The Falcons were projected to compete for the Super Bowl title, but injuries robbed the team of key players on defense.
The Falcons stumbled out of the gate, but regrouped as they were 4-4 at the halfway point. But a lackluster performance in Cleveland led to a five-game losing streak.
The team closed out with three straight wins, but that wasn’t enough to save the jobs of coordinators Steve Sarkisian, Marquand Manuel and Keith Armstrong.
Here's the first installment of our unit-by-unit review of the 2018 team. Today, the quarterbacks:
Who: Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub.
Contract/free agent situation: Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million contract last season. Schaub’s two-year, $9 million contract is set to expire. He’s headed to free agency.
What they did in season: Statistically, Ryan had one of his better seasons, but the offense stalled during the five-game losing streak. Ryan completed 422 of 608 passes (69.4 percent) for 4,924 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Ryan averaged 8.7 adjusted yards per pass attempt which was the second-highest mark of his career. In 2016, he led the league with 10.1 adjusted yards per pass attempt.
Ryan also finished with a passer rating of 108.1, the second-highest mark of his career. He finished with a 117.1 rating in 2016, when he was the league’s most valuable player award.
The Falcons finished in the top 10 in total yards (fourth), passing yards (fourth), and third-down conversion percentage (fourth).
With a revolving door at both guard spots and a dip in play from right tackle Ryan Schraeder, Ryan was sacked 42 times for 296 yards in losses. He was sacked 44 times in 2013.
In the regular-season finale, Ryan moved pass Johnny Unitas and Warren Moon (292) on the all-time touchdown pass list. Carson Palmer was 12th with 294 touchdown passes.
Ryan also moved past Vinny Testaverde (46,233) and Carson Palmer (46,247) on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list. Ryan is in the 12th spot. He trails Fran Tarkenton (47,003) who is 11th and Warren Moon (49,325) is 10th. With Ryan, the Falcons have a chance to rebound quickly.
Schaub, who’ll turn 38 in June, was 5 of 7 for 20 yards and finished with a passer rating of 74.1.
Team officials have not yet decided whether to invite the quarterback to return to the organization.
“It’s definitely something that we’re going to discuss,” coach Dan Quinn said in December. “He has been behind the scenes a fantastic leader on our team, and he’s performing well, so it’ll definitely be something to discuss.
“There’s lots of tough decisions with players and signings and all that that factor into it, but for sure he’s in the discussion.”
Quarterback Kurt Benkert, who spent last season on the practice squad, was signed to a reserve/futures contract on Dec. 31. Grade: B
Tuesday: Running backs
Wednesday: Offensive line
Thursday: Wide receivers
Friday: Tight ends
Next Week: Defense/Special teams
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