The 6-8 Atlanta Falcons enjoy the gift of playing meaningful football this holiday season, with the Lions next on the slate. However, this offseason, QB Matt Ryan and company should have a lot on their wish list.
Our five gifts that we would like to see under the tree…
1) Above all, Atlanta must keep its best offensive weapon, Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is an essential cog in the team’s offense as he is both a prolific receiver and rusher which can be lined up in various positions. The ‘Swiss army knife’ should be an unrestricted agent at the end of the season, and the Falcons must keep him at all costs – well, okay, at all reasonable costs – because he allows other players around him to thrive. .
2) Next, head coach Arthur Smith needs to inject talent on the offensive perimeter. As it stands, wide receiver Calvin Ridley is absent from the team for personal reasons. In his absence, Atlanta’s wide receivers have shown flashes of promise but not enough consistency to count on prop roles going forward. Russell Gage is the only wide to have amassed more than 70 receiving yards in a contest since Ridley left in Week 5.
Pro Bowl rookie Kyle Pitts is “not just a tight end.” But he’s also “not just a wide”.
Atlanta needs more.
It might be wise for the team to address the lack of depth midway through the 2022 NFL Draft. For example, Nevada’s Romeo Doubs could be a potential candidate to rectify the Falcons’ depth chart at the wide position with their latest second-round draft pick or even their third-round selection. Only after addressing a more important issue.
3) Above all, the organization must protect Matt Ryan, its 36-year-old flagman. The Falcons rank 26th (according to Pro Football Focus) in pass blocking. Specifically, after Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan is the most under pressure quarterback in the NFL. Where does most of the pressure come from, you might be wondering? Starting rookie on the left, Jalen Mayfield has allowed the 4th most pressures (51) of any lineman in the NFL this season. While he has potential, it’s obvious he’s not quite ready for a starting role just yet.
If Atlanta were to make a splash offensively, potential free agent guards such as Brandon Scherff or Andrew Norwell would establish an immediate veteran presence. Even acquiring a veteran companion such as Jermaine Eluemunor to position on a favorable agreement for the team would be welcome. Simply put, the left guard position needs to be improved as soon as possible.
Although the team is limited in ceiling space, they must prioritize talent placement around Ryan. He’s still a more than capable quarterback in this league when given the opportunity to make plays.
To get the team back on track, surrounding their franchise QB with protection and playmakers could pay dividends next season.