1. Matt Ryan, quarterback: The new offense clearly didn’t fit Ryan’s skill-set and the Falcons didn’t do him any favors by giving him a center, who had never played center before. Ryan was responsible for 21 of the teams 30 turnovers and was all over the place chasing down Mike Person’s errant shot gun snaps. He had 12 fumbles and recovered four of them. Ryan finished 20th in passer rating and third in interceptions and was a major reason the 5-0 start became a non-winning season.
2. Brooks Reed, linebacker: He was the Falcons major offseason acquisition. He was expected to add some teeth to the run defense and possibly even rush the passer. He was slowed by a groin injury that required surgery. He finished with 17 tackles, seven quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits. He signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with $9 million guaranteed.
3. Andy Levitre, left guard: The Falcons were desperate and sent a sixth round pick to the Tennessee Titans right before the start of the season. Levitre went on to lead the team with 11 penalties and was credited with stalling eight drives. He had five holding penalties, four false starts, one illegal block above the waist and one unnecessary roughness. Levitre was too aggressive at the end of the play against the Saints to draw the unnecessary roughness penalty. Instead of trying a 45-yard field goal, the Falcons were forced to punt. It was the eighth drive of the year he personally stalled and the Saints went on to win 20-17.
4. Mike Person, center: For Person it was a breakthrough season for him. He’d bounced around the league before landing the Falcons starting center position. He’d never played center before, but was quick off the ball and fit into the new blocking system. He had five snaps that led to key drive killing turnovers. The Falcons had a solid center in Joe Hawley, but released him when he wasn’t ready to start the season and claimed Gino Gradkowski off waivers. He started the 16th game after Person nearly cost the Falcons their upset over Carolina with a bad snap.
5. Roddy White, wide receiver: It took White, the former Pro Bowler, a while to digest the new offense. That was a major factor is his production drop to 43 catches from 80. By the end of the season, White was up to speed. “As you can see in the last few games, Roddy is definitely still a play maker,” Julio Jones said when asked if White should return. “He makes tough catches. He makes plays in traffic. When he looks like he’s covered, he’s still open. He still can run. He knows the offense, now. That’s on them to make that decision, but I’d love to see him here next year and the year after that.”
FALCONS END OF SEASON STORIES
COVER 9@9: How much will Falcons save if they cut Roddy White?