The "Power Core" Pre-Season Power Rankings #20
Atlanta for much of last season quietly was a playoff contender. Only in the second to last week did the curtain drop for the Falcons. Gone are Chris Chandler, Terrance Mathis and Jamal Anderson. These were fixtures of Atlanta's improbable run to the Super Bowl a few years ago, but all didn't fit into the long-term plans of the Falcons.
#20 Atlanta Falcons (7 - 9) 4th in NFC West
The Falcons have taken the stance of starting to build around Michael Vick. They seem willing to take the highs and lows of starting a young quarterback. This will hurt there chances at a playoff run, but at least they are cutting the cord. Some other teams (San Diego, NY Jets) still won't hand the reigns over to a youngster in hopes of creating a better world in the future.
The Good: Michael Vick is a playmaker, but it's still tough to see him being successful early in his career. His improve skills withstanding, he's going to need a lot of support around him. Warrick Dunn is brought in replacing Jamal Anderson. Willie Jackson jumps ship from New Orleans to give Vick someone to throw to. Wade Phillips should have the defense playing hard all-season long. He will work well with Dan Reeves.
The Bad: I don't know how you can call Dunn an upgrade over Anderson. Sure Anderson's knees don't have much time left, but Dunn has never been a primary running back. They sign Dunn, then select a running back, T. J. Duckett with the first pick in the draft. This team looks like they want to run the ball to take pressure off of Vick. That's a great idea, but Dunn isn't a workhorse and Duckett is a rookie, give the experiment a year and then we'll talk. The wide receiver corps is very weak and won't provide many weapons for Vick.
The Ugly: This team has some of the worst fans in football. Well that's not surprising since Atlanta revolves around the Braves. That's too bad, because Vick is an exciting prodigy.
Synopsis: Atlanta takes a step backward this year, but sometimes you've got move back to move forward. Vick's continuing maturation as quarterback will be fun to watch. Only a weak division will allow them to compete for a playoff spot, but 6 – 7 wins is probable. Add a little luck and natural progression and this team will be pretty damn good in a year or two.