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AtlantaFanatic's State of the Franchise


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As a fan who likes to keep a pretty positive attitude, it's always tough to look at our team without a little bit of bias. That being said, I've been really thinking about what we have going into next year and doing my best to be as objective as possible.

First I will start with the offense. I think on paper we have are really good. I see two ways to derail our offense this year.

One: Players still struggle to really learn Kyle Shanahan's system which will cause people to be out of position and we won't be on the same page. I don't care how much talent you have, if you aren't on the same page, you won't perform up to expectations. I feel like Shanahan's system was always going to be tough to learn but I think we all got spoiled when we won our first 5 games. Then reality hit us like a ton of bricks and soured a lot of us on Shanahan. I think that since most of our offensive players are returning, and our key FA in Mack has already played in the system, I believe this year we will see a return of our offense moving the ball and scoring really well.

Two: Injuries. If MR goes down we're screwed. If Julio goes down we're not AS screwed but still pretty screwed. If we can have good luck with injuries this year I see the team performing well on offense.

Offensive Overview - We have studs at many positions on our offense. MR is still a very good QB in the league. I refuse to let one bad year while learning an entirely new system define the rest of his career and therefore judge him as a bad QB. Does he need to clean some things up? Of course, but he knows that already and will work to fix it. Julio is one of the best receivers in the league and probably is the best as long as you aren't a Pittsburgh or Giants fan. Sanu (although overpaid IMO) will do nicely in that second receiver position. We don't need him to be a stud unless Julio goes down (see above). Hardy is on the way up and did some nice things last year. Tamme/Hooper will probably be better than Tamme/Toilolo. The only reason I say maybe is because Hooper is unproven. I feel like our offensive line is going to be studly. I think we have 3 potential pro-bowlers already there in Matthews, Mack, and Schraeder. I feel that Levitre will improve now that he's had a whole offseason with us and has a competent center next to him. Same with whoever mans the RG spot. I still worry about Coleman and his fumbling issues but we know that he's fast and had some great runs last year that were negated because he couldn't hold on to the rock. If he can clean that up, we know we have  stud in Freeman, so our running game behind an improve O-line should be really really good. The talent we have on offense is better than what a lot of the league is carrying and so our offense will be just fine this year and not the reason we lose games.

 

Now on to defense. This is where I'm more skeptical of our team. I know I'm not alone in that thinking but let me explain. I look across this roster on defense and I'm not seeing a whole lot of studs. I see a lot of players that are average vs other players at their positions. Here are the players (that have a chance to get significant playing time) I would put in each category:

Below average - TJax, Allen, Collins, Worrilow, Weatherspoon, Godfrey/Ishmael

Average - Hageman, Jarrett, Clayborn, Shelby, Alford, Upshaw, Reed

Above average/studs - Trufant

No idea - Neal, Jones, Campbell

I know there is room for discussion and opinions on this list but if I'm trying to look at it objectively, I look at a team like Denver who had studs all across at linebacker and ask myself, which of our linebackers would get playing time on that team? When I did the same for every position I realized that there are a lot of defenses out who would knock down the door to come get Trufant from us but after that, I'm not sure anyone would be that excited about our players. Obviously a lot of these guys are young (Beasley, Hageman, Jarrett, etc.) and could still surprise us. There is also the possibility that Allen could step up in a big way in his second year at the FS position. I see really good depth on our D-line but nobody that scares other teams. That depth could make us better than some teams though because in the 4th quarter, you need strong legs. Overall I just don't look at this defensive roster and, unless a lot of my "ifs" and "hopes" come to fruition, I don't see a ton of pure talent that exceeds what other teams around the league have. I see our defense finishing barely inside the top 20 this year and that's being optimistic. 

 

I will say that I like what Quinn is building here with the culture and the roster moves, but I understand that this is a process that was never supposed to take us to the Super Bowl year 2. I have to say that I won't be expecting playoffs out of this squad and I'll be pleasantly surprised if we do get there. I just want to see our team adjust more to Shanahan's system and I want to see a defense that looks like it's in sync even if the talent isn't there yet to make all the plays. I feel good about the future of this squad but right now, I just think we still have a little ways to go.

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