Falcons receive middling midseason grade by SI


The Falcons have had a roller coaster of a season, filled with highs and lows, and we are only nine games into the 2023 campaign.

There have been bright moments from the defense, Bijan Robinson, and Desmond Ridder. Ryan Nielsen’s group has been a revelation, even if it’s faltered as of late. During the early parts of the season, it looked like Robinson was a shoo-in to be Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he has also floundered lately due to a lack of touches. Ridder even had his moments, against the Texans and Buccaneers most notably.

But a roller coaster also comes down. Arthur Smith, the offensive line, and Ridder have had their fair share of struggles. Smith seemingly hasn’t taken a step forward in his play design or calling and cannot consistently get the ball in his playmakers’ hands. The offensive line has had some stellar performances and some forgettable ones, while the same could be said for Ridder.

The Falcons sit at 2-0 in the division and 4-5 overall. They draw the Cardinals this week before a bye week where the club will reassess the quarterback position, according to Arthur Smith. Coming out of the off-week, the Falcons will host the Saints in the most pivotal matchup to date.

If I were to grade the season thus far, it would be hardly passing, and Sports Illustrated agrees, giving them a C- grade. 

Falcons coach Arthur Smith made the mistake of starting the season with quarterback Desmond Ridder, who constantly turned the ball over and failed to get the passing game going. With a different quarterback, perhaps the Falcons would have a sizable lead in the NFC South. The Falcons finally pulled the plug on Ridder, making Taylor Heinicke the starter in Week 9. Heinicke passed for 268 yards and a score in a 31-28 loss to the Vikings. Eventually, Atlanta will need to find a franchise quarterback to best utilize Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. But the Falcons got plenty right with the revamped defense they invested in during the offseason. Although, it wasn’t a good look for Atlanta to get carved up by Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis in his starting debut.

I thought the Falcons would win 9 or 10 games en route to a division title and a home playoff game, but I’m less confident in that than ever because Arthur Smith continues to make the same mistakes.

8 or 9 wins seems more realistic at this point. The club can still reach the postseason, especially in a weak NFC South, and could still reach double-digit wins if they turn things around.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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