The Falcons are gearing up for their season opener against the Panthers at home, and there are a ton of storylines to watch.
Desmond Ridder has been given the reins and has all the support to be successful. The offensive line returns four of five starters along with second-round pick Matthew Bergeron assuming the left guard position. Bijan Robinson, the most highly touted rookie in football, joins a loaded skill group — Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Jonnu Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Tyler Allgeier.
The defense was completely overhauled as well. Grady Jarrett is joined by Calais Campbell and David Onyemata in the trenches. Kaden Elliss bolsters the second level, and Jessie Bates, the crown jewel of the free agent class, solidifies the backend.
Ryan Nielsen is also a new face on the defensive side of the ball. That’s a lot of new pieces that will have to gel, but the plan will be apparent — attack. When asked what a goal of the defense on Sunday is, Jerry Gray told reporters the Falcons’ defense wants to make the Panthers’ offense “uneasy.”
Assistant HC/defense Jerry Gray said a goal of this defense on Sunday is to make Carolina's offense "uneasy." They may be playing defense, but they want to be on the offensive attack more often than not.
"We have some things that we haven't shown on tape yet."
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) September 6, 2023
Seems obvious, right? When an offense is off, the defense is generally winning. Well, it hasn’t been that way in a very long time in Atlanta. Dean Pees wanted to do similar things with the Falcons defense, and that never came to fruition.
In my opinion, offense is more about scheme and defense is more about talent. No matter what the mentality was in 2021 and 2022, those defenses were going to be pitiful. In 2023, the personnel is much improved, which should net better results for the Falcons.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire