I’m sure the result of the NFC Championship is still lingering on in the head of many Falcons fans.
Matt Ryan and his Dirty Birds started the game on fire, only to succumb to the 49ers furious rally in the second half. The defense did a good job of containing Colin Kaepernick early, but his versatility eventually wore the defense down to the point Falcons DC Mike Nolan had to ‘spy’ the QB with a linebacker just to keep him contained.
Pro Bowl TE Vernon Davis took advantage of the situation by using his 4.3 speed to get behind the second level of the defense. He ended the game with five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, averaging 21 yards per catch. The defensive line of the Falcons did well in the beginning in helping to shut down Kaepernick, but wore down in the middle of the second quarter. The second Atlanta had to devote LB’s to stopping Kaep, the 49ers took a hammer to the ‘window of opportunity’ by exposing the defense the rest of the game on their way to the Super Bowl.
See how problems on the D-line could lead to trouble in other areas of the defense?
The defensive line was exposed in games vs. duel-threat QB’s. It should be of utmost importance to add a true playmaker to the first level of the defense, especially with the release of John Abraham. Atlanta may be on the verge of signing former NY Giant Osi Umenyiora, but he’s on the decline and, even in his prime, has had a reputation for being inept in run support. The battle in the trenches is the most important in winning football games and we need to add another threat, preferably in the middle, in order to deal with the emergence of duel-threat QB’s in the NFL.
As of right now, the Falcons pick 30th in the 2013 draft. Recently, they’ve worked out UGA standout Alec Ogletree and Texas A&M Sean Porter, but no defensive linemen. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has said on a local radio station that the only way they’ll take a DE/Tackle in the first-round is if they trade up to take one of the elite prospects. Atlanta has recently received 4 extra draft picks, including a 4th rounder, so trading is definitely a possibility. It’s the best possible option too, as Atlanta has very little cap room to work with as far as signing all future draft picks.
One team I would like to see them trade with is the New York Jets. The Jets are basically in rebuild mode, and they’re focusing on adding playmakers on offense and there are none worth taking that early in the first round. Sheldon Richardson or Star Lotulelei would be available around those picks, and either choice would be an immediate upgrade to our current d-line. The more realistic choice however would be to trade up to the mid-first round with the St Louis Rams, where Jarvis Jones will likely fall to. Whatever the case, Atlanta needs to draft someone that will be able to contribute immediately. We have too many project players on the roster, and we are one defensive playmaker away from getting over the hump. We have to find that player in this year’s draft by any means necessary.