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Atlanta Falcons 2024 Outlook: Playoff Push Incoming?

A pre-draft projection of next season's Atlanta Falcons' Football squad


Key Losses:


We've heard all about the key additions the Falcons made in the last two months, namely the signings of Raheem Morris and Kirk Cousins. Still, the biggest difference between the 2023-2024 Falcons and the 2024-2025 Falcons will actually be due to the people that Atlanta lost this offseason: Arthur Smith and Desmond Ridder.


Let’s start with Desmond Ridder. Ridder was a bottom-three quarterback in the entire NFL and put up a triple-double with touchdowns, fumbles, and interceptions. Quite a remarkable feat but for all the wrong reasons.



Despite the occasional good play, Ridder showed far more bad than good. He had little to no pocket presence (which is why he held the ball too long leading to his fumble issues), piss poor decision-making, and wildly inaccurate throws. 


Despite how bad Ridder was, Arthur Smith was the biggest problem. He always fancied himself the smartest person in the room, when ironically enough, he was probably one of the least intelligent people on the field. There are so many situations I can point to his stupidity but one that really sticks out was week 9 against the Vikings.


Week 9: Following a Josh Dobbs strip sack that gave the Falcons the ball on the Vikings 1-yard line, absolute tomfoolery ensued. First, the Right Guard, Chris Lindstrom, had a false start which moved the ball back 5 yards. On First and Goal, Arthur Smith called a Jonnu Smith screen play. Kyle Pitts (tight end 1) is forced to block for tight end 2 while Bijan Robinson (running back 1) and Drake London (wide receiver 1) are not even on the field. The play picks up 5 yards. On 2nd and goal he calls a Jonnu Smith end around. Danielle Hunter sniffs this out and the play is stuffed at the line. Once again Drake London and Bijan Robinson are not on the field. On third and goal he calls a run up the middle for Tyler Allgier which is stuffed for a loss of four. Once again Drake London and Bijan Robinson are not on the field. Drake London, who is one of the best wide receivers when it comes to contested catches in the NFL (lead the league with 15 at one point), did not even see the field during that possession and Bijan Robinson (who was drafted 8th overall) got less carries than Jonnu Smith (tight end 2). The cutesy stuff he tried to do just made no sense. 


Also, Arthur Smith’s absolute refusal to use his best weapons was hilariously stupid. He said in a press conference that Bijan Robinson opens up more plays away from the ball.




While it may be true to some extent, you still need to get your best playmaker the ball often. He also said he’s here to win not play fantasy football, well he sucked at both winning and fantasy football. 


Losing both Ridder and Arthur Smith will do wonders for this football team, and even with both being absolutely terrible last year, Atlanta was one game away from winning the division.


Coaching:

The coaching change in Atlanta is exciting. Yes, Raheem Morris’ first stint as a head coach left a lot to be desired, but the culture change is what is most important to this team. The Falcons have not had a real “culture” since the 2016 Falcons football team that embraced “fast and physical”. Since then the team has only won more than 7 games one year and missed the playoffs every year since 2017. They are in desperate need for a change in the locker room and Raheem Morris brings not only that but a Superbowl-winning attitude. Players buying in is also very important, many players such as Cordarelle Patterson had grievances with their usage under Arthur Smith, however, a multitude of players including but not limited to: Kyle Pitts, Jessie Bates, and Bijan Robinson were very excited at the Raheem Morris signing. Even Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who has never once had a losing season, commented on how great of a signing Morris was. 


However, Zac Robinson is the most exciting new coaching change. I hit on how egregious Arthur Smith's playcalling was, and now the Falcons bring in Robinson. Robinson comes from the Sean Mcvay coaching tree, who is one of the best playcallers the league has to offer. He runs an offensive system that many would consider to be a “cousin” system to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan was the play-caller for the Falcons in 2016 when Matt Ryan won MVP and the Falcons made the Superbowl. Do I think Zac Robinson will be as good as Kyle Shanahan or Sean Mcvay? No. Do I think he is a massive upgrade over Arthur Smith? 1000% yes. The most underrated part of the new-look Falcons offense is that Atlanta now has a play-caller who will genuinely get his weapons involved.


Kirk Cousins (AKA Kirko Chains):


I for one am ecstatic that we got Kirk Cousins and I am about to explain why. For starters, Raheem Morris said he is looking for an elite processor, like the quarterbacks he has coached before Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Kirk Cousins certainly fits this bill, if his first read isn’t there he will still find his second or even third read, he is by no means a one-read quarterback.



