5 Atlanta Falcons who have something to prove in 2024

The Atlanta Falcons are in a pivotal year where they can’t afford many missteps. They’ve taken a huge bet on this offensive overhaul that general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris have put together to finish the job that Arthur Smith and the duo of Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder couldn’t. As if that wasn’t enough, now the Falcons have this succession plan that puts even more pressure on having success as soon as possible. Among that pressure, we find five names in particular that are really feeling the heat because Atlanta’s success in 2024 falls on their shoulders.

1) WR Darnell Mooney

The Falcons had an issue last season with the WR2 position and struggled to get production out of that. Was it ineffective QB play or was it the player?

That’s for you to decide. 

However, the Falcons attacked that position in free agency by handing veteran WR Darnell Mooney a 3-year, 39 million-dollar contract. Mooney is an interesting case because, in 2021, Mooney showed what he’s capable of when he had 81 receptions for 1055 yards and 4 TDs. He showed great deep-threat ability, the ability to work well against 1 on 1 coverage with his route running and looked like a potential star for the Bears. 

Since 2021 Darnell Mooney: 

  • Got hurt in 2022 missing the final 4 games with an ankle injury 
  • Was still working past the injury of 2022 and playing himself back into form in 2023. 

Is Mooney the budding star that he seemed to be in 2021 or is he just an expensive role player in this Atlanta offense? Only time will tell. 

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2) TE Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts.

The 4th overall pick that we drafted while passing on Ja’mar Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Penei Sewell, Micah Parsons, Pat Surtain II, and do I need to continue? 

Pitts had a solid rookie season where we saw him get over 1000 yards. But on the flip side, he only had one TD as a rookie. In his sophomore season, we saw a decrease in his stat line and a season-ending injury. In 2023 Pitts played again while still recovering and it was apparent he wasn’t fully healthy as the season started. Then he had Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke throwing him the football, really decreasing his production. 

Coming into 2024 the Falcons desperately need Kyle Pitts to regain his 2021 level of play to be a competitive team in the NFC with their playoff aspirations. 

3) Arnold Ebiketie

For the love of God, the Falcons need someone in this edge rusher room to step up, and it should absolutely be AK. He was a second-round pick and was the second-leading guy in sacks last season with 6 sacks. 

AK is twitchy and should thrive in Raheem Morris’s scheme, allowing him to move around on stunts and games while creating mismatches for opposing offenses. AK needs to transition into being a Batman for this defense, as opposed to a Robin, and this season feels like the one where he can.

4) Troy Andersen

Troy Andersen, a fellow second-round pick to AK is also on this list. Andersen seemed poised for a breakout last year after playing a limited snap count in 2022, but injuries derailed his season. 

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Andersen has displayed absolutely freaky athleticism with his college film and combine testing during his draft process. 

Andersen will be learning a new scheme this season with Raheem Morris and Jimmy Lake, but he should be able to thrive and become the leader of the Falcons linebacker room. If Andersen steps up and shows why the Falcons drafted him in the second round, you’ll see some significant improvement from the defense as a whole. 

5) Kirk Cousins

Kirko Chainz. QB1.

I bet you’re wondering why everyone’s favorite suburban dad is on this list. And the reason why is not entirely a fault of his own. Sure Kirk is recovering from an Achilles injury and that is scary enough in its own right. 

But the franchise drafted Michael Penix Jr. at 8th overall. And that created a clock. The clock of transition. The Falcons, whether they want to admit it or not, have an underlying pressure to show the world why they drafted Michael Penix Jr. at 8th overall. Regardless of how Kirk plays, there will be whispers of people wanting to see the rookie. And if Cousins doesn’t play well enough early, those whispers will get louder and louder.

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