The Falcons have big goals in 2019. While they are currently fielding one of the NFL’s best rosters, the clock is ticking in Atlanta. Arthur Blank has a lot of patience, but at some point, particularly with this roster at your disposal, 7-9 seasons or early playoff exits just don’t cut it.
So let’s take a look at the current 53-man roster. What are its strengths, its weaknesses, headed into week one?
Offensive skill positions
The Falcons made a now infamous decision to carry five running backs on their 53-man roster. They also decided to carry six wide receivers. When Justin Hardy is your WR5, you must be doing something right. The Falcons will field arguably the best WR1-WR2-WR3 trio in the National Football League. And they are so deep at running back that they cut Tony Brooks-James and allowed him to sign with the Buccaneers. There’s a lot to like about this offense, and the talent and depth at the skill positions is a big reason why.
It’s easy to forget that we are right in the middle of Matthew Thomas Ryan’s prime. In the not so distant future, the Falcons won’t be able to count on a guy like Ryan, because guys like Ryan aren’t a dime a dozen and, regrettably, they don’t last forever. Ryan is only two years removed from his MVP campaign, and he essentially replicated that production last season. I don’t really care if commentators prefer to call him “good,” “very good,” or “elite,” there isn’t a front office on this planet that wouldn’t ride with Ryan as their franchise quarterback.
The Falcons have one known variable in this equation: Desmond Trufant. Say what you want about Tru’s relatively low interception count, he’s as solid as solid gets in this league. From there it’s a bit of a mixed bag. To be sure, there are still lots of reason to be excited. Isaiah Oliver and Damontee Kazee have showcased high ceilings and both will look to build on past success. Meanwhile Jordan Miller and Kendall Sheffield are two rookie, developmental guys that will either sink or swim when it counts. It’s not that the Falcons aren’t talented at cornerback; it’s that they are still in the process of establishing an identity.
Offensive line depth
I’m nit picking a bit here. To be frank, this isn’t a team with a lot of weaknesses. But there has to be a weakest link, and maybe this is it. The Falcons had lengthy camp battles at both left guard and right tackle. It looks like the Falcons have a game plan in week one, but it’s entirely possible the right tackle job gets passed around a bit before all is said and done. Left guard is on more stable ground but James Carpenter will need to stay healthy if he’s going to help the Falcons win football games. Wes Schweitzer has always been a front office favorite but can he reliably back up Alex Mack in a pinch? That remains to be seen.
The bottom line is this: the 53-man roster is stacked, top to bottom; even the depth is impressive. There are only a couple “weaknesses” worthy of mild apprehension. So rest easy, Falcoholics, and let’s get ready for the Vikings.