A look back at the Falcons 2013 season


The NFL playoffs have begun and the Falcons are not part of the party for the first time since 2009.

The expectations for the Falcons were high coming into the 2013 season as they were coming off a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship. But because of injuries on both sides of the ball as well as inconsistencies on the offensive and defensive line, the Falcons finished with a 4-12 record, which is their worst record since 2007.

As tough as it was to watch the Falcons go through the struggles, there were some good things to take away from the season.

And it starts with Matt Ryan who had a solid season despite getting sacked 44 times. Ryan finished 4th in the NFL in passing yards (4,515), ninth in passing touchdowns (26) 12th in quarterback rating (89.6) and fourth in completion percentage (67.4). But he did have 17 interceptions, which is a career high and 15 of those picks came on the road. And as it was mentioned, he was sacked 44 times and that is also a career high.

Ryan’s numbers are impressive considering he did not have Julio Jones for nearly all season and Roddy White was hurt for the first half of the season. So Harry Douglass became the go-to guy and he put up career numbers, posting 85 catches and 1,067 yards.

Ryan also had Tony Gonzalez who had a Tony Gonzalez-like season. The future hall of famer caught 83 passes for 859 yards and eight touchdowns. But 2013 will mark the final year of the Gonzalez era as he announced his retirement. So Ryan will have to rely on Levine Toilolo and Chase Coffman to fill the void.

The defense had its share of issues and the main reason had to do with injuries. They lost Kroy Biermann at the start of the season as well as Sean Weatherspoon. Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas also missed some time due to injuries, and that led to younger players seeing action.

The good thing about that is the Falcons found something in rookie free agent Paul Worrilow. Hailing from Delaware, Worrilow led the Falcons with 127 tackles, which was also good enough to put him in the Top 15 in the NFL.

Another young player to step up was Desmond Trufant who was the Falcons No. 1 pick in 2013. Trufant only had two interceptions, but he led the Falcons with 17 passes defended. Both Worrilow and Trufant were named to ESPN.com’s All-Rookie team.

So the next move for the Falcons is the draft and they will have the No. 6 pick. Who will the Falcons take?

There are so many directions the Falcons can take, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff said that both offensive and defensive lines are a top priority. So there could be a focus of addressing both lines in the draft and free agency. The Falcons have a chance to make some splashes in the free agency market because there’s a chance they will have $30 million of cap space to work with.

This year was by far the most challenging year for Mike Smith and his crew. A lot of things did not go their way and it showed with their win-loss record.

But the NFL will not let teams like the Falcons die. If they can make the right moves in the draft and free agency as well as stay relatively healthy, they will be back where they were in 2012. In fact Gil Brandt of NFL.com said the Falcons are the most likely team to rebound in 2014.

2013 was a hard year for Falcons fans. But this past season could be a good thing because the lessons learned from the 2013 year will pay dividends in 2014.

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