YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- Atlanta Falcons

Luck wasn’t on the Falcons side last season as they had some high expectations after an 11-5 campaign in 2008.  The two center-pieces of the Falcons offense dealt with injuries for most of the year.  Turner battled a high ankle sprain missing most of the 2nd half, while Matt Ryan dealt with the dreaded turf toe and missed a few starts.  On defense, the team went out and got cornerback Dunta Robinson.  He upgrades the secondary significantly. 

Quarterback

 Matt Ryan-  263/451 58.3%  2,916 yds  22 td  14 int  80.9 rat

Ryan is a younger version of Peyton Manning, at least preparation wise.  Ryan is a good pocket quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly and can buy time when needed.  He has the arm strength to make all the throws.  Entering his 3rd season, we could see Ryan take major strides in his game as he continually grasps more and more of the offense.  

(Matt Ryan)

Others- Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson

Redman is a serviceable backup, who kept the Falcons in games when Ryan was hurt.

GRADE- 8

 Running Backs

Michael Turner-  178 car  871 yds  4.9 avg  10 td  5 rec  35 yds

Ryan may be the star of the future, but the focal point of the offense is Michael Turner.  Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularky likes to use the power running game and the play-action pass.  Turner is the perfect back for Mularky’s offense.  Turner has thighs the size of Earl Campbell’s.  He breaks multiple tackles and has a good enough burst to run in the open field.

(Michael Turner)

 Jerious Norwood-  76 car  252 yds  3.3 avg  19 rec  186 yds  1 td

Norwood is a change of pace who has great speed.  He needs to avoid the concussions as he suffered 3 last season.

 Others- Jason Snelling, Ovie Mughelli

Snelling did a good job starting a few games for the injured Turner and Norwood.  He’s a smaller version of Turner who runs with power.  He rushed for 613 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Mugheli is one of the top blocking fullbacks in the NFL.

 GRADE- 8.25

 Receivers

Roddy White- 85 rec  1,153 yds  13.6 avg  11 td

White has racked up three consecutive 1,100+ yard seasons.  The only other receiver to do that in team history is Andre Rison.  White is a quick strong, and physical player who likes to get deep.

Usama Young Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a catch over Usama Young #28 of the New Orleans Saints on December 7, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Roddy White)

 Michael Jenkins- 50 rec  635 yds  12.7 avg  1 td

Jenkins is a possession receiver.  At 6’4, Jenkins is taller than most cornerbacks.  He’s a reliable consistent target for Ryan.

Harry Douglas- DNP

Douglas missed the entire season with a torn ACL.  Douglas is a burner who can provide Ryan another deep threat.

TE- Tony Gonzalez- 83 rec  867 yds  10.4 avg  6 td

At 34, Gonzalez continues to be an elite tight end in the NFL.  Gonzalez is Ryan’s favorite target on third downs and in the red-zone.

Others- Kerry Meier, Justin Peele

Meier is a 5th round pick from Kansas.  He’s a converted quarterback who has size and good hands.

Peele is the blocking tight end.

GRADE- 8

 Offensive Line

 LT- Sam Baker

Injuries have derailed Baker a bit his 1st 2 seasons.  He’s a finesse player who’s a solid pass protector.

(Sam Baker)

LG- Justin Blalock

Blalock moves piles in the running game.  Using his size and strength, Blalock mashes people in the run game.

C- Todd McClure

McClure has played all 12 seasons in the NFL for the Falcons.  He has not missed a game in 8 years.  He’s a technically sound player who’s a leader on the offensive line.

RG- Harvey Dahl

Dahl is considered a dirty player.  He’s not athletic, but he’s a fighter.

RT- Tyson Clabo

Clabo isn’t quick, but he has size and long arms.

GRADE- 7.5

 Defensive Line

 LDE- Jamaal Anderson- 27 tck  .5 sck  2 p def

Anderson has been a bust thus far since being selected 8th overall in the 2007 draft.  He doesn’t seem to have the instincts to be a pass rusher.  This is Anderson’s final shot.  Atlanta did experiment with him at defensive tackle last season.

