Rank Your Atlanta Falcons – Offense Edition

Dead Zone on it’s Way Out

Not in Top 100? What a Joke.

Sorry for the delay on a new post Cage brethren, but as the summer nears the edge of the end, the passion will come roaring back for all of us. It’s only a matter of weeks now until the Falcons not only kick off training camp, but also do it live for the entire country to see. Since the NFL’s Top 100 Players is officially a joke (Matt Ryan isn’t even #100 on the list), then it’s time to do our own version for our Falcons. The Dead Zone’s end is nigh, but it’s not next week, so in that case, let’s break it down by offense and defense. First up…..offense. This ranking can take on many different categories and characteristics. It can be Most Valuable to the Falcons, who needs to have the best year in 2014 for the Falcons to have success, or simply who’s your favorite Falcons. With that said, this list will take the form of who currently holds the most value to the Falcons AT THIS TIME, but feel free to put your own spin on it.

#1) Matt Ryan

No need to belabor the point here. Despite the fact that the NFL Network is really stupid, he’’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. Unlike Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kapernick, Ryan hasn’t had one of the best defenses in the league to help him out. In fact, he’s had one of the worst. The fact that, statistically, he achieved close to what he did in 2012 with a trainwreck offensive line and planecrash running game speaks volumes. Those who are dismissive or enjoy hating on Ryan obviously don’t share a penchant for the truth. Above all, he’s the best hope the Falcons have to ever win the Lombardi. Although, that time will start to run out sooner than most think.

#2) Julio Jones

Yes, he was hurt most all of the 2013 season and won’t take a live snap until the first game vs. the Saints, but he was on pace to mirror what Calvin Johnson did during his record breaking campaign. He’s an All-Pro and Pro Bowl player of the highest caliber. It seems only a matter of his health will be the issue going forward.

#3) Roddy White

Some may disagree here, but currently Roddy White with the combination of Julio Jones with Matt Ryan throwing the football represent the best chance the Birds will have to win the big win. He’ll turn 33 this November, but he showed that he still has enough left in the tank after he finally got over his injury to make a run for the next few years.

#4) Justin Blalock

Mr. Dependable. He’s started every single game since donning red and black (110 if you’re counting) and been THE ONLY player to be a rock in a tornado of disaster on the offensive line. He’s literally seen every other offensive line position changed at least once, and in many instances several times over (right guard perhaps?). He’s got to step up and be the lead of this OL.

#5) Jake Matthews

Scoff all you want, but the Falcons finally took a top tier talent in the first round on the offensive line. Some would argue that Sam Baker should be here, but that dude has officially stayed healthy roughly 50% of the time he’s been here (2008, 2011, 2013 on injured reserve). Matthews represents the current and the future for the Falcons. He immediately boosts this offensive line and will probably be taking over Ryan’s blindside sooner than later. Two time All-American at both RT and LT in the SEC give him the nod over everyone else.

#6) Jon Asamoah

It’s crazy to think that a new free agent should be this high but several factors come in to play on why he’s this high. First, he finally stops the ridiculous turnstile that’s happened at right guard for 3 years. He’s a proven veteran that can pass block and close that hole that’s led to Ryan getting beat to death for years. Dimitroff and Co. decided to fill the awful sieve at right guard, very much belatedly. He makes it over Hawley due to his proven experience and over Baker because he can play more than a few downs without getting an injury.

#7) Harry Douglas

Maybe this is too high for HD, but the assumption is that he will take over most of the 80 catches that Tony Gonzalez averaged over the last 5 years. He once and for all proved he can be a legitimate target going over 1,000 yards receiving when both White and Jones were injured and maybe he can finally shine in the slot receiver role we’ve longed for him to do.

