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Five Questions the Atlanta Falcons Need To Answer Before the 2009 Season


FalconMama
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The Atlanta Falcons had a phenomenal season last year; they went from being the NFC South joke to an 11-5 team that made the playoffs.

That was then.

The Falcons are now back at square one and despite the accolades of last season's players, including Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan (pictured above), this 2009 campaign is infinitely more important to the Falcons franchise than any other in the team's history.

Why? Because the Falcons have never had a back-to-back winning season. That's right, never.

The NFL draft promises to be interesting for Dimitroff and company, because they will have some serious holes to fill in the secondary and on the defensive line. Which will they choose to address first?

Two weeks ago, I would have said we need a defensive tackle first, but with the release of linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, there is now a big void in our linebacking corps that cannot be overlooked.

We still need that defensive tackle too, especially now that Grady Jackson has moved on to greener pastures, not to mention the loss of Lawyer Milloy at safety and talented corner Dominique Foxworth.

In short, the Falcons are looking thin on a defense that seemed to get better as the weeks wore on last year.

So as we prepare for the draft and look to the 2009 season, there are a few questions the Birds need to answer, starting with:

1. Is Matt Ryan a fluke or a future Hall of Famer?

Last season, Ryan showed us that he could be cool under pressure. One only need look to that game-winning drive against Chicago last year to see that the kid has poise beyond his years.

However, for all his great stats, there were still times when he looked fairly pedestrian.

He fumbled the ball six times last season and despite the 3,400 passing yards, Ryan is not a big passing numbers guy-he had seven games last season where he passed for under 200 yards.

That hardly seems like the numbers of a superstar in waiting.

Matt Ryan could be the next Peyton Manning or the next Derek Anderson. The verdict is still out on him.

2. Can Michael Turner duplicate his success from 2008?

Michael Turner had nearly 1,700 yards rushing last season, but he had to have 376 attempts to do it. That's a lot of running for a guy you expect to lead your franchise for several years to come. Can you really expect that kind of production from him again?

I say it would be foolish to do so, especially if you continue to use him as the workhorse.

By contrast, Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams had 1,500+ yards last season on 273 attempts. Far more efficient. The difference? Williams had Jonathan Stewart to spell him when needed.

The Falcons need to get Jerious Norwood involved more if they expect to keep Turner in the lineup and off the injury list. Norwood was excellent as a pass-catcher last season and averaged 5.1 yards per carry when called upon to run the ball.

Secondary to that, he was a phenomenal special teams guy, amassing over 1,300 yards in returns. He's clearly a jack of all trades.

They have to do something if they want to see their Pro Bowl running back have continued success.

3. Will another wide receiver finally step up?

Roddy White is no longer under the radar after posting his second consecutive 1,200-yard receiving season. So, it stands to reason that as the secondary's begin to key in on him, who will take the pressure off?

Will it continue to be sixth-year man Michael Jenkins, who caught 50 for 777 yards last season, his best season yet? Or the emerging Harry Douglas? Someone needs to step it up a little more if Matt Ryan is going to keep progressing.

Further, if White is going to remain the star that he is surely becoming, it is a must that he work on his drops. He has been notorious for dropping balls when he is wide open.

It shows a serious lack of focus on his part and it is a trait he needs to work on negating from his repertoire.

4. Will the Falcons address their pass-rush deficiencies?

Last season, the Falcons only had 34 sacks. John Abraham was responsible for 16 of those. I don't expect him to do that again this year. We need to target a defensive end who can take some of the pressure off Abraham to be the guy.

The line needs more speed and more balance in order to stop opposing quarterbacks from having a passing field day.

Jamaal Anderson was supposed to give us that big time production, but he has underachieved to this point and it is uncertain if that is due to coaching or his inadequate skill-set at the pro level. Whatever the case may be, we have to address this problem.

5. The offensive line needs to add more depth.

Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau did a great job making a line that was a joke into one that gave up the fifth lowest sack total in the league (17) and aided Michael Turner in gaining nearly 1,700 yards last season. However, we need to get more depth in order to remain competitive.

Last season, our main injury casualty was left tackle Sam Baker. He missed time due to a concussion and then back surgery. The rest of the line remained injury-free for the season. Todd Weiner filled in for Baker when he was injured, but Weiner retired after the year, leaving a void.

The Falcons need to add depth in order to ensure that improvements continue and there won't be a serious drop off in production next season.

These are just a few of the questions that I feel the Falcons will need to answer prior to the start of next season. If they are going to accomplish their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history, they need to have the right answers.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/136400-...the-2009-season

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5. The offensive line needs to add more depth.

Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau did a great job making a line that was a joke into one that gave up the fifth lowest sack total in the league (17) and aided Michael Turner in gaining nearly 1,700 yards last season. However, we need to get more depth in order to remain competitive.

