Five Reasons the Atlanta Falcons won’t win the NFC South

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Nov 3, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith reacts on the field. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 34-10 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

 

Not much Saints chatter going on right now, so I figure it’s a good time to talk about who won’t be winning the NFC South this year. It’s always a tight race between which teams will rise and which teams will fall in the regular season. You can start to tell by now which teams will be contenders and which will be pretenders.

The Atlanta Falcons have some problems that will lead to them struggling again this year. Here are some reasons the Atlanta Falcons won’t be winning the NFC South division in 2014.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan NFC South Roddy White Sean Weatherspoon

  • @MissGFY

    You forgot the biggest reason of all: Matt Ryan

    • Will Cleveland

      Lol i see you’re a Matt Ryan hater…smh
      He haven’t won th SB yet but check the stats from the pass couples years homie……

  • Rey

    Very bias article. Many of the weaknesses you mentioned can be flipped to show organizational improvement. I do however have concerns about the pass rush though.

    • IP II IMI IP

      ATL fans don’t you think that the word around town has been for years now that ATL has no pass rush! I can tell you that Nolan’s new 3-4 hybrid defense will be so much better that pass rushers will be flying in from all angles! Plus it’s not like Osi Umenyiora died! He was super effective for ATL and played at an elite level until Smith decided to play the rookies more after injuries plagued the falcons star players on both sides of the football.

      • FalconFly

        We don’t have any true proven pass rushers. Osi is a finesse guy and he played ok but not elite. We definitely have more options and better coaching which should help us greatly on that front.

        • IP II IMI IP

          Bro. I retract my statement for using the code word “ELITE” for I hate that word when it comes to NFL players being subjected to it! I apologize for that. On the other hand, whether or not Osi is a finesse player he was the best player that ATL had on the D-line due to injuries last year. Honestly, if you watched the games last year only on his side of the line did they generate any pressure on opposing QB’s which IMO gives him the status as a true proven pass rusher! I mean, Osi had 7 1/2 sacks, a pick 6, 31 solo tackles, 16 assisted tackles, 3 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles in the backfield, while only playing between 30-40 snaps per game on a defense who was horrible last season. In fact, comparing stats to Julius Peppers, and Jared Allen who are around the same age as Osi Umenyiora, had almost the same production. For instance, Peppers had almost identical stats with Umenyiora, only Allen had more sacks and tackles then Umenyiora and Peppers and thats simply is due to the fact he was on the field more. So, IMO Osi did his job on a poor defense that had no pressure coming from the other end or up the middle which tells me that Umenyiora was the only true pure pass rusher that ATL has until proven otherwise!

  • PANTTERA

    Disagree with everything said. 18th rush O,3rd pass O. Rush D 16th,pass D 11th. Special teams O 8th, D 8th.
    Ryan gets sacked less then half is 2013 total 44. NFC Championship loss. Beat saints in NO in division.

    IF THEY DON’T SUFFER MORE INJURIES.

    • James Villere Street Trotter

      Lololololololololololololol!!!!!!!

      • B17

        lololol all you want. nothing he is saying is outta reach and is VERY reasonable

  • Carl Glover

    Unless you know something we don’t, Davis has only been said to miss the first two games or so of preseason. I am sure you will follow up this article with why the Saints will go undefeated.

    • IP II IMI IP

      LMAO! I love that last sentence of yours. Now that’s a classic remark!

  • Will Cleveland

    You suck as a writer…. First no what you’re talking about Davis is not out for the year, only 6 weeks….Matt Ryan was in top 5 in almost every category with the worst offensive line ever… Our line is 10x better and we have some good receivers and can still live even if 1 goes down. Rushing will definitely improve with a better line. Still a little concerned with pass rush but overall we have a great roster this yr with plenty of depth with we never have had in recent years… Big things are going to happen this year #RiseUp #FalconsHater

    • Will Cleveland

      Oh yeah Akeem Dent was traded away a couple weeks ago… Do your homework first… Thanks

    • James Villere Street Trotter

      Top 5? Matt Ryan?? MuthaFukka please…!

