The Atlanta Falcons, all things considered, had a pretty solid 2021 campaign. While the 7-10 record wasn’t as good as they had hoped for, it was quite a feat winning that many games, given some of the obstacles that the team had to overcome.
Atlanta had a defense that didn’t intimidate anyone. They registered only 18 sacks on the season as they failed to consistently rush the passer. Teams took full advantage against them on the ground, as the Falcons surrendered 2,242 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
They were 29th in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed defensively. Their offense wasn’t much better, as they were 26th in points scored and 29th in yardage gained. The Falcons didn’t have a strong running game, as wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took over lead back roles.
But, what derailed the team’s offense was the absence of Calvin Ridley. Ridley is a bonafide No. 1 receiver but the Falcons didn’t have him for 12 games as he left the team to focus on his mental health.
That left a gaping hole on the offense that Atlanta was not equipped to fill. As a result, you can be sure that the front office will be looking to upgrade the team’s skill positions this offseason.
Smith-Schuster entered the league with a bang, as he caught 169 passes for 2,343 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, that came as the No. 2 option with Antonio Brown as the go-to guy. Once Brown departed, Smith-Schuster has been unable to replicate that success.
Some of the reason for that is on the offensive scheme. With an aging Ben Roethlisberger, this offense became a lot less explosive. He spent the majority of one season catching passes from Mason Rudolph as well.
But, Smith-Schuster has also struggled with injuries the last three seasons. He missed four games in 2019 and 12 in 2021. In 2020, he had a solid season catching 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns.
So, the potential is still there. At 25-years old, he still possesses plenty of upside. Most importantly for Atlanta, he likely won’t cost too much as a shoulder injury cost him a large chunk of the 2021 season.
The Falcons need help at the wide receiver spot whether or not Ridley suits up for them again. Right now the only sure-fire player they have catching passes is Kyle Pitts, who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Bringing in some talent to supplement him will help take this offense to the next level. While Matt Ryan isn’t as productive as he once was, he is still a serviceable quarterback that can get the job done.