The Atlanta Falcons’ fall coincided neatly with their decision to sign Devin Hester to be their returner. That’s deeply unfortunate, because having Hester back there gave the team a truly electric threat for the first time in years, and the Falcons haven’t had much luck replacing him.
In 2016, the team turned to longtime special teams ace Eric Weems. In 2017, they turned to well-regarded returner and veteran receiver Andre Roberts. In both cases, they got unobjectionable but somehow still frustrating returns, and chances are very good they’ll be turning the return game over to a fresh face in 2018.
So that’s our big question for tonight: Who should that player be? I’m bullish on Taylor Gabriel if he comes back, because I do think his speed and elusiveness makes him an interesting option. If not, I’d be comfortable taking a good look at Tevin Coleman, Justin Hardy, or even Robert Alford, though I doubt they’d expose him to injury on returns.
The point, regardless, is that the Falcons should seek to improve their special teams, add a more dynamic option at returner, and make better decisions when the ball is kicked in the end zone. Do that and I’ll feel better about them, regardless of who actually returns the ball.