2013 NFL Preview: Atlanta Falcons

Kevin C. Cox

We take a look at the Atlanta Falcons in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Veteran Additions: RB Steven Jackson, DE Osi Umenyiora

Veteran Departures: CB Dunta Robinson, CB Brent Grimes, OT Tyson Clabo

Rookie Additions: CB Desmond Trufant, CB Robert Alford, DE Malliciah Goodman, TE Levine Toiolo, DE Stansly Maponga, DB Kemel Ishmael, S Zeke Motta, QB Sean Renfree

More 49ers opponents previews: Seahawks Cardinals Rams

Strengths: Offense

Does much else even need to be said? This is a high-flying offense that can score from anywhere. Just think about how badly our defense was torched in the first quarter of play in the NFC Championship game.

Matt Ryan has really come into his own, having a career year last season. The passing attack should remain potent, too, since the ever-youthful Tony Gonzalez is sticking around for a couple more years. He is joined by Roddy White and Julio Jones.

And what was this offense's weakness last year? The running game. Well, to fix that, the Falcons went out and got Steven Jackson from the Rams. Yes, he is getting older. But, I've learned over the years to never doubt Mr. Jackson. Ever. That guy is good.

The only question mark on this offense is the o-line, with Lamar Holmes and Mike Johnson competing for the right tackle spot previously held by Tyson Clabo. There might also be some shuffling on the interior line.

Weaknesses: Defense

It's not as simple as above. Really the whole offense is a strength for Atlanta. The whole defense is not a weakness. There are some really good players on this squad. But, there is a lot of room for improvement too.

Both the pass rush and the secondary might see some trouble this offseason. John Abraham is gone, after putting up a ten-sack season. The Falcons are hoping that Osi Umenyiora will replace that production, but color me skeptical. Hopefully Jonathan Babineaux can keep up his strong DT play. He had 3.5 sacks last season. This will undoubtedly have an effect on the secondary. Asante Samuel is returning, but he is joined by two rookies in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford after the Falcons lost Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson. While Trufant and Alford have a lot of potential, I imagine there will be some growing pains.

I'd also like to see some better LB play out of Akeem Dent (who has a -2.3 PFF ranking) and Stephen Nicholas (-11.6 ranking, mainly due to his pass coverage). At least they have a good LB in Sean Weatherspoon.

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