Almost Inevitable for Some Players
Training camp is less than a week away and optimism is sky high with a new regime in town and Dan Quinn looking to revitalize a franchise that’s been in the dumps the last two years. All 32 teams are Super Bowl bound at this time of year and the Falcons legitimately do look to have rebound year for many, many reasons. However, it’s almost always inevitable that some players will start to break down, whether it be due to injuries, age, or just overall performance. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but a look at a few Falcons that could have a down year……….
DT Jonathan Babineaux
The consummate Atlanta Falcon, playing his entire career in red and black, is already 33 years old and will actually turn 34 in October. The stud Falcon has started or played in 153 games for the Falcons and almost has never missed any games in his entire career. In fact, he’s only missed 7 games in his 10 year career. That is simply amazing, especially for a defensive tackle. His productivity only marginally slipped the last few years, as he still pulled down 2 sacks and had 31 combined tackles, but only 15 were unassisted. Babineaux can still play a role in this defense if he’s used as a rotational piece. The only issue here with Babs is age and how much longer he intends to play. He’s under contract for two more years and it will remain to be seen if he can play at a high level.
SS William Moore
All fans love Willy Mo. The problem, as we all know, is that he’s rarely on the field due to various injuries. He’s one of the Falcons best players when roaming the secondary and one of the best leaders of the defense. But he’s also had a hard time staying healthy. Only once, has Moore started all 16 games (2010) and has failed to start 35 times (if you include his rookie year) out of 96 total games. That comes to almost 40% of all games he’s missed or failed to start. His physicality lends itself to possible injuries, but after only starting all 16 games once in his career, fans will hold their breath every time Moore makes a huge hit and doesn’t get up right away.
C Joe Hawley
Even before news came out that Hawley will likely not be at “100 percent throughout the season” he’s been one of the most injury prone players on the team since being drafted out of UNLV. All things being equal, many still feel that he’s the favorite to start and best option at center overall. Some of that may be more myth than reality, as he’s only started 11 total games at center in 5 years (he started 12 games at guard in 2011). He’s been relegated to the injured reserve the last 2 out of 3 years and most will have to see it before they believe Hawley is the answer at center.
WR Roddy White
This is as painful to write is it is to admit, but father time looks to finally be catching up with the seemingly indestructible, best Falcons receiver of all time. Let’s take a look at how amazingly consistent he’s been. He started 93 out of 96 total games, not including playoffs, from 2007 to 2012 (97%). He pulled in over 1,000 yards receiving in those 6 straight seasons. That also included 49 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl four of those years including one as an All-Pro (2010). In summary, he’s been one of the best and most consistent wide receivers in the NFL for a very, very long time.
Along with every other Falcon, he had one of his worst years in 2013 with a nagging injury that held him to 711 yards and 3 TDs. He had a very good year in 2014, finishing with 951 yards and 7 TDs, but he also 3 fumbles (tied for most in one season of his career) and many drops. White turns 34 in November and even the best start to lose a step eventually. However, he’s a beast and Quinn and Co. could significantly lengthen his career and productivity if they move him more to the slot and let Hardy and Hankerson work the outside. Only time will tell.
K Matt Bryant
Let’s hope this is only paranoia and not a jinx. Bryant has been pure money since joining Atlanta. He’s had a 90% or above field goal percentage in 3 of his 6 years as a Falcon and two of the others were 86% and 88%. Last year was one of the 90% and he only missed 3 out of 32 total field goals, even hitting a 54 yarder last season. But Bryant just turned 40 and the Falcons have to think about his replacement at some point. He still appears to have plenty in the tank, but Falcons fans will quickly remember Matt Elam. Amazingly consistent until…………….he wasn’t, and he could never get it back.
What Falcons are you concerned could have a break down in 2015?