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NFL: Atlanta Falcons Season Review

Atlanta Falcons Season Review (4-12)

The Atlanta Falcons were among the biggest disappointments in the entire NFL this year. They were 1 of the top 4 betting favorites to win the NFC. What’s to explain for their drastic drop in performance? Most would say injuries, but I think the injuries just showed what was really underneath. Star WR Julio Jones was obviously their biggest loss, but nagging injuries to the other star WR Roddy White and free agent signee Steven Jackson all effected the offensive productivity of the Falcons this year.  However, as we saw with players like Tom Brady, if you are an elite QB, which Matt Ryan has been said to be on the crest of becoming, you rise above and raise the level of the other players on your team. I have been very critical of Ryan in the past because I think he is more a product of the great WRs around him. I’ve watched Ryan since Boston College, and even then, he took too many chances and wasn’t protective of the ball. If you want to be known as a great or an elite QB, you must secure the football or at worst, make your current team talent look better than they really are.

After making the playoff the last 3 years and finishing over .500 for the last 5 years, the Falcons finished this year with their worst record since 2007.  Their previously powerful top 10 offense finished 20th in points at 22.1 per game and 14th in yards with 343.1 per game. Their defense further handicapped them, finishing 27th in both points (27.7) and yards (379.4).  Even though the Falcons finished 7th in the league in passing yardage, Ryan still had 17 INTs and was unreliable in the red zone.  Too many Falcon games ended on a 4th down play inside the opponents red zone where Ryan couldn’t complete the big pass.  Steven Jackson also must stay healthy to keep the offense balanced as Ryan cannot shoulder the load of the offense. With the loss of John Abraham, the Falcons dropped to 29th in the league in sacks, add that to the fact that they gave up the 2nd most rushing yards on defense.  Tt is apparent that the Falcons need a big upgrade of talent on the defensive side of the ball.

The Falcons are 1 of those teams that with some added health on offense and 2 or 3 pieces on defense  in order to return to the playoffs. They have the 6th overall pick in the draft and would love for someone like Jadeveon Clowney to fall to them. Also, knowing how the Falcons think, and with Roddy White getting older, don’t be surprised to see them take Sammie Watkins if he fell. He’s a player I compare to Roddy White, except faster. At some point they will also pick a RB so they are not in the same situation as last year, but early in the draft they probably have to go heavy on defense and get some energy into their defense. A few mocks have them taking Anthony Barr, but I don’t like him as a fit for their defense. Barr is a better fit for a 3-4 defense. Don’t get fooled by the talent of a player if they don’t fit your system, which Barr doesn’t.  And with a top 10 pick, a miss could really send the “Dirty Bird” franchise into a tailspin.

The Atlanta Falcons went from 1 play away from the Superbowl all the way down to a 4-12 season. Now that they have a chance to add an impact player and to get fully healthy, the ATL could be right back in the mix for another NFC Championship game appearance, or better yet, Superbowl 49. Oh how quickly things can change in today’s NFL.

photo by: Thomson20192

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