Atlanta Falcons “S.W.O.T.” Analysis

The Off-season Creeps Along

The Falcons Top Trio a Major Strength

School is out, summer’s here, and the Dead Zone of Falcons Football is upon us. At least there’s a few OTA reports out there and mini-camp (that’s open to the public), but overall we’re sliding to the desert of football season. This year’s much less painful for most Falcons fans due to the DQ Regime taking over and the excitement level being extremely strong. Throw in one of the best draft classes in recent memory (at least on paper) and it’s all adding up to a hopeful time.

However, with little to no activity, this is a great time to preview the upcoming year and take a look at the Falcons rosters ahead of the 2015 season. I was watching one of my new favorite shows the other day, Silicon Valley, on HBO. It’s a hysterical comedy produced by Mike Judge (of Beavis and Butthead fame) about all the Silicon Valley startups and all the craziness and eccentrics that go with it. Anyway, this was in a recent episode and it reminded me of a neat process learned in business school @ UGA…………

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfB0g_JDIds  (Adult Language Included)

The SWOT Analysis is a great analysis tool that can be applied to any organization. Since it’s the Dead Zone, why not do a S.W.O.T. Analysis of our upcoming 2015 Falcons?

Strengths

Quarterback

Clearly, this is the easiest and most obvious strength. Ryan is heading into the quote-unquote “prime” of his career and he looks to finally have a system that adapts to his strength (intermediate, WCO pass game) and a running game that will take some weight off his shoulders. Under Smith, they used the power blocking scheme since day 1 with personnel that wasn’t even close to matched for that style. Throw in some very nice additions on offense including Justin Hardy, Leonard Hankerson, Tevin Coleman, and some competent tight ends in Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki, and Ryan is poised for a strong season.

Wide Receiver

RB Group should be better

When the Falcons traded for Julio Jones, this has always been a major strength of the team. Paired with Roddy White, Jones has helped make up one of the best WR tandems in the NFL, when healthy. Harry Douglas and Devin Hester provided good depth in the past as well. This year, however, the Falcons finally set out to upgrade and get younger. They brought in Leonard Hankerson on a one year deal and also drafted the super-productive Justin Hardy in the draft. The Falcons may even keep 6 receivers after giving Eric Weems a new deal in the off-season. With the new players in the fold, the Falcons continue to keep receiver as a major strength.

Weaknesses

Pass Rush

Everything is optimistic on the pass rush front. It’s Dan Quinn’s specialty. We’ve added arguably the best pass rusher in the draft in Vic Beasley. Not to mention one of the biggest steals in the draft in DT Grady Jarrett. They brought in several free agent additions who can get after the QB, including Adrian Clayborn, O’Brien Schofield, and Justin Durant. Ra’shede Hageman is apparently on a mission and most believe that DQ will get the best out of guys like Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga, and hopefully Tyson Jackson. All that being said, however, fans won’t and can’t believe the hype until they see it. Falcons have been among the worst in the NFL in pass rush since seemingly forever. This remains the biggest weakness until proven otherwise.

Safety

Pass Rush Must Improve

The Falcons front office and DQ have done a pretty good job of filling in gaps this off-season, which was a ridiculous task back in February. One of the few areas they didn’t address was safety. They let one of the most consistent players at safety go in Dwight Lowery. William Moore has battled injuries his entire career. They also are moving Dezmen Southward to cornerback. They brought back Charles Godfrey on a seeming starter salary and he appears to be the favorite at free safety. Kemal Ishmael is one of the more underrated Falcons this off-season. By all measures, he had a pretty great year. They drafted Akeem King and have talked about moving Ricardo Allen back to safety, but this remains one of the weakest areas until proven otherwise.

Opportunities

Offensive Line

Most will disagree here and put this as an outright weakness, but I have my rose-tinted glasses on. First of all, them moving to a Zone Blocking System is the biggest and most helpful move. It finally moves the Falcons to a system that fits to their strengths. The stalwarts are few and far between, but Jake Matthews should only get better when healthy at left tackle and Jon Asamoah at right guard isk super solid. Most expect Joe Hawley to thrive in the new system when he heals at center. Ryan Schraeder and James Stone both showed bright spots last year in an awful situation, as did Lamar Holmes. The front office added Tyler Polumbus, Jared Smith, Mike Person, and recently veteran Chris Chester. The Falcons also have guys like Peter Konz, Sam Baker, and Harland Gunn that could improve with better coaching. DQ and Co. look to finally do what Smith always promised in creating a true competition for all the spots on the offensive line. And, really, can it be much worse than it’s been the last few years?

Running Backs

D-Backfield Should be Improved

This is an obvious opportunity that many are extremely hopeful about going forward. Devonta Freeman is driven like a madman to be the next great running back and carry the load. His work ethic and motivation seem to be unmatched. Throw in one of the most talented and productive running backs in the draft and all of a sudden the Falcons have completely revamped their running back corps. And that’s not including bringing super-speedster Antone Smith back. This really looks have the makings of something special, especially considering how weak this group has been since the heyday of Michael Turner.

