The Falcons are at an interesting impasse in team history. They want to remain relevant during their so-called “Super Bowl window.” They want to be fiscally responsible and fix a less than ideal cap situation. They want to compile a replacement-level offensive line so franchise quarterback Matthew Thomas Ryan can stay relatively healthy between now and the end of the 2023 season. So, if they have those goals in mind, what’s the next step? Where do they go from here?
The first step: evaluation of the current roster. From there, the team can jump into free agency and the draft. As part of that initial evaluation process, you can be sure they are considering which players on the current roster are well-suited for a breakout year in 2020. I doubt they will put it in those terms, but that’s what they will be ultimately trying to decide. So, in short, aside from free agency and the draft, the Falcons need several members of the current roster to step up in 2020. But who specifically would be poised for a breakout year in 2020? Well, for what it’s worth, here are three names I’d throw in the mix.
McGary graded out well as a run blocker in 2019 but struggled mightily when asked to contain some of the league’s better pass rushers. To be sure, that’s a tall order for any rookie, and having the functional equivalent of a turnstile lining up next to him at right guard during Chris Lindstrom’s absence didn’t help McGary’s cause. If McGary can make some strides in pass protection between now and September, it’d go a long way towards helping the team get back on track.
Oliver’s 2019 is best characterized as mixed bag. He had his struggles but also turned in some solid performances, including what were arguably his best games as a professional in the loss to the Seahawks and the win over the now Super Bowl-bound 49ers. There’s a healthy faction of Falcons fans that strongly believe the Falcons need to draft a corner in the first round of the draft. I personally disagree, because Oliver looks to be on the precipice of being a solid NFL corner. Oliver played much better in coverage in 2018, albeit with far fewer opportunities. 2020 is effectively his proving year.
Foye took a small step back this season, notwithstanding the departure of Duke Riley. While he looked to be picking 2019 up where he left 2018 off over the first 2 weeks over the season, the rest of his sophomore campaign, much like Oliver’s, was mixed bag. Foye saw his overall usage increase as the season went on, particularly during the second half wherein the Falcons suddenly figured out how to field something that resembled a defense. Don’t think that went unnoticed by the coaching staff, who are all likely clamoring for a breakout year from Foye in 2020.
What are you thoughts, Falcoholics? Who would you like to see “break out” in 2020?