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NFL Update: The Atlanta Falcons 2014 Schedule and Status Report Post-2014 NFL Draft

The Atlanta Falcons Look to Bounce Back in 2014

2014 NFL Off-Season

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2013 Recap: For the first time in four years, the Atlanta Falcons fell short of the playoffs. A disappointing season that included a 4-12 record would be an understatement to Falcon fans. The Falcons were ranked dead last in rushing yards and 31st in the league in stopping the run. Matt Ryan threw the most interceptions of his career (17), Roddy White was widely inconsistent and Julio Jones played in only five games due to injury. It was the worst season the Falcons experienced since 2007, and it’s clear fans expect a big bounce back season this year.

Key Losses: Arguably the best tight end the NFL has ever seen in Tony Gonzalez retired. Gonzalez played his final five seasons with the Falcons and finished his career with 1,325 receptions, 15,127 receiving yards and 111 touchdowns. The Falcons also released cornerback Asante Samuel, who has 51 career interceptions and 393 tackles. Safety Thomas DeCoud also took his talents to Carolina after finishing last season with 65 tackles.

NFL Update: The Atlanta Falcons 2014 Schedule and Status Report Post-2014 NFL Draft

USA TODAY Sports

Key Additions: The Falcons big offseason pickup was the signing of Devin Hester, who is widely considered the best return man the league has ever seen. In eight seasons with the Chicago Bears, Hester has 18 special teams’ touchdowns and 14 receiving touchdowns. The Falcons can only hope the 31-year-old still has a little something left in the tank.

Draft: The Falcons helped quarterback Matt Ryan by addressing the offensive line with the sixth overall pick by drafting Jake Matthews. Matthews was one of the top offensive linemen in the draft and can start right away. Defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman is an athletic freak and Yawin Smallwood is an under-the-radar player who could turn some heads if he makes the team. The Falcons got great value in the draft that should help them in this turnaround season.

2014 Outlook, So Far: It’s impossible to know what to expect from the Falcons this season. This is a franchise that almost made the Super Bowl in 2013 and then won only four games last year. Such a drastic drop off really opens the door for anything this season. However, to be fair, the Falcons have all of the offensive talent in the world to win the NFC South. On the other hand, that defense needs to make serious strides in order to be taken seriously. If Ryan can return to form and the secondary can get its act together, the Falcons are as dangerous as any team in the NFC and will once again be in the thick of the playoff race.

2014 Schedule:

Sept. 7 New Orleans Saints, 1

Sept. 14 at Cincinnati Bengals, 1

Sept. 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thu), 8:25

Sept. 28 at Minnesota Vikings, 4:25

Oct. 5 at New York Giants, 1

Oct. 12 Chicago Bears, 1

Oct. 19 at Baltimore Ravens, 1

Oct. 26 Detroit Lions (London), 9:30 a.m.

Nov. 2 BYE

Nov. 9 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1

Nov. 16 at Carolina Panthers, 1

Nov. 23 Cleveland Browns, 1

Nov. 30 Arizona Cardinals, 4:05

Dec. 8 at Green Bay Packers (Mon), 8:30

Dec. 14 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1

Dec. 21 at New Orleans Saints, 1

Dec. 28 Carolina Panthers, 1

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