Matt Ryan: Falcons skill players 'right up there with' 2012 squad

On paper, the Atlanta Falcons offense looks explosive.

Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Todd Gurley. The makings for a juggernaut are there.

We've seen paper teams projected to do big things in June combust into flaming pulp come November too often.

Ryan sees the upside his crew can bring in 2020. The signal-caller told Chris Long on the Green Light Podcast he believes the group can be as good as the 2012 group that went 13-3 and were a play from making the Super Bowl.

"We had a pretty good unit in 2012 with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez -- those guys were all pretty good," Ryan said, via the team's official website. "I've got to imagine that this is right up there with them.

"You're talking about Julio in his prime, Calvin Ridley going into Year 3 coming into his own. You've got Todd Gurley, who is hungry who wants to prove it this year. Hayden Hurst, another guy, first-round draft pick who just ended up in a spot where, the way they were running the football, it was no fault of his own [that he didn't have the stats]."

The 2012 Falcons finished seventh in points and eighth in yards. Outside of the Kyle Shanahan-led offense in 2016 that led to Ryan's MVP award and helped Atlanta get to the Super Bowl, it was the Falcons' best offense of the decade and had the pieces to win from every avenue. Ryan sees a lot of similarities in his current weaponry to that 2012 group.

"It's got to be right up there, I think so," Ryan said of the Falcons' weapons. "I've been lucky, I've had some great guys that I've played with."

The 2019 campaign was an up-and-down affair in which the offense had bursts of explosiveness but lacked consistency due in part to injuries and an offensive line that struggled.

Ridley's progression in Year 3 will tell a big tale in how explosive the passing game can be. Hurst has a lot of doubters to silence after being surpassed on the Ravens' depth chart. And Gurley must overcome questions about his knee to re-establish himself as a workhorse.

Those are a lot of ifs to wade through to get to any comparison with the 2012 squad. But there is no questioning the talent is there for the Falcons' offense to be dynamic if the health and blocking hold up in 2020.

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