ESPN’s Barnwell: Falcons won the NFC South offseason, too

Takkarist McKinley: Worth the cost? (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Last week we offered a Football Outsiders projection that had the Atlanta Falcons going 9-7 and finishing second in the NFC South. Today brings another analytic take, this from ESPNs Bill Barnwell, who sees the reigning division champs as having had the best offseason among NFC South teams.

Barnwell assigns the Falcons’ post-Super Bowl work a B-plus. Tampa Bay and New Orleans get B’s; Carolina gets a C-plus. We note: Apart from the Falcons’ 11-5, only the Buccaneers finished above .500 last season, and their 9-7 bore a fat asterisk — they were outscored on the year. The Saints were 7-9, the Panthers 6-10. The latter three have work to do to close the gap.

Then again, there’s a reason that — apart from Carolina’s just-ended run of three consecutive NFC South titles — nobody has won this division in consecutive seasons since it became a division before the 2002 season. (The non-repeaters include two Super Bowl champs. Also two runners-up, which is what the Falcons are now.)

Barnwell gives kudos to the Falcons for landing Dontari Poe as a free agent and Takkarist McKinley in the draft, though he asks if McKinley was worth the trade-up value. He also wonders if Vic Beasley Jr. can come close to replicating his 15.5-sack season. (I share that concern, FYI.) He applauds their re-upping of Desmond Trufant. He questions whether the offensive line, which saw no starter miss a game last season, will be as good without the retired Chris Chester and an Alex Mack who’s coming off a broken ankle.

Barnwell doesn’t mention that the Super Bowl runners-up will be working with new offensive and defensive coordinators. Though I believe I just did.

Reader Comments 0

10 comments
Gman84
Gman84

The off-season isn't over. I'm sure they will choke this revered title up by August

AnaR.More
AnaR.More

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UGA76
UGA76

I'm very concerned that Atlanta didn't take a Guard in the early rounds and I also think they should have taken a Tackle in the mid rounds.  The odds of the current 4 starters making it through the season again is very slim.  A couple of injuries on the OL and this teams goes 8-8 or worse.

ATLFan
ATLFan

To me, this still seems like a team on the rise. All the off season moves should make us stronger than last year from a personnel standpoint, all the new OC needs to do is stay sober and not change anything, and on defense Quinn still rules. Finally, I believe we have the team leadership to overcome the much discussed "Super Bowl Hangover" (unlike Carolina). So I'm anticipating a great 2017!

lighteredknot
lighteredknot

 Offensive Coordinator called a poor game for Ala in NCAA Championship game.  I am a ACC  GT fan, but if Keffin   (sic?) had called plays;  I believe that game would have been different.  Now with Falcons, can he  be ambidextrous,  and see left from right.  I have seen the Falcons since 1966.  Randy Johnson, Bobby Riggle ( Injured),  Joe Profit (Injured,   but drafted later) and Not   a coach Norb Hecker.   If Falcons can avoid serious injuries 2017, believe they can be very good and repeat. 

Gman84
Gman84

The offensive coordinator is a failed drunk. He will fit right in.

AMFILMSHD
AMFILMSHD

Mack broke his leg.  the fibula.  thats not his ankle, btw.  :)