The Eagles game was targeted as Atlanta’s first legitimate shot at an elite team and an opportunity to dispel any questions concerning how good they really are.
In the end, the game served as notice that Atlanta is not only a legitimate championship contender, but possibly the best team in the league.
Once possible players in the NFL’s trade-game, the Falcons appear poised to hold steady and go with what they have moving forward.
The prevailing sense that they may be a player or two away from being truly elite has been subdued by the results in Philly coupled with the prior accomplishments.
Many of the weaknesses that plagued the Falcons throughout the first six games before entering the bye week appeared to have been addressed.
The defense played noticeably better against the run and tackling was much improved.
The offensive line, which had been the biggest area of concern, did a much better job creating run lanes and protecting Matt Ryan.
As a result, the Falcons are now sellers rather than buyers, and they can afford to sell high to gain value rather than fill an immediate need.
The Falcons have the opportunity to trade two players that will return good long-term value—more than likely draft picks.
Here is a look at two players the Falcons should trade before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Michael Turner - Running Back
Turner is caught in flux with Atlanta due to the Falcons transition to a pass-first offense—a power back stuck in an offense that begs to be a one-back zone-style.
He no longer fits the mold of what the Falcons truly want to do.
Once the NFL’s leading rusher, Turner has lost what made him so unique—the burst and straight line speed of a scat back along with the leg drive and penchant for driving the pile forward of power back.
Moving forward, the Falcons would be best served to utilize the younger duo of Jacquizz Rodgers as the feature back.
Rodgers is a one-cut back, meaning he needs one cut to hit the running lane. He's the type of back best suited for three and four receiver pass-first offensive systems.
Averaging more than 4.5 yards per play from scrimmage this season, Rodgers leads his position mates but only has 59 total plays from scrimmage.
Ray Edwards - Defensive End
The Ray Edwards experiment has played itself out.
Edwards was signed in 2011 to bolster one of the NFL’s worst pass rush units going into last season, as well as be the heir apparent to John Abraham.
Through 21 games, two defensive coordinators and a more aggressive scheme in 2012, Edwards simply has not met expectations. He mustered only 3.5 sacks last season while failing to record any through the first seven games.
Edwards’ best value appears to be as a run stopper at end or as a pass-rushing tackle in long-down/pass rushing situations. The Falcons are not looking for a run-first player on the edge of their scheme and they possess arguably the best interior depth in the league.
Reviewing the season, more specifically the Eagles game, the Falcons have a more suitable pass rusher in Kroy Biermann.
Biermann is more athletic, faster and plays with much more consistent high-level energy than Edwards.
Fact of the matter is, Biermann out-performs Edwards. Biermann has registered 30 tackles and two sacks, whereas Edwards’ has managed just eight tackles and two sacks, telling numbers.
Furthermore, when the Falcons want to play the run more so than rush the passer they can continue what they did in the Eagles game which is to use three defensive tackles and one defensive end to make up the front four.
Keeping Edwards would under serve team goals at defensive end while being overkill at defensive tackle.