The Atlanta Falcons were one of the biggest turnaround teams in the NFL for the 2008 season. Joining the Miami Dolphins with the big turnarounds, the Falcons made their way to the playoffs before being eliminated by future Super Bowl losers, the Arizona Cardinals.
The offseason didn't start well for the Falcons as the team had 13 players slated to become free agents at the beginning of free agency. The team resigned fifth year veteran Chauncey Davis to a four year contract, resigned Coy Wire, and Jason Jefferson.
Management looked into two big-name free agents and also looked for a team willing to trade a tight end, which was one of the big needs for the Falcons in the 2008 season. Mike Peterson, a 11-year veteran who had a previous run with Mike Smith in Jacksonville, signed with the Falcons on a two year deal to try and improve the linebacking corps. The two year deal was a good idea for signing Peterson who is 32 years old.
The Falcons also signed Brett Romberg away from the St. Louis Rams in an attempt to solidify their offensive line.
One of the greatest tight ends in the history, Tony Gonzalez, was also added to the Falcon's depth chart after trading away a second round choice in the 2010 NFL Draft. Gonzalez will not only be another receiving threat for uprising quarterback Matt Ryan, but will also be a locker room leader, which is something the team needed since letting Lawyer Milloy go in free agency.
The Falcons used the NFL draft to focus on a defense that ranked 17th in total yards allowed last season. The Falcons also ranked 20th overall in passing yards allowed which made cornerback and safety a big need for a team trying to make another playoff run this season. The Falcons had eight picks in the 2009 NFL Draft and used seven of these picks on defensive players.
The Falcons used their first round pick on Peria Jerry, a defensive tackle from Mississippi. This pick will solidify the defensive line for the Falcons and will help them get a better pass rush at opposing quarterbacks, which will take pressure off of the corners and safeties.
William Moore, a safety of Missouri, was regarded as an above-average safety until injuries depleted his playing time in his senior season which made his stock drop. Moore could either blossom if he can avoid injuries, or be a bust if injuries derail his career.
The Falcons have eight games at home this season and eight away games making for a balanced schedule. The Falcons open up against another team that got a big turnaround, the Miami Dolphins. Although the Dolphins are getting older, the wildcat formation could prove to be too unstoppable for the Falcons, but I'll go with a victory for the Falcons in a better game then everyone expected, bringing the Falcons to 1-0.
The Falcons host another home game against division rival, the Carolina Panthers, in a matchup between two of the best in the division. This game will most likely ride on how quarterback Jake Delhomme plays for the Panthers, and if he can succeed, the run game will get less coverage and DeAngelo Williams will have a big day. I say the Falcons suffer a less and bringing their record even at 1-1.
The third game of the season will be the Falcons first away game of the season, heading to Gillette Stadium to play the New England Patriots. If Tom Brady returns in top form at the beginning of the season after knee surgery, the Patriots could put up 30+ plus points on a team with a lackluster defense. If Brady plans well, the Patriots will win, which would bring the Falcons down to 1-2.
The team heads into their bye week hoping that no major injuries happen to a team that didn't suffer to many major injuries last season, which could credit to their success. Part two of the story will be posted later as I run through weeks 4-11 of the Falcons season.