7-15-14: The big story of Atlanta’s offseason so far has been wide receiver Julio Jones’ return to full strength. The stud play-maker missed over half of 2013 with a recurring foot issue, but is said to be back to 100% and ready to hit the ground running. Jones recently stated he’s “back to the old Julio” but is expected to be eased back into action slowly when camp opens for Atlanta’s veterans on July 24th. Fellow receiver Drew Davis hasn’t been quite as fortunate with his own foot injury, as he’s expected to begin training camp on the PUP list.
6-5-14: The Atlanta Falcons have been quiet since a stellar showing in the 2014 NFL Draft, as they’ve mostly been busy locking up their new draft picks. The biggest of which was easily their 6th overall selection, stud offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Matthews got his deal wrapped up on May 21st, with the two sides agreeing to a four-year pact. The deal comes with a fifth-year team option and gives the Falcons a versatile tackle for the long-term that can man either side of the line. Atlanta also secured talented rookie running back Devonta Freeman, as well as hulking defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman. The latest buzz has been around freakish wide receiver Julio Jones, who appears to be progressing well from a foot injury that ended his 2013 season prematurely.
5-19-14: The Atlanta Falcons went into the 2014 NFL Draft with serious needs at offensive tackle and defensive end. With the #6 overall pick, they’d nail down at least one spot with an elite player. Here’s how their selections mapped out:
Round 1. Pick 06 Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Round 2. Pick 05 Ra'Shede Hageman, DL , Minnesota
Round 3. Pick 04 Dezmen Southward, DB , Wisconsin
Round 4. Pick 39 Prince Shembo, LB, Notre Dame
Round 5. Pick 07 Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
Round 5. Pick 28 Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse
Round 7. Pick 38 Yawin Smallwood, OLB, UConn
Round 7. Pick 40 Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
Atlanta knocked one need down right away, as the steady and NFL-ready Matthews should slide into one tackle spot and help protect Matt Ryan for years to come. Sticking on the line but shifting to defense, the Falcons got a borderline still with the athletic and beastly Hageman in round two. With a potential shift to a 3-4 base defense, landing Hageman could turn out to be a bigger deal than it appears. The Falcons didn’t make any other huge picks throughout the draft, but they did wisely acquire more depth and competition for their secondary and linebacking corps.
5-9-14: The Atlanta Falcons had two major holes going into this year’s draft: a lack of elite pass rushing and instability in pass protection. Consider one problem fixed. While the Falcons didn’t have a stud pass rusher slide to them (missed out on Khalil Mack by one pick), they surely didn’t mind patching up their offensive line with the selection of Texas A&M tackle, Jake Matthews. Matthews ended up being the second tackle off the board, but is probably the most well-rounded, NFL-ready tackle in the draft. Matt Ryan’s blind side is covered.
4-28-14: The Atlanta Falcons were an unlucky team in 2013. They dealt with numerous injuries to key players and lost several close games that they normally would win. Heading into 2014, their biggest concern has to be staying healthy, with concern number two being to get better on defense. They absolutely need more out of their pass-rush, which is why we keep hearing about them wanting to trade up to nab Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack. If they can’t get one of them, though, they would likely revert to offensive tackle, which is a huge need. Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson are elite tackles that Atlanta would be stoked to have. Heading into the second round, the Falcons could they go after their pass rush with someone like Trent Murphy. Tight end is also a glaring hole with Tony Gonzalez now retired. Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins would give them size and athleticism at the position they sorely lack.
4-18-14: The Atlanta Falcons suffered through a rough injury-plagued 2013 season and will look to rebound in a big way in 2014. That will likely begin with giving their star player some rest, so fans can probably count stud wide receiver Julio Jones out for the week one battle against the Miami Dolphins. Jones and the rest of the starters could see extended action as early as week two, though, as the Dirty Birds head to Houston to take on the Texans. Things should progress even more against the Tennessee Titans in week three, where the Falcons should look to play at least two quarters on the road. Atlanta’s preseason schedule draws to a close one week later in Jacksonville, where they should deploy mostly backups against the Jaguars.
