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Why Arthur Blank sees Falcons national perception changing

The Falcons have been through a tough time. Owner Arthur Blank understands that.

His organization has worked through a regime change designed to improve recent results and find top-tier performance that was prevalent from 2008-12 and again in 2016-17. The move was complicated by severe salary-cap constraints that sapped talent from the roster and took calculated, often difficult maneuvers from GM Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith.


That's why it made sense to Blank that outside expectations were low. Blank has seen progress over a pair of 7-10 seasons, despite popular and productive mainstays leaving the organization. New talents have come in and established themselves and the Fontenot/Smith pairing has enacted positive change, signs that this work in progress is headed in the right direction.

Blank has heard that within league circles, creating a belief that national perception around the Falcons is shifting.

"That doesn't change overnight, but I absolutely think that, in the last two years, it has been moving in that direction," Blank said in an interview with "I think people acknowledge that, when you have $86 million in dead money [by the end of 2022], it's going to be very hard to be super competitive. We were competitive, but not at the level we'd like to be in the future. With us having close to $60 million in cap space going into next year, and nine more picks and a couple more years of maturity for these young players that we've drafted, most people who are students of the game would say this team is definitely on the rise."

The Falcons were in contention to win the NFC South until falling off the pace late last season, and the division looks wide open at this time. Blank wasn't ready to make bold predictions, but he's bullied by the fact the Falcons have an opportunity to regain their place among the league's most respected and revered teams.

"You can always debate whether 'on the rise' means we'll win the division next year or whatever it may be," Blank said, "but I think we'll be a very competitive team next year."

Blank believes the Falcons will be competitive by playing the right way. That doesn't mean a restoration of the old ways, when the team lived and died by quarterback play. Instead he thinks his team can thrive on a foundation of running the ball and a desire to become bullies on defense.

"If you look what happened in terms of rushing the ball, it was really amazing," Blank said. "The rookie [Tyler Allgeier] played extraordinarily well and so did Huntley before he got hurt. And Cordarrelle Patterson continues to produce at a high level. I feel like they wanted to establish their ability to control the outcome of a game.

"When Matt [Ryan] was at his best, it was difficult because we weren't able to run the ball. We didn't have that kind of consistency. Even though we were leading a game, we couldn't control the clock. That meant that if, God forbid, the team went three-and-out, we were giving the ball right back. Not being able to run the ball and control the clock was a huge factor. A lot of these teams who are really successful don't just make big plays. They're able to control the clock when they have to. You have to be able to run the ball to do that, and you have to be able to stop people."

Join us as we take a look back at our favorite photos of our home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, during the 2022 Atlanta Falcons season.

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