NFL Network gives Falcons a checklist for success in 2022

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Each team has its own recipe for success, and for years Atlanta’s recipe involved quarterback Matt Ryan leading the way. Since Ryan is gone, training camp is going to have a much different feel to it this year.

The uncertainty of this new-look Falcons team isn’t inspiring confidence around the NFL, though. Many experts believe Atlanta will be one of the worst teams in football this season. NFL Network’s Good Morning Football program gave the Falcons a three-part checklist to be successful in 2022.

Step 1: "Have QB plan and execute"

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback is undoubtedly the most critical position on any football team. Having stability, or some sort of plan, at this position can be a make-or-break factor for many teams. After losing Ryan, the team brought in Marcus Mariota and drafted Desmond Ridder in the third round.

As mentioned many times this offseason, Smith does have prior experience with Mariota. However, that experience was rocky to say the least. Mariota didn’t make it to the halfway point of the season before being unseated by Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. So taking into consideration their previous time together, you can’t conclusively say that Mariota is the guy in Atlanta, especially if Ridder has a good camp.

Smith also needs to have a plan if neither Mariota nor Ridder can show they have what it takes to be the number one option under center. The Falcons have enough weapons on offense to put on a better showing than last season, but they also need to have stability at the quarterback spot.

Arguably, the most important step to take is making sure not to rush Desmond Ridder as the number one quarterback. He needs time to sit back and learn before being thrown into the starting lineup.

Step 2: "Be bullies"

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Another thing highlighted by the Good Morning Football crew was the height the team added on the perimeter. Kyle Pitts’ length and ability to stretch defenses was the main reason why the Falcons selected him at number four a season ago. However, we didn’t see Atlanta take advantage of this much last season, especially in the red zone.

The offense didn’t open up as much as anticipated due to the lack of help surrounding Pitts, but that could change with the many additions the Falcons made this offseason. Not only did Atlanta draft Drake London with their eighth selection, but they also brought in Auden Tate, Bryan Edwards, and Geronimo Allison. Each player is six-foot-three or taller, giving the team a true size advantage at the position.

There aren’t exactly household names, but Arthur Smith does have a successful track record of getting the most pout of big-bodied playmakers. Under Smith’s leadership, Corey Davis posted career numbers, racking up nearly 1,000 yards in 2020. Finding other contributors besides Pitts will be crucial to Atlanta’s success in 2022. And don’t expect Cordarrelle Patterson to carry the offense as he did in 2021.

Step 3: "Be good enough on defense"

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Just being good enough would have sufficed the past several seasons as the Falcons have fielded poor defenses for the better part of Matt Ryan’s career. Now that Atlanta has lost their franchise-leading signal-caller, the team must rely more on defense in 2022.

“[In 2021], the Falcons had 17 sacks — which is the lowest for the Falcons since 1987.” the Good Morning Football crew pointed out.

Atlanta’s 1.1 average sack total per game dropped from a 1.8 average in 2020, despite keeping a lot of the same talent in that area. This has to change in a big way with the amount of turnover on offense since last season. The Falcons defense will have to keep the team alive when the offense doesn’t show up.

With Ade Ogundeji returning, and the additions of Arnold Ebiketie and Lorenzo Carter, maybe Atlanta can catch lightning in a bottle in 2022.

Falcons training camp links

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