May 24, 2024

The Atlanta Falcons have exceeded expectations with 7-10 records in their first two seasons under the leadership of general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith. However, in the third year, the team has struggled to make significant progress, complicating the assessment of the duo’s performance and future planning.

Pro Football Focus categorizes Fontenot in “Tier 3,” characterized by a “Questionable process, varying results.” This assessment appears fitting as the Falcons have invested heavily in non-premium positions, hindering their ability to rise above mediocrity. The team faces challenges with the allocation of resources to guard and safety positions, lacking top-tier talent at edge rusher, and failing to secure a long-term solution at quarterback despite three consecutive top-eight draft selections.

Fontenot’s regime has been criticized for the absence of solutions at quarterback and edge rusher, crucial positions in football. The hope that Desmond Ridder would become a franchise quarterback has waned, leading to disappointment in his second season.

A significant critique of the current regime lies in Smith’s inability to consistently extract the best performance from high draft picks. Notably, players like Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson have shown promise, making it clear that they are not misses. However, despite Pitts’ impressive rookie season, his production has declined in the subsequent 20 games, raising questions about Smith’s role in showcasing the players’ talents.

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While debate exists about the selection of Pitts over other receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft, his undeniable talent is apparent. The argument is made that Smith may not have done enough to highlight the abilities of Pitts, a sentiment echoed for London and Robinson in their early careers.

The Falcons, currently at 4-6, may still contend in the weak NFC South, but Fontenot faces the task of evaluating the organization’s future. While addressing quarterback and edge rusher concerns is essential, questions arise about whether Smith is the right person to maximize the potential of Pitts, London, and Robinson.

In summary, the Falcons’ recent performance under Fontenot and Smith prompts scrutiny, with concerns about resource allocation, player development, and coaching strategies. The team’s future success hinges on addressing key positions and ensuring optimal utilization of talented draft picks.

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