By Shawn Lealos
The Atlanta Falcons are preparing this week for Super Bowl 51, only their second appearance in the big game in their franchise's history. Matt Ryan had an MVP season and now has a chance to win the big one, something many said he was unable to accomplish. However, the Falcons will be facing the New England Patriots, the most successful team in NFL history when it comes to making it to the Super Bowl. With such a big game coming up for the team, here is a look at the Atlanta Falcons' team headlines during Super Bowl 51 week.
Dan Quinn Knows What This is All About
The Atlanta Falcons had missed the playoffs the last three seasons. Matt Ryan had only won one playoff game in his career before heading into this year's postseason. However, one person with the Atlanta Falcons knows all about the postseason. Head coach Dan Quinn is about to coach in his third Super Bowl in the last four seasons. Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks when they made it to back-to-back Super Bowls, beating the Denver Broncos in 2013 and then losing to the New England Patriots in 2014.
"For a lot of guys, playing in their first divisional game a couple weeks ago, and playing in their first NFC championship game, and all those experiences are new," Quinn told USA Today. "You have to have awareness for those. And this experience is different, also. I want to fully recognize that. However, when we do get to the game, it's still going to be the game."
Matt Ryan Hopes To Finish MVP Season Strong
When the playoffs started, all Falcons fan's eyes were on Matt Ryan. He had only won one playoff game since Atlanta made him the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft in 2008. Many labeled him as a great quarterback who couldn't win the big one. Lots of other quarterbacks held that distinction, including legends like Dan Marino and Dan Fouts, and current stars like Tony Romo. However, Ryan was great in the two playoff wins and has received some big advice from two former Super Bowl winners in Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.
"Trust what you do and trust your process," was Peyton Manning's advice. "Handle some of the things that you need to handle that go along with this game early. Get that stuff out of the way. And I've certainly done that."
Eli Manning said that Matt Ryan knows his team better than anyone, and to just do what he knows he needs to do to win. Ryan finished by saying, "I think we'll be ready to go."
Will Devonta Freeman Be A Distraction
While Matt Ryan had an MVP year, two big reasons the Atlanta Falcons were able to turn things around in 2016 were the addition of a Pro-Bowl caliber center in Alex Mack and the emergence of a running game behind Devonta Freeman. While that seems to add to their possibility of success in the Super Bowl, Freeman's agent did the unthinkable this past week. While the teams need to focus on Super Bowl LI, Freeman's agent started talking about a new contract.
Freeman's agent, Kristin Campbell, said she wants Freeman paid like an elite running back. Atlanta Falcons general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, was smart and tried to dissuade discussions about the contract until after Super Bowl 51, saying that they want him with the Falcons in the future, but that now is not the time to discuss contracts. Atlanta also has Tevin Coleman at running back, so the time will come to make a decision between the two – but the week before Super Bowl 51 is not that time.
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