Last season, our main injury casualty was left tackle Sam Baker. He missed time due to a concussion and then back surgery. The rest of the line remained injury-free for the season. Todd Weiner filled in for Baker when he was injured, but Weiner retired after the year, leaving a void.

The Falcons need to add depth in order to ensure that improvements continue and there won't be a serious drop off in production next season.

These are just a few of the questions that I feel the Falcons will need to answer prior to the start of next season. If they are going to accomplish their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history, they need to have the right answers.

At least Somebody got it Right !

Because the one thing about our O Line is that we do not have serious depth at Tackle.

Romberg was a serious addition at Center and Guard.

If we can get a serious Tackle no later then the 3rd, then and only then will I STFU.

Cheers ! :ph34r:

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Back to square one ?

Really ?

Just because in the past, when the franchise was being run by chimpanzees they never had back to back winning seasons ??

Oh, OK.

Please...................give me a break.

x2. Sure, we as Falcons fans have developed an ability to find the negative in everything, but we have to let go of that and hope we are able to move forward the way we are expected to. I seriously doubt that Dimitroff and Smith are worried about the fact that we haven't had back to back winning seasons.

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Guest Gritz
Back to square one ?

Really ?

Just because in the past, when the franchise was being run by chimpanzees they never had back to back winning seasons ??

Oh, OK.

Please...................give me a break.

I kind of agree with ya there BI......

I don't exactly see how landing the Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year in one campaign puts you back to square one before the next one............ :rolleyes:

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1. Is Matt Ryan a fluke or a future Hall of Famer?

Last season, Ryan showed us that he could be cool under pressure. One only need look to that game-winning drive against Chicago last year to see that the kid has poise beyond his years.

However, for all his great stats, there were still times when he looked fairly pedestrian.

He fumbled the ball six times last season and despite the 3,400 passing yards, Ryan is not a big passing numbers guy-he had seven games last season where he passed for under 200 yards.

That hardly seems like the numbers of a superstar in waiting.

Matt Ryan could be the next Peyton Manning or the next Derek Anderson. The verdict is still out on him.

This is ridiculous.

Matt Ryan, 7 games under 200 yards passing. That's supposed to be a knock on a first year starting QB? The almighty Ben Roesthlisberger had 8 games under 200 yards passing. Drew Brees had 6 fumbles, Kurt Warner had 11, Phillip Rivers had 8, McNabb had 7. 3,400 passing yards came with a top 5 yards per attempt, which means he didn't have as many passes as others to rack up that many yards. He had a higher per attempt number than Manning, Warner, Cutler, etc.

No, Matt Ryan had an absolutely amazing rookie year. Arguably the greatest of all time. Dan Marino and Greg Cook are the only ones who can remotely compare.

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Couple of stupid things in this article:

1. This season is "infinitely" more important than any season in franchise history, ever. Really? How dramatic. That statement is more incredibly, hugely, supremely exaggerated than any other statement in the history of the entire universe ever.

2. Is Matt Ryan a bust? Does anyone really truly believe that might be the case? I'll grant you that anything could happen. The whole team could be killed in a freak accident with the sprinkler system ... then we'd really be in trouble. But if we're talking about 5 big, key questions the Falcons must answer, let's stick to 5 reasonable, realistic issues.

EDIT: Mama, did you write this, or are you merely the guy who found it and posted it here? No offense intended if you wrote it ... I might have worded it a little more nicely, but I do believe those points are pretty misguided.

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Back to square one ?

Really ?

Just because in the past, when the franchise was being run by chimpanzees they never had back to back winning seasons ??

Oh, OK.

Please...................give me a break.

every team is back to square one, including the steelers, every season. the giants, after thier super bowl win, were ravaged by injury, F/A, retirement, and tom foolery(just ask burress' leg). defensively we ARE back to square one with so many departures. offensively we need to replace our swing tackle and fill the glareing need that was so obvious last yea at TE. this year we hope to get a #1 TE and a #2 LT, while also replacing an OLB, LCB, SS, and NT. one OLB spot was filled with peterson. trey lewis may be the starting NT but competition for the starting job would be nice. we can get an OLB in the draft. chevis jackson might b able to start at LCB, and von hutchins is coming back too. SS would be the hardest spot to fill in the draft IMO and that is why i would love to sign darren sharper to a two year deal. at the very least i would love to sign a vet OT for insurance behind baker. we still need to draft a prospect too though but a back up RT can be found in rd 3 or 4 and i especially like TJ Lang, but someone else may like him more. aside from brace in rd 2, i also like knighton in rd 5. corvey irvin and vance walker have appeal in rd 5 as well.

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Couple of stupid things in this article:

1. This season is "infinitely" more important than any season in franchise history, ever. Really? How dramatic. That statement is more incredibly, hugely, supremely exaggerated than any other statement in the history of the entire universe ever.

2. Is Matt Ryan a bust? Does anyone really truly believe that might be the case? I'll grant you that anything could happen. The whole team could be killed in a freak accident with the sprinkler system ... then we'd really be in trouble. But if we're talking about 5 big, key questions the Falcons must answer, let's stick to 5 reasonable, realistic issues.

