The Falcons have higher expectations than ever before in the new regime’s tenure. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot took over an aging, expensive roster that was always going to be rebuilt. Now, we are out of the tunnel and in the next phase.
After building rosters through the draft and inexpensive free agents, Atlanta invested heavily into the personnel this offseason, assembling the most complete roster of their time in Atlanta.
Defensively, there were wholesale changes. A.J. Terrell and Richie Grant are joined by Jessie Bates III, Mike Hughes, Jeff Okudah, and Clark Phillips II. Kaden Elliss solidifies the second level next to Troy Andersen, giving Ryan Nielsen a pair of rangy, versatile linebackers. But it’s the front that’s most improved.
Lorenzo Carter and Bud Dupree bolster the edge that features a highly touted second-rounder in Arnold Ebiketie, while Grady Jarrett finally has an elite group surrounding him along the interior in Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Eddie Goldman, and Ta’Quon Graham.
The offense underwent a minor makeover. After being a revolving door throughout the 2023 campaign, the left guard position seems to be solidified with the selection of Matthew Bergeron. The other four starters return after becoming one of the top units in football a year ago; that kind of continuity cannot be understated. It’s an incredibly important and consistent facet of successful offensive lines, but it’s the skill group that’s got everyone buzzing in Flowery Branch.
Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson, and the recently drafted Bijan Robinson form the best skill group Atlanta has seen since the club went to the Super Bowl more than 5 years ago. There is one key difference — the quarterback position.
This is the third signal caller in as many seasons for Smith, but Desmond Ridder is set up for success more so than Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota. If Ridder cannot succeed in this situation, there aren’t many others he would. He knows the weapons at his disposal.
“As an offense, you look for explosive plays, and get ’em anyway you can, whether that’s to Drake (London), whether that’s to Kyle (Pitts), a guy like Jonnu (Smith), Mack Hollins, it doesn’t matter,” Ridder said, via Around the NFL “But then when you can just hand the ball off and give it to a guy like Tyler Allgeier or Bijan or C.P. (Cordarrelle Patterson) and let them go, it just makes my job a lot easier. So when they drafted Bijan, I just knew that this offense has something to be explosive. We’re able to go out there, and whether it’s the run game, pass game, play-action, doesn’t matter, we think that we’re gonna be pretty explosive.”
Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Tyler Allgeier all broke rookie franchise records. Cordarrelle Patterson remains an elite offensive weapon. Jonnu Smith is a versatile tight end, and Bijan Robinson is a unicorn. Football will always be a team sport, but the quarterback position is by far the most important on the field. The Falcons will only go as far as Ridder allows them.
It’s a Ferrari of an offense, with elite weapons at every position. Desmond Ridder has all he needs to succeed with the Falcons; all he has to do is not crash the sports car. It’s simple; Ridder is going to have to throw four or five (maybe) big-time throws. Don’t do anything more or anything less. Get the ball to your guys and let them spin. Don’t crash the Ferrari.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.