Breaking Down the Atlanta Falcons Roster Pre Training Camp: Quarterback Edition


Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the World Cup is over and training camp is only a few weeks away I thought now would be a good time to review the Atlanta Falcons roster and look at some of the potential battles that are going to ensue once camp starts.

The Falcons have a lot of competition for roster spots this year and with the addition of Hard Knocks the battles in training camp should be intense. To get started we will begin by looking at the most important position on the team, the quarterback.

Starter: Matt Ryan

No surprises here, Matty Ice is the Falcons starter for the foreseeable future. Despite a disastrous 2013 season for the team Ryan somehow managed to put together a very impressive season when taking into account the calamity that was the offensive line and the multitude of injuries suffered by the wide receivers.

What last season did affirm for us regarding Matt Ryan is despite his wiry physique he is as tough as any QB in the league. What last season also pointed out was that while Ryan is extremely accurate with a clean pocket, when the pocket breaks down and he is pressured he makes too many mistakes both physically and mentally. If Ryan wants to challenge for league MVP this season he needs to stop throwing the ball up when pressured, he has a tendency to ‘throw’ his upper body backwards when pressured in an effort to give himself time to throw but this usually resulted in a floated inaccurate ball that is begging to be intercepted.

With a revamped offensive line this year Ryan should have much more time to throw and as such I expect a big season from Ryan.

Backup: TJ Yates

Before the Falcons traded for Yates the backup QB position was one that greatly worried me. Dom Davis was in my opinion the worst backup QB in the league and if we were forced to use him next season only bad things would ensue. In what was a complete surprise to me, the Falcons actually did address the position as they traded Akeem Dent to Houston for TJ Yates.

While Yates is no stud QB he is by far the second best QB on the Falcons roster at the moment and he is a solid backup QB if nothing else. Yates has experience starting in the league and if Ryan were to go down I do have some confidence that Yates could pull out a handful of wins.

Others: Sean Renfree, Jeff Mathews

With Dom Davis now off the roster the Falcons are left with two quarterbacks who will fight it out for what will probably be a practice squad spot.

I like Sean Renfree as a player and I think he could be a good backup in the league, however, he simply cannot stay healthy. Renfree was a walking injury in college and it seems the injury bug has followed him to the pros. As a result I have to give the advantage to Mathews who I liked as a prospect coming out of Cornell and was surprised wasn’t selected in the draft.

Mathews is the player with the higher upside and the bigger weapons of the two. Having been to Cornell and with a Wonderlic score of 40 Mathews is an intelligent player who ripped apart zone defenses in college. Mathews also played in a complex Cornell offense that was centered around passing the ball. Mathews got a glowing report from his coaches who praised not only his arm talent but also his work ethic. Mathews will need some time to adjust to the NFL level as well as improve on some of his mechanics, most notably his footwork when the pocket breaks down, but if he can sit and learn for a couple of years behind Ryan I can see Mathews easily winning over the backup QB spot in the future if not challenging for a starting spot in the league.

The Falcons are ready for a bounce-back season after bottoming out last year. Injuries had a lot to do with that, so a healthy team could help them return to one of the better units in the league. No matter what, though, don’t expect Falcons tickets to be too expensive.