He was tied first for most passing touchdowns through 8 weeks with 18. Keep in mind, Lamar Jackson won MVP with 24 passing touchdowns (NO I am not saying Kirk Cousins > Lamar Jackson, and all stats need to be contextualized properly, but it is impressive that he played 9 fewer games and only had 6 fewer touchdowns than the MVP). He was second in passing yards through 8 weeks with 2.3k (Tua was first with 2.4k). He was third in passer rating through 8 weeks with a 103.8 (Purdy 105.4 and Tua 108.8 were higher). In 2022 he was top 10 in both passing touchdowns and passing yards. NFL research also sent out a stat that since 2019 he has the third-highest passer rating in the NFL with 101.6 and the only two quarterbacks with a higher passer rating are Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers (two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time). 


I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the contract, but it is basically a 2-year deal. For the first two years, the dead cap hit is upwards of 40 million, however, after year 2 the dead cap hit is only 10 million, and after year 3 there is no cap hit. The Falcons will most likely unload him after 2 years, taking the 10 million dollar cap hit. 


“Why did you guys not get Justin Fields, he’s younger and cheaper?” I’ve been asked this question so many times and I am about to answer it. Firstly, I am so glad we did not get fields. The biggest problem with Fields is that he is not a scheme fit at all. I spoke earlier about how Zac Robinson will run a Sean Mcvay System. Well, two things characterize that system: throwing often over the middle of the field, and getting the ball out quickly. Both of these are things that Justin Fields struggles with. His middle-of-the-field accuracy is some of the worst in the league and he often holds the ball way too long if his first option isn’t open. Case in point: Week 10 the Bears were down three with 27 seconds left and first and 10 from their own 25. Fields takes the snap and doesn’t even see Aidan Hutchinson coming from the right side. This isn’t even his blindside but Fields is staring down his wide receiver on the left side of the Field. Hutch gets the safety and the Lions end up winning by five. Yeah, I will definitely take Kirk who is better at every aspect of the game other than mobility, over Fields. Also, keep in mind Fields has more turnovers than games played.


Kirk’s injury is a cause for concern, however, I believe it to be overblown. Before last year Kirk had only missed 1 game since becoming a starter 7 years ago. He is not injury-prone, I don’t know where that narrative came from, and he was never very mobile to begin with so the injury should not affect his game that much. 


Key Players:


Darnell Mooney is a pretty significant free-agent signing. He will probably be wide receiver three in Atlanta (Raheem Morris said the Falcons will add a wide receiver in the draft) and he is a great complement to London. London is an underrated route runner but he is not the burn a corner down the field type of receiver. This is exactly what Darnell Mooney is, and his over-the-top speed can help open up the field for this Falcons offense.




(yet another reason to want Captain Kirk over Justin Fields).


We also got Rondale Moore, who is another quality deep threat.




He had a 50-yard touchdown against the Texans earlier this year and I expect him to play a limited Taylor Gabriel role in Atlanta. I love that we went out and got a bunch of speed threats in the offseason because one of Kirk Cousin’s strengths is his deep ball. 


Resigning Kentavius Street is also an underrated pickup, he stepped up when Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata went down and even had a fumble recovery against the Vikings. 


Grady Jarrett coming back is huge for this defense. The defense fell off a cliff after he got hurt, getting gashed by the run in the Cardinals game because their best-run stuffer was out. We all know the Rams run a 3-4 with Aaron Donald (the greatest defensive tackle of all time) and I’m sure Raheem will run that a lot more in Atlanta now. This means Grady being as big of a nuisance as he can on the defensive side of the ball. He will thrive in this role and continue to be a force to be reckoned with.


Troy Anderson coming back along with the emergence of Nate Landman gives us a bunch of good linebackers. This will be perfect for the 3-4 scheme that Jimmy Lake and Raheem Morris will most likely be employing in Atlanta next year.


Draft Needs:


The Falcons massively upgraded at wide receiver and quarterback, but they aren’t done yet. This is how I would rank the needs we have for the draft:

  1. Edge

  2. CB2

  3. WR2

  4. Edge

  5. Tackle


I think the importance of cornerback 2 and wide receiver 2 can be debated (meaning which one we need more) luckily the draft is deep at both. We also need tackle depth because Kaleb McGary is mid when it comes to pass blocking, and Jake Matthews is old. Luckily for us again this draft is deep at tackle. Lastly, we desperately need edge because we are missing a bonafide pass rusher. 


I would project the Falcons to win 10 games next season and win the South. All we are truly missing is a pure edge rusher, but I am sure we will get that in the draft. We massively upgraded at quarterback, getting a top 12-15 quarterback in Kirk, and we lost the play-caller who had been holding us back last year. All in all I expect good things from this Falcons team and have playoff expectations. 


Follow me:

@arkeshrayyy

@atlhiveooc

@ATLFalconsMuse

@arsportsdynamic (tiktok and youtube)


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