Atlanta Falcons Mid-Season Report

Michael FosterFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 2008

As I watched the 2008 NFL draft earlier this year, one thought replayed in my head constantly as the Falcons first pick approached.

"Please draft a quarterback. Please draft a quarterback!"

Now, from my past observations, rookie quarterbacks rarely (if ever) have success, but I was ready for a rookie quarterback. I was ready for a new start, no matter how long it was going to take for this team to mend.

For me, and I'm sure for every Falcons fan, there was a strange feeling in the air as Matt Ryan was chosen as Atlanta's first round pick.

The new face of the franchise.

One one hand, it was kind of depressing to see such an era come to end. Atlanta fans finally realized Michael Vick was no more. That guy who brought excitement to Falcons football, and ironically, the same guy who later sent it to the grave, was gone.

It's surreal to even think about. No Falcons fan would argue against it. The Michael Vick era was a dream, and a horrid nightmare.

Have I said that name too much? My apologies.

But, as soon as Matt Ryan stepped onto the podium, every Falcons fan was suddenly at peace.

We weren't gonna win nine games in 2008.

We weren't going to have a good team.

However, we at least didn't have to endure the hell of 2007 anymore.

Well, nine weeks into the 2008 season, Falcon fans are in dreamland once again.

The Falcons entered 2008 with a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, a rookie middle linebacker, and zero expectations. Most pundits picked Atlanta to register a "null" in the win column.

Right now the Falcons are 5-3, on track for a 10-6 season. However, nobody is bragging. Nobody is saying, "what now!"

There isn't any drama in Atlanta. There is a strange silence this team exhibits as they go about their ways, but at the same time, there is quite a buzz in Atlanta these days.

And with that fact, you realize, this isn't the Hollywood roller coaster franchise we had from 2002-2007.

This is just you're every day football team. No big names. No big stories in the news every week. They are just playing hard, and are really fun to watch.

Could Falcons fans asked for more? I think not.

The Falcons have definitely exceeded my expectations so far this season. Not only in the win column, but in regards to how they conduct themselves.

This team plays to win. They play with the huge underdog label every weekend.

However, contrastingly, they have an overwhelmingly exuberant confidence that I have not seen here in a while.

Matt Ryan has come in and exceeded every expectation I had for him. I just have never beleived in rookie quarterbacks doing it all in year one. It's too difficult of a position to grasp.

But this guy has been incredible. Granted, he's no Tom Brady (haha, irony in that statement as well...sorry), but Ryan carries himself like a ten year veteran.

I know a rookie when I see one. I know a veteran when I see one. This kid found a loophole; I'ts not supposed to be this easy.

Ryan is on track to throw for 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and over 3,000 yards. I cannot believe how good he has been. I knew he was something special after he did the unthinkable against the Bears.

I like to call him: the Anti-Vick!

Michael Turner has been the staple of the offense, and in my opinion, the Band-Aid to the franchise. He was the big free-agent aquisition, and has come in and quietly jumpstarted the offense.

Atlanta has gotten back to old school, smashmouth football, primarily because of Turner.

Then you've got your superstars like Roddy White and John Abraham, who have both been absolutely awesome this season.

But once again, quietly they sneak up on the elite of the NFL.

This defense, lead by an interesting combo of tenured veterans and young, but unproven talent, has bent...but not broken. And the most imporant thing is, they play hard!

I said it in a previous article, and I'll say it again.

The difference between this team, and past teams, is that this team wants to win. They play to win. They play for pride, knowing that nobody expects them coming.

And, for now, that's all that matters. I don't care what Atlanta's record is at the end of the season; The important thing is that they have washed the past few years away, and have done everything they can to right the ship to this point.

All I expected from the Falcons was a smooth transition. Come on Falcons, I think 5-3 is overdoing it!

Here is you're typical statistical breakdown:

Passing: Matt Ryan (#2)- 133/277, 1,661 yards, 9 touchdowns, 5 interceptions

Rushing: Michael Turner (#33)-176 carries, 794 yards, 6 touchdowns

Receiving: Roddy White (#84)-48 receptions, 733 yards, 3 touchdowns

Tackling: Curtis Lofton (#50)-47 tackles

Sacks: John Abraham (#55)-10 sacks

...multiply those numbers by might be pretty impressed!

0-16 huh? Go Birds!!


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