The NFC South was the NFL’s worst division in 2022. All four teams finished with a losing record, and they all have big questions to answer this offseason. The Atlanta Falcons finished bottom of the division and endured an inconsistent season under Arthur Smith. Atlanta’s year two rebuild provided few answers and more questions for general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Smith.
Season Record: 7-10
The Falcons’ 7-10 record mirrored their 2021 record and featured stretches of strange and smart football. An 0-2 start ceded to a 2-0 period before Atlanta went, win, loss, win, loss in the next four games. The Falcons posted a 2-4 record against their division rivals and lost eight games away from home.
Best Win: 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks
Atlanta’s only road win occurred in Week Three as they defeated the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. It was an excellent all-round performance from Atlanta as their defense and offense clicked to stymie Seattle. Wins in Seattle are challenging to achieve, and it certainly gave the Falcons a big boost.
Worst Loss: 21-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It would not be an Atlanta Falcons season without a gut-wrenching defeat. An early trip to Florida to battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended in controversy and heartbreak. The Falcons battled and battled before a horrendous roughing the passer call dashed Atlanta’s hopes. Divisional wins can turbocharge a team’s momentum and confidence, but losses can damage them. This one did.
Team MVP: Tyler Allgeier
Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier breached the 1,000-yard barrier and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Allgeier’s 1,035 rushing yards were a new franchise rookie record. Allgeier did all that despite facing eight-man boxes on 40% of his runs. The rookie showed off his excellent running power and ball security in a solid debut season. Veteran Cordarrelle Patterson said Allgeier ‘does not know how good he is.’
Biggest Roster Weakness: Defensive Line
The Falcons finished 29th in run-stop win rate and 26th in pass-rush win rate. Furthermore, the Falcons were 31st in total sacks. Outside of Grady Jarrett, the Falcons do not possess dynamic, game-wrecking athletes on the defensive line. Otherwise, teams will continue to bully Atlanta in the trenches.
Biggest Roster Strength: Kicking
Younghoe Koo and Bradley Pinion might be the best place-kick and punt duo in the NFC. Koo’s big leg and accuracy mark him out as one of the best place-kickers in the game, while Pinion is a wily punter with plenty of pop.
Biggest offseason question: Is Desmond Ridder the guy?
Teams either possess franchise quarterbacks or do not. The Falcons lost Matt Ryan before last season, and now the onus is on Desmond Ridder to become the franchise player. Ridder looked ok at the back end of last season, and a full preseason alongside Drake London and Kyle Pitts should help Ridder adapt. It is a big season for the Cincinnati product.
Outlook: Aim for .500
The Falcons’ strength of schedule currently stands as the weakest in the NFL. Terry Fontenot should also have around $50 million to spend on players, while coaching continuity should help Atlanta’s young players improve. In a division with no clear powerhouse and a top-10 pick in the draft, the Falcons have hope for a giant third-year leap.