The Atlanta Falcons started strong in 2015 with a 5-0 start before fading down the stretch. In Dan Quinn’s second season at the helm of the Falcons, there is hope that the Falcons can get back to the playoffs.
Key Additions: C Alex Mack WR Mohamed Sanu, QB Matt Schaub, TE Austin Hooper
Key Losses: WR Roddy White
Synopsis: While most might say the loss of Roddy White isn’t a big deal, because of his last couple injury plagued seasons. I would argue that the acknowledgment that one of their best receivers has become useless to them is indeed a big loss. We all saw last season what the addition of Rodney Hudson at center did for the Oakland Raiders. Alex Mack acknowledged to be one of the best centers in the league should do the same for the Falcons line this season. Mohamed Sanu an acknowledged gimmick and gadget receiver with the Bengals should actually flourish in the WR2 slot across from Julio Jones. He proved last season with the Bengals when A.J. Green and Marvin Jones dealt with minor injuries that he could take on a larger role in the offense and could be used in the actual scheme, and not just as a gadget receiver. Matt Schaub has admittedly lost whatever step he had that made him a solid starting quarterback, with that said while I wouldn’t actually trust Schaub in a game situation and would much rather the Falcons play Renfree, I like this signing because Schaub’s experience in the room will only be beneficial to Renfree’s development. Jacob Tamme in his first eight seasons has surpassed 50 receptions three times and has failed to catch more than 20 passes five times. Toilolo has never managed to establish himself and Tony Moeaki is injured way too often which means that Austin Hooper their third round pick should be their week 1 starting tight end.
Projected Starting Lineup: LT Jake Matthews, LG Andy Levitre, C Alex Mack, RG Chris Chester, RT Ryan Schraeder, TE Austin Hooper, WR1 Julio Jones, WR2 Mohamed Sanu, FB Patrick DiMarco, RB Tevin Coleman, QB Matt Ryan, and K Matt Bryant.
Key Additions: DE Derrick Shelby, OLB Courtney Upshaw, LB Sean Witherspoon, SS Keanu Neal
Key Losses: LB Justin Durant, NT Paul Soliai
Synopsis: The Falcons once again could not generate a pass rush compiling a league low 19 sacks. To that end I think the signing of Derrick Shelby is truly key, as well as Vic Beasley their sacks leader avoiding a sophmore slump. Courtney Upshaw and Sean Witherspoon provide good depth at linebacker, offsetting the loss of Justin Durant. Paul Soliai will be missed in the middle of the defensive line but the younger Ra’Shede Hageman should be more than equal to the task. Keanu Neal should be an immediate upgrade at strong safety.
Projected Starting Lineup:LE Vic Beasley DT1 Ra’Shede Hagman DT2 Jonathan Babineaux RE Derrick Shelby, WLB Brooks Reed, MLB Paul Worrilow, SLB O’Brien Schofield, CB1 Desmond Trufant, CB2 Robert Alford, FS Ricardo Allen, SS, Keanu Neal, and P Matt Bosher.
Final Analysis: A lot of things need to go right for this Falcons team, with that said the second year in a system usually means a step forward Carolina is not as a good as they were a year ago, New Orleans is fading with Brees’ career, and the Bucs are in ascension with Jameis Winston entering his sophmore season. The Falcons should be able to stay ahead of Tampa Bay and New Orleans for another season or two.
Record:9-7 2nd NFC South