Threats

Linebacker

LB a Weakness?

Some would put this position squarely in the Weakness category and there’s not much argument against it. This has been one of the most dreadful positions for the Falcons for a long time. This group was never a strength under Mike Smith and was consistently one of the worst. They invested a first round draft pick (Weatherspoon) and it still failed to produce many results at all. The biggest sack total for a linebacker in one season was 4 sacks. That’s pretty awful. In fact, it had gotten so bad that the Falcons were starting two undrafted rookies (Worrilow and Bartu) and a rookie (Shembo). They went out and signed some quality LB’s in Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. O’Brien Schofield and Vic Beasley will probably rotate back to LB at times, as will Kroy Biermann.  Stansly Maponga will be in the mix as well as players less likely to make it including Tyler Starr, Allen Bradford, Nate Stupar, and Marquis Spruill. Worrilow is apparently having a better off-season than any other Falcons, at least according to Dan Quinn.  While there looks to be a lot of competition and some more talent, it still is a very worrisome group.

What’s your Falcons S.W.O.T. Analysis?

 

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278 thoughts on “Atlanta Falcons “S.W.O.T.” Analysis

  1. JB Falcon

    John Clayton is reporting that the New York Giants are not one of the four “main teams” interested in free-agent guard Evan Mathis. Clayton said the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers are the four leading contenders for Mathis.

    Nah, we don’t even want to entertain the idea of adding a pro-bowl lineman to our roster. (Just imagining TD’s response) Phhhtt!

    Reply
  2. Arno

    Flo mentioned wanting to upload pics. Here’s how you do it through Photobucket. First go to their website photobucket.com and register for a free account. Then left-click > UPLOAD. Step two below.

    Reply
    1. Arno

      You have three choices to upload from. The default is your computer. Left click > CHOOSE PHOTOS & VIDEOS. A pop up will prompt a file search on your computer. Find the individual photo file, however you saved it, and left-click on it. Step three below.

      Reply
      1. Arno

        The next screen shows an advert loading above, and after a while, your pic will show up below. For this example I used the Falcons logo. The most recent pic loaded to your photobucket ‘library’ shows up where this red arrow is pointing. Now I left-click on the Falcons logo pic… step four below.

        Reply
        1. Arno

          Now your image shows up big. Look to the right and find the SHARE LINKS panels. Left-click on the one that says DIRECT. The link will flash ‘copied.’ Now you right-click ‘paste’ in the Cage comment box.

          Reply
    1. JJ

      Ditto, I posted the above pic by right clicking “copy url address”. First time posting a pic besides youtube which is just copy/paste.

      Searching for camp reviews from today but nothing so far.

      Reply
  3. Birdman

    Somebody turn off this heat and bring me September please

    You know I have read a lot in here about why the Birds fell apart the last couple of years . Has any one notice that when we lost our old Georgia DC thats when it all got serious … No defense for the last 2 years . Just food for thought ?

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      JJ

      That’s my guy!! Make us proud, Devonta. I know you can do this and I truly believe the time is now. The next Jamaal Charles!!!

      Reply
    2. Seminole Warrior

      As for Leonard Hankerson, I really liked this kid coming out in 2011 and strongly advocated for his draft along with my brother, D3. He was a very solid talent coming out of the “U” (the only BAD choice he has made thus far…lol) and if not for a string of bad luck with injuries to his hip and his left knee and inept QB play in Washington, I think he would have enjoyed possible successes like that of Torry Smith and Randall Cobb.

      If healthy at last, this guy could be a secret weapon.

      Reply
  4. Ken Strickland

    Am I simply dreaming, or does it appear as if the majority of last yrs weaknesses will turn out to be this yrs strengths. Just consider the upgrades we’ve made at RB, OL, DE, TE, DT, LB, CB, WR, depth & pass rushing capability. I’ll bet DL coach BCox is excited about preparing his DLinemen to function within a DEF scheme that works, rather than preparing them to try & make a flawed DEF scheme work.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      K Strick

      From one seasoned vet to another. We have waited a long time so the dream is certainly our right. With that, I dedicate this classic to the 2015 season and all of us that are anxious (cautious but anxious) to, in the words of the great Mills Lane, get it on!!

      Reply
  5. Arno

    The cool thing about JB’s Z28 is that he’s donating it as the 2016 Cage Mock Draft Competition trophy. Thanks JB !!

    Reply
      1. medallion

        So, one of us gets the car, the photo, and a frame for winning next year?
        AWESOME!!! THANKS JB!!!
        Let’s get ready to rumble for that group of prizes.
        ROFL

        Reply
        1. JB Falcon

          After a long interrogation I just found out that my dog, Dover, was trying to post a selfie but, due to his big front paws, he hit the wrong key and posted a photo of my Camaro. He said it was Arno’s fault since he read Arno’s instructions and Arno should have told him to pick a photo of himself instead of my car. Anyway, he got me into a lot of trouble and we have discussed his punishment. I figure two doggie treats for bailing me out!

