theProf Posted November 9, 2022 Share Posted November 9, 2022 Falcons midseason report card: Grades for each position Matt Urben November 9, 2022 Through the first nine games of the 2022 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons (4-5) have been better than most analysts predicted. Not only are they tied for the best record in the NFC South, their running game is averaging 162.9 yards per game (third-most in the NFL). The Falcons are favored by 2.5 points over the Carolina Panthers (2-7) in Week 10. Before we completely shift gears to Thursday’s game, though, let’s hand out some midseason report cards. Below are grades for each position group after nine games. Make sure to cast your vote in our Falcons fan poll under each grade. Quarteback Overall, Marcus Mariota has been a better fit in Arthur Smith’s offense than Matt Ryan, mostly due to his mobility. But while Mariota’s speed has been an asset, he’s been underwhelming when throwing the football this season. The Falcons have the league’s 30th-ranked pass attack, averaging 157.2 yards per game. Despite having two players in Drake London and Kyle Pitts who are matchup nightmares, the team rarely utilizes them due to Mariota’s limitations as a passer. Through nine games, the Falcons QB has thrown for 1,561 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions, with another 304 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. Mariota’s passer rating of 90.0 ranks 14th among all quarterbacks. The Falcons offense is clearly built around the run, but it won’t be an elite unit until it has a passing attack that opposing defenses respect. Midseason grade: C+ Running Back Atlanta’s offense is third in the league with 1,466 rushing yards through nine games. Cordarrelle Patterson has been an absolute force, rushing for 384 yards and five touchdowns on 5.4 yards per carry. However, rookie Tyler Allgeier leads the team in rushing yards (423), and went for 99 yards on 10 carries during Week 9. And don’t forget Caleb Huntley, who isn’t far behind with 299 rushing yards. Allgeier and Huntley helped Atlanta survive Patterson’s injured reserve stint. This unit has been phenomenal this season. Midseason grade: A Wide Receiver Atlanta’s wide receivers have been one of the NFL’s least productive units this season. Mariota’s pass attempts are frequently around the line of scrimmage and rarely go beyond 10 yards down the field. It appears head coach Arthur Smith is reluctant to put the ball in Mariota’s hands, leading to less opportunities for Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus and Damiere Byrd. London leads the team in receiving yards with 369, while Zaccheaus is second with 331 receiving yards. Byrd has come on strong the past few weeks and has effectively jumped Bryan Edwards on the depth chart. Is this an elite group of wideouts? No, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the numbers suggest. Midseason grade: C Tight End The Falcons have struggled to get Kyle Pitts involved to the degree he was last season. The second-year tight end has found the end zone twice in 2022, but he’s averaging just 35.6 yards per game and is third on the team in receiving yards with 285. Atlanta has played a combination of Parker Hesse, Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt alongside Pitts. The overall receiving numbers are underwhelming, but their contributions in the running game can’t go unnoticed. Going forward, the Falcons have to find a way to get Pitts the ball. Midseason grade: C+ Offensive Line The offensive line is turning into more of a strength each week. While this unit still struggles in pass protection, they deserve some credit for the holes they’ve opened up for the Falcons’ running backs. Chris Lindstrom and Jake Matthews remain the strength of this line, however, fourth-year right tackle Kaleb McGary is having his best season as a pro. At center, Drew Dalman has struggled in his first year starting. Left guard Elijah Wilkinson was doing a decent job before being placed on injured reserve. While they still allow too many sacks (21 allowed this season), the Falcons are playing good football up front. Midseason grade: B+ Defensive Line One thing Atlanta has done pretty well on defense this season is stop the run with consistency. The team has allowed 106.9 yards per game on the ground, which is eighth in the NFL after eight games. Grady Jarrett continues to be a force inside and appears to be more comfortable in the Falcons’ defensive scheme this season. Ta’Quon Graham has been a pleasant surprise (despite his fumble recovery/loss in Week 8), but there’s been a bit of a revolving door at nose tackle. Atlanta’s starter for the first four weeks, Anthony Rush, was cut after Week 4. Abdullah Anderson has done some good things since stepping in. Overall, this group has been solid, but there’s still room for improvement. Midseason grade: B Outside Linebacker This OLB group has done some good things and Lorenzo Carter has proven to be a valuable free-agent acquisition. Still, Atlanta has not finished enough when rushing the passer. The team has 12 total sacks this season, which is tied for 31st in the NFL. Four of those sacks came in Week 1 against the Saints. You can’t blame the low sack numbers exclusively on the edge rushers, though, and the secondary deserves some of the blame if we’re being honest. On the bright side, we’ve seen some good things from rookie Arnold Ebiketie. Overall, this is an athletic, physical group of outside linebackers with a ton of upside. Midseason grade: B- Inside Linebacker This is another case of a position group being pretty good against the run but struggling at times to defend the pass. Considering the team is fielding two new starters at inside linebacker, the results are encouraging through the first nine games. Rashaan Evans leads the team in tackles (85 total) and Mykal Walker is second with 68. Atlanta traded Deion Jones — who wasn’t a good fit in Dean Pees’ scheme — and didn’t overpay Foye Oluokun. Instead, the Falcons gave Walker a chance and stole Evans in free agency. Rookie Troy Andersen’s play has impressed and undrafted free agent Nathan Landman has been a welcome surprise. Midseason grade: B Cornerback The Falcons are allowing 300 passing yards per game this season, which is by far the most in the NFL. Cornerback was expected to be a position of strength after the team signed Casey Hayward to pair with A.J. Terrell, but injuries have derailed those plans. Hayward has been on injured reserve, while Terrell has been out for the past few weeks with a hamstring injury. When you’re signing practice squad guys and starting them days later, these kinds of growing pains are going to happen. I expect this group to significantly improve down the stretch as they get healthier and gain more experience. Midseason grade: C- Safety Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant have held their own for the most part this season. Grant in particular has stood out, but it’s hard to give any member of the secondary too much credit when they’re allowing 300 passing yards per contest. The idea was to let Atlanta’s young safety duo grow while Terrell and Hayward brought stability at cornerback. As we covered above, the Falcons have been severely banged up, so it’s been trial by fire for the two first-year starters. Midseason grade: C+ https://thefalconswire.usatoday.com/lists/falcons-position-grades-2022-nfl-news/ Emmitt, rounz, gazoo and 3 others 4 2 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.