I think starting quarterback Matt Ryan is overrated. A lot of people don’t pick up on that because he has a dynamic receiver duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White. If it wasn’t for Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall of the Bears, they might form the best duo in the league.
Jones and White are really skilled at elevating and getting the ball. Ryan throws up a lot of garbage that those guys come down with. I’ve always said that, and boy was my point proven correct last year. Jones was out with an injury after week 5 and White missed 3 games because of a high ankle sprain and never seemed to be quite 100 % until later in the season. Without those two Ryan was exposed as the overrated QB he is and threw a career high 17 interceptions, 7th worst in the league.
Ryan still threw for a shit ton of yards though, over 4,500, but that massive total is misleading. Atlanta had no running game whatsoever in 2013, ranking dead last. The team fell behind early and often in last years 4-12 debacle. Atlanta’s leading rusher was the aging, and often injured Steven Jackson who ran for only 543 yards. Very poor numbers.
Ryan will also be missing the freshly retired Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends ever to play the game. This will have some affect on his play but not that much if Jones and White stay healthy.
There is really only one word I can think of to describe this teams defense: soft. They are just plain soft. I liked rookie Desmond Trufant‘s debut last year but that is about it. This is a defense that gets owned when they play physical offenses. the D will have to toughen up to have any success this year. Especially in a tough AFC South division.
Competing with the Saints and Panthers for the division will be a tough task but this team should be much healthier this year and play better then last years 4-12 record. They might overtake the Panthers in the win column but not the Saints.
Click on the logo below to see the next team in Hawk’s 2014 NFL Preview: NFC South Edition: The Carolina Panthers: