Last season the Falcons finished one game out of winning their division. That sounds better than saying the Falcons finished 6-10. Can the Falcons improve enough to finish 10-6? Probably. Will they? I can see it happening, they play in an easy enough division to surprise people. The got rid of a coach who was in way over his head in Mike Smith. They drafted someone who should be a good pass rusher in Vic Beasley. They also drafted a potential starting DB to pair with standout Desmond Trufant in Jalen Collins. This is a team trying to plug the holes we saw leaks from when Julio Jones went down in the 2013-2014 season. This offense can't carry the team if they're going to make the playoffs, they're going to need the defense to step up. If the defense steps up, the Falcons will win their division and new head coach Dan Quinn might be coach of the year.
The Falcons have one of the better QB's in the league in Matt Ryan. His numbers are incredible, he completed 66.1% of his passes, he had a 2:1 TD:INT ratio, and threw for almost 4,700 yards. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot, and he can make all the throws from the pocket, simply put Matt Ryan is a top tier QB in the NFL and he kinda goes under the radar, and I don't think "Matty Ice" minds. Catching passes from Matt Ryan are wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White. Julio Jones posted a ridiculous 15.3 YPC on 104 Receptions. Meanwhile Roddy white as the #2 put up 80 Receptions for 921 yards. These two form one of the best WR Duo's in the NFL, and make it hard for teams to load the box. In terms of favorable run fronts the Falcons see their fair share, but they don't take advantage of them. Considering the Falcons leading rusher was Steven Jackson, it's easy to understand why. Jackson once one of the hardest players to tackle in the NFL was a shell of himself last year, averaging only 3.8 YPC. So, just like the Falcons did when they drafted for defense in the first two rounds, they went out and got a rookie to be their "Bell Cow" in the thid round when they drafted Tevin Coleman out of Indiana. In his last year at Indiana Coleman rushed for over 2,000 yards and had an Average of 7.5 yards per run. He should start for the Falcons and give them a burst they need. Overall this will be a unit that scores a lot of points led by Matt Ryan, they will play well enough to contend for their division.
The most talented player on the Falcons defense is Desmond Trufant, he's one of the better young players in the NFL. Trufant had 3 interceptions and 16 pass defensed last year, numbers that would have been higher had he been targeted more. Trufant is a true #1 Corner with the ability to shadow a teams #1 WR for an entire game. He's only going to get better. The Falcons biggest last year was they couldn't sack the QB. Seriously, they were the worst team in the league at it. The player that led the Falcons in sacks had only 4.5. The Falcons remedy for that is rookie pass rusher Vic Beasley out of Clemson. A lot of "experts" thought Beasely should have went earlier than he did, despite going #8 in the draft, the Falcons are hoping they're right because they haven't had a decent pass rusher since Patrick Kerney left. If fellow rookie Jalen Collins, and Beasely can both play at an above average level as rookies, the Falcons will have a much better unit than last year. How they play though remains to be seen. Luckily for the Falcons they signed a top flight Defensive Coordinator to be their HC in Dan Quinn who came over from the Seahawks. Quinn is used to coaching good defenses so he should be able to get more from this unit.
The Falcons played in a division last year where 7 wins was good enough to win it, that spells good fortune for a Falcons team just two years removed from the NFC championship game. The Falcons are going to need improvements in the run game, and on defense to win the division. They drafted the players to put into place, and the right coaches to mold them into a divisional champion, and I for one think they will win the NFC South next year. The Atlanta Falcons will go 10-6 and win their division behind the defensive vision of Dan Quinn and the arm of Matt Ryan.
Everyone knows how good Jones and Ryan are. You can have them as your WR #1 and your top QB and still have a shot at winning your league. The two names I think you should keep an eye on with this team are the previously mentioned Tevin Coleman for one. Typically rookie RB's don't go early in drafts, which could make Coleman a steal. Rookies are always a gamble, but Coleman can be the gamble that wins your league. If he's there any time after the 7th round, take him. The other name you should look out for is Levine Toilolo, as a first year TE out of Stanford Toilolo caught 31 passes for 238 yards. Those aren't great numbers, I know, but he's on a team that will throw the ball a lot and he's a big target who has a year of learning under his belt. That's a recipe for a potential breakout. I am not advising to draft Toilolo early, he's a late round pick, or an early season waiver pick up, but he is someone that could make a difference later on in the season.