General manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith are set to enter their third season in 2023.
The offensive line, which couldn’t protect quarterback Matt Ryan, has turned into the team’s biggest a strength, according to PFF. The run-blocking unit features Chris Lindstrom, and he was called the best right guard in the league. They also noted the solid play of tackles Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary.
They are projecting second-round pick Matthew Bergeron to win the left guard spot. However, Matt Hennessy was working with the first-team offense in OTAs as the rookie tries to get settled in the NFL.
The Falcons’ biggest weakness is quarterback Desmond Ridder, who started four games last season, according to PFF.
“It’s tough to believe much in Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback, though,” Dalton Wasserman and Jim Wyman wrote for PFF. “Whoever starts likely won’t be expected to throw more than 25 times per game.”
Tight end Kyle Pitts is called the X-factor, and the rookie to watch is running back Bijan Robinson.
“Pitts has to be at least the second-best option in order for the Falcons to overcome their shaky quarterback situation,” PFF wrote.
They were high on Robinson, but they don’t believe the Falcons will be a .500 team. They took the under on the projected 8.5 win total for the Falcons.
The Falcons have gone 7-10 the past two seasons and are hoping to return to respectability in 2023. The Falcons have the easiest schedule in the league, but PFF believes they’ll be a seven-win team.
“The Falcons feel like a seven-win team that could come out on top in a couple more games if their quarterbacks overachieve,” PFF wrote.
2. PFF projected 2023 starting lineup: Here’s how PFF projects the starting lineup.
QB Desmond Ridder (55.9)/DL Grady Jarrett (71.3)
RB Bijan Robinson (95.3*)/DL Calais Campbell (76.9)
RB Tyler Allgeier (86.7)/Edge Lorenzo Carter (60.5)
WR Drake London (83.2)/Edge Arnold Ebiketie (64.5)
WR Mack Hollins (63.8)/Edge Bud Dupree (58.2)
WR Scotty Miller (55.6)/LB Kaden Elliss (81.5)
TE Kyle Pitts (72.7)/LB Mykal Walker (58.7)
LT Jake Matthews (77.2)/CB A.J. Terrell (63.9)
LG Matthew Bergeron (75.2*)/CB Darren Hall (65.5)
C Drew Dalman (65.9)/CB Jeff Okudah (59.4)
RG Chris Lindstrom (95.0)/S Jessie Bates III (71.9)
3. Ridder’s offseason focus: Ridder is focused on controlling the offense during the OTAs.
“Alignment and everything that we do pre-snap, those are all things that we can control,” Ridder said. “I felt like we’ve done a pretty good job of that. Obviously, there are some areas where we can improve on. As far as the pre-snap stuff goes, we’ve been pretty (good with) that. So, we’ll just keep continuing to improve.”
4. Hart fitting in: Former Seattle wide receiver Penny Hart, who played at Georgia State, is fitting in with the Falcons.
Hart, who played at Kings’ Ridge Christian School and is a native of Roswell, faced the Falcons last season in Week 3. The Falcons won 27-23 on Sept. 25 in Seattle. Hart had a catch for 15 yards and assisted on a tackle on special teams. He played six snaps on offense and nine on special teams.
“It’s amazing,” Hart said. “These guys work. That’s what I pride myself on. Being able to connect with those guys and everybody on this team. Just having the attitude to go out and work and wanting to get better. It’s amazing and these guys are extremely skilled.”
The Falcons are in the second week of their OTAs.
“I like that it’s really fast-paced,” Hart said. “It’s about getting in and grinding. It’s an extremely versatile offense as well to where you can be at any position at any given time. We do a really good job of doing that.”
5. Roster not complete: While PFF is not impressed with the Falcons’ roster, the team looks at the roster as an ongoing project.
“If you have chance to enhance the roster, there is nothing that’s going to be given,” Smith said. “It has to be earned. If you can’t do that. … We’re in a great organization that allows us to bring people in to tryout. It doesn’t mean that it ever gets any easier when you have to make those moves. You wish you could have 150 players. You can’t.”
6. Biermann divorce update: Things are getting messy in Kroy Biermann’s divorce case. Accusations of weed smoking and gambling have made their way to court documents. Biermann played for the Falcons from 2008-15.
7. Drake London’s goals: Wide receiver Drake London was asked about his goals for the 2023 season.
“Honestly, just to stack wins,” London said. “I would not say anything personal, right now, for me. As a team, as a collective, I think we want to win as much as we possibly can.”
8. Injury report: Here are the players who ended the season on injured reserve – running back Caleb Huntley (ruptured Achilles), tight ends Kyle Pitts (knee surgery) and John FitzPatrick (feet), guards Jalen Mayfield (back) and Justin Shaffer (high ankle sprain) and defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham (knee).
FitzPatrick and Shaffer are back in action. Huntley is rehabbing. Pitts was not seen at the open OTA last week.
9. Depth chart: Here’s what the updated depth chart looks like after the second week of OTAs:
QB – Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside, Austin Aune
RB – Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Avery Williams, *Caleb Huntley, Carlos Washington Jr.
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.