Jump to content

FalconsWire/USAToday: Midseason report card: Grades for each position


theProf

Recommended Posts

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/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • theProf changed the title to FalconsWire/USAToday: Midseason report card: Grades for each position
1 hour ago, dirtybirds233 said:

It's not the receiving corps' fault that we pass so little and that the QB can't hit them 40% of the time when they do. It's also worth noting that the Falcons have the 4th fewest drops in the NFL. 

 

Is that total number or drop percentage?

Total obviously would be meaningless given how rarely we throw it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, FalconAge said:

Is that total number or drop percentage?

Total obviously would be meaningless given how rarely we throw it.

Good point. The Falcons have the 7th lowest dropped pass percentage in the league at 2.99%

So no matter which way you slice it, the receiving corp is not to blame for the lack of production. 

Edited by dirtybirds233
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You mean TF in year 2 still can’t improve pass rush fark me your kidding.

You mean the best guy on the defense causing disruption is still drafted by the last bum cough.

Maybe these college kids coming out aren’t as good as the media pump them up to be.

Jezzz who would want to be a talent evaluator these days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, theProf said:

Falcons midseason report card: Grades for each position

 

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-

PFF would certainly disagree with this high of overall grade for the Outside LB/ EDGE positional grouping.  From a PFF midseason review article posted in another thread by jidady as follows:

"Biggest weakness: Edge defenders. Atlanta’s 51.6 pass-rush grade from its edge defenders is dead last, and that was the case in 2021, as well. Their 16.2% pass-rush win rate and 11.8% pressure rate are both 31st.

X factor for second half: Arnold Ebiketie. With the lack of edge talent highlighted above, Ebiketie’s continued emergence might be the key to Atlanta making the playoffs. Over the past five weeks, Ebiketie’s 11 quarterback pressures are more than the rest of the group combined, as are his five quarterback hits, with no one else even at two."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...