The Atlanta Falcons went into this 2019 offseason with some evident areas of concern to address. The most glaring being the notably flawed offensive line. Their warts led to Dan Quinn’s first losing season in four years as the Falcons head man. So rightfully, they became the focal point of a critical offseason in the Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn era.
The Falcons spent two first-round draft picks on O-linemen in the draft back in April. On top of that, they had already signed free agents Jamon Brown and James Carpenter. These moves and the money attached to them have created competition and been the single most prevalent topic of conversation this offseason.
Can Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary make significant impacts as rookies? Who is going to start at left guard? Will Matt Ryan and his arsenal of weapons have enough time to become the work of art that they were in 2016? Those are the most pivotal questions heading into week one because if this offense is at its peak, few teams can keep up. But I feel that we are undermining the importance of two other stories heading into the 2019 season.
The importance of replacing Matt Bryant
I mean; he’s only the leading scorer in Atlanta Falcons’ history, what’s the big deal? That is the vibe I have been getting surrounding the departure of Matt Bryant, and it makes no sense. Falcons fans have been spoiled with having a practical “sure-thing” for the last nine seasons – but ask 27 other teams in the NFL – Matt Bryant is not the norm. We might regret this decision if Giorgio Tavecchio misses even one kick with the game on the line.
With that said, Tavecchio has the skill set to be the next long term answer for the Falcons at kicker. He did go 5-5 in the 2018 season with two makes from 50+ yards… which we all know was something Bryant excelled at. But football is a game of inches and consistency is key. Matt Bryant helped us through the years win some games we had no business winning. And in this tightly contested division, we will need Tavecchio to come through in similar situations.
Storyline 2: The expectations of this defense as a unit
Take a trip back with me to the preseason of last year. The expectations were sky high on the potential of that 2018 defensive unit. All the talk was about how the Falcons could finish with a top ten defense and create an endless amount of turnovers. Well, have we forgotten this is the same group of players – plus a few quality additions – that was supposed to be in the upper echelon of defenses before a slew of injuries hit them. Atlanta should take a gigantic leap forward based off health alone, but especially with Dan Quinn taking over as the defensive coordinator.
Now, I understand why the narrative is what it is this offseason, and how it mainly focuses on the potential of our offense. Matt Ryan and company should be exceptional, but do not count out the defense to hold it’s own. Minus the losses of key contributors Brian Poole and Robert Alford; the Falcons bring back several potential pro-bowlers from injury including Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. The new additions of Tyler Davison and Allen Bailey also add the necessary beef on the inside to stop the run. Atlanta’s defense could once again be a top ten unit after ranking 28th a year ago.