The Atlanta Falcons 2014 NFL season did not go much better than their 2013 season. In 2013, the Falcons came into the season as possible Super Bowl contenders after finishing 13-3 the year before. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the Falcons were plagued with injuries all season and were only able to squeeze out 4 wins on the season.
The Falcons came into the 2014 season healthy and therefore with high expectations, but they face planted along with the rest of the NFC South division. Despite having a relatively healthy roster and head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons were hardly able to beat anyone outside of their division. In fact, the Falcons only non-division game victory didn’t come until Week 13 when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 29-18. The Falcons lost to every other team they faced outside of the NFC South, including teams like the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears who did not perform very well at all.
The Falcons seemed to be favorites to win the division simply because they were beating everyone else in it. The Falcons were 5-0 within their division going into their Week 17 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. This game would determine the NFC South champion for the 2014 season, and send the winning team to the playoffs with a guaranteed home game. The Falcons lost that game 34-3, sealing them at a 6-10 record.
Despite their bad season, the Falcons did still send three players to the Pro Bowl: quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, and receiver/return specialist Devin Hester. For a 6-10 team, the Falcons are actually very talented especially on offense. A little bit of young help for their defense and Atlanta should have no problem finding themselves back in the playoffs soon. Here’s the Atlanta Falcons biggest needs heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
Cornerback: The most important job for the Falcons this offseason is to improve the pass defense. Atlanta was dead-last in the pass defense category, giving up almost 280 yards a game through the air. The quickest way to improve a pass defense is to bring in a bunch of young corners who can keep up with the NFL’s best receivers. The Falcons already have Desmond Trufant who has certainly earned his keep; however, it is important that the Falcons put another strong option on the opposite side of him if they hope to improve their defense at all. Because of how bad the Falcons secondary was last season, don’t be surprised if they spend a few early draft picks trying to improve it.
Offensive Line/Tight End: The Falcons have built up quite the army of players around Matt Ryan, so it is important to keep him upright. The Falcons have a solid set of wide receivers and running backs, so at this point they just need a little more help protecting Ryan. The Falcons selected Jake Matthews with the 6th pick in last season’s draft, and he had a good rookie year; so adding another young lineman on the other side could do wonders for the pass protection and running game. As far as tight ends go, it is hard to replace Tony Gonzales; but the Falcons can work with anything. Atlanta did fine this season without an All-Pro tight end on offense; but tight ends have become one of the most important positions for the offense, so drafting a good one could do them well. Also, having a good blocking tight end would only further improve both the run and pass protection for the Falcons moving forward.