy and Grady Jarrett, stepped in right away and contributed a lot throughout 2015. A number of undrafted guys chipped in, as well—including Robenson Therezie, who made the game-winning interception in Week 7 against Tennessee.
5-Game Winning Streak: Although Atlanta fell short of the playoffs, its five-game winning streak at the start of the year was an exciting ride—one that kept the Falcons in the mix despite an extended losing streak in October and November.
Quinn's Influence: It didn't take long for Dan Quinn to alter the culture at Flowery Branch. Practices quickly became upbeat, thanks to a fast tempo and loud music. The defense improved substantially, as well, and his large coaching staff, filled with instructors who worked with lower tier and practice squad players, made a big difference. While a .500 record wasn't ideal, Quinn brought about many important changes that should have a positive, long-term impact moving forward.