After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…
Today we take a look at the Atlanta Falcons.
Don’t forget to check out the NFC South podcast where we talked to Ben Rolfe and got his thoughts on them!
How Did Last Season Go?
With the Super Bowl in their own back yard in 2018, the owners and GM were hoping that Atlanta were in a prime position squad wise to make a deep run. But injuries on both sides of the ball ultimately cost them any chance of January football.
Decimated on defence and without star running back Devonta Freeman, the Falcons simply couldn’t cover the holes in order to make it to the postseason, despite the heroic efforts of the Matty Ice and the offence.
Talking of Matt Ryan, the Falcons QB once again ascended to the dizzy heights of his MVP year; 35 TDs to just 7 INTs, only 76 yards short of a 5000 yard passing season (and only 20 yards short from his MVP year) and just short of a 70% completion on 608 passing attempts.
Not bad for those that took him late in fantasy drafts last year when you include 3 rushing and 1 receiving touchdowns to boot.
However, he could not overcome the liability that the Falcons D were, as they ended up 25th in points allowed and ultimately proved too much for the 10th best scoring offence to overcome meaning they ended up with a 7-9 record.
Julio Jones had himself a season again, ended atop of the receiving yards mountain with a cool 1677 yards and 8TDs which saw Julio go to his 5th straight Pro Bowl. Calvin Ridley showed in flashes what he can do and will be a key piece for years to come. One player that wont be is the departing Tevin Coleman, who struggled to carry his and Devonta Freeman’s workload and has already walked out of the exit door.
Back to the season, their 5 game losing streak at being 4-4 after week 9 ultimately killed the Falcons and some may say that it was foolish to win their last 3 games in terms of their draft position.
The Falcons have picks 14, 45 and 79 in the top 3 rounds and have a couple of compensatory picks in rounds 4 and 5 too.
Unfortunately at the time of the article, the Falcons have <$5m in cap, which is in the bottom 5.
As mentioned, Tevin Coleman exits Atlanta for pastures new in San Francisco. Steve Sarkisian also bites the bullet as OC.
Grady Jarrett has had the franchise tag placed upon him so he will return at DT, which essentially limits the Falcons along with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’s big contracts. However, a few offensive guards have been brought in; James Carpenter (Jets) and Jamon Brown. Other depth pieces include the re-signing of Justin Hardy and the acquisition of Kenyon Barner.
At a coaching level, former Tampa Bay HC Dirk Koetter comes in to take the OC job. If things dont go to plan, you could say he is Koet candidate (boo-ya!).
Outlook for Next Year
Despite the poor season by last season, the outlook is good for the Falcons. The division will still be like a helter-skelter and it’ll depend on when they catch their divisional rivals. New Orleans will still be the favourites for the division but if Atlanta can get a bit luckier with the amount of injuries they have, this could easily be a dark horse for a Super Bowl run. You heard it here first. Devonta Freeman will need to prove his health too if the Falcons want to play football in January. Unfortunately it won’t take much for him to miss time with his concussion history and his knees being as stable as a house of cards in a hurricane.
I think Atlanta make a playoff appearance in 2019 and will be a dangerous wildcard team. There are enough wins to come from the NFC West and AFC South (the NFC South opponents for this year) to combine with their other opponents to get to 10 wins.
Hot take – Atlanta are a top 5 offence and a top 10 defence in 2019.
Matt Ryan – later round QB (higher than last year however) – QB1
Devonta Freeman – 3rd/4th Round pick – RB1 potential *SLEEPER ALERT*
Julio Jones – back end 1st round/ early 2nd round pick- WR1
Calvin Ridley – 6th/7th Round pick – WR 3
Austin Hooper – late round pick / undrafted – Low TE1/TE2