Welcome to Straight from the Beek! The Falcons are off until the start of training camp – which will start a week earlier this year because they’ll be playing in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 1. In the meantime, you’ve got plenty of questions about this team and the season ahead, so let’s get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And we’re off.
Rick from Eatonton, GA
Hello again, Beek. I mostly agree with your rankings of the QBs we’ll face this season with, believe it or not, only one change. No. 10 Jameis Winston. I see Nick Foles or Kyler Murray as much more of a threat. Even with a new coach and new weapons down field I just don’t see Winston putting up the numbers he’s projected to produce this season. But as you’ve said, they haven’t even practiced with pads on yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Matt: Thanks, Rick. The best thing about putting together rankings like this one is the debate that ensues. I noted this in the story, but the three other teams the Falcons will face in 2019 are the Titans (Marcus Mariota/Ryan Tannehill), Cardinals (Kyler Murray) and Jaguars (Nick Foles). In my mind, those are three fairly big question marks at this point. Is Jameis Winston somewhat of a question mark heading into this season with a new coach, et al? Sure, but at least you know (more of) what you’re getting with him in that offense (than the others) – and I think Bruce Arians' history of having a downfield attack might suit his skill set more. The other deciding factor in putting Winston at No. 10 (vs. Foles, who I almost put in that spot) was the talent surrounding him, specifically Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones.
Stan from Sandersville, GA
Hey Beek! Just wanted to thank you for publishing my tribute to Steve Bartkowski and the 1980 Falcons. I also want to thank Ronnie for the love! I watched the video you posted, and the chills came back. You are so right about legacy. If we could have held on against Dallas in that one game, we could have run the table. That game could have changed Bart's legacy. Tying all this into the present, it is my hope that one game (we all know which one) doesn't keep Matt Ryan from the legacy (and the gold jacket) that he so richly deserves. Google up a list of the Falcons seasons and the QBs for each season for the past 54 years. You don't even need to read the names. There are too many too read! Just let your eyes dance down the seasons and across the names. So many names. No QB lasted more than a couple of years. And when someone did stick around more than a year or two, they didn't win. Some seasons we needed several guys to hold down the position. And then, out of nowhere ...
- 2008 – Matt Ryan
- 2009 – Matt Ryan
- 2010 – Matt Ryan
- 2011 – Matt Ryan
- 2012 – Matt Ryan
- 2013 – Matt Ryan
- 2014 – Matt Ryan
- 2015 – Matt Ryan
- 2016 – Matt Ryan
- 2017 – Matt Ryan
- 2018 – Matt Ryan
So, of the 54 seasons of the Falcons existence, Matt has QB'd 11 of those seasons. That’s more than 20 percent (one-fifth) of our history, Matt has been our QB. Our WINNING QB (there's only three losing seasons in there folks, and Matt ain't the reason for those). Prior to Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons never had back-to-back winning seasons. I'm not going to list all the playoff appearances and stats and such. If you are a Falcons fan, you know the numbers. If all the other QBs in ATL history had pulled Matt's weight, we wouldn't have had but five QBs in our history (one-fifth of our history for each guy). Anyway, I started this post as nothing but a thanks to you and Ronnie for the shout-outs and it ended up with me back on the soapbox for another maligned Falcons QB!! I didn't really mean to go there!
Matt: You’ve nailed once again, Stan. And I appreciate your perspective on Matt Ryan’s career thus far. I think you’re spot on. Folks, what you’re witnessing right now is the best quarterback in franchise history and when it’s all said and done, Ryan will likely go down as one of the all-time greats. And because he’s still playing at such a high level, there’s good reason to believe he’s got several more seasons in him. He’s got one of the best receivers in the history of the game in Julio Jones and a plethora of weapons around him. The Falcons have just overhauled the offensive line, too. How will it turn out? We’re about to find out, but all signs are positive so far.
David from Fort Oglethorpe, GA
I have been a Falcons fan since 1965. Do you think the Falcons will have 12 wins this season? And do you remember when the Falcons were so bad that when they went to huddle their quarterback and wide receiver got into a fight and their tight end had to call time out to break the fight up?
Matt: Ha! No, I don’t recall that incident, David. Do you remember what season it happened or who the quarterback and receiver were? I do remember Jeff George and June Jones getting into a sideline dispute once when George was replaced with Bobby Hebert during a game. As far as winning 12 games goes … look, I think this team is talented and has a nice mix of veteran leaders and rising young stars. There are also some question marks – with the line and some players coming back from injuries that will be answered in the coming months. I think coming off a 7-9 season that they’re definitely capable of winning 10 games if everyone stays healthy this time around. We all know how close NFL games are week in and week out, and if they can pull out some of those close ones – sure, they could win 12. Those first five games of the regular season will be tough matchups, too. We’ll learn a lot about this team early on. Even though it’s way too early to be making these sorts of predictions, I’m sticking with 10-6. For now.
Tyler from Stone Mountain, GA
Hey Beek. I've been a huge fan of the FALCONS and I know this is our year to win our first Super Bowl. It's almost my birthday and my wish is to meet the Falcons. So, my question is, will there be a rematch between NE and ATL in the Super Bowl this year?
Matt: Well, let me say this much: Happy birthday, Tyler! If you show up to some of the Falcons open dates during training camp, your wish might come true, too. As far as the Falcons reaching the Super Bowl and playing the Patriots in a rematch, I’m not going there. While the ultimate goal for every single team is to win a Lombardi Trophy, you’ve got to take it one week at a time. Win at home, win the division, secure a home playoff game (or two), get into the postseason – and then anything can happen regardless of seeding, as we all know. The focus right now should be … win the first one.
Stacy from Central, SC
I am really tired of your vanilla answers to the questions. And you always dodge the uniform questions. I mean all other teams have three or four different color combinations and think the Falcons need to bring back the black pants from the Mike Vick era. And the black jerseys from that era. Also, about the helmets. I know for a fact that the quarterbacks have two or three helmets just in case the speaker stops working. So, don’t really know what you mean about different color helmets can’t be used. I know you probably won’t post my questions. But it is what it is. Give me Arthur Blank’s email. I won’t be scared to address the uniform situation with him.
Matt: What exactly have I dodged? The fans – you guys – have strong opinions about the uniforms, so I run the questions. I’ve weighed in on which ones I prefer several times (the 1989 season are my favorites). I’ve ran several poll questions, too, because it’s such a popular topic. And people here in the building are paying attention, no doubt about it. You guys ask some entertaining questions some days! But, as of this very moment, there are no definite plans to make full-scale changes to the uniforms. Will they change in the future? They could, but nothing has been announced. Now, as far as teams not being allowed to change the helmet colors during the season goes – that is an NFL rule. They used to and then changed it in 2013. You can read all about it right here. Did I dodge anything there? Thanks for writing in, Stacy. And vanilla is very underrated.
Tim from Calhoun, GA
Hi, Beek. I don't have a question, just a comment. No black pants on the uniforms. It doesn't matter what team it is, the black pants are just plain old ugly!!
Matt: I tend to agree, Tim. When it comes to the Falcons uniform combinations, I prefer the silver/gray and white options. This notion that all-black is more intimidating … I don’t agree with it. Great players and teams that impose their wills on other teams – like the Steelers Steel Curtain defense from the 1970s, the 1985 Bears, the Cowboys’ Doomsday defense or the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf … now those teams were intimidating.