The fact that the Atlanta Falcons have won seven games so far in 2021 is both a miracle and a testament to head coach Arthur Smith.
The Atlanta Falcons have as many holes on their roster on both sides of the ball. In fact, as many holes as a block of swiss cheese does, to put it mildly.
The job that Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has done so far in 2021 is nothing short of a miracle. Considering how much the roster is devoid of talent, he deserves plenty of credit for winning seven games so far, even though they have yet to beat a winning team all season.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There are offensive, defensive, and special teams players on the 2021 roster who have had very solid seasons and both deserve to be and will be back in 2022 when the team will hopefully continue to develop and grow.
Which 10 Atlanta Falcons players should be back in 2022?
1. QB Matt Ryan – for both football and financial reasons, and unless he’s traded post-June 1st, Ryan will be back for his 15th season as the starting QB in 2022 as the dead cap money hit due to his exorbitant contract is both terrifying and confounding. Realistically, this will continue to haunt the franchise and keep the team in cap purgatory for another two years, at least.
Ryan is the face of the franchise and is the best QB in franchise history. If he is back, he should have a full arsenal of offensive weapons at his disposal, as well as a much improved offensive line…hopefully.
2. TE Kyle Pitts – need we say more? The first-round draft pick has exceeded all expectations so far and is very quietly close to a 1,000-yard season. He is also very close to breaking the all-time rookie TE receiving yards record in a single season.
Additionally, Pitts is humble, unassuming, and a tireless worker. He will only continue to improve and will no doubt be the face of the franchise in years to come.
3. WR Russell Gage – although he’s not close to being a #1 wide receiver, he’s a very solid #2 or #3 guy. He is somewhat injury prone and while he will make an acrobatic, difficult catch at times, he’s also prone to sometimes dropping easy balls.
4. WR Cordarelle Patterson – by far and away, he’s the Atlanta Falcons MVP for the 2021 season. If it wasn’t for his productivity and versatility, there is no way the Falcons have anywhere close to seven wins. It is a must that they resign him in the offseason, which might be difficult as he’s earned a big contract for the future.
Patterson is changing the way his position is played and is a dual-threat at both WR and RB. He is the single greatest weapon in the entire NFL right now.
5. OG Chris Lindstrom – the best player on the porous line by far this season. He has only committed two penalties through 15 games, has yet to allow a sack, and is a pro-bowl caliber player as well as a building block on the o-line.
No doubt he will be the leader of the offensive line for many years to come. This is evidenced by his play in his second season and he will continue to lead by example.
6. LB – Mykal Walker – although he’s not getting nearly enough snaps as he should on defense, he looks like a potential future star and most likely a replacement next season for Deion Jones. Walker had a beautiful 66-yard pick-six this season, which has clearly been the highlight of his season to date.
7. K Younghoe Koo – although his overall scoring is down from the 2020 season due to an anemic Falcons offense in 2021, Koo is still having an outstanding season, as he has only missed two FGs all season and has not missed an XP.
8. CB AJ Terrell – this up-and-coming star is one of the best CBs in the league in only his second season. After 15 games, he has the highest coverage grade for all CBs and had allowed one catch and fewer than 10 yards in four straight games heading into game 15.
Terrell has become almost next to impossible to throw on, which is why opposing QBs tend to avoid his side of the field. Heading into game 15, he had allowed one catch and fewer than 10 yards in four straight games.
9. S Jaylinn Hawkins – he is a young player in only his second season and is getting the snaps he needs now to continue to develop. He tends to have a nose for the ball and will continue to grow as a ballhawk with his team-leading two INTs this season.
10. S Richie Grant – he has been a big disappointment so far in his rookie season, especially for a 2nd round pick. He will need to improve dramatically in 2022 and gain a better grasp of Dean Pees’ defense if he is going to be one of the starting safeties moving forward and for the foreseeable future.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the Atlanta Falcons roster heading into 2022. One thing that is certain is that there will be a high turnover rate up and down the roster and on both sides of the ball, resulting from trades, the draft, and free agency.