Atlanta Falcons: Talent deficiency continues to be glaring

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images /

The Atlanta Falcons roster is seriously devoid of both talent and depth across the board. This is apparent on both sides of the ball, specifically in the trenches and in the secondary.

Through four games of the 2021 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons are a bad team. As painful as it might be for Falcons fans, this is the reality of the situation. There isn’t much light at the end of the tunnel either for the next two to three seasons, at the very least, either.

Head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot both signed up for this. They both knew what they were getting themselves into, so the first quarter of the season shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise to either. Granted, there was not much to work with from top to bottom on this roster. Realistic and objective fans knew this and expected this coming into the 2021 season.

Does it make it any easier to accept, though? No, it doesn’t — especially after the Falcons blew another fourth-quarter lead in Week 4 (this time eight points) to Washington.

The defense was going to finish in the bottom 10 at best, statistically speaking. That might even be generous after the first quarter of the season. The defensive line is a disaster, with nobody other than Grady Jarrett and sometimes Dante Fowler Jr. generating any kind of pass rush. The back end of the defense is in shambles as well.

It can be counted on one hand how many plays any member of the secondary has made so far this season. Erik Harris finally had a few pass breakups against Washington, but he dropped an easy interception. Harris has been average at best so far this season. The same cannot be said for Duron Harmon. He has been invisible at best and also dropped an easy interception in the end zone against Washington that most likely would have resulted in the Falcons winning.

Where do we even start with Fabian Moreau? He is a penalty machine so far this season between his pass interference and holding penalties committed. Slot cornerback Isaiah Oliver is now lost for the season after suffering a knee injury. He was by far the Falcons’ best cornerback this season and had really stepped up his game playing in the slot.

A.J. Terrell will continue to improve and only get better. From a talent perspective, he is head and shoulders above any other player on this roster in the secondary. So there’s a sort of bright spot.

Linebackers Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun are both tackling machines and will rack up big numbers. They have both, especially Jones, have produced some shoddy tackling this season and need to improve their pass coverage skills big time.

With the playoffs looking more and more unlikely week to week, there is nothing to lose by giving the younger players more snaps. Jaylinn Hawkins and Mykal Walker need to see the field more and gain some experience at the safety and linebacker position, respectively.

The same thing can be said for rookie safety Richie Grant, who has yet to play a defensive snap. Grant, who has only seen action on special teams so far, apparently has to learn the defense before he sees the field on that side of the ball. That’s a tough look for a second-round pick.

I could be wrong, but none of these players can do any worse than the veterans we have watched through the first four games. Let them take their lumps and get burned, as this is the only way to learn and gain valuable experience.

Offensively, there are many issues as well. Arthur Smith has looked very uninspiring through the first four games, specifically his play calling. There are understandably new schemes on both sides of the ball. This is natural with a new coaching staff. It’s more than that on the surface, though.

His play-calling has been suspect at best so far, as well as his overall management of the offense. We all know Smith is all about running the ball, but with this porous offensive line unable to open up holes, the running backs have not been able to establish any type of rhythm.

Mike Davis has been awful early on and had no business carrying the ball on three straight plays with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter against Washington. Moving forward, Wayne Gallman needs to get a lot more touches, as he at least provided a spark in limited action.

Smith also needs to incorporate rookie Kyle Pitts more heavily in the offense, especially now that Calvin Ridley will be out against the New York Jets. It is time for Pitts to break out and score his first NFL touchdown in London in Week 5. This responsibility falls on Arthur Smith.

One can only imagine how much worse the Atlanta Falcons offense would look if Cordarelle Patterson had not been playing out of his mind after the first four games. He is by far the offensive MVP of the Falcons thus far.

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Although it’s somewhat of a small sample size after four games, Arthur Smith needs to tailor his schemes and game plans to the talent he is working with. That talent is scarce and stingy at best overall on the Atlanta Falcons roster.