#8) Sam Baker

Should he be higher? Should he be lower? It’s hard to gauge this guy. He’s been injured about 50% of the time he’s been a Falcon. On the bad end, when he’s been hurt (2011, 2013) the Falcons have had their worst seasons. But on the high end, when he’s been a stalwart for the Falcons (2010, 2012), they’ve had their best seasons. Ultimately, when he plays good and stays healthy, the Falcons have done well. The problem simply is that he cannot, for whatever reason, stay healthy. This is the reason he’s as low as he is: you just can’t count on him. Thank goodness the Falcons have other options to take over for him in Matthews, and also options to move to right tackle as well (Ryan Schraeder, Lamar Holmes). He was a first round draft pick that Dimitroff traded 2 second round picks for, and while he hasn’t been a total bust, he just can’t be counted on.

#9) Joe Hawley

The Falcons felt so strongly about Hawley that they gave him a fairly big contract for someone who has only shown bits and spurts in his career. He did well as a RG in 2011, but lost out completely to a really terrible Peter Konz in 2013. The former UNLV product redeemed himself late in 2013 when he took over for Konz last year and showed enough for the Falcons to give him a starter level contract. With Asamoah, Blalock, and Matthews beside him, maybe he’ll make the jump that so many think he can.

#10) Devontae Freeman

Crazy? Absolutely. But this has to do more with potential and promise than anything else. Also the fact that Freeman presents something new and fresh to this offense, combining speed and tough running. Steven Jackson proved he’s quickly over the hill, Jacquizz Rodgers missed his opportunity in 2013 to prove he can be the guy, and Antone Smith was blacklisted long ago. He really should be lower, but the hope of promise pushes him this high.

#11) Steven Jackson

The idea and aura of Steven Jackson donning a Falcons uniform trumped the reality of what we were getting. Jackson as 25, 27, or even 29 years of age would have been much different for us getting a running back that had already hit the 30 wall and over 10,000 yards rushing on his tires. He showed some rebirth towards the end, but the fact is that he is 31 years old and doesn’t present the threat he once did.

#12) Devin Hester

Even though fans want to see him on the field as much as possible on offense the fact is that he probably will be a glorified special teams player. But he’s proven that he can be dynamic in pretty much any regard when given the chance and that Julio is coming off major injury and Roddy White is 33 years old.

#13) Jacquizz Rodgers

The old Oregon State Beaver seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle after having Jackson being the lead back, Freeman the new starlet draft pick, and Antone Smith the speedster. It is very interesting to see where he fits in the 2014, but he’s shown to be the most versatile running back in run and pass this team has to date. If Jackson gets hurt or is ineffective, the idea of a Freeman / Rodgers combination is very interesting and promising, but don’t hold your breath with Smith’s penchant for his Veteran Preference Program.

#14) Levine Toilolo

Ugggh. So at this point it’s hard to rank too many more backups over a singular position that actually starts and plays the game. There just is no confidence in this position at all. Toilolo might be the next Gonzalez (beachfront in Kansas talk), but the front office is GIVING him the position without any competition whatsoever. They signed Bear Pascoe and it reeks of the Ben Hartsock, which was nothing more than a glorified blocker. 55 yards, 2 TDs in 16 games as a rookie gives us nothing.

Rest to come shortly…………

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113 thoughts on “Rank Your Atlanta Falcons – Offense Edition

  1. JB Falcon

    SW, you read all eleven posts! 🙂 Just mugging through the dead zone. Things are fixin’ to start poppin’ and I think it’s going to get very interesting. IMO, this has been the best draft/FA period we’ve had in a while.
    BTW, what is G-14? So, how was the weather up on the moon?

    Reply
  2. Seminole Warrior

    JB F

    I feel you, brother. It has been a dead period but it is even more quiet when you do not have access to it like I did for an extended while.
    The moon is still the moon and like I have for the last 30-plus years, I have no clue what the weather there is doing or will do…LOL.

    G-14 is a term some of us Department of Defense types use to describe our work when we are out of the loop. It is not an official classification; a term we use (borrowed from the movie Rush Hour) when we can not disclosed certain facts due to official protocols but not of national security concerns. Let’s call it “official collaboration” with other nations….LOL.

