When the Falcons convene next week for the post-season review, they’ll have the built-in excuse for losing eight players to injured reserve to help explain their losing record.
After the 2017 season, the Falcons forwarded the idea that the talented roster “under-executed” after going 10-6 and reaching the divisional round of the playoffs.
This season, in addition to the injuries, the offensive line got old and the depth was not as talented as the team projected.
» Stay or Go? Vote on Falcons defense
Over the offseason, the roster will be re-tooled and perhaps the coaching staff re-configured.
“Judgement will be made on the season as a whole,” Quinn “At the end of the year, you evaluate everything.”
Quinn doesn’t look forward to the portion of the job.
“It’s really difficult because you get a connection to players and coaches,” Quinn said. “There is definitely a side of the game that you don’t like….You have to make decisions that are best for the organization.”
Quinn will not lean on the injury excuse. They Falcons can finished 7-9 and they had four one-score losses to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Dallas. The Falcons lost the second game to the Saints after committing three red-zone turnovers.
“When you have your chances, you have to nail them,” Quinn said.
He clearly believes they had their chances and did not capitalize on them.
Here’s a look at every player on the Falcons’ offensive roster, with beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter’s opinion on whether the player should stay or go. (Then scroll to bottom to cast your votes):
Matt Ryan: Stay
Ryan, with his three touchdown passes against Carolina, moved pass Johnny Unitas and Warren Moon (292) on the all-time list. Carson Palmer is 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 list. Ryan is in the 12th spot. Ryan 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.
Matt Schaub. Go.
Find the next backup quarterback and use his money on a position player.
Tevin Coleman: Go.
There is too much money out there for Coleman not to go into free agency. The Falcons seem to hold out hope that he’ll return and continue to be paired with Devonta Freeman. “For sure everything's on the table,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said when asked about Coleman staying. “Like I said, when we're in the scenario that we're in, which we're not very pleased at, you evaluate anything and everything. So, yeah, we're certainly going to consider every single option in every way.” Two words: Jerick McKinnon. (Four years, $30 million.)
Brian Hill: Stay
He played well on special teams and showed that he can run with authority,
Jeremy Langford: Go
Maybe you bring him to camp.
Devonta Freeman: Stay
He’s not been productive since signing the six-year, $43 million deal. The Falcons are banking on a return to good health after core/sports injury surgery.
Ito Smith: Stay
Ran the ball well on inside zone runs. Has to recover from minor knee surgery.
Ricky Ortiz: Stay
Has to improve as a lead blocker to add some power to the rushing attack.
Julio Jones: Stay
He leads the league in receiving yards with 1,539 and has 104 catches and seven touchdowns. The team has agreed to restructure his contract.
Justin Hardy: Stay.
This won’t be a mega-deal for the potential unrestricted free agent, but he’s the type of dependable player as Eric Weems.
Marvin Hall: Go
An exclusive rights free agent.
Mohamed Sanu: Stay
He’s been productive and probably should have a bigger role in the offense.
Calvin Ridley: Stay
He has to eliminate the drops in order to have a chance at super stardom in the league. Has the same build as former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
Russell Gage: Stay
A speedy special teamer.
Jake Matthews: Stay
The Falcons are pleased with his play. He just signed a five-year, $75 million contract.
Ty Sambrailo: Stay.
Has played well down the stretch after taking over at right tackle for Ryan Schraeder.
Alex Mack: Stay
He had to help out the guards in pass protection a lot. He was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl.
Brandon Fusco: Stay
He was solid before going down with a broken ankle. Keep him around until you find an upgrade.
Wes Schweitzer: Go
Perhaps bring him back until you can replace him.
Zane Beadles: Go.
He should be replaced via free agency or in the draft.
Ben Garland: Go.
He’s been given plenty of opportunities to show he’s not an NFL-level guard.
Ryan Schraeder: Stay
The Falcons will need to re-structure his contract, but know they have a swing tackle or potential starter if he can re-claim his prowess after a down season.
Matt Gono: Stay
Has potential as he’s trying to make the jump to the NFL from Division III. Has been inactive for all 15 games this season.
Andy Levitre. Go.
The same injury two consecutive seasons is a red flag. Maybe you sign him as cheap insurance as you re-tool the guard position.
Austin Hooper: Stay
Had a breakthrough season and was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.
Logan Paulsen: Stay
Veteran has been a steadying influence on Austin Hooper.
Eric Saubert: Stay
Has made some nice catches. Need to keep working on his blocking.
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