After listening to a few podcasts from the great Pudge and a guy who doesn't post here (Adinksmark REALLY?), I'll look into what guys stepped up and stepped down this year. Many crazy predictions were made and most of them were wrong because the Falcons were disappointing. Let's recap the actual players for the season, not talking about coordinators.
1. Harry Douglas- If he wasn't forgotten in December, he would have caught 50 passes in December. He had some huge moments this year and showed that he isn't a bust. Now let's forget him next year, because he was the man in November until Roddy White finally showed up in the season. Douglas needs to be re signed though because he could be a huge weapon for this team.
2. Lawrence Sidbury- Sidbury made himself relevant this season which is good to see. He showed some pass rush upside this year and had his moments. The man had more sacks than Edwards and Biermann, which is pretty interesting. Now obviously, Sidbury is still the 4th best defensive end on the team but maybe with his emergence that Biermann doesn't get re signed (which he shouldn't).
3. Sean Weatherspoon- Its pretty obvious with his progression was evident. He was the MVP for the defense this year with his play all season although it seemed his play dropped off bit in the end. Either way, he was still very valuable to our defense. It's nice to see that the Falcons hit on a first round pick after the failed picks with Jerry and Baker.
4. Corey Peters- Another guy that dropped off in the 2nd half but unlike Weatherspoon, he really fell off. But let's give Peters his due, he really made an impact at times this year. Other than Weatherspoon, he was our best defensive player in October. He continued to make impact everywhere but eventually he fell off. Still he should become a mainstay at the defensive tackle spot next to Babineaux for now.
5. Dominque Franks- It was close with Christopher Owens who also stepped up but I'm going to with Franks. For all the criticism and beef with Franks after that Vikings game, he really stepped up in December. The competition wasn't very good but he really fought hard and didn't really botch that much near the end of the year. I have hope for him in the coming season, although in no way shape or for is he the replacement of Brent Grimes.
1. Sam Baker- Can it be any easier here? Sam was horrible this year and shouldn't be on the team this year. He had moments where Ryan was possibly going to die with Baker blocking his blindside. It was a healthy thing for Baker not to play anymore after the Packers game. The injuries may have got to him, but he still doesn't cut it for this team.
2. Peria Jerry- Another guy that may not be on the team this year, although he will probably get one more year. Next year will be his 3rd legit year (didn't really play in rookie year) and he will get one more shot to make an impact unless something seriously goes right. Other than that play on Vick this year where he was completely unblocked, Jerry was mostly invisible this year. Vance Walker made more of an impact this year and showed more promise. For a 7th round pick, Walker has really been a nice bright spot and was close to making my progressing list.
3. Ray Edwards- It was brutal watching Edwards most of the time this year. He looked nothing like he was in Minnesota and went invisible at times. I'll never forget in July when he said he was the missing piece to this rising defense. The defense was rising and made some strides, but Ray never had anything to do with it. He's still young, but if Ray has another year like that well he may see the door out.
4. Thomas DeCoud- DeCoud continues to regress despite the recent increase of interceptions. At least he doesn't have stone hands anymore, now if only he can make plays when the ball is thrown at him. DeCoud was caught out of position several times this year and paid the price was even being benched at times. If it wasn't for a William Moore injury, he may have not received that starting spot back. I'll give DeCoud credit for improving his play when the season was ending but in big games this year he seemed to really struggle. I'm not sure if he will be re-signed but most Falcon fans wouldn't miss him.
5. Dunta Robinson- A very easy pick who easily could be higher on the list. His first year was nothing special but Dunta was never really picked on like he was this year. Their were games that Dunta deserved to be benched, yet he hung in there somehow. His play did seem to improve in small portions at the end of the year, but he wasn't very good this year. I assume he will improve as well with a new defensive scheme since he is absolutely lost in zone coverage, but I'm not confident.
"Pick your poison but either way we are going to kill you regardless.- Roddy White