A lot of people expect the Falcons to improve in 2023; there are several reasons for that.
Arthur Smith is another year into his head coaching tenure, making him more experienced, which is an underestimated factor in the club’s potential improvement this season.
However, the most notable difference is the actual talent. On both sides of the ball, the Falcons added top-end talent.
The free agent class is highlighted by defensive additions — Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata, Kaden Elliss, and Calais Campbell. Then, there are some less notable acquisitions from free agency and the draft that provide valuable depth — Zach Harrison, Bud Dupree, Clark Phillips, Mike Hughes, etc.
Offensively, there weren’t significant changes, just minor tweaks. The two most important came via the draft — Bijan Robinson and Matthew Bergeron. However, Jonnu Smith joins Kyle Pitts in the tight end room via trade, while Scotty Miller and Mack Hollins join Drake London in the receiver room.
Moreover, the Falcons will have a fourth-place schedule while drawing some of the worst divisions in football — the AFC South and NFC North. There’s more too. As Warren Sharp points out, the Falcons were among the most competitive teams in football last year.
wins or 1-score losses last year:
17 – KC
16 – BUF
15 – ATL, BAL, SEA, JAX, LV, PHI, LAC, CIN
14 – NYG, DET, PIT, SF, MIA, DEN, DAL
13 – NYJ, MIN, TEN, CLE, NO, GB
12 – TB, NE, CAR, WAS
11 – IND
10 – HOU, ARI, CHI
9 – LAR
which team is most surprising?
for me? it’s them ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DS7oM7rF4n
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 24, 2023
One of those losses was against the Bengals in which the Falcons were incredibly injured, especially in the secondary. Poor Cornell Armstrong was tasked with guarding Ja’Marr Chase at one point; that’s a recipe for a blowout. The other was against the Panthers on Thursday Night Football when the infamous Marcus Mariota meme was born.
If the Falcons finish below .500, I think many fans would consider that a failure. The NFC South is wide open, the roster is better than ever, and the schedule is as easy as it gets. It’s time to put up or shut up.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire