Falcons offseason to-do list, starting with helping out Julio Jones
Now that the Super Bowl is over, we’re rolling out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for every team:
1. FIND SOME HELP FOR JULIO JONES
The Falcons offense was two things in 2015: running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Julio Jones. But when it came to the passing game, it was just Jones. The latter was targeted 204 times and caught a dazzling 136 passes for 1,871 yards. The next highest amount of targets went to Freeman with 97, then tight end Jacob Tamme with 82. Veteran Roddy White is 34 and just a shell of his former self as he caught just 43 passes for 506 yards. So you can see what the Falcons need to address first this offseason. Finding a second option opposite Jones is paramount. It’s a matter of making defenses honest on both sides of the field.
2. PLUG HOLES ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE
The Falcons are doing just fine at both tackle spots — Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder have shown they can hold their own -- but both guards spot and center are problems. Chris Chester and Andy Levitre were disasters in pass protection. Levitre finished near the bottom of the league in quarterback pressures allowed, according to Pro Football Focus, and Chester wasn't much better. Mike Person had a subpar season at center and was eventually replaced by Gino Gradkowski in the regular-season finale. The team should turn its attention to the draft to find some new blood that can keep quarterback Matt Ryan off his back in 2016.
Atlanta had trouble getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks for the second straight season. In fact, the Falcons finished dead last in sacks with 19. Defensive end Vic Beasley showed some promise, but he was able to rack up only four sacks — which led the team. Adrian Clayborn was second with three. That can't continue. Coach Dan Quinn came to Atlanta from Seattle, where he built a reputation for being able to coach up defenses, but he’ll need the front office to provide a talent upgrade. Atlanta won’t be considered a true playoff contender if it allows opposing quarterbacks to stand in the pocket without a worry in the world.
Quinn is a great defensive coach, but he needs better personnel to rush the passer.
OTHER TO-DO LISTS