The 7-10 Falcons Season in Review

With the Falcons headed for their fourth straight losing season and three different head coaches, the problems may lie within the huddle. Photo by Owais Khan | The Signal

The Atlanta Falcons concluded their 2021-2022 campaign with a record of 7-10, finishing third in the NFC South division. They managed to remain alive in the playoff race up until the last two weeks of the season. Kyle Pitts showed midseason improvement after a slow start to become the second rookie tight end to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a season on the way to his first pro bowl.

The defense has shown glimpses of a solid unit with young talent like A.J. Terrell and veteran studs Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokon and Grady Jarrett. Terrell finished the season as Pro Football Focus’s third-ranked cornerback in the league, as he forced both the lowest catch rate in the league and the lowest passer rating when targeted. Oluokun led the NFL in total tackles with 192 and picked off three passes after sliding into the role previously held by the aforementioned Jones. While both Jarrett and Jones had down years, the former pro bowlers give this defense has more of a  chance of transitioning into a dependable threat for this ball club with them on the field.

The Falcons’ passing offense was a question mark going into this season with Matt Ryan clearly regressing. They’ve had a couple of games where the offense seemed to find a rhythm, but they couldn’t replicate that success consistently enough for most defenses to consider this offense a real threat. The offense struggled to score points in the second half of the season, only scoring over 25 points in one of their final nine games. Missing star receiver and Ryan’s number one target Calvin Ridley, this team failed to identify a true number two receiver behind Pitts. Their scoring woos led to them finishing 25th in points scored and an abysmal minus 146-point differential which finished bottom five in the league.

With this season being the team’s fourth straight losing season and three different head coaches the problems may lie within the huddle. The Falcons should be looking at potential suitors to take over at quarterback for this team next season whether that’s through the draft or free agency. The weapons this team has on the offensive side of the ball, other than Cordarelle Patterson, are quite young and with the right quarterback situation, this losing culture that’s been bestowed upon this organization will be a thing of the past. 

The Falcons’ passing game ranked at 16th for passing yards with 3,987 yards. They also landed in the bottom 12 of the league in passing touchdowns with 20 and interceptions thrown with 15 which placed them at 25th and 21st respectively. They showed a lack of explosive plays as they find themselves at 21st in plays over 20 yards with 44 and 22nd at plays over 40 yards with seven. The running game never found its stride this season, ranking 31st in rushing yards with 1,451. Also finishing 27th in rushing touchdowns with 11. This team lacks that knockout punch mentality in the rushing game as they finished last in the league in runs over 20 and 40 yards. 

The Falcons’ defense is a few solid pieces away from becoming an effective force to be reckoned with but there have been more rough spots than bright ones. The Falcons ranked an average 18th in passing yards allowed as they gave up 3,952. They gave up 31 passing touchdowns landing them at the 26th spot in the league and only forcing 12 interceptions ending their season in the bottom 12. They rarely put pressure on the quarterback as they were the worst in the league at sacking the quarterback this season, finishing at 18 which was 11 less than the 31st ranking team. 

The rush defense was an issue this year as well, they ranked bottom seven in both rushing yards allowed, giving up 2,242 and rushing TDs at 19. On the upside, this team did force 14 fumbles, placing them at 11 but only 18th in fumbles recovered. They were 27th in combined tackles at 1,137 and tied for second for defensive touchdowns with two. 

Team Awards

Offensive MVP- Cordarelle Patterson

By far the most productive offensive player this season. He simply did whatever the team needed him to do. His expendability proved to be essential to this team’s success especially in the absence of their most talented weapon on that side of the ball. He led the team in rushing yards with 613 and rushing touchdowns with six. He also led the team in receiving touchdowns with five. He was third on the team in both receptions and receiving yards with 52 and 548 yards respectively. To further his versatility, Patterson also was second on the team in return yards with 434 and led the team in yards per return with 24.1. 

Defensive MVP- Foyesade Oluokun 

While second-year corner, A.J. Terrell was a tough choice to pass on, Oluokun put together quite the season for himself. He positioned himself perfectly into that leadership role on the defensive side of the ball. Oluokun comfortably led the team both solo and assisted tackles as he nearly reached 200 total tackles on the season. He was second on the team in sacks with 2 and tied for first in interceptions with three. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees spoke on how valuable Oluokun was this season and why he settled into his new role so easily.

“He is very, very intelligent and it means a lot to him. (The middle linebacker) has to sort everything out back there and he has to be conscientious. He is smart, he is physical, he is super conscientious. It’s important to him, and that’s what you want in that guy.”

Most Reliable- Younghoe Koo

Koo’s leg was the early hero for this team, when the game was on the line, and it came down to Koo the Falcons win was basically guaranteed. He made all three of his game-winning field goal attempts this season. He made 93.1% of all field goals that he attempted this season, which was the third-highest rate in the NFL while also going perfect on all of his extra-point attempts this season.