2017 Falcons and 2016 Panthers: The Lazy Narrative
By Adnan Ikic
The 2017 Atlanta Falcons will not be the same as the 2016 Carolina Panthers, no matter how hard people try to push the narrative.
The 2015 Carolina Panthers and the 2016 Atlanta Falcons are both NFC South teams that made it to the Super Bowl and were led by the league MVP at quarterback.
As such, many media heads have taken the chance to make claims that the Falcons will suffer a collapse next season, similar to the one Carolina had this year. This, however, is an incredibly lazy narrative.
Many people point to the Super Bowl hangover, an unscientific claim which states that the Super Bowl loser will struggle the next season, as a basis of “proof” as to why Atlanta will be the same as this year’s Panthers team, which finished 6-10 and last in the division.
The truth is that the Falcons’ situation going into next season is not the same as Carolina’s going into 2016. Even going back to that 15-1 season in 2015, it’s clear that the Panthers were not as good as their record indicated.
For one, they had the easiest schedule in the NFL that year. Atlanta, in its 11-5 endeavor, meanwhile, had the toughest schedule going into 2016.
The circumstances surrounding each team’s respective league MVP differs as well. Cam Newton is a QB who suffered through major regression this year, partly due to his fundamental struggles at the position (especially when it comes to footwork).
Matt Ryan, however, is one of the most fundamentally sound QBs in the league, and has a track record of success before his MVP year. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has left, but Steve Sarkisian was brought in to run the same offensive system in which Ryan has flourished.
The most obvious reason Atlanta won’t be Carolina 2.0 is because of the defense. The Panthers went into 2016 having lost All-Pro CB Josh Norman to free agency without adding anyone to replace him.
The Falcons, meanwhile, are a team that is getting pro bowl CB Desmond Trufant back from an injury which sidelined him after Week 9. In addition to that, this was a Super Bowl defense which featured four rookie starters, and didn’t have a starter who was older than 27 years of age.
Some significant internal improvement is expected on the defensive side of the ball, with no major pieces expected to leave in free agency.
Next: What to expect from the Falcons this offseason
Come 2017, expect the Falcons to be competing in the NFC for another trip to the Super Bowl, not for a top-five pick like the 2016 Panthers.