Hopefully the Falcons can have a decent 2014 season

Published 11:40pm Friday, August 22, 2014

As I look forward to the upcoming Atlanta Falcons NFL season, I am both optimistic and concerned.

My optimism centers on their strong passing game, which features All-Pro quarterback Matt Ryan and two wide receivers that I consider as good a pair as there is at the position in the league.

Roddy White, who the Falcons recently gave a big money contract extension, and former outstanding Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Julio Jones are both great receivers with breakaway speed.

One of the big concerns I have for the Falcons is at the tight end position. It will be difficult to replace All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzales, who retired at the end of last season. His strong production will be extremely difficult to replace.

The Falcons must regroup on both sides of the ball this season. After coming within one game of reaching the Super Bowl in 2012, they did not even make the playoffs in 2013.

Defensively, All-Pro linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will be out for the season due to injury. The defense had some trouble stopping opposing drives last season, so if they are going to improve this season, someone has to step up and fill the void left by the loss of Weatherspoon.

There is one off-season move the Falcons made that I think will really be helpful. They obtained quarterback T.J. Yeats from the Houston Texans. While Matt Ryan is great as long as he stays healthy, they have not had a solid signal caller behind him in recent years. Yeats, who played for the North Carolina State University Wolfpack in college, will provide that solid back up this season.

If he can stay away from injuries, which caused him to miss valuable playing time last season, Stephen Jackson, who had several outstanding seasons with the Saint Louis Rams, should give the Falcons a strong ground attack.

The Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman from Florida State should provide strong depth at the running back position. He has a lot of speed and quickness.

Offensive tackle Jake Matthews, the Falcons first round draft choice from Texas A&M should help open some holes for Jackson, Freeman and the other Falcons running backs to run through and pick up key yardage.

I have been a die-hard Falcons fan since they entered the league as an expansion team in the mid 1960s, and while they have had some good seasons, they have disappointed me many times. I hope every season will be different, but most of them through the years have turned out about the same.

I do think that current Falcons coach Mike Smith is probably as good a headman as the team has ever had. He and team general manager Thomas Demitroff are dedicated to building the team the right way.

This year, like any other year, the jury is still out on how good or bad the Falcons might or might not be in 2014. I hope their improvement is significant and I have a feeling it will be.

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