LDT- Peria Jerry- 1 tck

Jerry, a 2009 1st round pick, was lost for the season in week 2 with a knee injury.  Atlanta is hoping that Jerry can improve the pass rush. 

(Peria Jerry)

 RDT- Jonathan Babineaux- 47 tck  6 sck  2 p def  2 ff

Babineaux had a career year last season.  He’s quick off the ball and has playmaking ability.

 RDE- John Abraham- 35 tck  5.5 sck  1 p def  1 ff

Abraham saw a colossal dip in his sack total from 2008 when he got to the quarterback 16.5 times.  He is 32 and entering his 10th season.  When he’s at his best, he plays with power and athleticism.

 Others- Kroy Biermann, Corey Peters, Lawrence Sidbury

If Anderson falters, Biermann will step in and start.  He’s undersized, but he can move offensive linemen backwards.

Peters is strong, but not athletic.

GRADE- 7.25

 Linebackers

 LOLB- Stephen Nicholas- 80 tck  3 sck  3 p def  1 ff

 Nicholas is best pass rushing linebacker on the team.  He plays aggressively, but he doesn’t have great closing speed.

MLB- Curtis Lofton- 133 tck  2 p def  2 ff

Lofton is one of the best run defending middle linebackers in the NFL.  He’s a sure tackler who flies to the ball.  He’s starting to see the field more in passing situations as he’s improved in that aspect of his game.

(Curtis Lofton)

ROLB- Mike Peterson- 109 tck  1 sck  1 int  7 p def  2 ff

Peterson, like Lofton, is a sure tackler who isn’t the best against the pass.

Others- Sean Weatherspoon, Coy Wire

Weatherspoon is a 1st round pick from Missouri.  He will replace Peterson in passing situations.  Weatherspoon is agile with great lateral speed and of course good in pass coverage.

GRADE- 7.5

 Secondary

 LCB- Dunta Robinson- 64 tck  9 p def  1 ff

Robinson is the lock-down corner that Atlanta’s been searching for the last couple of seasons.  He’s fast, aggressive, tough and possesses good ball skills.

RCB- Brent Grimes- 66 tck  6 int  13 p def 

Grimes is only 5’10 180 pounds, but he’s fast and scrappy. 

CB- Brian Williams- 18 tck  1 int  3 p def 

Williams started as the opening day starter, but then he tore his ACL in week 6 and was done for the season. 

FS- Thomas DeCoud- 68 tck  3 int  7 p def  2 sck  2 p def

Atlanta players considered DeCoud the Defensive MVP last season.  DeCoud is athletic and quick.

(Thomas DeCoud)

SS- Erik Coleman- 116 tck  5 p def  2 ff

Coleman is a sure tackler and an asset in run support.

Others- Chris Owens, William Moore, Dominique Franks

Owens is a 2nd year player who started the last 6 games of the season. 

Franks is an intriguing 5th round pick who was inconsistent at Oklahoma, but he has upside.

GRADE- 7.5

Special Teams

PK- Matt Bryant- 7/10  51 lg

Bryant will battle with Steven Hauschka for the starting gig.

P- Michael Koenen- 61 punts  42.6 avg  18 in 20  70 lg

Koenen kicks off as well as punts.

KR- Eric Weems- 48 ret  25.3 avg  63 lg

Weems returned kicks and punts last season, but with Harry Douglas back from injury, Weems will stick to just kickoff return duty.

PR- Harry Douglas- DNP

Weems is still a possibility to return punts, but Douglas has the speed.

GRADE- 7

 2010 PREDICTION- 11-5

The sky’s the limit for this squad if they can stay healthy.  The offensive is explosive and Matt Ryan is only going to get better as he heads towards his prime.  The defense is underrated.  The addition of Dunta Robinson is a huge improvement to a 28th ranked pass defense.  All in all, this is a team on the rise and ready to prove that they can be a factor in the NFC. 

Offensive MVP- Michael Turner

Defensive MVP- Dunta Robinson

Breakthrough- Peria Jerry

Overrated- John Abraham

Underrated- Curtis Lofton

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