          Reply
          1. Seminole Warrior

            LOL…..outstanding move.

            Dover has more smarts than that idiot Trump whom I just saw make an @$$ of himself today. In the words of Saint Vince;

            ‘What the hell is going on out here…”

          2. JB Falcon

            Thanks! On his chest is his harness and without the harness the tan makes a V. We got him about the same time Rocky passed on, about a year ago. He ain’t Elvis but he’s making sure there will never be another Dover. That’s what dogs do, ya know.

  6. JB Falcon

    The excitement builds daily as the season inches closer and closer. All I could find to read about the Falcons today has been optimistic, positive reporting. It is so tempting to let the optimism take over and start believing “this is the year.” Then, there’s always the However that pops up. How many times have we let ourselves be picked up by our feet knowing that we are destined to be dropped on our head? Just random thinking here. Move along.

    Reply
  7. Wings

    YES, the excitement builds!!

    “Really, I want to see how fast we can play,” Quinn said.

    I can’t wait until the first offensive play. No more of the “same thing” all the time at the beginning.

    Reply
    1. JB Falcon

      Change is definitely one thing to look forward to. No more, 1st & 10 = RB to Brick Wall = 2nd and 11 = QB sack = 3rd & 17 = Pray.

      Reply
  8. Arno

    No more throw-away downs? No more heroics (and injuries) needed to salvage third and longs? Even if our record is slow to improve, if the offense can play with some flair, we will witness an EARTHQUAKE: several years worth of pent up fan emotion released. Finally able to translate our fierce loyalty to cheers for a team whose vision we’re no longer embarrassed by, but we celebrate. It will lead to new allegations – this time false – of piped in crowd noise.

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      I’m liking a HC who demands speed out of his team. We showed it occasionally during the Smitty era – that game against the Ravens was probably our best showing. But, for a while, I was very confident in the MR2/Smitty Falcons – that they would find a way to win regardless.

      Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      A troubling development. Not that Holmes was going to shock the world anyways.

      Depth at left tackle is now a significant concern. A quick look at available free agents does not reveal much to get excited about. Going to be very interesting to see what happens once true training camps start and the first waves of cuts are announced.

      We may have to bring back Sam Baker just for the depth. Hell, it’s not like we aren’t paying him anyways.

      Reply
      1. JB Falcon

        Has Mathis been signed anywhere yet? More than just a back-up but maybe the lack of depth created by Holmes is that much of a concern.

        Reply
        1. Seminole Warrior

          Mathis has not signed but he is a guard and I can not find anywhere that he has any experience at the tackle position, especially the crucial left tackle position which is where all the presumptive depth charts slotted both Matthews and Holmes.

          Reply
      2. medallion

        I suspect (with absolutely no proof) that (1) Baker’s injuries would have prevented him from playing even as well as the aging Polumbus and (2) timing of release was timed to send a message to all just before start of OTAs.

        Reply
        1. Seminole Warrior

          Fair point, my friend. But things are “at the moment” looking pretty dire at the left tackle position in terms of depth. It’s going to be interesting to watch how this is handled.

          Personally, I would screen those cuts very, very carefully later this summer and I would lighten the load on Matthews. He MUST be ready to roll.

          Reply
  9. Ken Strickland

    SEMINOLE WARRIOR-Thanks my friend. If Shanahan is successful in his attempts to make our OFF more balanced, it will be the 1st time in over a decade that we haven’t been a one dimensional OFF. We’ve either been a dominant rushing or passing OFF. Even defensively over the past decade, we never had an effective pass rush, we just had a DEF with a pass rushing DE. With Beasley, Jarrett, Babineaux, Hageman, Scoffield, Goodman, Moponga & Clayborn, we might finally have the makings of a pass rushing DL.

    With a vast upgrade at RB, TE, WR depth & blocking scheme(which should improve our OL performance), there’s no way in hell that our OFF won’t see an overall improvement. Unfortunately, we won’t know how well our OL will come together until after training camp has gotten underway & they’ve put on pads.

    Reply
  10. JB Falcon

    JJ, I’m still trying to figure out this wordpress thing and have a question. I noticed that you commented on my post about Dover and I sent a reply via the little reply box after reading your comment. My reply did not show up in the cage and I am wondering where it went. Any idea?

    Reply
        1. JB Falcon

          I’ve been ready since January but have to admit, after all this waiting, that I am even more ready. The toilet has been flushed and we have a clean slate with a lot of new players, coaches, and schemes. Even when I play the Devil’s advocate I can’t think of a reason not to be excited about this coming season. I’m hoping the Holmes injury is not a sign of things to come. All I want is a fair chance to compete with most of our parts intact.

          Reply

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