The Falcons have had a potentially transformative offseason, adding a highly-regarded new head coach in Dan Quinn, landing a strong draft class and signing a bunch of solid free agents at positions of need. Has it been enough to win over power rankings gurus, though?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is yes, in a few cases, and the Falcons appear to have made some modest gains on the average ranking. But it's fair to say that people are sleeping on Atlanta as though the team were a comfortable mattress and everyone just had a nice turkey dinner.
Falcons fans are getting excited, and with reason. Dan Quinn procured what his defense had to have: a pass rusher. Grabbing Vic Beasley, coupled with cover corner Jalen Collins, adds two to three wins for Atlanta, provided both capitalize on their draft pedigree. And while we're on the subject: How about that young group of CBs? Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and now Collins? To think, not a one of them was alive when Keith Sweat slid into the mainstream.
If you're wondering about the tiny drop here, it's easier to trust the Bills' and Jets' defenses in a tight game right now. Defense still wins football games, as Falcons fans are all too aware. Still, this position is subject to change.
Can first-round pick Vic Beasley finally provide the Falcons with some pass-rushing help? No team has had fewer sacks over the past three seasons (83).
New coach Dan Quinn got some much-needed defensive help in the draft, led by pass rusher Vic Beasley. That unit has to make big strides in 2015.
The Falcons found their potentially premier edge rusher that they desperately needed in Vic Beasley. They capitalized on the value that fell to them during the rest of the draft. The Falcons have made great strides to improve their roster on defense, but it might only be enough to remove them from the bottom feeders in 2015.
What explains these low rankings? Many factors, including NFL pundits being a year behind (remember that many, including us, were more bullish on the Falcons last year than was warranted), skepticism over a one year fix, a lack of appreciation for the offense and concerns over the team's remaining roster holes. There are probably less virtuous reasons, like being unwilling or uncaring about the improvements made, but the Falcons will be in a comfortable underdog position heading into the season.
Me? I'm anticipating the Falcons will be good for somewhere in the range of 7-9 wins in 2015, and I've certainly grown more optimistic as the offseason wears on. I'd expect this team to be middle-of-the-pack by the time all is said and done, so these rankings do strike me as a tad pessimistic.
Where would you rank the team?