28-3. We’ve all know the story.
The Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Everything was an easy coast for the Falcons, all they had to do was hang on. But that was definitely not the case.
New England came back and won the game 34-28 in overtime. Many people blame Matty “Ice” for not keeping his cool. But wasn’t Matt Ryan that let the Patriots score three touchdowns and a field goal in the late third and fourth quarters, it was their defense.
In the past few years Atlanta’s defense has been pretty lackluster, which has taken a major toll on their star-studded offense. The year of the Super Bowl, the Falcons were ranked 27th on defense. The team was built with a focus on defense the year after, and in 2017 did significantly well — ranking 8th in the league. In 2018, the Falcons were back to defensive lackluster — ranking 25th in the NFL. Then after last season, Atlanta was ranked 23rd in the league — which is certainly not something to brag about.
Atlanta’s offense has been incredible lately, and even was ranked 5th in the league last year, in terms of stats — even with the loss of Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots.
The Falcons did confront their defense issue in the NFL Draft. With the 16th overall pick, they drafted A.J. Terrell — one of the most sought-after Cornerbacks in the draft. In the second round, they picked up Marlon Davidson, a defensive tackle. In the fourth round, Atlanta picked up a Mykal Walker, a linebacker. And 15 picks later, the Falcons drafted Jaylinn Hawkins, a safety.
These additions will certainly help the team do well in the long-run, but the Falcons still haven’t addressed their a main problem — they are in the massive negatives in salary cap space. Right now the Falcons are sitting on a -$20,477,968 for their salary cap. This is very bad. They will have to cut a mass of players before the season even starts.
This problem eliminates their ability to acknowledge their need for another strong NFL veteran defender to help lead their defense. All the rookies are a point in the right direction, but without the guidance of multiple skilled and intelligent veterans on the defense, are destined to fail. They have Dante Fowler Jr. and Chris Cooper, but Atlanta still needs another good pass-rusher. And if they had any money right now, they would probably go after DE Jadeveon Clowney.
Because of his lack of initial offers, Clowney’s asking price has got to have gone down significantly. And even though the Seahawks will really need him, this could be the time for the Falcons to step in a take him. Picking him up would give the Falcons two veteran defensive ends to terrorize their star-studded quarterback opponents in their division (Brees, Brady, Bridgewater).
But once again, until the Falcons acknowledge their major money problem, they can’t pick up star-defensive players like Jadeveon Clowney in free agency.