Atlanta Falcons: 5 offseason needs in 2020

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons are a team that appears headed in the wrong direction since reaching Super Bowl LI. What do they need to do to get back in the playoffs?

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Atlanta Falcons since head coach Dan Quinn was hired in 2015. During his debut season, the club opened 5-0 then dropped eight of its final 11 contests to finish at exactly .500. The following season, the team won an NFC South title with an 11-5 record and earned a berth in Super Bowl LII. Of course, the NFL world knows what happened that afternoon in Houston after the Falcons took a 28-3 in the third quarter.

One year later, the Falcons shook off an up-and-down year and rallied down the stretch to finish 10-6. A wild card win over the Rams at Los Angeles was followed by a tough loss over the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round.

Of course, the past two seasons have ended with identical 7-9 records. When it came to 2019, Quinn’s club did follow up a six-game midseason losing streak with six wins in its final eight games. So where does the team go from here and what can it do to challenge in the NFC South?

5. Revisit the offensive line

This was general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s priority last offseason. In 2018, the Falcons finished 27th in the league in rushing offense and the club allowed a disappointing 42 sacks. The free-agent additions included guards James Carpenter and John Wetzel and versatile Jamon Brown. With the 14th overall pick last April, the team opted for guard Chris Lindstrom. Then via a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, the Falcons used the next-to-last selection in Round 1 on tackle Kalen McGary — a 16-game starter.

When it was all said and done, Atlanta ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing offense and the club surrendered 50 quarterback traps. Via Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the club wound up with the league’s 24th-ranked offensive line. It’s safe to say there’s still work to be done here, and it could be just another year of this unit coming together. But this is an area that needs to be shored up quickly.

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