    • James Villere Street Trotter

      You can have all the depth you want. You have bozos for a coaching staff and bandwagon fans that leaves with their support at halftime. Failclowns 3-13 or repeat of 4 and 12 at best..

      • cowbulls

        The problem is lack of talent and that is the GM’s fault. NO coaching staff in history could win with no talent and not a single player in the top 100 of a 32 team league.

        • IP II IMI IP

          Lack of talent? Really? Thats the best answer you could come up with? Injuries plagued the Falcons last year which is why none of ATL’s star players were in the top 100. Get real with that BS! Julio Jones alone has more talent then any player on the Aint’s entire team and thats including cry baby Brees!

          • cowbulls

            Yes lack of talent. The NFL recently released two top 100 current NFL player lists and neither rating list had a Falcon in the top 100. 100 divided by 32 is the average should be over 3 and we had ZERO.

            Pro Football Focus rated 128 offensive tackles in 2013 and the Falcons’
            five different starters at the two spots were all ranked 93rd or lower.
            Yes that includes Baker and the two never wills behind him.

            PFF Premium stat service rated Atlanta’s OL as the 31st in the league. The only positive rating went to Blalock. Two of those not good enough to play holdovers will
            start on the OL this year. I’m not sold that Asamoah who lost his starting job
            last season is the answer at RG. If Matt goes down, we finish 2-14 and the arguments can start as to whether our primary need is an OL or pass rusher or backup QB all over again.

            Mel Kiper said before the draft, “Matt Ryan is not going to survive if that offensive line doesn’t get a lot better up front and they need multiple players up front. Not just one. They need to draft two offensive line minimum to step in and become starters. They can’t afford to have that same group come back.” Most NFL experts agreed with him. Atlanta took one.

            No team in the NFL allowed its quarterback to be pressured more than the Falcons did Ryan: 264 total pressures came from 32 sacks, 42 quarterback hits and 190 hurries.
            Yes, a lack of talent.

          • Vikram Gill

            Dude the NFL top 100 is a completely subjective list.. the year before Jimmy Graham wasn’t on the list because he struggled to stay on the field with injury. If you don’t think Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, or Desmond Trufant deserved to be on the top 100 you either don’t watch the games or are posing as a Falcon fan

            secondly Jon Asamoah did not lose his starting job, he was forced out of the lineup in week 12 because of a shoulder injury, and if you look at the Chiefs average rushing yards per game it took a significant hit when he was forced out of the lineup. Asamoah is a very capable guard

            I agree that our success success rides on the arm of Matt Ryan, but the Falcons have made serious moves to improve his protection. Jake Matthews was regarded by all scouts to be the most NFL ready tackle prospect. Jon Asamoah was the best free agent guard on the market. Joe Hawley clearly outplayed Peter Konz when he was put in the lineup at C, and when he was in the lineup (along with Terren Jones at RG) for the last 2 weeks of the season the Falcons ran the ball well. Then there’s the new O-Line coach Mike Tice. He may have never been all that great of a Head Coach, but he was given the opportunity to be a HC because he was a great offensive line coach. He should help toughen the group up, along with what Mike Smith said was basically open competition at nearly every position regardless of “how many zeroes are at the end of the paycheck or what round a player was drafted in.”

          • FalconFly

            Ok NFL top 100…(attempting to restrain laughter) So you think that Matt Stafford, Tony Romo and Nick Foles are better than Matt Ryan…and you think Jordy Nelson, Pierre Garcon, and Wes Welker are better than Julio Jones. It would be wise to take media statements with a grain of salt. If you understand football, you’d be able to see exactly what the Falcons are doing to fix a good bit of the issues this upcoming season.

          • IP II IMI IP

            First off, the top 100 players is voted by the players of the NFL. So that top 100 list is as bias as you can get when voting for a particular player to be listed. However, with that being said, Matt Ryan should’ve at least made it to that list since you said it yourself he had the stats with no talent around him!

