Falcons special teams play has been a mixed bag over the last several years. And other than Josh Harris, the Falcons’ specialists are all relatively new to the roster. This begs a question I’m hoping to address today: Now that the draft and free agency have come and gone, how are the Falcons looking on special teams? Any cause for concern?
Kick Return/Punt Return
This is without a doubt where the most question marks come to mind. Justin Hardy is no longer a Falcon, and the Falcons decided Kenjon Barner wasn’t worth retaining in 2020. Mohammed Sanu is long gone. Who is going to return kicks and punts in 2020? Arthur Blank? Before you panic, consider the possibilities.
Olamide Zaccheaus, Brandon Powell, and Russell Gage will get some real consideration. UDFA Chris Rowland may quickly emerge as a dark horse candidate as well. In my mind, it’s not a problem until it’s a problem. The Falcons seem to be optimistic about the personnel on their roster. They’re basically hoping one of their talented young skill players can seize this opportunity and grab that returner job. It’s a bold approach emblematic of their overall approach this off-season. Put simply, they’re taking big swings. This, folks, is a big swing, but it’s one they’ll look like geniuses for taking if it all goes according to plan.
The end of the Matt Bryant era was handled poorly by the front office. Truth be told, they completely botched it. But Younghoe Koo has seemingly done enough to secure the job ... for now. Koo completed nearly 90 percent of his FG attempts last season — that’s impressive. But Koo only converted one FG attempt over 50 yards and missed two FGs between 40-49 yards. In short, Koo will have every opportunity to keep his job and it’s his until he does something that causes him to lose it. The Falcons are probably hoping he can extend his range and that’s undoubtedly been a point of emphasis in their coaching of Koo. But they seemingly think he can get there. As NFL job security goes, his isn’t particularly high. The team hasn’t brought in anyone to compete with Koo in training camp yet, but I’d expect them to do just that at some point in the next month or two. While the Falcons remain committed to Koo in the short-term, he’s still got some ground to cover before he can afford any regression.
The Falcons decided to use a draft pick on a punter, albeit in the 7th round. Sterling Hofrichter just has to beat out Ryan Allen to become the heir to Matt Bosher’s bionic throne. “The Hof,” as he will affectionately be known, has exceptional tape and his hang time is next level, notwithstanding his relatively small stature. Allen wasn’t bad for the Falcons in 2019, but this is Hofrichter’s job to lose.
The job belongs to Josh Harris. That’s all you need to know. Go, Josh. Go.
Your thoughts about the various specialists at this point in the off-season?