A year after turning the page on the Julio Jones era, the Atlanta Falcons moved on from Matt Ryan, signifying the team entered a full rebuild.
Of course, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has his sights set higher than on a strict youth project, and the team has done some work to give him a roster to work with heading into the start of training camp Tuesday.
Ultimately, 2022 may be more about the financial reset that comes with getting Ryan’s deal off the books and general improvement.
Training camp location: Flowery Branch, Ga.
Atlanta Falcons Training Facility
Rookie report date: July 19
Veteran report date: July 26
Key acquisitions: QB Marcus Mariota, RB Damien Williams, CB Casey Hayward, DE Lorenzo Carter, LB Rashaan Evans
Key losses: QB Matt Ryan, LB Foyesade Oluokun, WR Russell Gage, TE Hayden Hurst, DE Dante Fowler, CB Fabian Moreau
By many early accounts, the Falcons might have found a keeper in the draft with third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder. But even if Ridder wins the job as a rookie, he still doesn’t expect to provide the down-to-down consistency Ryan did for 14 NFL seasons. Those are big shoes to fill.
And Atlanta doesn’t look better on paper much of anywhere else, either, as the team has fully jumped into rebuild mode now that Ryan has been traded away.
Calvin Ridley is suspended, which isn’t the best news, though that could open the door for rookie Drake London to make an immediate impact. He’ll pair with returning utility man Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Pitts to give Atlanta juice on offense.
Deion Jones leads the defense, but he’ll need some help. Perhaps rookie linebackers Arnold Ebiketie and Troy Andersen will be ready to contribute right away.
–WEEK 1 IN FOCUS:
Saints at Falcons, 1 p.m. ET
Line: Saints -5.5 (FanDuel)
Total: 41.5 points
The Falcons lead the all-time series 54-52, and they did win in New Orleans last season (27-25 on Nov. 7), but the Saints won the rematch on Jan. 9 and have taken seven of the last nine.
–A WINNING TREND?
The Falcons have fallen from the No. 13 scoring offense in 2019, down to No. 16 in 2020, all the way down to No. 26 last year … and that was with Ryan quarterbacking the offense. Taking a flier on Atlanta to drop all the way to last in the league with Mariota and/or Ridder taking snaps might be the kind of guess that pays off, especially with some sportsbooks offering +1300.
–Field Level Media