We Falcons fans have every reason in the world to expect great things from Atlanta in 2011. The Falcons have strengthened themselves on offense, defense and special teams.
Julio Jones has been added to an already potent offensive squad, making them nearly impossible without a 12th man. They also re-signed Jason Snelling to backup Michael Turner at the lead RB position. The one drawback here is that the Falcons drafted Jacquizz Rodgers to be that change-of-pace running back to backup Turner. With Snelling back in the fold, Rodgers drops into the 3rd-string position. However, perhaps this opens up opportunities for Rodgers to share kick returns with Pro-Bowler Eric Weems.
Standing at 5’6″, and weighing in at 190 pounds, Rodgers is fast ball of power that could easily get lost in the shuffle of players on the field. The dual threat of Weems and Rodgers could strike fear in opposing teams.
The Falcons have signed veterans in the off-season to help with the defensive side of the ball. Several key players have been re-signed as well, such as Tony Gonzalez. He was contemplating retiring during the summer, but upon the signing of free agents and drafting Julio Jones, he decided to return for another run at a championship ring.
So, where are the faults? The defensive 2nd-string squad is riddled with holes that will easily give up huge yardage and touchdowns. The Falcons still don’t have a reliable #2 or #3 QB, and our punter and place-kicker need to be more consistent.
John Park-Wilson got some substantial playing time in the Falcons’ first pre-season game, but ultimately displayed all the reasons I cringed as a ‘Bama fan when he was there. He can’t complete a pass to save his life inside the 20 yard line. He constantly overthrows receivers on “gimme” passes in the red-zone. He also has a tendency to mix up which pass he SHOULD be utilizing on certain plays. When the receiver runs a fade route, he throws a dart or throws the ball out of bounds, instead of throwing a nice touch-pass (or lob) the “spot” to where the receiver is going.
On passes that require a bullet-pass, he tends to put too much air under the ball, hanging the intended receiver vulnerable for big hits, and leaving opportunities for the defense to intercept the ball.
Redman isn’t exactly a scary 2nd tier quarterback either. With these two backups, the Falcons will need to become even MORE run-heavy on offense, just to keep the mistakes to a minimum.
Julio Jones could very well be the player to propel the Falcons into the Super Bowl. However, the receivers and Matt Ryan will have to stay healthy all year. And God forbid we ever have to substitute more than two players at once on defense. Any of these scenarios could breed dire consequences for the team.
The team we have is capable. Let’s just pray the names on the back of the jerseys match the names on the program, in “column A.”
Sources: None (self only)