Thursday, January 1, 2009
Roided-out NFC West playoff rosters
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Three of the eight playoff teams participating in the wild-card round have first-year head coaches. The Cardinals face one of them when the Falcons visit University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Falcons have gone young on offense in the starting lineup, but the overall roster remains a work in progress as general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith establish their program. For a closer look at the Falcons -- and the Cardinals -- download this file featuring roided-out 25-column rosters for each team.
A few notes:
Note to the uninitiated: The term "roided-out" refers to the nature of the rosters we provide here. With 25 columns of information on current and former players, these are like rosters on steroids. The term has nothing to do with real steroids.
- The Falcons have the seventh-oldest 53-man roster in the league, but their starters rank as the 17th-oldest (with Coy Wire starting ahead of Michael Boley at linebacker). The Falcons' offensive starters are 25th-oldest in the league.
- While the Cardinals have the third-oldest starting quarterback in Kurt Warner, the Falcons have the second-youngest in Matt Ryan. Only the Raiders' JaMarcus Russell is younger (based on starters heading into Week 17).
- The Falcons' starters are older than the league averages at running back, tight end, defensive tackle, center and strong safety. The Falcons have the second-oldest offensive backups in the NFL, behind only the Saints. But they have only one offensive starter in his 30s (the league average is 2.6).
- Overall, half the Falcons' starters were drafted among the top 50 overall choices. Three NFL teams have more (the Cardinals have six, while the league average is 8.7).
- None of the Falcons' third- or fourth-round draft choices is starting for the team. That is unusual. Based on lineups I updated late in the regular season, the Browns were the only other team without a starter from those rounds (not counting players drafted by other teams). Expect that to change in Atlanta as Dimitroff and Smith build the team and attempt to develop younger players.
- The Falcons are heavy on players from the SEC. They have 12 on their 53-man roster. Only the Broncos have more.