    The signings are nothing more than as someone said, camp bodies. Angerer had potential but given his extensive injury history from college (Iowa) and during his Colts stint, it will certainly be a MAJOR surprise if he sticks with the Falcons.

    My question is why are there still doubt about Bartu? I thought he played pretty well and was pretty decent in coverage; was a darn solid upgrade over Nicholas at times for sure. Will be watching closely on Saturday at the Branch for sure…

    Reply
  3. Seminole Warrior

    PS

    I totally agree with you. I would love to see a “real” development process for a change. Why draft these guys if there are never going to be put through the fires? Starr and Smallwood really interest me.

    Reply
  4. Seminole Warrior

    As we head into training camp, I think these comments from the Falcoholic best describe the Falcons situation as it stands right now and looks ahead to the 2014 season.

    It is a transitional (rebound) year by all accounts in the opinion of the Tee Pee. Lots of things have to fall into place but the reconstruction gives you hope, especially on the offensive line.

    Courtesy of the Falcoholic:

    “The weakness of this class is that it does not prominently feature a ready edge rusher. Prince Shembo might be useful in that capacity down the line, but the Falcons spent an entire offseason shopping for upgrades that didn’t come. If Jonathan Massaquoi takes a big step forward and the Falcons properly harness the rest of their rotation, they could surprise other teams, but this won’t be anything close to an elite pass rush once again.

    At the same time, though, the Falcons made some important picks here, and for once they didn’t let character concerns or the desire for polished players dictate their draft strategy. Hageman has a chance to be a truly dominant interior pass rusher and 3-4 end, Southward has all the tools to be an above average starting safety and Shembo, Allen and Spruill all have legitimate upside. Smallwood and Starr are late-round picks to try to shore up a group of linebackers that frankly needs the help, joining Spruill and Shembo as options for a linebacking corps that will need some re-tooling in the Falcons’ 3-4 sets. Starr and Shembo will likely stay outside, while Spruill and Smallwood move inside.

    Freeman gives them a potential lead back in a committee down the line, while Matthews gives them a potential top five left tackle for many years to come. It’s a high-variance class, which means it could get Thomas Dimitroff fired a couple of years down the line or prove to be more successful than the most optimistic among us currently are inclined to think.

    Aside from the glaring and disappointing lack of an edge rusher, I thought the Falcons stuck to their stated offseason goals, and I think it was overdue. This team is bigger and tougher along the lines of scrimmage than it was a year ago and has added pieces to a disappointing defense with an eye on remaking the unit. Whether that translates into more wins is an open question we’ll have to wait to answer, but it’s a step in a direction I hope will be productive. That and the 3-4 sets the Falcons are running more often, gosh damnit. Couple that with the improvements they’ve made to the right side of the line and it’s easier to see a bounceback year, even if’s unlikely they’ll be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2014.”

    At least for the Tee Pee, bounceback is 9-7 or 10-6 this season as the reconstruction moves on to the next stage…..

    Reply
  5. JB Falcon

    I’m really looking forward to Friday. All the speculation and forecasting will come to reality. Since they have been here TD & Co have built a scoring/offensive team but forgot about, or depended on, a weak core O & D line. Given the fact that our O fell like flies and the lack of depth in both of our lines showed up at the same time, it’s a wonder we even won four games last year. I fully expect the Falcons to reverse our record of last year, and even more importantly, I expect them to peak during the last quarter of the season.
    The Falcoholic opinion posted by SW was based on guarded optimism with a hint of reality. As a Falcon fan since inception, I tend to ignore reality, especially when it is tinted with pessimism. I believe there is a power within a team that cannot be measured and that will take us over the hump.
    The Falcons have not failed to win a Super Bowl for 47 years, they have simply proven how it cannot be done. The formula will be corrected. This year? Maybe!

    Reply

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