Atlanta Falcons 2012 Schedule
Photo By: Icon SMI
After trading up in the draft to select Julio Jones the Falcons were supposed to use more of a spread offense in 2011, and at times they did just that, but not without problems along the way. Struggles early in the year led to Atlanta gearing the offense through Michael Turner, but as the season went along Turner clearly lost a step, and by years end, they were having success with a no huddle offense.
While the offensive line is better suited for the run game, this teams future is in the passing game, as standout rookie Julio Jones started looking like the player we expected to see coming out of Alabama in the second half, and slot man Harry Douglas, appeared to be fully recovered from a ACL injury the year before.
Still, with all the weapons on this team, Matt Ryan failed — at least in my eyes — to take this team to the next level and that is winning a playoff game and doing so with clear command of the offense. Whatever it is about Ryan it seems as though he can struggle with pressure in his face, and possibly has trouble reading defenses in pre-snap situations.
While I clearly don’t have All-22 film to watch what’s going on in the backfield, so I can’t say for sure, if it’s all on Ryan, but what I can say is that he consistently missed on vertical throws all year. I know this all too well as I had Roddy White on a few of my fantasy football teams.
Times Are Changing
The Falcons will have new offensive and defensive coordinators this year, but it appears defensive coordinator Mike Nolan doesn’t plan on abandoning the 4-3 as a base defense, at least not completely. Then again, what does that mean in today’s NFL as teams are in sub-packages (nickel, dime), especially when they face an offense like the Saints?
What is for sure is that the Falcons defensive tackle rotation was sound last year as Corey Peters stepped up with valuable minutes as a starter. Still, this team struggled in the backfield, and if John Abraham and company can’t do a better job of pressuring the quarterback, they are likely to give up big plays, down the field again.
Another point of interest is at the running back position as second year runner Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to be more involved in the offense, as Turner seems scheduled for a reduction in snaps. As it so happens I live in Oregon, and had the privilege to watch many of Rodgers’s games at Oregon State, and let me tell you Falcons fans, you have yourself a good player.
Rodgers is powerful for his size, good lateral quickness and he rarely, if ever, fumbles the football. As far as his hands go, I’m sure you can remember that nice wheel route he caught against the Panthers down the sidelines for a long touchdown last year, so we all know he can help out in that area.
If Rodgers is up for the challenge (should be) I expect this kid to have a breakout year, and he should be worth stashing late in your fantasy drafts. All that said, one player that could slow him down (besides Turner of course) is veteran Jason Snelling, as he re-signed with the team last month.