            I agree with you that ATL had a hard year last year due to injuries and not enough depth at each position after there star players went down. Nevertheless, IMO I don’t believe any of the hype I read on rankings based solely on team stats. Cause if that’s the case the year the Giants won the super bowl they barely made it into the playoffs and there HC Coughlin was on the hot seat to be fired that same year! So in that sense rankings don’t mean a thing!

            Mel Kiper is a bonfire idiot! I remember when he ranked the draft class of Russell Wilson and company a D-. And look at the Seahawks now superbowl champs! Also the MVP of the superbowl Malcolm Smith was also from that same draft class. So he doesn’t know anything IMO! I mean I would love for ATL to have all odds against them seeing how young they’re on both sides of the ball and still win a superbowl!

            I agree that Matt Ryan was the most pressured and sacked QB in the NFL last year. However, it’s not because the lack of talent it’s because there was nobody there to fill the position. Every NFL has some type of talent otherwise why would scouts and coaches select them if they didn’t? So lack of talent is out of the question! Bottom line is that ATL didn’t have depth!

          • cowbulls

            I really hope you are correct because I was born in Atlanta and have been a Falcon’s fan from the very beginning. I just don’t think the record of this team is Mike Smith’s fault. You can’t coach players you don’t have or ones on IR. The problem is when loyalty and facts gets confused.

            1. 20 carries for 61 yards in a 34-24 loss to San Francisco and 76 yards on 20 carries in a 21-20 loss to Carolina is hardly “the last 2 weeks of the season the Falcons ran the ball well”.
            2. I loved the Matthews pick. I hate that they didn’t move up a couple of spaces to grab David Yancey in the 5th round. I bet he is a starting G in the NFL a lot longer than Fantasy Football Dimitroff (FFD) is a GM.

            3. Asamoah go hurt and then was cleared to play but was beaten out for the starting Guard position by Geoff Schwartz that the Chiefs thought so highly of that
            they let him leave along with Asamoah as free agents. Let’s hope the change of scenery does him good. He has the potential.

            4. As for the player ratings, after the embarrassing and disgusting Vick criminal rein I would have been in favor of any new QB. I like Ryan. The problem is his receivers are best at longer routes that take time to develop. While they are running those routes, Ryan is also running but for his life. Put him in New England or any number of other teams and he would be top 100. For guts and taking over 264 hits for the team he deserves a medal. But these ratings are on performance and FFD hasn’t given him an OL that can help him. The same problem for the injured too much so the jury is still out on IF he can stay healthy Julio Jones. Trufant isn’t a top 100 player today. Heck he was the 22rd pick in the 2013 draft. He might get there but he isn’t there today.

      • IP II IMI IP

        Spoken like a true AINT’S fan! Good luck trying to win the division with a pissed off Jimmy Graham who hates New Orleans for the way they’re treating him.

    • cowbulls

      Will, I respect a fan that loves his team but you are way off base. These issues and especially the OL and DL are the reason Atlanta is being picked in the bottom quarter of NFL teams. Fantasy Football Dimitroff destroyed this team and Atlanta is still 2 OL starters and at least 2 DE/OLB that can rush the passer away from being a competitive football team.

