Essential fixes for Falcons, Patriots

Atlanta must add muscle; New England needs improved secondary

Originally Published: January 21, 2013
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
Saints DefenseAP Photo/Rusty CostanzaThe Atlanta Falcons need another running back outside of Michael Turner to be a workhorse back.

In the first halves of their respective conference championship games, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots had a combined lead of 37-21. In the second halves, however, they were outscored 35-0, and now they head into the offseason looking to make repairs. Although the two teams shared the same fate Sunday, they have opposite weaknesses that must be addressed. The Falcons need to add some muscle on both sides of the ball, while the Patriots need to overhaul their secondary and find more targets for Tom Brady.

With Matt Ryan slinging the ball to Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons had little trouble getting ahead in games this season, but hanging on to those leads proved to be a problem, particularly in the playoffs. (And by the way, Gonzalez is still one of the best tight ends in football, so convincing him not to retire also should be an immediate item on the Falcons' to-do list.) In that situation, you'd like a powerful running game to grind out the clock, but Atlanta's rushing offense was surprisingly inept for a 13-3 team.


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