Analyzing the NFC South-Atlanta Falcons Edition

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In this series of four articles I will analyze the the top 5 game changing moves that each NFC South team has made to date and how it will affect their chances at a Super Bowl run. 

Keep in mind, however, that I truly am a Saints fan; but I am just reporting the facts objectively and placing each team on an equal playing field.

We will start with the Dirty Birds.

Last season the Atlanta Falcons were hoping for Matt Ryan to have a whale of a season to complement the run game, which was led by Michael Turner.

However, their season was de-railed when Harry Douglas suffered a season-ending ACL tear and Michael Turner showed up to training camp overweight and not very motivated.  

These events foreshadowed what would be a long disappointing season.

The Dirty Birds suffered a slew of injuries throughout the season to key players such as QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner,  DT Peria Jerry, and LT Sam Baker.  These injuries ultimately led to their 9-7 record and failure to acquire a postseason berth.

These 5 game changing moves in the 2010 off season, however, should give the Falcons hope for the upcoming 2010-2011 season.

1. The acquisition of Dunta Robinson: The disgruntled corner was franchise-tagged prior to the 2009 season, much to his dismay.  After a promising rookie season in 2004 in which he recorded 3 sacks, 13 pass defenses, and 6 interceptions; he suffered a major dropoff in production and a rash of nagging injuries that kept him off the field.

Robinson has recorded only 7 interceptions in 5 seasons — that is only one more than he recorded his entire rookie year.

But as they say, a change of scenery can make a huge difference for a player.

The Falcons are certainly hoping so.  Eight teams passed for over 275 yards against the Falcons last season, with the largest number of yardage coming against the New York Giants, who racked up 368 passing yards against their 28th ranked pass defense.

That just won’t do it when you are in the same division as the New Orleans Saints and their potent aerial attack.

In comes Dunta Robinson, a potential shutdown corner.  If he can stay healthy and motivated, the Falcons will have made one of the best acquisitions in the entire offseason; as he is capable of jamming receivers at the line and re-routing them, allowing the pass rush that extra second to reach the quarterback.

2. Acquiring Sean Weatherspoon in the NFL Draft: While the Falcons do have a solid linebacking corps, led by Curtis Lofton, who is quickly making a name for himself as one of the better linebackers in the league, Mike Peterson is not getting any younger. 

While Stephen Nicholas often shows flashes of brilliance, he also has many mental lapses in coverage that can cripple their defense.

In steps Sean Weatherspoon, the starting weak-side linebacker for the Missouri Tigers.

During his career with the Tigers, Weatherspoon recorded 388 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions —all in only three years as a starter.

Spoon brings speed off the edge for a team that desperately needs it as the Falcons accumulated only 28 sacks during the 2009 season. 

The speed that Weatherspoon adds to the Falcons defense will allow them to make more plays in the backfield and prevent the big play by opposing offenses only helping to improve on their 28th ranked pass defense from a year ago.

Great move by the Dirty Birds.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Dirty Birds Dunta Robinson Harry Douglas John Abraham Matt Ryan NFC South NFL Draft Sean Weatherspoon

  • Keith Null

    Well try as they might they still won’t beat the Saints, or win the devision, or make it to the post season :)

    • Amit Bajaj

      amen to that. i sure hope they miss the playoffs, but there is a good chance they make it as a wild card

      • Keith Null

        Probably…..Black and Gold forever!!! LOL

        • Amit Bajaj

          of course! they will repeat; no doubt about that! i cant wait to go to that monday night falcons game in december. we will squash them on the road in week 16 :P

  • Tom

    @Amit – Enjoyed reading your post. I’m a die-hard Falcons fan and I thought it was a pretty fair analysis. One additional problem that we suffered through last year was our kicking game. It legitimately cost us a couple of games (missed “chip shots” by Elam). We’ve got two kickers competing right now, which should make a positive difference.

    Good luck to you guys – I think we’ll have a couple of good battles this year.

    • Amit Bajaj

      definately. i think yall’s kicking game is solved with matt bryant. he is a solid vet.

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  • Ed

    Being a Ravens fan the only thing I know about the Falcons was the Vick thing and the constant comparison of Flacco and Ryan. Looks like you get the Steelers when they will be most vulnerable. The week 10 game with the Ravens on Thursday night will be interesting. Both teams will only have three days to prepare for the game. You coming off a game with the Bucs and us a much tougher game against the Dolphins.

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  • NOLAderived

    I may be in Atlanta for the game played there. Would love to see all the locals disappointed. :)