    • isaac

      im with u 100%

  • Vikram Gill

    First of all the first two points you’ve made are irrelevant. Jake Matthews was considered by all the major draft analysts and scouts the most ready tackle prospect in the draft. Jon Asomoah was the best free agent guard on the market, and when he was injured for the Chiefs last season their running game was drastically affected in terms of yards rushing per game. Justin Blalock was is the best and most consistent player on the line and locked down the left guard spot well for the Falcons despite having instability on either side of him at T and C. Sam Baker is coming back from injury, and is a question mark. When healthy, like in 2012, he’s an above average LT. If he can’t regain his form there are the young tackles Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schraeder behind him on the depth chart who both saw time as starters last season.. and will probably be battling for a roster spot with practice squad swing lineman Terren Jones- who proved to be a grader in the run game. Joe Hawley is penciled in to start at center, because when he took over the C spot, Terren Jones at RG, Holmes at RT, and Schraeder at LT the Falcons actually ran the ball well the last two games of the season, no one noticed though because their season was essentially over. Point is there is competition at every position except for Guard and a major upgrade in talent through the draft, free agency, and return from injury.
    Your third assertion is a fair observation from a casual observer. Losing Weatherspoon may prove crucial, but chances are there will be someone to effectively fill the void. Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu didn’t just “see playing time” last season, they improved each week. Worrilow was the surest tackler on the squad as a rookie, and Bartu was a jack of all trades playing well in coverage and also as a pass rusher. Then add the fact the Falcons added young talent in Prince Shembo and Yawin Smallwood through the draft (both of whom were projected to go much earlier but fell by the sheer depth of this year’s draft class) AND the Falcons still have 9 million in cap room to sign a veteran “cap casualty” when training camp rolls around and the position isn’t looking like quite the dire need you’re painting it to be.
    Your fourth point is the only real concern about this team, the pass rush. But it’s not as if the Falcons don’t have a plan. They Falcons brass elected to build their pass rush from the trenches first, not all too different from how the Saints built their pass rush. Adding Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson WILL improve the run defense. You assert Jackson was a mediocre run defender, but his profootball focus grade of +15 against the run for the season suggests otherwise.. and Paul Soliai has been one of the most effective run stopping nose guards since Mike Nolan’s tenure in Miami (who is now ATL’s defensive coordinator). The logic is if the defense can stop the run then on average the offense will have a longer third down to convert then they did against the 2013 Falcons. Then there’s Jonathan Massaquoi who Falcon coaches and fans are optimistic about. A 2012 5th round pick, Jonathan did not get to see a lot of playing time until the last 8 games of last season, and that too as a situational pass rusher, but racked up 4.5 sacks over that span of time. His most productive college season came as a upright, pass rushing OLB and the Falcons transition to what seems to be more 3-4 looks will suit his skills. Also Kroy Biermann is returning from injury as well, and granted he has never been a stellar pass rusher but is used as a sort of “Joker” in Nolan’s defense: lining up at any of the LB positions which helps the Falcons manufacture a pass rush in Blitz schemes. Then there is the young unproven talent, who show a lot of promise: Stansley Maponga and Tyler Starr. Maponga had a foot injury before the start of camp last season that required surgery so he was behind the gun for a steep learning curve for rookies adjusting to the NFL. We should have a better idea of his abilities this training camp. Then there’s the small school prospect but athletic specimen Tyler Starr. Starr has the size and athleticism team’s look for in a prototype 3-4 OLB and has plenty production in his career, though against lesser talent. He will get looks as a situational pass rusher. Then there is Jonathan Babineaux, Coery Peters, and Ra’Shede Hageman. Babineaux and Peters are both two of the most under rated interior penetrators in the league and project well to 3-4 DE’s, Peters racking up 5.5 sacks last season. He won’t be available until the later half of the season at earliest because of an injury late last season, but all reports indicate his recovery is on schedule. Hageman is a monster of a man at 6’6″ 310 lbs but still has incredible athleticism (37.5 inch vert at combine), the Falcons will have him on a rotation with Maliciah Goodman, a 2013 5th round pick who is a run specialist. The pass rush is unproven only because the season hasn’t started yet, but don’t be fooled it has certainly been upgraded with the scheme change (plus there is that 9 million in cap room mentioned earlier to sign a vet like James Harrison). Critics had their doubts about the Saints defense last season, but Rob Ryan’s scheme proved to be a better remedy than just replacing the entire unit.
    Finally your last assertion is true for any team: if your best player is injured then yes the position becomes weak. There are two misconceptions about the Roddy and Julio that simply isn’t true: Age has caught up with Roddy White; and Julio Jones’ foot is compromised. Roddy White played with a high ankle sprain last season as many of you know, and those can take months to heal especially if the person is not giving it rest (like playing on it like Roddy did). What people don’t know is that Roddy averaged 7 catches and 100 yards the last 6 games of the season.. that seems like vintage Roddy White to me. As far as Julio Jones goes, the reports that Julio “broke” his foot last season is simply False. While training for the NFL combine in 2011 (which he absolutely tore up) Julio suffered a stress fracture in his foot, for which he has a metal plate inserted to reinforce the area since as an athlete his feet see a lot of impact. The fracture fully healed, and the plate was kept in as a PREVENTIVE measure, not a CORRECTIVE one. Last season during the week 5 Monday Night Football game against the Jets Julio Jones had his foot so far up Antonio Cromartie’s @$$ that the screw holding that plate in place was dislodged. The surgery he had was to reinsert the screw, not to surgically repair a “broken foot”, and he was forced to miss the season because of the time it takes for the surgical incisions to heal.
    This is a list of why the Falcons wouldn’t win the NFC South in 2013, and there have been a lot of changes made to the team this off season. If you don’t know the facts behind other teams then don’t write about them. It comes off as biased, hack journalism. But maybe that’s all you know