EDIT: Mama, did you write this, or are you merely the guy who found it and posted it here? No offense intended if you wrote it ... I might have worded it a little more nicely, but I do believe those points are pretty misguided.

No I don't work for the Bleacher Report.. I put where the article came from in the sub title.

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This is ridiculous.

Matt Ryan, 7 games under 200 yards passing. That's supposed to be a knock on a first year starting QB? The almighty Ben Roesthlisberger had 8 games under 200 yards passing. Drew Brees had 6 fumbles, Kurt Warner had 11, Phillip Rivers had 8, McNabb had 7. 3,400 passing yards came with a top 5 yards per attempt, which means he didn't have as many passes as others to rack up that many yards. He had a higher per attempt number than Manning, Warner, Cutler, etc.

No, Matt Ryan had an absolutely amazing rookie year. Arguably the greatest of all time. Dan Marino and Greg Cook are the only ones who can remotely compare.

Not to mention that the first 5 sub 200 games were his first five games ever, that the Falcons went 5-2 in those games, and the 2 losses were his first two road games ever.

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Pfffttt..... do you really need to ask those questions?....I think not.

do you not Believe?

I appears you do not.

No....I do not believe we're back at SQUARE One.....

No....I do not believe another WR needs to step up.....

DLine issues...yea, that's a concern

You question Turner?...again...do you not Believe?

Geez

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1. Is Matt Ryan a fluke or a future Hall of Famer?

Future HoFer

2. Can Michael Turner duplicate his success from 2008?

No. He can not work that hard again without injury. We will need more balance in our rush.

3. Will another wide receiver finally step up?

The addition of a good pass catching TE will free white up. Last year he ran the short routes on third down you might expect a TE to normally do. They will balance it that way but White will still be the big star. I think the WR corp may get addressed again in the 2010 offseason if we don't see others step up a little more.

4. Will the Falcons address their pass-rush deficiencies?

Hope so. We will see soon.

5. The offensive line needs to add more depth.

I agree. I hope it happens.

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Pfffttt..... do you really need to ask those questions?....I think not.

do you not Believe?

I appears you do not.

No....I do not believe we're back at SQUARE One.....

No....I do not believe another WR needs to step up.....

DLine issues...yea, that's a concern

You question Turner?...again...do you not Believe?

Geez

Lmao who's you? You're asking questions like the person who wrote this article post on this message board..

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Pfffttt..... do you really need to ask those questions?....I think not.

do you not Believe?

I appears you do not.

No....I do not believe we're back at SQUARE One.....

No....I do not believe another WR needs to step up.....

DLine issues...yea, that's a concern

You question Turner?...again...do you not Believe?

Geez

They are all legit questions. The team still needs quite a bit of work. The last thing we want is to treat the 11-5 team like so many of our FOs have done in the past and think it is just about done. If you know our history you should know what that means for next year.

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No I don't work for the Bleacher Report.. I put where the article came from in the sub title.

OK, OK, no need to get testy. The poster who responded above me seemed to think you wrote it, which is why I asked. I figured you didn't write it because of the couple of dumb things in it which didn't sound like something you'd say.

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3,400 pass yards as A ROOKIE hardly look like super star numbers in waiting? the author of this article needs to put down the crack pipe. only 1 other rookie qb in the history of pro football threw for more than 3,000 yds in a single season. we all know who he is. not to mention ryan had several games OVER 200 yds and 2 games over 300 yds. he was also top 5 in yards per attempt and i think top 10 or 11 in passing yards. lol he had more games where he passed for over 200 yds then he had games where he passed under 200 yds. wth.

as far as roddy dropping passes and us needing a #2 target, for the number of times roddy was targeted 9 drops really isn't all that bad. he had something like 140 targets and 9 drops. jenkins did just fine as a number 2 last year. ****, he finished 43rd in rec yards and just a couple of yds off of 1,000 yds. not to mention this was roddy and jenks first year with ryan and their first year in this system. they're both just fine.

we could use more depth on the oline and we do need to get norwood the ball more.

we were 11th in the league in sacks and yes a huge number of those came from abe but if you take away most team's leading sacker from their sack numbers their numbers will drop dramatically also.

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4 & 5 or the REAL concerns....I feel like 1-3 were added b/c they needed to have 5 questions. The sophomore slump questions are always asked so that's nothing unique. Even though Turner wasn't a rookie it's kind of a sophomore slump question with him too. I'm not worried about our receivers.

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4 & 5 or the REAL concerns....I feel like 1-3 were added b/c they needed to have 5 questions. The sophomore slump questions are always asked so that's nothing unique. Even though Turner wasn't a rookie it's kind of a sophomore slump question with him too. I'm not worried about our receivers.

One of the questions isn't even a question, it's a statement lol.

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