Falcons match 2022 win total in first season without Matt Ryan

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After moving on from the greatest quarterback in franchise history, the Falcons won the same amount of games in 2022 as they did in 20221, Matt Ryan‘s final season in Atlanta. Winning seven games with a considerable drop-off in talent at signal caller shouldn’t be overlooked. It might be marginal, but it’s progress.

Entering the season, many expected the Falcons to flirt with the No. 1 overall pick. USA Today boldly predicted the franchise would be in that position in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Falcons are becoming a tough matchup, regardless of the opponent. Teams often take on the personality of their head coach, and Arthur Smith is a former offensive lineman that wants to run the ball down the opponents’ throat.

The Falcons remained relevant in the playoff picture because of a terrible NFC South division, and they’ll be selecting in the first ten picks for the third-straight draft under the new regime, but there was tangible improvement across the board.

The special teams might’ve been the most productive unit on the Falcons. Avery Williams is a future staple of the team in the third phase of the game. The offense took a substantial leap forward this season, establishing itself as one of the best rushing attacks in football. The defense was a supreme letdown for some, but for those with low expectations, it was about what we all thought would happen before the season. Until there’s some real investment made on that side of the ball, expectations should be tempered.

For the most part, the Falcons won games in spite of their quarterback. Marcus Mariota had a couple of bright moments, none brighter than his performance against the 49ers. He held the offense back most of the time, though, and his time in Atlanta will be easily forgettable. However, the offense led by Desmond Ridder actually provided momentum heading into the offseason for the first time in years.

Ridder threw his first two touchdown passes against the Buccaneers in the organization’s first win against a Tom Brady-led team — nobody in Atlanta cares he only played one quarter. The Falcons rookie quarterback looked rough to begin the game, then put together the most impressive stretch of play of his young career. Ridder surpassed 200 yards passing, leading to Drake London posting a career-high in receiving.

London also broke Kyle Pitts‘ rookie franchise record for receptions, and Tyler Allgeier eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on his way to the franchise rookie rushing title. The Falcons might not have much to be excited about, but those two will have high expectations entering next season.

The Falcons now enter the offseason with a top ten pick and at least $70 million in cap space as we get further removed from the dead cap hits of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Plenty of areas need an influx of talent, and Terry Fontenot will finally have resources to address them. For the first time in a while, it’s exciting to be a Falcons fan despite another losing season.

 

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