Expectations for the Atlanta Falcons across the national media have been low for the 2022 season, and according to ESPN, they’ve gotten even lower.
In their latest NFL Power Rankings, the Falcons have moved down from 31 in the post-draft rankings to 32 in their preseason rankings.
That ESPN thinks the Falcons are the worst team in NFL is their prerogative, but from what we’ve seen in the preseason, it seems odd they would move the team down.
If anything, the Falcons look better at several key areas than many might have expected.
Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder have looked razor sharp. Jalen Mayfield, the worst pass blocking offensive lineman in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, has been replaced by Elijah Wilkinson are left guard.
Right tackle Kaleb McGary has looked like a man on a mission after not having his fifth-year option picked up. He’s playing for a new contact this season and is off to a good start in the preseason.
Ta’Quon Graham has taken a “big leap” on the defensive line. He was a liability as an emergency starter last season, but the second-year pro out of Texas has at times looked like the Falcons best defensive player during the first-two preseason games.
The Falcons definitely have questions across their roster considering 40% of their allocated salary cap is going to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Dante Fowler, and Deion Jones. The prior three are playing for other teams, and Jones just came off the PUP list this week.
But even those of us with the lowest of expectations have been encouraged by some of what we’ve seen in the preseason. If they are 32… fine… but I wouldn’t have moved them down during the preseason.
As part of their commentary for this release of their power rankings, ESPN had their legion of beat writers pick someone, coach or player, from each team that is on the hot seat.
Defensive lineman Marlon Davidson made the list for the Falcons.
“Not many Falcons players or coaches are on the hot seat at this point,” wrote Michael Rothstein on ESPN. “But Davidson, the third-year defensive lineman out of Auburn, has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and missed the preseason opener thanks to injury. While it’s unlikely at this point he would be cut, what role he would have for Atlanta now and in the future is very much in question if he can’t remain on the field.”
Local writers and the national pundits aren’t always in sync with one another, but it seems strange that a team ranked 32nd in the league wouldn’t have any coaches or players on the hot seat.
The majority of this team, all but the draft picks, are on what is essentially one-year contracts… even quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota has a two-year deal, but with just a $2 million dead-cap number in 2023, he’s on a one year deal with a club option for next year.
That said, I agree Marlon Davidson is on the hot seat. When the news broke, I speculated that we may have seen the last of Davidson in a Falcons uniform. We haven’t seen much of him during his first two years regardless.
Davidson is running out of chances to save his career with the Falcons. The former second-round pick is leaning towards the “bust” label right now.
The national media doesn’t think much about the chances for the Falcons this season.
But they’ve got nowhere to go but up… Rise Up.