The Atlanta Falcons' 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading Into 2014

The Atlanta Falcons' 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading Into 2014

atlanta falcons 2014
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are looking for a complete turnaround in 2014 after finishing with an upsetting 4-12 record last year. Players have come and players have gone, so it's time for the Dirty Birds to start fresh. However, with a little positive, comes a little negative. With that in mind, let's take a look at some potential red flags for coach Mike Smith's crew heading into the new football season.

5. Steven Jackson's Recent Struggles

steven jackson atlanta falcons
Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

5. Steven Jackson's Recent Struggles

steven jackson atlanta falcons
Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Steven Jackson missed four games last year due to injury, but even when he was on the field, he still looked like he lost a step or two. He finished 2014 with 157 carries for 543 yards (career-low 3.5 yards per carry). The former Ram, who will be 31 by the time the new season kicks off, will need to get back to Steven Jackson mode, or we could see a platoon at the running back position.

4. Sean Weatherspoon's Absence Will Be Felt

sean weatherspoon atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

4. Sean Weatherspoon's Absence Will Be Felt

sean weatherspoon atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

By now, you know that Falcons inside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is out for the 2014 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in practice early last week. He missed nine games last year as well, which did not go unnoticed. When healthy, he is a dominant force on Atlanta's defense. Losing him opens up the opportunity for opposing teams to successfully execute down the middle of the field.

3. Pass Protection

atlanta falcons offensive line
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

3. Pass Protection

atlanta falcons offensive line
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

The Falcons' offensive line looks to bounce back after a horrid year protecting their star quarterback in Matt Ryan. The addition of Jake Matthews via the 2014 NFL Draft is a start, but there is still some work to do. You can't put all your trust into a rookie, so the rest of the line is going to have to step it up if Atlanta wants to find success against the pass-rushing powerhouses in the NFC South.

2. TE Position

tony gonzalez
Daniel Shirey- USA Today Sports

2. TE Position

tony gonzalez atlanta falcons
Daniel Shirey- USA Today Sports

It's going to be odd not seeing the greatest tight end to ever play the game of football out on the field every Sunday. Tony Gonzalez will certainly be missed in Atlanta, but it's time for the Falcons to move on. They are currently in a platoon at the TE position, so consistent production like Gonzalez has brought to the team is far from realistic right now.

1. Young CBs Can Be Vulnerable

desmond trufant atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

1. Young CBs Can Be Vulnerable

desmond trufant atlanta falcons
Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports

Second-year corners Desond Trufant and Robert Alford will be heavily relied on after the departure of CB Asante Samuel. Both talents have the ability to be major factors in Atlanta's defense, but young defensive backs can be extremely vulnerable to error both in the air and on the ground. We may see some early struggles, but the potential to take the step to the next level is definitely there.