History Says Year Two of Kyle Shanahan Should Give Falcons Hope

by Bobby Holloway III

The job of a coach is to get the most out of their players, especially in the sport of football and in the NFL. That means capitalizing on strengths and figuring out what their favorite things to do are, while also taking their weaknesses and hiding them as much as possible.

Rewind to last season.

Watching the Atlanta Falcons’ offense last season was painful, partly because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan struggled to figure out the strengths of his players (namely QB Matt Ryan). Ryan was often overwhelmed in Shanahan’s system, and there was clearly a dearth of talent on the offensive line and at wide receiver (outside of Julio Jones).

Even with the talented Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, along with an emerging Devonta Freeman, the Falcons only scored over 30 points twice the entire season (against Dallas and Houston). Atlanta finished last season seventh in total offense, sixth in passing, 19th in rushing and 15th in scoring offense—needless to say, the Falcons were very inconsistent. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with a history of improvement under Shanahan in his previous stops in Washington and Houston. 

History shows, in his second season with a team, Shanahan and his players are able to dramatically decrease turning the ball over, in addition to a slight increase in red-zone touchdowns. That means Ryan needs to show better decision making, and the skill players need to have better ball security. If that happens, the Falcons offense could be a sight to see.

The Falcons had a minus seven turnover margin in 2015, with Ryan committing 21 turnovers (16 interceptions and five fumbles lost), including an alarming six INT’s in the red zone—second to Eli Manning of the New York Giants (eight). With a season in this system under their belts, the Falcons—especially Ryan—should be more comfortable with the concepts and schemes taught by Shanahan.

The Falcons should be better offensively from a talent perspective with the additions of center Alex Mack and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, as well as the continued development of tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder. Rookie tight end Austin Hooper is expected to be an added weapon in the red zone.

History needs to be on the Falcons’ side this season, because this team can’t afford to kick field goals against the likes of Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, the Denver Broncos defense, Drew Brees (twice), an emerging Jameis Winston (twice) and finally, the reigning league MVP in Cam Newton (twice) and expect to win. The defense will have their hands full facing those quarterbacks, so the offense can’t afford to have an off-game.

Let’s hope this promising history continues in Atlanta. If not, then Kyle Shanahan might be adding another travel sticker to his suitcase.

For more Falcons news and analysis, follow @RiseUpReader on Twitter.


Thomas Dimitroff Responds to the Angry Atlanta Falcons Fan Twitter Mob

By Steve Cohen, @SteveInBrooklyn

Editor’s note: The post below contains some explicit language.

The immediate Twitter reaction to the Atlanta Falcons’ 1st round draft pick of Florida Safety Keanu Neal was, um, a bit mixed, as Neal’s selection may have ruffled some fans’ feathers (no pun intended) (but man, that would have been a pretty good pun if I had intended it, right?).

But fear not! We at the Rise Up Reader blog on WordPress.com have used our powerful sway over the Atlanta Falcons football organization and brought the one and only Thomas Dimitroff away from his Flowery Branch exercise bike and onto this very blogsite. So not only can Thomas answer fan questions about the Falcons’ 1st round selection, but he can also calmly – as only he can – assuage all of our concerns. So put that tranquilizer gun back in the closet next to your Xanax bottle because all your lingering nerves and stresses are about to drift away thanks to the smooth, dulcet tones of Thomas Dimitroff’s voice. (And by that I mean his voice in written form.)

So let’s get to the Atlanta Falcons Fan Angry Twitter Mob Q & A!

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Falcons Mock Draft 2016: The Trade Back Scenario

by Michael Aprile (@RiseUpReader)

With the start of the 2016 NFL Draft merely hours away, it’s time for one of my favorite pastimes—taking a stab at who I think the Falcons should draft tomorrow night. I’m not expecting to hit on 100% of these picks, I’m simply doing what I would do if I were the GM of the Atlanta Falcons. In this final mock draft of the 2016 season, I wanted to take a look at what a trade back scenario could look like. Atlanta only has a whopping total of five picks in this draft, and if they want to fill out their roster with more talent throughout, they’ll need to acquire more picks. Let’s take a look at how a trade back scenario could look for the Falcons.

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Predicting the Falcons 2016 Wins and Losses

by Cory Woodroof (@CoryWoodroof47)

Predicting a team’s win-loss record at the release of the schedule can be a tricky task for any prognosticator. Primarily, the draft is still on the way, where teams can either drastically improve or stay the same. Teams still have to strike cohesion in their respective training camps, as well. So, it’s early, but it’s still fun to look down the road.

The Atlanta Falcons have one of the league’s toughest schedules on paper in 2016—it’ll be a fight just about every week, but can the 2016 Falcons improve on last year’s 8-8 record?

The team tried to fix their offensive kinks by adding C Alex Mack and WR Mohamed Sanu to the fold, and they brought in DL Derrick Shelby and LBs Sean Weatherspoon & Courtney Upshaw to aid the defense. They also stand to add a few valuable pieces within the first four rounds of the NFL draft next week (and, fingers crossed, the seventh round and UDFAs turn out well, too).

So, how will the Falcons fare in the fall? Let’s take a look.

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Drafting Robert Nkemdiche: Is the Reward Worth the Risk?

by Shedrick Carter (@ShedrickCarter2)

Last year, Randy Gregory out of Nebraska was one of the top pass rushers in the draft, and there was talk that he was a top-five talent. Many evaluators even had Gregory as the top pure pass rusher in the entire draft. They said that Gregory had great burst and bend off the edge. Gregory was in the running to be picked by the Atlanta Falcons along with Vic Beasley and Shane Ray, but then his stock started falling fast. He had a failed drug test at the combine and then a story broke out that he may be mentally unstable. This caused Gregory to fall to the second round and get scooped up by the Dallas Cowboys. Gregory was hurt for part of the season, but you could see the talent that he had, and even though he is suspended for the first four games, you can make the case that the talent was worth the pick in the second round.

So, what was the point of that story? Well, this year there’s a situation very similar to Gregory’s, a situation that revolves around Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche is a player that evaluators are saying is a top-five talent, but he has similar questions surrounding his off-field life. Should the Falcons pick the talented Nkemdiche should he fall to them? Let’s evaluate.

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Dec 16, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack (55) during a game against the Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Washington won 38-21. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Mack Will Be a Difference Maker for the Falcons

by Vince Phillips (@Kentphillipsv)

New center for the Falcons, Alex Mack, brings what we hope will be “the anchor” of our offensive line. That’s what he was for the Browns’ offensive line through four coaches and the debacle that was Johnny Manziel. With Mack’s price tag of $45 million dollars (28.5 millions guaranteed), some might wonder if he’s worth it—especially since he is 30-years old and will turn 31 during the upcoming season. I’m here to tell you that Mack was indeed well worth it, and here’s why.

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Post Free-Agency Needs for the Atlanta Falcons

By Shedrick Carter (@ShedrickCarter2)

With free agency winding down, it’s time for us to start looking forward to the NFL Draft happening later this month. Our Atlanta Falcons did a lot of nice things in free agency, and we should applaud them for making an effort in trying to improve the football team. The Falcons went into free agency with a game plan to improve the team in certain areas, and I believe they accomplished what they wanted to. But, the Falcons still have some unfinished business heading into the draft.

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