Key Additions: Kenjon Barner, Jamon Brown, James Carpenter, Adrian Clayborn, Luke Stocker, JJ Wilcox, Dirk Koetter, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Kendall Sheffield, John Cominsky
Key Returns: Logan Paulsen, Kemal Ishmael, Justin Hardy
Key Departures: Allen Bailey, Robert Alford, Tevin Coleman, Brandon Fusco, Ben Garland, Bruce Irvin, Brian Poole, Brooks Reed, Jordan Richards
|Week 1||Sept. 8th 1:00 PM ET||@ Minnesota Vikings (FOX)|
|Week 2||Sept. 15th 8:20 PM ET||vs. Philadelphia Eagles (NBC)|
|Week 3||Sept. 22nd 1:00 PM ET||@ Indianapolis Colts (CBS)|
|Week 4||Sept. 29th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Tennessee Titans (CBS)|
|Week 5||Oct. 6th 1:00 PM ET||@ Houston Texans (FOX)|
|Week 6||Oct. 13th 4:05 PM ET||@ Arizona Cardinals (FOX)|
|Week 7||Oct. 20th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Los Angeles Rams (FOX)|
|Week 8||Oct. 27th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Seattle Seahawks (FOX)|
|Week 9||Bye Week|
|Week 10||Nov. 10th 1:00 PM ET||@ New Orleans Saints (FOX)|
|Week 11||Nov. 17th 1:00 PM ET||@ Carolina Panthers (FOX)|
|Week 12||Nov. 24th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (FOX)|
|Week 13||Nov. 28th 8:20 PM ET||vs. New Orleans Saints (NBC)|
|Week 14||Dec. 8th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Carolina Panthers (FOX)|
|Week 15||Dec. 15th 4:25 PM ET||@ San Francisco 49ers (FOX)|
|Week 16||Dec. 22nd 1:00 PM ET||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (FOX)|
|Week 17||Dec. 29th 1:00 PM ET||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (FOX)|
The Atlanta Falcons limped to a 7-9 finish that saw the team part ways with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian after their third place finish in the NFC South. Under Sarkisian, the offense saw their points per game drop from 28.5 to 23.3 over the second half of the season. Also departing is RB Tevin Coleman, OL Brandon Fusco, and Ben Garland. Dirk Koetter, returns as the Offensive Coordinator, who previously served in the same role from 2012-2014. The familiarity with Koetter should create an easy transition. Also, the pairing of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley should give Koetter quite a number of options that he didn’t have in his first stint with the team.
In the draft, the Falcons looked to rebuild their offensive line in order to help protect Matt Ryan and keep Devonta Freeman healthy during the course of the year and truly maximize the offensive production. Top picks Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary should not only strive in the league but stability on the right side of the line. How the line gels and unifies will be a key to determining just how far these Falcons will go.
Although Tevin Coleman was lost via free agency, the addition of Kenjon Barner should help offset that loss. This offense is certainly poised to be high octane and has the potential to play with the likes of the Saints. Although the offense ranked sixthth in total yards, the Falcons finished 27th in rushing. A healthy Freeman should help the rushing attack improve dramatically.
Defensively, there are some questions like, will the Falcons be able to generate pressure on from the opposite of Vic Beasley. The lack of pressure has put the secondary under the gun more to come up with stops and generate turnovers for the defense. Last season the defense ranked 28th in total defense and hopes to improve that mark. Being healthy on the defense will help, but to fix the overall play Head Coach Dan Quinn will assume play-calling duties himself. Bringing Adrian Clayborn back after a year away will certainly help and so will improvement from Takkarist McKinley and Steven Means.
The schedule for the Falcons, will certainly have its challenges. With games at Minnesota and Indianapolis, then a home game with the Eagles, it’s a tough way to start the season Also, their game on October 20th against the Rams will serve as a test to see how the defense has improved. The second half of the season has its share of challenges with all their games against the NFC South and a late-season road test against an improved 49ers team.
The Falcons will be contenders for the playoffs as well as competing with the Saints for the division. Seeing how well the team has improved on the offensive line and their defense with Quinn in control will be keys for the team making a deep playoff run in a tough NFC.