Left for dead in '07, Falcons surprise NFL team so far

An amazing NFL story that's been playing out quietly under the radar is the turnaround of the Atlanta Falcons.

This was clearly a franchise left for dead.  At the end of 2007, the Falcons were metaphorically in the same shape that Sherman left Atlanta.  The star quarterback, Michael Vick, was on his way to prison; the locker room had come undone; the coach, Bobby Petrino, had abandoned the team before the season even ended for a college job at Arkansas.  Faith in the franchise leadership, owner Arthur Blank and president Rich McKay, was non-existent.

But after the hiring of  a new and young (42) general manager, Tom Dimitroff, and former Ravens assistant Mike Smith as head coach, and the drafting of quarterback Matt Ryan in the first round, the Falcons are playing far better than anyone -- especially their fans -- could have expected. 

Atlanta is 3-2, tied with Tampa Bay for second in the NFC South, a game behind Carolina.  The three victories happen to be just one fewer than the Falcons won all last season when they finished 4-12.  Their most recent win, a 27-24 road victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field is certainly the most impressive.  In that game, Ryan was a steady 16-for-26 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.  Now, Ryan certainly has looked like the rookie he is at times and his performances had been up one week and down the next but overall, he has given his team a chance to win the games the Falcons were supposed to have a shot at winning (Detroit and Kansas City) and last Sunday, he showed he can help them pull off an occasional upset.

More importantly, what the Falcons now have is a sense of pride.  They're no longer suffering from the Michael Vick hangover and are moving forward.  And that they have more wins than losses in early October is a nice plus.

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