Atlanta Falcons: Should we be worried heading into 2015?
The Atlanta Falcons have been down right terrible in their past two NFL seasons. Atlanta won more games in 2012 then they have in the past two seasons combined. Many have wondered why the team has been so bad. But, when you look closely, the reason(s) are quite obvious.
In order to succeed in the NFL, you need three things. A good quarterback, a good offensive line and a good pass rush. Well, at least that’s my opinion as to what a team needs to succeed. Do the Falcons have these three things? Absolutely not.
They have the quarterback, let’s not be silly. Matt Ryan is the best quarterback to ever wear a Falcons helmet and will likely have his jersey retired one day. But, does Ryan has a good offensive line in front of him? No, he does not. The Falcons’ offensive line has been one of the league’s worst over the past two years which has led to a lot of stalled drives that could have been points.
Aug 29, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons guard Jon Asamoah (75) on the bench during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
There are five men that make up an offensive line. Two tackles, two guards and a center. Out of those five, where do the Falcons struggle? Well, sadly it’s every position at this time. Jake Matthews still isn’t healthy at left tackle and neither is Ryan Schraeder at right tackle. At guard, James Stone has been dominated more times than not and the Falcons’ best offensive lineman has been taking second team reps.
That would be Jon Asamoah, the team’s right guard. Asamoah started 15 games for the Falcons in 2014 after coming over from the Kansas City Chiefs and was a rock. He was by far the Falcons’ best offensive lineman a season ago, but now isn’t even a starter. Why is that? Because they feel he isn’t fast enough to zone block? Yeah, I don’t care. You don’t put your best lineman on the bench no matter what.
So that leaves the center position. Joe Hawley has been the Falcons’ starter in recent past, but is also not healthy. Hawley is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered against the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 which has led to him splitting reps with Mike Person. Person was signed in the offseason and has looked bad all of preseason. So who will start at center in less than two weeks? Who knows.
Let’s recap. Of the five projected starting offensive lineman on the team, three of them are hurt, while the other two are the worst of the bunch. Should we be worried headed into the season? Absolutely we should. If Ryan doesn’t have time to throw the ball then we can’t win games, but the passing game isn’t what we should be worried about, it’s the running game.
The Falcons have been unable to run the ball in their first three preseason games. The lack of success was written off as nothing due to the fact that our best two running backs are injured. Nobody wanted to base the lack of success on a few backups that likely won’t make the 53-man roster.
That’s fine though. You can’t blame somebody for saying that. But, what’s your excuse for their performance in game three? Rookie running back Tevin Coleman made his much-anticipated NFL debut last Saturday night with the hopes of getting off to a good start. Not the case. Coleman averaged .5 yards per carry due to an awful showing from the offensive line.
Here are two excuses you could use for the lack of running game against the Miami Dolphins. Tevin Coleman is a rookie so we shouldn’t be worried that he didn’t run the ball great. Well, any running back in the NFL can find a hole unless your name is Trent Richardson.
And the second excuse being, well the Dolphins have a great defensive line. True, but this is the NFL. There are a lot of good defensive lines that the Falcons will face in 2015 and shouldn’t base that on how the running game has performed. it’s because of a terrible offensive line rather than good defensive lines.
One thing is for certain, the Falcons will need to improve their offensive line in order to win games in 2015. In order to do that they will need to get healthy. Easier said than done.
On to the pass rush. The Falcons have has a non-existent pass rush in the past two years which has led to the Falcons having one of the worst defenses in the league. But, this is something that has actually been addressed. Dan Quinn and his staff signed Adrian Clayborn and O’brien Schofield and drafted Vic Beasley Jr. to help with that. And so far, it has really succeeded.
To go with those guys, the Falcons have seen good play out of Kroy Biermann, Ra’shede Hageman and Jonathan Babineaux as well. All together, this Falcons defense has looked pretty good. The first team unit did not allow a single point in the first two preseason games and only allowed a touchdown in game three.
When you put it all together, the Falcons have two out of the three things you need in order to succeed. A good quarterback and a potentially good pass rush, but still lack a good offensive line. Luckily for the Falcons, they have the easiest schedule in the NFL and the rest of the NFC South is crumbling due to numerous injuries.
Will the Falcons have a winning record in 2015? Who knows. It’s possible, but it will take all three phases playing good in order to do so. let’s hope the offensive line can get their act together or we could be in for another long and disappointing season.