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Atlanta Falcons 2015 Offseason: Top 3 Needs

After their horrific loss in Week 17 to the Panthers, the Falcons failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year.

Now that the Super Bowl has been played and free agency is less than a month away, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three offseason needs for each team. The next franchise in focus is the Atlanta Falcons.

What to Know

2014 Record: 6-10

Draft Picks: 8th Overall

Notable Free Agents: Osi Umenyiora, Sean Weatherspoon, Kroy Biermann

2014 In Review

After their horrific loss in Week 17 at home to the Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season after advancing to the NFC Championship game in 2012. In 2013, the team’s main issue was the offensive line not protecting Matt Ryan. Their troubles this season were primarily on defense, as they placed dead last in the NFL on that side of the ball. With another disappointing campaign, Mike Smith was given the boot by owner Arthur Blank, effectively ending his seven-year tenure with the franchise.

To avoid spending their January’s at home after falling one game short of the Super Bowl two years ago, what pieces do the Falcons need in order to return to the postseason?

Atlanta Falcons 2015 Offseason: Top 3 Needs

Defensive Lineman

From 2006-2012, John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux were the anchors along Atlanta’s defensive front. During that seven-season span, the Falcons made the postseason in four of those years (2008, 2010-2012). In those campaigns, five-time Pro Bowler Abraham eclipsed at least 10 sacks three times. At defensive tackle, Babineaux averaged 29.5 tackles and 3 sacks in those playoff-clinching seasons. Abraham left for Arizona after the 2012 season while Babineaux remained in a Falcon uniform. Babineaux amassed 30 tackles the last two years, but it didn’t make up for Abraham’s absence. Free agent acquisition Osi Umenyiora was present on the field, but absent on the stat sheets.

Atlanta needs youth along the defensive line. With Babineaux, Umenyiora and Paul Soliai all at least 30 years of age, fresh legs will definitely be needed. Kroy Biermann and Tyson Jackson were decent in 2014, but they are 29 and 28, respectively. The Falcons–along with their archrivals in New Orleans–are expected to be in the Dante Fowler sweepstakes during draft time.

Defensive Back

It’s said in football that, “It all starts up front.” Although that is mostly the case, the defense finishes in the back. The Falcons were last in the league against the pass, surrendering 280 yards per game through the air in 2014. Much of their misfortune is placed on a nonexistent pass rush, but the secondary has to cover the field at some point. With former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn installed as the new head coach, expect Atlanta to go after “Legion of Boom” product Byron Maxwell in free agency to pair up with Desmond Trufant.

The Falcons should address the safety position as well. In 2012, much of their success was attributed to the Pro Bowl safety tandem of Thomas Decoud and William Moore. Void of the ballhawking centerfield element the last two years, Atlanta should be proactive in shoring up their back-end.


Paul Worrilow and Sean Weatherspoon headline the Falcons’ linebacker corps. After surpassing 120 tackles in his first two seasons, Worrilow earned a spot on our 2014 Pro Bowl Snubs list. When he is healthy, Weatherspoon is as good as it gets at the linebacker position. Beyond those two, more depth and talent is needed to relieve pressure off of the defensive line. Prince Shembo may be the next man up if Weatherspoon continues to have durability issues.

Side Note

With the crop of players being so rich at the position, Atlanta could nab a tight end in free agency. They have yet to find the replacement for future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. With Pro Bowlers Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen playing in the same division, signing that extra pass catcher is not the worst idea. With all that said, however, defensive should be their main priority.

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