The 2013 is over for the Atlanta Falcons, and that might be the best news we've heard in quite some time. A 4-12 campaign coming off a trip to the NFC Championship was an unforeseen debacle. We can't point fingers at any one player/coach for the disappointing year, but we can single out the poor line play on both sides of the ball.
Atlanta struggled to protect Matt Ryan, block for Steven Jackson and generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Those three areas appeared as glaring weaknesses every game, and we aren't the only ones who noticed.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) does an excellent job of grading players, teams and compiling stats throughout the season. Now that all 16 games are in the books, we can take a look at what the PFF team thought.
We'll start with overall unit grades. Warning, they aren't pretty.
So that was fun. Injuries to Sam Baker and Julio Jones took their toll on the offense, but this was truly an uninspiring effort overall, mainly stemming from the line. Almost dead last in the NFL in pass protection, but sure, let's blame Ryan for not being elite.
Just for comparison, PFF gave the Falcons an overall offensive rating of 139.8 in 2012. This wasn't slight dropoff from last year; it was a dive-bomb into a giant bomb factory.
OK, the offense wasn't good. Maybe the defense was better. Right? Guys?
Oh alright, only last in the league pass rush. GETTIN' BETTER.
Mike Nolan's job is safe for now, but he has to help this group improve in 2014. The Falcons played a good portion of the year without Sean Weatherspoon, and they started multiple rookies. The youngsters are going to need some time to develop.
One rookie, though, stood out. Atlanta hit a home run with its first draft pick in 2013.
Desmond Trufant shined brightest among the dumpster fire that was the Falcons defense. He played 1,022 snaps in his first season, giving up three touchdowns and allowing opposing wideouts to catch 53.4 percent of passes that came his way.
Trufant probably won't be the Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he deserves consideration at the least. Cornerbacks face a tough transition at the next level. Trufant bypassed those struggles we often see with first-year DBs.
The rookie wonder finished with the highest rating on defense for the Falcons. Who ranked atop the offensive side?
No surprise here. Ryan comes in at No. 14 overall among quarterbacks with his rating, but factor in his lack of protection, and you can't be too upset with his production. He did post a career-high 17 interceptions, but Ryan also attempted the most passes of his career.
No Julio + an injury Roddy White + cardboard cutouts for an offensive line = adversity. Ryan did what he could, and I think we're all eager to see him back in action with a healthy arsenal/a hopefully revamped O-line to work with.
There you have your highest ratings on offense and defense. Now for even more fun, who came in last?
Congratulations you two, you managed to stand out as the worst of the worst. According to PFF, Holmes gave up 53 hurries, 13 hits, 10 sacks, and he was flagged for 12 penalties. Peter Konz was close with a -29.7 rating. Personally I didn't think Holmes played like the second-worst tackle in the NFL (according to overall ratings), but he wasn't good by any means.
DeCoud has been the one player I've singled out for years now. Same story for 2013. He missed 12 tackles (that might be generous), gave up six touchdowns and, per PFF's coverage numbers, yielded an opposing quarterback rating of 147.0. I have no words.
One final note, PFF gave Julio Jones a 7.9 rating in the five games he played. He was easily on pace to break 100 catches, and he would've been the team's No. 1 rated player. Get well soon.
So, in conclusion, 2013 sucked. Hopefully these numbers cheered you up.