4-7-14: The Atlanta Falcons went through some horrific troubles in 2013, dealing with injuries and poor line play on both sides of the ball. Naturally, the Falcons hit the trenches early and often in free agency, bring in big bodies like Paul Soliali and Tyson Jackson, while also re-signing Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters. Atlanta did the same for the offensive line, signing Jon Asomoah and Gabe Carimi as high upside risks, while also holding onto offensive tackle Mike Johnson. Atlanta marches into the 2014 NFL Draft still needing some help at defensive end and tackle, but with better health in 2014 still isn’t far away from getting back to the playoffs.
3-21-14: After a disastrous 2013 season that saw the Falcons drop from Super Bowl contenders to bottom feeders, it appears they are picking up the pieces with a solid stand in free agency. There are still plenty of holes to address, but the Falcons have done themselves a favor by addressing their offensive line, as well as their shaky defense. Re-signing right tackle Mike Johnson could potentially be the only move they need to make in that area if he can stay healthy, while guard Jon Asamoah could end up being a very strong depth add. On the defensive side of things, Atlanta cut some dead weight in aging cornerback Asante Samuel, while adding great run defense talent in Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliali on the line. Atlanta could still grab a tackle and pass-rusher in the draft, but is already much better in the trenches than they were a year ago.
12-31-13: Atlanta wanted to say goodbye to veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez with a win. The Carolina Panthers had other plans. Gonzalez caught four balls for 56 yards and almost ended his pro career with a win, but the Falcons couldn’t finish the job and lost their 12th game of 2013 at home, 21-20.
12-24-13: Matt Ryan played excellent football en route to 348 passing yards and two touchdowns, but a pick-six late in the game ruined his and the Falcons’ night as the San Francisco 49ers stole the win, 34-24. Wide receiver Roddy White was sensational, reeling in 12 of 15 targets for 141 yards and a touchdown as Atlanta dropped to 4-11.
12-17-13: Steven Jackson fought for 38 hard-earned rushing yards and found the end-zone twice as Atlanta held on at home to top the Washington Redskins, 27-26. The win was more fortunate than usual, as the Redskins scored a late touchdown that would have likely sent the game into overtime, but the Falcons stopped a two-point conversion attempt with just 18 seconds remaining to get the win.
12-10-13: Matt Ryan tossed two touchdowns and Atlanta gave a valiant effort, but couldn’t get it done with their final opportunities, losing on the road to the Green Bay Packers, 22-21. Off-season free agent acquisition Steven Jackson added 71 yards on the ground in Atlanta’s 10th loss of the year.
12-3-13: The Atlanta Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs before they hit the field on Sunday, yet they played like they had everything to gain. Roddy White had his best game of 2013, hauling in 10 receptions for 143 yards, while running back Steven Jackson added two touchdowns on the ground in the exciting 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills.
11-26-13: The Falcons were supposed to be dead in the water entering week 12, as they were just 2-9 and had been struggling to even compete in recent weeks. They didn’t get the memo. Instead of laying down the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta struck first for a 7-0 lead. They gave the Saints a fight throughout, but did end up conceding defeat, 17-13.
11-19-13: Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense struggled early for the third straight week and were never able to recover from a huge hole, falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, 41-28. The Falcons were gashed all day on defense by third string running back Bobby Rainey, who piled on over 160 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the defeat.
11-12-13: Matt Ryan continued his rough stretch, as not even the healthy return of star wide receiver Roddy White could cure what ails Ryan and this Atlanta offense. Ryan avoided throwing an interception this time around, but just couldn’t move the ball consistently, as the Falcons failed to establish any semblance of a ground game in a deflating 33-10 home loss.
