Falcons not ready to soar in 2015
There has been some buzz around the Atlanta Falcons heading into the 2015 National Football League season. After going 6-10 last season and getting blown out in a game for the NFC South title against the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome in Week 17, head coach Mike Smith was fired. His replacement is Dan Quinn, a man with a terrific track record as the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks over the past two years.
Quinn comes to a team that has some talent, but mostly is a shell of the group that went to the 2012 NFC Championship game as the top seed and almost defeated the San Francisco 49ers. Quarterback Matt Ryan remains one of the best in the game and is a viable candidate to throw for 5,000 yards any given year. On the outside, few teams if any can match the weapons of Julio Jones and Roddy White. Jones is just entering his prime, while White is still producing at a high level.
With those factors in mind, it would seem that the Falcons have a great chance to win the NFC South for the first time in 2012. In reality, they have little to no chance.
Atlanta was the worst defense in the league statistically last season, getting battered against both the run and the pass. Nobody was able to crack five sacks for the Falcons in 2014, with Kroy Biermann leading the way with 4.5. Atlanta tried to upgrade a little bit in the offseason on that side of the ball, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff seems a little too comfortable with Quinn being the main addition. Nothing against Quinn, but the personnel needs more than Brooks Reed and Justin Durant coming in to make this defense viable.
The only potential game-changer for this group is first-round selection Vic Beasley, a defensive end out of the University of Clemson. Beasley has the size, skills and motor to be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL, but can he do it immediately? Even more to the point, let’s say Beasley comes out of the gate and plays lights out. Teams will start to double-team him and chip with a tight end, knowing that the rest of the defense can’t put pressure on the quarterback.
Offensively, the line is terrible. Last year’s first-round pick, Jake Matthews, struggled mightily. In fact, Matthews ranked 84th out of 84 tackles in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus. He is currently slated to start on the left side, alongside other middling talent including Mike Person, Jon Asamoah and Ryan Schraeder. Center Joe Hawley is a quality player, but one man can only do so much.
This is a team with flashy stars but nothing behind them. Atlanta will be able to outscore a few teams, but beyond that, it is going to be another disappointing year for the Falcons.