2020 has treated the Falcons like the rest of us… brutally. All the hope that we could muster leading up to the season quickly vanished after an 0-5 start and the firings of Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn. Raheem Morris has the troops looking a little more watchable, but there are still way too many mistakes and inconsistencies, which have led to poor performances and blown leads. The Falcons are about to undergo an entire regime change over the next month, and those poor souls will be tasked with fixing the litany of mistakes left behind by their predecessors.
A GM that can build a defense
I’m not going to sit here and bash Thomas Dimitroff. He did a lot of good for this franchise, and his era will easily be remembered as the most successful in team history. However, his inability to build a defense was incredibly frustrating. He consistently missed on defensive draft picks and was even worse at scouting defensive talent in free agency. The Falcons have almost always had a horrid defense under Dimitroff that was carried by a high-powered offense. If he had just been able to improve that area a little bit during his tenure the Falcons would likely have a Super Bowl, and he would still be the general manager. Hopefully, the next guy can help give Atlanta’s defense an identity other than being a doormat for the rest of the league.
A competent offensive coordinator
I shouldn’t have to spend too much time on this one. In hindsight, we were all way too harsh on Steve Sarkisian — just because he wasn’t Kyle Shanahan. Bringing in Dirk Koetter has made me — and I’m sure all of you — realize just how spoiled we were with Sarkisian. Koetter has been brutal in all facets that result in winning football. He can’t establish the run, his Red Zone offense is miserable, and his play calling only gets worse as the game wanes. I would be pretty shocked if he is ever an offensive coordinator again in the NFL, but regardless, the Falcons have to make the right hire as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones enter their twilight years.
A running back with a pulse
I mean no disrespect to Todd Gurley or anyone else in the running backs room, but the Falcons have to upgrade at this position. Even if it is not the most vital role on the team, Atlanta is severely lacking a playmaker that can affect the game both on the ground and through the air. There will be plenty of high-quality options available in the upcoming draft, and I expect the Falcons to snag at least one.
A boatload of defensive lineman
Frankly, I just don’t get it, man. The Falcons seem to whiff on every defensive lineman they bring into the facility, whether it be through free agency or the draft. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley were busts; Marlon Davidson has barely played; Dante Fowler Jr… don’t even get me started. It’s embarrassing. Right now, the only defensive lineman worth a damn is Grady Jarrett. He’s been unbelievable and was rightfully selected to his second straight Pro-Bowl. Unfortunately, he can’t do it all on his own. The trenches, especially defensively, HAVE to be one of the team’s top priorities this offseason.
A revamped secondary
Finding some guys that can get after the quarterback will certainly help, but the secondary still has a ton of holes. A.J. Terrell seems like he’ll be a hit, but the Falcons are filled with question marks after that. Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield haven’t lived up to expectations. Darqueze Dennard, Keanu Neal, and Damontae Kazee are set to hit free agency, and Ricardo Allen could be a cap casualty this offseason. The Falcons need a lot of help in this area if they want to return to the playoffs.
Some nastiness on the offensive line
Coming into the season, I thought this was one of the deepest offensive line units the Falcons have ever had. They’ve been able to stay healthy, and when it comes to pass protection, they’ve been pretty good for the most part. Still, they could get significantly better, and guys like Alex Mack and James Carpenter will likely not be around next season. I’m not sure the Falcons need to totally retool their offensive line, but they need something — a spark — whether it be from a coach or a player.