This time last year, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus assessed the 32 NFL rosters and, in a post for ESPN Insider, ranked the Atlanta Falcons’ assemblage of talent the league’s 30th-best. (Or third-worst, depending on your perspective.)
That was then. Here’s now: Same writer, same format and an even worse rating for the local franchise. The Falcons, per Monson of PFF via ESPN Insider, have the NFL’s 31st-best/second-worst roster. And a Merry Christmas to us all.
According to Monson, the Falcons’ top five players are Julio Jones, Desmond Trufant, Matt Ryan and — believe it or not — two offensive linemen, neither of whom is Jake Matthews, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft. (Monson identifies Jon Asamoah and Ryan Schraeder as Nos. 4 and 5 among Falcons.) But wait. It gets worse.
Matthews is listed — alongside the likes of defensive end Tyson Jackson and fullback Patrick DeMarco — as a Starter Who Should Be Upgraded. I understand that PFF can go only on its data, and in Matthews’ case that data spans a rookie year in which he was hampered by a foot injury, but still: That seems a bit rough.
Enough quibbling. This roster ranking doesn’t include rookies, so Vic Beasley doesn’t figure, but the greater point remains: Even as the Falcons have two excellent players on offense and a rising star in Trufant, this would appear — according to PFF, and not only according to PFF — a roster that’s thin in its midsection.
Writes Monson: “There’s a worrying lack of quality elsewhere on the roster — particularly on defense.”
Which isn’t to say that a rise from 6-10 to the top of the woeful NFC South can be dismissed out of hand. As noted, Football Outsiders — another analytic web site — projects the Falcons to go 10-6. If Dan Quinn gets 10 wins out of the league’s second-worst roster, should he not be coach of the year?