ADAMSVILLE GYM Posted June 22, 2020 Share Posted June 22, 2020 Jeremy Johnson Jun 20, 2020 Everyone is looking for reasons why. In Super Bowl LI the Atlanta Falcons found every reason why they shouldn’t be champions. They’ve clanked along the last three years trying to answer some of the very questions they began having to ask that February night in 2017. The Falcons have been the epitome of mediocre. That’s quite literally what their results translate to. A 24-24 record sits them in the center, or mediocre. That’s all irrelevant going into 2020. Yeah right, that’s what they all say. The Falcons have been 24-24 the last three seasons for a reason. They’ve been average for multiple reasons. The same problems that plagued their recent history fester in the weeds with potentially an even more fatal bite. Defense is a question The Falcons’ issues start on their defense. The Falcons ranked 29 in sacks. They were 17 in interceptions. They allowed the 13 most points per game. Translation, the Falcons couldn’t stop a team from throwing the ball, they couldn’t take the football away and no lead is safe. Sounds like Super LI right? That could be different. The thing about the Falcons is that there are a lot of ‘could be’ scenarios floating around prior to this season. There wasn’t a ton of proven things done this offseason to ensure that the defense would be better. The unit did take a step forward in improvement in the second half of the season when Raheem Morris took over the defensive play calling duties from head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons won six of their last eight games in light of the move. Adding Dante Fowler Jr. along with draft picks A.J. Terrell (first round pick), Marlon Davidson (second round pick), Mykal Walker (4th round pick) and the return of injured safety Keanu Neal brings a lot of potential answers to the flailing and faltering talent that made up the unit last season. None of these pieces are sure fire upgrades as of today. The lack of offseason work due to the COVID-19 pandemic won’t make integrated their new pieces any easier. Offensive line is still a question Like the defense, the Falcons didn’t do much in way of obvious upgrades along their protection unit. Again, they seem to be living on a hope that players they counted on last season improve. Matt Ryan was sacked a career high 48 times last season. The only new addition to the unit is third round draft pick Matt Hennessey, who played center at Temple University. Hennessey could be a contender at the left guard position for this season. That doesn’t guarantee his play will be any better than what the Falcons got out the trio of players moving through the position last season. First round selections from 2019 Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary should take a step forward in manning the right side of the line. The Falcons will need to better in 2020 if they expect to be anywhere near the postseason. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones can’t be great forever A day will come, sooner or later, where Ryan and Jones can’t carry the Falcons’ banner with their high-powered offense. Jones turned 31-years-old in February. Wide receivers tend to slow down as they age into their 30s. Jones is exceptional enough to ward off that decline in the meantime. How long he will keep his current pace of play and avoid wear and tear? If that decline comes for either Jones or Ryan this season, it will be hard for the an already creaky defense to carry the load. Why not? There are tons of reasons why the Falcons could be at home in January. There are fewer why they could be playing their way back toward the Super Bowl. But why not? The Falcons have oodles offensive talent. Ryan, Jones, Todd Gurley II, Calvin Ridley, Ito Smith Jr. and Hayden Hurst. If their defense comes to the party, the Falcons could be the lightning in a bottle team. The NFC South is a winnable division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Tom Brady. There will be growing pains in their reload after limited interaction this summer. The Falcons are more talented than the Carolina Panthers. The rivalry with the New Orleans Saints is always a battle. The Falcons split with the Saints in 2019. The Saints have won three straight division titles. The NFC South in its current configuration has never been won four years in a row. The division took its current form in 2002. If trends hold a change will happen at the top. Why not the Falcons? si.com Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.