After a report came out this week that the Atlanta Falcons are ranked fairly low in terms of fan loyalty and support, the organization is especially interested in the potentiality of a Super Bowl Championship this season. Bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Atlanta would certainly promote greater interest in the team after two years of high expectations and only one playoff victory to boast. With two out of four preseason exhibition games completed, let’s take a look at where the Atlanta Falcons stand in terms of their hopes of a Super Bowl ring at the end of the 2013 season.
The biggest question currently for the Falcons is the potential from young cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford straight out of this year’s NFL Draft. Trufant was the Falcons highly touted first-round draft pick out of Washington; however, because he had to miss rookie camp and OTAs so that he could complete his education, Alford has made the bigger impact so far at corner. The two roommates have formed a huge competition for the starting position and continue to push each other daily creating a competitive environment that motivates the entire team.
While there still remain some questions on defense, Atlanta’s defense has put up two solid performances so far in the preseason. Offseason pickup Osi Umenyiora has certainly lived up to the hype while unheard of University of Delaware walk-on LB Paul Worrilow has been turning heads, leading the team in tackles in both preseason games. The backfield is the area that needs the most work as the young cornerbacks continue to learn the game as well as safety William Moore who has misread coverage on numerous occasions.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons worked hard this offseason to find a running back that would energize the running game. After a less than stellar year, the Falcons replaced a stale Michael Turner with Rams franchise running back Steven Jackson. While everyone believed this move to be the right answer, the first preseason game did not emulate a step in the right direction for the Falcons’ running game, specifically due to woes on the offensive line.
With the injury to right tackle Mike Johnson, the already weak Falcons’ offensive line struggled immensely to create openings for the explosive running back. Week two showed mass improvement as the Falcons racked up 170 yards rushing; however, the serious question here will be whether this offensive line can hold up all season especially with the lack of depth at this position. If there were one area that the Falcons would consider shopping around for it would easily be on the offensive line.
Though we have yet to see Tony Gonzalez at Falcons training camp due to prior commitments to his son, Matt Ryan and his battery of wide receivers, including Roddy White and Julio Jones, have been on point all preseason with only additional room for growth when Gonzalez is added into the mix this week.
The final question that remains for the Atlanta Falcons lies in its special teams. Matt Bryant is back for another season as the Falcons reliable, clutch kicker. Similarly, coaches have been extremely impressed by punter Matt Bosher’s ability to push opposing teams closer and closer to their respective end zones despite the distance. However, the Falcons cannot seem to find an answer to its punt returning and punt coverage needs mass improvement. In preseason game one, the Falcons special teams allowed a 71-yard punt return for a Cincinnati touchdown while in week two they allowed another 78-yard punt return for a Baltimore touch down. Coach Smith addressed that these problems have definitely been noticed and that the coaching staff is working hard to teach this young punt coverage team the necessities.
We are already halfway through the preseason and the Falcons still have some large gaps in their performance on the field if they truly want that Super Bowl championship that seems fairly possible. According to the Football Outsider’s Projected Average Opponent metrics, the Falcons have one of the toughest projected schedule in the NFL in 2013 creating lots of obstacles for a parade in Atlanta come February.
What do you think? Do the Falcons really have what it takes to make it? What do you think has been their biggest issue so far in the preseason? Voice your opinions in the comment section below!