Updated: Jun 28
The Falcons are coming off another confusing, but ultimately disappointing season. They showed some flashes of brilliance yet fell short too often to be competitive in the playoff picture. The 2023 offseason will be critical as they try to become relevant again, but while the division still allows mediocrity to lead to a playoff spot, they need to seize the opportunity they have. Here are the biggest areas that absolutely need to be addressed this offseason.
Give Ridder Another Weapon
When looking at next season, the Falcons actually have a lot of the building blocks they need to have a competent offense. While Desmond showed his inexperience, he showed his competence and promise in relief of Mariota.
In addition, their running game is in a better place than expected. In addition to Ridder, Tyler Allgeier well exceeded his fifth-round expectations with a 1000-yard season, and the ever-speedy Cordarrelle Patterson adding almost 700 of his own along with eight touchdowns.
The pass-catching situation got a boost with the excellent season that Drake London had, with 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns. With Calvin Ridley coming back from suspension this season, they’ll have an excellent WR duo. Kyle Pitts didn’t have the best output this season, but also has potential to contribute quite a bit at the TE spot.
The problem lies beyond that, with their next best producers at wide receiver being Zaccheaus and Byrd, who are frankly not at an NFL starter level, and the Falcons need to get a proper third option at wide receiver, either in the draft or free agency, who can truly round out their offensive picture. If they can do that, they can create an offensive without a weak link that can be very difficult to stop next year.
Improve The Coaching And Star Power Of A Defense With Solid Contributors
The Falcons were in the bottom ten of essentially every defensive category this season: yards, points, turnovers, sacks, etc… With eight of their ten losses being within single digits, the Falcons were putting themselves in positions to win, and more often than not, it was late-game defensive collapses costing them those games.
It’s certainly not that the Falcons have no good defensive players. Their linebacker group has two 100-tackle players in Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker who showed versatility in run defense, pass rushing, and pass coverage, and all-around limited the production of opposing offenses. Their secondary is headlined by an excellent safety in Richie Grant, who is not just useful in pass coverage, but also a fantastic tackler and a player with the speed to make plays near and even behind the line of scrimmage. Grady Jarrett also provides some serious explosiveness on the edge and had six sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season.
However, it’s obvious that they lack true star power outside of linebacker. Other than Jarrett, there are no threatening pass rushers on the defensive line, and the interior is especially weak, allowing opposing running backs to succeed. It’s not surprising, then, that they finished the season with 21 sacks, the second-worst total in the league. Nobody on the team had more than two interceptions, and the secondary struggled mightily outside of Grant.
On top of the personnel issues, their end-of-game lapses lie, in large part, on defensive coaching, or lack thereof. Dean Pees, their now-retired defensive coordinator, simply wasn’t able to construct a winning game plan. The Falcons have an opportunity to improve over the offseason there, and by interviewing solid defensive minds like Vic Fangio for the coordinator position, they can set themselves up for a path to success. Both in terms of players and coaches, defense needs to be the focal point of the Falcons’ offseason.
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