    • Tony

      This is one of the best responses to why the Falcons will be bad this year, that I have read. If any Saints fans are actually interested on how we might fare this season I would give this comment a read. Should be a good match-up this year between the Saints and Dirty Birds.

    • IP II IMI IP

      Well said! RISE UP!

  • Jim King

    I’m convinced this writer just looked at the problems the Falcons had last year and said “YEAH! All of those things are going to happen, Falcons are going to be bad again this year, yep!” Can’t protect the quarterback? Despite drafting the best tackle in the draft, signing an above average guard, having Sam Baker back (we can’t assume he will be injured again), and having the already solid Justin Blalock and decent Joe Hawley, they have a terrible OL. Ok. No rushing attack. Despite having a vastly improved OL which means our RBs hopefully wont be getting tackled in the backfield again, having S-Jax healthy (you just *assumed* he is done, because that fits your bias) and drafting Devonta Freeman who looks promising, there won’t be a rushing attack because that is what happened last year. The LB corps is soft. Yeah, we lost Sean “Witherspoon” (good job there, you really worked hard on this). He’s always gone. Yeah, it’s not like Paul Worrilow and Jople Bartu have a whole year of starting expeience where they were solid. Nope. And I don’t think they’ll be relying on Dent… (again, nice fact-checking). The point about pass-rush is valid. And again, “Falcons will be bad this year because their Wide Receivers got hurt LAST year! See that logic?”

  • Robert Stephens

    This article is a great example of knowledgeable saints fans: There aren’t any.
    Dent was traded, Davis is only down for training camp and maybe a few games. The Falcons do have Harry Douglas and Johnson that Ryan relies on more than Davis. Not to mention even though Hester is not an amazing receiver, he can easily replace Davis’ production even if he were out the season which he is not.
    I don’t think you know who Tyson Jackson is. he was granted the bust card because he isn’t a pass rusher, but absolutely IS a dominant run stopper, that’s what he’s great at and that’s what he came to Atlanta for. The plan isn’t to have pass rushing down linemen, but to create holes and pressure for the linebackers to step in. That’s called a 3-4 defense.
    As for the inside linebackers, good for you, you know Weatherspoon is out, but Paul Worrilow was a tackling machine who’s also a natural born leader while Bartu is a great coverage guy that can pass rush. Yet the Falcons use more Nickel than the traditional 3-4 base so only one middle linebacker will be out there so they can cover better, which is a big strength for Atlanta.
    Although Steven Jackson is getting up in age, he can still produce at a high level as long as he get rotated for rest. You must not have watched Rodgers very much because although he is a reliable passing target for Ryan, he can run as well, ask that Seahawks linebacker who got steamrolled by him. Along with Freeman, there should be enough rotation to keep Jackson fresh and constantly producing. Aside from all that, the fact you “think his time is over” isn’t a very good argument.
    As for the offensive line, you’re crazy if you don’t think it’s vastly improved. Sam Baker was injured last year and Peter Konz was awful. Baker is a good LT when he’s healthy (which he is) Blalock is a continuously good LG, Hawley may be unproven, but since he started over Konz, the center position has been drastically better at blocking, communicating, and picking up reads, Jon Asamoah is one of the best pass blocking guards in the NFL and Jake Matthews, although a rookies, is a huge improvement over Lamar Holmes. The Offensives line essentially has four new starters this year and if Matt Ryan only has a second and a half of extra time in the pocket, he’ll be burning defenses like he always had.
    The article is poorly constructed, boring and without merit. Made almost entirely of personal opinion and no facts, I’d suggest at least re-reading it a few times.
    And I don’t think you mean “to dominate they way they want to.”

