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NFL.com examines the state of the Atlanta Falcons in 2019


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7 hours ago


As the Atlanta Falcons approach training camp, the questions continue swirling about how this team will recover from a 7-9 record. This was the first losing season under head coach Dan Quinn, which is impressive considering that he's been in town for four seasons and leads his team into battle against a stacked slate of opponents every single year. Considering that much of the roster is returning from injuries sustained in 2018 while Dirk Koetter is back to lead the offense, it's likely that the Falcons will be one of the better teams in the league. As it turns out, Adam Rank of NFL.com agrees.

With the dead period of the NFL offseason in full swing, Rank is going through and examining every single franchise in the NFL. During this exercise, he evaluates the best and worst parts of the 2018 season and then identifies the factors that will come into play for each team as they look to reach Super Bowl LIV.

For the Falcons, there are considerable obstacles that must be overcome before Quinn's team is making a triumphant return to the Super Bowl, but the future is bright. The reason? As long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are the top stars on this offense, the Falcons are guaranteed to be competitive.



Matt Ryan. One of the reasons Quinn could be on the hot seat this season is that the Falconshave kind of been wasting one of the better quarterback performances of all time. Ryan was the NFL MVP in 2016, when he led the club to its second-ever NFC championship and trip to theSuper Bowl. Last year might have been even more impressive, with Ryan passing for nearly 5,000 yards, 35 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. SEVEN. I know 5,000 passing-yard seasons are no longer the rarity they once were. Like the sight of a toddler running around with an iPhone or something. (I mean, I still remember having to battle my sisters and neighbors to use the party line.) But what Ryan has done over the last couple of years has been impressive. Ryan is 34 and heading into Year 12 of his NFL career. He kind of deserves better than a 4-6 playoff record and two non-winning seasons in the past four years.


Over the past two seasons, the presence of Steve Sarkisian was oft-criticized due to the Falcons lacking a "high-flying" passing attack. He didn't appear to have the play-calling acumen as former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and yet, Ryan still nearly reached 5,000 yards and helped Jones lead the NFL in receiving yards once again. The problem wasn't the air attack; the Falcons simply struggled to punch the ball in near the goal line.

Fortunately, getting running back Devonta Freeman back in the building will be a huge step in the right direction for the Falcons. The star running back missed 14 games due to injuries in 2018, leaving Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith as the top running backs in town. Coleman is now in San Francisco, so Freeman will be the unquestioned top back for this offense. In his five-year career, Freeman has topped 1,000 rushing yards twice and has scored a combined 37 times. He's been an absolute weapon for this offense, but his presence was sorely missed in 2018.


On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons will be seeing a return of some key figures. Safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen will both be back in the secondary after missing most of the year while linebacker Deion Jones will be fully healthy after a season in which he missed 10 games. Their return to the starting lineup will be critical for this defense as it looks to shut down Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton.

At this point in the offseason, the Falcons are one of the most talented teams in the NFC, especially in the South, but the players have to remain healthy in order to achieve a winning record once again. Having Dan Quinn take over as the defensive play-caller could be an underrated step on the path to victory given his history leading the Seattle Seahawks defense, but will he easily handle the dual responsibilities?


The biggest question entering the 2019 season will be how the Falcons offense can perform with Koetter back in the fold as coordinator. The former Buccaneers head coach was the OC in Atlanta from 2012-2014, and he helped Ryan throw for nearly 5,000 yards every single season. The Falcons reached the playoffs in 2012 but struggled with wins in 2013-14. Still, this offense was ranked eighth, 14th, and eighth in yards under Koetter's tutelage, and the hope is that he can help this offense surpass those previous marks.

Whether the Falcons can return to greatness under the revamped coaching staff is yet to be determined, but Rank believes that this team has the talent to make a return to the playoffs. The roster just needs to remain healthy.








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1 hour ago, Jesus said:

The 2018 Falcons offense was 64% in the red zone the best of Matt Ryan's career. 

The issues were that the defense was 70.4% in the red zone and the offense only reached the red zone 50 times where as in 2016 they got there 63 times.

just wait to see Ryan with a legitimate OL that the interior has the ability to anchor in pass protection and hold a pocket for our pocket passing QB.  

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Just now, Jesus said:

And the return of Freeman. If he is healthy Free is one of the best red zone threats in the game. 

Absolutely. The loss of Freeman was much bigger than mos realize. He is really, really, really good. I pray to God for his health this year, although  Ito and Ollison might be able to handle much of the load if need be. Ollison may be a diamond in rough.

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2 minutes ago, Atl Falcon said:

I’ve been waiting on this (a great OL) for yrs now with MR. I hope the OL gels fast. 

I'm pretty sure Lindstrom will be ready to go by first game of regular season, which in my opinion is most important. I think he'll be an immediate, huge improvement at OG from last year.  Not sure about McGary yet, but Ty can hold it down for a while if need be.  I'm excited!

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15 minutes ago, Monoxide said:

Crazy how underrated Matt’s 2018 season was at QB. Video game stats from both him as well as Julio, and 7 wins to show for it.

He just continues to get it done at an amazingly high level virtually every year, not matter what is going on around him. This year the distractions should be far less with OL being fixed.....I cannot wait to see this offense this year and especially how Ryan plays in it.

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