In an ongoing offseason series, experts from The 33rd Team offer three things each team can do to improve in 2023.
AFC: BAL | BUF | CIN | CLE | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LAC | LV | MIA | NE | NYJ | PIT | TEN
NFC: CAR | DAL | DET | GB | LAR | MIN | NYG | PHI | SEA | SF | TB
Here is my list of three things that would improve the Atlanta Falcons.
3 Ways to Improve Falcons
1. Add Impact Edge Rusher
I’m going to start on the defensive line. You’ve got Grady Jarrett, a tremendous inside player who can create interior push. They’ve got to go out and get some pressure off the edge of the defense because the Falcons’ 21 sacks were the second-fewest during the 2022 season. There are going to be some guys that will be available in free agency.
Guys like Yannick Ngakoue and Jadeveon Clowney will be available. They need to go out and get a player like that to try and shore things up and try to create a little more edge pressure. That could go a long way to improving a defense that during the past three years, even with Dean Pees being a great defensive coordinator, didn’t perform at a high level. The Falcons allowed the 27th-most yards per game (362.1).
They brought in Ryan Nielsen from the New Orleans Saints as the new defensive coordinator. Obviously, he has a lot of experience coaching in the division. He will bring a more aggressive scheme, but more importantly, they will need some edge players.
>> READ: Full List of Available Free Agents
2. Address Safety Position
They’re going to need some help at the safety spot. When you go out and look at the market for safeties this year an obvious place to start is the Cincinnati Bengals. They have to keep some money for extending players on their offense, like quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell are two names that can be in the mix for the Falcons because of the cap space they have (more than $55 million, according to Over The Cap). The Falcons might be looking at one or both of those names to bolster the secondary.
3. Create Pass-Catching Depth
They’ve got the running game, and they might want to add some depth there, but more importantly, they should add some depth to their pass-catching group. They’ve got receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts, but they must add another name to the list.
What makes this so good for the Falcons is they’ve got what I believe is the answer at quarterback in Desmond Ridder. They have two big, versatile weapons in London and Pitts, but they have to add another player out there on the outside. It could stretch defenses a little bit more and add versatility to keep teams from loading up the box against Arthur Smith and his run-heavy offense.
Robert Smith is a former NFL running back for the Minnesota Vikings and a two-time Pro Bowler. His career with the Vikings earned him a spot on the 50 Greatest Vikings list. Follow him on Twitter at @Robert26Smith.