The Falcons are considered the underdogs to some headed into 2020 after having disappointing 7-9 consecutive seasons. To others, such as NFL analyst, Maurice Jones-Drew, Atlanta is going to be one tough team to beat.
Maurice ranked the top 10 most talented NFL teams and the Falcons landed at No. 2, right below the Saints.
Here’s what Maurice is thinking after studying the team’s significant changes.
Maurice on Falcons’ Offense
The Falcons added much-needed talent to their backfield with Todd Gurley to give QB1 Matt Ryan some more options this season. They also added depth to the wide receiver position and filled a void at tight end with speedster Hayden Hurst.
Maurice sees all the weapons at Atlanta’s disposal:
The Falcons underachieved in 2019, but it wasn’t due to a lack of talent. They had 10 starters who were former first-round draft picks, including seven on offense, and they could’ve had 11 if Keanu Neal wasn’t lost for the year with a torn Achilles. Fast-forward a few months, and the Falcons could potentially field a former first-rounder at every offensive position after signing RB Todd Gurley and WR3 Laquon Treadwell and trading for TE Hayden Hurst. They’ll join the dynamic receiving duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in QB Matt Ryan’s supporting cast. The offensive line had its struggles last season when playing through numerous injuries, including to 2019 first-round guard Chris Lindstrom, and the group must improve in pass pro to help the Falcons take full advantage of the weapons at their disposal. As far as the run game is concerned, the O-line played well last year and now blocks for a player looking to prove haters wrong in Gurley.
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Maurice on Falcons Defense
Turning his attention to the defense, Maurice has noticed what kind of talent the Falcons have at the palm of their hand:
The defense has talent at all three levels and was able to string together a good second half of the season in 2019. The one thing that makes me nervous with this unit is health, in light of the numerous injuries to afflict some of the Falcons’ top players in recent years. The additions of Dante Fowler Jr. and rookie A.J. Terrell and the return of Neal should help the defense pick up where it left off. The amount of talent on the Falcons’ roster is not in question — it’s clear they have a lot. It’s just a matter of everything coming together to produce the best results.
He also realized that the amount of talent isn’t necessarily good if they can’t put the puzzle together. Still, the Falcons have what it takes to make a lot of opposing teams unhappy this season.
Falcons’ Drastic Turnaround in 2019
By midway last season, the Falcons were 1-7. However, they ended with a much higher record of 6-2 in the second half of the season.
Falcons defense improved tremendously and with Raheem in charge on defense this season, the Falcons should be off to a much better start with all of the additional assets on board.