The Atlanta Falcons felt flat on their face in 2013 after an offseason that gave them only more cause for optimism. The team had just come off one its best seasons in franchise history, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. They retained Tony Gonzalez and they picked up running back Steven Jackson.
Instead of an expected Super Bowl trip, the team finished 4-12 in a lost season for everyone on the roster and the coaching staff.
This year, everyone expects better luck and better results.
Steven Jackson thought it was a foregone conclusion that the Falcons would win the Super Bowl upon his arrival, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I came here last year, I kind of believed my own hype. The team was so close to going to the Super Bowl, and I thought I was going to be the missing link. Then reality slaps you. It’s still a team sport.”
Reality came in the form of a hamstring injury that dogged Jackson for most of the year. It was his first year in nine in which he didn’t total 1,000 rushing yards. That hardly swayed head coach Mike Smith on his feelings toward Jackson’s game.
“We saw in the last couple of games the kind of running back Steven is before he got injured,” Smith said. “I like the other guys as well, and we’re going to have multiplicity with our packages. But I’m very confident Steven Jackson is still an elite running back in the NFL.”
Jackson, Smith and the rest of the Falcons will have a chance to prove last year was a fluke when the 2014 season begins in September.