The Falcons haven’t played a postseason game since the 2017 season, a five-year playoff drought that could very well end in 2023.
Atlanta came into the offseason with a mountain of cap space and another top-10 draft pick. The front office, led by Terry Fontenot, completely overhauled the defensive side of the ball, adding difference-making free agents at all three levels.
Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata, Kaden Elliss, and Calais Campbell are the most notable signings, but there were a few others that should contribute. Bud Dupree and Lorenzo Carter will assume edge responsibilities, while Mike Hughes and Jeff Okudah join Casey Hayward and AJ Terrell in the secondary. It should be a much-improved unit.
The offense wasn’t exactly feeble last year, but it experienced struggles for one reason or another. The offensive line likely returns five starters if Matt Hennessy grabs the left guard job, and the skill position group has a chance to be borderline elite with Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Tyler Allgeier. The one question mark surrounds the quarterback position and Desmond Ridder.
The former third-round pick is set to take over as signal caller after a four-game mini-audition following Marcus Mariota‘s demotion. The veteran certainly held Atlanta’s offense back at times, and Ridder is primed to inherit one of the best rushing attacks in the league. He should have more than enough support to succeed, but what should we consider succeeding?
“Obviously we want to go out there and win the division and then, No. 2, we want to go out there and win a Super Bowl,” Ridder said, via the team’s website. “That’s what every team is preparing to do coming through OTAs and training camp. We want to progress in everything that we do. Whether it’s mentally physically, as a team, emotionally; we want to progress.”
Winning the division would give the Falcons their first home playoff game in what feels like a lifetime. There is certainly more pressure on this team than either of the other two seasons under Arthur Smith, which is strange to say, considering Desmond Ridder is much less experienced than Mariota or Matt Ryan.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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