The Atlanta Falcons seemingly overachieved in 2021 when they won seven games despite regressing in key metrics including total offense (29th), points allowed (29th), turnover ratio (25th), and point differential (25th).
Each of those statistics got worse from 2021 to 2022, yet the Falcons nearly doubled their win total from four to seven year last season. Yes, there was an extra game, but when you have a .250 winning percentage, the extra game isn’t always your ally.
The Falcons schedule appears to be much harder on paper with most of the winnable out of division games on the road including at Seattle and at Washington. The Falcons may only be favorites in one or two games this season… Chicago and Carolina at home the most likely.
The Falcons look to be improved this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but there are questions and lack of depth in too many key areas including quarterback and both lines of scrimmage to be overly bullish on the 2022 outlook.
As such, Bleacher Report (B/R) has predicted the Falcons to be more likely positioning for a top draft pick than fighting for a playoff spot. They’ve set the over/under win total for the Falcons at five and have advised to take the under.
“Clearly, the organization entered a rebuilding phase when it couldn’t complete a Deshaun Watson trade while spurning the franchise’s all-time leading passer,” wrote Brent Sobleski. “Matt Ryan quietly asked to be dealt, and the team obliged by sending him to the Indianapolis Colts (while eating the biggest dead-cap hit in NFL history at $40.5 million).”
Ryan’s $40.5 million cap hit coupled with Julio Jones’ $15.5 million dead-cap hit account for 26% of the Falcons 2022 salary cap. General manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith are going to battle this season with one arm tied behind their back.
“Now the Falcons are unsettled at quarterback, with Marcus Mariota and this year’s 74th overall draft pick, Desmond Ridder, vying to become the starter,” continued Sobleski. “A strong possibility exists that neither will adequately fill the role, thus creating a runway toward a top quarterback prospect in the 2023 draft.”
“The Falcons do feature some fun, young talent in cornerback A.J. Terrell, tight end Kyle Pitts and this year’s eighth overall draft pick, wide receiver Drake London. At the same time, the lineup lacks depth and overall quality. An argument can be made that Atlanta features the league’s worst roster, even with those previous talents and defensive lineman Grady Jarrett taken into consideration.”
“Five wins is a low bar. Yet the Falcons look like they’ll swoop under it.”
Smith his coaching staff did an excellent job of squeezing seven wins out of the Falcons roster last seasons with some excellent individual performances from the likes of Pitts, Terrell, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
But they face an uphill battle to try and equal or better their record in 2022.
The Falcons could come away from 2022 battered, but with over $100 million in salary cap room and a top-5 draft pick. Then the rebuild can begin in earnest.