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 Post subject: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:59 pm 
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Personally, I'd give Seattle the edge as of today.

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Are ... -9895.html

Osi Umenyiora, Steven Jackson could bolster Atlanta’s Super Bowl chances. Jeff Fedotin
SHAREPrint ThisMAY 28, 2013, 04:00 PM EST
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The 49ers and Seahawks engaged in an offseason arms race, loading up two already stacked rosters with free agents and draft picks.

But could the Falcons be flying be under the radar and poised to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?

“I still believe this team — the Atlanta Falcons — has a lot of talent on this roster,” said free-agent acquisition, RB Steven Jackson. “They have the experience of now having been in the playoffs some years in a row. I believe falling short in the championship game will bring them back even hungrier.”

The Falcons, who fell four points short in the NFC Championship Game after leading the 49ers 17-0, addressed their major offseason needs — a better pass rush and running game.

Despite going 13-3 to earn home-field advantage last season, Atlanta had a pass defense, which ranked just 23rd in the league. That statistic had much to do with a poor rush, which totaled 29 sacks (28th in the league).

The signing of DE Osi Umenyiora, who has 26.5 sacks in the last three years, a total which does not include his sack of Matt Ryan during the playoffs two seasons ago, should improve that area.

“This a team that I feel needs or could use a player like myself,” Umenyiora said.

Umenyiora, who lives in Cleveland, Ga., should serve as an upgrade over John Abraham. Umenyiora (31) is four years younger than the unsigned Abraham — who while effective for the Falcons — played limited snaps to preserve his oft-injured body.

S-Jax gives the Falcons a big upgrade at the running back position.
The Falcons could further bolster their defensive line by adding another local veteran. Rumors have swirled that they might sign DT Richard Seymour, who went to Georgia and is training in Atlanta. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has connections with the 33-year-old Seymour from their days together with the Patriots.

On offense the Falcons have improved a running game, which was in desperate need of it, by signing Jackson. Last year’s rush game ranked just 29th in NFL with 87.3 yards per game. As a whole the unit averaged a measly 3.7 yards per carry.

Jackson, who will turn 30 during this summer, is not the player he once was. But with passing weapons like Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez at Ryan’s disposal, the Falcons don’t need a bell cow back.

They just need someone who can prevent defenses from keying on the pass and who can grind out clock to protect a fourth-quarter lead. The Falcons led the 49ers 24-14 at halftime and 24-21 going into the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game, but they only amassed 81 rushing yards (a 3.5 average) during the contest.

The running game stalled behind Michael Turner.

The former bruising back seems to have worn down after carrying the ball 1,189 times from 2008 to 2011. Known for his powerful legs, Turner looked as if he was running through mud last year and averaged just 3.6 yards a carry on his 800 rushing yards.

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler, may have slowed, too, but the bulldozing, 240-pounder has a lot more left in his tank than Turner. He averaged 79.8 yards a game during the last half of the 2012 season. Jackson ran for 1,041 yards in all, averaging 4.1 a carry.

“(I have) breakaway speed,” Jackson said, “and a tenacity to never say, ‘quit.’”

His rugged running style will serve as a nice complement to the shifty 5-6, 196-pound Jacquizz Rodgers. Jackson has been friends with his fellow Oregon State Beaver since ‘Quizz was a teenager.

The Falcons’ offensive arsenal also will have one of the best weapons in NFL history, Gonzalez, who had previously said he was “95 percent” sure he would retire after the 2012 season.

Umenyiora recorded 26.5 sacks with the Giants over the last three years.
The return of last year’s 93-catch, 930-yard, eight-touchdown star further enticed Jackson to sign with the Falcons.

“It definitely made the decision a little easier,” Jackson said.

Even with these additions, questions remain particularly in the Atlanta secondary, which was another reason for the NFL’s 23rd-ranked pass defense.

CB Dunta Robinson moved on to the Chiefs, and Brent Grimes, though an Achilles tendon injury limited the team’s best cover corner to one game last season, signed with the Dolphins.

Rookie draft picks Desmond Trufant (first round, 22nd overall) and Robert Alford (second round, 60th overall) will have to make an immediate impact if Atlanta wants to make a deep postseason run.

By winning their first playoff game last year, Gonzalez, Ryan and coach Mike Smith have that monkey off their back.

Now they want the jewelry of Umenyiora, who earned two Super Bowl rings with the Giants. Despite playing on the 2011 and 2007champions, he made a bold statement about the 2013 Falcons.

“This team is the most talented team I’ve seen in my life probably,” Umenyiora said.

Seahawks and 49ers, beware.

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 Post subject: Re: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:26 pm 
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Really we haven't addressed much....... With the offensive line having a new center, right tackle, and maybe right guard, that leaves our Qb & running backs to perhaps have a hard time.

The same with the Defensive Line, we don't have young studs coming back??

I'd love to hear someone NOT on the Falcons roster say we're the team to beat......

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 Post subject: Re: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:06 pm 
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I think in terms of skill position players on offense, we're the best on paper. However, our defense is a great big question mark, as is our offensive line. It's hard for me to say that we're the team to beat when there are so many unanswered questions. At this point, I think that Seattle or San Francisco are the top two teams in the NFC. That said, it is entirely possible that we're a juggernaut at this point, and we don't know it yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:35 pm 
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If someone wanted to claim that SF, Sea and ATL were the three best, I'd have no gripes, but don't think any of these three has done enough to separate themselves from the pack.

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 Post subject: Re: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:48 pm 
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I agree with Robert that on paper our Offensive skill positions are probably the best....

Lets not argue over that though; Anyone tell me how you win without an Offensive Line or Defensive Line. Holmes or the kid from Alabama who's never made it before; aren't ready for right tackle in my opinion.

Who is right guard?? Joe Hawley?? As Pudge pointed out in another thread our projected center stunk when he started last year...
I understand he was always suppose to be a center, but I'm still ole fashion that I believe it all starts up front. Thomas D. is really going to need some questionable
people come through, and your just not going to hit on 3 untested linemen working out
to make up your line.

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 Post subject: Re: Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:26 pm 
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Falcons have a tougher schedule this year- but may have a better experienced well coached team.

It will all come down to injuries of starters as it does every season.

Strike one against San Francisco- Crabtree down...


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