11-5-13: Matt Ryan clearly misses Julio Jones and Roddy White. An early Steven Jackson touchdown run that would have made the week nine battle with the Panthers a close contest was called back and nothing else went right as Atlanta dropped to 2-6 in a 34-10 blowout loss. Matt Ryan was off of his game for the second straight week, as he threw three interceptions in the defeat.
10-30-13: The Atlanta Falcons were supposed to be climbing out of an early hole in week eight with a second straight win. Instead, Matt Ryan threw four picks and got sacked four times in a 27-13 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Atlanta simply couldn’t get anything going in this one and had to work for every little bit of success they found, as Arizona’s defense give them problems all day.
10-22-13: No Roddy White, Julio Jones or Steven Jackson? No problem. The Atlanta Falcons overcame a slew of injuries and an ineffective ground attack to get their second win on the season, a 31-23 triumph over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This one wasn’t quite as close as it appeared, as Matt Ryan tossed three scoring strikes and backup wide receiver Harry Douglas stepped up in an expanded role (149 yards and a touchdown) as Atlanta began to dig itself out of a 1-4 hole.
10-9-13: Wide receiver Julio Jones could
miss the rest of the 2013 NFL season with a foot injury. Jones will seek a second opinion on Wednesday.
Atlanta’s week five battle with the New York Jets was full of poor decisions, bad defense and late-game heroics. It’s too bad the latter didn’t matter in the end. Head coach Mike Smith made a poor call to go for it on the goal-line with no time left before the half, turning a potential 17-10 deficit into a 17-7 hole at the break. Matt Ryan worked against the Jets all night and overcame Smith’s questionable decision-making, putting Atlanta up 28-27 with just under two minutes to go. Unfortunately, just as had been the case all night, Atlanta’s injury-ravaged defense could not slow Geno Smith, who drove the Jets down the field and let kicker Nick Folk send the once mighty Falcons to a 1-4 start in the 30-28 home loss.
10-1-13: The Atlanta Falcons entered week four with slight desperation at home against the New England Patriots, but were unable to get to 2-2 despite some huge individual performances. Matt Ryan accounted for most of Atlanta’s offense, as he took it to the air 54 times, putting up 421 passing yards and two touchdowns. Ryan found tight end Tony Gonzalez to be his most reliable target in the loss, as Gonzo racked up 12 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Atlanta simply couldn’t overcome a 30-13 hole late in this one, thanks to an ineffective rushing attack and a defense that was unable to register a single sack or turnover.
9-19-13: The Atlanta Falcons looked to be taking care of business in a big way early in this battle, as they went up 24-3 on the visiting Rams and appeared to be headed for a nasty blowout. Sam Bradford and the Rams had other ideas, however, as St. Louis stormed back to make a game of it before bowing out in the 31-24 win for Atlanta. Ex-Rams running back Steven Jackson scored a touchdown before leaving the game due to injury, while Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones was by far the MVP of this battle, as he caught 11 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. It was an exciting shootout that nearly was capped with a ridiculous comeback, but ultimately ended with the Falcons preventing a 0-2 start to their season with the win at home. Next weekend, the Falcons head to Miami to take on one of the early season surprises in the NFL, the 2-0 Dolphins.
9-10-13: The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints were supposed to combine for week one’s most heated offensive battle. Instead, both teams struggled out of the gates and flamed out in the second half. Drew Brees ended up leading the way with over 350 passing yards and the Saints’ defense was the unlikely hero, allowing Atlanta to just 17 points in a tight 23-17 win. The Falcons had a chance to steal the game late, but turned the ball over on downs after a Matt Ryan pass fell incomplete in the end-zone. Next week, the Falcons host the Rams at The Georgia Dome.
9-3-13: Here are the Falcons final roster cuts heading into the regular season:LB Brian Banks, G Theo Goins, DT Neal Huynh, CB Terrence Johnson, S Charles Mitchell, DT Micanor Regis, T Alec Savoie, LB Pat Schiller, K Jeremy Shelley, CB Peyton Thompson, and RB Ronnie Wingo, WR James Rodgers, LB Robert James, WR Darius Johnson, OL Jacques McClendon, FB Patrick DiMarco, WR Martel Moore, OG Phillipkeith Manley, CB Jordan Mabin, DT Adam Replogle. Injured Reserve: QB Sean Renfree and TE Andrew Szczerba.
