Between now and the 2007 NFL Draft, THN will be taking a look at all of the NFL teams' offseason needs. Up next is the team with the tenth overall pick in the draft, the Atlanta Falcons.
2006 Results: 7-9 (3rd in NFC South)
2007 Projected Cap Status: $11.5M under estimated cap.
2006 Season Recap:
The good news: at the halfway point of the 06’ season, the Falcons were 5-3 and seemed poised to make a serious run for the playoffs. The bad news: they went 2 and 6 to finish the season a disappointing 7-9. Michael Vick broke the NFL single season rushing mark by a quarterback with over 1,000 yards (Dunn also ran for over 1,000), but could not seem to stretch the field with his receivers. His favorite target was TE Alge Crumpler, who had 56 receptions with 8 touchdowns. The defense, that gave up way too many yards through the air, ended up hurting their chances down the stretch.
All this proved too much for Jim Mora’s job, and he was replaced at the end of the season by Bobby Petrino. Joining the Falcons from the University of Louisville, Petrino, 45, compiled a 41-9 overall record as the head coach of the Cardinals over the past four years.
Work on upgrading the league's 22nd ranked defense in 2006 would be a start, especially a weak secondary where they were burned for a total of 3668 yards. With a total of 7 picks this year, they should be able to help themselves in the draft both in the secondary and on the defensive line.
On offense, they have the playmaker in Vick, but need him to do more with his arm and less with his feet, at least if they want him to be around much longer. Upgrading their receivers would be a priority, through free agency or the Draft. Dunn is still a good back, but at 32 his best days may be behind him. Still, they were productive last year in the run game, and if Vick can get the ball downfield with more success, that should open up the run even more. Look for more carries from Jerious Norwood in ’07.
A new year with a new coach may be just what the doctor ordered.