2_Atlanta Falcons2

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SCOREBOARD 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH DNQ Conf. Ch. WC Div. DNQ REGULAR SEASON W-L 4-12 13-3 10-6 13-3 9-7 POINTS PER GAME 22.1 26.2 25.1 25.9 22.7 POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME 27.7 18.7 21.9 18.0 20.3 YARDS PER GAME 343.1 369.1 376.6 341.1 340.4 YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME 379.4 365.6 333.6 332.4 348.9 TURNOVERS 28 18 21 17 25 TAKEAWAYS 21 31 29 31 28 Key Additions: CB Javier Arenas, RG Jon Asamoah, WR/KR Devin Hester, DT Tyson Jackson, NT Paul Soliai, CB Josh Wilson Key Subtractions: TE Tony Gonzalez, S Thomas DeCoud, LB Stephen Nicholas, G Garrett Reynolds, CB Asante Samuel, RB Jason Snelling, T Jeremy Trueblood Rookies: RT Jake Matthews, DE Ra’Shede Hageman, S Dezmen Southward, RB Devonta Freeman, LB Prince Shembo, CB Ricardo Allen, ILB Marquis Spruill, LB Yawin Smallwood, LB Tyler Starr money (88.9 percent on field goals, 24-for-27, with a long of 53, 39-for-39 on PATs). On the other side, punter Matt Bosher boomed the ball at 46.6 yards per punt, putting 26 punts inside the 20. He also had a strong leg on kickoffs, where he averaged 61.2 yards per kick, with 50 touchbacks in 79 kickoffs. Atlanta’s return game finished 10th in kickoff returns (24.4 yards) and 20th in punt returns (8.3) and will be much improved with the free agent signings of Devin Hester and Javier Arenas, who averaged a career-best 21.4 yards per punt return in 2013. Prediction Last year was one of those years in Atlanta, yet even with massive injuries in key spots and inconsistency, they still were competitive in most of their games. That’s a credit to Mike Smith. They still have some holes and some questions on both lines, but this is at worst a .500 team and a team that will get better as the season goes on. At best, depending on how quickly some of the youngsters mature, the Falcons may be a contender for the division. clog up the middle. Now, to find a pass rusher. Developing one is the responsibility of new D-Line coach Bryan Cox. The linebacking corps will miss Sean Weatherspoon, who is out for the year, but bring back last year’s leading tackler Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu, who was third (85, 47, 8 TFLs, 3.5 sacks). They also have brought in some young, aggressive players in draft picks Prince Shembo, Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr. The defensive backfield will be better with corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford a year better. Veteran FA corner Josh Wilson adds some experience to the unit, while rookies Ricardo Allen and Dezmen Southward could both make an impact but will need time to develop. Until they do, veterans William Moore and Dwight Lowery will start at strong and free safety. Defensive Player to watch Heading into 2013, few knew Paul Worrilow. One year later, every offensive coordinator facing the Falcons not only knows the 24-year-old undrafted free agent but probably spent time preparing to contain him. The 6-0, 230-pounder was all over the field, once he got on it. He didn’t start until week five, yet still led Atlanta with 127 tackles (79 solo), 39 more than the nearest Falcon (strong safety William Moore), with four tackles for loss and two sacks. He had five games with double-figure tackles, including a three-game stretch of 19 vs. Seattle, 19 vs. Carolina and 16 against Tampa Bay. How he responds to opponents’ special blocking schemes on him will be his biggest challenge and looms big for the Falcons. Falcons Special Teams Special teams were not a problem in Atlanta last season and should be even better in 2014. Field goal kicker Matt Bryant is Julio Jones SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


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