Thursday, January 2, 2014
All-NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
By Vaughn McClure
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The Atlanta Falcons were fortunate to have any players on our All-NFC South team, based on this year’s 4-12 finish.
The only two Falcons selected by our panel of voters were wide receiver Harry Douglas and left guard Justin Blalock. Sounds odd with a team consisting of players such as Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan, right? But remember, Jones suffered a season-ending foot injury, White was nagged by hamstring and ankle problems all season, Gonzalez was up against Jimmy Graham, and Ryan was on his back most of the season.
Douglas deserved the nod simply because he stepped up in the No. 1 receiving role with Jones down and White hobbled. Douglas led the team with a career-high 85 catches for 1,067 yards -- his first season of 1,000 receiving yards. Douglas, of course, benefited from our panel of experts going with three receivers thanks to the increased emphasis on passing offenses these days.
As for Blalock, he was pretty much selected by default, with not too many worthy candidates at his position. Still, Blalock deserves credit for starting every game with every starting lineman around him benched at some point in the season.
Gonzalez, who finished second on the team with 93 catches and led the team with eight touchdown receptions, finished his illustrious 17-year career still playing at a high level. But even Gonzalez realizes he has passed the torch to Graham.
The only other Falcons who probably deserved a nod on the NFC South team were rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant and veteran safety William Moore, who brought toughness to a team that lacked it.