Season Preview: Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA FALCONS

SEASON PREVIEW

Last season overview: One and Done in the playoffs. In Mike Smith’s 4 years- he’s gone double digit wins- and home in round 1. Last season they lost to eventual champion Giants, but only scoring TWO points? That cost both coordinators their jobs, and even though I love Mike Smith, he might be next. The two most important parts of this team are OLD, Abraham and Turner and they are looking to win this year.Roster
Curtis Lofton is a HUGE loss, but he did stink in pass coverage, so much they had to take him off the field on obvious passing downs, can’t spend that kind of money on a 2-down back, can you? 147 tackles? I think it was a bad move- since Tatapu isn’t exactly a monster either. No other major losses, unless you count FB Ovie Mughelli, but he was replaced in the third round.
Asante Samuel is here to wash the bad taste of Philly out, and steps into a nice looking secondary.

Draft
They lost some picks for Julio Jones, but Peter Konz should have been a first rounder. Lamar Holmes also could start sooner rather than later. This was just a solid- depth adding draft, and there’s nothing wrong with getting talent to learn behind old guys.

Offense:
Matt Ryan has toys. Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez. Turner in the backfield. Throwing for 5K and 35 TD’s should not be a problem, yet he only did 4177 and 29 TDs. With 10 opponents this year in the bottom third in total and scoring defense, he has to do better. Turner wore down late in the year, and the Falcons have to get more out of Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Brady Ewing. OC Koetter loves the deepball and so Julio Jones is gonna love him. If they can limit Turners workload, and Ryan sprays the ball like he should, watchout, this could be Maddenball. This is Tony Gonzalez’s last year, and he is climbing the All-time receiver charts.

Defense
I hated that they hired Mike Nolan. Of course, I’m a Panthers fan. Nolan is another exceptional DC who needs to stay away from the big chair. I think Nolan could have worked with Curtis Lofton and made it work, but won’t get that chance. The Falcons were 6th vs the rush, expect them to be worse as Nolan figures out if he wants a 3-4 or 4-3 here, but that secondary is going to be one of the best in the NFL. Dunta Robinson should return to form under Nolan as well. John Abraham is year 12, by the way, and he simply isn’t replaceable in this defense. I LOVE Sean Weatherspoon, dude is scary good.

3 games to watch

Week 4: Car
Rushing offense vs Rushing defense. Cam vs Sean and John, Ryan vs Beason. Forget the Saints, this is a showdown the Falcons need to win.
Week 7: @Phil
They have Dallas next, but that’s at home. This is going to Vick’s place, and they might even be 5-1 or 6-0 and coming off a bye, win here and the Saints could be in the rearview window and fading fast.
Week 13 New Orleans
They play at NO in week 10, so this is a quick turnaround, plus this is FOUR days after a Tampa trip! But this is Thursday, and national TV. To win the division, they have to win here.

Wins: @KC,@Was,Oak,Dal,Ari,@TB,TB

Watchout Falcons, the Panthers could be closing in on you

Possibles: Den,Car,NO,NYG,@Det
Tossups: @SD,@Phi,@Car,

My Prediction 12-4

Second Look: Dan Vachalek

Second look: I can expect another playoff appearance from the Falcons this season. They have a pretty good offense and Julio Jones should be just getting better this season. The defense is going to go downhill, in my opinion, with them bring in Nolan. I do like the pass defense, though, but John Abraham is getting up there in age so is he really going to be as effective as he has been in the past? I think this is the year that he starts to decline & it’ll show that his career is near completion. I can see about 11 or 12 wins for them this season and them taking the NFC South divisional crown. I can’t see them going very far in the playoffs, though.

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