    • IP II IMI IP

      Another well said comment! RISE UP!

  • Edward Charles Burney

    Insert fingers in A$$ and step away from the computer. Complete waste of an Article and time.

  • B17

    rename this to “5 things that happened last year i think thats going to happen next year because the Arthur of this shit is stupid”

    when i saw Akeem Dents name.. i knew this article was complete trash

    • IP II IMI IP

      Bro I said the same thing!

  • Carl Glover

    This guy is terrible. I majored in journalism and one of the first, and I mean first rules you ever learn is to fact check; not once, but two and three times. This cat gives a bad name for those who received a solid education. I just looked it up, he goes to NC A&T, no wonder. Go Dawgs.

    • FalconFly

      Um my parents went to NC A&T and are extremely smart and raised a son who graduated from Georgia Tech. I appreciate the ATL Falcon support but don’t trash schools like that. #sodisrepectful

      • Carl Glover

        I will say I am sorry and shouldn’t have said that. However, he comes off as some credible journalist and goes to NC A&T. Let’s just get real for a second, I’m not saying those who attend there are morons, but it isn’t some fabulous academic institution, so please quit acting like it is. I guess this is what we get for reading “FanSided”. Yeah, cool hashtag to represent how you feel. I guess that is just the 21st century.

        • FalconFly

          lol. I didn’t say it was or it wasn’t a fabulous institution nor toot the horn of academics regarding Georgia Tech and UGA. #sojudgmental #icouldbutiwont

          • Carl Glover

            Fair enough. I apologize.

  • Carl Glover

    Don’t even get me started on throwing stones in a glass house. The Saints second best player doesn’t even want to play for the swamp rats. They are too cheap to even pay a top 20 talent in the league and arguably the biggest mismatch for teams. It’s cool though, I’m sure Colston can play until 2027.

  • FalconFly

    He didn’t do any homework for this post. lol. So the team that would’ve beat the 49ers last year with 4+ rookies starting on defense and a patchwork offensive line if not for Bowman’s lucky (right place, right time ricochet) interception has no shot after getting all of their injured players back, a better line, significantly better special teams, and players that better fit Nolans “amoeba” defense…Ok. Don’t worry I’ll wait. We’ll see what happens. lol

    • Carl Glover

      Good point, people forget that Atlanta lost a ton of games by single digits. New Orleans missed the playoffs in 2008, then won the Super Bowl the following season.

      • IP II IMI IP

        I don’t think Aint fans forgot there just oblivious to it!

  • Ashley Rayson

    wow! lol atleast know the roster before you write an article on that team! akkem dent isnt even on the team anymore

  • Pwall07

    This guy is clueless, Paul Worrilow gained 10lbs already to beef us up.. When D Line is massive as we are, our LB s are free to fly around.. With Lowery n SouthWard physical freak speed deamon asses, Willy Mo Will be way up to help, They will be no running, THEREFORE, They Will be 3rd n longs, we NOW can Man you up n send the Heat, Nolan is get pressure everywhere guy, blitz like hell, not rely on 2ppl to for 19gsmes..

  • Pwall07

    Akeem Dent got traded idiot..

  • Pwall07

    WR s loaded with “3″ 1,000 yd guys, what’s he talking about..??

  • Pwall07

    And, They saying one of undrafted guys blossoming… At WR..

  • Keith

    The Falcons are going to be whitewashed by the Saints this year. Very one-sided comments on this. Yes Roddy white and Julio Jones are good receivers but Gonzalez is a huge loss. I mean Falcons fans cant argue that their D is better then the Saints. Thats just crazy. Once again it will between the Saints and Panthers for the NFC South. Falcons will struggle to a winning record.