August 15, 2014 Louisville, KY.
Can the Falcons Rise Up Again?
In 2012 the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC Championship game. The Falcons were coming off an exceptional year where they had won 13 games and were one game from making the Super Bowl. Last Season many experts considered the Atlanta Falcons as legitimate Super Bowl contenders at the start of the 2013-2014 NFL season. They were so close even Hall of Fame tight-end Tony Gonzalez put off his retirement for another chance at making the big game he never won or played in. Atlanta seemed to have everything in place, an élite NFL quarterback in Matt Ryan, three great receivers in Jones, White, and Douglas, one of the best tight-ends to ever play the game in Gonzalez, and a punishing type running back in Steven Jackson. The framework of a powerhouse franchise appeared to be built for the fans of Atlanta.
Falcons fans dreams of having another magical run turned for the worst after seeing its team start the 2013 season 1-3. By week 5, the aspirations of making postseason play, let alone the Super Bowl quickly faded after seeing star receiver Julio Jones lying injured on the Dome turf, in what would be a season ending foot injury. Making matters worse, the injury bug seem to bite all of Matt Ryan’s weapons including all pro receiver Roddy White, and 1000 yard rusher Steven Jackson. Most of the season the offensive line was plagued by injuries too, which caused Ryan to be sacked a total of 44 times, and throw a career high of 17 interceptions.
With the start of the 2014 NFL season just around the corner, the Atlanta Falcons are hoping they can return to their winning ways with the overhaul of arguably one of the worst offensive and defensive lines in the NFL last season. In the 2014 Draft the Atlanta Falcons grabbed Texas A&M’s offensive tackle Jake Matthews with the seventh overall pick to help with the offensive line woes. The rest of the 2014 draft was focused on getting better on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Ra’shede Hageman and Free Safety Dezmen Southward should give much-needed help for a defense looking to shift over to 3-4. Will this be enough to return the Falcons back to their winning ways?
A Super Bowl appearance this year maybe stretching it a little, but a post season run may not be out of question with some of the weapons the Falcons have. Although Matt Ryan’s safety valve in TE Tony Gonzalez retired, the signing of free agents Devin Hester and Javier Arenas should offer much-needed help within other faucets of the game. Making postseason play will depend on several key factors going into the season, such as both lines of scrimmage getting better and the team staying healthy throughout the 2014 NFL season. The Atlanta Falcons are showing aggression and toughness in this years’ Hard Knocks Training Camp Series airing on HBO. Will the toughness and aggressiveness get the Falcons back to that magical run in 2012, or will it be hard knocks for the Atlanta Falcons to rise up again?
2014 Atlanta Falcons Schedule
Week 1: New Orleans Saints (9/7, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 2: @Cincinnati Bengals (9/14, 1 p.m., CBS)
Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thursday 9/18, 8:25 p.m., CBS)
Week 4: @Minnesota Vikings (9/28, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 5: @New York Giants (10/5, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 6: Chicago Bears (10/12, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 7: @Baltimore Ravens (10/19, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 8: Detroit Lions (10/26, 9:30 a.m., London, FOX)
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10:[email protected] */]]> Bay Buccaneers (11/9, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 11:[email protected] */]]>Panthers (11/16, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 12: Cleveland Browns (11/23, 1 p.m., CBS)
Week 13: Arizona Cardinals (11/30, 4:05 p.m., FOX)
Week 14: @Green Bay Packers (12/8, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers (12/14, 1 p.m., CBS)
Week 16:[email protected] */]]> Orleans Saints (12/21, 1 p.m., FOX)
Week 17: Carolina Panthers (12/28, 1 p.m., FOX)
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