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Looking Ahead To 2014: Falcons And Bulldogs

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By: Mitchell Kelley – @ATL_Sports_Guy

Georgia Bulldogs

First let’s start with the Georgia Bulldogs! The Bulldogs offense will definitely look different next year without the presence of quarterback Aaron Murray. In his tenure at Georgia, Murray threw for a whopping 13,166 yards, while recording a record breaking 121 touchdowns. With Murray gone, quarterback Hutson Mason will be counted on to step up and try to pick up where Aaron left off.

Hutson Mason definitely has big shoes to fill next season and I’m confident he can do it. After all, Mason has been at UGA for four years now so it’s not like he’s brand new to Georgia’s offense. While I don’t expect Mason to put up Aaron Murray type numbers next season, I do think he will be able do a pretty good job. There is no reason that Mason can’t be a threat on offense for the Dawgs next season. As we saw in the last game of the regular season against Georgia Tech, Mason can move the ball and manage the huddle pretty well. Mason did start off rough but he ended up with 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not too bad for a guy making the first start of his career.

Mason will also have two proven explosive running backs in the backfield with him next season assuming Gurley returns and Keith Marshall can come back from his knee injury. Having both of those guys with him next year would be huge for Mason. It will make things a lot easier as well. Not only would they provide a solid run game, they would also be great guys for Mason to dump the ball off to on third and short. With that being said, I don’t believe there should be any concerns about Mason or this Georgia offense moving into 2014.

Now to the defense! I’m not expecting too much of an improvement!

For some unknown reason, Georgia has announced that Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham will be back next season. Grantham has done virtually NOTHING during the four years he’s been here! You’ll find people that will defend Grantham by saying that UGA went to back-to-back SEC Championship’s in 2011 and 2012, which is true, but you’ve got to keep in mind that seven of the players on defense in both of those games were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.

With that being said, I definitely believe that Georgia has made a big mistake by bringing him back for another year. Even with a young defense, I just don’t think that you should expect to see too much improvement on that side of the football next season.

Atlanta Falcons

After coming off the worst season under the “Dimitroff regime”, the Falcons will look forward to 2014 and what’s to come for the organization.

After losing Sunday to the Carolina Panthers in their last game of the season, the Falcons with have the 6th overall pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. The draft will make or break the Falcons 2014 season. If Dimitroff and company cannot get the right guys in the draft, it’s going to be tough for them to do anything big moving forward.

The current state of the offensive line and defense makes the upcoming draft even bigger for this organization. I myself don’t believe that Thomas Dimitroff will be able to get the right guys via draft and free agency that this team needs. Some of his picks in past years have had my head shaking. Not only have I been upset in years past at what he’s done in the draft, I’ve also been frustrated with what he’s done in free agency or lack there of.

First off, not bringing back defensive end John Abraham after last season was a huge mistake I believe. They were going to have to pay his salary regardless if he stayed or left. Not to mention, his “replacement” Osi Umenyiora has done NOTHING all year!

And if that isn’t bad enough, the Falcons are paying Osi slightly more than the Cardinals are paying Abraham. What I believe the Falcons need to do is have a yard sale! Decoud, Samuel, Douglas, Umenyiora, and Sam Baker all need to be available. If teams want them, GOOD! If they don’t, than just release them. Yes, you might have to eat some of their contracts but THEY ARE USELESS! Why keep them?!

The Falcons need to rebuild this defense. They’ve already got two decent corners in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, a stud at linebacker in Paul Worrilow, and Pro Bowl safety in William Moore. Those guys need to be the building blocks on this defense moving forward. Thomas Dimitroff is going to have to find some guys in the draft or in free agency that can improve this defense IMMEDIATELY! Especially someone who can rush the passer!

Whatever Dimitroff does, defense has got to be the number one priority this offseason!

The second priority needs to be fixing up the terrible offensive line that Thomas Dimitroff piecemealed together! Justin Blalock is really the only serviceable guy on that line! I don’t know who Dimitroff is looking at, but he is definitely going to have to bring in several guys that can protect their $103 million dollar quarterback! If this line doesn’t improve, Matt might not be in the league to much longer! I don’t have to be an NFL QB to know that getting sacked numerous times every game wears on the body over time!

And last but not least, with Tony Gonzalez gone and Roddy White getting older in age, the Falcons need at least one more offensive threat. Whether it’s a tight end or wide receiver, they definitely need someone who can make plays on the offensive side of the ball besides Julio.

I don’t think it would be necessary to go out and get a running back. I believe that Jacquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson can be a decent threat if they have someone blocking for them. Anybody that wants to judge Steven Jackson based on last season must not understand how hard it is the break several tackles just to get past the line of scrimmage. With a decent O-line, I’m pretty confident that those two guys can be pretty good.

Having said everything that I have about the Falcons and what they have to do this offseason to become a playoff team next season, I really don’t see how this team will get back to another NFC Championship next season. It’s simply just too much they’d have to do and as I said earlier, I don’t believe Thomas Dimitroff will be able to get the job done.

Similarities

On defense, Both the Bulldogs and the Falcons have pretty bad defenses that need big improvement before next season rolls around! Both defensive coordinators don’t deserve to return next season but in Georgia’s case, they’ve already brought back their DC in Todd Grantham and the Falcons will probably do the same this offseason with Mike Nolan. On offense, both teams are losing a big player. The Bulldogs are losing quarterback Aaron Murray and the Falcons are losing their HOF tight end Tony Gonzalez. Both players meant a lot to their teams. Both were leaders on and off the field and meant a whole lot to their teams on offense. Regardless of what either team does to their defense or who steps up in the absence of a big player, I think neither team will make it too far in the playoffs. I’ll have to see it to believe it!

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