8-16-13: Despite their 27-23 loss to the Ravens, Week 2 of the NFL preseason went a lot better than week 1 for the Falcons. After their starters built up a 23-7 lead, the backups allowed 20 unanswered point from to the Ravens.
Matt Ryan completed 8 of 15 passes for 97 yards and a TD to Julio Jones. Jones caught 3 balls for 55 yards. Steven Jackson ran the ball 8 times for 42, Josh Vaughan chipped in with 5 carries and a team-high 44 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers carries it 10 times for 28 yards and a TD.
8-11-13: The Falcons lost their preseason opener to the Bengals 34-10. Matt Ryan completed 6 of his 9 passes for 89 yards. Newly acquired running back Steven Jackson had five carries for only 8 yards.
7-25-13: Matt Ryan signed a 5-year, $103.75 million extension with the Falcons on Thursday. $59 million is guaranteed.
7-10-13: The Atlanta Falcons were merely a 4th down conversion away from last year’s Super Bowl, so it’s no shock they didn’t make many changes heading into 2013. Would-be retired tight end Tony Gonzalez decided to stick around, though, while the team drastically improved their rushing attack by adding Steven Jackson to the mix. On defense, Atlanta lost Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes from their secondary, but boosted their pass-rush with Osi Umenyiora and also drafted cornerback Desmond Trufant to pair with Asante Samuel. The Falcons are as good as they were last year, if not better, and have another shot at the Super Bowl in 2013.
6-12-13: It’s no secret that the Falcons are out for blood in 2013. After missing the Super Bowl by a hair and finally winning their first playoff game in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era, Atlanta can genuinely taste the NFL title game, and they’re going to have a determined demeanour throughout the 2013 season. That’d be the situation no matter what, probably, but add on veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, who was supposed to be hanging up his cleats, and these Falcons have extra motivation to finish the job this season. With a high-powered offense and an upgrade at running back with the signing of steady vet Steven Jackson, there is no reason why the Falcons shouldn’t get back to the playoffs and make a deep run.
1-20-13: After defeating the Seahawks in the Divisional round, the Falcons dream season came to an end in the NFC Championship game, losing 28-24 to the 49ers.
2013 Falcons Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 22 (from Washington though St. Louis): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Round 2, Pick 28: Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana
Round 4, Pick 30: Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson
Round 4, Pick 36 (Compensatory Selection): Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
Round 5, Pick 20 (from Chicago): Stansly Maponga, DE, Texas Christian
Round 7, Pick 37 (Compensatory Selection): Kemal Ishmael, DB, Central Florida
Round 7, Pick 38 (Compensatory Selection): Zeke Motta, SS, Notre Dame
Round 7, Pick 43 (Compensatory Selection): Sean Renfree, QB, Duke
1-9-13: The Falcons won 13 games this year earning the wild card bye week and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. They will face a young and hungry Seattle Seahawks team for the first time this year. The Falcons have been unbelievable at home this season using the dome to their advantage. Matt Ryan and their high powered air attack will meet a legitimate test against Seattle’s tall and talented corners. The offensive line will also be tested against Seattle’s fast defensive linemen. Matt Ryan threw for over 4,000 yards this year and will need to look for more of the same type of success if Atlanta wants to back up its 13-3 record and make a title push.
12-4-12: The Atlanta Falcons have not only clinched their division but they also possess the best record in Football. At 11-1 and with the 3-9 Panthers on deck for them, some may wonder if this team may pack it in and rest some players in preparation for the playoffs. While that is a risky move it may prove wise in order to keep certain players healthy. With their only loss coming on the road, the Falcons will look to host each round of the NFC playoffs in their home, the Georgia Dome.